10 things to do in Zurich
Ten things to do in Zurich
If you have only had the chance to fly through Zurich, perhaps transferring for a flight to Asia or even arriving only to head immediately into the Alps for some skiing, you may not have had the chance to get to know Zurich and all it has to offer.
No matter what time of year you are visiting, you’ll find plenty of things to do. With its high quality of living, ample outdoor activities available, and reasonably mild climate, it’s no wonder Zurich regularly features high on international lists for most desirable places to live in the world.
So next time you have the chance to fly through Zurich, take a couple extra days if you can and check out some of the places and activities that make Zurich particularly special. And to help you out, here is a list of some of our favorite options.
Sit lakeside with a glass of wine at Seerose
Situated on the west side of Lake Zurich, the Restaurant Seerose has a Mediterranean menu with an extensive wine list. The restaurant itself is well appointed and pleasant to sit inside, but if you are lucky enough to have a fine sunny day, be certain to find a seat on the extensive lakeside terrace where you will be treated to fantastic views down the lake and to the soaring mountains beyond.
Go ice skating in the forest at the Dolder ice rink
High above the city of Zurich sits the Dolder Grand Hotel and Restaurant. Right next door is the Dolder open-air ice rink, which offers an idyllic location for skating from early October till early March every year. It is the largest ice rink of its kind in Europe and has been operating since 1930. Settled in a quiet forest, when the snow is falling and muffles all city sounds, you can imagine time has actually stopped. The fact you are a two-minute walk from one of the most luxurious hotels in this luxurious city will help the experience feel just that much more magical.
Have dinner with a view at the Dolder
After an afternoon of skating, you can then settle into a stupendous dinner at the Dolder Grand Restaurant Saltz. The warm and inviting interior enhances the sophisticated cuisine that focuses on seasonal fare with locally sourced ingredients. Enormous picture windows afford a spectacular panoramic view over Zurich. And if you are visiting Zurich during the warmer months, you can have the pleasure of enjoying dinner on the summer terrace overlooking the city.
Hike up the Uetliberg
The Wanderweg, or walking trail, system in Switzerland is extensive and an excellent way to learn the countryside on foot. If you have a limited amount of free time in Zurich, but still would enjoy a proper hiking experience, hoof-it up the Uetliberg, which is the most visible local peak on the edge of town to the northwest, will be a great way to work out some nervous energy while getting your heart rate up and enjoying some spectacular views over Zurich and down toward the alpine peaks. Sitting near the top, the Gasthaus Felsenegg has its own cable car for the ride down. A touch higher up, the Restaurant UTO Kulm will also offer ample opportunities to refuel after the moderately strenuous hike.
Weekend wine tasting at Erich Meier Winery
If you can manage to stay over a weekend, multiple Saturdays in every month the Erich Meier Winery – among others – will have hours for wine tasting. If you are surprised to read that Switzerland has vintners that make excellent wines, then you haven’t spent enough time in Switzerland. Though the French and Italian-speaking cantons usually get whatever recognition there may be for Swiss wines, the German-speaking regions, especially the Zurich and Graubünden producers, are making some of the best white and red wines in the country. And if your visit coincides with one of the Offene Weinkeller weekends when all wineries of the region open their doors, then you can get a fuller idea of what’s on offer. Whether you are interested in discovering the uniquely Swiss Räuschling white wine, or the excellent Pinot Noirs that result from the cool, moist and sunny climate along the lake, you will wish that more than 2% of the production would be exported.
Shopping on Bahnhofstrasse
Most European cities of this size have at least one exceptional shopping street where you can find everything from Hermès to street vendors. For Zurich, that street is called Bahnhofstrasse. Shooting off of the main train station and extending for a comfortable 1.4-kilometer walk, there is an endless selection of shops and restaurants to keep you occupied. In the summertime you can enjoy the stroll under a canopy of trees and at Christmas time, you will enjoy walking under a canopy of 12,000 LED decorative lights. If you come during those colder months, be certain to stop for some tasty heisse Maroni or roasted chestnuts that will be available at multiple points along the road.
Check out Les Halles Zurich
Tired of the fondue and sausages? Head to Les Halles on the north side of town for a little taste of France. As a sort of indoor flea market with a French-inspired restaurant, Les Halles offers you the chance to eat market-fresh Mediterranean foods in a pleasantly casual atmosphere. With moules et frites being the specialty, they also have French-style salads with warm chèvre as well as beef tartare and vegetarian options. A suitably French wine card will make your little side journey to France in Switzerland complete.
Christmas shopping at Globus
Planning on coming to Switzerland for the holidays? A wonderfully atmospheric place to do all your shopping in town is Globus am Bellevue. Right across from the Opera House and off the Sechselaeutenplatz, Globus offers an elegant shopping experience where you can buy presents for all your loved ones while absorbing the Christmas ambiance. In the lower level, you’ll find a wonderful selection of different foods and drinks where you can taste the best of local meats, cheeses, fish and a fantastic selection of wines and sweets.
Weihnachtsmarkt on Sechseläutenplatz
Another essential in Zurich at Christmas time is the Christmas market on the huge Sechseläutenplatz, officially called the Wienachtsdorf am Bellevue, across from the Opera and cattycorner from Globus. There you will find every sort of street food – traditional and exotic – available as well as beer stands, wine bars, children’s playground, games and rides, and any number of other seasonal activities. The mini village will offer places to buy mementos such as handmade wooden Christmas decorations, and other local goods and keepsakes.
Baracca Zermatt at Kloten
As disconcerting as it might seem to think about, this amazingly well preserved Swiss chalet restaurant is just minutes from the Zurich Airport. It is actually a wooden chalet from the Valais region that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. Every year or so it is constructed and reconstructed in different areas of the city – two years ago it was near the Fluntern Cemetery where James Joyce is buried – and serves up a selection of dishes native to the Valais region. Fondue, fondue Chinoise, raclette and other sorts of Valais delicacies top the bill, while you can pore over the impressive wine list offering many of the best wines from around the country.