If we don’t have time to see all the sights in Zurich, we can limit ourselves to the main ones. Everyone has different interests, so if you want you can read the section and find something that interests him. If you do not have obvious preferences, but you want to feel the atmosphere of the city, then this list is for you. Here to save time given only brief information. If you want more detail, you can go to the right section.
The best places to see in Zurich:
The first place to go is the Bahnhofstrasse, which is the easiest place to start exploring Zurich. This is the center of the city and the first place that becomes known to the visiting tourist, it is also where most transport routes intersect.
So – behind the back of the station, the fountain with a statue. The street in front is Bahnhofstrasse. You can not go by car – only streetcars and pedestrians. And there are stores on both sides of the street, interspersed with restaurants and banks. If you walk forward, the level of stores keeps rising – only high-end brands are located closer to the lake. In good weather, it’s worth a walk – in summer the street is filled with the sweet aroma of blooming linden trees, and in winter – beautiful illuminations of stores, light composition under the northern lights, hot mulled wine and aroma of roasted chestnuts.
The end of the Bahnhofstrasse leads to the Burgliplatz, the square near the lake. On Saturdays in summer there is a flea market on the square, and sometimes in spring there are merry-go-rounds. For those who want to go sailing on Lake Zurich, boats depart from the Burgliplatz.
Old Town and Paradeplatz
Somewhere in the middle of Bahnhofstrasse is another transportation hub – Paradeplatz (Parade Square). A stop here is worthwhile for the legendary Sprüngli Bakery. There you can taste the famous Luxemburgerli pastry. The pastries are delicate, meringue-like, with a cream filling and in different flavours: vanilla, chocolate, champagne, walnut, amaretto, chestnut, coffee, lemon, strawberry and more.
Then head to the Altstadt (old town), the oldest part of Zurich (to the left of Bahnhofstrasse, as you exit the train station). The narrow streets are full of medieval charm and the little painted houses with balconies and geraniums in the windows. The numbers on the houses usually indicate the year of construction. There are even houses built in the 10th century.
Roman baths and the Church of St. Peter.
Two towers – the Church of St. Peter and the Fraumuenster – rise above the old town. St. Peter’s Church is famous for having the largest tower clock face in Europe. If you stand to the side of it, you can notice a tiny alley going down the steps of Termengasse . It is worth stopping there to see the remains of the Roman baths.
Then walk back up the hill from St. Peter’s Church and you’ll see the Lindenhof, a hilltop site that was once the customs office from which Zurich grew. Along the way on the left will be ancient slabs on which the name of the city is first encountered. From this platform you will be able to admire the Limmat River and lake, the alps and the two-headed Grossmünster Cathedral on the other side of the river.
Walk back down and through the streets toward the lake and you’ll see the Fraumuenster, once a convent for noblewomen. It’s a cathedral where you can’t miss the incredibly beautiful stained-glass windows by Marc Chagall.
The convent was built by Louis the German for his daughter Hildegarde. The abbesses of the abbey were essentially the rulers of Zurich for a long time, having the right to print money.
On the other side of the river would be Zurich’s third main church, its symbol, Grossmünster . Grossmünster was originally a monastery for men, and later became a center for the Swiss Reformation, led by Ulrich Zwingli (his monument stands at the Wasserkirche church across the street, by the river itself).
When the weather is nice it’s worth taking a walk along the promenade, from Grossmünster to Bellevue and along the lake. At the lake you can take a break and feed the cheeky swans. They eat right out of your hand and usually flit along the shore, tracking where they’re going to feed. By the evening of the weekend, they’re so full that they’re too lazy to even swim up for food. But on weekdays during the day a fight can break out for a piece of loaf.
You can go further along the lake to the place where the lake expands, forming a kind of green park area from the shore. If it’s a Saturday – along the way you can meet a lot of entertaining public – clowns, magicians, gymnasts, musicians, and just interested idle and wandering public. On the shore, freelance artists build fanciful compositions out of rocks.
If you have the patience to walk to the end of the promenade, you can eat at a restaurant overlooking the lake.
To go back you can either go along the promenade and pass the Chinese park (you can go there if you have time) or you can take a streetcar from the lake where you will find a branch line to get back to the city center.
Niderdorf and Limmatquai
On the way back you can walk to Limmatquai – the promenade on the right bank of the Limmat River – and make sure to walk through the Niderdorfstraße, a small alleyway that runs along the river across one row of houses from it. There are a myriad of restaurants-bars-cafes and all kinds of stores. In the evening this is the busiest and noisiest place.
If you walk along Niederdorfstrasse in the direction of the station, then at a certain moment you will find an old colonial store on the left. For centuries, you can buy there all sorts of spices and coffee (and Switzerland is famous for its quality coffee). There is also an old mill for coffee beans. It’s still turned on sometimes.
On the same spot you can notice an atypical for narrow streets square. The thing is that the post office used to be located there, and it was necessary to use this platform for the postal carriage to turn around. If you now turn right, you can see the house where Lenin lived at one time at Spiegelgasse14 .
