What to see in Zurich: the 15 best attractions and things to do

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Zurich, Switzerland's international banking and financial center, is located in the far north of Lake Zurich and offers numerous tourist attractions and suggestive neighborhoods, able to meet the needs of all tourists. The most suitable term to describe the Swiss city is "surprising", thanks above all to its soul devoted to technological innovation, but which at the same time does not forget its most ancient traditions.

Have we intrigued you? Let's find out together what to see in Zurich, what are the best attractions and things to do to better enjoy this amazing destination!


  1. Lake of Zurich
  2. Old town
  3. Grossmünster
  4. Fraumünster
  5. Wasserkirche
  6. Church of St. Peter
  7. Bahnhofstrasse
  8. Kunsthaus Zürich
  9. Swiss National Museum
  10. Opera House
  11. Pavillon Le Corbusier
  12. Buhrle collection
  13. Lindenhof
  14. Niederdorf
  15. Zurich-West
  16. Other attractions to visit
  17. 11 things to do in Zurich
  18. User questions and comments

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1 - Lake of Zurich

Zurich's number one natural attraction it is definitely the wonderful lake of Zurich, in Swiss Zürichsee. The city develops in the northernmost part of the lake, at the point where the Limmat river flows into its waters.

Away from the chaos of the city, here you can pass a few hours in close contact with nature, perhaps taking part in a relaxing boat ride. Of extraordinary beauty, however, the promenade along the lake, the Seepromenade. In general, the whole territory of the lake is ideal for excursions and tours to discover historic villages, riparian landscapes and wide woods.

Zurich develops on the northern shore of the lake, easily reachable on foot from any point in the historic center. You can visit the lake on foot, by boat or by bike. The various villages are connected by the railway line - Get directions

Relax on the beach: if you travel during the summer, visit one of the many seaside resorts along the lake! In fact, there are numerous areas used as solarium and swimming pools, where you can swim or sunbathe

2 - Altstadt

The historic center of Zurich, the Altstadt, is characterized by characteristic alleys, ancient buildings, antique shops and colorful squares. A succession of beauties and typical neighborhoods, such as Schipfe, the oldest district of Zurich, or Niederdorf, a real pedestrian area! Also not to be missed is Sechselautenplatz, the largest and most famous square in Zurich! For a first approach to the city, we recommend that you take part in a walking tour of the historic center, where a guide will take you to discover its secrets!

And if during the day the historic center is ideal for a pleasant and relaxing walk, in the evening it becomes the hub of nightlife! ! A real paradise for those who want to stay up late, including cocktails bars, pubs and discos, even outdoors in the summer.

The historic center develops on the banks of the Lammat River and is easily accessible on foot, the best way to explore it, as many areas are entirely pedestrianized. The Central Train Station is located just 5 minutes walk from the historic center - Get directions

Attend events: the historic center is alive in every season, with great events and anniversaries! For example, the Christmas markets in December are not to be missed, while in April a large fake snowman is burned in Sechselautenplatz, to celebrate the arrival of spring.

3 - Grossmünster

The Grossmünster is the old cathedral of Zurich, dedicated to the patron saints of the city: Felix and Regula. Built in 1100, today it is a Protestant church and is the symbol of the city, as well as a place rich in history. It is precisely here, in fact, that in 1500 the Swiss German Prostestant Reform came to life and started.

The exterior is characterized by the presence of two high towers, rebuilt in the 700s due to a collapse. The Karlsturm also offers a wonderful panoramic terrace to admire the city. The interior is very austere and bare, yet imposing at the same time! Here we find important Romanesque sculptures and several references to the Lombard architectural school.

  • in Grossmünsterplatz, in the Altstadt. Easily accessible on foot from Fraumünster (180 m, 2 min). Helmhaus Reference Tram Stop (Lines 1 & 15) - Get directions
  • from March to October 10: 00-18: 00, from November to February 10: 00-17: 00. Limited tourist visits during celebrations and religious occasions
  • free

4 - Fraumünster

Located on the opposite bank from the Grossmünster, the Kirche Fraumünster is one of the most important churches in the city and it owes its name to the female convent that once stood here. Dating back to the th century, its beauty has led to a large number of tourist visits, thus requiring paid entry to control access.

This church, in the Gothic-Romanesque style, is unmistakable thanks to its green roof bell tower, which makes it stand out in the city skyline. The interior is truly magnificent as well one of the strong points are certainly the large windows, the work of artists such as Marc Chagall and Augusto Giacometti.

