Zürich or Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zürich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zürich. While the municipality itself has 380,500 inhabitants, the Zürich metropolitan area is an urbanised area of international importance constituted by a population of nearly 2 million inhabitants. Zürich is a mixed hub for railways, roads, and air traffic. Both Zürich Airport and railway station are the largest and busiest in the country.
Permanently settled for around 7,000 years, the history of Zürich goes back to its founding by the Romans, who, in 15 BC, called it Turicum. During the Middle Ages Zürich gained the independent and privileged status of imperial immediacy and, in 1519, was the place of origin and center of the Protestant Reformation in German-speaking Switzerland, led by Ulrich Zwingli.
Zürich is a leading global city and among the world's largest financial centres. The city is home to a large number of financial institutions and banking giants. Also, most of the research and development centers are concentrated in Zürich and the low rate of tax attracts overseas companies to set up their headquarters there. According to several surveys from 2006 to 2008, Zürich was named the city with the best quality of life in the world as well as the wealthiest city in Europe.
In addition to being Switzerland's main commercial centre, Zürich is sometimes called the Cultural Capital of Switzerland. An impressive number of museums and art galleries can be found in the city, among which the Swiss National Museum and the Kunsthaus. Zürich also hosts one of the most important theatres in the German-speaking world.
In the old town on the left bank of the Limmat (Rennweg, Strehlgasse, Augustinergasse, St.
Peterhofstaff, Münsterhof, In Gassen, Wühre) you will find numerous boutiques and antique
The main shopping zone is concentrated in the city center, which makes it ideal for
pedestrians. The famous Bahnhofstrasse - one of the most beautiful shopping areas in Europe
- is a must. Elegant fashion stores, department stores, boutiques with top quality products
(shoes, furs, accessories, porcelain, jewellery and watches), banks and pastry shops.
The Bürkliterrasse - opened in 1887 as the culmination of the Bahnhofstrasse and part of the
lakeside park area (Quaianlage) - is the ideal spot to sit and relax under the trees. In
clear weather you can enjoy marvellous views across the lake to the Alps. Since 1952 the
terrace has been graced with the figure of Zeus (the eagle) and his lover, Ganymede, shown
being borne up to Mount Olympus. The beautiful original weeping elms that fell victim to elm
disease have been replaced with maple trees.
Chinese Garden Zürich
A gift from China, dedicated to "the 3 winter friends", the pine, the bamboo and the winter
cherry. No infrastructure and toilets.
According to legend, Charlemagne discovered the graves of the city's martyrs Felix and
Regula and had a church build as a choristers' cloister on the spot. Construction work on
the present building began around 1100.
In the first half of the 16th century the Grossmünster was the starting point of the Swiss-
German Reformation led by Huldrych Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger. The theological college
then annexed to the cloister became the germinal cell of what is now the University of
Public tours of the Grossmünster, at 11.30a.m. on the second Sunday of the month, there is a
one-hour public tour of the Grossmünster church, including visit of the cloister, starting
at the main entrance. Language: german. The tour costs CHF 5.00 per person.
Spiritual night-time tours of the Grossmünster, at 10p.m.
On the last Friday of the month, there is a one-hour public tour of the Grossmünster church,
during which visitors, accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, will have a chance not only to
discover the unique atmosphere of the church interior, but also to enjoy panoramic views of
Zürich at night from the church tower.
The tour starts at the main entrance and is free of charge.
Market hall in a former railway viaduct in the trendy Zürich-West district.
In Zürich’s former industrial district, a viaduct conducts trains from the north into Zürich
’s Main Railway Station. A second viaduct, no longer in service, runs parallel providing a
passageway for pedestrians and cyclists. The junction of the two viaducts provides room for
Zürich’s first covered market hall. Vendors offer fresh vegetables, meats and fish along
1600-ft market aisles. Thirty-six other viaduct arches house numerous shops, restaurants,
studios and creative services. The two viaducts were built in 1894 and are important
monuments of historical railway-building technology and the industrial development of
International works of significance include many paintings by Edvard Munch, Van Gogh,
Picasso and leading Expressionists. There is also a significant group of works by Claude
Monet and Marc Chagall. Amongst modern artistic trends represented by Rothko, Merz, Twombly, Beuys, Bacon and Baselitz the visitors can discover a wide choice of Popart works. An audio guide gives background information on 200 «highlights» of the collection.
