Zürich isn’t typically a city like Paris or Barcelona, which have some well known astonishing sights, and an obvious charm to them. I mean, what is Zürich known for? Banking and clocks? Exactly, not really attractive 😏. However, having spent a couple of months in Zürich over the last years, I have come to appreciate its character.
Zürich ist gewiss keine Stadt, deren Schönheit
dem Fremden unmittelbar trifft, bewegt und erregt. Zürichs Schönheit hat nicht Plötzliches, nichts augenblicklich Überwältigendes, nichts Direktes. Die Schönheit dieser Stadt muss man allmählich entdecken, Schritt für Schritt,
Tag für Tag.
~ Werner Wollenberger
The city has a relaxed feel to it, with its spacious clean streets, surrounded by hills and forests, and positioned along a beautiful lake. On a clear day, you can see the snowcapped mountains in the distance. If you're doing a quick visit to Switzerland, I wouldn't necessarily recommend Zürich for a city trip; a city such as Luzern is much more capitvating. However, if you happen to be in the area, or if you are planning to move here, I think the city has plenty to offer. It's high quality of living, tranquility, and proximity to beautiful nature definitely are a big plus. Find below my recommendations! I’d especially recommend visiting during summer.
Stroll along the lake: Both sides of the lake have their charm. It’s relaxt and green, and great in summer to take dips anywhere. They also have Badi's, swimming pools along the lake for which you pay entrance. This wouldn't be my personal go-to, if you can swim anywhere with much more space for free.
Take a boat tour. There are the commercial ones that go in various directions, but there’s also the Limmat River Cruise which takes you along the old town and up onto the lake. It runs from April to October, and starts at the national museum. You only pay a 1 hour public transport ticket.
Limmat river: The banks of this fast flowing river, are buzzing in summer! Especially around the area of Oberer Letten and Unterer Letten. People are chilling, swimming and playing sports. It's just a great area for a stroll, to have a picknick, a jump in the river, and watch people.
Visit Uetliberg: This is a lovely forest on a hill on the westside of the city, from where you have a great panoramic view all over Zürich. For a break: visit the really cozy mountain hut called Jurablick for a nice outside seating with great food and views. In the winter, they offer fondue on the weekends.
Free bike rent in summer: Pick up a bike at Pestalozziwiese and Velostation Europaplatz in Summer. Bring an ID and some cash for deposit, and off you go with Züri rollt.
Masoala Halle: This is a perfect winter activity! A mini tropical rainforest biotope, with interesting flora and fauna, part of the Zürich Zoo.
Visit Giacometti-Halle: Also known as the "flower hall", a spectacular explosion of colours on a ceiling. I'm often overwhelmed with the size of exhibitions in museums, so this one art piece, covered all over the ceiling of a police station, is a perfect short art getaway, close to the old town. Free guided tours run from Wednesday to Saturday between 14 and 17h.
Kunsthaus museum: Have seen some great art exhibitions here. On Wednesdays, you can visit the permanent exhibition for free.
Visit the old town: There are some cozy, colourful streets on both sides of the river, full of shops and beautiful old architecture. I especially enjoy Lindenhof, the old square with views over the city. From there, you can also see the church with the biggest clock of Europe.
Waid: Great panoramic viewpoint over the city, the lake and, if you're lucky, the mountains in the background.
Rigi Blick: Take the cable car up the hill to see the city from another angle, and enjoy the beautiful forest.
If you’re into chocolate, there's the Lindt museum which people seem to love.
Langstrasse: If you think Zürich is all clean and upper class, this street gives a different feel to the city. It's a bit edgy, more colourful and diverse, and offers some of the best night life. Also a great neighbourhood to find some more alternative shops in the area.
Polyterrasse: A big sunny terrace in front of the Uni, with great views over the city.
Rote Fabrik: A music venue and cultural centre in a big former factory along the lake. Has some good street art, and an interesting program to keep an eye on.
Oh my, imagine gazing at the skyline, while chilling in a hot thermal bath?! This is possible at the Hürlimannbad & Spa Zürich. I imagine, it'd be particularly awesome during sunset!
Finally, here are some coffee/food places, you might want to check on google maps: Con Gusto (great Neapolitan pizza place!), Kafi Freud (cozy brunch place, often packed, and has great sweet delights on the menu!), Cafe Takeaway Leonhardstreppe (great coffee!), Kafe Paradiesli (a little charming old cafe with great cakes, wonderful service and a cozy outdoor area), Bean Bank Coffee (coffee is their game), simply soup (quick and healthy meals), Frau Gerolds Garten (outdoor funky place for food, dancing and socialising, still on my list to go)
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