Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, known primarily for banking and commerce. It was founded by the Romans in about 15 BC. Zurich’s international airport and large, modern train station make it a great place to begin and end a trip to Switzerland. Travelers often miss exploring this walkable, enjoyable city. It is a great place to spend at least one perfect day of your trip to Switzerland. This walking tour highlights 16 things to do and places to see in Zurich. You can follow along by reading the text below, listening to the podcast, and/or searching for the interactive map and pictures by searching on Zurich on the website Walkli.com. (For now, Walkli is only available on your computer, but mobile versions are coming soon.) The screenshots of the map are taken from the Walkli map. The numbers are aligned with the letters on the map. Let me know if I can answer any questions about Zurich or Switzerland by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you enjoy the highlights below!
(Click above to listen to the podcast. See below for information and pictures.)
16 Zurich, Switzerland Highlights with Walking Tour, Maps, Podcast and More!
1-A – Dynamo Jugendkulturhaus, Wasserwerkstrasse 21, 8006 Zürich, Switzerland
We will start our walk here where the Limmat River divides into the Sihl River at Park Platzspitz. The Dynamo Jugendkulturhaus riverside swimming area includes a restaurant, snack bar, and live music venue, too. It is popular with locals. You may see them diving off the nearby bridge over the Limmat River in front of Park Platzspitz and cooling off in the river during the summer right here where the path along the Limmat begins to head toward town. The inside/outside Bar/Restaurant here is named Chuchi am Wasser.
2-B – eCHo Restaurant, Zurich Marriott
Walk toward the city under the trees on the pedestrian pathway along the Limmat River with the river on your right. You will see the large Marriott hotel on your left. Inside, there is an excellent Swiss restaurant, named eCHo, serving authentic Swiss dishes. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and some tables come with a view over the Limmat. The restaurant even has one of the cable cars that formerly went up and down the Alps. The “CH” in eCHo represents the “Confoederatio Helvetica”, the Latin name of the Swiss Confederation, and the initials of the currency of the Swiss, the Swiss Franc, represented as CHF.
3-C – Swiss National Museum
As you continue to walk along the pedestrian path with the Limmat River to your right, you will see a peninsula on your right on the other side of the river that includes a park and a museum. This area between the rivers Sihl and Limmat Rivers has become one of the main sights of the Old City District of Zurich. The museum is the Swiss National Museum (“Landesmuseum” in German, the language spoken in Zurich). If you want to come back to visit the museum later, you would cross the divided bridge over the Limmat named “Walchebrücke” and walk straight on Museumstrasse to reach the museum . The museum is open daily 10 am – 5 pm, except Monday. It is one of the most important art museums of cultural history in Europe. The building was built in 1898 in the form of the French Renaissance city chateaus. The museum highlights prehistory, ancient times, the Middle Ages of Switzerland and up to the 20th century. For now, though, let’s keep walking along the Limmat River.
4-D – Mühlesteg Pedestrian Bridge
Keep walking with the Limmat River on your right, crossing over another divided bridge, “Bahnhofbrücke,” until reaching the iron pedestrian bridge, “Mühlesteg”. Cross over the Limmat River here and view the thousands of colorful “Love Locks” that are attached to the bridge. You are now walking from the right bank of the Limmat, called the Limmatquai, to the left bank of the river, called the Bahnhofquai.
5-E – Bahnhof
Take a right after crossing the pedestrian bridge onto Bahnhofquai and walk with the river on your right until you reach Bahnhofplatz where you will turn left toward the main train station, Bahnhof.
6-F – Bahnhofstrasse
Stay on the left side of the divided road and turn left again at the large street, Bahnhofstrasse, right in front of the train station. This is the main shopping street of Zurich. There is a Swarovski Crystal shop immediately on your right, an Apple Store, and closer to the lake, many expensive watch, jewelry, accessory, and clothing stores. Many of these stores are so exclusive that customers need to ring a doorbell and be ushered in by armed guards!
7-G – Paradeplatz
As you keep walking down Bahnhofstrasse, you will come to a large square, Paradeplatz, where you will see many of the large banks of Switzerland. This is the major financial nerve center of the famous Swiss bank accounts. Turn right in front of the Giorgio Armani store and walk past the Credit Suisse bank as you circle the large square. When you circle back to Bahnhofstrasse, turn left on Bahnhofstrasse and take the second right after you pass the elegant hotel, Savoy Baur en Ville, onto the left hand side of Zughusplatz. Bear left at the Hermes store onto en Gassen and take the first left, at the Louis Vuitton store, onto Zeugwartgasse.
8-H – St. Peter’s Church
St. Peter’s Church will be to your right when you reach the intersection of St. Peterstrasse and Zeugwartgasse. The church has the largest clock tower in Europe. The nave of the church was rebuilt from an earlier church in 1460 in Gothic style, and parts of the church date back to prior to 900 AD. The current building was consecrated in 1706 as the first church in Zurich built under Protestant rule. Its congregation forms part of the Evangelical Reformed Church of the Canton of Zürich.
