Are you looking for the best things to do in Zürich? You’ve come to the right place. We tried the best food, adventures, and activities in Switzerland’s largest city, and have rounded up the most beautiful lookouts and must-see attractions. Being the financial capital of Switzerland, Zürich is filled with chic restaurants, posh patrons, and a whole lot of money. Zürich is stylish and sophisticated, but it is also fun and laid back.
Best Things to do in Zürich
When you visit Zurich we highly suggest purchasing a Zürich Card. It is the best way to get around the city and to save money. It includes unlimited public transportation including tram, bus, train, boat and cableway. It even includes a mini lake cruise and river cruise. You get free or reduced admission to museums and 50% off an Old Town walking tour. We did all this with our Zurich Card.
You can choose from 24 hours passes to 72-hour passes starting at 24CHF. We recommend spending at least three days in Zürich. Read our complete The Perfect 3 Days in Zurich, Switzerland
1. Lindt Home Chocolate
It may sound cliche to visit a chocolate factory when looking for things to do in Zürich, but this isn’t your ordinary factory tour. Lindt Home of Chocolate is one of the top Zurich attractions and for good reason. This chocolate museum is a spectacle and when you visit Zurich, make sure to put this at the top of your list.
Upon entering you come face to face with a giant chocolate fountain standing tall in the massive hall. It is then onto a tour to learn about the history of chocolate and eat a lot of chocolate.
We picked up our audio guide and selected our chosen language (English) as we followed the displays to explore the evolution of chocolate. It was an interesting and entertaining tour, but the real treat comes near the end when you enter a room filled with chocolate fountains.
The fountains are pouring out the heavenly Lindt chocolate just waiting to be tasted. We grabbed a disposable spoon and tasted white, dark, and milk chocolate until our hearts were content. We didn’t realize that there was more, but as we walked on, we had another sample of chocolate bars to see if we could decipher the different flavors.
We failed, but we were happy to keep trying. Our tour then ended in a room filled with vats of famous Lindor chocolates allowing us to eat as many as we wished. The Lindt Home of Chocolate is truly a chocolate lover’s paradise.
Visit the Lindt Home of Chocolate Website for tours and information. Tours start at 15 CHF per person, you can also book experiences like making your own chocolate.
2. SUP on Lake Zürich
Hands down our favorite thing to do in Zürich spending time on Lake Zürich. We made our way to Badi Enge where they rent paddleboards by the hour. It was so much fun to get on the water during the hot summer day.
Being on a paddleboard let us see the city from a different view and we had the freedom to paddle into the Schanzenbraben Canal where we escaped the hustle and bustle as swans followed us through the calm and quiet waters.
Even if you don’t want to paddleboard, make sure to get on the water when you visit Zurich. Lake Zurich has some of the best views of the city. A boat ride is included in your Zürich Card, so if nothing else, at least hop on a boat to take in the city views.
3. Seebad Enge
Zürich is the land of public baths and from what we understand, there are six lake baths on Lake Zurich and five other river baths throughout the city where people enjoy basking in the sun while being able to take a dip in the clear and clean waters.
Seebad Enge was easily reached by walking from the city center, and it’s a beautiful walkway along the lakefront with parks and views of the Swiss Alps and the city. There is a mixed and women-only only swimming area, swimming lanes, a restaurant, and wooden sun decks.
In the winter Seebad Enge is turned into a sauna, so you can visit it year-round. Imagine sizzling in a sauna as you view the snow capped mountains of the Swiss Alps. That is heavenly.
It costs 8CHF (8.74 USD) to enter and paddleboard rentals start at 35 CHF (38 USD) for an hour. For more information Visit the Zürich Website at Seebad Enge
4. Altstadt (Old Town)
When visiting any European city, the best thing to do is simply stroll through the Old Town, enjoy an aperitif and do some window shopping. The Cobbled Streets of Zürich’s Altstadt are lined with medieval buildings and bridges lining the Limmat River. There are countless galleries and shops where you can pick up some Swiss chocolate or delicious cheese.
One of our favorite things to do in Zürich’s Old Town was to simply pull up a seat on one of the outdoor patios and people watch. Zürich is one of the most expensive cities in the world and watching the fashion and families walk by made for one of the most interesting people-watching afternoons of our lives.
5. Walking Tours
One of the best ways to get acquainted with Zürich is to take a walking tour. You can get 50% off a walking tour with your Zurich Card and this is a great way to see most of the top Zurich attractions in a short time. We loved our time with local guide Barbara who showed us all the little unseen gems that tourists miss.
