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50 Best Things to Do in Zurich

Our favorite things to do in Zurich with visitors to show them the best of the city, from "must-see" landmarks to local lifestyle: viewpoints, museums, food, city walks, and more.

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Zurich isn’t just a place I call home; it’s a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered by travelers like you. From scenic lakeshores to world-class museums, delectable Swiss chocolate to architectural marvels,  Zurich promises to delight and enchant at every corner.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or returning for more, our curated list of activities takes you straight to the heart of our city’s culture, cuisine, and character. 

I’ve included both popular “must see” sights and low key experiences that give you a sense of the culture and local lifestyle. So, lace up your walking shoes, grab your camera, and let’s explore the fun-filled experiences that await you in Zurich. 

Zurich walking tour

Zurich is a very walkable city, with most landmarks centered in a relatively small area. If you want a flexible schedule, try my self-guided Zurich walking tour that wander the cobblestone lanes of the old town. I also have chocolate walking tour, which visits a bunch of chocolate shops as you explore the old town, particularly nice if you have kids in your group.

Plan about 90 mins to 2 hours, depending on how many stops you make at various landmarks and shops.  

self-guided chocolate walking tour of Zurich

If you want to learn as you walk, you may find it more fun (and efficient) to join a guided walking tour, in which you’ll learn all about the rich history of this city and region.

Zurich Tourism offers a 2 hour guided walking tour in English. It costs CHF 25/adult, 50% discount with Zurich Card. We also like Free Walk Zurich, where you don’t have to sign up beforehand and you can tip what you want.

If you don’t have time or energy for a full walking tour, we suggest visiting a few of the most popular landmarks and viewpoints from our list below. See also all our favorite Zurich photo spots.

1. Grössmünster cathedral

The twin towers of the Grossmünster define the skyline of Zurich city. This Romanesque-style cathedral is the rumored site where Charlemagne discovered Zurich’s patron saints’ graves. If you can manage the 187 steps, we suggest climbing the tower for fantastic views across the city and Lake Zurich.

Cost: free to enter church, CHF 5 to climb tower

Location: Zwinglipl. 7, 8001 Zürich

Open: daily 10:00 – 18:00

Website: grossmuenster.ch

2. Fraumunster cathedral & Münsterhof square

This stunning church, originally founded in the 9th century, boasts a modern twist with its stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall. The windows are best enjoyed in the mornings, when light streams in through the colorful glass. You pay a small fee to tour the catherdral and crypt museum, with audio guide included.

Just outside the cathedral, the Münsterhof square is a great place to relax and watch the world go by. There are a few cafes with outdoor seating, including excellent coffee at ViCAFE, and free chairs in the middle of the square.

Cost: CHF 5 which includes an audio guide. Free with Zürich Card.

Location: Stadthausquai 19 8001  Zürich

Open: Mon to Fri 10:00 – 18:00, open Sundays after services until 18:00

Website: fraumuenster.ch

3. Lindenhof park

This quiet park on a hill in Zurich’s old town has one of the best views of the city. It’s elevated position provides panoramic views of Zurich’s charming old town, the Limmat River, and the distant Swiss Alps. It’s an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll, selfies, or a relaxing picnic.

This hilltop oasis is not only known for its lush greenery but also its rich history, dating back to Roman times. As you explore Lindenhof, you’ll discover remnants of ancient Roman and medieval settlements, including old walls and pathways.

 

My favorite part is the Hedwig fountain, which commemorates the women who, in 1292, successfully fooled the invading army by dressing up in battle armor, making it look like Zurich was well defended although most men were away fighting elsewhere.

Cost: free

Location: see on map

4. Augustinergasse

My favorite street in Zurich is Augustinergasse, a narrow cobblestone lane in the old town. It’s filled with quaint boutiques, charming cafes, and unique shops that offer a glimpse into Zurich’s rich cultural heritage.

It’s also one of the most photographed spots in Zurich and well worth a slow stroll. If you’re lucky, the fountain at the end of the lane will be filled with flowers by the nearby floral shop.

Location: see on map

5. St Peter’s Church

St. Peter’s Church in Zurich is one of the city’s oldest churches, dating back to the 9th century. Its most distinctive feature is the giant clock face, the largest in Europe at 8.7 meters in diameter, adorning the church tower. You can see this clock from all over Zurich, a fun way to tell the time.

You can only climb the tower as part of a private tour, which can be arranged on their website.

Cost: free

Location: St.-Peter-Hofstatt 8001  Zürich

Open: Mon to Fri 8:00 – 18:00, Sat 10:00 – 16:00, Sun 10:00 – 17:00

Website: www.st-peter-zh.ch

6. Niederdorf neighborhood

Niederdorf is the lively and historic heart of Zurich’s Old Town, known for its vibrant atmosphere and charming cobblestone streets. It’s a bustling neighborhood filled with a diverse array of restaurants, cafes, and shops, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists.

As you wander through Niederdorf, you’ll encounter a mix of historic buildings, including medieval and Baroque architecture, creating a captivating backdrop for your exploration.

It’s our favorite place to window shop and meet friends here for dinner and drinks. You can simply wander along Niederdorstrasse as far as you like, as it stretches from Central to Bellevue. One of the nicest squares is Hirschenplatz, which has lots of cafes with outdoor seating.

7. Bellevue & Sechseläutenplatz

This large plaza in front of the Zurich opera house is the heart of the city. Many events are held here, including a Christmas market, fairs, concerts, circus, and most notably, the spring Sechseläuten festival, which includes a traditional burning of a snowman to see how hot summer will be. When you visit, there might be some fun going on here.

