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9 Best Things to Do in Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, and there are so many things to do here if you enjoy museums, art galleries, architecture, and outdoor adventure. This is a great place for boating, hiking, admiring architecture, and going out to enjoy the nightlife scene. With a busy airport and ample trains, many people start and end their journeys to Switzerland in Zurich. But before you move on to see the other cities and towns, make sure to check out these top things to do in Zurich!

Old Town (Altstadt)
Credit: by bigstock.com

Old Town (Altstadt)

The Old Town section of Zurich is known locally as Altstadt, and this is a place with many attractions, cobblestone streets, and a medieval vibe. Top attractions in the area are the Swiss National Museum, Bahnhofstrasse, Lindenhof, and the Minster of Our Lady Church. The Grossmünster towers, the Fraumünster stained-glass windows, and the clock at Peter’s Church are top Old Town attractions too. It’s also worth seeing the Muhlesteg Footbridge and staying until after dark to check out the hot nightclubs nearby.

Uetliberg Mountain Sunrise @ Üetliberg, Zurich
Credit: Sunrise @ Üetliberg, Zurich by Lukas Schlagenhauf via Flickr

Uetliberg Mountain

Uetliberg is the big mountain right outside of Zurich, standing at 2,858 feet above sea level, and there are a few different ways that you can experience it. You can take a train to the top, climb an observation tower, take a cable car down, and even hike and mountain bike on the mountain. The train ride from Zurich’s Hauptbahnhof station to Uetliberg Mountain will take you about a half hour. The hiking trails here are excellent to get some exercise and take in the scenery. Sledding and paragliding are also options on this mountain. Any way you approach the mountain, you’ll be rewarded with great views.

Lake Zurich Lake view in Zurich
Credit: Lake view in Zurich by Nikos Roussos via Flickr

Lake Zurich

Zurich is a fun place to take a boat ride and get a unique view of the city. Boats depart on hour-long, round-trip rides from the Landesmuseum station, for example, and there are even dinner cruises that you can take from Bürkliplatz. There are also some nice spots along the lake to have a picnic lunch in the warm weather months, and the area around the lake is an ideal place to go for a run. You can find plenty of restaurants and shops around the shores of the lake as well.

Bellevue Square Quaibrucke bridge, buildings at Bellevue square in the background
Credit: Quaibrucke bridge, buildings at Bellevue square in the background by www.bigstock.com

Bellevue Square

This city square dates back to 1856 and used to be swampland between the lake and river. There also used to be a hotel here, which is how the Bellevue Square got its name. There are lots of restaurants and shops around Bellevue Square today, and you can simply sit outside with a coffee to watch the world go by. If you visit during the Christmas season, check out the crafts and gifts sold at the Christmas market here. In the summer, there’s a fountain that kids can run through to cool off. This is also a primary transportation intersection where you can hop on public transportation to get to other parts of town.

Zoo Zurich Lions at Zurich Zoo
Credit: Lions at Zurich Zoo by Tambako The Jaguar via Flickr

Zoo Zurich

Like many large international cities, Zurich has a great zoo, and this zoo has thousands of animals from all over the world. Here you’ll find a petting zoo, elephant park, lions, and many other species. The admission fees are a bit higher than others zoos you may be used to, but this is still a must-visit spot if you’re traveling to Zurich with kids. The adult admission price for visitors over 21 is CHF 26, it’s CHF 21 for youth 16-20 years old, CHF 13 for kids between six and 15, and free for children under six. The zoo is open 365 days a year and is involved in numerous conservation projects to help threatened species thrive.

Go Bar Hopping Jazoon Bar in Zurich
Credit: Jazoon Bar in Zurich by Dinko Srkoč via Flickr

Go Bar Hopping

The nightlife scene in Zurich is among the best in all of Europe, so come here with a mindset to mix, mingle, and party. You can join a group bar crawl to get acquainted with the local bar scene and meet some locals and fellow travelers. Some of the top bars in the city include George, Raygrodski, Odeon, and El Lokal. Near the city center, it’s also fun to stop by Andorra Bar, Rimini Bar, and Widder Bar.

Bahnhofstrasse Shopping Bahnhofstrasse, Altstadt, Zürich, Zürich
Credit: Bahnhofstrasse, Altstadt, Zürich, Zürich by Francisco Antunes via Flickr

Bahnhofstrasse Shopping

If you love to shop, then you’ll definitely want to carve out some time in your itinerary to stroll down Bahnhofstrasse. This is a top shopping street that is lined with high-end brands and luxury shops. You’ll recognize names like Gucci, Chanel, and Burberry here. This is also a nice place to find jewelry shops and sweet treats for desert. Window shopping is popular here among budget travelers, who prefer going over to the Langstrasse or Neiderdorf areas to actually buy items that aren’t so pricey. Even if you don’t buy anything at Bahnhofstrasse, this is a great place to people-watch and experience the local life.

Lindenhof Lindenhof autumnal sunrise in Zurich
Credit: Lindenhof autumnal sunrise in Zurich by Lukas Schlagenhauf via Flickr

Lindenhof

To slow down your pace of travel, make sure to spend some time at Lindenhof. This is a park lined with trees and large chess sets to challenge your mind with this classic game. There’s a short climb required to get up to this elevated park, but then it’s flat once you reach it. Pack a picnic lunch and spend a lazy afternoon here for a sightseeing break. You’ll also see views of Grossmünster Church, Old Town, the Limmat River, City Hall, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology from this park.

Swiss National Museum Outside the Swiss National Museum
Credit: Outside the Swiss National Museum by ActiveSteve via Flickr

Swiss National Museum

Zurich is certainly in no short supply of museums, and one of the best ones to visit to learn about Swiss culture is the Swiss National Museum. This museum’s building resembles a castle and covers Swiss history dating back to the fourth century B.C. Inside, you’ll find everything from furniture to weapons, and educational displays. Make sure to check out the Chateau de Prangins while you’re here. The adult entrance fee is CHF 10, and children up to 16 years old are admitted free of charge. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays and stays open late until 7pm on Thursdays. It’s also worth checking out the Kunsthaus Zurich if you love art. Here you’ll find works from many Swiss artists and also world-famous artists like Monet and Picasso.

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