From the chewing gum art in front of Cabaret Voltaire, the Birthplace of Dadaism, to her favorite fountains where we could fill up our water bottles with fresh water.
We started our tour of the city center by walking through the beautiful Rechberg gardens before making our way through the medieval architecture to the University for one of the best views of Zürich. Weaving our way through the old town, we saw the top Zürich attractions from Kunsthaus to Grossmünster, Zürich’s most famous landmark.
6. Grossmünster (Great Minster)
Grossmünster is an imposing landmark in Zürich with its twin towers standing tall over the Limmat River. It is also one of the most important places in Zürich as it was the sight of reformation in Switzerland. You can walk up the towers to see beautiful views over Zürich and make sure to go into the crypt to see a magnificent statue of Charlemagne.
Another church to visit in Zürich is Fraumünster. People go into this church to see the beautiful stained glass windows by Marc Chagall and Augusto Giacometti (uncle to the famous Swiss sculptor, Alberto Giacometti) Fraumünster is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city.
Founded in 853, this church was originally a convent inhabited by aristocratic females from Europe. Five stained glass windows designed by Chagall were installed in 1970. Inside there is also an impressive pipe organ with 5793 pipes.
8. Go Up Uetliberg Mountain
Our next huge surprise was making our way up to the best lookout over Zürich. Using our Zürich Card, we boarded a bus and then a tram, and finally a train up to the top of Zürich’s very own mountain. Uetliberg Mountain It is only about 45 minutes to get here from the city center and it is well worth it for the best views of Zurich
When you reach the end of the line, it is about a 10-minute walk to the lookout tower for amazing views of Zurich, Lake Zurich, and the Swiss Alps. If you have more than a day or two, we highly suggest you make the trip up the mountain when you visit Zurich. It was our favorite thing to do outside the city center.
After you have taken in the views of the rolling hills and the city below, you can have lunch at the restaurant or continue hiking for about 2 hours to the gondola that will take you back down. If you have some time, this makes for a great half-day tour in Zürich. To climb the tower it costs 2 CHF (credit cards accepted) and it is completely worth the cost.
9. Explore Zürich West
Zürich West is the hippest spot in town. (I think using the word hip, just made me look square). Once a warehouse and factory district, Zürich West has been transformed into a place with trendy bars, cool cafes, and plenty of shopping. There are great works of art scattered throughout ZürichWest so it is worth exploring on foot.
It is easy to get to by using our Zurich card. We hopped on public transportation and were in this hip part of town within 10 minutes from the city center. When the lights go down, locals and tourists alike flock to the bars for their intoxicating nightlife scene. Fun fact, Zürich has more bars per capita than any other city in Europe!
10. Zürich Viadukt
Don’t miss shopping along the Viadukt. This 550-meter-long railway viaduct is a beautiful display of arches filled with boutiques, restaurants, and galleries. Built in 1894, it’s a place where locals meet up, have picnics in the park, and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere on a summer’s day.
While you are at the Viadukt, enjoy dinner at Restaurant Viadukt located directly under the train tracks looking towards the park. There is outdoor and indoor dining. It is recommended to make a reservation.
11. Frau Gerolds Garten (Mrs. Gerold’s Garden)
Zürich West is filled with cool cafés but the busiest spot we encountered was Frau Gerold’s Garten. This is where everyone who is anyone hangs out after work. This outdoor hot spot is a modular bar and dining area with outdoor food stalls and markets. Grab a beer and people watch as you feel like a local for the evening. Visit the website for details.
12. Urban Surf
Right next to Frau Gerold’s Garten is one of the more unique Zurich attractions, Urban Surf. For a steep price, you can try some city surfing in their wave pool.
If you are not up for getting wet, no worries, you can sit on one of the plush patio chairs and enjoy a cocktail as you watch people struggle in the waves. Whatever you decide, it’s a fun place to hang out. Visit Urban Surf for lessons and prices.
No trip to Zürich would be complete without hopping on a boat tour of Lake Zurich. We had a taste of that when transferring to the cool lakeside community of Wollishofen using our Zürich Card for a free boat ride. It was just 15 minutes from the city center.
The highlight of this location is the lovely walk along the Cassiopeia Boardwalk. We learned that Zürich has worked hard to make its precious waterfront available to the public and people are no longer allowed to purchase waterfront property on Lake Zurich. In front of the houses that were grandfathered in with waterfront property, the city built a boardwalk on the water to allow access to the public.
