Attractions in Zurich
In Zurich, you will experience everything from Roman ruins to modern buildings that testify to a dynamic and capital-rich business community. In Zurich you will also meet cultural attractions more closely than anywhere else in Switzerland.
Between the river Limmat and Bahnhofstrasse lies the Lindenhof, the ridge which in many ways symbolizes Zurich’s late beginnings. Here the Romans built their fortress which was a toll station between the Roman Empire and Gallia. Today there is not much left of the fortress, but if you follow the cobbled Lindenhofstrasse, you will see ancient Roman stone tablets and tombstones along the way.
From the large terrace you have a nice view of the river and the eastern districts of Zurich. Here is also a park with playground, and several large chess boards with half-meter pieces. Notice the statue on a pedestal, in honor of the city’s women who fought against German invasion forces in 1291.
Landesmuseum in Zurich
Right next to the train station is the Swiss National Museum, which has the country’s largest cultural collection. It deals with the history of Switzerland from prehistoric times, through the Middle Ages to our days. The museum is located in an impressive building with many towers, and was completed in 1898. The museum also has a large and pleasant park, which is surrounded by the rivers Limmat and Sihl on two of three sides. Open 1000 to 1700 Tuesday to Sunday, and to 1900 on Thursdays. Entry 50 kroner, free for children. Museumstrasse 2.
- See DigoPaul for dictionary definitions of Zurich, Switzerland. Includes geographical map and city sightseeing photos.
According to legend, Zurich’s foremost and Switzerland’s largest church was to be founded by Karl the Great, or Charlemagne (742-814), when his horse snapped over the tombs of Zurich saints Felix and Regula. Today’s Grossmünster was not finished until the 1300s. The characteristic twin spiers were built around 1490. For ten kroner you can take the stairs up one tower and get a really brilliant view of the area. Open daily from 0900 to 1800, or 1000 to 1700 during the period November-March. Zwingliplatz.
In a large historic villa with an associated glass pavilion in the street Gablerstrasse 15 you will find one of the world’s largest collections of Asian art. Also departments of art from Africa and pre-Columbian America. Open from 1000 to 1700 Tuesday to Sunday, long day to 2000 on Wednesday and Thursday. Closed Mondays. Entry NOK 80 for adults, free for children up to 16 years.
St. Peter’s Church in Zurich
There has been a church at this site at the foot of Lindenhof since the 7th century, but today’s Baroque church was inaugurated in 1706. The bell tower is a landmark you can see from almost the entire city, and the dial of this tower is the largest in diameter in the world. at 8.7 m. In front of the entrance is the idyllic small square St. Peterhofstatt.
Johann Jacobs Coffee Museum
Since 1984, this mansion on the banks of the Zürich Sea has house something as special as a coffee museum. It addresses everything coffee-related, from history, culture, popularity through the ages and making coffee. The museum is open only on weekends, Friday to Sunday. Entry around 25 kroner, 15 for children. Seefeldquai 17.
Zurich’s oldest church is a former nunnery with roots from 853. The monastery had the commercial rights in the city, collected the fees and made the coins, and the abbess here was in practice the city’s foremost leader, only under the emperor. Today it appears in Gothic costume and is equally famous for its stoneware windows signed by the famous artist Marc Chagall, and the huge church organ with 5793 beeps. Free admission. Münsterhof 2.
Kunsthaus in Zurich
The largest art gallery in Switzerland has works from the 15th century to the present, including Munch, Monet, Rodin and Picasso. There is also a separate section for children.
Open from 1000 to 2000 Wednesday to Friday, and 1000 to 1800 Sat / Sun / Tuesday. Closed Mondays. The entry price varies according to the exhibitions, but usually between 40 and 80 NOK for adults, free for children under 16 years. Place of residence 1.
Zurich’s organic zoo is considered one of Europe’s best thanks to the animals living in the most natural environment possible. The zoo is open 365 days a year from 0900. It closes 1800, or 1700 in the period November-February. Zurichbergstrasse 221.
An indoor rainforest has also been recreated in the Masoala Rainforest, just off the zoo. Masoala Rainforest opens 1,000, with admission tickets costing about 110 kroner for adults, 55 kroner for children under 16, and 80 kroner for youth between 16 and 25 years. Zurichbergstrasse 221.