Visit the Christmas market: during the month of December, the Weihnachtsmarkt Münsterhof is held in the Cathedral square, with handicrafts, souvenirs and typical local delicacies

  • in Münsterhof 2, in the Altstadt. Easily accessible on foot from Grossmünster (180 m, 2 min). Reference Kantonalbank Tram Stop (Lines 2, 8, 9 & 11) - Get Directions
  • every day 10 am-00pm, Sun from 17pm. Limited tourist visits during celebrations and religious occasions
  • single € 5,00, up to 16 years free

5 - Wasserkirche

Continue the discovery of the wonderful churches of the city. Let's now talk about the Wasserkirche, located next to the Grossmünster. Wasser in German means water, and there was no better name for the church given its location: it is located on the bank of the Limmat River, right on the shore.

From troubled history, the church changed its function over the centuries: for some periods it was used as a goods warehouse and as a library. Nowadays it covers its original function, with the celebration of various religious functions. To admire inside its large windows of the choir, also decorated by Augusto Giacometti.

  • in Limmatquai 31, in the Altstadt, next to the Grossmünster. Easily accessible on foot from Fraumünster (180 m, 2 min). Helmhaus Reference Tram Stop (Lines 1 & 15) - Get directions
  • Tue-Sun 14: 00-17: 00, closed Mon. Limited tourist visits during celebrations and religious occasions
  • free

6 - Church of San Pietro

The Basilicia of San Pietro, is one of the most characteristic churches in the city of Zurich, a few steps from the Fraumünster. Its construction rests on an ancient architectural structure dating back to Roman times and represents the oldest medieval structure in the city.

As soon as you see it, your eye will be immediately captured by the marvelous clock tower, its distinctive feature. The clock has a diameter of approximately 8m, making it one of the largest dials in Europe! Characterized by different architectural styles, from Romanesque to Gothic, up to the Baroque, here is also the tomb of Rudolf Burn, the first mayor of the city and editor of the Constitution of the Zurich Guild

  • in St. Peterhofstatt 1, in the Altstadt. Easily accessible on foot from Fraumünster (250 m, 3 min). Reference Kantonalbank Tram Stop (Lines 2, 8, 9 & 11) - Get Directions
  • every day 8: 00-18: 00. Limited tourist visits during celebrations and religious occasions
  • free

7 - Bahnhofstrasse

For all shopping lovers, the street to visit is undoubtedly the Banhofstrasse, a collection of truly fantastic nineteenth-century buildings, characterized by luxury shops and its famous banks. It is now a real attraction, due to its characteristics also nicknamed the way of gold and diamonds!

With some of the most exclusive shops in the world, high fashion boutiques and shopping centers, the best way to experience it is certainly on foot, admiring the many shop windows and taking a break in one of the many bars along the street. The heart of Bahnhofstrasse is Paradeplatz, the square where the headquarters of the most important banks in the country are located.

Bahnhofstrasse runs through the entire historic center of Zurich, from the main railway station to the lakeside. To be explored on foot only, the area is still served by several tram stops and lines - Get Directions

Have breakfast at Confiserie Sprüngli: this place is one of the most famous in the city, offering excellent coffee and delicious desserts, from chocolate to macarons. Price expensive, in the average of the Swiss clubs, but it's really worth it!

8 - Kunsthaus Zürich

And after the churches and shopping, it's time to discover some of the most famous museums in the city! Starting with the Kunsthaus Zürich, or the Zurich House of Art, a museum of ancient, modern and contemporary art. Absolutely not to be missed if you are a lover of the genre!

In the museum they are several significant collections of artistic relics are exhibited, which start from the Middle Ages up to the twentieth century, with a particular focus on Swiss art. The most significant collections of the Kunsthaus Zürich are the works of Edvard Munch and Alberto Giacometti. You can also admire works by Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Giorgio De Chirico, Paul Klee and Georges Braque.

  • in Heimplatz 1, in the Altstadt. Easily accessible on foot from Grossmünster (550 m, 7 min). Kunsthaus reference bus and tram stop (tram lines 3, 5, 8, 9 and 11) - Get directions
  • Tue-Sat 10: 00-18: 00, Wed-Thu until 19:00, Sun-Mon closed
  • permanent collection full 16,00 CHF (€ 14,80), reduced 11,00 CHF (€ 10,20) / Temporary exhibitions and special exhibitions variable cost, consult the official website

9 - Swiss National Museum

The Swiss National Museum, full name Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum, is located right next to the central station and tells the cultural history of Switzerland. The museum is housed in a building dating back to 1892, which looks like an old medieval castle.

Inside you can admire the richest collection in the country, with interactive and multimedia exhibitions, therefore also suitable for children! You will see archaeological finds from prehistoric times and Roman times, medieval and modern art relics, and other objects relating to the politics and economics of the Helvetic Confederation.

