While Zurich is the financial and business capital of Switzerland, there is still plenty to see and do in and around the city, from relaxing in quiet, peaceful parks to exploring quirky shopping areas in refurbished industrial sites. Here are 19 of the must-visit attractions that you don’t want to miss.
If you head to the Lindenhof area on the River Limmat’s left bank, you’ll reach the heart of the city’s old town. Many of Zurich’s must-sees (Grossmünster, Fraumünster, St Peterskirsche and the Bahnhofstrasse) dot its streets.
Many decades ago the Paradeplatz was a livestock market, but now it’s home to banking headquarters and some of the most expensive pieces of real estate in Switzerland. The square, in the centre of the Bahnhofstrasse, is also the site of a perilous X-crossing for trams, which looks like an accident waiting to happen.
Since 1891, the Zurich Opera has made its home inside a neoclassical building, adorned with busts of famous musicians, poets and playwrights; Shakespeare, Mozart and Wagner are just a few of the faces on display. The Opera House is also the home of the Zurich Ballet. It always has a wide array of shows and performances.
The Kunsthaus Zürich contains more than 4,000 paintings and sculptures, along with tens of thousands of prints and drawings, and is the best place in the country to explore pieces by Swiss artists. Alongside the homegrown talent, the museum displays plenty of works by world-famous artists as well. It’s easy to while away a few hours here.
Head to the top of Zurich’s local mountain, the Uetliberg, to take in panoramic views of the city, Lake Zurich and the not-too-distant Alps. It’s accessible all year round, but the best time to visit is in the spring when the mountain flowers begin to blossom.
It may not have the allure of the glitzy Bahnhofstrasse, but the Viadukt has more charm. Shops and restaurants of all kinds sit under the archways of a railway viaduct, turning an otherwise bland industrial scene into a quirky shopping street worth exploring.
There is no better way to enjoy Lake Zurich than along the lakeside promenade. During summer, it’s always bustling with people, including skaters, cyclists and walkers. Along the path, there are incredible views from the Bürkliplatz, while towards the Seefeld quarter is the splendid Chinese Garden.
This world-famous shopping street is packed with designer outlets, banks and restaurants. Whether you’re in the market for something fancy or just want to window-shop, you’ll find yourself here at some point walking along its 1.4km (1mi) promenade.
Rieterpark is Zurich’s biggest public park, and on clear days, the Glarus Alps glimmer on the horizon. It’s also home to the Museum Rietberg; it lies inside a 19-century villa near the centre of the park and contains a unique collection of art from around the world.
Spread over three floors, the FIFA World Football Museum is a sports lover’s paradise. You can easily spend an afternoon here, wandering through its halls decorated with more than 1,000 exhibits, which includes items from the very first World Cup tournament in Uruguay in 1930.
Gifted to Zurich in 1993 by its Chinese partner town Kunming, the Chinese Garden is dedicated to the “Three Friends of Winter”, representing pine, bamboo and plum blossom. Sitting along Lake Zurich, the garden is one of the best Chinese gardens outside China.
While smaller than Rieterpark, Platzspitz is no less beautiful. At the tip of the triangular-shaped park is where Zurich’s two rivers, the Limmat and the Sihl, meet. While it was overrun with drug addicts in the 1990s, the park of today is a great spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
This famously austere church sparked the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland in the 16th century, but the building dates back even further – to the 12th century. Due to its part in creating the Switzerland of today, it is considered to be one of the most important churches in Zurich.
Zurich is one of the most expensive cities in the world. In 2020, it tied with Paris as the fifth most expensive, so there is perhaps a no better place to learn about the history of money. The MoneyMuseum is part of a private collection and includes many unique items, such as antique coins, that you won’t see anywhere else.
If you want to immerse yourself in the scents of the Amazon or explore the flora of the Alps, Zurich’s Botanical Garden is the place to visit. Maintained by the University of Zurich, it holds more than 7,000 different plant species within 53,000sqm (570,487sqft), meaning you’ll have plenty to explore.
Cabaret Voltaire is where Dadaism was born, and it retains the same quirkiness as when it first opened more than 100 years ago. Take in the genre-breaking artwork, sip some absinthe and you may begin to understand Dadaism – but probably not.
The Swiss National Museum comprises three museums and a collection centre, all of which hold more than 860,000 artefacts, from the start of civilisation to the present day. It’s the most visited museum complex in the country for good reason.
Discover the native fauna of Switzerland at the Zoological Museum, which has more than 1,500 animals from across the country and beyond. The first floor displays those species found in Switzerland, many of which are now endangered, meaning you’re unlikely to see them in the wild.
Not to be outdone by the history of Grossmünster, the St Peter’s Church boasts an 8.7m (28.5ft) clock face, the largest in Europe. It’s also the oldest church in Zurich, with its foundation dating back to the ninth century.