Sign on Lenin’s house, Newmarkt, Zurich
If you can’t be far from the Central stop (over the river from the train station), you can see the Polibann station in the building. From there you can get to the Politerrassa – observation point near the Polytechnic University (ETN) by taking the funicular. If the station is already closed, you can also get there by streetcar number 10 and 6 – to the ETH/ Universitätspital stop. It is literally a couple of minutes.
ETN is the first of Switzerland’s universities and one of the best in Europe. It was here that Albert Einstein once studied. The building itself dates back to the 19th century. Opposite it is the equally old building of the chemistry department of the ETN.
Next to the ETN is another university, the Zürich Universität, one of the first in Europe where women were allowed to study. As a result, at the end of the 19th century there was an invasion of Russian female students in Zurich.
From the observation deck behind the main entrance of the ETN (Polyterrasse) you can have a wonderful bird’s eye view of the city center. There you can take a break from a long walk and have a beer at the student bar while admiring the towers of Zurich. And in winter, there is an ice rink on the square.
View from the ETN observation deck.
On another day you can go to the mountain Uetliberg, which offers a stunning view of the entire city, the mountains around, the Alps and the lake.
Minus is the need to pay extra for a ticket for two areas, as this is no longer the territory of Zurich and the usual pass is not valid. You can get from the main station by train S10 to Uetliberg, which runs about once every half hour. The transit time is about 25 minutes and you are on top of the mountain. If you walk up a little more, you can climb to the observation tower with a magnificent view of the whole Zurich, the lake and the Alps. You can just sit down and have a bite to eat in a restaurant with a view of the city.
If you have a desire for cultural enrichment, the first place to go is the Kunsthaus, one of the largest museums in Switzerland, which has a number of outstanding paintings by Picasso, Monet, Salvador Dali, etc. in its collection.
The Kunsthaus is located not far from the ETN building – between it and Bellevue. It can be reached by trams 6, 9, and 10 to the Kunsthaus stop.
The museum represents in the best way the modern tastes of the Swiss – minimalism, spacious, seemingly half-empty halls, a combination of ancient masterpieces and ultra-modern installations and paintings.
Respectable and discreet Zurich can offer its guests many surprises. In the clean streets of the city you can find a lot of historical places and buildings, hiding behind their facades interesting stuffing. Today we have prepared for you the top 16 places of interest in Zurich so you don’t have to worry about what to see first.
The Zurich Zoo offers a natural habitat for all its inhabitants. The area of the zoo is divided into “continents”. In the Arctic, only the animals and birds that live there in the wild live there; the same pattern can be seen in the Savannah zone. Feeding the animals is a separate show for tourists. It is held at a strictly defined time. Another nice bonus of the zoo is the food courts and restaurants located throughout the area. Streetcars 5 and 6 can be taken to Zurich’s zoological pride. The zoo is open weekend from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. A full ticket there costs about 26 francs.
The unappealing to foreign ears name Kunsthaus in Switzerland means a large Museum of Fine Arts. The enormous collection of the museum makes it unique in its kind. The collection of the museum complex contains art and paintings from the 15th century to the present day.
An individual admission ticket to the exhibitions costs 23 francs. Group visits are cheaper. The museum is closed on Monday. On Wednesday and Thursday the exhibitions are open from 10.00 to 20.00. On other days work until 18.00. From the railway station to the same name bus stop take bus 31 and streetcars number 3.
The Urania Observatory in Zurich is an active observatory with a powerful telescope. Since the observatory building is based in the city center, it is also used as an observation deck. It is only possible to look at the stars in the observatory when the sky is clear. If the clouds come over, the guests of Ourania are offered a scientific film. Tours of Urania are available from 20.00. Depending on the program tour can cost from 15 francs and above. This place can be reached by streetcars 7 and 13.
This cathedral is considered by locals as a religious calling card of Zurich. The construction of this majestic construction with two identical towers began in the 9th century. It was in the center of the city because Charlemagne discovered on this spot the burial of the saints. Church began to operate only in the 12th century. Now on Wednesdays classic organ concerts are held in the cathedral. In the church there is a viewing platform to which you can climb, overcoming the many steps. The excursion program inside the temple costs 8 francs. The church takes visitors on all days except Tuesday from 10.00 to 18.00.
Swiss National Museum
Another jewel in the center of Zurich is the Swiss National Museum. The exhibitions are located under the arches of this castle. Visitors can learn about the history of the country from its beginnings to the present day. Audioguide in Russian in the museum costs 5 francs. On Thursday, the institution is open until 19.00, on other days except Monday, the museum is open from 10.00 to 17.00. Children under 16 go free, a full ticket costs 10 francs.