From 15 October 2010 until 30 January 2011, the Kunsthaus Zürich will revive the first
museum exhibition devoted to Pablo Picasso
The grassy parks on the lake shore are a hive of activity during the summer months. A
popular meeting place for inline skaters, bathers, jewelry vendors and street artists.
The Limmatquai is the street in Zürich's old town, that connects Bellevue and Central along
the right waterfront of the river Limmat. It passes by the Grossmünster, the Water Church as
well as many of Zürich's Guildhalls and the Rathaus, Zürich's Parliament building.
Beneath this elevated square in the city center are the ruins of a Roman customs post, and a
late Roman fortress. The Lindenhof is an oasis of peace and tranquillity at the heart of the
city, and a meeting place for passionate chess players. This spot also offers magnificent
views over the old town.
The Rietberg Museum in Zürich is the only art museum for non-European cultures in
Switzerland. It possesses an internationally renowned collection of works from Asia, Africa,
America and Oceania. By presenting works of art, the museum seeks not only to make visitors
aware of the fascinating diversity of forms of artistic expression, but also to arouse their
interest in and understanding of other cultures, ideologies and religions. With the opening
of the extension in 2007, the museum, idyllically situated in one of Zürich’s most beautiful
parks, shines in new splendor.
The Neumarkt (New Market) was just outside the old city wall. The tower at the end of the
street was built as a residence for rich nobility. And history was written in Spiegelgasse:
no. 14 was where Lenin prepared the Revolution.
Niederdorf and Oberdorf
During the day this is a pedestrian zone and a shopper's paradise with lots of boutiques
hidden away in a patchwork of alleys. At night the many bars, restaurants and street artists
turn the Niederdorf into an exciting center of entertainment for a colorful public.
Reach for the stars...the 48m tower belonging to the Urania Observatory means you can. The
main telescope allows magnifications of up to 600 times. Schools and groups of over 10
persons are kindly asked to reserve tours in advance. You can also simply drop by to enjoy a
drink and the fabulous views from what is Zürich's tallest bar.
A home for muses, a place for art.
The Zürich Opera House was the first Opera House in all of Europe that had electric
lighting. The neo-baroque theatre building in front of the Sechseläuten green space on the
shore of Lake Zürich was built in 1891 upon 1,800 oak piles. The first opera performed there
was Richard Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’.
The history of the Zürich Opera House is full of highlights: Wilhelm Furtwängler started his
career here, and Richard Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’ was performed here in 1913 – the first time it
had ever been performed outside Bayreuth. Ferruccio Busoni, Paul Hindemith, Richard Strauss,
Othmar Schoeck, Arthur Honegger, Frank Martin and other famous composers all influenced the
development of Zürich’s musical and theatrical life.
Since 1996 the Director of Zurich Ballet has been Heinz Spoerli, one of today’s most
internationally renowned choreographers. Since 1991, the Manager and Artistic Director of
the Opera House has been the greatly committed Alexander Pereira.
The Zürich Opera House is considered one of the best venues in the world for opera. In more
than 270 performances per season, such international singing stars as Anna Netrebko, Cecilia
Bartoli or Jonas Kaufmann and many others can be experienced live at the Zürich Opera House.
The Polybahn will take you up from Central to the panorama terrace in front of the main
building of the Federal Institute of Technology in just three minutes. Enjoy superb views of
This baroque construction dating from 1694/98 is full of character. It juts out into the
Limmat on the site of an earlier parliament building, and was erected under the supervision
of J.H. Holzhalb, councillor and master builder.
The Zurich Schauspielhaus is the largest theater in Switzerland. Plays are staged here by
internationally known director Christoph Marthaler.
The revival of Zurich West with galleries, restaurants and trendy nightspots began with the
opening of the Schiffbau in 2002. The two Zurich Schauspielhaus stages 'Schiffbauhalle' and
'Box' as well as the Moods jazz club and La Salle restaurant are in the converted historic
"Schipfe" is one of the oldest quarters of the city of Zurich. The name originates from the
nautical term "schupfen" (push) used by the fishermen to describe how they pushed their
boats to and from the river bank. During the Middle Ages the Schipfe was the transfer point
for essential merchandise, and from the 16th century became the headquarters of the silk
industry, and the location of bathhouses and boatbuilding. Even today, the Schipfe is still
the street of artisans where the craftspeople take the necessary time for their customers,
providing expert advice and suggestions. Quality and custom-made pruducts are available in
the small, romantic shops and workshops along the Limmat River. The Schipfe is an idyllic
location to linger, shop and enjoy some good food.
