How to discover Zurich?
I lived close to Zurich for a couple of years and even worked in the heart of the city for a while. Yet, I never took the time to just walk around town and explore it.
Last weekend, before I went to a friends wedding in Germany, I stopped by in Switzerland. Luckily, I had a spare afternoon and decided to make the most of the good weather and rediscover my favorite places and learn more about this beautiful city on the go.
If you have a week or a couple of days to explore the largest city in Switzerland then that’s great! But if you’re only there for a short time then let me show you how you can make the most of it and not miss out on anything worth seeing.
You might be happy to hear that you can reach all the best landmarks in Zurich in an 1-2 hour walk. I walked from the station to lake Zurich in around 50 minutes while stopping at several places for pictures and ice cream (it was an incredibly hot day).
Included in this post:
How to get from the airport to Zurich.
Bahnhofsstrasse (Shopping District)
Fraumuenster and Grossmuenster Church
But first lets start off with…
How to get from the airport to Zurich?
It is really easy to reach Zurich by train from the airport. Just walk to the station which is located next to the check in 3 at the airport (can be reached by lifts or escelators). It takes around 12 minutes by train to reach Zurich main station. Prices are 3.40 swiss francs/ 1$/ 2.70£
Zurich points of interest
Outside the station is the Bahnhofstrasse which is the main shopping street in Zurich. If shopping isn’t your thing continue straight until you reach a small park nested in between large shopping centres.
Interesting Fact: Until around 1860 this park and general area was the main place for public executions in Zurich.
Save money with a great view
My pro tip: Instead of going into one of the expensive and fancy coffee shops or restaurants to eat, go into the Jelmoli shopping centre for lunch. The Jelmoli restaurant has quality buffets filled with hot food, cakes and light bites and it’s cheaper than a normal restaurant. Plus you can sit on the rooftop terrace and enjoy a great view.
From Jelmoli, walk down the Seidengasse and then turn into Rennweg until you reach a charming, elevated courtyard called Lindenhof. This is where all the exicting sight-seeing really starts.
Lindenhof is one my favourite places in Zurich. It’s usually quiet and you have an amazing view and photo op from up there. It’s a great place for a small picnic or just to relax and take a break from the busy shopping streets.
If you continue your walk down from Lindenhof (Pfalzgasse) you will find yourself walking through quiet and narrow roads with cobblestones. Here you are in Zurich’s old town (Altstadt). There are loads of charming, small stores scattered around this area. You can easily find raditional Swiss handicrafts and souvenirs in this area.
Handmade Swiss chocolate and a different kind of Ice-cream
I discovered this small shop by chance and I liked it straight away. Mostly because I am a sucker for handmade chocolate and uncommon ice cream flavors. And Max Chocolatier had both. While I was in Zurich it was 35 degrees and I really needed something to cool me down.
I tried their self made sour-apple-with-thyme ice-cream and absolutely loved it. Worth a visit.
Where? Max Chocolatier, Max Chocolatier, Schlüsselgasse 12, CH-8001 Zürich
How much? Ice cream starts from 5 swiss franc (yes, swiss francs are still used)/ 5$/ 4£
So many churches!
Follow down the road and you will reach St. Peter’s church.
Interesting Facts: Apart from having the biggest clock tower in Europe it also used to be Zurich’s “official local time” and all other public clocks in Zürich had to conform to it for centuries.
Close behind St. Peter’s church is the Fraumünster church which is most famous for its beautiful stained glass windows by Chagall and Giacometti– if you want to go into one of the churches I recommend this one.
To the right of the Fraumünster is a small bridge which leads to the third of the four main churches in Zürich, the Grossmünster. It is Zürichs top landmark and center of the Reformation.
The whole area is beautiful and one of the best spots for great photos.
Once you’re on the bridge between Grossmünster and Fraumünster you should be able to already see the little boats on the canal leading into lake Zurich a bit further away. Grossmünster church is just a short walk away from Bellevue– one of the main tram stops, and like the name says- you get a beautiful view there. Next to the lake are small Bratwurst stalls with not only delicious hot dogs and Bratwurst but also reasonable prices.
You can sit at the promenade or take a walk until you reach Bürkliplatz from where you can take boat tours or a cruise around lake Zürich. If you don’t have that much time or don’t want to spend the money, I recommend to just sit at the lake and relax. During summer you can see a lot of swans and ducks, ships and boats. And if it gets too hot, why not go for a swim in the lake? It’s free!
Where? Start in several different locations- start from Bürkliplatz at lake Zürich for example
How much? There are several different boat tours with different lenghts. Prices vary. From 30 swiss franc- 60+
If you have time and want to explore more, I recommend a slightly different walk back. As long as you head back into the general direction from where you came from you should be able to reach the station easily. Or if you’re tiered from walking just take the tram back from Bellevue tram stop.