Since more than 10 years we are constantly on the road. But at least once a year we go back to Switzerland to catch up with families and friends. On each visit we also spend at least one day in Zurich, our favorite city in Switzerland. There are so many cool things to do in Zurich and that’s why we love this city.
For many years Zurich was our working place. We spent most working days in the office but we also went out in the evening a lot. There are so many things to do in Zurich that it is hard to see it all. Over the years we found our favorite spots and places to go. What we love most about Zurich is the old town and the lake. Especially during the summer months we often went for a walk along the shore of Lake Zurich, had a beer in one of the open air bars or went out for dinner.
The last few years we visited Zurich as tourists. It’s a different feeling to walk around the old town, enjoy the view from the Lindenhof or follow the pathway along the Limmat River. Well, yeah, it’s been years since we worked in Zurich and therefore we walk around the city with different eyes. We enjoy the luxury of having time to explore and to find more things to do in Zurich.
We are tourists in our home country
Today, we take you for a walk around Zurich. We do not write about the Top 10 things do in Zurich in this blog post. Instead we will show you some cool places that we love. There are plenty of things to do in Zurich. It’s easy to fill a full week as the city has so many great attractions to offer. There are many museums you can visit, impressive buildings and churches with lots of history and lots of shops, specialty stores, boutiques and jewelries.
We start our walking tour at the main station (Hauptbahnhof) of Zurich. We usually get to Zurich by train and this time we even have the luxury of staying in a hotel not too far from the city center. We got invited by the a-ja City-Resort to stay for a night and we feel like real tourists in our own country. After a delicious breakfast in the DELI Restaurant we are ready to explore the city of Zurich. It’s just a three minute walk from the a-ja City-Resort to the station called Zurich-Altstetten. From here trains are leave for the main station every few minutes.
Should you come directly from the Airport you can catch a train to the main station (Hauptbahnhof) which takes only 15 minutes.
Our favorite walking tour in Zurich
From the main station we are heading south to the famous Bahnhofstrasse, the perfect street for shopaholics. If you do not want to spend too much money, you may enjoy doing some window shopping.
Tipp: If you visit Zurich around Christmas time you should definitely walk along the Bahnhofstrasse at night. The Christmas lights turn the busy and hectic Bahnhofstrasse into a dreamlike world. If Lucy, that’s the name of the Christmas lights, is on it feels like there are millions of stars shining above you.
The Bahnhofstrasse is always busy and hectic. That’s why we turn left after 600 m. This is where we get to the Augustinerstrasse and find ourselves in the old town of Zurich. We follow the cobblestoned street, watch the beautiful old buildings and feel like we’re in a different world.
The old town is full of historical buildings and we totally love walking along the small lanes. We quickly stop at the St. Peter church, turn around and head over to the Lindenhof.
The Lindenhof: Our favorite spot in Zurich
The Lindenhof is a park in the center of the medieval city. We love this place a lot for its great views over the Limmat River and the roofs of Zurich. And it is a place to escape the hectic city. In summer the big trees spend some shade, in autumn the leaves turn into yellow and in winter the park turns into a fairytale like place.
Do you love the water as much as we do? Then you should definitely walk along the Limmat River. From the Lindenhof you can go down to the Fortunagasse and further to the Schipfe. Just follow the river and you will get to the bridge called Rathausbrücke, and then to the Weinplatz, follow the Storchengasse until you reach the Münsterhof.
The huge place at the Fraumünster Church is called Münsterhof. The Church was built in the mid of the 9th century and it is one of the landmarks of Zurich. If you visit the Fraumünster, you should not miss the amazing glass windows inside the Fraumünster Church.
We again follow the Limmat river towards the Lake of Zurich. At the Bauschänzli, a restaurant right at the shore of the river, we stop to take a few pictures. A few hundred meters further we get to the Quaibrücke from where we enjoy the beautiful views over the Limmat River and Lake Zurich.
It’s chilly and we go directly to the Niederdorf. In summer, we usually go to the Bürkliplatz for fantastic lake views. Should you fancy doing a boat tour on Lake Zurich, do it. We highly recommended a boat cruise as you get fabulous views of Zurich and the Glarner Alps.
If you love walking we recommend going along the shore of Lake Zurich. You can start at the Sechseläutenplatz and follow all along the lake shore until you reach Zürichhorn. From there you can either take a tram back to the Bellevue or walk back or you even can take a boat ride.
Before we are heading to the Niederdorf we stop at the Sechseläutenplatz. The huge Sechseläutenplatz is a nice place to hang around and watch people. The Zurich Opera House is also there and the impressive building is not only a great photo opportunity but also an interesting building to do a tour, if you are interested in more background of the opera house. If you spend a few days in Zurich, maybe you can get some tickets and enjoy the great atmosphere in this amazing building.
The huge Sechseläutenplatz is located between the Bellevue and the Opera House. Every spring a traditional event called „Sechseläuten“ takes place, where they burn the „Böögg“, a huge Snowman like doll. But also the National-Circus Knie and the Christmas Market is going to happen on the Sechseläutenplatz.