St. Peter's Church
St. Peter's is the oldest church in Zürich; it stands close by the ruins of a late Roman
fortress at the Lindenhof and its origings ga back to pre-900. It is first mentioned in 857,
when King Louis the German gave it as a gift to two of his daughters, of whom one became the
first abbess of the Fraumünster at the time when the Fraumünster was founded. The first
mayor Rudolf Brun, buried in 1360 in the choir of the church, acquired St. Peter's in 1345
with all the associated privileges (church tax) and obligations. He now has a grave and
monumentby the outer tower wall. The first reformed pastor, Leo Jud (1523-1542), was a
friend of Zwingli and contributed to the first translation of the bible in Zürich. J.C.
Lavater (writer, physiognomist, friend of the young Goethe) was pastor from 1778-1801. His
gravestone can be seen in the church wall, and there is a memorial to him in the church
choir. Architectural features: late Romanesque-Gothic tower, chori early 13th century,
Baroque nave (1705/06), first new Reformed church built in Zürich. Stucco work by Salomon Bü
rkli from Zürich and Franz Schmutzer from Wessobrunn. Font dates from 1598, europe's largest
church clock face (8.7 m diameter), five bells dating from 1880, fire-watchers in the tower
Storchengasse / Strehlgasse
In the old City on the leftside from the River Limmat you will find the famous shopping area
Storchengasse / Strehlgasse (Glockengasse, Kämbelgasse, Münsterhof, Rathausbrücke, Schipfe,
Schlüsselgasse, St. Peterhofstatt, Storchengasse, Strehlgasse, Weggengasse, Weinplatz, Wühre
Swiss National Museum Zürich
The Swiss National Museum was built by Gustav Gull in 1898, next to the Main Train Station.
Here, culture and public transportation rub shoulders with each other: the National Museum
houses Switzerland's most comprehensive collection of artifacts pertaining to its cultural
heritage, while the Main Train Station is the largest in the country. The over 100-year old
museum building is reminiscent of a fairytale castle. Surrounded by towers, the courtyard is
a unique venue for superlative events such as Live on Ice in the winter and Live at Sunset
in the summer. While visitors outside enjoy the arts, the past comes to life indoors: How
did earlier generations live, think and feel? Their material legacy - from handicrafts to
ordinary everyday objects - provide us with answers, from the prehistoric age right through
to the present day. The National Museum also stages special exhibitions on topics relevant
to society, thus offering a temporary change in perspective.
The Tonhalle, which was built in 1895 and inaugurated in the presence of Johannes Brahms, is
located in the same building as the Kongresshaus. The concert hall's excellent acoustics
rank amongst the best in the world. The larger concert hall seats 1,455. The first-class
concert program is highly varied.
The "Water Church" was originally built on a small island, where, according to legend, the
city's martyrs Felix and Regula were execute by the Romans. This late Gothic church was
completed towards the end of the 15th century nad was regarded as especially holy. This is
why, during the Reformation, it was referred to as a "temple of idol worshippers". A
warehouse and then a municipal library were set up to prevent anyone from being tempted on
re-introduce the cult of the saints. Renovated in 1942, the church is now used for religious
and cultural purposes. Worth seeing: the choir window by Augusto Giacometti showing a car.
Zoo Zürich – a fascinating experience
Enjoy the sight of the snow leopards in their rocky Himalaya landscape, watch the Andean
bears as they go climbing in search of food in their misty mountain world, and admire the
giant turtles swimming in the Masoala Rainforest, where it is warm and humid all year round
– a fragrant, tropical green oasis. Enjoy this piece of Madagascar live on 11,000 square
meters. Elephants, rhinos, penguins and 20 species of monkey are just some of the animals on
the Zürichberg that will transport you into an exotic world – with all your senses.
Zürich Main Railway Station
Many people describe it as the first shopping center to have its own railway station. Over
1,900 trains a day pass through this European transport hub, which has bistros, boutiques
and a high-class restaurant.
