24 Hours in Zurich –
What To Do and Where To Go
We met up with a fellow blogger and YouTuber from the US when she was over in Zurich and suggested this quick 24 hour tour before she flew back to the US. However, if you’re only in Zurich for a day or so then maybe this would be an ideal plan to follow too. Similarly if you live in Zurich and have guests coming over – why not share these ideas with them?
Enjoy your hotel breakfast but if you don’t have one included in your stay, then head off to a great café and enjoy a Coffee und Gipfeli in a lovely café. If you’re in the centre of town you can’t go wrong by popping into Café Schober (though you may well be tempted by other items on their menu – especially the house hot chocolate which really shouldn’t be missed!) or Confiserie Honold in Rennweg. At Honold’s you really should try the delicious Birchermüsli – the perfect Swiss breakfast developed by Dr Bircher and wash it down with a “Schale” or milky coffee or a delicious hot chocolate.
Otherwise take a look at our Café Guide to Zurich here to see lots of other café suggestions.
One of Zurich’s key highlights has to be the Grossmünster Church. This Romanesque church with the stunning twin towers is an icon of Zurich. As the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation in 1522 led by Ulrich Zwingli, it is highly significant historically. Push open the heavy wooden carved doors and step inside. Take a moment to admire the beautiful stained glass windows created by German artist Sigmar Polke. Made from very thinly slice agate they are transparent enough to let the light in and extremely artistic. In addition, the beautiful chancel window was designed by Augusto Giacommeti in 1933.
Pay a small fee to climb up the narrow staircase as the views from the top of the tower are simply stunning. After walking up the 187 steps to the viewing area (don’t worry there are a couple of intermediary stations where you can stop and catch your breath) you can take in the stunning panorama over the city below.
Views Towards the Rathaus and towards Lake Zurich
Next pop across the bridge towards Münsterhof taking in the views to the right towards the Rathaus (town hall and Zurich Parliament) and the Rathausbrücke, and to the left, towards Bürkliplatz, the Frauenbadi and Lake Zurich.
The Fraumünster with its distinctive green spire, was originally built on the site of a former abbey for women by Louis the German in 853, hence the word “Frau” or woman in the title of the church’s name. Nowadays it is known for its famous Marc Chagall stained glass windows. On payment of a small fee (at time of writing CHF 5) you get a little headset to find out all you need to know about these beautiful works of art.
Marc Chagall who created the five stained glass window series (as well as a rosette for the church) was a Belarussian-born Jewish artist who was already retired when asked by this Protestant church to design the windows. According to legend, after initially declining the project, citing retirement, god came to him during the night and urged him to reconsider. So at a very advanced age he went ahead and created these beautiful and stunningly colourful windows which are now world famous. Before you leave the Fraumünster do take a look at the magnificent organ which is the largest in Zurich and take note that your admission ticket also allows you access to the Crypt Museum too.
Another option is to pop by for coffee on the terrace of the Hotel Storchen and enjoy a coffee or a drink overlooking the River Limmat.
If your visit to the Fraumünster has sparked an interest in Marc Chagall’s work, why not take a trip to the Kunsthaus Art Museum to see more? In addition your Fraumünster entrance ticket will give you a CHF 5 reduction on the usual entrance price to this wonderful Art Museum.Top tip: If you’re visiting on a Wednesday, entrance is free. Find out more about the Kunsthaus here.
Fountains Of Zurich
If you choose to stay in the centre of Zurich, instead of visiting the Kunsthaus, take a look at the magnificent fountain on Münsterhof. Zurich is home to over 1200 fountains, all with crystal clear water – so take the opportunity to drink this fresh, FREE water instead of buying plastic bottles. To find out more about the Fountains of Zurich see here.
Whilst on the Münsterhof maybe enjoy a coffee in one of the many pavement cafés, or possibly go for a traditional Zurich lunch at the beautiful and historic Zunfthaus Zur Waag, one of the Guild houses, which is also a restaurant.
