The pretty, international city of Zurich Switzerland, is a thriving, multicultural destination with a wide variety of things to see and do for tourists and locals alike. The city, located with the centre of Europe, is a centre for commerce, culture, and innovation. Zurich is also known as one of the most livable cities in the world. Zurich has lots to do, delicious restaurants to eat at and peaceful hotels to sleep the night.
If you’re considering to visit, do so! Get inspired by reading further our post. Here we are sharing first some facts about Zurich, then many activities and things to do in the city, followed by where to eat and then where to sleep.
Facts About Zurich Switzerland
It’s always great to know a few facts about a city before visiting it. /Here are 7 main facts about Zurich Switzerland:
- The largest city in Switzerland is Zurich, which has a population of more than 400,000.
- Zurich has the Limmat River passing by, which empties into Lake Zurich, in Switzerland’s north central region.
- Zurich is ranked one of the most livable cities in the world, as Zurich is renowned for its high level of living. However this does mean it’s rather expensive too!
- It is a financial hub with the headquarters of numerous banks and the Swiss stock exchange.
- Zurich is home to many world-class museums and art galleries, including the Kunsthaus Zurich and the Swiss National Museum. More on this list of museums later in the post.
- The city is renowned for its stunning architecture, which includes numerous old structures and cathedrals like the Fraumünster and Grossmünster.
- Zurich is a major hub for transportation, with a huge airport (we’ve not been yet personally) and busy train station that connect the city to other destinations throughout Switzerland and Europe. For example to our home city of Lugano, Paris and Milan.
Local Zurich activities and things to do in the city
Activities and Things To Do In Zurich
Here are a list of activities and things to do in Zurich (which others and ourselves have experienced personally!):
Frau Gerolds Garten
Recommended by Flor at Travel Ruta del Mate
Visiting Frau Gerolds Garten was a delightful experience. I never would have known about this hidden gem if it weren’t for a friend who’s been living in Zürich for a while, as it’s not your typical tourist spot.
Located right next to a busy motorway and train tracks, this open-air garden might not seem like much at first glance. But don’t be fooled by the surroundings – behind the unassuming exterior lies a vibrant and unique oasis that’s perfect for relaxing.
Tucked away in Zurich’s trendy Zürich-West district , it’s a cool, laid-back place where locals come to chill out after a long day at work or on weekends.
Frau Gerolds Garten is a space that caters to many interests, including bars, design markets, art spaces, and, of course, urban gardening that adds more uniqueness to the various culinary offerings.
The ambiance is relaxed and welcoming, with a mix of rustic and modern décor, plenty of plants, and pops of bright colors that give it a chill vibe and creates a serene atmosphere. There’s always good music playing and you can even catch a game on the TVs.
While my friend and I enjoyed cold beers and each other’s company, restaurants offer a wide range of food options, including fondue, hamburgers, sausages, and vegetarian and vegan dishes. Whether you’re here for the beer, the food, or both, Frau Gerolds Garten is definitely worth exploring – it’s Zurich’s best-kept secret!
Museums In Zurich
Zurich is home to some pretty cool museums for all ages. One of the most popular for foodies, which we have not yet tried, is the Lindt Home Of Chocolate Museum. If you love chocolate, we hear it’s a must! Not only you can learn the process and see the history, you get to try some too.
More top museums in Zurich include:
- Swiss National Museum – This museum is dedicated to Swiss cultural history, showcasing a vast collection of artifacts, including textiles, ceramics, and weapons.
- Museum Rietberg – Featuring some beautiful art pieces from Asia, Africa, and the Americas. It has a collection of over 23,000 objects, including sculptures, masks, and textiles.
- Kunsthaus Zurich – This museum is home to one of Switzerland’s most extensive art collections, featuring works by famous artists such as Monet, Picasso, and Chagall.
- Zoological Museum – Here is a collection of over 1.5 million specimens, including fossils, skeletons, and taxidermied animals. It’s a great place to learn about the natural history of the region.
