Come and explore Zurich. A city that beauty and charm is shadowed by the misconception that Switzerland’s largest city is nothing more than a dull city of bankers. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Zurich is a vibrant, fascinating city that, despite its relatively small size, cramps an abundance of attractions within its limits. There’s definitely more than meets the eye in Zurich, so plan a Zurich holiday and dedicate at least a few days to the cultural capital of Switzerland.
Zurich reinvents beauty and attracts visitors with austere architecture enliven by the river Limmat that makes its way through the city unbothered by the passing of time and changes around it. It’s true that Zurich doesn’t have the majestic Buckingham Palace of London or grandiose architecture of Paris, but it has plenty of historical tales to tell and pretty streets to walk on. After all, Zurich was the center of the German-Swiss Protestant Reformation and the birthplace of Dadaism in the 20th century.
There’s no better place to start your journey of exploration than Zurich’s Altstadt (Old Town). This is where you’ll discover picturesque little medieval streets lined with cafes and bars, like Café Schober, famous for its hot chocolates, and the Andorra Bar, where you can stop for a cupcake and a…beer.
The Old Town also houses the legendary Niederdorfstrasse. Walk along this imposing street, and you’ll eventually discover the Grossmünster, one of the most beautiful attractions in Zurich. This gorgeous cathedral dominated by the presence of its twin towers is a symbol of the city and a reminder of one of the most important history pages of Switzerland. The cathedral was the center of the Swiss-German Protestant Reformation back in the 16th century. If you’re brave enough to climb the 187 steps of the Karlsturm tower, your effort will be rewarded with beautiful views.
Cross Münsterbrücke (Munster Bridge) and stop at the Fraumunster church too, a beautiful church that dates back to the ninth century. However, its major attraction is undoubtedly its five stained-glass windows in the choir painted by Marc Chagall, which come to life under the delicate touch of the morning light. Your walk of discovery will also take you to St. Peter’s Church, known as home to the largest tower clock face on the continent.
Museum aficionados will have a lot of fun visiting the plethora of museums in Zurich. Museum Rietberg delights visitors with non-European art that adorn the walls and stands of two buildings dating back to the 1850s. Villa Wesendonck invites travelers to admire exhibitions dedicated to Indian, African, and Chinese art, while the Park-Villa Rieter charms guests with paintings by Chinese, Japanese, and Indian artists.
For an incursion into Switzerland’s history, culture, and society, there’s no better place to spend a few hours than the Schweizerisches Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum). Under its name, you’ll discover three separate museums – the National Museum Zurich, the Castle of Pragins, and the Forum of Swiss History Schwyz, as well as an overwhelming collection of paintings, sculptures, weapons, jewelry, flags, and even Roman-era artifacts.
For more art collections, visitors should also plan visits to the Kunsthaus Zürich (Zurich Art Gallery) that houses masterpieces dating back from medieval times to the 20th century. The gallery prides itself with two of Monet’s “Water Lilies” painting, the largest collection of Edward Munch’s works outside Norway, as well as expressionist and Dadaist works of art.
Nearby, you’ll find the highly-praised Odeon coffee bar, once a haven for famous figures like Einstein, James Joyce, Somerset Maugham, and Vladimir Lenin. The menu isn’t actually that important considering the coffee bar’s history, but you’ll find a variety of burgers, grilled fish, and plenty of coffee.
Families with kids will definitely enjoy a visit to the Zurich Toy Museum. If you’re an opera fan, explore Zurich Opera House will mesmerize you not only with its magnificent façade but also with tours and musical performances.
For scenic views of the city, away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown, head to Lindenhof hill, an ideal destination for taking gorgeous photos of Zurich or just relax and watch the world go by. The Polybahn, a small cog railway that awaits close by to the city’s Old Town, will take you to more splendid views of the city.
A trip with the Polybahn ends at the ETH Polyterrasse, ETH being the city’s technical university and one of the places where Einstein himself taught. From here you’ll get to admire superb views to explore Zurich all the way down to Lake Zurich. Come explore Zurich at sunset and let the magical light wrap your senses. If you have more time, don’t hesitate to cruise around Lake Zurich and admire the city from the water. Local companies provide various cruises with different themes, including a cruise that combines a relaxing tour of the lake with a fondue culinary experience. For the best views of the city, hop in a hot-air balloon, preferably cow shaped, and admire the richest city of Switzerland from above.