William Braun

12 Best Things to Do in Zürich: Must-See Attractions

Are you looking to visit Zürich soon? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Zürich. These vibrant sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for a memorable vacation experience.

Zürich – A city where the pristine waters of Lake Zürich meet the timeless charm of cobblestone streets. It’s a place where the Swiss Alps serve as a dramatic backdrop to a bustling metropolis that’s both modern and steeped in history. If you’re yearning for a European getaway that offers a smorgasbord of experiences, look no further. From sipping on world-class Swiss coffee to taking a leisurely boat ride on the lake, things to do in Zürich are as diverse as the city itself, blending the old with the new seamlessly.

But wait, there’s more! This Swiss gem isn’t just about postcard-perfect landscapes and mouth watering chocolates. It’s a hub for art aficionados, history buffs, and adventure seekers alike. Whether you’re wandering through the maze-like streets of the Altstadt or soaking up contemporary vibes in Zürich-West, you’ll find that this city is a tapestry of experiences waiting to be unraveled.

So, pack your bags and put on your most comfortable walking shoes. We’re about to embark on a journey through Zürich that will leave you spellbound and yearning for more. Trust me, by the end of this guide, you’ll be booking your ticket faster than you can say “Swiss watch.” Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Zürich.

The top places to visit in Zürich right now
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Best Places to Visit in Zürich

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Zürich? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this multifaceted vacation spot. So keep reading to discover all these unique Zürich places to visit.

Are you looking to immerse yourself in a rich cultural scene with world-class museums, galleries, and theaters? Or would you prefer to go hiking and biking in the nearby hills to swimming in the pristine waters of Lake Zürich? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Zürich can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Zürich that you should know about.

1. Bahnhofstrasse

Ah, Bahnhofstrasse! It’s not just a street; it’s an experience. Imagine walking down one of the world’s most exclusive shopping avenues, surrounded by luxury boutiques and international brands. But here’s the kicker: it’s not just about the shopping. A visit to the Bahnhofstrasse is one of those unique things to do in Zürich where you can feel the city’s pulse.

You start at Bahnhofplatz, near the main train station, and as you walk, the scenery changes. First, it’s busy, filled with the hustle and bustle of daily life. Then, as you approach Lake Zürich, the atmosphere becomes serene, almost meditative. Cafés line the street, offering the perfect pit stops for people-watching or sipping a cup of Swiss hot chocolate.

Thinking of what to do in Zürich if you’re not into shopping? Don’t fret. Bahnhofstrasse offers more than just retail therapy. The street is a historical treasure trove, home to some of the city’s most iconic buildings like the UBS Polybahn, a cute funicular railway, and the majestic Credit Suisse building.

So, whether you’re a shopaholic or a history enthusiast, Bahnhofstrasse has something for everyone. It’s a place where the city’s past and present collide in the most delightful way.

Bahnhofstrasse is one of the best things to do in Zürich.
Bahnhofstrasse: Zürich’s exclusive shopping avenue and a vibrant city experience.

2. Swiss National Museum

You know you’re in for a treat when you step into the Swiss National Museum, housed in a fairy-tale neo-Gothic building that looks like it’s straight out of a storybook. This is where to visit in Zürich if you’re keen on diving deep into Swiss culture, history, and art.

Swiss National Museum isn’t your run-of-the-mill museum; it’s a journey through time. The moment you walk in, you’re greeted by an array of artifacts that tell the tale of Switzerland, from its medieval beginnings to its role in world events. Each room is a new chapter, each artifact a paragraph in the story of this fascinating country.

The museum also boasts an impressive collection of art, including works by Swiss masters that you won’t find anywhere else. And for those who prefer interactive experiences, there’s a whole section dedicated to hands-on exhibits. It’s among the Zürich attractions that caters to all, from history buffs to curious kiddos.

Why is the Swiss National Museum an essential destination in Zürich? Because it offers a comprehensive, engaging, and utterly exceptional glimpse into the heart of Swiss culture. Trust us, this is one chapter of Switzerland’s story you won’t want to skip.

Swiss National Museum: Dive into Swiss culture, history, and art in a fairy-tale neo-Gothic setting.
Swiss National Museum: Dive into Swiss culture, history, and art in a fairy-tale neo-Gothic setting.

3. Lake Zürich

Ahoy, adventure seekers! Ever thought about sailing on a Swiss lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains? Well, Lake Zürich offers just that, and it’s one of the coolest things to do in Zürich you can indulge in. Picture this: you’re on a boat, the Alpine wind in your hair, and the city’s skyline gradually fades into the background as you venture further into the lake.