Even without an event, it’s one of the nicest places to lounge and people watch. There are lots of chairs scattered around, with sun umbrellas on the hottest days. We often take our visitors here after getting bratwurst to go at the nearby Sternen Grill.

See Sechseläutenplatz on map.

8. Polybahn funicular train and Polyterrasse viewpoint

One of the nicest views of Zurich is from the terrace in front of the famous ETH Zürich, the university Einstein attended. From the old town, you can ride a vintage funicular train, called the Polybahn, up the hill.

Polybahn funicular train up to Polfdhdg

Then a short walk to the terrace and viewpoint. To continue your tour of Zurich, you can ride or walk back down to the old town.

View of Zurich from Polyterrasse in fall

Cost: This ride is included with the Zürich Card or Zürich day pass.

Location: Polybahn starts at Limmatquai 144, 8001 Zürich near Central tram stop. See Polyterrasse on map.

9. Uetliberg – Zurich’s mountain

We always take our visitors to Uetliberg, which is a small mountain on the southwest edge of Zurich city. You can ride a train to the top, where there is a panorama viewpoint of the city, lake, and alps in the distance.

From Zurich HB main station, ride the S10 train to the Uetliberg stop, about 20 mins. Then a short walk uphill to the viewpoint over Zurich. If you are sporty, you can hike up Uetliberg instead of taking the train.

At the top, there is a safely fenced viewpoint, a tower to climb (small fee), and a restaurant at the hotel.

Time: about 90 mins, including travel time round trip

Cost 2023: CHF 17.60 round trip from Zurich HB. Free with ZürichCARD.

Open: year round / train runs every 20 mins from 6:15, last train down at 22:58

Learn more about visiting Uetliberg.

10. Lake Zurich promenade

A visit to Zurich city is not complete without a stroll on the lakeside promenade. As Zurich city is set on the northern tip of Lake Zurich, activities near, on and in the water are a big part of city life.

 

At a minimum, we suggest starting at Zurich Bellevue and walking south along the lake. There are a couple of cafes along the way and, in good weather, food carts for snacks and ice cream.

You can walk about 20 mins to Zurichhorn, where you’ll find many places to lounge along the water and enjoy long views down the lake to the mountains. There are also large grassy fields, a playground, and a lakeside beer garden.

If you don’t want to walk back, you can catch a boat at Zürihorn, bus at China Garten or tram at Höschgasse. These are all covered the a city day pass or ZürichCARD.

Time: plan for about 60 mins

Cost: free

Learn more about this Zurich lakeside walk. See more Zurich city walks.

Museums

Zurich has many interesting museums, but here are my top three to consider if you are visiting for only one day. These are also a great choice for a rainy day.

11. Swiss National Museum (aka Landesmuseum)

If you are interested in Swiss history and culture, this excellent museum next to the Zurich HB train station is a great place to start. It is full of excellent multimedia presentations and interactive displays that walk you from the ancient origins of this land all the way to modern days.

It’s a huge museum, which a somewhat confusing layout. If you want to skip straight to the relatively modern history that covers the world war era, ask the docents to point you to the “History of Switzerland” exhibition.

They usually have a “History of Switzerland” guided tour in English on the last Sunday of the month (included with entrance fee). Best to book ahead.

Time: plan for about 1.5 – 2 hours

Open: Tue-Sun 10:00 – 17:00 / Thurs open until 19:00 / Closed Mondays

Cost: CHF 10/adult, free under age 16. Free with Zürich Card.

Location: Museumstrasse 2, Zürich – next to Zürich main station

Website: www.landesmuseum.ch

12. Kunsthaus – Zürich art museum

Zurich has a surprisingly good art collection for a relatively small city. It boasts some of the best exhibitions and collections in the world, with pieces ranging from Old Masters to Impressionism and Contemporary Art. In 2021, they opened a new wing, making it Switzerland’s largest art museum.

The Kunsthaus houses many famous pieces as well as important Swiss artists you may not be so familiar with. It is also home to the extensive and controversial Emil Bührle Collection.

The café in the new wing has delicious croissants and a delightful interior, perfect for your Insta story.

Time: plan for about 2 hours

Open: Tues – Sun 10:00 – 18:00, Thur until 20:00, closed Mondays

Cost 2023: CHF 23/adult, free under age 17, free on Wednesdays, free every day with Zürich Card. Extra for temporary exhibits.

Location: Heimplatz 1, Zürich / tram stop: Kunsthaus

Website: www.kunsthaus.ch

13. FIFA Museum

Zürich is the official FIFA headquarters and home to a fantastic museum dedicated to the sport. The beautiful, modern museum is filled with World Cup memorabilia, historical and cultural exhibits, player stories, and much more.

FIFA Museum

Many exhibits include engaging interactive multimedia displays that make the experience fun for both fans and newbies. Kids will particularly enjoy the life-sized pinball style football games and creative art corner.

They have an excellent audio guide and the displays are very informative. But if you want a more personal touch, book a guided tour.

See our review of the FIFA Museum.

Time: about 2 hours

Cost: CHF 24/adult, CHF 14/child, under 7 free. Book tickets here. Discount with Zurich Card. 

Open: Tues – Sun 10:00 – 18:00 / Closed Mondays

Location:  Seestrasse 27, 8002 Zürich / tram stop: Zürich, Bahnhof Enge

Website: www.fifamuseum.com

Lake cruises

Water is a big feature of Zurich city, as it sits on the north end of Lake Zurich and the Limmatt river cuts directly through the old town. So doing a boat cruise is a great way to see some of the city and environs.