The paleontologist Sieber is the founding father of the Dinosaur Museum in Switzerland. Thanks to his scientific research, exhibitions with real fossils and their models were opened in an old factory building. The museum not only delights visitors with interesting information, but is also a scientific center for the study of the Earth’s prehistoric period. The highlight of the exhibitions are fossilized dinosaur footprints, which are considered authentic findings by paleontologists. The museum building is located in Atala. You can get there by train from the train station in Zurich in 30 minutes. From the suburban station to the factory building is a 10-minute walk. Entrance costs 21 francs, the institution is open every day except Monday from 10.00 to 17.00.
The exhibits, consisting of dolls and teddy bears, no doubt bring joy to children. For adults, they will help to remember their childhood years. The museum of toys exists in the city since the 19th century. It was founded by a German manufacturer, so the toys here are of German brands. Dolls with long curls, wooden horses and soldiers, as well as the notorious German railway are waiting for visitors on Fortunagasse. The museum has a store. Admission to the exhibitions costs 5 francs. The museum is open Monday to Friday from 2 to 5 pm, Saturday from 1 to 4 pm. The museum is closed on Sunday.
At this location on a hill by Lake Constance is the monastery of St. Gall, once a separate principality. The attraction is 60 kilometers away from Zurich, but is still included in the city guidebooks as recommended to visit. The frescos, bas-reliefs and paintings in the monastery have no analogues in the world. The extensive library of the monastery has 150,000 books. Look at this magnificence is possible by booking a tour.
In the 9th century Fraumünster was rebuilt as a fragment of the architectural ensemble of the Benedictine monastery. In the 19th century the abbey was destroyed, but the church survived and was reconstructed.
The grandiose organ is also a worthy decoration of the oldest church in the city. The church stands on the west bank of the Limmat River near the main cathedral.
The University of Zurich is situated quite high on a hill. Before 1889 students often complained that they had to literally climb up to get to class. The situation of getting students to their place of study changed dramatically with the launch of the funicular. The funicular has a height difference of up to 40 meters, which can be a problem if you walk. In its early years, the Poliban operated on water. Then the Swiss Bank took over its service, and the streetcar had an electric drive. 50 people can ride the red cable car at the same time. On Saturday the tram runs until 14.00, on Sunday it does not work at all, although on weekdays it is a great help for all residents of the surrounding streets and, of course, students. The lower promenade of Limmat is the starting point of the cable car. It is possible to ride the Poliban one way for 1.2 francs.
St. Peter’s Church
The church, built in honor of St. Peter, appeared in Zurich in the 9th century. During its long period of existence, the church was repeatedly rebuilt, but its main architectural “features” remained in its exterior appearance. The tall clock tower, visible from afar, was erected near the church in the 16th century. The second tower with a bell tower has always helped the inhabitants of the city to learn in time about fires and other disasters. By the way, the clock on St. Peter’s Tower shows the exact time even today. An organ and an observation deck make the temple even more attractive to tourists. The temple gates are open daily 8.00 am to 6.00 pm, on weekends from 11.00 am. It is possible to get to the church by streetcar 4 and 15.
Opera can be beautiful not only in Vienna. Zurich has its own temple of art, where opera divas and singers amaze audiences with the capabilities of their voice. During a tour of the theater, guests learn that it was built in the 20th century. Visitors are shown the halls of the Opera Palace, and the holy of holies – the shop for sewing costumes. This theater is unique because of the manner of performance of classical plays. Here the classics are adapted to modern reality. A tour of the theater will cost the tourist 180 francs. Ticket prices range from 50 to 350 francs. Streetcars 2 and 4 go to the same stop as the theater. The building is on Falkenstrasse.
This square in Zurich is considered a full tourist attraction. There is an observation deck on it from which you can see the city and Lake Zurich. Also on the square a lot of stores and restaurants. From the pier Bürkleiplatz depart pleasure boats. The main decoration of the square is a sculptural composition “Geyser”, which was installed on the local sidewalk in the 20th century.
The symbol of power in Zurich is the town hall, erected in the city in the 17th century. The town hall building should be sought in the center next to the Grossmünster Cathedral. This structure is an integral part of the old city. The baroque style makes the town hall look like a real palace. Inside, the interiors are also lavish and chic. Today this building is used for the purpose of the city council meeting. Tours are available by appointment.
Langstrasse is not called the “hot spot” by accident. It is the counterpart to Red Light Street and is also the venue for all of the city’s informal and unofficial events. Brothels, bars, themed pubs, and stores with spicy goods can be found on this street. Every year the street music festival is held on the Langstrasse. The street is alive and well only when it’s dark, but by day it is no different from the rest of the city of Zurich.
The Clock Museum
The whole world knows that the best products of Switzerland are watches. The Beyer Watch Museum shows tourists the famous watch brands, their history and the beginnings of watchmaking in the country through exhibitions. The museum has a store called “Beyer Chronometri”. There you can buy models of watches of different price categories without fear of buying a fake. The collection of the Watch Museum contains about 500 items, some of them are very old. The exhibitions are open from 14.00 to 18.00 from Monday to Friday. A full ticket costs 5 francs, children can pass for free. Towards the museum streetcars 3, 13, 2, 6,7. Get off at the public transport stop Paradeplatz.