Zurich: What to do in the city of pedants

Zurich: in-depth guide from locals


The biggest? The most beautiful? The most Swiss? Whatever epithets we try to apply to Zurich, it’s still the best. And, without a doubt, it’s the most welcoming. We talked to the regional manager of Zurich Tourism, Ulyana Shtoyko, to find out firsthand what they have in store for tourists.

What to see in Zurich?

Editor: Can you tell us why tourists come to your city?

Zurich is a very well integrated urban metropolis. It offers a perfect mix of cultural and natural attractions. Thanks to its location in the heart of Europe, it is easily accessible and boasts a first class infrastructure and public transport system. Zurich is an interesting vacation with a high level of service.

The Old City

The best experiences you can have in summer are connected with nature: swimming and water sports, walks in the city, its gardens and country trails, restaurants in the open air.

A winter vacation in Zurich will be very different. There will be time to visit some of the 50 museums and 100 art galleries, relax in the local spas, go ice skating and taste all the delicious things at the six Christmas markets.

Editor: Can you name some of the main attractions in Zurich?

Zurich’s Old Town is a must for sure. Every European city has one of these areas but in Zurich it’s especially beautiful. Here you will see the beautiful churches of Grossmünster, Fraumuenster and St. Peter and can take pictures in the Lindenhof Park, where the city existed already in 80 B.C.


Stroll through the picturesque Bahnhofstrasse, Renweg and Augustinergrasse and be sure to stop by the police station in Uraniastrasse. It’s not the police that will captivate you there, but Augusto Giacometti’s frescoes on the vaulted ceilings.

West Zurich

There is also a very interesting new district in Zurich – Zurich West. Zurich West used to be an unsightly industrial neighborhood. The factories have all been relocated and the spacious industrial areas have been given a new meaning thanks to the artistic vision of modern designers.

When should I go to Zurich?

Zurich in winter

Edit: When is the best time for tourists to visit? What season do you recommend?

For people interested in summer activities we recommend May to September, when the weather is fine. In winter, tourists go to Zurich for Christmas, November and December, when the Christmas markets are open.

However, quite a few visitors also come for some major festivals in the city, which take place throughout the year.

Summer in Zurich

Editor: What events in Zurich can you recommend?

I would particularly like to mention:

Food Zurich, a gastronomic festival at the end of October. There are seminars, tastings, markets, restaurants, street food, everything to do with food.

Zurich Art Weekend is a contemporary art festival in mid-September. Numerous exhibitions, receptions, lectures – everything about contemporary art.

Zurich Film Festival – still very young, held in late September, early October. It helps young filmmakers to get out into the world.

Sechsläuten is a special spring festival, only held in Zurich on the third Sunday in April. Dedicated to the reduction of the working day with the arrival of spring, as an attraction on the square will burn a figure of the snowman.

Street Parade – August’s open-air techno music festival.

For a complete list of events in Zurich, visit the Zurich Tourism Office website: www.zuerich.com.

What to try in Zurich?

Restaurant in Zurich

Editor: Can you name some highlights of the local cuisine? What is certainly worth trying in Zurich?

The world-famous healthy breakfast muesli first appeared in Zurich. Of course, you can order it in every café here.

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We certainly recommend you to try the special Zurich dish Geschnetzeltes in one of the traditional restaurants, as well as in its vegetarian version at the oldest vegetarian restaurant Hiltl.

Barbecue lovers will love the signature Wiedikerli sausages. And for a romantic dinner, the cheese fondue would be perfect.

For dessert, choose Luxemburgerli, a miniature version of the macaroon pastry. The specifics of the recipe are kept in the strictest of secrecy.


Editor: What tasty souvenirs to take back from your trip?

Switzerland and Zurich are famous for their cheese and chocolate. A local, natural chocolate bar (Taucherli, LaFlor, Garcoa, Dieter Meier, Max Chocolatier) and the handmade treat at the Lindt Home of Chocolate could be an excellent gastronomic souvenir.

As for cheese, you can take away not only any cheese you like, but even a set of ready-made Swiss fondue at home.

A special Zurich souvenir might be an air-dried sausage Stadtjäger in a vacuum pack, gin Turicum with lime blossom, cookies Tirgel with symbols of Zurich and honey harvested on the roof of the Zurich Marriott.

Zurich’s insider places

Le Corbusier House

Editor: What little-known landmark in Zurich is often overlooked by tourists, and for good reason?