This map from the Zürichsee brochure shows the short cruises we suggest below. You can also use boats to reach some attractions, like Lindt Home of Chocolate in Kilchberg.

 

14. Limmat river cruise

This little boat cruises along the Limmat river, where you can see some of the most beautiful Zurich landmarks like the Grossmünster cathedral. From the Zürich main station, it’s a 30 min trip down river and along the lake to Zürichhorn, a nice lakeside park.

If you have time, we suggest get off the boat at Zürichhorn, where you can enjoy refreshments at the beer garden with lake views. Then you can ride the boat back to the city.

Or you can walk back to the city along the lovely lakeside promenade. The walk takes about 25 mins to reach Bellevue, where you’ll find restaurants and trams connecting to all parts of the city.

The boat has a glass roof, so you have unobstructed views. It is air conditioned. It has room for one wheelchair, but strollers must be folded.

Time: 30 mins one way, 55 mins round trip

Cost: CHF 4.40/adult round trip, CHF 14/child6-16, under 6 free. Free with Zürich Card and Zurich city day pass.

Open: daily April – late October / departs every 30 mins from 10:50 – 17:20 (until 19:50 in July & Aug)

Location: board boat on Limmat river near Zürich HB main station, stop: Zürich Landesmuseum

Website: www.zsg.ch

15. Short lake cruise

The “Short Lake Cruise” is a 90 min loop around the north end of Lake Zurich. This is a good choice if you want to spend more time on the water or want a break from walking. You can hop on & off the boat at any of the stops.

We suggest combining this with a visit to the Lindt Home of Chocolate, which is at the Kilchberg ZH stop. Then get back on the boat and continue the cruise back to Zurich.

There are also many dining cruises, like the Brunch Cruise, which runs on Sundays, and Cheese Fondue Cruise, which runs in fall and winter. You need to book ahead for these special cruises.

Time: 90 min loop

Cost: CHF 8.80/adult round trip, CHF 4.40/child 6-16, under 6 free. Free with Zürich Card.

Open: year round / departs every 30 mins from 10:30 – 18:30 (until 19:50 in July & Aug)

Location: Zürich Bürkliplatz ferry dock / tram stop: Bürkliplatz

Website: www.zsg.ch

16. Boating on Lake Zurich

You can rent small boats to cruise around the top of Lake Zurich. They offer row boats, pedal boats, and slow motor boats – no boating license required. They have boats that fit up to 5 people, children allowed and life vests provided. You don’t need a reservation. 

Cost: from CHF 25 – 200

Locations:
Hafen Enge at Mythenquai 25, 8002 Zürichbootsvermietungenge.ch
Bellevue at Utoquai 6, 8008 Zürichlago-zuerich.ch

Chocolate

Here are our favorite ways in Zurich to introduce our visitors to Swiss chocolate.

17. Zurich chocolate shops

Switzerland is famous for its chocolate and Zurich is a great place to eat it. I have a self-guided chocolate walking tour that visits over a dozen chocolate shops in the city.

If you only have time to visit one, the most popular is Sprüngli, which has many locations across the city including the train station. The biggest and best location is at the Paradeplatz tram stop on the Bahnhofstrasse.

However, my favorite is Max Chocolatier (Schlüsselgasse 12, 8001 Zürich), a small artisan boutique with interesting flavor combos for its chocolate pralines. If you can’t afford a whole box, it’s totally acceptable to buy just a couple pieces to eat straightaway.

If you prefer chocolate bars, which last longer and are easier to pack for gifts, definitely go to the Schwarzenbach and Berg and Tal in the Niederdorf. They sell small batch local chocolate brands like Garcoa, La Flor, and Taucherli.

18. Fancy hot chocolate

Indulging in a luxurious cup of hot chocolate is a fun way to enjoy Swiss chocolate while relaxing in a charming café atmosphere with locals.

Most cafés make their hot chocolate from powdered mixes. So it’s important to visit one of the nicer cafés and coffee shops that make theirs from high quality shaved chocolate.

Our favorite in the city center is Sprüngli at Paradeplatz, which has a lovely care and excellent chocolate shop. It’s very popular for breakfast on weekends, so make a reservation, particularly if you have a group larger than 4. A close second is Café & Conditorei 1842 in a building from the 13th century (see on map).

We always order our hot chocolate “mit Schlagrahm,” aka whipped cream, sometimes served on the side so you can spoon it in slowly.

See more Fancy Hot Chocolate in Zurich.

19. Lindt Home of Chocolate

The Lindt chocolate factory has a delightful visitor center just 20 min by bus or boat from Zurich city. It’s full of beautiful and educational interactive multimedia exhibits, where you’ll learn everything about Swiss chocolate from bean to bar. You also get to eat a lot of chocolate during the tour.

You should definitely  book ahead as time slots can sell out, especially on weekends. You could also book a guided tour that includes a bus tour of Zurich, boat ride to Lindt and chocolate museum visit.

See our Lindt Home of Chocolate article.

Time: about 3 hours including travel time

Cost 2023: Museum entrance & audio guide – CHF 15/adult, CHF 10/child 8-15, under 7 free. Discount with Zurich Card. Best to book ahead.