Would you like to be at the center of attention for a few hours? - off you go to Sihlcity!
Located on the grounds of a former paper factory, Sihlcity was opened in 2007 in the south
of Zürich. With its 13 restaurants, 9 cinemas, 1 hotel and the spa and fitness center Asia
Spa ready to welcome guests, Sihlcity blends the old with the new. The former depot which
dates from 1911 is now surrounded by modern architecture and forms the centerpiece of this
new urban landmark.
The district that once witnessed the industrial revolution is today a focal point for
gastronomy, art, design, dance, culture, shopping and architecture. The factories have long
since moved away, leaving behind them extensive industrial sites that still bear their names
and vast expanses of space that creative minds have put to good use. Zürich West evokes a
metropolitan feeling, linking worlds that could scarcely be more different. It is founded on
the old, which in turn bears and shapes the new. It has retained the earthiness of its
industrial background and merges it with the elegance of the modern-day leisure society. The
city of Zürich tells its own, unique West Side Story.
Zürichsee Schifffahrtsgesellschaft (ZSG)
Enjoy some special moments on a tour, or on one of the dream boats!
During the summer months, the ZSG offers numerous short round trips (1.5 h), as well as long
round trips (4 h) to Rapperswil every day. During the winter months, the timetable includes
two short round trips, as well as a long round trip.
Sihlwald Interactiv Trail
This entertaining 2-hour, 2km interactive forest trail starts and ends at the Sihlwald
Nature Center or the Sihlwald school and takes you around a circuit with 13 stops along the
way: counting annual growth rings; tree telephone; humming stone; balancing; bog forest; how
high is the tree?; forest tipis and wooden animals; seeing with your feet; who can jump
furthest?; forest sounds; look carefully; forest mobiles; forest memory.
At 871 meters above sea level, Uetliberg towers over the roofs of Zürich.
The mountain affords an impressive panoramic view of the city, the lake and the Alps.
Starting from the station at Uetliberg you can follow a trail to Felsenegg which takes you
on a tour through a model of our solar system.
The Uetliberg is particularly popular in November, as its summit is often above the blanket
of fog that can cover the city at this time of year. In the winter, the hiking trails to the
summit are converted into sledging runs
This river bathing facility is based on an island between the river Limmat and a canal which
was dug in 1896 for a river power station. Beautiful views of the surrounding countryside
and the Höngger wineyard. In the summer months refreshments are served in the garden
restaurant in front of the factory.
Not only a nightclub but also a regular live music venue for the kind of tight-trousered
bands that get described as ‘achingly cool', Rohstofflager is somewhere so close to the
cutting edge it hurts. It's made a name for itself for playing alternative dance music,
although on certain nights the music is far removed from the world of techno. The main bar
has some great retro lampshades.
Owned and run by a well known local TV presenter (who broadcasts a talk-show from the club
every Sunday), Labor Bar has built its reputation as a place to dance and lounge around
without too many snooty judgments from the fashion police. Its weekly ‘Butterfly Party'
event is one of Zurich's most popular gay nights. It plays a mixture of urban music,
throwback pop and other genres.
Sitting in the hip western quarter of town, Club Indochine is one of the most glamorous
Zurich nightlife spots around. As the name suggests, the style approach draws heavily on
south east Asia, and there's an appealing den-like feel to the interior. The upper floor is
where most of the action takes place, but you'll want to look your best coming here.
Vietnamese food is served.
Zurich is famous for its highly efficient, clean and safe public transport system. The network includes trams, buses, S-Bahn (local trains) and even boats for the lake and river. The size and complexity of the network may be daunting at first, but you will soon realize that there are dozens of ways to get from one place to another and following any of them will still be efficient.
Tickets must be purchased from a ticket machine before boarding or from one of the ticket selling kiosks. The ticket machines might be intimidating at first glance, but simply get a "Tageskarte Zone 10" (day card valid for 24hr) for 8.00CHF by pushing the green button (a single ride costs 4.00CHF). The ticket covers the city and should be enough for most tourists' needs, except perhaps the Uetliberg, which is not in Zone 10. This ticket is valid for all trains, trams, buses, boats and cable cars in Zone 10, so take a trip on the lake or river with the same ticket! If you are not sure whether your destination is in Zone 10, possible destinations (with their respective code) are listed at each vending machine. Punch in the code and the price will be displayed. Note: Not all machines contain this green button. For other machines simply type in the area code 8000 for Zurich followed by the return button that is showing two arrows.
