A self-guided walk through Zurich
Like most people, I spent most of my first months in Switzerland exploring my new country instead of unpacking boxes and doing other adulting-type things. Our village is 20 minutes south of Zurich just above the lake, so I take the train into the “city” when I need a change of scenery (although my view is lovely).
Zurich is a small city, and you can cover most of it on foot in a day, excluding a trip to the top of Uetliberg or a boat ride around the lake (both recommended). I’ve put together a walking map through some of Zurich’s highlights. Please don’t follow it exactly. The whole point of walking through a city is to get lost and stop to smell the
Start at the train station..
Start at the Zurich Bahnhof (aka train station). If you plan on staying in Zurich more than a day or two, or you plan on using public transportation, consider getting the Zürich card, which covers transportation from the airport to town, all trams, buses, cable car, some boats, etc. Do the math; it might be a good option for you.
Head up Bahnhofstrasse to Rennweg on your way to the prettiest view over Zurich, Lindenhofplatz. A great place to take a selfie, watch a boules tournament, or people playing checkers or chess. If you’re there at sunset, bring a little bottle of something celebratory and sit on the wall to enjoy the view. I suppose you could do that any time of day, but if you start too early, you’ll never finish your city walk.
Down the from Lindenhof, you’ll pass Kindli (one of the few places The Mister and I eat out in Zurich) and head through the ancient streets to St. Paul’s Church. Nearby, is Max Chocolatier, known for its lux chocolates and chocolate-making classes. Teuscher chocolate is around the corner too and has insta-worthy window displays throughout the year. Make sure you taste all the chocolate you can. You can hit the gym when you get home. Or not.
Münsterhof square, dominated by the Fraumünster and surrounded by ancient guild houses, is an excellent place to sit with a coffee. The church is famous for its Chagall windows, which you can see for a contribution of 5chf.
Walk over the bridge to Altstadt (the old city)…
Crossing the Münsterbrücke brings you to the imposing Grossmünster Protestant church. Supposedly, Zurich’s patron saints, beheaded near the Wasserkirche, took their heads in hand and walked to where the Grossmünster stands today. Centuries later Charlemagne founded Grossmünster to honor the saints after his horse suggested the idea. Sounds like h.s. to me, but I wasn’t there, what do I know? The view from the top is lovely on a beautiful day, and there’s a crypt that’s even lovelier on a hot day. If you need another sugar high, the cute little Conditorei Shober is nearby as well if you want to top off the chocolate with coffee and cake.
The lovely old streets nearby are good for wandering. I like to head to either the Kunsthaus for inspirational modern art or the Neumarkt area because it’s charming and I love the little unmarked alleyways, shops, and cafes. Then again, why choose? See both!
Niederdorfstrasse is the most direct route back to the Landesmuseum and the nearby ferry stop. The park itself is a great place to spend an afternoon picnicking and people-watching. If you have time, catch the Limmat Riverboats from the Landesmuseum dock and head down to the lake for a boat ride on Lake Zurich or a walk along the lake near the Opera House.
Ideas if you have more days/time:
Buy a ticket for the “long journey” to the pretty town of Rapperswil and take the train back.
Or take the short train up to Ueliberg and walk off all that chocolate and enjoy lunch with a view.
I’ve added a map for you!
I’ve included a list of highlights and an associated walking map including sights, chocolate shops (most important, yes?), restaurants, bars and a few bädi’s. The list isn’t exhaustive, and it will change as I add/eliminate things based on recent visits. Enjoy!!
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