fun things to do in Zurich

What springs to mind when you think of Zürich? Switzerland’s largest city is a financial powerhouse, with banking and commerce at its beating heart. Yet delve a little deeper and you’ll discover there are plenty of fun things to do in Zürich that have nothing to do with economics!

Amble through the historic Old Town, take a boat trip on the lake, or head into the mountains for some fresh alpine air. Then indulge in upmarket shopping and world-class dining, you are on vacation after all.

1 – Take a boat trip on Lake Zürich

boat tours in Zurich

This moon-shaped lake wraps itself around the Albis and Pfannenstiel hills, with traditional Swiss towns dotted along the sun-kissed shoreline. Strolling along the scenic promenade beside Lake Zürich is a must when you’re in town.

Hop on a boat to make the most of those quintessential Swiss mountain views, and for a slice of relaxation on the gently bobbing waves.

2 – Unearth history in the Old Town

Old Town, Zurich

Straddling the Limmat River, Zürich’s Old Town takes you on a journey to pre-medieval times. Feel the colorful passage of time as you wander down cobblestone alleyways in the shadows of historic buildings.

Sip mugs of hot chocolate in cafes overlooking sleepy squares, and swing by the guild houses along the promenade. Don’t miss the 17th-century town hall or the ancient churches.

3 – Shop till you drop on Bahnhofstrasse

Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich

Bahnhofstrasse is Zürich’s premier shopping destination. The home of luxurious international brands, this dazzling street is all about the bling. Come here to add a little Gucci or Prada magic to your closet.

Once you’ve stocked up on designer clothes, gold watches, and artisan chocolates, it’s time for coffee and pastries. Head to Paradeplatz – the central square – for a treat at Café Sprüngli.

4 – Roll around town on a Segway tour

segway tours in Zurich

Trundle through the streets of Zürich in style as you explore on a unique Segway tour. You’ll be gliding across parks, flying past the stunning Tonhalle, and cruising along the glitzy Bahnhofstrasse.

This is a fun way to see the historical city landmarks, with plenty of photo stops to commemorate the experience. First time on a Segway? You’ll soon get your balance!

5 – Go wild at Zoo Zürich

Zoo Zürich, Switzerland

There are over 4,000 animals at Zoo Zürich, with everything from giant anteaters to emperor penguins vying for your attention. Wander through different ecosystems and discover how these curious creatures live in the wild.

See baby orangutans swinging through the trees and head to the underwater viewing area to watch Asian elephants swimming. Budding naturalists will love meeting the petting zoo residents too.

6 – Take in a show at Zürich Opera House

Zürich Opera House, Switzerland

The grandiose Opernhaus Zürich is renowned for its showstopping international performances. Whether you’re into Mozart or Shakespeare, spending an evening here is one of the top cultural things to do in Zürich.

The Neoclassical building is stunning inside and out – the Rococo Revival Hall is a must-see. Tours of the interior are available if you don’t have time for a concert.

7 – Enjoy the fresh air in Park Platzspitz

Park Platzspitz, Zurich

The centrally located Park Platzspitz is one of Zürich’s oldest green spaces. Flanked by two rivers and the National Museum, this historical park is an oasis of calm in the heart of the city.

It’s a great place for a picnic or a stroll in the sun. If you’re lucky there might be a local band playing in the outdoor pavilion.

8 – Hike up Uetliberg Mountain

Uetliberg Mountain, Zurich

Look up from the city and you’ll see the mighty Uetliberg Mountain, keeping watch over Zürich down below. Several easy hiking trails wind their way up to the summit, where walkers are rewarded with panoramic views of red rooftops and the lake.

It’s a great place for mountain biking too, and during winter many of the pathways are transformed into sledding runs.

Directions in Google Maps

9 – Indulge in some retail therapy at ShopVille-Zürich

ShopVille Zürich, Switzerland

Beneath the city’s main train station, a hidden underground world of shopping awaits. ShopVille-Zürich boasts over 180 stores, with everything from fashion to jewelry tempting out your purse.

Keep your energy levels topped up at one of Hauptbahnhof’s restaurants or takeaways, then treat yourself to a new look at the hair salon.

10 – Admire modern art at Kunsthaus Zürich

Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland

The Kunsthaus Zürich is home to a staggering collection of contemporary Western artwork, although some pieces date back to the 13th century. There are over 4,000 paintings and sculptures here, including pieces by Munch and Picasso.

See if you can spot Monet’s waterlilies and get your head around Warhol’s pop art exhibition. From watercolor to concrete, all the major styles are represented here.

