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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Switzerland > Zurich

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Things to see in Zurich

Tourist Offices

Zürich Tourismus

Address: Central, Zurich Main Railway Station, Zurich, 8001
Telephone: +41 44 215 4000.
Opening times:

Mon-Sat 0830-1230, Sun 0830-1830 (May-Oct); Mon-Sat 0830-1900, Sun 0900-1800 (Nov-Apr).

Website: http://www.zuerich.com

Book guided city walks, bus tours and boat cruises at the main tourist office, which is conveniently located in the main train station.

Tourist passes

The ZürichCARD, available for 24 or 72 hours, offers unlimited travel within the Zurich canton, free admission to over 40 museums, reduced admission to the zoo and a complimentary welcome drink at over 20 restaurants. You can buy the cards at train stations, many hotels and some of the main VBZ ticket offices around town. There is a full downloadable guide to the ZürichCARD at www.zuerich.com.

Attractions

Uetliberg

At 871m (2,858 ft), Zurich’s nearest mini-mountain, the Uetliberg, is where the city’s residents go to get away from it all. Its peak is easily accessible by train from Zurich main station, on Europe’s steepest normal-gauge railway, but more energetic visitors may prefer to make the hour’s walk up to the summit. The mountain offers impressive views of the city and Lake Zurich, and there are plenty of outdoor activities available too, including mountain biking, paragliding and hiking as well as sledding in winter. In spring, the mountain blooms with wild flowers, while in autumn the summit rises above the fog that often blankets the city below. There are also several restaurants offering Swiss specialities.

Address: Uetliberg, , Zurich, 8143
Telephone: +41 44 457 6666.
Opening times:

Daily, year-round

Website: http://www.uetliberg.ch
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Grossmünster

The twin towers of this attractive cathedral have become something of a symbol for the city, while the building itself comprises a vast set of design influences, from an 11th-century crypt to a stained glass window by avant-garde artist Sigmar Polke. The cathedral played an integral role in the Protestant Reformation, and the movement's legacy accounts for the relatively unostentatious interior. Recent archaeological discoveries suggest the existence of a Roman cemetery underneath the church. There are also remains of a Romanesque cloister, 12th-century statuary and a stained glass work in the choir by Augusto Giacometti (Alberto's cousin). The Karlsturm tower has 187 steps; there is no lift.

Address: Old Town, Grossmünsterplatz, Zurich, 8001
Telephone: +41 44 250 6650.
Opening times:

Daily 1000-1800 (Mar-Oct); daily 1000-1700 (Nov-Feb). Tower: Mon-Sat 1000-1700, Sun 1230-1730 (Mar-Oct); Mon-Fri 1000- 1630, Sun 1230-1630 (Nov-Feb).

Website: http://www.grossmuenster.ch
Admission Fees:

Yes, for the tower

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Museum Rietberg

The collection of the Rietberg Museum of Non-European Art is fully dedicated to non-European cultures and stands as one of the city’s most absorbing attractions. The museum is housed within two buildings dating from the 1850s, both of which are set within the centrally located Rieterpark. The Villa Wesendonck has special exhibitions in addition to its collection of Indian, Chinese and African art (the core of which is the sculpture collection donated by Baron Eduard von der Heydt), while the Park-Villa Rieter has a diverse display of paintings from China, Japan and India. The latter also holds occasional world music concerts.

Address: Enge, Gablerstrasse 15, Zurich, 8002
Telephone: +41 44 415 3131.
Opening times:

Tues, Fri and Sat 1000-1700, Wed-Thurs 1000-2000, Sun 1000-1800.

Website: http://www.rietberg.ch
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Fraumünster

Although this beautiful church dates from the ninth century (when it started life as a Benedictine abbey), it is often the five 20th-century stained-glass windows in the choir by Marc Chagall (1970) that attract visitors – the works are best seen in the morning light. The current church dates from the 13th century, although the undercroft contains the original abbey crypt. The elegant spire dates from 1732, although the rest of the church is predominantly gothic. The site was originally endowed by Charlemagne's grandson, and later became the church of the Zurich Noblewomen's Convent. The stained-glass windows in the north transept are by Alberto Giacometti's cousin, Augusto.

Address: Old Town, Münsterhof 2, Zurich, 8001
Telephone: +41 44 211 4100.
Opening times:

Daily 1000-1800 (Mar-Oct); 1000-1700 (Nov-Febr).

Website: http://www.fraumuenster.ch
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Schweizerisches Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum)

The Swiss National Museum lies on a landscaped triangle of parkland between the Hauptbahnhof and the Limmat and Sihl rivers, and has fulfilled the role of the nation's attic for over a century. The complex actually comprises of three separate museums – the National Museum Zurich, the Castle of Pragins and the Forum of Swiss History Schwyz. Exhibits cover a solid range of different subjects relating to Swiss culture, history, religion and society. It is not only paintings and sculptures but also weapons, flags, watches, clocks, tools, toys and Roman-era objects.

Address: Central, Museumstrasse 2, Zurich, 8021
Telephone: +41 44 218 6511.
Opening times:

Tues-Wed and Fri-Sun 1000-1700, Thurs 1000-1900.