Reach the Platzspitzbrunnen: behind the museum develops the city park, the Platzspitz, which reaches the point where the Limmat river divides into two different watercourses. This point offers spectacular views and also features a wonderful fountain

  • in Museumstrasse 2, in the Altstadt, next to the Central Train Station. Easily reachable on foot from the Church of San Pietro (950 m, 11 min). Reference stop Bahnhofquai / HB (numerous tram and bus lines) - Get directions
  • Tue-Sun 10 am-00pm, closed Mon
  • full 10,00 CHF (€ 9,30), reduced 8,00 CHF (€ 7,40)

10 - Opera House

The Opera House, the Opernhaus Zürich, is located in the city center. At first it was used as a musical and dramatic theater, then, after the construction of the Schauspielhaus, he specialized in opera, operetta and ballet. In addition to philharmonic concerts and jazz concerts, you can also attend matinees and special shows for children.

The building that houses the theater will immediately attract your attention for its imposing and harmonious structure. This is the smaller among the international opera houses, in fact inside it has 1.100 seats. Unfortunately it cannot be visited inside, except for shows and events, but it is still worth a visit from the outside and a nice photo!

  • in Sechseläutenpl. 1, in the Altstadt, on the river bank. Easily accessible on foot from Grossmünster (650 m, 9 min). Opernhaus reference stop (tram lines 2 and 4, bus lines 912 and 916) - Get directions
  • based on events and shows, consult the official website
  • based on events and shows, consult the official website

11 - Pavillon Le Corbusier

In a wonderful landscape setting, among splendid gardens and right in front of the lake, is the Pavillon Le Corbusier, museum designed and dedicated to the Swiss architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known worldwide as Le Corbusier.

Also known as Centro Le Corbusier, it is the only museum designed by the architect himself, as well as being his latest creation. Commissioned by Heidi Weber, this place was to be a building where art, architecture, design, furniture and landscape came together, with the aim of creating a real 360 ° work of art. And in fact, in addition to the works exhibited inside, the building is also a real jewel, which is definitely worth a visit.

Visit the nearby Chinagarten Zürich: leaving the museum, you will find them facing the lake with a spectacular view! A little corner of China and the East in Zurich!

  • in Höschgasse 8, on the bank of the Limmat river. Easily reached on foot from Opernhaus Zürich with a walk along the riverside (1,2 km, 15 min). Elektrowatt reference bus stop (lines 912 and 916) - Get directions
  • only in summer, from May to October. Tue-Sun 12: 00-18: 00, Thu until 20:00, closed Mon
  • full 10,00 CHF (€ 9,30), reduced 8,00 CHF (€ 7,40)

12 - Buhrle Collection

Located outside the historic center, the world-famous Buhrle art collection, original name Stiftung Sammlung EG Bührle, is a collection of impressionist and modern art, born thanks to the industrialist Emil Georg Bührle, from which it takes its name.

Here you can admire masterpieces of impressionist and modern art. The museum exhibits works by: Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Amedeo Modigliani and many others. Therefore ideal for all art lovers.

  • in Zollikerstrasse 172, outside the Altstadt. Easily accessible on foot from the Botanical Garden (800 m, 10 min). Reference bus stop Altenhofstrasse (line 77). Bahnhof Tiefenbrunnen train station 500m - Get directions
  • Tue-Sun 10: 00-18: 00, Wed Thu and Fri until 20:00, closed Mon
  • currently under renovation, see the official website

13 - Lindenhof

Let's find out now some of the most characteristic districts of Zurich, not to be missed. Let's start from the Lindenhof, a wonderful hilly neighborhood which can be reached from the Altstadt with a pleasant walk. This area has an important historical value, as it rises around the remains of a Roman castle.

It is an ideal neighborhood to relax, where the locals also come to read a good book, play chess, admire the view, spend some time with friends or family and sit under the lime trees, in German Linden (name from which the hill takes its name). An ideal place for children as well, where they can have fun in the Kinderspielplatz Switzerland playground.

It can be easily reached on foot from the Church of San Pietro (180 m, 3 min), the climb is simple and pleasant, also feasible for those who are not well trained or move with small children. Rathaus Reference Tram Stop (Lines 4 & 15) - Get Directions

Visit it at sunset: this hill offers a wonderful view over the city, from which to take endless photos

14 - Niederdorf

The Niederdorf is a very suggestive district of the city of Zurich, characterized by medieval buildings and narrow streets populated by street artists. It develops on the eastern bank of the Limmat River, in the northern part of the historic center.

Here you will find a mix of attractions, gastronomy and shopping, the ideal place to spend at least an afternoon between visits and relaxing breaks in one of the many outdoor tables of the premises. It is in fact a completely pedestrian area, quiet and magical during the day, while in the evening it turns into the center of the nightlife, with local tanssimi.