9-I – Roman Plaque with Zurich’s Original Roman Name, Turicum
After you pass St. Peterstrasse, you will wind your way to the Lindenhof hill. To reach there, just keep following the same road slightly to your right as it becomes Augustinerhof and as Augustinerhof makes a sharp right turn. Then, when Augustinerhof ends at Augustinergrasse, turn left. Take the first right onto Glockengasse and bear right when it forks. When the road ends at Strehlgasse, turn left. Stay on Strehlgasse until you can bear right at the stone walkway on Pfalzgasse. Look for the famous plaque on the wall and see if you can find the name, “Turicum,” Zurich’s original Roman name and possibly also its Celtic name. This was engraved on a 2nd-century tombstone of a little boy. It was found on May 15, 1747. The original tombstone is protected inside the Swiss National Museum.
10-J – Lindenhof Observation Point
Keep walking on Pfalzgasse and you will arrive at the Lindenhof hill and observation point overlooking the city. The hilltop area includes prehistoric, Roman, and medieval remains and is a Swiss heritage site of national significance, because all of Zurich spread out from this original site. Walk to your right to look out over the river at the observation point and then keep walking until you can exit to your right onto Fortunagasse.
11-K – Hotel Adler
When you exit Lindenhof hill, take a right on Fortunagasse and follow it until it merges with Schipfe to your right. Follow Schipfe until you can cross the Limmat River at the bridge, Rathausbrücke. Turn left across the river and walk with the river on your left until you reach Rosengasse. Rosengasse will end at Niederdorfstrasse, and the Hotel Adler will be on the right at that corner. The historic hotel has a mural of the old town painted on the side of the building above their authentic Swiss restaurant below. We enjoyed eating outside here on a nice day!
12-L – Schwarzenbach
With the Adler Hotel on your right, continue to follow the main shopping street of this Neiderdorf area until you reach Ankengasse. Turn right and you will see Schwarzenbach just in front of you on your left. For over 100 years, the Schwarzenbach specialty store has been selling coffee, tea and chocolate. The huge variety of tea, coffee, dried fruits and pasta, come from Switzerland and from all over the world. Next door is their tea/coffee shop of the same name. The shop serves the traditional Swiss Straumann Hüppen, crispy wafer rolls with a delicious chocolate hazelnut filling.
13-M – Grossmünster Church
Continue walking back toward the river and turn left on Limmatquai. You will see the double spires of the Grossmünster church on your left. According to legend, Grossmünster was founded by Charlemagne, whose horse fell to its knees over the tombs of Felix and Regula, Zürich’s patron saints. Turn right and cross the Limmat River again at the bridge, Münsterbrücke.
14-N – Fraumünster
After you cross the bridge, you will come to the Fraumünster church on your left, built on the remains of a former abbey for aristocratic women which was founded in 853 by Louis the German for his daughter Hildegard. He endowed the Benedictine convent with the lands of Zurich, Uri, and the Albis forest, and granted the convent immunity, placing it under his rule. Today, it belongs to the Evangelical Reformed Church of the Canton of Zürich. It is worth it to pay the 5 CHF admission fee to see the large stained glass windows designed by artist Marc Chagall and installed in 1970. Each of the windows has a dominant color and depicts a Christian story. When you exit, walk back toward the river and turn right with the Limmatt River on your left.
15-O – Ganymed Sculpture
Keep walking along the river and you will reach Lake Zurich. Cross the main road in front of you at the lake and turn left with the lake on your left and you will see the Ganymed Sculpture. This 1952 sculpture depicts the boy Ganymed pleading with Zeus, the father of the gods (who appears as an eagle), to take him to Mt. Olympus. The work of art is inspired by ancient mythology but artist Hubacher emphasized that his sculpture was “not a Greek Ganymed but rather a Swiss one”.
16-P – Boat Tours
Just to the right of the Ganymed Sculpture, boat tours leave for points all over Lake Zurich, including roundtrip tours covered by the Swiss Pass with a small booking fee. Check at the ticket office here for information and schedules. A nice round-trip lake cruise might be a great way to relax at the end of your walk. Most boats have restaurants and bars where you can buy food and drinks to enjoy during your cruise.
Be sure to investigate whether the Swiss Pass is right for you as you plan your trip to Switzerland. It not only covers almost all trains, boats and buses within Switzerland, but most museums, too! You can take a look at your options here:
Let me know if you have any questions about Switzerland, or if you would like a free consultation to see if I can help you plan a trip to Switzerland or just about anywhere else to help you maximize your time and money most efficiently when you travel.
Check out my other posts and podcasts about Switzerland here:
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Until next time, I hope all of your travel days are just perfect!
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