14. Mönchhof am See
While you are strolling through Wollishofen, take your time to visit the community of artists. It is a funky neighborhood of Zürich that is not to be missed. A little further south is Kilchberg which has plenty of waterfront restaurants where you can sit back and enjoy the scenery.
We ate a Mönchhof am See, which we learned is owned by one of the top restauranteurs in the city. With delicious truffle fries, refreshing ginger shots and a fresh burrata and tomato salad, my mouth was filled with flavors. There is plenty of outdoor dining, you can make a reservation here.
Speaking of shopping, Zürich boasts one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world. Bahnhofstrasse is Zürich’s main downtown street spanning 1.4 km from the main train station.
As you walk from the train station toward Lake Zürich, the shops become ever more exclusive with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Rolex, and all the other big-name brands. Zürich is the heart of the Swiss Bank system and once you reach Paradplatz, one can only wonder how much cash and jewels are sitting within their vaults.
One of the top things to do in Zürich is to visit the quiet park overlooking Zürich from the Old City Walls. Lindenhof is the oldest part of Zürich where the remains of a Roman medieval city wall stands high on a hill overlooking the Limmat River. During the day it can get quite busy, but at sunrise, it is quiet and peaceful.
Once home to a Roman Fort, Lindenhof offers one of the best views of Zürich and the river. After you visit Lindenhoff, stop by St. Peter’s Church one of the four main churches in the historic city center.
17. eat Fondue
Dave and I had a goal when going back to Switzerland, and it was to eat as much fondue and raclette as possible. We managed to do so and one of our favorite fondue restaurants in the entire country was Swiss Chuchi in the Altstadt.
Located in the heart of Niederdorf a pedestrian plaza leading to hidden alleyways around the Old Town, Swiss Chuchi is one of the best places in Zürich for Fondue. (we found that out after choosing to eat there, lucky us!) The delicious melted goodness came with a sack of potatoes and fresh bread.
Who cares that it was 30 degrees Celcius outside, we ordered a refreshing aperitivo and when we felt foolish ordering a hot dish in the middle of summer, our waiter said “It’s always a good time for fondue.” I believe he was correct because after we received our dish, several other tourists joined us on the terrace to order fondues of their own! Hey while you’re at it, enjoy a Swiss hot chocolate too! Swiss Chuchi is located in the Hotel Adler, Zurich.
18. Fill up at the Many Fountains
One of the most fascinating things, when you visit Zürich, is to keep an eye out for the 1200 ornate fountains scattered throughout the city. These aren’t your average drinking fountains, the fountains of Zürich are works of art. You’ll see children playing in the fountains, runners stopping for a quick slurp, and many people filling up their water bottles.
You’ll never go thirsty in Zürich, as the water running from the fountains is clean and fresh and just waiting for you to have a taste. Some Zürich fountains are simply beautiful so while you are filling your bottle, make sure to enjoy the details of the artist’s work.
19. zürich Opera House
The Zürich Opera House, also known as the Opernhaus Zürich was first built in 1891 and has undergone several renovations over the years. The opera house is located in Sechseläutenplatz which is one of the largest squares in Switzerland. It is worth going to this square alone, but you should go inside to see this beautiful venue. You can take a 50 minute tour that will take you through all the departments from makeup to wardrobe and you’ll even go onstage.
The Zürich Opera House is home to a number of world-renowned productions and events including the Zürich Opera and the Zürich Ballet. The opera company performs a wide range of operas, from classical works by composers such as Mozart and Verdi to contemporary operas.
20. Swiss National Museum
A visit to the Swiss National Museum is included in your Zürich Card. Known as Landesmuseum, it is the oldest and largest cultural history museum in the country. The museum offers a comprehensive look at the history of Switzerland, from prehistoric times to the present day. Visitors can learn about the country’s political, social, and economic development, as well as its art and culture.
The Swiss National Museum was designed to look like a historic castle-like building, which is an attraction in itself. It houses extensive collections of medieval and Renaissance art, textiles, weapons, and furniture. It also has a large collection of decorative art, such as ceramics, glass, and metalwork. If you are looking for things to do in Zürich on a rainy day, this is a great choice.
21. Kunsthaus Zürich
Art lovers will enjoy browsing Kunsthaus Zürich (Zurich Museum of Art) where you can view the greats such as Chagall, Monet, and Van Gogh. There are plenty of other artists to see at the Museum of Art as it houses one of Switzerland’s most important art collections.