Zurich has a streetcar route number 4 . On the one hand it’s an ordinary city streetcar, but its route is nicknamed the designer’s route. The thing is that it passes all three buildings of the Museum of Modern Art, Le Corbusier’s house (the last creation of the famous architect) and the entire district of West Zurich, which we have already mentioned. The ride on route 4 is a real sightseeing tour.

Connoisseurs of modern architecture should not miss the Law Library of the University of Zurich. It is the masterpiece of architect Santiago Calatrava. The library occupied the courtyard of the 1909 building; from the outside it is invisible, but from the inside it is breathtaking.

Art in public places

The Botanical Gardens of the University of Zurich can be visited not only in summer. Its greenhouses even in the middle of winter surprise you with lush tropical vegetation.

Although Zurich has preserved its historic image, the city keeps up with the times. There are more than 1,300 works of art in public areas and on the streets. All of them attract the eye and camera lenses.


Editor: Is there a legendary place in Zurich? Tell us a little bit about it.

Two of Zurich’s patron saints, Felix and Regula, were martyred right here in Zurich. They were members of the Theban Legion, which had almost entirely embraced Christianity. On the run from the Romans they reached Zurich, but here they were caught and beheaded. According to legend, after their execution their bodies stood up, took their heads in their hands and walked 40 steps up the mountain before they were finally laid to rest.

On the site of the execution now stands the church of Wasserkirche, and on the site of their death and burial is the Grossmünster.

Ed: Tell us about a local tradition that best describes your city?

I’d like to tell you more about the spring festival of Sechseläuten (Sechseloyten). In many cultures similar carnival processions and scarecrow burnings take place at equinoxes or before Lent. But in Switzerland, the traditions of the Sechseläuten have secular roots.

In the 16th century, the working day in winter lasted until 5 p.m., when it was already dark. But as the daylight hours increased, it was possible to work longer. The city council enshrined the extension of the working day, from that day the bell of Grossmünster rang at 6:00 p.m. Hence the six-ringing. And since the city council was made up of representatives of the working guilds, people came out to parade in the historical costumes of their professions.

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Scarecrow burning also existed before the 16th century, but these traditions merged with the advent of the Six-Call. The snowman Boegg symbolizes winter, his body and especially his head are stuffed not only with straw but also with firecrackers. It is believed that the faster the head of the stuffed animal explodes, the hotter the summer will be. In 2019, the prediction came true. A record-breaking fast explosion was followed by the hottest summer on record.


Ed. Where can you take the most beautiful photo in Zurich?

The easiest thing to do is to go to Lindenhof Park . From there you have a wonderful panorama of the Old Town, Grossmünster, City Hall, the Limmat River, the university and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

If you feel strong in your legs, climb the Karlsturm, one of the towers of the church of Grossmünster. From there you have a wonderful view of the Old Town and Lake Zurich. Approximately the same landscape watched Charlemagne. (Admission is 5 euros, climb the stairs. Closed for restoration until October 2020. – Editor’s note)


Want more? Head to the suburb of Adlissville to climb Mount Felsenegg (804 meters above sea level. – Ed.). The elevator will cost 5 euros and there is a restaurant at the top. In good weather from this peak you can see the entire Lake Zurich.

A notable high-rise dominant feature of the city is the 35-story Prime Tower in West Zurich. The tower has no observation deck in the usual sense of the word, but at 120 m above the city there is a restaurant, bistro and bar where you can relax and enjoy the cityscape. Unlike the restaurant, the bistro and bar do not require a reservation.

Practical Tips

Christmas in Zurich

Editor: Which part of the city would you recommend for tourists to stay in and why?

The Old Town is usually ideal for a vacation, both because of its unique atmosphere and its proximity to most of the attractions. You can choose a hotel in the center of Zurich at this link.

West Zurich, more urban and noisy, will appeal to young and fun-loving fans of modern entertainment. Find a suitable hotel here.


Edit: Do you have any tips for tourists to save money in the city? Maybe you have package deals and special promotions or can you recommend free admission to amazing places?

With the Zürich Card, travelers can enjoy Zurich in all its diversity and save time and money. There are two service options – 24 or 72 hours. What the card gives:

Unlimited streetcar, bus, train, boat and cable car rides in and around Zurich;

Short boat trips and a cruise on the Limmat River;

Free or discounted admission to 43 museums;

A 50% discount on a walking tour of Zurich’s Old Town;

and much more.

You can also download the Zürich Guide app and enjoy all its benefits right on your phone.

*** Click here to explore all the benefits and to order your Zürich Card.

Cycling around Zurich

Editor: What does Zürich have to offer for the outdoors: hiking, caving, cycling, etc.?