Lake Zürich isn’t just a body of water; it’s an experience. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a first-timer, there’s something for everyone. You can rent a boat for a private tour or join a group cruise that takes you to some of the lake’s most enchanting spots.

And let’s not forget the culinary delights! Many cruises offer Swiss delicacies onboard, so you can savor local flavors while enjoying panoramic views. It’s a feast for all your senses.

As the sun sets, the lake transforms into a shimmering spectacle, making it one of the unique places in Zürich to witness a sunset. So, if you’re looking for a blend of adventure, relaxation, and a dash of romance, sailing on Lake Zürich is a must.

Lake Zürich offers an adventure like no other, with sailing amidst snow-capped mountains and a stunning city backdrop.
Lake Zürich offers an adventure like no other, with sailing amidst snow-capped mountains and a stunning city backdrop.

4. Uetliberg Mountain

Elevate your Zürich adventure—literally! Uetliberg Mountain is not just a hill overlooking the city; it’s your ticket to unparalleled views. Imagine standing 871 meters above sea level, with the city’s hustle and bustle reduced to mere whispers. Now, that’s what I call a must-see in Zürich.

The journey to the top is half the fun. You can hike, bike, or even take a train. Each path offers its own set of scenic eye-candies, from lush forests to charming Swiss homes. And if you’re a fan of mountain biking, the trails here are nothing short of exhilarating.

Once you reach the summit, make sure to visit the Uetliberg Tower. For a small fee, you can climb to the top and get a 360-degree view of the entire Zürich region, the lake, and even the Alps on a clear day. It’s a sight that will make your Instagram followers green with envy.

If you’re a foodie, the mountaintop restaurant, Felsenegg, offers delicious Swiss cuisine with a view. It’s the cherry on top of an already perfect day.

When compiling a list of Zürich places to visit, Uetliberg Mountain should be right at the top. Trust me; it’s a high you won’t forget.

Visit Uetliberg Mountain to elevate your adventure with unparalleled views from 871 meters above sea level.
Visit Uetliberg Mountain to elevate your adventure with unparalleled views from 871 meters above sea level.

5. Kunsthaus

Art lovers, this one’s for you! Kunsthaus Zürich isn’t just another art museum; it’s a treasure trove of masterpieces that span several centuries. From Monet to Munch, this place has it all. If you’re curious about the best things to do in Zürich and you have a penchant for the arts, you’ve found your sanctuary.

The museum’s architecture itself is a feast for the eyes, blending modern design with classic Swiss elements. As you wander through the labyrinthine halls, you’ll encounter works from the Middle Ages to contemporary art. It’s a visual journey through time, and each room offers a new surprise.

But here’s the kicker: the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions that are nothing short of groundbreaking. Whether it’s avant-garde installations or retrospectives of legendary artists, these exhibitions are the talk of the town.

And don’t even get me started on the museum’s café! Picture this: sipping on a Swiss latte while overlooking a tranquil garden. It’s the perfect pit stop in your day of cultural exploration.

Kunsthaus Zürich is a sanctuary for art lovers with masterpieces spanning centuries.
Kunsthaus Zürich is a sanctuary for art lovers with masterpieces spanning centuries, a must-visit in Zürich.

6. Zürich Opera House

Ever thought about adding a dash of drama to your Zürich itinerary? Well, the Zürich Opera House is where you’ll want to be. This isn’t just a place to sit and clap; it’s a venue that brings stories to life, right before your eyes. If you’re looking for Zürich things to do that you shouldn’t miss, this one should be right there on top.

The building itself is a marvel, with its neo baroque architecture and intricate details that can make anyone stop and stare. But the real magic happens inside. The moment the curtain rises, you’re transported to different worlds—be it a Shakespearean tragedy or a Mozart opera.

Here’s something you might not know: the Opera House also offers behind-the-scenes tours. Ever wondered what it takes to put on a world-class performance? This is your chance to find out. From costume design to set building, it’s an eye-opening experience.

And let’s not forget the dining options. The Opera House is surrounded by some of the city’s finest restaurants. Why not make a night of it? Start with a pre-show dinner and end with a standing ovation.

In a city known for its banking, the Opera House is Zürich’s cultural vault.

Zürich Opera House is on one of the best things to do in Zürich.
The Zürich Opera House is a must-visit in Zürich, where drama comes to life in an unforgettable experience.

