top things to do in Zurich - lake

11 Top Things to Do in Zurich

1. Zurich Old Town

top things to do in Zurich - old town

Not only Switzerland’s largest city and one of the most significant financial and industrial cities in Europe, Zurich is mainly a very charming and attractive place to visit and spend some time. Zurich old town is one of our top things to do in Zurich – rich with medieval and Renaissance architecture, its museums and its art is fascinating enough to amuse culture lovers for days! For a particular historic treat, visit Lenin`s house at Spiegelgasse, 17 and the Haus zum Napt in the Napfgasse.

2. Swiss National Museum

Top things to do in Zurich - Museum

One of Zurich‘s major attractions is the impressive Swiss National Museum, built by Gustav Gull in the French Renaissance style in 1898. It houses artifacts and relics dating from prehistory to modern times – especially Gothic art, panel paintings, coins and Swiss furnishings through the ages – as well as several temporary exhibitions which are always worth visiting.

The Museum is located on Museumstraße, 2 minutes walk from the main railway station.

3. Zurich Zoo 

top things to do in Zurich - Zoo

Opened in 1929 in the Fluntern quarter, Zurich’s zoo homes 300 different species and thus got its deserved place in our 11 top things to do in Zurich. The zoo became especially famous for its daily penguin parade in cold weather when temperature goes under 10° C, and for its magnificent Asian elephants; A huge aquarium containing predators such as stingrays and piranhas will also be fascinating for visitors.

The Zoo is situated on Zürichbergstrasse, just under 5 km from the railway station.

4. Bahnhofstrasse and the Bahnhof

11 top things to do in Zurich - bahnhof

Zurich‘s “Main Street” is Bahnhofstrasse, the busy pedestrian stretch from the main train station (Bahnhof) to the Bürkliplatz at the head of the lake. This is one of the most attractive shopping streets in Europe, decorated by fountains, public art, trees, and distinguished buildings. The beautifully decked windows and the buildings themselves make it a popular place for everyone to stroll. 

 In the lower part of Bahnhofstrasse is the Paradeplatz, with the palatial 1876 headquarters of the Schweizerischen Kreditanstalt and the Hotel Savoy Baur en Ville. Two centuries ago, there was a cattle market on the Paradeplatz, and later it was used as a parade ground. The Bahnhof itself is an attraction, its soaring hall lined with shops and cafes, with more in the giant mall underneath. Zurich‘s largest Christmas market is held inside the Bahnhof, worth visit during that period.

5. Hürlimann Areal Thermal Baths & Spa 

Top things to do in Zurich - Therme

Looking for a unique relaxation experience? The Hürlimann Areal thermal baths and spa, located in the aged vaults of a former brewery is an excellent choice. An ultra-modern complex that offers many pleasures; Aromatherapy, mudpacks, peeling, massage and fresh thermal waters from Zurich‘s “Aqui” spring. To top it all, go the bath on the roof, from there you can enjoy a wonderful view of the whole city! 

The baths are situated on Brandschenkestrasse 150, just under 2 km from the main railway station (around 20 minutes by car or tram).

6. Grossmünster (Great Minster)

top things to do in Zurich - lake

Can’t be missed for its remarkable twin towers, Zurich‘s principal church dominates the city skyline, and stands in an open terrace overlooking the river . Built between the 11th and the 13th centuries, it is a Romanesque three-aisled galleries basilica with a chancel over a crypt that dates from about 1100.  Although the upper levels of the towers date from 1487, but the domed tops were only added in 1782. High on the south tower on the river side is a seated figure of Charlemagne. Don’t miss to see the two modern bronze doors done in 1935-36, the sculptured Romanesque capitals, remains of Gothic wall-paintings, and the Late Romanesque cloister from about 1200. 

7. Limmatquai and the Rathaus (Town Hall)

Top things to do in Zurich - Rathaus

Stretching along the Limmatquai, a popular riverside shopping street, are a bunch of elegant old guild-houses with marvelous interiors reflecting the wealthy guilds who governed the town until 1789. Many of them now  became house restaurants, so you can take a peek inside at the 1719 Haus zur Saffran; the 1660 Haus zur Rüden; and the two-storied Haus zur Zimmerleuten from 1709. Zurich‘s Town Hall, the Rathaus, is easy to locate, as it overhangs the river and is supported on wide arches at the east end of the Rathausbrücke. Constructed between 1694 and 1698, this massive Late Renaissance building has rich sculptured decoration and a Baroque ceremonial hall that is well worth seeing.

8. Boating on Lake Zurich

top things to do in Zurich - boating

No visit to Zurich is complete without chilling around its lake. Rent a boat or a pedal or simply take a cruise around the lake and explore its banks and islands. The island of Lützelau is a nature reserve; it boasts a campsite, a barbecue area and a beach. Neighbouring it, is the larger Ufenau, which has a number of ruins and archaeological finds from the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

Worth visiting are the towns of Pfäffikon, Rapperswil, Küsnacht, and Lachen. 

9. Seebad Enge 

Top things to do in Zurich - Enge see

For a relaxing break from the buzz of city life head to Seebad Enge; in the summer, its two pools, yoga classes, sauna and outdoor grill bar attract many overheated visitors. In the winter, sauna visitors can cool off by jumping directly into the lake, an unmatched experience! This leisure center is located on two floating bridges on the shores of Lake Zurich, 8 minutes south of Zurich’s main railway station by car.

10. Stein am Rhein

11 top things to do in Zurich - Stein am Rhein

One of the prettiest villages in a country well known for pretty villages, this little gem, with only 300 inhabitants, is probably the best-preserved medieval village in Europe. From a tiny fishing village, it  developed into a prosperous trading center in the 11th century, when the Benedictine Abbey of St. George was relocated to the village owing to its strategic position (roads and river intersecting at that time).

Famous for its beautifully frescoed house fronts and its “Rathausplatz” (the square of the old Town Hall), Stein am Rhein lies in the canton of  Schaffhausen in northern Switzerland, close to the German border. It is around 55 km northeast of Zurich, and is accessible by car or train.

11. Rapperswil-Jona (Zurich)

Top things to do in Zurich - Rapperswil

Rapperswil-Jona is a charming town located on the east bank of Lake Zurich in the Canton of St. Gallen. Its locally known for its thousands of roses and an ancient medieval castle, which is its main dominating landmark. The town owes its charm to its medieval houses and the Capuchin monastery. The wooden bridge to Hurden as well as the fish market at Rapperswil harbor, are definitely worth a visit.

Rapperswil-Jona is located around 40 km south west of Zurich and is easily accessible by car or train in around 40 minutes. A visit to Rapperswil-Jona is a must and let us know if it will get on your list of top things to do in Zurich!

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