- Museum of Design – This museum showcases the history of design and applied arts from the early 20th century to the present day. It features a range of objects, from furniture to fashion to graphic design.
- FIFA World Football Museum – This museum is dedicated to the history and culture of football (soccer). It features interactive exhibits, artifacts, and memorabilia related to the sport.
Explore The Old Town
The Old Town of Zurich, Switzerland is a charming and historic area located in the heart of the city. Also known as Altstadt, it is home to many of Zurich’s most iconic landmarks, including the Grossmünster, Fraumünster, and St. Peter’s Church. The streets of the Old Town are lined with colorful medieval buildings and are a joy to explore on foot.
One of the most picturesque areas of the Old Town is the Niederdorf, a lively pedestrian zone with numerous shops, bars, and restaurants. The area comes alive in the evening, with locals and tourists alike mingling and enjoying the atmosphere. Another must-visit spot in the Old Town is the Lindenhof, a tranquil park located on a hill that offers stunning views of the city.
History buffs will also find plenty to interest them in the Old Town. The Swiss National Museum, located in a striking castle-like building, is home to a vast collection of Swiss art and cultural artifacts. The nearby Guild Houses, with their elaborate frescoes and ornate facades, provide a glimpse into Zurich’s medieval past.
If you’re lucky, visiting Zurich during winter is a beautiful time, especially if you get snow!
Visit the Zurich Switzerland Zoo
The zoo covers an area of 27 acres and is home to over 4,000 animals from more than 380 species, including elephants, lions, tigers, rhinos, and monkeys.
The zoo is divided into several themed areas, each representing a different ecosystem or region of the world. Visitors can explore the Masoala Rainforest, which is home to lemurs, bats, and other rainforest creatures, or the Kaeng Krachan Elephant Park, which houses a herd of Asian elephants in a naturalistic setting.
One of the highlights of the zoo is the Lion Exhibit, which features a large outdoor enclosure where visitors can see lions lounging in the sun or playing with their cubs. The exhibit also includes a large indoor viewing area where visitors can observe the lions up close.
Another popular exhibit is the penguin enclosure, which houses several species of penguins and includes a large underwater viewing area where visitors can watch the birds swimming and diving.
Relax On Lake Zurich
If you’ve truly explored everything in the city centre, or if many things are not for you, you can always consider a boat ride on Lake Zurich instead. Departing from the main city area and near Zurich train central station, there are many boats to pick.
Keep in mind it depends on the type of year you are visiting to when the boats are touring the lake.
Events In Zurich
Each year, Zurich has some amazing events that you can join.
- Zurich Festival (June-July): A cultural festival featuring music, theater, dance, and art performances from around the world.
- Zurich Pride Festival (June): This is a week-long festival celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, featuring a parade, parties, and events. So make sure to visit, pack your colourful clothes and join in with this beautiful event.
- Street Parade (August): This is a massive techno music parade that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city each year. It’s a true party for everyone who joins!
- Sechseläuten (April): This is a traditional spring festival that marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It features a parade of guilds, the burning of a snowman effigy, and a fireworks display.
- Christmas Markets (starting end November-December): Zurich’s Christmas markets are among the most popular in Europe, featuring food, drink, crafts, and festive decorations. See below for additional information.
- Zurich Film Festival (September-October): This is an international film festival featuring screenings, premieres, and events related to the film industry.
- Knabenschiessen (September): This is a traditional shooting festival where children and teenagers compete in marksmanship competitions.
- Swiss National Day (August 1): This is the national holiday of Switzerland, featuring celebrations, fireworks, and parades throughout the country, including Zurich.
- Züri Fäscht (July): This is a massive city festival that takes place every three years, featuring food, music, and entertainment for all ages.
- Zurich Switzerland Marathon (April): This is a major international marathon event that attracts runners from around the world to Zurich. If interested, it’s something you’ll need to sign up in advance.