7. The Botanical Garden of the University of Zürich

Ah, the Botanical Garden of the University of Zürich. It’s not just a garden; it’s a sanctuary. Imagine stepping into a world where the city’s hustle and bustle fade into the background, replaced by the symphony of nature. If you’re wondering what to do in Zürich to escape the urban chaos, this is your answer.

You’ll be greeted by over 15,000 species of trees, plants, and herbs. It’s like walking through a living encyclopedia of flora. The garden is divided into three geographically themed zones: the Asian, American, and African sections. Each offers a distinctive glimpse into the world’s biodiversity.

The garden also features a series of greenhouses. These climate-controlled spaces house plants that wouldn’t otherwise survive in Switzerland’s temperate climate. From tropical orchids to desert cacti, it’s a journey through Earth’s ecosystems without ever leaving Zürich.

For those who love photography, this place is a dream. The natural lighting, the vibrant colors, and the intricate details of each plant make for stunning shots. It’s one of those Zürich attractions that’s as much about the journey as it is about the destination.

If you’re compiling a list of cool destinations in Zürich, the Botanical Garden is a breath of fresh air—literally. It’s a place where you can slow down, breathe deeply, and reconnect with nature. Is this botanic garden among the top things to do in Zurich, Switzerland? Absolutely!

The Botanical Garden of the University of Zürich: A sanctuary to escape urban chaos and immerse in the symphony of nature.
The Botanical Garden of the University of Zürich: A sanctuary to escape urban chaos and immerse in the symphony of nature.

8. Lindenhof Hill

Welcome to Lindenhof Hill. It’s a time capsule. If walls could talk, the remnants of the Roman castle here would tell tales of Zürich’s ancient past. But let’s not get lost in history just yet. First, let’s talk about the view. From the hilltop, you can see the Limmat River curling through the city like a silver ribbon. It’s among the unique things to do in Zürich for anyone who appreciates a good panorama.

Now, back to history. The Lindenhof remains are a testament to Zürich’s Roman heritage. You’ll find ruins, but you’ll also find life—chess players, artists sketching the landscape, and locals taking a breather. It’s a distinct blend of the old and the new, making it one of the best places to go in Zürich where history and present coexist.

The hill is also home to a Lindenhof Museum. Inside, you’ll find artifacts that tell the story of Zürich from Roman times to the present. It’s like a crash course in local history, without the homework.

Lindenhof Hill is a place that invites you to sit, ponder, and maybe even learn a thing or two.

Lindenhof Hill: A historic time capsule with Roman remnants and a panoramic view of Zürich, a unique must-do in the city.
Lindenhof Hill: A historic time capsule with Roman remnants and a panoramic view of Zürich, a unique must-do in the city.

9. Zürich Zoo

Ever wondered what it’s like to roam the Masoala Rainforest without leaving Zürich? Well, the Zürich Zoo is your ticket to an exotic escape. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill zoo; it’s a conservation haven. And let me tell you, it’s one of the coolest activities in Zürich for families, couples, or solo adventurers.

Imagine you’re walking through the Kaeng Krachan Elephant Park, and you feel like you’ve stepped into a Thai jungle. The elephants are so close you can almost touch them. It’s a surreal experience that makes you forget you’re in the heart of a European city.

But the zoo isn’t just about elephants and rainforests. Oh no, it’s a whole world of biodiversity. From the African savannah to the South American pampas, it’s a global journey in a single day. And if you’re a bird lover, the aviary is a must-see in Zürich. It’s like stepping into an ornithologist’s dream.

The Zürich Zoo is deeply committed to conservation. They’re not just showcasing animals; they’re also educating visitors about the importance of biodiversity. So, you’re not just having fun; you’re also contributing to a greater cause.

An exotic escape to the Masoala Rainforest and a conservation haven, perfect for families, couples, or solo adventurers.
Zürich Zoo: An exotic escape to the Masoala Rainforest and a conservation haven, perfect for families, couples, or solo adventurers.

10. Zürich West

Ah, Zürich West! Once an industrial wasteland, now a canvas for the city’s most avant-garde artists. If you’re thinking of where to go in Zürich to experience its edgier, more modern side, this is it.

First off, let’s talk about the Freitag Tower. Made entirely of shipping containers, this quirky structure is a symbol of Zürich West’s transformation. It’s not just a store; it’s a statement. And the view from the top? Absolutely Instagram-worthy.

As you wander through the streets, you’ll stumble upon murals that tell stories—stories of Zürich, of Switzerland, and of the world. Each piece is a conversation starter, making you ponder the power of art in social change.

