8 fantastic things to do in beautiful Zurich
Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city, is a cosmopolitan metropolis teeming with great culture, a significant art scene, top-quality cuisine, and beautiful architecture. It is very easy to get around the city by strolling the hilly streets or taking the efficient trams. Three to four days are ideal for fully exploring Zurich.
As well as being surrounded by the green hills of the Swiss Plateau, Zurich is blessed with two sparkling waterways, Lake Zurich and the River Limmat, giving the city additional natural beauty.
Pro tip: Swiss German, a specific German dialect, is the official language of Zurich, but English is spoken in almost all shops, restaurants, and hotels.
Activities on Lake Zurich
Enjoy the vast and clear Lake Zurich, measuring 34 square miles, by participating in some of the fun activities.
During the summer months, the town separates parts of the lake for swimming as well as public baths where you can get a locker and towel for a small fee. If you are brave enough to endure the cold, swim during the winter months, where you can also warm up afterwards in a sauna on the Enge area of the lake.
Near the centrally located Zurich Opera House is Lago, a platform where you can hire a motor boat or pedal boat. You also have the option of hiring a skipper to sail in a private yacht charter.
Pro tip: You do not need to have a boat license to rent a motor boat.
Stand Up Paddle / SUP
If you’re the adventurous type, rent a paddle board from SUPSWISS and glide across the lake.
There is a wide variety of cruises and cruise ships that cross Lake Zurich and the Limmat River. Tours last from 50 minutes to a full day. There are also specialty trips such as a Cheese Fondue Cruise, Literary Cruise, Brunch Cruise, and Murder Mystery Cruise. Zurichsee is the main company that organizes cruises on Lake Zurich.
Cycling around the perimeter of Lake Zurich is another great way to see the highlights of Zurich as well as the luxurious mansions and villas bordering the lake and the Glarus Alps, and at the end of your trip you can relax in spas. There is a two-stage route covering 32 miles in total.
The old Town
One of Zurich’s must-see sites is the Old Town. Put on your most comfortable and sturdy rubber-soled shoes or sneakers and explore the quaint cobbled streets, buildings and houses with colorful facades and towers dating back to the 13th century, the ancient pools and fountains, the cafes and restaurants of the old world, and small individual shops and stores. There are four sections of the Old Town: Lindenhaus, Rathaus, Hochschulen and City which cover both sides of the Limmat River.
One of the oldest parts of Zurich is the Lindenhof, which is lined with lime trees and dates back to Roman times from the 1st century BC Rathaus is Zurich’s original town hall from the 1300s, and the structure current was built in the 1700s, incorporating Baroque and Renaissance architecture.
Take a break from your stroll and treat yourself to a sumptuous pastry at the Schobert Tea, Coffee & Confectionery Salon which has been a local favorite since 1842. Specialties include his famous sin-rich hot chocolate topped with fresh whipped cream.
Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate
The mere mention of Switzerland immediately evokes the word chocolate. Swiss chocolate is famous all over the world and in almost every corner of Zurich there is a chocolate factory waiting for you.
Lindt Museum and Chocolate Factory
Even a hard-core chocolate addict will be impressed with a visit to the Lindt Museum and Chocolate Factory. The Lindt Museum opened in 2020 and is the largest such museum in the world. The centerpiece of the sprawling 65,000-square-foot complex is an astonishing 30-foot-tall chocolate fountain in the museum’s white marble lobby, where 1,500 gallons of liquid chocolate drips from a giant gold whip onto a truffle. A winding marble staircase takes you through the different levels of the museum where there are interactive exhibits. You will learn about the origins and millennial history of the cocoa bean, first developed in South America and the Amazon, how chocolate came to Europe, how the chocolate industry in Switzerland developed at the start of the 1800s, and how milk chocolate was invented in Switzerland in 1879. You will also get to see the latest technology in chocolate making, and the best part of your tour is the unlimited chocolate tasting during the tour. There is a cafe and restaurant with chocolate treats and hot chocolate and a huge store selling every variation of Lindt chocolate you can imagine.