Zurich has everything for the outdoors. Zurich is not only a historical city center, but also has hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails for excursions and exciting downhill mountain bike rides. All trails are repeatedly tested and beautifully equipped. (A list of hiking trails can be found on the Zurich Tourism website. – Editor’s note).

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Even without leaving the city, you can rent a regular or electric bike to discover the city from a different angle. Joggers will also find plenty of pleasant paths to enjoy.

Lake Zurich

And let’s not forget the water activities. Boats, sails, kayaks, boats and even yachts can be rented on Lake Zurich. You can also go water-skiing.

And of course, from Zurich you can go on trips to the best alpine attractions:

to the Rhine Falls – the largest in Europe (you can book a tour in Russian here);

to Mount Pilatus and picturesque Lake Lucerne (for a one-day tour, click here);

and dozens of other great destinations.

The OhFrance.ru editorial team thanks Ms. Shtoyko for her participation in the interview.

Zurich city by yourself – Zurich walk and tour, photos.

Zurich city by yourself - Zurich walk and tour, photos.

Why Zurich – here is the financial capital of Switzerland, here is one of the most expensive and quality of life in the world, here is a beautiful lake and beautiful boulevards, here is an atmosphere of friendliness and respect and here is a great place to walk.

Zurich, Switzerland.

Map of Zurich.

Zurich sightseeing tour.

We continue our city tour in Zurich. To start the tour with a visit to the Swiss National Museum and Kunsthaus Zurich art museum, see the article Museums of Zurich . Not far from the Kunsthaus Museum is the Zurich Drama Theatre, near which our streetcar stop is located.

Zurich city tour

On this one day of our visit to Zurich only something serious could keep us from the walk along the picturesque promenade of Lake Zurich, but not the rain.

Zurich city tour

For a walk along the lake we had chosen the western part of it, unfortunately there was not enough time for the eastern part. We had to change the transport to the Landivise district. Along the whole embankment there is a bus 161 with an interval of 15 minutes, and a streetcar 7, which we used.

Zurich city tour

Lake Zurich.

Lake Zurich originated in the glacial period, and its length is 40 kilometers from the city to the Alps.

Lake Zurich

On the lake the local shipping company offers a variety of walks, some even including a visit to the villages on the lake. These walks, of course, are best taken when the weather is good. Steamship company website.

Lake Zurich

We’ll combine our walk along the lake with a tour of the free cactus exhibition, open daily from 9:00 to 16:30.

Lake Zurich

The collection of more than 7,000 species of cacti was donated to the city by a local resident and is the largest collection of cacti in Europe.

Zurich city tour

Zurich city tour

Zurich city tour

Zurich city tour

Zurich city tour

A walk around Zurich.

A walk along the lake, in my opinion, should be on the must-see list of places to visit in the city. An extraordinary lake, fabulous grass, fresh air, perfect cleanliness – this is just a little of the huge list of things you get from the walk.

Walking in Zurich

And all this is not in a closed area, but in the territory of the largest city of Switzerland, with a population of about 400,000 people, and together with an agglomeration of 1.2 million. Zurich is one of the important cities of the world economic system, a major scientific center and keeping the city as it is shows its level, the face of the whole Switzerland and the people who inhabit it.

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Walking in Zurich

Along with the fact that the city is steadily in the top ten world cities in quality of life and safety, it is also one of the most expensive cities in the world. You have to pay for quality and that, in my opinion, is normal.

Walking in Zurich

Photo of Zurich.

Thanks to the sovereignty of Switzerland in the world wars of the 20th century, Zurich became the center of world finance. But you can’t say that the wars of the 20th century didn’t affect it. On March 4, 1945, the city is said by mistake to have been bombed by the American air force.

Photos of Zurich

The origins of the name of the city go back to Roman times – at the place of the Old City, on the Lindenhof Hill there was already at that time a settlement called Turicum.

Photos of Zurich

From this picture you can see that on the eastern shore of the lake there are many interesting buildings. There is also an opera house built in the late 19th century. The theater is recognized as one of the leading opera and ballet theaters in Europe and to get there you need to book tickets in advance.

Photos of Zurich

There is also a park Zurichhorn, where you can admire the sculptures of many famous contemporary artists. In the park you can visit the beautiful “Chinese garden”, which is a gift from the Chinese twin city of Kunming.

Photos of Zurich

But we settle for the western lakefront, where the sites are no less wonderful.