Open: daily year round 10:00-18:00

Location: Schokoladenplatz 1, 8802 Kilchberg

Website: lindt-home-of-chocolate.com

Food lovers

20. Farmer’s market

On Tuesdays and Fridays, you can visit the farmer’s market at Zürich Bürkliplatz, right near the lake. It’s a great place to see seasonal produce and watch efficient Swiss locals work their magic.

Open: Tuesdays and Fridays 6:00 – 11:00

Location: Zürich Bürkliplatz

Cost: free to visit. If you want to purchase food, note that some vendors only take cash.

21. Gourmet groceries

Browsing grocery stores is one of my favorite things to do when I travel. It can be a fun way to learn about the culture and try new things.

Zurich has a few high-end groceries where you’ll see a dizzying array of delicious food and definitely get sticker shock. Globus is a fancy department store with a gourmet grocery on the basement floor. I mostly visit just to browse, but occasionally I’ll treat myself or buy fancy gifts for friends. Schweizergasse 11, 8001 Zürich

Jemoli is another luxury department store, also with a grocery in the basement, just a block away from Globus. I love admiring their produce and visiting their cheese cave. They’ve given up their lease and will close in 2023. So visit while you still can. Seidengasse 1, 8001 Zürich

For regular groceries, you can visit Coop St Annahof on the Bahnhofstrasse. Bahnhofstrasse 57, 8001 Zürich

22. Markthalle IM VIADUKT food hall

Markthalle IM VIADUKT is a fun food hall with lots to eat on the go. This area also has nice restaurants, bakeries, and boutique shopping. It’s a bit outside the city center, but easy to reach with tram 13 from Zurich main station. Viaduktstrasse, 8005 Zürich

23. Food festivals

Zurich has several food festivals a year with lots of food trucks serving a wide variety of interesting things to eat. These are a fun and casual alternative to traditional restaurants in the city. Perhaps one will be going when you vist.

  • Street Food Festival – two week festival in mid June with lots of food trucks at an outdoor venue
  • Street Food Park – usually a couple times a year (April and Nov) at the Zurich main station
  • FOOD ZURICH – two week festival in mid September with 100+ events including special dinner events, tastings, cooking courses, kitchen battles, etc.
  • Christmas markets – lots of food stands at the Christmas markets all over the city, late November to Christmas Eve

Sporty activities

24. Summer swimming

If you visit Zurich in summer and we’re having a heat wave, you may want to spend the afternoon or evening cooling off with the locals in the lake or rivers.

There are many great places to swim, some free, some with an entrance fee with more services. Below are a few I suggest to visitors, called “Badi” in Swiss German. See more Zurich swimming.

Oberer Letten river

For a unique experience, you can float down the river at the Oberer Letten swimming area. This official swimming area has changing rooms, toilets, food, and lots of places to lounge along a long stretch long stretch of the Limmat river.

You can jump in anywhere. But many people walk up river and float to the end of the swimming are, then walk back up and float again.

Cost: Free

Location: Lettensteg 10, 8037 Zürich

Strandbad Mythenquai

If you have children, the Mythenquai is a safe and fun place to swim in the lake. It has a long stretch of sandy beach and shallow areas for wading. It also has diving platforms and floats in the deeper water where you can lounge and jump into the water.

There’s lots of grassy areas with shade and a wading pool and playground for kids. It has a café, changing rooms and toilets.

Cost: CHF 8/adult

Location: Mythenquai 95, 8002 Zürich

Hafen Enge

This boat dock is an unofficial free swimming area is popular with locals. You can walk past the boats to a long concrete walkway, where people sit and lounge in the sun. Near the northern end, there are a couple metal rungs on the side of the walkway making it easy to get in and out of the water.

Cost: free

Location: see on map

25. Bike riding

Cycling in a city can be a fun way to see a lot in a little amount of time. Zurich Tourism offers an E-Bike city tour, which is a 17 km ride through many interesting parts of the city. It costs CHF 25/adult (age 16+ only) for a 2h15 tour, including the bike.

 

Zurich and other Swiss cities have a self-service bike sharing program called PubliBike. Using a mobile app, you can rent bikes at many depots across the city. These are best for short rides under 30 mins. Without an annual subscription, a 30 min ride costs CHF 3.50/ regular bike and CHF 5.50/E-Bike. Learn more about Publibike.

Zurich city has free and inexpensive bike rentals through the “Züri rollt” program. You can pick them up spontaneously. But best to reserve online (at least 48hrs in advance) if you have your heart set on it.

Cost: free to CHF 30/day

Location: bike rental shop at the Zurich HB main station, near Europaplatz – Kasernenstrasse 100, 8004 Zürich

Open: daily 8:00  21:30

Website: www.stadt-zuerich.ch

But as someone who lives in Zurich and bikes in the city every day, I must warn you that Zurich is not the best city for cycling. The bike lanes are not well organized, disappearing frequently with no clear way to continue safely. Also most of the old town is not possible with bikes. Also fines can be stiff for breaking the rules (even accidentally), like riding on sidewalks or pedestrian only lanes.

If you want a longer ride outside the city, you may enjoy riding along the Limmat river, which is a lovely wide dirt path used by pedestrians and cyclists. See route here.

26. Hike up Uetliberg mountain

If you like to hike and don’t have time for a day trip to the alps, hiking up Uetliberg is a fun way to get some exercise and nice views. It’s a bit of a tough climb, gaining about 280m over about 2 km to reach the top. You can hike down to make it a loop or ride the train down to the city. I hike there a few times a year in all seasons.

See Three Trails from Zurich to Uetliberg

For more ideas, see my Best Nature Walks near Zurich.