11 – Take in the city views from Lindenhofplatz

Lindenhofplatz, Zurich

This serene urban park in the heart of the old city has some of the best panoramas in town. With views on all sides, it’s a great place to get your bearings.

Spend time in the historical Lindenhofplatz, taking photos of the city rooftops down below. Can you identify the Grossmünster Church, City Hall, and the Limmat River from your lofty perch?

Directions in Google Maps

12 – Climb the tower at Grossmünster

Grossmünster, Zurich

Paying your respects at the Grossmünster is one of the iconic things to do in Zürich. This Romanesque-style Protestant church is a top city landmark, built on the graves of Zürich’s patron saints.

Join a guided tour to learn about the trials and tribulations of this ancient church through the ages. Then climb the tower for a bird’s-eye view of the city and lake.

13 – Check out the stained-glass windows in Fraumünster Church

Fraumünster Church, Zurich

If there’s one thing that Zürich does well, it’s ancient churches. Tucked away in the Old Town, Fraumünster is a 13th-century Gothic cathedral that will whisk you off into the days of yore.

Tiptoe around this revered sanctuary and gaze at the vivid stained-glass windows by Giacometti and Chagall. Don’t forget to explore the cloisters and nave before you go.

14 – Ascend Felsenegg by cable car

Felsenegg tours

Want a fantastic city panorama without breaking into a sweat? Then hop on the Adliswil-Felsenegg cable car and you’ll be standing on the mountaintop in minutes.

This is one of the best overlooks in the Albis hill chain, and the only one with an aerial tram attached! There are hiking trails and a restaurant to enjoy at the summit if you want to linger.

15 – Visit Zurich on a bike tour

bike tours in Zurich

Get on your bike and explore the sights of Zürich like a local. A stop at the Landesmuseum beside the Limmat River will be a real highlight of your tour.

This National Museum tells the cultural story of Switzerland through the ages with exhibitions and workshops. The building is a sight to behold too – it looks like a fairytale castle!

16 – Solve puzzles on a scavenger hunt

scavenger games in Zurich

Fancy yourself a bit of a super sleuth? Then put your detective skills to the test on a quest around the streets of Zürich.

Follow in the footsteps of Einstein, one of the smartest minds to live in the city. You’ll be solving riddles and unlocking clues at key landmarks to reveal secret histories along the way. Do you have what it takes?

17 – Soar over Zürich on an airplane tour

airplane tours in Zurich

Take to the skies and see the city from a new perspective as you fly high above the mountains, valleys, and rooftops. Spot major landmarks and feel the adrenaline as you glide through the clouds.

Not keen on heights? Then get behind the controls of a flight simulator and discover what it feels like to fly a plane without leaving the ground.

18 – Smell the roses in Zürich Botanical Garden

Zürich Botanical Garden, Switzerland

Travel to all corners of the globe as you wander through Zürich Botanical Garden. You’ll come across plants from far-flung exotic shores, as well as species native to Switzerland.

This green oasis is home to over 9000 plant varieties, as well as an arboretum. Breathe in the sweet scent of alpine roses and marvel at tropical climbers in the futuristic greenhouse domes.

19 – Take a day trip to Lucerne

Lucerne day trips from Zurich

Sitting in the shadows of snow-capped mountains on the shores of one of Switzerland’s largest lakes, Lucerne makes a great day trip from Zürich.

Head straight for the Old Town for your fill of medieval architecture and walk across the ancient Chapel Bridge. Then enjoy a relaxing boat ride on Lake Lucerne for some of the best mountain panoramas in the country.

Read more about the best day trips from Zurich.

20 – Fly high on a paragliding adventure

paragliding in Zurich

One of the most exhilarating things to do in Zürich is to go paragliding. Don’t worry if it’s your first time, you’ll be flying tandem with your expert instructor.

Glide high over meadows carpeted with flowers, using the mountain thermals to keep you aloft. Feeling brave? Then take the controls and have a go at steering along the lush green valleys far below.

21 – Enjoy a street art tour

street art tours in Zurich

Uncover a hidden side to Zürich as you visit off-the-beaten-track neighborhoods that have been brought to life by art. Few visitors get to see the city in this light, but it’s an experience that will stay with you a long time.

You’ll be exploring urban landscapes north of the railroad tracks and discovering underground artworks that tell a story of the hidden city.

22 – Stand on the summit of Mount Titlis

Mount Titlis day trips from Zurich

Searching for that quintessential alpine experience? Then head to Engelberg and climb aboard the revolving cable car to conquer Mount Titlis in just a few minutes.

Hit the hiking trails and go mountain biking in summer, or explore ice caves and try cross-country skiing in winter. Intrepid visitors can ride the Ice Flyer and get close up to frozen crevasses.