If you're staying for a longer period, consider a monthly card. Even though there are no tickets valid for something between 1 day and a month, it takes only 10 zone 10 day cards for a zone 10 monthly card to be cheaper. When travelling in all zones, it takes only 8 day cards for the monthly card to be cheaper.
The Swiss Pass is valid on all public transportation in Zurich, and if you are a tourist visiting most of Switzerland, this may be your best way to saving both money and time spent trying to figure out zones, routes, and fare options. Eurail passes are valid only on the S-Bahn and boats. Interrail passes are valid on the S-Bahn (although the ZVV website claims a "reduction" for other routes for Interrail holders). Nevertheless, you may find you don't need the trams and buses if you don't mind walking around a little.
There are also so-called Z-passes, which can be used not only in Zürich, but also in one of the neighbouring cantons (Aargau, Schaffhausen, Schwyz, Zug, St. Gallen or Thurgau); however, only one additional canton is possible, so if you're not going to one neighbouring canton more often than the others you are probably better off with just a normal all zones Zürich monthly card and buying single tickets from the last valid station to whatever destination you wish to go to. The Z-pass system also has its zones. It is only available as monthly and annual cards
There are many other special offers on tickets for tourists so ask at the tourist information center, your hotel or visit the Zurich Public Transport Authority (Zürcher Verkehrsverbund ZVV). The ZVV is a regional agency that coordinates fares and schedules for the region's different transit companies. The ZVV's website has maps, links to transit providers in the Zürich area, and trip planning information.
By tram and bus
Trams in Zurich
Several tram lines and buses (some electrified) cover the city at street level. Like all other public transport in Zurich, you purchase and validate tickets before boarding, or risk a fine if they decide to spot check. The most surprising thing about trams and buses in Switzerland is that they are extremely punctual and you can find a schedule at every stop accurate to within a couple of minutes.
The 'S-Bahn' is Zürich's suburban rail system, used mainly by commuters but also a good way to get to many destinations outside the city centre. Zürich's S-Bahn system provides convenient and fast service throughout the region. Most of the lines pass through the Hauptbahnhof. The ZVV offers directions for a series of excursions on the S-Bahn. One popular destination (not mentioned on the ZVV website) is Stein am Rhein, a restored medieval village on the river Rhine which can be reached using the S-Bahn number 29 from Winterthur.
You must have a validated ticket before you board. If you do not have a ticket you will be liable for an on-the-spot fine of 80CHF.
There are two types of boat-based public transportation operated in Zürich: river buses and lake steamers. The river boats operate in the summer months only and the lake boats operate on a much reduced schedule during the winter.
The river buses operate between the Landesmuseum (near the Hauptbahnhof) along the Limmat River and out in the Zürichsee (Zürich Lake) to Tiefenbrunnen. There are several stops along the Limmat River.
The Zürichsee Schifffahrtsgesellschaft (ZSG) operates lake steamers which leave from Burkliplatz (at the end of Bahnhofstrasse). The ZSG's website provides information on destinations and ships. The ZSG offers a variety of tourist-oriented trips (including Jazz Brunch, and historic restored steam ships), and a popular trip is to Rapperswil at the south end of the Zürichsee. The town has a beautiful castle overlooking the lake surrounded by a medieval town.
The main train station, old town and the lake promenade and all nearby tourist attractions are easily walkable. You may find that you don't need transportation for most of your tourist needs once you get into the city.
You can "rent" bikes, skateboards etc. for free from 7AM-9:20PM daily May-Oct at several places in Zurich and year-round at the central train station. All you need is your passport and a CHF 20 deposit as guarantee. This offer is called "Züri rollt (German only)". You can get and return the bikes at several locations: the bikegate just next to the central station, next to the "Globus City" shopping center, next to the opera, or at the Swissotel in Oerlikon. If you can't find these places, don't hesitate to ask some locals, they should know at least the bikegate at the central station. The Zurich Transit Company, VBZ also provides information about these bikes in English. Nevertheless, you shouldn't count on it because sometimes the "rent" spots run out of bikes.
Driving in Zurich is possible but it is painful as the city center is not easy to navigate by car.