12 Must-Do Experiences in Zurich

Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city and there are plenty of must-do experiences that will make a trip here unforgettable. Ride the Polybahn funicular, one of two left in Zurich, for panoramic views of the city. Explore Zurich’s streets on foot or on a rented bike. And if shopping on Bahnhofstrasse hasn’t left your wallet too weary, head to Einzelstück for vintage objects and upcycled items from around the world.

The tree-lined Utoquai and Arboretum at Enge offer excellent views of Lake Zurich and the snow-capped Alps, but the iconic spot for lake-gazing is at the Bürkliterrasse, with its statue of Zeus and Ganymede and straight-shot view of the Alps. Photo © Bruno Macor /FB/Zürich Tourismus.
Grossmünsterplatz, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
According to legend, Zurich’s most iconic landmark was commissioned by Charlemagne. While Fraumünster, across the Limmat, draws onlookers with its stained-glass windows by Chagall, Grossmünster recently acquired destination-worthy art of its own: German artist Sigmar Polke’s beautiful, kaleidoscopic motifs featuring Old Testament figures, installed in 2009. Photo © Christian Beutler/Zürich Tourismus.
Zürich Hauptbahnhof, Museumstrasse 1, 8021 Zürich, Switzerland
Look familiar? If the Swiss Federal Railways clock looks instantly recognizable, that’s because Apple used an eerily familiar design for its iOS 6 operating system used by its iPhone and iPad mobile devices. (It turned out to be an expensive gamble: the tech giant had to pay a reported $21.5 million in a patent dispute to the Swiss national rail operator SBB in 2012.) While the iconic clock can be spotted all over town—as well as in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City—the best place to ogle the famed design is at Zurich Hauptbahnhof, the city’s main train station and Switzerland’s largest.
Limmatquai 144, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
The terrace at ETH Zurich—where Einstein was an alum—lords high above the city for catch-your-breath views beyond to the lake and the Alps. A number of trams will take you to the terrace, but the most fun way to get there is on the fire-engine red Polybahn, one of only two funiculars left in the city, and the most conveniently located. It runs every 2.5 minutes from the Central stop.
Bürkliplatz, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
One of the biggest Flea markets in Zurich is the one located in Bürkliplatz square. The market is opened on Saturdays from 6am to 4pm. May-October, so if you visit Zurich on Winter time, you will not find the outdoors traders. The market is well known for its fine China dishes.
Falkenstrasse 26, 8008 Zürich, Switzerland
This treasure trove of curiosities by Susanne Schmid and Simon Wirth in Kreis 4 sells all sorts of vintage objects and upcycled items, including Indian Mrinmaya statues, a mango- and teakwood art deco locker from a colonial hotel in Sri Lanka, and stuffed animals made in Chile from classic men’s handkerchiefs. You’ll also find Fiona Caulfield’s exquisite fabric-covered Love Travel Guides.
Münsterhof 2, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
This small, elegant church near Paradeplatz has been around since 853, but it wasn’t until 1970 when it received its crowning touch: five glorious stained glass windows created by Marc Chagall when he was in his 80s. Also not to be missed: Augusto Giacometti’s magnificent mosaic. The massive 5,793-pipe organ, the largest in Zurich, plays every Wednesday at 7:45 am.
Mühlebach, 8008 Zürich, Switzerland
Locals are fanatics about the lake. They boast the water is clean enough to drink; boating is a favorite pastime, whether it’s on a sailboat, paddleboat, yacht or public boat from the ZSG network (included in the cost of a daily tram card); and come summer, swimming in it, for many, is a daily activity in one of the city’s excellent badis. The tree-lined Utoquai and Arboretum at Enge offer excellent views, but the iconic spot for lake-gazing is at the Burkliterrasse, with its statue of Zeus and Ganymede and straight-shot view of the Alps. Photo © Elisabeth Real/Zürich Tourismus.
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