Zurich Christmas Market (in more detail)
If you are visiting Zurich during December, then you are in for a festive treat. Zurich turns into a wonderland of twinkling festive lights, with lots of wooden chalets for the Christmas markets. Here you can buy lots of homemade gifts, warm dishes and festive drinks like gluhwein. You can also enjoy Christmas carol singers at the famously decorated Christmas Tree stage.
Recommended by Catrina at 24 Hours Layover
One of my favourite things to do in Zurich is to visit its many Christmas Markets over the festive period! Zurich’s Christmas Markets all offer something unique and are within close proximity of each other. Even when I only had one day in Zurich I was still able to visit them all!
Sip on a glühwein, eat some fondue and raclette and buy cute artisan Christmas gifts at the markets! The atmosphere in these Christmas Markets is amazing – there’s no need to book in advance and they’re free to attend, but wrap up warm as it gets cold here in winter!
My favourite Christmas Market in Zurich is Christkindlimarkt: Zurich’s most central Christmas Market and one of Europe’s largest indoor Christmas markets! It’s a must-visit with over 140 stalls and a huge 10 metre Christmas tree!
In Zurich’s Old Town lies Dörfli, Zurich’s oldest Christmas Market, and Wienachtsdorf Christmas Market is in front of the Opera House. This is where you’ll find the famous Fondue-Chalet! Münsterhof Christmas Market is a really elegant, modern gem, and Werdmühleplatz Christmas Market features daily evening concerts, a singing Christmas tree and a stage in the shape of a Christmas tree!
quirky restaurants For Food
Breakfast and Lunch Spots In Zurich
A popular spot among locals and tourists is Babu’s bakery. This was our first choice when in Zurich, but it was so busy that we didn’t visit. Their menu has a wide range of options for breakfast and lunch, perfect for those also with special dietary needs. Even if you are not too hungry, pop in just for a coffee and you wont be disappointed with the enjoyable location and atmosphere.
For a delicious bagel or acai bowl with fresh natural ingredients, head to Juicery 21. They have the best juice choices, shakes and smoothies to combine an easy breakfast to start the day. They didn’t have much seating inside, but outside was plenty for when the weather is warm.
We had the porridge bowl B14 and a cheese bagel, both delicious!
Dinner Spots In Zurich
For when you are craving authentic Italian dishes, Più is the place to be. We had dinner here during our stay in Zurich and can definitely recommend it. The pasta was cooked to perfection with the right amount of sauce. The pizza also delicious, with slightly crunchy crust and plenty of fresh toppings!
We paid around 70 CHF for two dishes and drinks combined.
For a mouth-watering Indian restaurant with lots of curries, New Bombay restaurant in the city centre is a must. No matter what time of the year it is, it is always busy and good to reserve a table on weekends. Every dish (we’ve tried quite a few) have been delicious, with perfectly cooked roti’s and Naan too!
Price wise, you can expect to pay between 27 CHF and 35 CHF per curry.
Zurich hotel recommendation
Here is our personal recommendation on where to stay in Zurich Switzerland.
Ruby Mimi Hotel & Bar
A beautiful, clean and spacious hotel to stay at from our personal recommendations start with the Ruby Mimi Hotel & Bar. This historic former cinema is located right in the city centre by the main Zurich train station. So it’s perfect for those arriving by train with luggage.
Our stay was in a ‘lovely room’ which was very spacious with a seating area, a huge bed and bathroom with shower. We also had a small window but not much of a view. We didn’t mind since we would be out exploring all day. We skipped the breakfast and had this at a local restaurant instead, but we did hear from others that there was lots of choice.
We paid around 170 CHF for 1 night for 2 persons during the month of December. Would definitely return!
Visiting Zurich as a Swiss city is a great choice all year round. We recommend that you visit while combing with a local event, such as the Christmas markets, which makes the city even more special.
Since it’s an international city, there are so many restaurants to try depending on the season. During Winter, many places are cosy with warm food, candles and blankets. Whereas Summer there are terraces outside, perfect for some food or drink while enjoying the sunshine.
Every time we’ll visit, we will update the post with more restaurants, hotels and things to do for new activities!