When people think of Switzerland, they usually picture the beautiful Alps and the green countryside. While the Alps are gorgeous and is one of our favorite places to see in Europe, the Swiss cities are just as great. We visited Zurich for a few days in 2016 on our 3 week honeymoon. There’s a reason why Zurich is considered one of the best cities to live in the world. Since most of us can’t live in Europe long-term, we’ll just have to suffice with visiting this magnificent city. Below are our top 10 things to do in Zurich.
1. Lake Zurich
Lake Zurich is the heart and soul of the city. This is the place where the people of Zurich come to relax and enjoy the ambiance both the nature and the city. There are plenty of things to do around and on Lake Zurich. You can choose to bike, hop on a boat to take you to other smaller towns across the lake, or simply stroll along the lake. During our time in Zurich, we constantly found ourselves back sitting on the benches on the lake front enjoying the beautiful scenery with the locals.
2. Aldstadt (Old Town)
Altstadt, also known as the Zurich’s old town, is where you will find the picturesque old buildings and cobblestone streets. During the day, Alstadt is usually overrun with tourist. While walking the streets of Altstadt during the day can get crowded, night time walks remove those crowds and add a special touch to the old town. We recommend wondering the cobblestone streets at night. There’s just something magical about old town Zurich at night.
A little uphill walk will take you to Lindenhof, one of the best vantage points in Zurich. Lidenhof was once the location of a Roman castle. Today, it is a local meeting spot and an awesome viewpoint of the city. During the day, you might run into locals meeting up to play a few games of chess. During the night, the romantics come out to enjoy a little alone time while overlooking the old town, Grossmunster church, and the Limmat river.
Zurich is known as a transportation hub. Though there are trams and trains throughout the city, one of the best ways to see the city is from the Dolderbahn funicular. The Dolderbahn is a little bit outside of city center but is well worth the tram ride to get there. Take the ride up the funicular and enjoy the views. Once at the top, enjoy a nice stroll back down and breathe in the mountain air. The views of Zurich from atop isn’t too shabby either.
If you’re looking to buy one of those expensively well-made Swiss watches, Bahnhofstrasse is the place to find it. Bahnhofstrasse is one of the major veins of Zurich and leads from the main train station down to Lake Zurich. The street is lined with tons of shops and is a great place to take a stroll. Unless you’re made of money, it is best just to window shop.
Zurich has four major churches that dominate it’s skyline. Fraumunster, or Church of our Lady, was once a female dominant church founded by King Louis the German. Today, it is best known for it’s beautiful stained glass windows. Inside, you will find the stained glass works of Augusto Giacometti and Marc Chagall. Fraumunster is definitely worth a visit for the artwork.
Sitting opposite of Fraumunster, across the river, is Grossmunster church. Take a walk around the church and admire the size of the church itself. If you’re up for a great view, take the wooden stairs up to the top. It is well worth the view!
8. Limmat River
The Limmat river cuts through Zurich leading to Lake Zurich. You can walk along side the river from either side and enjoy the city. The best thing to do on the river is to jump on one of the river taxis and just take a ride up and back down.
9. Beer Gardens
Beer gardens are a staple of German culture and can be found in almost all German speaking places. Zurich has a few places to enjoy some good local beer. We recommend visiting Zeughauskeller in Paradeplatz or Fischstube beer garden for some great beers and food.
10. Uetliberg Mountain
Sitting at 2,850 ft., Uetliberg mountain is the highest point in Zurich. From atop the mountain, you will get the best views of Zurich, the lake, and the Alps. Uetliberg is a bit away from Zurich city center and deserves at least half a day to visit. Once at the mountain though, you can hike, bike, or just enjoy the views.
When planning your visit to Switzerland, be sure to include Zurich in your list of places to see. You’ll fall in love with this city, just like we have.
Let us know what your favorite spots in Zurich are in the comments below!