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Things to do in Zurich

Things to do in  Zurich

Welcome to Zurich

On the tip of Lake Zurich in the foothills of the Bernese Oberland lies Zurich. With its historic churches and cobbled alleyways, Switzerland’s largest city is straight out of a fairy tale. But look closer and you’ll see a vibrant, modern city whose districts are abuzz with creativity. Visiting Zurich Old Town and taking a Lake Zurich cruise are among the top things to do in town. For travelers less pressed for time, the city’s contemporary art galleries, Bahnhofstrasse boutiques, and Dolderbahn mountain railway aren’t to be missed. And of course no trip to Zurich is complete without a visit to the Lindt & Sprüngli Chocolate Shop, located just outside of city limits. For the adventurous set, Alpine activities range from Mt. Titlis and Mt. Pilatus cable car rides to Jungfraujoch and Grindelwald day trips.

Top 10 attractions in Zurich

#1
Lake Zurich (Zürichsee)

Lake Zurich (Zürichsee)

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Fed by clear glacial waters that flow down the Swiss Alps, the crescent-shaped Lake Zurich (Zurichsee) forms the scenic backdrop to Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city, which spreads along the western tip of the lake. Measuring 25 miles (40 kilometers) in length and 1.9 miles (3 kilometers) in width, this alpine lake offers an easily accessible escape to nature for those based in the city, with plenty of swimming spots, hiking routes, tranquil islands, and picturesque mountain scenery.More
#2
Zurich Opera House (Opernhaus Zürich)

Zurich Opera House (Opernhaus Zürich)

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As the principal venue for the Zurich Opera since it opened its doors in 1891, the Zurich Opera House (Opernhaus Zürich) has garnered worldwide acclaim for its outstanding acoustics and wide variety of international performances. Originally called the ‘Stadttheater’, the venue was built on the site of the Actientheater, which burned down just a few years earlier, and staged its opening to a dramatic performance of Richard Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’. Despite changing its name to the Zurich Opera House in 1964, the concert hall maintains its original Neo-classical façade, designed by Viennese architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer and held up by 1,800 oak pillars. Equally impressive is the Rococo style entrance foyer and auditorium, which seats 1,200 people and is notable for its intricate ceiling paintings that represent love, tragedy, comedy, music and poetry.More
#3
Rhine Falls (Rheinfall)

Rhine Falls (Rheinfall)

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At Rhine Falls (Rheinfall), sheets of white water tumble from a height of 75 feet (23 meters) across a 492-foot-wide (150-meter-wide) rock ledge. Created by the movement of the Earth’s crust about 15,000 years ago, this natural wonder is among Europe’s biggest waterfalls. The riverbanks near it are laced with walking and biking trails.More
#4
Bahnhofstrasse

Bahnhofstrasse

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Bahnhofstrasse isthe shopping street in Zurich. Running from Bahnhofplatz outside the main train station all the way to the lake, it's full of luxury shops selling designer fashion, furs, porcelain, and, of course, chocolates, clocks and watches. Halfway along is Zurich's first, biggest and best department store Jelmoli. The basement food-hall is a must. Or if you want the best in Swiss chocolate, take a break at Cafe Sprungli, the epicenter of sweet Switzerland since 1836.Bahnhofstrasse follows the line of the moat of medieval Zurich and is mainly pedestrianized, although watch out for the trams running along it. It runs parallel to the river Limmat and it's easy to punctuate your shopping with visits to churches and other important sites of Zurich dotted in the narrow streets between. Culture and consumerism: Zurich has them both.More
#5
Zurich Old Town (Altstadt)

Zurich Old Town (Altstadt)

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With its striking 19th-century buildings and winding cobblestone lanes stretching along both sides of River Limmat, Zurich’s Old Town (Altstadt) is the most atmospheric part of the city and home to many principal tourist attractions.More
#6
Mount Rigi

Mount Rigi

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Nicknamed the “Queen of the Mountains,” Mount Rigi has long captured the hearts of writers like Mark Twain and painters like JMW Turner. Encircled by a trio of lakes—Lake Lucerne, Lake Zug, and Lake Lauerz—and adjacent to the neighboring peaks of Mount Pilatus and Brunnistock, Mount Rigi is the enduring postcard star of Central Switzerland.More
#7
Fraumünster Church

Fraumünster Church

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One of Zurich’s most distinctive and popular sights, Fraumünster Church is the green copper-spired building that is easily visible in Zurich’s skyline. The church itself dates back to the 9th century, but the building’s famous stained-glass windows are 20th-century additions.More
#8
Grossmünster Church