And for the foodies among us, the district is sprinkled with trendy cafes and eateries that serve everything from vegan delights to Swiss classics. It’s a gastronomic adventure that complements the visual feast.

So, what makes Zürich West truly special? It’s more than just a place; it’s a vibe. It’s where the city’s pulse is most palpable, where every corner is a blend of the old and the new. Zürich West is one of those best places in Zürich where you can feel the city’s heart beating in sync with your own.

Explore Zürich's edgier, modern side in Zürich West, a former industrial canvas turned avant-garde hotspot.
Explore Zürich’s edgier, modern side in Zürich West, a former industrial canvas turned avant-garde hotspot.

11. Langstrasse

Ready to dance the night away? Langstrasse is where Zürich’s nocturnal magic happens. This bustling street is the city’s nightlife hub, and it’s got something for everyone. From swanky cocktail bars to underground techno clubs, Langstrasse is the place to be when the sun goes down.

Envision this: You start your evening with a craft cocktail at one of the chic bars, where mixologists are more like magicians. The atmosphere is electric, and you can feel the excitement building. Next, you’re off to a live music venue. The crowd is eclectic, the vibe is infectious, and before you know it, you’re part of a spontaneous dance-off!

Langstrasse isn’t just about the nightlife. By day, it’s a bustling street filled with eclectic shops and international eateries. A visit to this destination is one of those best things to do in Zürich that’s as lively in daylight as it is under the neon lights.

Whether you’re a party animal or just someone who enjoys good music and great company, this street is the go-to spot in Zürich. It’s not just a street; it’s an experience, a story waiting to be written with every step you take.

Langstrasse offers everything from swanky cocktail bars to underground techno clubs for a memorable night out.
Langstrasse offers everything from swanky cocktail bars to underground techno clubs for a memorable night out.

12. Bürkliplatz Market

Craving a culinary adventure in Zürich? Head to Bürkliplatz Market by Lake Zürich for organic finds and Swiss chocolates. Open Tuesdays and Fridays, it’s a foodie’s paradise. If you’re around between May and October, don’t miss the Street Food Festival at Hardplatz. From Korean BBQ to Italian gelato, it’s a global feast.

Seafood lovers, make your way to St. Moritz Fish Market in the city center. Open year-round, it offers everything from local perch to North Sea crab. And for dessert? Confiserie Sprüngli on Bahnhofstrasse is a must. Their truffles and Luxemburgerli macarons are heavenly.

Wondering about a thing to do in Zürich that’ll delight your taste buds? These food markets are a must-visit. Trust me, your palate will thank you.

Bürkliplatz Market: foodie paradise with organic delights and Swiss chocolates, open on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Bürkliplatz Market: Zürich’s foodie paradise with organic delights and Swiss chocolates, open on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Zürich

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Zürich? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Zürich:

What’s the best time to visit Zürich?

The best time to visit Zürich is during the late spring and summer months, from May to August. This period offers pleasant weather for outdoor activities, including exploring the city’s attractions and enjoying the beautiful lakeside areas. The vibrant summer festivals and events are also a highlight during this time.

Is Zurich worth visiting?

Absolutely! Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland, is a vibrant blend of modernity and tradition. The city offers a wide range of attractions and experiences for visitors. Here are some reasons why Zurich is worth visiting:

  1. Cultural Hub: Zurich is home to over 50 museums and 100 art galleries. The Kunsthaus Zurich is one of the most significant art museums in Switzerland, boasting an impressive collection of modern and contemporary works.
  2. Historic Old Town: The city’s Old Town is a maze of narrow streets and alleys, lined with medieval and Renaissance buildings. Key attractions include the Grossmünster and Fraumünster churches, both with their distinct towers.
  3. Lake Zurich: The picturesque lake is a focal point of the city, offering opportunities for boat rides, picnics, and leisurely strolls along its promenade. The views of the Alps in the distance are breathtaking.
  4. Shopping: The world-famous Bahnhofstrasse is one of the most exclusive shopping streets globally, lined with luxury boutiques. For more local and quirky finds, the Niederdorf area in the Old Town is a great place to explore.
  5. Culinary Scene: From traditional Swiss dishes in historic guild houses to international cuisine in modern eateries, Zurich offers a diverse culinary landscape. Don’t forget to try some Swiss chocolate and cheese!
  6. Proximity to the Alps: Zurich is a gateway to the Swiss Alps, making it a convenient base for day trips to nearby mountain resorts, hiking trails, and ski areas.

Is visiting Zürich expensive?