Website: http://www.nationalmuseum.ch
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Kunsthaus Zürich (Zurich Art Gallery)

This is the city's most important fine art gallery, boasting a collection of paintings and sculptures by Swiss and international masters, covering most periods from medieval times but focusing largely on the 19th and 20th centuries. Two of Monet's ‘Water Lilies’ paintings and the largest collection of Edvard Munch's works outside of Norway can be found here, as well as expressionist pieces by Kokoschka, Beckmann and Corinth. Pieces by the Dadaists (who, of course, came into being in Zurich) and the world's most important collection of work by Alberto Giacometti are highlights. The museum also stages a succession of interesting temporary exhibitions. Tours are available in English if reserved beforehand.

Address: Old Town, Heimplatz 1, Zurich, 8001
Telephone: +41 44 253 8484.
Opening times:

Tues, Fri-Sun 1000-1800, Wed-Thu 1000-2000.

Website: http://www.kunsthaus.ch
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Botanischer Garten (Botanical Gardens)

Zurich University's Botanical Gardens, notable for their large, igloo-like biodomes, make for a wonderful place to get away from it all. Some 9,000 plant species over a 53,000 sq m (173 885 sq ft) area make up the university's botanical collection, representing a number of different ecosystems from tropical rainforests to alpine meadow flowers. Most of the plants cultivated are wild species, which sets it apart from the standard traditions of central European botany. Given the diversity of the species on show, there’s always something in flower, bearing fruit or displaying richly coloured leaves, making this an attractive outing at any time of year. Don’t miss the frog pond, either.

Address: University, Zollikerstrasse 107, Zurich, 8008
Telephone: +41 44 634 8461.
Opening times:

Mon-Fri 0700-1900, Sat and Sun 0800-1800 (Mar-Sep); Mon-Fri 0800-1800, Sat and Sun 0800-1700 (Oct-Feb).

Website: http://www.bg.uzh.ch/de.html
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Zoo Zürich

The open, park-like enclosures of Zurich Zoo house some 1,500 animals in areas that replicate the animals' natural environments. Some of the zoo's most popular residents, particularly apes, seals and penguins, draw crowds during feeding times, while its rarer inhabitants include snow leopards and Andean bears. One particular complex duplicates Madagascar's Masoala rainforest, while a newly opened elephant park aims to recreate the conditions its residents would find in the wild. The zoo prides itself on its breeding programme, and at any one time there are pups and young animals to observe, varying from anteaters to orangutans. There are also several restaurants at the zoo.

Address: Chlosterli, Zürichbergstrasse 221, Zurich, 8044
Telephone: +41 44 254 2505.
Opening times:

Daily 0900-1800 (Mar-Oct); daily 0900-1700 (Nov-Feb).

Website: http://www.zoo.ch
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Bruno Weber Sculpture Park

This mythical sculpture park in Dietikon, some 40 minutes outside of Zurich, was created by late Swiss artist and architect Bruno Weber in the grounds of his home. A walk through the gardens uncovers giant snakes, birds, spiders and fantasy creatures such as dragons and unicorns, all created out of colourful mosaics. The style is not unlike Catalan artist Gaudí, whom Weber was said to consider his spiritual father’. Popular with families and school groups, the park also makes for a great day trip from Zurich for adults with a vivid imagination and a love of fantastic realism.

Address: Dietikon, Zur Weinrebe, Dietikon, 8953
Telephone: +41 44 740 0271.
Opening times:

Weds and Sat-Sun 1100-1800 (Apr-Oct).

Website: http://www.brunoweberpark.ch
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Zürcher Spielzeugmuseum (Zurich Toy Museum)

This quirky little museum houses a colourful assortment of toys from the 18th to 20th centuries, but should be seen as far more than just a collection of playthings. The exhibits, ranging from railway sets and dolls to tin figurines and board games, give valuable insight into the fashions, domestic life and industry of the periods during which they were created, while a series of special exhibitions unearth additional treasures to complement the permanent collection. The venue’s location in the heart of the Old Town gives it a suitably historical feel. Opening hours are limited though, so time your visit in advance.

Address: Old Town, Fortunagasse 15, Zurich, 8001
Telephone: +41 44 211 9305.
Opening times:

Mon-Fri 1400-1700, Sat 1300-1600.

Website: http://www.zuercher-spielzeugmuseum.ch
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst (Museum of Contemporary Art)

In the 1950s, Gottlieg Duttweiler (the founder of ubiquitous Swiss supermarket Migros), started collecting modern art. Set up in 1996, this museum is devoted to exhibiting his collection and building upon it. There are core works by Swiss and German contemporary artists, many from the 1990s. These stand alongside spaces dedicated to rotating exhibitions and special installations. There are both solo and group exhibitions, and the museum grants free admission on Thursday evenings from 1700 onwards. It’s worth a visit for the building alone – located in the regenerated Escher-Wyss area in Zurich West, the museum is housed in a former Löwenbrau brewery.

Address: Escher-Wyss, Limmatstrasse 270, Zurich, 8005
Telephone: +41 44 277 2050.
Opening times:

Tues-Wed and Fri 1100-1800, Thurs 1100-2000, Sat-Sun 1000-1700.

Website: http://www.migrosmuseum.ch
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No