Zurich: One of Europe’s Greatest Walking Cities – Zurich was once considered a financial hub populated by bankers. Zurich is now reinventing itself as a vibrant, trendy and ultra-modern metropolis. The bankers are still there, but the air of old-time formality is long gone. Today, the parks, squares and thoroughfares of this beautiful and affluent lakeside city are filled with everyone from young kids on bicycles to retirees on Segways. Zurich also offers old-world charm in the form of the medieval Old Town with its cobbled streets, historic houses and soaring church towers. Nature lovers will enjoy the green public parks, the bustling bodies of water and the easily accessible mountain panoramas that surround Zurich. The city’s attractions are anything but boring and there’s a world of fascinating, delectable and stylish sites, restaurants and shops just waiting to be discovered. You can visit The Best Rhine River Cruise Guide here, or visit us on Pinterest.
Zurich Weather – Best Time to Visit Zurich
The best time to visit Zurich is between June and August, when average temperatures (high 60s and mid-70s), make swimming in the lake possible. However, summer’s warm climate also makes it the most expensive season to visit. But even in December, January and February (the winter offseason), hotel rates remain high due to the city’s proximity to the Swiss Alps’ ski slopes. If you visit from March to May (mid-30s to mid-40s, by April, temps can rise into the mid-60s or between September and November (50s to mid-60s in September to the mid-30s to mid-40s in November), you might be able to find some reasonable room rates, but keep in mind that Zurich cools down considerably during this time of year.
Top 5 Things to Do & See in Zurich
Lake Zurich (Zurichsee)
Backing lower Lake Zurich is a tangle of parks and gardens, collectively known as the lake promenade, that make for a picturesque place to spend an afternoon. And in warm weather, the lake is peppered with boats, while the banks are filled with picnickers and sunbathers. If you’re a jogger, the area is also one of Zurchers’ favorite places to pound the ground.
Standing an impressive 2,858 feet above sea level, Uetliberg Mountain offers some of the best views of Zurich and the surrounding Alps. Once at the top, travelers will find multiple trails for hiking, biking and sledding. Paragliding at the mountain’s peak is another popular pastime here.
Old Town (Altstadt)
Zurich’s Old Town is the historic part of town – and by historic, we mean medieval. Winding cobblestone alleys run alongside quintessential Zurich attractions like the Great Minster. You’ll also find several acclaimed museums – such as the Swiss National Museum and the Museum of Art – and hotels in and around the district. When visiting Old Town, be sure to check out Muhlesteg Footbridge.
One of Zurich’s must-dos is a stroll along the sleek storefronts of Bahnhofstrasse. Stretching across Old Town from Hauptbahnhof station to Lake Zurich, Bahnhofstrasse features a variety of high-end shops, including Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Chanel and Giorgio Armani. Swiss shops like the dessert-focused Confiserie Sprungli and the jewelry-centric Gubelin AG can also be found here.
Museum of Art (Kunsthaus Zurich)
With its assortment of works, some say the Museum of Art, or the Kunsthaus Zurich as it’s called in German, is one of – if not the – best museums in the city. Among an interesting collection of Swiss artists, the museum also hangs works by Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Marc Chagall and Claude Monet.
Best Zurich Restaurants
Maison Manesse $30 & Over
This trendy urban eatery has the feel of a contemporary city pub. Whitewashed walls and ceilings have wooden beams for a rustic feel, accompanied by lighthouse lanterns, wooden tables and bistro chairs, plus an alfresco pagoda during the summer months. The main event is the Surprise Menu, this award-winner places you in the hands of Australian chef Fabian Spiquel as you embark on an unexpected tasting journey in which everything is uber fresh. Telephone: 41 44 462 01 01 Web: Maison Manesse
The Widder Restaurant $30 & Over
Housed in the hotel by the same name, it’s led by chef Stefan Heilemann whose unique style, experimental techniques and penchant for acidic flavors combine to create something quite electrifying. Book a table to taste the four, five or six-course menu – vegetarian options are available too. Telephone: 41 44 224 24 12 Web: The Widder Restaurant
The Restaurant $30 & Over
The Restaurant is headed by Heiko Nieder (GaultMillau Chef of the Year 2019), serving a la carte and an amuse-bouche menu at lunchtime (small portions of the diner menus) and six or eight-course menus into the evening. Dishes are eclectic, inspired by Neider’s own travels, with intriguing ingredients skillfully combined, and finished with arty touches such as foams and florals. This is Swiss finesse at its best. Telephone: 41 44 456 60 00 Web: The Restaurannt
Restaurant Pavillon $30 & Over
The Pavillon is the gourmet restaurant in Zurich for upmarket and modern French cuisine. Award-winning with 18 Gault Millau points and two Michelin Stars, the exquisite restaurant is one of the best in Switzerland. Designed by the star architect, Pierre-Yves Rochon, the Pavillon integrates harmoniously into the landscape. The magnificent rotunda also offers a breath-taking and exclusive view over the park and Lake Zurich. Telephone: 41 44 220 50 22 Web: Restaurant Pavillon
EquiTable $30 & Over
EquiTable is fine dining for the modern age; mindful of sustainability, fairness and the impact on growers in developing countries. The result is healthy, natural tastes that have a lasting positive impact, both on diners and those within the restaurant’s supply chain. Four through to seven-course menus cater for both omnivores and herbivores, with high-quality ingredients considered for their carbon footprint. Telephone: 41 43 534 82 77 Web: EquiTable
Best Zurich Bars
George has become the default setting for Zurich’s upmarket party people and local celebrity scene. It’s the kind of place you can start and end a night out in, thanks to it’s on site restaurant, and small dance floor area. It’s summer terrace has superb city views and is always packed. Music wise it’s everything from live jazz piano to late night Ibiza style moods. Telephone: 41 44 440 5060 Web: George
Hotel Rivington & Sons
Located in one of Zurich’s most prominent new buildings – the fat and shiny Prime Tower next to Hardbrücke. This large café bar on two floors does manage to create a comfy and cozy feel and serves good espressos and fine cocktails. Telephone: 41 43 366 90 82 Web: Hotel Rivington & Sons
With its rather minimalistic interiors, Chesterfield sofas and enormous bar counter, it aims to be a classic cocktail bar with a huge selection of both classic and signature drinks. Don’t expect personal recommendations on a Friday or Saturday night though – it might be so crowded that you can barely yell your order to the bartender across three rows of people standing packed around the counter. Telephone: 41 44 241 49 49 Web: Raygrodski
With its 1,000-bottle library of spirits, its sleek interiors and elegant seating, the Widder Bar is certainly at the very top end of Zurich’s establishments. For those who never have to count their change, they offer rare spirits for five-digit prices and exclusive single malts you might only taste once in your lifetime. Telephone: 41 44 224 24 12 Web: Widder Bar
Despite interiors that might remind you of your own granny’s bedroom – note the tiny flower bouquets and the old sofas on either end of the room – this café bar is as close to a local pub as you can get. A meeting point for the girlies and the builders during the day, a lively bar in the afternoons and evenings, a monthly bash of country music and one of the best Sunday brunches in town. Telephone: 41 44 271 01 77 Web: Nordbrücke