Yes, Zürich is known for its high cost of living, and it can be an expensive destination for tourists. Accommodation, dining, and transportation costs are notably high. However, there are ways to manage expenses by choosing budget-friendly options and planning activities carefully.

How many days do I need in Zürich?

A stay of 2 to 3 days is typically sufficient to explore the main attractions of Zürich, including its museums, historic sites, and scenic lakeside areas. However, the duration of your visit can vary based on personal interests and whether you plan to explore nearby beautiful destinations in Switzerland.

Is Zürich safe for tourists?

Yes, Zürich is generally considered a safe destination for tourists. The city has a low crime rate, and public transportation is reliable and secure. However, as with any travel destination, it’s advisable to take standard precautions, such as safeguarding your belongings and being aware of your surroundings, to ensure a safe visit.

Zürich, Switzerland bridge over tranquil waters.
Zürich, Switzerland bridge over tranquil waters.

Are 2 days enough for Zurich?

Two days in Zurich is a relatively short time, but it’s enough to get a taste of the city’s highlights and ambiance. Here’s a suggested itinerary to make the most of your 48 hours:

Day 1: Explore the Old Town and Cultural Highlights

  1. Morning:
    • Start with a stroll through the Old Town (Altstadt). Wander the narrow, winding streets and alleys, soaking in the medieval and Renaissance architecture.
    • Visit the Grossmünster, an iconic twin-towered church. If you’re up for it, climb the tower for a panoramic view of the city.
    • Explore the Fraumünster, known for its stained-glass windows designed by Marc Chagall.
  2. Afternoon:
    • Head to the Kunsthaus Zurich, one of the leading art museums in Switzerland, and immerse yourself in its collection of modern and contemporary art.
    • Take a leisurely walk along the Bahnhofstrasse, one of the world’s most exclusive shopping streets. Even if luxury shopping isn’t on your agenda, it’s worth experiencing the boulevard’s ambiance.
  3. Evening:
    • Dine in the Old Town. There are numerous restaurants offering both Swiss and international cuisine. Don’t forget to try a traditional dish like fondue or raclette!

Day 2: Lake Zurich, Uetliberg, and Local Experiences

  1. Morning:
    • Start your day with a boat ride on Lake Zurich. The scenic views of the city against the backdrop of the Alps are breathtaking.
    • After the boat ride, relax by the lake, perhaps at the Zurichhorn Park, and enjoy the serene environment.
  2. Afternoon:
    • Take a train to Uetliberg, a mountain offering panoramic views of the entire city of Zurich, the Lake Zurich, the Limmat Valley, and the Alps.
    • After descending, you might want to explore some local neighborhoods or visit one of Zurich’s many smaller museums or galleries.
  3. Evening:
    • Consider visiting the Zurich West district, a former industrial area turned trendy with its boutiques, cafes, and bars. It’s a great place to experience Zurich’s contemporary side.
    • Enjoy dinner in this area or opt for a cozy eatery in another part of the city.

Do people speak English in Zürich?

Yes, many people in Zürich, particularly those working in the tourism industry, speak English fluently. English is widely understood and used as a second language, making it relatively easy for English-speaking tourists to navigate the city and communicate with locals during their visit.

What is Zurich best known for?

Zürich is best known as a global financial hub, but there’s so much more to this Swiss city. Renowned for its well-preserved medieval architecture, it also boasts vibrant cultural scenes, high-end shopping on Bahnhofstrasse, and stunning natural landscapes like Lake Zürich and the nearby Alps. It’s a blend of cosmopolitan and quaint.

Is it worth spending a day in Zurich?

Absolutely, a day in Zürich is a day well-spent! Whether you’re into history, art, or just want to soak in the natural beauty, Zürich offers a little bit of everything. From exploring the Old Town to taking a boat ride on Lake Zürich, your day will be packed with unforgettable experiences.

Closing Thoughts on Exploring Zürich

So there you have it, wanderlusters! A comprehensive guide to the coolest activities in Zürich that’ll make your Instagram feed the envy of all your friends. From the towering peaks of Uetliberg to the bustling food markets, Zürich is a city that effortlessly combines the old with the new, the tranquil with the vibrant, and the gourmet with the downright delicious.

Whether you’re an art aficionado, a history buff, or someone who just loves to eat their way through a new city, Zürich has something for everyone. And let’s not forget those breathtaking Swiss landscapes that look like they’ve been lifted straight from a postcard.

So, pack your bags, book that flight, and get ready to explore one of Europe’s most captivating cities. Zürich, here we come!

The top things to do in Zürich for all types of travelers
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