Pro tip: The Lindt Museum is about 20 minutes by bus from central Zurich. Take bus number 165 from the Bürkliplatz stop to the Lindt & Sprüngli stop. Buses run approximately every 30 minutes.
Sprungli is one of the leading chocolate and confectionery brands in Zurich, and the flagship store at Paradeplatz also includes a cafe and restaurant. Browse the dozens of display cases featuring chocolate pralines, truffles and milk, white and dark chocolate bars with different percentages of cocoa. A signature non-chocolate specialty of Sprungli is Luxemburgerli, a bite-sized macaroon in over a dozen flavors.
Located in a small street in the old town, Max Chocolatier produces very high quality handmade chocolates in small batches.
The largest and most important art museum in Switzerland, the Kunsthaus Zürich houses centuries of works of art from the Middle Ages to contemporary works of the 21st century. In 2021, the Kunsthaus Zürich is expanding with a new wing dedicated to works from the 1960s and it also contains the Emil Bührle collection, which is one of the most sought-after and important art collections in Switzerland. Together, the two structures now constitute the largest art museum in Switzerland.
Le Corbusier House
The Pavillon Le Corbusier is the last building designed by the pioneering architect Le Corbusier. In 1960, Heidi Weber, Swiss interior designer, patron and gallery owner, hired Le Corbusier to build a museum in Zurich, and she used her own money to finance the construction. Opened in 1967, for the next 50 years Weber ran the museum and funded its maintenance and exhibits. The magnificent steel and glass building with brightly colored panels sits on a grassy hill surrounded by tall trees.
Pro tip: Stroll through the streets near Maison Le Corbusier and discover beautiful Art Nouveau mansions and mansions from the end of the 20th century.
Restaurants and cafes
There is an eclectic range of cuisine in Zurich restaurants and cafes, including traditional Swiss, French, Thai, Japanese and German dishes.
Restaurant Zum Kropf
A 15th-century house with rich woodwork, hand-painted ceilings and murals, is the backdrop to the Zum Kropf restaurant, which serves traditional Swiss dishes such as leberknödelsuppe (liver meatball soup), bratwurst sausage, boiled beef, sausage schnitzel, apple strudel and an extensive beer menu.
A large 1920 cinema has been transformed into an ultra-cool contemporary restaurant. The Razzia serves an elegant menu of Asian fusion cuisine with Thai touches. Diners can peek into the open kitchen and enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine in the chic connecting lounge bar.
Odeon is a legendary Art Nouveau-style cafe dating back to 1911 and is known for its intellectual elite clientele of artists, writers, musicians and poets including Somerset Maugham, Erich Maria Note, Toscanini and Albert Einstein.
Ameron Bellerive Au Lac
The Ameron Bellerive au Lac hotel’s ideal location, facing Lake Zurich, is close to the opera house and the city center, and within walking distance of the old town. The rooms and public spaces are a pleasant combination of Art Deco and contemporary design. Room amenities include a king size bed, complimentary bottled water, heated floors in the bathroom, safe, Nespresso machine and air conditioning.
The Eden Du Lac Reserve
In the super luxury 5-star hotel category, La Réserve Eden Du Lac
is at the very top. World-renowned architect and designer Philippe Starck has transformed a century-old hotel directly on Lake Zurich into an elegant recreation of an exclusive yacht club. La Réserve Eden Du Lachas has just 40 rooms, many with lake views, and amenities include a separate walk-in closet, Nespresso machine, safe, and luxury toiletries. The Eden Suite, measuring 850 square feet, has a king bed, living room, and four balconies overlooking the lake. The restaurant La Muna on the sixth floor with wooden floors, beams and walls gives the impression of an intimate chalet and offers a 360-degree view of Lake Zurich and the city. In fine weather, the restaurant is extended outside by a tree-lined terrace.
Pro tip: The current exchange rate of the Swiss franc to the US dollar is $ 1.10, which makes Zurich expensive, so be careful when planning your trip.
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