From Münsterhof head up to Lindenhof and enjoy more views over the Limmat and across the city towards the university, the ETH and the hospital and the Niederdorf. Founded by the Romans (although the Celts initially got here first) this became an important an important trading place and is where Zurich was initially founded as “Turicum”. Watch the old men playing chess on the giant sets, and check out the fountain dedicated to the women of Zurich as well as the replica Roman tomb stone built into the wall of Pfalzgasse.
Shopping in Bahnhofstrasse
If you fancy a spot of shopping (or maybe simply window-shopping) why not take a stroll along Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich’s main shopping street? One of the world’s most expensive shopping streets with tops watch and fashion brands there are also a number of great department stores like Jelmoli, Globus, Manor and PKZ Women’s Fashions as well as many of the international chains.
If you’re looking for souvenirs, there is a Victorinox Shop where you can buy a personalised Swiss Army penknife, there are lots of beautiful (but very pricey) souvenirs to be had at Heimatwerk – but take a tip from me and head to the Coop Department store on Bahnhofstrasse and on one of the top floors they have a great array of glasses, plates, wooden bowls, linen calendars and more, all emblazoned with the Swiss flag or Edelweiss – ideal gifts for friends back home.
Augustinergasse in the Old Town is a beautiful cobbled street with flags adorning it in Summer and beautiful star decorations in Winter. Check out the hadn’t painted and hand carved Oriel Box windows and head up the street towards the Augustiner church. You will also see the fountain there that is filled with rose petals or other flowers several times a year.
Some great chocolate recommendations in the area include Honold’s on Rennweg– try their top seller Lottis Best or alternatively buy their delicious chopped chocolate in black vacu-packs which will enable you to make the perfect hot chocolate once you get back home. Or maybe go for some delicious Caramel Plättli from Max Chocolatier or perhaps a Champagne Truffle from Teuscher (their traditional recipe still uses Dom Perignon champagne in the recipe). If you’re on a longer visit and want to visit a chocolate factory or atelier take a look here.
Jules Verne Views
Another great place and very unique is the Jules Verne Bar which has its entrance just off Bahnhofstrasse, inside of Brasserie Lipp in Uraniastrasse. Perfect for views and a quick drink or lunch or dinner.
Paradeplatz, is not only a busy tram interchange, but is flanked by the banks Credit Suisse and UBS and is also home to Sprungli’s where you really should pop in and try one of their world famous Luxemburgli.
Next take a trip to Niederdorf and as well as finding lots of cafés and bars, there are plenty of bistros and restaurants where you can enjoy a light bite. Enjoy strolling around the cobbled streets and check out the little shops too.
Before you leave Zurich a trip to Zurich’s former industrial area is in order. The whole area has been completely revamped and remodelled. Why not visit the Markthalle or the shops in the Viadukt area or make your way to Frau Gerolds Garten where you can sit outside in a former railway container surrounded by flowers and herbs and a touch of urban grafitti as you sip a relaxing drink or eat some simple but delicious locally produced food.
For nightlife you’ve got Kaufleuten in central Zurich, the Widder Garage in the Old Town, Cloud’s Bar in Prime Tower, or a whole selection of places in and around Langstrasse and Züri West like Frau Gerolds Garten again and many places in the area. Why not just stroll around and see what you find? One of the best places to head to on balmy Summer evenings is one of the open air swimming pools such as Utoquai, Badi Enge or the Frauenbadi. Check before you go in case they have private events on. Another Summer option is to head down to China Garten with some picnic supplies, go for a relaxing swim and watch the sun go down.
Zurich’s public transport system is second to none. You can even one ticket on the tram, train, bus and many boats. If you’re in the city for 24 hours it makes sense to take advantage of the Zurich Card. In addition to providing you with multiple means of transport it also gives you discounts on museums and free entrance to some as well as lots of other benefits. Read all about it here.
This is just a small selection of things to see and do in Zurich within 24 Hours. Check back as we will be expanding it and whatever you do have a wonderful time in Zurich!
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