23 – See trophies at the FIFA World Football Museum

FIFA World Football Museum, Zurich

This one’s for the football fans who want to find out more about the history of their favorite game. The FIFA World Football Museum takes you on a journey through time, revealing how the sport became a global phenomenon.

Exhibitions and audio-visual experiences all lead up to the most magical moment of all – clapping eyes on the World Cup trophy!

24 – Enjoy the old-world charm in Niederdorf

Niederdorf, Zurich

Crammed with medieval squares and cobbled streets, the Niederdorf neighborhood is the beating heart of Zürich’s Old Town. This is where you’ll find the Grossmünster and the riverside promenade – perfect for a sunny afternoon stroll.

Pop into the Musée Visionnaire to see some of the finest graffiti in Europe. Then browse the luxury boutiques and dine on Swiss delicacies in the traditional restaurants.

Directions in Google Maps

25 – Venture up to Jungfraujoch by cog train

Jungfraujoch day trips from Zurich

Connecting two of Switzerland’s most famous peaks – the Jungfrau and the Mönch – Jungfraujoch is one of the best viewpoints in the Bernese Alps.

Travel by train up to Europe’s highest railway station, journeying through a tunnel on the Eiger North Face.

For something extra special, take a helicopter tour and hover over the glaciers that surround this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

26 – Go on a hot air balloon ride

hot air balloon rides in Zurich

There’s something special about gliding silently through the sky, with just the roar of the burner up above. One of the most relaxing things to do in Zürich, taking a hot air balloon ride will be the highlight of your vacation. Literally!

You’ll float above the countryside, with dramatic views of Zürich, the lake, and even the Alps. Don’t drop your camera!

27 – Visit the Church of St. Peter

Church of St. Peter, Zurich

This national monument is one of Zürich’s oldest churches, famed for having the biggest clock face in Europe. Measuring 8.7 meters across, the clock can be seen right across the city!

You’ll stumble upon St. Peter’s Church as you explore the Old Town, so do take a moment to look inside. The 9th-century foundation walls can still be seen beneath the chancel.

28 – Embrace the peace at the Chinese Garden

Chinese Garden, Zurich

Enjoy a few moments of tranquility away from the city bustle as you wander through the Chinese Garden. Situated right beside Lake Zürich, this haven of calm will delight with its ponds, pavilions, and miniature palace.

Officially classified as a temple garden, the grounds here are one of the best examples of Eastern landscape design outside China.

29 – Meet dinosaurs at the Zoological Museum

Zoological Museum, Zurich

Have you ever heard a whale sing? The Zürich Zoological Museum is home to a vast menagerie of species, many of which you can listen to, and even stroke!

Exploring this unusual museum is a treat for all budding naturalists. Listen to insects buzzing in your headphones, gawp at giant woolly mammoths, and get hands-on with the fur of a wild boar.

30 – Feel the spray on your face at Rhine Falls

Rhine Falls day trips from Zurich

Travel north through vineyard-cloaked hills to the mighty Rhine Falls – one of Europe’s biggest waterfalls. A glass elevator takes you right to the top where a viewing platform puts you in the heart of the action.

In the summer you can take a boat ride up close to the thundering cascade and feel the power of nature first-hand.

31 – Browse unusual art at Museum Rietberg

Museum Rietberg, Zurich

Visit Museum Rietberg and discover a rich tapestry of artworks hailing from Asia, Africa and Oceania. This is the third-largest museum in Zürich with over 23,000 exhibits, so make sure you allow plenty of time.

From Japanese Manga to prehistoric rock paintings, the eclectic exhibitions will put your mind into overdrive. Don’t miss the Himalayan Buddhist art or the Cameroon helmet masks.

32 – Attend a gig at Hallenstadion

Hallenstadion, Zurich

Enjoying a night out at the Hallenstadion is one of the most epic things to do in Zürich. Switzerland’s largest stadium has sports fixtures, shows and musical performances throughout the year.

Feel the rush of air as hockey players slice through the ice, or boogie along to iconic tunes at A-list pop concerts. Did you know Tina Turner and the Rolling Stones have played here?

33 – Enjoy a day trip to Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein day trips from Zurich

This tiny principality nestled between Switzerland and Austria makes for a fascinating day trip from Zürich. Famous for its medieval castles, quaint villages and mountain vistas, Liechtenstein is one of the smallest countries in Europe.

You’ll travel through tranquil valleys beside alpine lakes on your hunt for waterfalls and wildlife. Stop in the capital, Vaduz, to explore the charming streets and Gothic architecture.