Grossmünster Church

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Sometimes called theGross Monster by English-speaking locals, Grossmünster is a Romanesque-style Protestant church in Zurich. According to legend, Charlemagne discovered the graves of the city’s patron saints, Felix and Regula, and ordered a church to be constructed on the spot. Construction of Grossmunster began in 1100 and was finished around 1220, with the core of the building built on the site where Charlemagne’s church stood. The only original decorations that remain today are some faded frescoes in a side chapel and a depictions of battle scenes and Charlemagne’s discovery of Felix’s and Regula’s graves. The church’s crypt is the largest in Switzerland and dates to the 11th and 13th centuries. Modern stained glass windows were added to the church in 1932 and bronze doors were added in 1935 and 1950.Also known as the starting point of the Reformation in Switzerland in the 16th century, Grossmunster’s twin towers make it one of the most recognized landmarks in Zurich. Visitors can climb the nearly 200 stairs up the north tower for sweeping views of the city. The cloister features a museum about the Reformation and the annex to the cloister is home to the theological school of the University of Zurich.More
#9
Lindenhof

Lindenhof

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Lindenhof is both a district in Zürich and a square of the same name and looks back on an eventful history. The district is the oldest part of the city and once, a Roman fort stood in its place on the hill. At Lindenhof Square, a Roman tombstone was found containing the oldest mention of the city, back then a customs post with the name Turicum. Even after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Lindenhof kept playing an important role in the city’s history. In the 13th century for example, Zürich was in a war against Winterthur and ran out of warriors. It was then that the women of the city dressed up as soldiers and stood on the raised Lindenhof, giving the impression that a strong army had come to the city’s rescue and thus, breaking the siege. A fountain in the center of the square still pays homage to this heroic deed, showing Hedwig, the leader of these women. In the following centuries, the square kept serving as a place of assembly and in 1798 it was here, that the citizens of Zürich swore their oath to the Helvetic Constitution.Today, the Lindenhof is a green oasis in the heart of Zürich, from where one can enjoy a wonderful view over the old town, the Minster, the River Limmat and the University. But not only tourists come here to enjoy the perfect overview over historic Zürich. It is also a popular place with the locals, who often can be seen sitting on the many benches beneath the linden trees and taking a break from everyday life. Passionate chess players meet here to play long matches against each other amidst the tranquility of the trees and old buildings and regular theatre productions are held under the open sky.More
#10
National Museum Zurich (Landesmuseum Zürich)

National Museum Zurich (Landesmuseum Zürich)

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In a city with almost 150 museums and galleries, the Swiss National Museum (Landesmuseum) beats off some pretty stiff competition to take its place as one of Zurich’s top museums. The largest of its kind in the country, the museum is devoted to preserving the cultural heritage and history of Switzerland, chronicling the birth and evolution of the nation.Almost 1 million artifacts make up the permanent collection, which takes the visitor on a journey from ancient Switzerland, through the Middle Ages and into the 20th century. Personal items, handicrafts, artworks, furnishings and household items are among the many relics, bringing the past back to life through a series of evocative displays. Highlights include artifacts from as far back as the 4th millennium B.C; a significant collection of 9th century Carolingian art; a Swiss warfare exhibit of weaponry and armor; and an exhibit devoted to the traditional art of Swiss clock making. A regular series of temporary exhibitions supplement the permanent galleries, with recent showcases including themes like Swiss fashion and design and Roman history.More

Trip ideas

Top Parks and Gardens in Zurich

Top Parks and Gardens in Zurich

Top activities in Zurich

Swiss Alps Day Trip from Zurich: Jungfraujoch and Bernese Oberland
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Mount Titlis and Lucerne Day Tour from Zurich
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Rhine Falls Tour from Zurich

Rhine Falls Tour from Zurich

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Rhine Falls and Stein am Rhein Half-Day Tour from Zurich
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Mount Rigi Winter Day Trip from Zurich
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Zurich City Tour Experience

Zurich City Tour Experience

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Independent Bernese Oberland and Jungfrau Region Day Trip from Zurich
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Zurich Highlights Tour

Zurich Highlights Tour

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Recent reviews from experiences in Zurich