This museum, located in the side street of Bahnhofstrasse Bärengasse No. 20/22, deals with 18th-century Zurich, and presents the everyday life of ordinary people living in this city at that time.
Open from 1400 to 1800 Wednesday to Sunday. Long day until 2000 on Tuesdays, closed Mondays. Entry 40 kroner, free for children under 16 years.
Tourist in Zurich
If you are going to spend a weekend in Zurich and intend to bring you the main attractions and galleries, investing in a ZurichCARD can be a very good idea. This is a pass that gives you free use of all public transport, free access to more than 40 museums and galleries plus other discounts and benefits.
A 24-hour pass does not cost a lot of money, neither for adults or children, (there are child discounts), and if you spend several days in Zurich you can also buy a 72-hour pass.
The central areas of Zurich cover only a limited geographical area and most of the attractions lie along the last few kilometers of Limmat before ending in the Zurich Sea. If you are reasonably healthy and the weather is fine, it is a pleasure to stroll around here, although it can be quite steep, especially on the east bank. If you prefer a guided tour of transport, can you take an old-fashioned tram ride, perhaps in combination with a cruise on the Zurich Sea or Limmat?
Day 1 in Zurich
We start the first day in Zurich at the city’s main train station, where you can stop by the tourist office and be provided with a city map and whatever you need for brochures and information. Should you travel further within Switzerland, they will also help you with hotel reservations.
You can start by getting acquainted with the history of Switzerland and Zurich at the National Museum located right at the train station. The Country Museum deals with the history of the country from prehistoric times, through the Middle Ages and up to our days.
The museum is located in an impressive building with many towers, and was completed in 1898. Here is also a large and elegant park, surrounded by the rivers Limmat and Sihl on two of three sides. Cross one of the bridges that take you across Limmat and stroll down the promenade to the Bahnhofbrücke. To the left of you are the entrance to the 120-year-old Polybahn cable car, which mainly carries students and lecturers up to the University of Zurich. If you have purchased a regular day pass, this can be used well on the minute-long journey, and from Polyterasse you have a great view of the western parts of Zurich and the river Limmat.
After taking the path down again, turn left into Zurich’s main nightlife street, the pedestrian street Niederdorfstrasse.
This pedestrian street is full of small shops, eateries, bars and hotels, and gradually changes its name to Marktgasse, Münstergasse and Oberdorfstrasse. The areas above are also very charming, so turn left into Brunngasse and right into Froschaugasse. You will soon come to Neumarkt (The New Market), which was originally built just outside the old city walls. Here you will surely find a nice restaurant or café where you can have lunch.
Follow Neumarket west again to Spiegelgasse. Note No. 19, where Lenin lived in 1917, and is the place where he planned the Russian Revolution. You eventually descend into Münstergasse, an extension of Niederdorfstrasse. If you head south, you will soon be standing at Switzerland’s largest church and one of Zurich’s foremost landmarks, Grossmünster. For ten bucks you can go up the steep stairs to the top of one of the characteristic twin towers, and be rewarded with a fabulous view of the river and the city.
After taking the path down again, turn left into Zurich’s main nightlife street, the pedestrian street Niederdorfstrasse. This pedestrian street is full of small shops, eateries, bars and hotels, and gradually changes its name to Marktgasse, Münstergasse and Oberdorfstrasse. The areas above are also very charming, so turn left into Brunngasse and right into Froschaugasse. You will soon come to Neumarkt (The New Market), which was originally built just outside the old city walls. Here you will surely find a nice restaurant or café where you can have lunch.
Follow Neumarket west again to Spiegelgasse. Note No. 19, where Lenin lived in 1917, and is the place where he plotted the Russian Revolution. You eventually descend into Münstergasse, an extension of Niederdorfstrasse. If you head south, you will soon be standing at Switzerland’s largest church and one of Zurich’s foremost landmarks, Grossmünster. For ten bucks you can go up the steep stairs to the top of one of the characteristic twin towers, and be rewarded with a fabulous view of the river and the city.
When you get out, you go down to the river. Here you can cross the Limmat on the Münsterbrücke which leads you straight to Zurich’s other important church, Fraumünster. This is the city’s oldest church, dating from the year 853, but the church is almost as famous for its stained glass by the artist Marc Chagall.