Parks for relaxing

If you need a quiet place to relax, Zurich has many public parks and nice spots along the lake to escape the buzz of the city. Here are a few of our favorites.

27. Platzspitz park

If you have a little time to kill before catching your train, this park is conveniently located just north of the Zurich main station. In the 1980s, this park was infamous for rampant drug use. But today this beautiful park is a delightful place to picnic in the shade and enjoy the breeze floating off the nearby Limmat river.

In summer, one of our favorite gelato shops, Gelati 1998, often has their truck here. We love every flavor but if they have blood orange or black sesame, you should definitely try it.

See Platzspitz on map.

28. Zürichhorn & Chinagarten

Zurichhorn is a beautiful park located on the eastern shores of Lake Zurich with views of the alps in the distance. It’s at the end of a long lakeside promenade, starting at Bellevue. At Zurichhorn, you’ll find large grassy lawns bordered by big trees, where many people go to picnic and kick the ball around with friends. See Zurichhorn on map.

My favorite spot is the hidden pond with stepping stones, particularly lovely in fall when golden leaves fall into the water.

There’s a very nice an enclosed playground with swings, slides and water play. For a fee, you can visit “Chinagarten,” a meticulously landscaped Chinese-inspired garden with a pond.

Along the water, you’ll find the Fischergarten beer garden, with one of the nicest views of the lakeside cafes.

29. Arboretum & Rentenwiese

This lakeside park with a big open lawn is very popular for picnics and barbeques and lawn games. On hot days, many people will jump in the water here, though it’s not my favorite swimming spot since there are a lot of boats and swans here. See Arboretum on map.

Along the water, you’ll find many benches with friends chatting, workers taking their lunch break, and impromptu aperos. At the south end of the park, there’s a bird sanctuary with indoor and outdoor enclosures. 

Fun for kids

Here are a few of our favorite things to do with kids in the city.

30. Puzzle trails

FoxTrail

Foxtrail is a scavenger hunt, where you follow clues and solve puzzles as you wander the city. Our family has done several Foxtrails all around Switzerland. It’s been a fun way to keep the kids entertained while we see and learn interesting things.

In Zurich city, I would suggest doing one of these trails that visit the old town: Aristoteles, Hera, or Odysseus. Book Foxtrail here.

Sato Code

With Sato Code, you use an app on your phone to find hidden clues around the city and solve puzzles to keep progressing on the trail. We’ve done both Sato Code trails in Zurich and enjoyed the puzzles more than Foxtrail.

But instead of the main landmarks of the city, you see more of the real Zurich neighborhoods. If that appeals to you, I’d definitely recommend it. You don’t have to book ahead and you can do it any time of day, which is good if you need an impromptu activity to fill some time. You’ll need a WiFi connection and a phone for each participant. Book Sato Code here.

31. Wow museum

This fun museum has a series of rooms with a variety of fun optical illusions and activities. Some rooms have mirrors, patterns and lights that distort reality. Others rely on camera tricks and let you send the resulting pictures and animations to your phone. It’s fun for all ages. See our review.

Cost 2023: Adult CHF 23, discount with Zürich Card

Location: near Zurich main station – Werdmühlestrasse 10, 8001 Zürich

Open: every day except Tuesdays / generally 10:00 – 20:00

Website: www.wow-museum.ch

32. Escape rooms

If the kids need a treat after good behavior on a sightseeing tour, there are lots of fun Escape Rooms in Zurich city. We like The Escape near the Zürich main station. We’ve done the Submarine and Bank Robbery rooms, which were perfect for older kids and teens. All instructions were in both English and German. The cost usually ranges from CHF 35-50/person for a 1 hour game. Most games are best done with 2-4 people. Here are a few more escape rooms in the Zürich area:

33. Zürich Zoo

If you need something just for the kids, Zürich has an excellent zoo a short tram ride from the city center. They have several nature-like habitats including an elephant park, indoor rainforest, and savanna for large African animals like giraffes and rhinos.

Cost 2023: CHF 30/adult, CHF 15/child 6-15, under 6 free, CHF 80/family, 10% discount with Zürich Card

Location: ride Tram 6 to final stop “Zoo”, then short walk. See on map.

Website: zoo.ch.

Rainy Day in Zurich

34. More Zurich museums

Zurich has many museums that are a great choice for a rainy. Above, I already mentioned the Swiss National Museum, Kunsthaus, and FIFA Museum. If you need more indoor spaces, here are a few more we recommend:

Be aware that many museums are closed on Mondays. For more indoor ideas, you can see my full list of Rainy Day Ideas for Zurich.

35. Thermal baths

In Zurich, we love the Hürlimannbad & Spa, which has a warn rooftop pool with great views of the city. We recommend doing the Roman-Irish Spa Ritual, where you move through a series of ten stations.

Location: Brandschenkestrasse 150, 8002 Zürich, near Bahnhof Enge train station

Cost 2023: entry only CHF 42/adult, entry + spa ritual cHF 68/adult

Book here.

36. Cozy cafes

If you need a place to warm up and take shelter, Zurich has many nice cafes where you can easily spend enjoy an hour or so with yummy treats in a nice atmosphere. Here are a few of our favorite cafes near the city center.

Milchbar

Near the Bahnhofstrasse shopping street, the entrance of Milchbar is filled with twinkle lights, making you feel like you are walking into a magical fairyland. The indoor seating is near big windows, so you don’t feel isolated. Much of the outdoor seating is covered, so you can sit there even on a rainy day and under blankets in winter.