34 – Sample Switzerland’s best cheese

cheese tastings in Zurich

Sink your teeth into mellow tranches of yellow cheese and taste the very essence of Switzerland in the creamy deliciousness. When it comes to cheese making, this country knows its stuff!

You’ll learn how to make cheese wheels at the local factory – can you guess the secret ingredients? Then head down to the ancient cheese cellar and savor the smell, before tucking into some samples.

35 – Take photos of charming Stein am Rhein

Stein am Rhein day trips from Zurich

Want to see some of those quintessential half-timber medieval houses? Then head to the quaint town of Stein am Rhein and fill your boots. The architecture here is out of this world, with colorfully painted facades lining sleepy squares.

Pop into St. George’s Abbey and museum, or walk up to the 13th-century Hohenklingen Castle built high above the tiny town.

36 – Conquer the mighty Mount Rigi

Mt Rigi day trips from Zurich

Another Swiss mountain of note, Mount Rigi is unusual as it’s almost completely surrounded by water. Stroll through the valleys and forests, listening to the rustic chime of cowbells jingling across the meadows.

Step on board the cogwheel train or cable car, and soar into the clouds for views of Lake Lucerne and the Alps. You can even see Germany on a fine day!

37 – Tour the monastery at Engelberg

Engelberg day trips from Zurich

The remote mountain village of Engelberg grew up around a medieval monastery, and there are still monks living here today.

Take a tour of the abbey for an insight into monastery life and listen to recitals on summer evenings. Then ride the gondola up Mount Titlis for breathtaking views of Engelberg — it’s one of the most exhilarating things to do in Zürich.

38 – Get active in Interlaken

Interlaken day trips from Zurich

Interlaken is the unofficial outdoor capital of Switzerland, famed for its adventurous activities besides the emerald waters of Lake Thun. After meandering through the cobbled streets admiring old wooden houses, grab a slice of the action in the surrounding valleys.

Get the heart pumping on a rafting adventure or plunge down ravines on a canyoning tour. Hiking, sailing and paragliding are also on the cards.

39 – Go hiking in Grindelwald

Grindelwald day trips from Zurich

Tucked away in the heart of the Bernese Oberland, the pretty little village of Grindelwald is surrounded by lofty peaks and secret lakes.

Famed for its mountaineering heritage, today this alpine settlement is home to one of the most staggering trail networks in the country. Harness your inner Heidi and explore the slopes beneath the watchful eye of the Eiger. Braids and ribbons are optional.

40 – Cruise on the River Limmat

Limmat River, Zurich

The Limmat River flows from Lake Zürich through the center of the historical Old Town. See the city in a new light from the water, as you enjoy a leisurely boat trip past some of the most beautiful waterfront landmarks.

Prefer to keep your feet on dry land? Then stroll along Limmatquai – a picturesque street following the eastern riverbank through the ancient quarter.

41 – Explore historic Bern

Bern day trips from Zurich

Delve deep into the past as you explore Switzerland’s 12th-century capital. Bern is packed with narrow streets, historic towers and charming squares, with fabulous shopping to be had in the famous arcades.

For epic aerial views, head up the cathedral tower, and, to rub shoulders with politicians, have a nosy around the Houses of Parliament. If museums are your thing, you’ll love the Albert Einstein House.

42 – Journey back in time at Appenzell

Appenzell day trips from Zurich

The pedestrianized center of Appenzell makes this idyllic mountain village the perfect place for whiling away an afternoon. Here you’ll find all the timber houses you could wish for, as well as tempting bakeries, cultural museums and independent boutiques.

Surrounded by rolling hills, this pretty settlement makes a great base for hiking, with cable cars to viewpoints being the icing on the cake.

43 – Lick your lips at Lindt Chocolate Factory

chocolate tastings in Zurich

One of the yummiest things to do in Zürich is to tour the Lindt Chocolate Factory. You’ve eaten the bunnies at Easter and the reindeer at Christmas, so now it’s time to see where they come from.

Head behind the scenes on an interactive journey, as you discover the bean-to-bar story. Then meet the master chocolatiers for some serious tasting.

44 – Ascend the fabled Mount Pilatus

Mount Pilatus day trips from Zurich

Surround yourself with legends of giants and dragons, as you enter the mystical world of Mount Pilatus. This mountain massif in central Switzerland towers above the clouds, keeping watch over the valleys below.

Ride the cable car up to the top – on a clear day – you can see 73 peaks from the summit. Go hiking or mountaineering in summer, and tobogganing in winter.

45 – Ride the Dolderbahn cog train

Dolderbahn, Zurich

This 1.3-kilometer railway track runs right through the center of Zürich. Hop on board the Dolderbahn cogwheel train for a short ride up the Adlisberg mountain, and superb panoramic views across the city and lake.