Photos of Zurich

Photos of Zurich

Along the promenade, named after General Henri Guisan, we walk to Bürkliplatz, the place where the Limmat River flows out of Lake Zurich. Thanks to the actions of the general and commander-in-chief of the Swiss army during the war, the country remained neutral and did not allow a German invasion.

Photos of Zurich

I decided to leave this picture in the report only because I was struck by this situation. There was a lot of traffic and the driver in the nearby car stopped on purpose when he saw me with his camera. When he stopped he looked at what I was photographing, waved, smiled and continued on his way.

Photos of Zurich

Bürkleiplatz is a very popular place – sightseeing groups are brought here for photography and pleasure boat rides.

Zurich Switzerland

Zurich Switzerland

Zurich Switzerland

Zurich Switzerland

Zurich Switzerland

Zurich Switzerland

Along the Limmat River we continue our tour. The river divides the city into western and eastern parts.

Zurich city centre

The center of Zurich.

The main sights of the east bank are: the church of the 15th century Wasserkirche – translated as “Water Church”; the former town hall Helmhaus (in the foreground)

Zurich city centre

and the Grossmünster cathedral behind it, with its two tall towers. Legend has it that the patron saints of Zurich, Felix and Regula, were beheaded on the site of the Wasserkirche. The saints carried their heads in their hands to the nearby hill, where they gave their souls to God. On this hill, Charlemagne at the end of the 8th century laid the cathedral, which was not completed until the 15th century.

Zurich city centre

From the pulpit of this cathedral, Ulrich Zwingli preached his Reformation ideas. According to Reformist ideas, the cathedral is devoid of furniture and decorations. On the website of the cathedral you can see the opening hours and read the history.

Zurich city centre

On the west bank of the river is the center of the Old Town, the Alstad, dominated by the towers of the Fraumünster church.

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Zurich city centre

Zurich city centre

and the Church of St. Peter.

Zurich city centre

Even in the name of the church Fraumuenster is embedded a word familiar to our ears – Frau.

Zurich city centre

In 853 King Ludwig appointed his daughter Hildegarda abbess of the local convent. In the reforms period the convent was closed and a town hall was erected in its place. All that remained of the convent was the church of the Fraumünster.

Zurich city centre

On the right side of the church on the riverfront stands the beautiful house of the guild of birders, which you can visit to see a collection of earthenware and porcelain from the 18th century.

Zurich city centre

Zurich Town Hall.

A little further down the river, next to the bridge, is the Zurich City Hall. This building stands on stilts and the beginning of construction dates back to the late 17th century. Along the eastern bank of the Limmat stretches the Limmatquai Boulevard (on the right in the photo). On the stretch from the Wasserkirche to the Town Hall are the guild houses of the 18th century.

Zurich Town Hall

Behind the Town Hall is an interesting structure – a crane. It’s hard to imagine that it was deliberately brought here in April 2014 in a disassembled state, then reassembled and installed, just to improve the appearance of the cityscape. It’s hard to say whether it has improved the landscape or not, but the fact that it became an object of controversy and a topic for discussion for tourists and citizens is 100%. You can read about the port crane and Swiss news in Russian here.

Zurich city centre

Church of St. Peter on the general background of the old city can be easily identified by a huge clock face. It is recognized as the largest in Europe and has a size of 8.7 meters.

Zurich city centre

Since the 8th century there was a church on this site, which was completed and rebuilt. The main part of the church is from the 18th century.

Zurich city centre

We finish our walk in the heart of Zurich – the old town Altstad.

Zurich city centre

Zurich city centre

Almost all streets of old town are closed for vehicles and are pedestrian.

Zurich city centre

Zurich city centre

Zurich city centre


Bahnhofstrasse – the center of commerce and the main street of Zurich. Here are the stores, restaurants, banks. This is the most expensive and prestigious street of the city. It leads us to the train station, where we go to the airport. Near the train station next to the river there is a very popular store SOOR. It is popular because the prices there are quite democratic by Swiss standards. There is a large selection of products and souvenirs. We bought such a nice Swiss puppy there.


TOTALS: A day in Zurich for 4 people: room – 150 euros, transportation (from the airport and back, in the city) – 52 euros, museums, free food – 105 euros, the total without souvenirs – 307 euros. Is it worth it? My opinion, as well as in services and goods, and in everything – you have to pay for quality. Zurich in our eyes confirmed its high bar of quality. Of course, we did not have time to visit much, and one day in the city is very short and the weather was unlucky. But even this short, bad weather tour was enough to ignite a desire to return one day to this beautiful and fascinating city! There are many places in the world where you want to return – Zurich is one of them.

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