If you’re not getting coffee, we like their hot chocolate and fresh ginger tea with honey. They have lots of savory and sweet snacks. We’re partial to their twice-baked almond croissants, but they don’t always have them.

Website: www.milchbar.ch

Address: Kappelergasse 16, 8001 Zürich (tram stop: Paradeplatz)

Open: Mon – Fri 6.30 – 22.00, Sat 8.00 – 22.00, Sun 10.00 – 18.00

Cafe Henrici

This cool café is a warm and welcoming place, frequented by both locals and tourists. If you’re not a coffee purist, we suggest one of their fun “coffee creations” like the Diablo Espresso Macchiato, with chili, cacao, vanilla and cinnamon.

We usually get their delicious Flammenküchen, a good snack to share. We also like their bagels, the best in Zürich we think. If you want dessert, their apple strudel with vanilla sauce is also quite tasty.

Website: www.cafe-henrici.ch

Address: Niederdorfstrasse 1, 8001 Zürich

Open: Mon – Fri from 8:00 | Sat – Sun from 9:00

Babu’s Bakery & Coffeehouse

Although you may have to wait for a table, Babu’s Bakery is still a favorite for meeting friends on a cold day. I usually order their tea service with scones and cream with fresh lemon ginger mint tea. But I also love their lemon poppy seed cake and carrot cake.

Address: Löwenstrasse 1, 8001 Zürich

Open: Mon – Fri & Sun 9:00 – 17:00 | Sat 8:00 – 18:00

Website: www.babus.ch

Café & Conditorei 1842

Started in 1842, this traditional café in the Niederdorf is oft visited by tourists, as most guidebooks mention it. I like taking visitors here because it has that old European feel in addition to the tasty treats.

They are known for their hot chocolate, apparently made with fresh milk and cream brought daily from the farm, definitely reflected in the price. I like their lemon tart though my guests usually order the strudel, if available 

Address: Napfgasse 4, 8001  Zürich

Open: Mo-Fr 9:00 – 17:00 | Sat-Sun 9:00 – 19:00

Website: www.cafe1842.ch

BRIDGE

If you have time to kill near the Zurich main station, it’s a short walk to the Bridge food hall, which has a variety of gourmet food stalls, good coffee, best croissants (SERI), friendly bar, and lots of seating in cozy corners. I always get a slice of pizza from Flour & Water.

Address: Europaallee 20, 8004 Zürich

Open: Mon-Sat 10:00 – 22:00

Website: www.bridgezurich.ch

Day trips from Zurich

If you want to see more than Zurich city, there are many easy day trips to see other Swiss highlights like mountains, charming villages, waterfalls, etc. Since these day trips require 4 -8 hours, you won’t have time for much else if you are only in Zurich for only one day.

Below are a few day trips we recommend most often. See also our full list of Best Day Trips from Zurich.

37. Rhine falls

One of the most popular day trips from Zurich is visiting the Rhine falls, the largest volume waterfalls in Europe. It’s about a one hour journey by train or car to reach the falls. You pay a small fee to walk on a secure stairway right along the roaring water. You can also ride a little motor boat to the center of the falls and climb some stairs to a rock right in the middle of the action.

Many like to combine the falls with a visit to nearby Stein am Rhein, a well-preserved medieval village along the Rhine river. Book this combined tour.

 

 

38. Cable car ride near Zurich

If you want a quick Swiss alps type of experience, the Felsenegg cable car is just a 20 min train ride from Zurich main station. It’s a fun ride up the mountain to 800m, where you’ll get panorama views across the city, lake and to the alps in the distance. Then a five minute walk through the forest to a restaurant, with a big terrace overlooking the lake. Kids can enjoy the playground, while you soak in the views.

view of Lake Zurich from Felsenegg restaurant

To get there, ride the train from Zurich to Adliswil station. Then a 10 min walk to the cable car station, following the yellow signs for Felseneggbahn). Learn more.

Location: Felsenegg cable car – Zelgstrasse 80, 8134 Adliswil 

Cost: Zürich Card covers this journey, including train and cable car. Otherwise, buy a 24 hour ticket to Felsenegg, which should include four zone: 110, 150, and 155.

Duration: plan for about 2 hours, including round trip transport

39. Boat ride to charming town

If you like being on the water, you might enjoy a longer cruise on Lake Zurich, ending in Rapperswil, a small town on the lake with a castle.

Rapperswill town seen from the boat

Time: about 4 hours including cruise, walk around village, and train back to Zurich

Cost: CHF 8.80/adult round trip, CHF 4.40/child 6-16, under 6 free. Free with Zurich Card.

Open: year round / departs every 30 mins from 10:30 – 18:30 (until 19:50 in July & Aug)

Location: Zürich Bürkliplatz ferry dock / tram stop: Bürkliplatz

Website: www.zsg.ch

40. Cheese factory

If you love cheese, you can do an easy day trip from Zürich to this cheese factory and visitor center in Appenzell region. The interactive displays make learning about Swiss cheese making fun. You can also watch live cheese making on the factory floor. Kids will enjoy the games inside the museum and outdoor playground. See our Appenzell Cheese Factory review.

Website: www.schaukaeserei.ch

Location: Dorf 711, 9063 Stein

Cost: Adult CHF 12 / Child CHF 7 / under 6 free

Open: daily 9:00 to 17:30

Spectacular Mountain Views

If you want mountain views with minimal effort (e.g. no hike), we usually send visitors to either Mt Pilatus or Mt Rigi. You would start your day with a train ride from Zurich to Lucerne, about a 45 mins journey. Then a boat ride on Lake Lucerne to the base of the mountain and a cogwheel train ride up to the viewpoints.