Easily accessible on foot from anywhere in the historic center, such as from Grossmünster (400 m, 5 min). Pedestrian area, reference tram stops Rudolf-Brun-Brücke (lines 4 and 15) and Rathaus (lines 4 and 15) - Get directions

Take a coffee break from 1842 im Haus Conditorei Schober: it is one of the historic pastry shops in Zurich, characterized by well-kept antique-style interiors. We advise you to try the strudel, really delicious!

15 - Zurich-West

Let's move now to Zurich-West, the modern and eclectic quarter of Zurich! This area was born from a former industrial area, now completely redeveloped and which houses art galleries, restaurants, boutiques, design shops and an indoor market (every Saturday 9: 00-20: 00)!

Among the attractions not to be missed the Prime Tower stands out, a 126 m high skyscraper, with modern architecture, which houses offices, commercial premises and even a panoramic restaurant! It is then impossible not to take a picture in front of the Freitag Tower, an intelligent example of building recycling, as the tower is built with colorful containers and houses the company of the same name, very well known worldwide.

The district is located north of the old town, near the Zürich Hardbrücke train station (240 m, 3 min). It is served by several stops and tram and bus lines. Reference stop for Prime Tower and Freitag Tower Schiffbau (tram lines 4 and 8) - Get directions

Other attractions to visit

Zurich is a city full of things to do, where culture, history and nature blend togethermaking it an ideal destination for all types of travelers. So far we have seen the must sees, but there are other attractions that are worth a visit based on the time available.

Let's start with museums: the Rietberg Museum (18,00 CHF / € 16,70), one of the largest art museums in Switzerland, housed in a wonderful building surrounded by gardens; the FIFA World Football Museum (24,00 CHF / € 22,20), ideal for football lovers, with a collection of over 1.000 memorabilia and exclusive items; and the Zoologisches Museum (free), a natural history museum, also ideal for children, located inside the University of Zurich.

If you love nature, you cannot miss the Botanischer Garten der Universität Zürich (free), the university's botanical garden, with wonderful plants, paths and a café surrounded by greenery. Finally, we recommend you climb the Uetiliberg mountain (free), from which you can admire a wonderful view of the city, the lake and all the surroundings! Ideal place for outdoor activities, such as mountain biking and hiking.

11 things to do in Zurich

  1. River cruise: take a river cruise to admire the city from another perspective. Info and costs here
  2. Visit to the Chocolate factory: Lindt & Sprüngli is one of the most famous chocolate factories in the world! Info and costs here
  3. Take the cable car: enjoy a ferry ride first and then take the cable car to admire the beautiful Zurich from above, a postcard landscape! Info and costs here
  4. Taste Swiss fondue and wine: impossible to visit Switzerland without tasting the famous Swiss cheese fondue, perhaps accompanied by an excellent glass of wine! Some food tours available
  5. Take a picture on the Münsterbrücke: one of the most beautiful and famous bridges in Zurich, and also one of the most photographed! Unmissable at sunset, when the city lights start to turn on
  6. Go along Augustinergasse: one of the most famous streets in Zurich, with colorful houses and different Swiss flags on the facades, as well as cute places with outdoor tables for a coffee break
  7. Aperitif at sunset by Jules Verne Panoramabar Zurich: one of the places with the most beautiful view in Zurich, ideal for an aperitif while watching the sunset over the city
  8. Attend the Street Parade: one of the most anticipated events in Zurich, a techno event held at the end of August, when for two days the city becomes the stage for numerous DJ sets with international artists of house and techno music
  9. Tuk tuk ride: why not admire the city in a different and more fun way? Then enjoy a nice tuk tuk ride to discover the main attractions of Zurich. Info and costs here
  10. Discover the surroundings by bike: Zurich is a very green city, attentive to the environment and which loves nature. So mingle with the locals, explore the lake by bike and enjoy a ride in the beautiful surroundings. Info and costs here
  11. Climb to the roof of Europe: about 130 km from Zurich is the Jungfraujoch, a pass located between the Mönch and Jungfrau mountains in the Bernese Alps, called the roof of Europe. An incredible experience and view, not to be missed. Info and excursion costs here

Plan your stay in Zurich: flights and hotels

Zurich is well connected to Italy both by land and by air. The city is in fact served byZurich-Kloten airport (compare flights). It is a destination from visit all year round: in summer for the many outdoor activities, in winter for the atmosphere of the Christmas markets and winter sports!

The best neighborhood to stay in is the historic center (compare the accommodations on booking), this will also allow you to move easily on foot, but also to enjoy the animated nightlife.

If you are traveling with children, you definitely can't miss a tour around the lake, a walk in the botanical gardens and half a day at the zoo. If you are traveling low cost, Zurich is an expensive destination, like all of Switzerland. Neighborhoods, squares and some attractions are still free, but to save even more we recommend purchasing the Zürich Card, with discounts for visits, transport and restaurants!

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