Let’s admit it. Switzerland is not the first place that pops into your mind when you think about your next travel destination. Most people may dream about visiting Barcelona or Milan, but for sure, they don’t scream eagerly “let’s go to Zürich!”. There are however plenty of interesting things to see in Zürich!
Even though I am in love with Switzerland, I totally understand people’s reluctance. If you compare the Swiss Franc (CHF) to the Euro (EUR) and if you compare Swiss salaries to the rest of European salaries you will immediately understand that this country is extremely rich. In fact, Switzerland is the second richest country in the world!
It may happen that you end up in Zurich for business, to visit a friend or even to study. I visited Zürich in 2019 because I wanted to see a friend and I didn’t pass up my chance to see the best attractions in the city.
Zürich at a glance
Let’s discover some interesting things about this city:
- It is an extremely clean and organized city. Everything works like a Swiss watch!
- Zürich is Switzerland’s financial center and with 400,000 habitants, it is the biggest city.
- Every summer Zurich hosts the biggest techno party in Europe. I saw the pictures and asked the locals about it: it’s a massive, crazy street party – not what you’d expect from the otherwise quiet, tidy Swiss!
- It is the world’s 3rd most expensive city.
- If you are wondering what kind of souvenir you can bring back from Switzerland go for the delicious swiss chocolates or the famous Swiss army knife. If you have a larger budget you can even buy a unique Swiss watch.
- If you are interested in the beauty of the mountains, go for a hike. Over 50% of Zurich’s population claims to be a regular hiker and I can confirm that! Every Sunday Zurich looks like a ghost town: everybody goes for a hike to the nearby mountains and hills.
- The Swiss mainly love two things: nature and cheese (not necessarily in that order)!
7 POPULAR THINGS TO SEE IN ZURICH
Let’s explore a selection of the most interesting attractions in Switzerland’s biggest city.
#1. Landesmuseum, the national museum of Zürich
Start your tour with Landesmuseum, the national museum of Zürich. You can find it in the heart of the city, just behind the central train station. It is a wonderful interactive museum that you shouldn’t miss!
The Landesmuseum offers many exhibitions; some of them are permanent and some temporary. As I said above, it is absolutely worth visiting it because it is very fun and interactive. In only an hour you can learn so many things about Switzerland, understand it’s history and also discover other civilizations. For example, when I visited this museum, there was an insightful exhibition about India!
If you are thinking of visiting only one museum in the city, opt for that one. It costs 10 CHF and children up to 16 years old get in for free. If it rains, something very often in Zurich, you can visit Landesmuseum and spent a couple of fun hours.
#2. The old town (Altstadt)
You should not leave Zürich without exploring the old town. Even if you only have 24 hours there, take some time to stroll around the historic old town of Zürich: explore the small alleys, get a coffee or a glass of wine and do some window shopping. From the things to see in Zürich, Altstadt is the quietest, most relaxing and pretty experience that you will have.
The architecture, the houses and the fountains with clear pure water from the Alps will definitely charm you.
Did I mention how quiet it is? Even when you are in the center of the city you don’t feel breathless from the smog, you are not being bothered by cars and pollution. It’s very peaceful and calm.
#3. Grossmünster, Fraumünster and St.Peter’s church
The first church that I visited was St. Peter’s/St Peterskirche.
This 13th-century church has a clock face with the largest diameter in the whole of Europe! The whole square and the clock look surreal, like they were somehow taken out of a painting.
On the other hand, the interior of St Peterskirche wasn’t that great. Don’t skip it though! It is one of Zürich’s oldest churches, so at least dedicate a 15-minute visit.
Once you’re done with St Peter’s church head to another famous church: Fraumünster.
Fraumünster was also built in the 13th century and is famous for the 5 stained glass windows created by Chagall.
The Fraumünster church is in the center of the the old town and one of Zürich’s best places of interest. The entrance to the chucrh costs 5 CHF and is open :
From November to February
10.00 – 17.00
From March to October
10.00 – 18.00
Impressed? We’re not finished yet! There are many other things to see in Zürich.
The third church that you should not miss is Grossmünster, know for the twin towers. Don’t forget that you can even go up to the Karlsturm tower to get an amazing view of the city.
#4. The view from Lindenhof
Only 10 minutes from the train station you will find the remarkable Lindenhof hill. From this vantage point, you can take in views of all of Zürich and the picturesque river Limmat.
#5. Zurich’s lake
It’s very easy to walk or take a bus from the city center to Lake Zürich. If the weather is good, you can even take a boat trip. A cruise on Lake Zurich is a must for everyone visiting in spring or summer! You can find all the information (timetables, prices, etc.) about the cruises here. If you like being organized (and you should if you are visiting Switzerland!) check out the website above, so you don’t waste your time waiting for the next cruise or queuing to get the info that is already in the website!
I didn’t have the chance to go on a cruise but the lake was, in my opinion, one of the things to see in Zürich that I liked the most. I took a moment to relax and stare at the boats. Around the lake you can find gorgeous houses, I wish I owned one of them!
If you have more than 24hours in Zürich, take the train up to Uetliberg. Trains depart from Zürich every 30 minutes and is quite a short ride: only 23 minutes. The locals come here to hike, enjoy the panoramic views, jog or even cycle. The train leaves you just 10 minutes away from the top of the hill. It is an easy hike and the path is very green.
There is a cafe/restaurant up there that is, surprisingly for Switzerland, not very expensive. Grab a coffee or a drink and enjoy the view!
#7. Shopping at Bahnhofstrasse
If you are planning to do any shopping at all in Zürich, visit the famous street – Bahnhofstrasse. This street has the most expensive and high fashion brands in Zürich. All the boutiques, famous designers and luxury brands can be found here. It’s not a secret: Zürich is a very rich city, the estimated GDP per capita in 2018 was $83.162, so it actually makes sense to have an avenue like this.
Bahnhofstrasse in Zürich is the 3rd most expensive street in the world. During Christmas, the avenue is really festive, so if you’re visiting around this time of the year don’t miss it!
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Where to stay in Zurich
Surprise, surprise, the hotels are very expensive in Zürich. If you are looking for a place in this wonderful city, you can take a look at Booking’s deal finder below to spot several good offers.
♦ EXTRA TIP: The average price for a double room is 136€ per night, but you can even stay a bit further away from the city center: the public transport network is absolutely reliable. The best area to stay in Zurich, in my opinion, is Altstadt (the old town) but there is nothing wrong with other areas. I stayed in the Sihlfeld neighborhood in Zürich and I loved it! There are many bars, restaurants, parks, and supermarkets. It felt very safe at night too. Another good idea is to use Airbnb and try to live like a local in a real home. If you haven’t tried it before, use this Airbnb coupon and save up to 34€.
If you have more days in Zürich or if you are planning to visit more cities in Switzerland, try to visit romantic Lucerne. Here you can find my article about Lucerne, including many photos!
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