Holidays in Zürich - Switzerland
A stylish city with the most charming Old Town
Zürich is one of the main gateways into Switzerland, and it is well worth spending a day or two in this unique city before travelling on to discover the rest of Switzerland. The city enjoys a lovely location on the Limmat river, close to Lake Zürich, and has a number of green spaces and parks to enjoy. It offers wonderful restaurants and shops, over 50 museums and more than 100 galleries. As a major city, numerous international sporting events and festivals are held here and the nightlife is certainly lively.
Hotels in ZüRICH
We have a range of 3, 4 and 5 star hotels in Zürich for stays of one night or longer which can be added to any of your arrangements throughout Switzerland.
Please call 0800 619 1200 for details and availability.
The Heart of the Old Town
The Lindenhof is a great place from which to enjoy glorious views of the Old Town, Grossmünster Church, Town Hall and the Limmat river. A Roman fort stood here in the 4th century and in 1798 it was the setting for the oath sealing the Helvetic Constitution. Today it is a haven of tranquility. Schipfe is another historic quarter - in the 16th century the area was the hub of boatbuilding and silk weaving. Today, Schipfe continues its artisan heritage, thanks to local craftspeople in their boutiques and workshops. It is perfect for shopping for quality handmade goods and strolling along the river. Augustinergasse is a beautifully preserved narrow street worth visiting to see the old buildings with their colourful oriel windows, while the atmospheric Niederdorf quarter is filled with shops, restaurants and bars. The Rindmarkt is also here, a medieval lane with the last gas-powered street lamps in Zürich.
Historical Churches and Buildings
There are many fascinating churches to visit here. St. Peter’s is a focal point and the oldest church in Zürich, dating from the 9th century. The church boasts the largest clock face in Europe, with a circumference of 28.5 feet. The 13th century Fraumünster is certainly worth a visit for its romanesque choir and stunning stained glass windows, including those designed by Marc Chagall (in the choir stalls and the beautiful rose window in the southern transept). The distinctive Grossmünster was the base for the first Reformation preachers in the 16th century. Don't miss the romanesque crypt, the stained glass windows and the 20th century bronze doors. Other buildings of note include the 1694 Town Hall - a baroque building jutting out onto the Limmat - and the Einsiedeln Monastery with its moving choral performance daily at 4.30pm.
Museums and art
Take a tour through Switzerland's history! Housed in a beautiful castle-like building, the Swiss National Museum sets out to discover how past generations lived by examining everyday objects dating from pre-historic times to the recent past. The Kunsthaus is Zürich's fine art museum featuring a large collection from the middle ages through to Alberto Giacometti, Munch, Monet, Van Gogh and Chagall. Rodin's seven metre high 'Gates of Hell' bronze door makes for a grand first impression. There is free entry on Wednesdays. The Swiss artist Bruno Weber has created a fabulous Sculpture Park, full of huge, colourful animals and fairytale creatures which you can clamber over, walk through and sit on! You can also find more Weber sculpture on top of the Uetliberg mountain.
SHOPPING, EATING AND DRINKING
Bahnhofstrasse connects the main station to Lake Zürich and is packed with 1.4 kilometres of shopping heaven (including the fabulous food hall at Jelmoli department store). The more exclusive shops are to be found nearest the lake. Niederdorf has original boutiques and locally made crafts. There are also interesting fleamarkets at Bürkliplatz and Rosenhof.
Zürich is vibrant, with a huge number of restaurants and bars to choose from. The city caters for all tastes from international cuisine to regional specialities such as veal with a creamy mushroom sauce. For a sweet treat, try Café Sprüngli which has been serving coffee and cake since 1836. The West Zürich quarter has the liveliest bars.
CITY TOUR AND BOAT CRUISES
This is a very popular tour which starts on a heritage tram, taking in the highlights of this fascinating city with English commentary on the headphones. The city part of the tour finishes at Bürkliplatz harbour, where you board your boat for a 1½ hour cruise on Lake Zürich. You will cruise past charming lakeside villages and picturesque towns nestling beside the region's vineyards and orchards. You'll see the city from a completely different perspective as well as experiencing wonderfully scenic views of the Alps. The cruise will bring you back to Bürkliplatz, not far from Bahnhofstrasse and the Old Town. The city also offers river cruises - try boarding one of the riverboats at the National Museum for an enjoyable cruise along the River Limmat.
The famous spa town of Baden is just 15 minutes by rail from Zürich and well worth a visit. The thermal waters which gush from 18 natural springs and reach up to 47ºC mean that the town has been a haven for recuperation and relaxation since Roman times. Today, visitors can take the waters at the public ThermalBaden, or try the numerous hotel-based spas and wellness facilities. For a great view of the charming Old Town and the historical bridges over the river, head for the hilltop castle ruins.
Uetliberg is Zürich's local mountain and offers panoramic views over the city, the lake and towards the Alps. There is a regular train from the city's main station to Uetliberg station and then it is just a ten minute walk to the summit. Walkers who prefer to tackle the ascent on foot can try the Denzlerweg, which leads straight up from Albisguetli tram stop to the summit. The 'Planet Trail' is a 2 hour woodland walk from Uetliberg to Felsenegg that takes you past models of the planets in our solar system and also boasts wonderful lake views.
A rail journey of less than an hour will bring you from Zürich to Schaffhausen, then it's just a short bus ride to one of the most spectacular sights in Switzerland. The Rhine Falls is the largest waterfall in Europe. You will be richly rewarded by this natural wonder, which is at its most powerful in June/July. Brave visitors can stand on platforms which jut out over the Rhine, virtually in the middle of the falls, and experience the power of the water. The nearby castles of Laufen and Worth can also be reached by boat from here.
Two and multi centre holidays
Why not consider a two centre holiday, combining the bustle of Zürich with a stay in a picturesque lakes and mountains resort such as Weggis or Brunnen. Or try a multi centre holiday by following Zürich with a few days in historic Lucerne, then enjoying a special journey on the scenic Gotthard Panorama Express to Lugano for a stay near the Italian border.
Please call us on 0800 619 1200 to arrange an itinerary tailor made to your requirements.
The Zürich Card
Explore the city with the great value Zürich Card
The ZürichCARD offers unlimited 2nd class travel by tram, bus, rail, boat and cable car throughout the city of Zürich and its surrounding area. There is also free entrance to most of Zürich's museums as well as a 10% discount at selected Zürich shops and restaurants.
Adult price: 24 hours 24Sfrs, 72 hours 48Sfrs.
The card is available from the airport, railway stations and tourist bureaux around the city.