The 10 best things to do and see in Zurich

What are the best things to do and see in Zurich, Switzerland? Our local experts share their insider tips to make the most of this historic Swiss city on the lake.

1. See the Chagall Windows

Fraumünster Church, one of the four main churches of Zurich, hides in its interior one of the most beautiful stained glass windows created by Marc Chagall. Known as the Chagall Windows and located in the chancel the 5 large stained glass windows depict mesmerising Christian stories. There is also a wonderful rosette in the South transept.

Top tip: Don’t miss Augusto Giacometti’s own stained glass windows located in the North transept of the abbey and Paul Bodmer’s pious frescos in the cloister.

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2. Walk down Bahnhofstrasse

Stretching from the enormous Hauptbahnhof to the lake, Bahnhofstrasse is the main shopping street in Zurich; or window-shopping, depending on your budget. You can find some of Switzerland’s most exclusive high fashion stores here, as well as the flagship boutiques of the luxury watch brands that the country is famous for.

Top tip: Once you’re tired of the shops, head for the large Sprüngli café in Paradeplatz. Its old-world glamour is the perfect place to enjoy coffee and a cake. The wonderful window displays in the chocolate boutique downstairs are also worth a detour.

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3. Take a cheese foundue cruise

What could possibly be more Swiss than a cheese fondue? A cheese fondue aboard an evening cruise on Lake Zurich! Departing from Zürich Bürkliplatz, you will be treated to delicious Swiss cheese and romantic views that will surely be the highlight of the day; and even your trip! Prices are CHF55 for adults and CHF27.50 for children between 6 and 11 years old.

Top tip: If you don’t like cheese, the Fondue Chinoise Cruise is a great alternative. It also departs from Zürich Bürkliplatz and gives you the chance to cook your own meat in a pot of broth and bathe it in a delectable selection of sauces.

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4. Go up Uetliberg

Zurich’s local mountain, offers a great vantage point to take in the city and the lake. You can take the S10 Sihltal Zürich Uetliberg train to the top; then it’s an easy short hike to the summit where you can choose between a panoramic lookout or the dizzy heights of the viewing tower.

Top tip: For an easy family-friendly day hike, take the cable car from Adliswil to Felsenegg and head for the trail that runs along the ridge; it’s a tranquil 6km stroll through green meadows with constant glimpses of the lake.

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5. Visit Café Odeon

Zurich boasts many coffeehouses with a venerable history, making the city a great place if you’re a fan of café culture. To make a date with some illustrious characters from history head to Grand Café Odeon just off Bellevueplatz: it counts Einstein, Lenin, James Joyce and Thomas Mann among its former patrons. Imagine what the walls could say…

Top tip: Café Odeon offers coffee and lunch, but is also ideal for enjoying an aperitif if you can get a seat on the terrace. We recommend ordering an aperolspritz to get in the local spirit, or one of the beautifully-presented seasonal spritzers.

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6. Stroll through the Niederdorf

Much of the attraction of Zurich is enjoying a meander through its historic streets and few are as enchanting as the winding cobbled streets of the Niederdorf area. Located on the banks of the Limmat, they are home to cute boutiques, art galleries and art-house cinemas. If you’re dying to satisfy your curiosity to try fondue or raclette this is the place to go.

Top tip: Head for the Central tram stop at the railway station end of the Niederdorf, where the UBS Polybahn will whisk you up to the ETH University terrace. This impressive square offers great views, and is a favourite destination for a drink on a sunny evening.

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7. Water fun at Seebad Enge

One of the best things about Zurich is its opportunities to get in the water. And there is no cooler place in Lake Zurich, than the Enge swimming area to do so. It boasts a sauna, massages, SHABA treatments and 2 large swimming pools – one exclusively for women – enclosed by wooden planks where you can sunbathe or simply admire the views of Lake Zurich and the Alps.

Top tip: If the water is too cold for your liking, during summer you can opt for yoga classes or try Stand-Up Paddling; equipment can be rented at the premises and lessons are also available for complete beginners.

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8. Visit Kreis 5 and the Viadukt

Zurich’s contemporary quarter is centred around Hardbrücke station and extends to the river. The main attraction here is the Viadukt, an innovative shopping mall tucked into the 30 red brick railway arches. The skyline in this area is punctuated by the urban edge of the Freitag container tower and the sleek glass of the Prime Tower, Zurich’s tallest building.

Top tip: Especially popular in summer, head to Frau Gerold’s Garten for a drink and a bite to eat in the company of Zurich’s hip young things. Regular events and craft markets make sure there’s always something going on here.

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9. Visit the Landesmuseum Zürich

If you want to get to grips with Switzerland and its people, Zurich‘s National Museum is a great place to start. Situated on the river beside the Hauptbahnhof, this well-thought out museum does an excellent job of setting out the long and sometimes convoluted history of how Switzerland came to exist in its present form.

Top tip: Look for the big wheel of typical Swiss things – if you need a humorous and handy shortlist of everything that makes Switzerland great, you’ll find it on there.

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10. Walk through to the Zürichhorn

The strip stretching from Bellevue along the lake shore to the Zürichhorn is the closest Zurich gets to a promenade. Pass the magnificent Opera house and head into the park, where pavement cafés offer seasonally appropriate drinks and snacks, then continue to the Zürichhorn point, where you’ll find the Chinese Garden and lakeside lunch venues.

Top tip: Combine a stroll to the Zürichhorn with a trip back on the flat river ferry that links the Zürihorn Casino pier and the Landesmuseum. It’s a great way to see the city from the water, especially if you can time it with sunset.

Visit Website - Chinese Garden at Zürichhorn

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