We like Pilatus for the dramatic cliffs and fun extras like the alpine slide. You might prefer Rigi if you want a more relaxed alpine atmosphere or if you have a fear of heights.

41. Mt Pilatus Golden Round Trip

From Lucerne, you ride a boat about 1 hour to Alpnachstad. Then you transfer to a very steep cogwheel train up to Mt Pilatus, a rocky peak with a big panorama terrace, restaurant and short hikes to other viewpoints.

Pilatus Julm observation deck overlooking Lake Lucerne in fall
Mt Pilatus Observation Deck

You can ride a cable car down the other side of the mountain. We suggest a short stop at Frakmüntegg to ride the 1.3 km long summer toboggan. Learn more about Pilatus round trip.

Time: plan for minimum 8 hours round trip from Zurich

Cost 2023: CHF 111.60/adult for Pilatus Round Trip from Lucerne. Discount with Swiss Travel Pass and other travelcards.

 

42. Mt Rigi Round Trip

From Lucerne, you enjoy a boat cruise to Vitznau, where you change to a cogwheel train that brings you the Rigi Kulm viewpoint at 1798m. You can easily and safely wander around the mountain top to enjoy panorama views.

There’s a restaurant with an outdoor terrace. If you want to stretch your legs, you can do a short or long walk down to a lower station, then catch the train back down to the boat.

Time: plan for minimum 8 hours round trip from Zurich

Cost 2023: CHF 123/adult for Rigi Round Trip from Lucerne. Book here. Free with Swiss Travel Pass. Discount with other travelcards.

If you prefer a guided tour, you can book a bus tour from Zurich that visits Rigi and Lucerne.

Note: If you book a tour from Lucerne, you need to pay for the Zürich-Lucerne train journey separately. In 2023, this round trip ticket costs CHF 50/adult, free with Swiss Travel Pass. The mountain excursion would be paid separately.

43. Hiking near Zurich

If you want a proper hike in the Swiss alps, it’s just a 60-90 min train ride from Zurich to many fantastic mountain hikes. Here are a few of my top suggestions for first time visitors to Switzerland.

For a challenging hike, our first choice would be the Pizol 5 Lake Hike. This 10 km loop visits beautiful alpine lakes in a dramatic mountain landscape.

For a short and easy hike, we love the Flower Trail at Flumserberg, a 40 min loop with mountain views. This mountain resort also has a lot of fun extras if you want more than just a hike, including an alpine coaster, ropes course, and theme trails for kids.

If you are on a tight budget, we suggest hiking along Walensee lake to a big waterfall (great for Apr – June). It’s more affordable than many other hikes because it does not require an expensive cable car. You can customize the length of this trail by including a boat ride, which we definitely recommend if your budget can manage it.

view of Seerenbach falls from the Walensee trail

If you are with kids, we suggest the Pizol Heidi trail, which is short and easy mountain trail with fun activities with a Heidi theme. See more Hikes near Zurich for Kids.

If you need something very close to Zurich city, you can do the Uetliberg panorama trail that follows the ridge just west of the city, just 20 min from the city by train.

See more Hikes Near Zurich.

44. Mountain Coaster

If you or the kids want action adventure, the Flumserberg FLOOMZER summer toboggan is the closest mountain coaster to Zurich and one of the best in Switzerland. This rail guided coaster is 2000m long, with lots of twists, turns, and loops. You hike or ride a chair lift to reach the coaster.

Time: plan for at least 4 hours with travel from Zurich, more if you want to hike

Cost 2023: CHF 14.50 coaster without lift, CHF 22.50 coaster with lift / discount for children

Open: mid June to late October daily 10:00 – 16:45

Location: Tannenboden, about 90 min by train & gondola from Zürich (round trip CHF 70/adult)

Website: www.flumserberg.ch

See more Swiss mountain coasters.

Shopping

If you want to shop, for yourself or gifts for family and friends, here are the best places in the city.

45. Bahnhofstrasse – Luxury Brands

The Bahnhofstrasse is one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world, filled with many luxury brands like Chanel, Hermes, Prada, Louis Vuitton. Along the way, you’ll also see familiar brands like H&M and Zara as well as cafés and department stores. See Bahnhofstrasse on map.

Zurich Bahnhofstrasse near main train station – Photo: KeanoManu, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Even if you have a small budget, it’s entertaining to window shop and see what the top 1% buys. Most of these stores have security guards and often long lines of outside, as browsing is carefully controlled.

This street starts directly in front of the Zurich main station and stretches all the way to Lake Zurich. Trams also go along the street, so you can easily get back to your starting point when your feet get tired.

Many locals (including me) come here to do their regular shopping so this street can be very crowded on weekends, particularly on Saturdays. Note that stores are closed on Sundays.

If you need a shopping break, we suggest the Globus Roof Garden, Hiltl Dachterrasse (rooftop café), or Milchbar, which has a quiet courtyard. The best nearby coffee is at ViCAFE at Münsterhof, which has outdoor seating with umbrellas.

46. Switzerland souvenirs & gifts

If you want high quality Swiss handcrafts, best to visit Schweizer Heimatwerk, which has classic Swiss gifts like carved wooden figures, cow bells, housewares, and more. There are two locations in the city at Uraniastrasse 1, 8001 Zürich and Bahnhofstrasse 2, 8001 Zürich.