Continue straight north, and you’ll soon enter a peaceful little maze of narrow cobblestone streets. It is often possible to orient yourself to the bell tower of St. Peter’s Church, which has the world’s largest dial, with a diameter of 8.7 meters. It is located at the foot of the Lindenhof, the hill where the Romans built their fortress which became the beginning of the city of Zurich 1800 years ago.
If you walk up the idyllic Lindenhofstrasse, you reach a large terrace park with beautiful views of Limmat and the eastern parts of Zurich. Here are several large chess boards with half a meter pieces, where the city’s older gentlemen are constantly gathering and challenging each other. Notice the statue on a pedestal, in honor of the city’s women who fought against German invasion forces in 1291.
Then take the first street on the left, Kuttelgasse, and you will come down the Rennweg, one of Zurich’s typical shopping streets. If you follow this down, you will reach the shopping street with the big S, the exclusive and fashionable Bahnhofstrasse. Here most of us have to settle for window jumping, as the Swiss say; “If you have to ask about the price, then you can’t afford it.”
The Bahnhofstrasse is 1.4 kilometers long and extends from the Hauptbahnhof, Zurich’s main train station, and down to Lake Zurich. If you do not have unlimited money in your bank account, it is an idea to go back to the eastern banks and shop in the streets around Niederdorfstrasse instead, or in Shop Ville which is under the Hauptbahnhof.
After a walk back to the hotel to get rid of the shopping bags and shower, it’s time to think about dinner. And if you are first in Switzerland, why not eat Swiss? One of the most Swiss you can get is fondue, and one of Zurich’s most renowned fondue restaurants is Adler’s Swiss Chuchi, at the Hotel Adler at the Niederdorfstrasse / Rosengasse junction. Prices start at around NOK 150 per person. Table reservation is recommended. Afterwards you have Zurich’s best selection of clubs and bars right on your doorstep, in Niederdorfstrasse and further south most people should be able to find a place where they enjoy themselves.
Day 2 in Zurich
Today it’s time to get a little out of the center and get some fresh air in your lungs. One of the Zurich residents’ favorite places of excursion is the city’s highest mountain, Uetliberg at about 875 meters. The fastest way to get there is to take the local train S10 from the Hauptbahnhof to the Uetliberg station. From here, you can walk to the summit in minutes where there is a view terrace with benches, binoculars and a restaurant.
If you are fast to the bone and do not say no to a small challenge, then take tram number 13, for example from Paradeplatz on Bahnhofstrasse, to the Albisgüetli terminal. From here you go uphill and you will soon see a sign showing the alternate walkways to the top. It also states how long you can count on and spend, and how tiring the route is. Just stick to the main path which is regularly marked with yellow triangles on the tree trunks. You can hardly go wrong.
Expect 40-60 minutes to top. The trail is winding but not too steep. There are some stairs too, but several benches are set out so you can take a breather. You may want to bring something to drink, because you will not buy it until you are at the top of Uetliberg. But you might find drinking fountains with fresh water along the way.
In the Middle Ages there were six castles and fortresses in the area on and around Uetliberg. These you will not see today. On the other hand, you have a fabulous panoramic view of Zurich, the lake and the surrounding region, especially if you take the stairs at the top of the view tower built here, next to the TV tower which is naturally also located at the highest point of the districts. Should you fall completely unscathed for the place and the view, you don’t even have to travel down again, it’s actually a hotel up here too.
Whether you took the hike on foot or by train, there is no problem going down. This may take you half an hour in good driving, and at the bottom the tram is ready to take you back to the center. Get off at Paradeplatz and head south on Bahnhofstrasse. You will then arrive at Bürkliplatz, where there are regular boats and boats that will take you on a tour of the Zürich Sea.
The boat trip doesn’t have to be that long, for example you can drive just one stop to the Zurichhorn, a large and popular family park on the eastern shores of the lake. At the same time, take the opportunity to visit the Chinese Gardens, a gift from Zurich’s friendship city of Kunming. Open between 1100 and 1900 from March to October.
If you still feel fresh and obvious, it is not far to go back to the city center, about two kilometers along the Zurich Sea. For today’s latest cultural activity, turn right into Rämistrasse when you arrive at Bellevue Platz, and visit the city’s premier art gallery, Kunsthaus. Here you can see works from the 1400s up to the present day, including by Munch, Monet, Rodin and Picasso.
After a long day with many miles traveled, it is well time to return to the hotel and shower. In the evening, you can pick and choose from the many eateries and eateries in the always pleasant Niederdorf.