There are 1000 pieces on display at any given time. It has the largest Edvard Munch collection outside Norway, you’ll see Andy Warhol, Picasso, Rembrandt and Monet. We never tire of being exposed to exquisite art.
Plan Your Trip to Zürich
There are so many amazing things to do in Zurich that you could spend an entire season exploring. But Dave and I made a good go of it. Running on just a few hours of sleep each day, we were up at the crack of dawn to late into the night checking out the best of Zurich. Follow the map to see if you can check out all of these attractions.
Where to Stay in Zurich
When choosing where to stay in Zurich, we recommend the Old City which is within walking distance to everywhere making it easy to get around. We stayed at the Florhoff Hotel. This boutique hotel was refurbished in 2014 and has a historic character with modern rooms and amenities. A delicious breakfast is included, there is a popular restaurant on-site and while it is in the Old Town, it is far enough away from the hustle and bustle making it a quiet option.
There are plenty of hotels in Zurich West which is only 10 minutes to downtown by transit and is a more affordable option.
How to Get Around Zurich
The best way to get around Zurich is to purchase a City Pass Zurich Card. It provides unlimited travel by bus, train, cableway, and tram plus you can take a short boat ride and a Limmat River cruise. City Pass Zurich Cards start at 24 CHF for 24 hours. Get more details here.
The Zurich Card also lets you enter one of Zurich’s 43 museums for free or with reduced admission. Plus, you can also take a Zurich Old town walking tour at half price. This card is the best bang for your buck for getting around Zurich and seeing its top tourist attractions.
Before boarding any public transport, make sure to validate your ticket and have it handy. Once it is validated, you can hop on any public transport in town for the duration of your ticket. You don’t have to validate it again once you’ve done it the first time.
Best Day Trips from Zurich
Switzerland has an efficient train system making it one of the best ways to travel around Switzerland. Plus it is sustainable travel. Travel by train produces less O2 than any other mode of transportation (other than bicycle or foot) including electric cars which produce 13 times more emissions. It is easy to do day trips from Zurich with the Swiss Travel Pass or to move on to your next destination
Swiss Travel Pass
When you purchase a Swiss Travel Pass it includes:
Unlimited travel by train, bus, and boat Public transportation in more than 90 cities and towns Including mountain excursions: Rigi, Schilthorn, Stanserhorn and Stoos Free admission to more than 500 museums throughout Switzerland Two free informative apps to help plan your Switzerland journey are: Grand Train Tour of Switzerland app and Swiss Travel Guide app
While Jungfraujoch deserves three to five days to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can take a day trip from Zurich. If you don’t have a lot of time, this is one of the best day trips from Zurich but it is a long one!
This guided day trip to Jungfraujoch with Train Ride gives you a taste of seeing one of Switzerland’s most beautiful areas. You’ll get to explore the snow capped mountains of Jungfraujoch and the high Alps scenery. After a stop in Interlaken, you’ll board the cable car at the Grindelwald Terminal for a spectacular 15-minute ride to the Eiger Glacier by gondola. Book your tour here. Read more about this at Spectacular Switzerland, a Visit to Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe
Stein am Rhein and Rhine Falls
If you are looking for closer day trips from Zurich, a visit to the medieval town of Stein am Rhein and the glorious Rhine Falls is a good option. This highly rated guided tour will take you on a journey towards the Swiss/German border of northern Switzerland to see the biggest waterfall in Europe!
You’ll tour the Medieval village of Stein am Rhein and see the splendid medieval castle of Schloss Laufen and the mighty Rhine Falls and experience Europe’s biggest waterfall. You’ll take the lift to Rhine Falls and see a close up look at 700,000 liters of water plunging into the basin. You’ll also get to see the half-timber frame townhouses in the old town, and St. George’s Abbey. Book it here.
Another day trip that is possible from Zurich is to see Grindelwald and Interlaken. This full-day tour takes you to the Bernese Oberland. You’ll have the chance to explore a bit of the region on your own, and we recommend going up to Grindelwald First.
Here you can take the cable car to walk the First Cliff Walk, hike out to the lake (about 2 hours return) and then get down quickly via the First Adventures that include the zip lines, First First Flyer, and First Glider, and whizzing down the mountain on Trottibikes and mountain carts. Read more About Grindelwald at The Best Things to do in Grindelwald