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Highly recommended
saulat_n, Mar 2020
Mount Titlis and Lucerne Day Tour from Zurich
We saw most of the attractions of Zurich on the way, visited Lucrene and went to mount Titlis.
star-5
Beautiful countryside
Carla_P, Feb 2020
Heidiland and Liechtenstein Tour from Zurich: Two Countries in One Day
A beautiful place to visit and remember my childhood, reading the Heidi books.
star-5
Very informative and fun!
Madeline_D, Feb 2020
Zurich City Tour Experience
Great if you’re only in Zurich for a couple of days and want to see everything, quickly.
star-4
Interesting day out
Kath W, Jan 2020
Heidiland and Liechtenstein Tour from Zurich: Two Countries in One Day
I went in mid December mainly to see Liechtenstein which to be honest wasn't the magical land I had dreamed of.
star-4
Good bus based Zurich area tour.
linhlanak, Oct 2019
Zurich City Highlights Tour with Felsenegg Cable Car and Ferry Ride
This tour was mainly a bus ride through various areas of Zurich and a good way to see the general area without too much walking.
star-5
Wonderful Way to Start Zurich Visit
Phil_H, Oct 2019
Chocolate hunting in Zurich: Follow the taste!
Not only did she take use to four amazing chocolate shops she gave us a lot of suggestions of other things to see and do in Zurich, especially places to eat.
star-5
Fun day trip
Ryan_W, Aug 2019
Black Forest and Rhine Falls Day Trip from Zurich
The time at the falls also is a little short but the trip itself it worthwhile
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Omer Ahmed Hussain
Omer_A, Aug 2019
Zurich City Highlights Tour with Felsenegg Cable Car and Ferry Ride
Good one for the people staying short and want to see the most attractions possible.
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City tour of Zurich, Rhine Falls and Stein on Rhine
DeepaM232, Jun 2019
Supersaver: Zurich Highlights Tour, Rhine Falls and Stein am Rhein from Zurich
The Falls were all spectacular.
star-5
Fantastic Tour
Jeff_L, May 2019
Supersaver: Zurich Highlights Tour, Rhine Falls and Stein am Rhein from Zurich
We had a great time on the Rhine Falls and Stein am Rhein tour.
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Rhine Falls private tour
Salem_A, Aug 2018
Private Tour: Rhine Falls Tour from Zurich
Visiting Rhine Falls when you are in Zurich is a must.
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Private tour of Zurich
ilene_g, Jul 2018
Private Tour: Zurich City Highlights
We were able to see a lot of Zurich and the beautiful surrounding area and really enjoyed the tour.
star-5
We had the most amazing tour of Zurich...
Kristi O, Aug 2018
Zurich Tour: 6 hours on shore, on water, in the air!
An absolute must tour to see this amazing city!
star-5
This was an amazing experience!! I...
amullady16, Jan 2018
Jungfraujoch: Top of Europe Day Trip from Zurich
I recommend this to anyone going to Zurich and wants to see the mountains!
star-4
Rhine Falls not worth if weather is...
ndignadice, Nov 2017
Zurich Super Saver 2: Rhine Falls including Best of Zurich City Tour
Rhine Falls not worth if weather is bad, book on the day you wish to go by going on their Coach terminal, City tour okey if you don’t have much time in Zurich
star-4
The guide was very knowledgeable and...
Karen M, Oct 2017
Zurich Old Town Walking Tour
Two hours well spent getting to see the highlights of Zurich.
star-5
Fabulous Tour Guide
Alisa_C, Jun 2019
Zurich City Highlights Tour with Felsenegg Cable Car and Ferry Ride
Great way to see Zurich and learn the history!
star-5
Such a fun and unique way to see...
KevinR_M, Aug 2018
Fondue and Wine Tuk Tuk Tour in Zurich
Such a fun and unique way to see Zurich!
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One of the most amazing trips to...
Rachel_Y, Jan 2018
Day Trip to Lucerne and Engelberg from Zurich
We would not be able to visit all the photo stops on our own so this trip is worth every cent!
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We only had a short amount of time...
Nigel T, Sep 2017
Zurich Old Town Walking Tour
We only had a short amount of time in Zurich and this tour was perfect, recommended as a great way to see the old parts of the city.

A local’s pocket guide to Zurich

Sílvia Ferreira Santos

Born and raised in Zurich, Sílvia has lived in Lisbon for over a decade now. The only way to get back in her good graces if you’re running late is by bringing along a piece of cheese.

The first thing you should do in Zurich is...

learn how to say grüezi (hi). Swiss people appreciate punctuality but also politeness.

A perfect Saturday in Zurich...

starts with a walk by Augustinergrasse and includes stops at Lindenhof Square and Fraumünster Church. Then, cross the river and head to the lake. From Bellevue to the Chinese Garden, you’ll feel like you’re in another world.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

Swiss chocolate, what else? Zurich is a paradise for chocoholics.

To discover the "real" Zurich...

get to grips with the two sides to the city. Discover traditional Zurich in Niederdorf—locals call it “Dörfli,” or “little village”—and modern, cosmopolitan Zurich on Viadukt shopping street.

For the best view of the city...

head to Üetliberg. Take the train or hike up to enjoy the view of the city and—of course—the lake. If the weather plays nice, you might even catch a glimpse of the Alps.

One thing people get wrong...

Zurich is not Switzerland’s capital. It is the country’s biggest city but the capital is actually Bern.

Frequently Asked Questions
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