We leave the Bellevue, walk to the Rämistrasse and turn to the left to follow the Oberdorfstrasse. The Niederdorf or „das Dörfli“, that’s how the locals call this part of the old town, is for pedestrians only. We stroll along the street and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.
The Grossmünster and spectacular views from the Karlsturm
You can’t miss The Grossmünster. The protestant church is huge and one of the most famous churches (besides the Fraumünster and the St. Peter Church) in Zurich.
The Grossmünster with its two towers is another iconic building of Zurich. One of the towers is called Karlsturm, which is open to the public. You can climb to a platform and it is well worth the entry fee for the amazing views over Zurich.
We follow the Münstergasse and enjoy looking at all the shops, boutiques, grocery stores and fancy barber shops. There are also many restaurants, cafes and bars. The Niederdorf is very popular especially for going out, partying or having a drink or a meal in one of the restaurants or bars.
Once you get to the Central, you have many options. You can either go back to the main station (Hauptbahnhof) or you could take a ride with the Polybahn. The nostalgic funicular is going up the hill to the ETH Zurich, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics University. Since many years thousands of students are taking the Polybahn to get to the University and that’s where the nickname Student Express comes from. The ride with the Polybahn is short and totally worth for the great views over Zurich.
We are heading to the trend quarter Zurich-West at the Kreis 5. On the way to the main station we shortly stop at the Landesmuseum. If you are interested in learning more about Switzerland‘s history and culture, we highly recommend to spend a few hours in the Museum.
Zurich West, bohemian and trendy
We are a bit short on time that’s why we take the train to Zurich Hardbrücke. If you like to walk you can follow the Zollstrasse and then the Josefstrasse. You will get directly to the Josefwiese and the Viadukt (viaduct = an overpass). The viaduct has been renovated and is home for specialty shops and trendy restaurants today.
I used to work in this area and I love how this part of Zurich has changed during the last 10 years. Kreis 5 is an industrial area and a few years ago restaurants, bars, cafes, cinemas and cool clubs were popping up in many of the old industrial buildings. Today it’s a bohemian and hip place to go out after work and on weekends.
Our favorite place to have a beer in Zurich West is Frau Gerolds Garten. The open air restaurant and bar is so cool to visit in summer. It feels like an oasis in the middle of the industrial area of Zurich.
For us it’s time to go back to our hotel. From Zurich Hardbrücke it’s just one station to Zurich-Altstetten.
We had an amazing time in Zurich and we will be back again next year.
Top Thing to do in Zurich – Go up the Üetliberg for the best views over Zurich
Is Zurich on your bucket list? Then you should definitely plan to stay at least two days. One of the Top things to do in Zurich is going up to the Üetliberg. Zurich’s house mountain is easy accessible from the main station. Just hop on the Üetlibergbahn (S10) at the main station “Hauptbahnhof” and you will arrive at the Üetliberg within 20 minutes.
From the station you can walk another 10 minutes where you get to a platform for great views. If you like to go higher up you can access the big tower with viewing platform. There is also a restaurant and a big terrace.
The Üetliberg is super popular for hiking, walking and mountain biking in spring, summer and autumn. One of the great walks is the Planetenweg that goes to the Felsenegg. Are you visiting in winter? How about Toboggan? Promise, you’ll have a blast.
Great day trip from Zurich
Planning your stay in Zurich and Switzerland
Switzerland is our home country. During our holidays we mostly spent time abroad. A couple of years ago we started to do more trips and travel around Switzerland too. We suddenly realized that we do not always have to go far to see amazing landscapes and beautiful cities.
To plan our trips we research online and use our Lonely Planet. You can order your Lonely Planet here: Switzerland Guide Book
A good resource with local tips is the tourist information in Zurich. Check out their website here.
Looking for accommodation in Zurich?
Our hotel tip in Zurich
a-ja Zurich. Das City-Resort – Address: Vulkanstrasse 108b, 8048 Zurich
a-ja Zurich is a brand-new hotel in Zurich. It opened its doors in November 2018. If you arrive by train you will see the three towers from a far distance. We like the concept of the resort hotel a lot. Guest should feel like they are in holidays and that’s exactly how we feel the moment we step into a-ja Zurich. The rooms are comfortable, simple and functional with a special touch.
On the ground floor is a bar that is open to the public. We usually do not like hotel bars but the one at a-ja Zurich is different because people come here for a drink after work.
We also like the concept of the a-ja DELI restaurant. The a-ja DELI is not one big restaurant but separated in different areas and themes.
There is also a Chalet, where you can enjoy a Cheese Fondue. You don’t need to travel to the mountains; you can enjoy a traditional Cheese fondue in a great atmosphere here in Zurich.
One last thing we want to mention. Don’t miss to spend a few hours in the Rooftop SPA. There is sauna with steam bath, Bio sauna, Finnish sauna and also an outside (open air) sauna.
The gym is located on the 4th floor.
For a massage and beauty treatment you can go to the NIVEA Haus on the ground floor.
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Disclaimer: We were invited from a-ja Zürich. Das City-Resort. for the stay that included a massage in the NIVEA Haus. Our opinion is not influenced by the invitation. What you read in this post is our own opinion.
A big thank you goes to the PR agency Panta Rhei in Zurich for the organization and coordination.
This blog post contains affiliate links.