Take photos of the magnificent houses as you journey through the Hottingen district before you ascend the forested hillside. It takes just six minutes to reach the top!

Directions in Google Maps

46 – Go on a shopping spree at Glattzentrum

Glattzentrum, Zurich

Indulge in some retail therapy at the most popular shopping center in the country. There are over 90 shops to browse at the Einkaufszentrum Glatt, with enough department stores and independent boutiques to keep you busy for hours.

Come here to discover traditional Swiss retailers, as well as international brands. Then rest your weary legs over lunch at one of the specialty restaurants.

47 – Spend time at the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum

Beyer Clock and Watch Museum, Zurich

Fancy doing something different? Then get yourself down to the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum and go on a journey through time – quite literally!

Tour the hidden basement and experience time like never before. See if you can figure out how to use ancient shadow sticks and water clocks, and admire the hourglasses and sundials that pre-date our modern-day watches.

48 – Travel on the historic Funicular Rigiblick

Funicular Rigiblick, Zurich

Enjoy a bit of old-world travel on board a funicular cable car in the northeast of Zürich. One of the first automated cable car routes in Switzerland, the Funicular Rigiblick is a must for all train enthusiasts.

The carriage glides up the mountainside from Seilbahn Rigiblick to the upper station on Freudenbergstrasse. Alight to enjoy a picnic while soaking up the city views.

Directions in Google Maps

49 – Enjoy a wander through Bellevue Square

Bellevue Square, Zurich

This resplendent town square in the heart of Zürich is hard to miss as you explore the historic center. Situated right in front of the Opera House, Bellevueplatz lives up to its name with majestic buildings on three sides.

Stop for coffee and cake in one of the delightful terrace cafes, and enjoy views out over the Limmat River.

Directions in Google Maps

50 – View the cosmos from Urania Observatory

Urania Observatory, Zurich

Searching for unique things to do in Zürich? The historic Urania Observatory ticks all the boxes when it comes to seeing a different side of the city.

Reach for the stars as you gaze skywards through a giant telescope at the top of the round tower. You’ll see moon craters up close and feel like you can almost touch the rings of Jupiter.

51 – Check out Heureka sculpture at Zürichhorn

Zürichhorn, Zurich

Want a break from sightseeing? Head down to Zürichhorn and discover a hidden green oasis. Once home to a monastery and silk factory, today this quayside is a tranquil landscaped park with enviable vistas of the lake.

Feeling adventurous? Then jump into the calm waters for a wild swim before drying off in the sun with an alfresco lunch on the shore.

Directions in Google Maps

52 – Discover historical toys at Zürcher Spielzeugmuseum

Zürcher Spielzeugmuseum, Zurich

Release your inner child as you explore the treasures on display at the Zürcher Spielzeugmuseum. This quirky collection of European toys dates back to the 18th century, giving a glimpse of life in bygone eras.

Check out the miniature model trains and antique games, and try not to be creeped out by the lifelike porcelain dolls watching your every move!

53 – Go swimming at Flussbad Oberer Letten

Flussbad Oberer Letten, Zurich

Outdoor bathing is all the rage, and there’s nothing like diving into the refreshing waters of the Flussbad Oberer Letten on a hot summer day.

This open-air pool is the most popular riverside swimming spot in Zürich. So, arrive early, bag a sun lounger on the terrace, and settle in for the day. Feeling peckish? Then pop to the bar for some snacks.

Directions in Google Maps

54 – Watch a football game at Stadion Letzigrund

Stadion Letzigrund, Zurich

Calling all sports fans. This multi-purpose stadium is home to two Swiss League football teams, and there are matches held throughout the year.

Cheer on the players as they work their magic on the pitch and celebrate afterward with a meal in the Oval Restaurant. As evening falls, the Stadion Letzigrund transforms into a concert venue, hosting international stars and national bands.

55 – Eat at the best restaurants and bars

best restaurants and bars in Zurich

Zürich isn’t short of top-notch restaurants and bars, so you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to dining out.

Soak up the grand café vibe at Kronenhalle, and feast on bowls of goulash and apple pie. For a dash of elegance, try Maison Manesse where beef fillet tartare and creative desserts grace the menu.

Wash it all down with cocktails at the traditional Old Crow bar.

Well, folks, that’s a wrap! We hope you’ve enjoyed discovering all these fun and quirky things to do in Zürich. You might just have to return for another visit to fit everything in.

Don’t forget to book your Zürich hotels well in advance so you can search for the best deals online. Arriving by plane? Then consider organizing your airport transfers before your trip for hassle-free transfers.

Happy travels!