In the train station and along the Limmat river, there are a couple gift shops that have typical souvenirs like T-shirts, hats, key chains, postcards, and the like.

47. Food gifts

For an easy and inexpensive Swiss gift, you can’t go wrong with chocolate. The easiest option is Sprüngli, which has many locations in the city, train station and airport. They have attractive gift boxes filled with delicious chocolate. Or you can have them hand pack a pretty box with your custom selections. For more chocolate options, see my Chocolate Walking Tour.

Sprüngli sells another popular Zurich treat called Luxembourglis, which are mini French macaron cookies. Zurich locals often give these as gifts to friends, colleagues, teachers, etc. They need to be eaten within a day, so best to buy on your way to the airport.

Teuscher has chocolate boxes with pretty Zurich pictures, which make a very nice gift. Bahnhofstrasse 46, 8001 Zürich.

Night-time activities

48. Rooftop bars & nightclubs

If you want to keep the party going, Zurich has lots of fun bars with excellent cocktails. If the weather is nice, we suggest one of the rooftop bars with a view, like The Nest at Storchen Hotel or George Bar & Grill. See more rooftop bars.

George’s rooftop bar in Zurich

Although Zurich isn’t the most exciting city for nightlife, it does have many clubs for music and dancing that attract the party crowd. Here are a few you might like:

See more Zurich nightclubs.

49. Movies in English

If you want some entertainment after a full day of sightseeing, many of the Zurich movie theaters show movies in the original language with subtitles. The two biggest cinema chains are Blue Cinema and Arena. You can see the schedule for all Zurich cinema on Search.ch. Look for the E/d/f code, which indicates the film is in English with subtitles in German and French.

50. Live Performances

If you’d like to see live entertainment, here are the main venues. Tickets typically must be booked months in advance.

Frequently asked questions

Should you get a Zürich Card?

Zurich offers a city pass that includes free transportation in the city, free boat cruises, as well as discounts on museums, attractions, and select restaurants. You can purchase it for 24 or 72 hours. If you plan to ride the trams and visit at least one museum per day, the card pays for itself.

Zürich Card Cost: 24 hour ticket – CHF 27/adult, CHF 19/child age 6-16 – buy here

A regular tram day pass costs CHF 8.80 and most museums cost about CHF 15 – 25. To get the maximum value from the 24 hour Zurich card, I would visit Uetliberg, Lindt Home of Chocolate, and the Swiss National Museum.

You can also buy the Zurich Card in person at the airport, tourist info at Zurich HB main station, or transport ticket machines. You can also download the Zurich City Guide App and purchase the card through the app. Learn more.

Activities for limited mobility

If members of your group have limited mobility, here are some activities that minimize the walking:

  • Tuk-tuk city tour. Ride instead of walk to all the important sights and get interesting info from your driver. Book here.
  • Boat tour. There are few boat cruises on Zurich lake that leave from the Bürkliplatz ferry dock in the city. This is easily reached by tram from the main train station. We suggest the Short Lake Cruise, which is a 90 min round trip.
  • Guided bus tour. You start with a bus tour around Zurich city, then a boat ride on Zurich lake, then a visit to Lindt Home of Chocolate. Book here.
  • Accessible museums. The Swiss National Museum has two wheelchairs that can be reserved for free

Where to park in Zurich

It can be expensive and difficult to find parking spots in Zurich city. Most metered street parking is usually limited two hours, so it’s more convenient to use a parking garage.

You can see a list of city parking garages with hourly rates on https://www.parkingzuerich.ch/ We typically suggest Hohe Promenade, which is quite centrally located at Rämistrasse 22A, 8001 Zürich. Expect to pay about CHF 4/hour.

If you plan to park in metered parking, we suggest EasyPark Mobile app, which allow you pay the meter from your phone.

Where to store luggage in Zurich

There are many lockers in the Zurich HB main station. Near the ticket office on the main floor, you’ll see a luggage symbol pointing down the escalators.

There are lockers of different sizes to fit a wide variety of luggage. You can pay by card on the machine, which prints out a receipt to scan later to open the locker. Instructions are in English. Learn more.

There is also luggage storage at the Zurich airport. Learn more.

Where to stay in Zurich

Here are a few Zurich hotels we suggest. Most have family suites that fit four people.

Hotel Glockenhof Zurich – This hotel has family suites. It’s right in the center of town, great location. See on map.

Engimatt City & Garden Hotel – this hotel is in a quiet neighborhood, a short tram ride from the city center. They also have family suites. It’s a 5 min walk to a big shopping center with a grocery, coffee shops, cinema (in English), and train station. 

Hotel Alexander Zurich – They have family rooms that include one double and one single bed.

Aparthotel Adagio Zurich City Center – They have 1 BR apt with kitchenette, a double bed and sofa bed for the kids. A bit pricey, but depending on the dates it can be better than booking two rooms.

Meininger Hotel Zurich Greencity – This place is quite affordable. It has a quad room with two single beds (pushed together to make a double, quite common in Europe) and two bunk beds. Reasonable price. It’s on the edge of the city, but quick train ride to town. Maneggstrasse 41, 8041 Zürich See on map.

ibis Zurich City West – this one is budget option a little outside the center of town. The neighborhood is a bit industrial but it has a quick tram connection in the center of town and has lots of cool restaurants nearby.

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Welcome

Hi! I’m Tanya and our family has been living & hiking in Switzerland since 2005, collecting dozens of fun hikes and activities for all ages and abilities. More about us…

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