Whether you are travelling to Switzerland for skiing, an urban getaway or a spa holiday, Zurich provides a window into the country’s wonders. A wealth of historical buildings, rustic restaurants and first-class shopping awaits visitors who are looking for the finer things in life.
Coming from the hectic streets of Cape Town, Zurich may, at first glance, appear a sedate, ordered kind of city. Yet beneath the financial centre’s regimented exterior lies an energy all of its own: a city whose Bohemian bars and cafés have hosted great thinkers throughout the ages, and whose galleries and museums celebrate a rich past and a vibrant present. Enjoy some of that energy in the world-class Kunsthaus art gallery, or atop the spires of the historic Grossmünster cathedral.
Zurich’s natural surroundings also leave little to be desired. Its many hills offer gorgeous views of the city, from the central Lindenhof Park or up the Üetliberg Mountain. For a relaxing afternoon, head out on a lazy lake cruise to take in the sights, or just wander through the cobbled streets of the Altstadt and Niederdorf quarters.
Book your SWISS flight from Cape Town to Zurich today and enjoy life’s little pleasures.
When is the best time to visit Zurich?
Zurich is an excellent year-round destination, with attractions for every season. Summer is ideal for swimming in the riverside badis and enjoying a drink in open-air bars, while a winter visit may see you sipping mulled wine at a Christmas market or sledding down the Üetliberg Mountain. If you are planning to combine your visit to Zurich with a skiing holiday in the mountains to the south, remember that skiing season usually lasts from November to April.
What currency is used in Switzerland?
Switzerland uses the Swiss franc, which is commonly abbreviated SFr. or CHF. You can exchange your currency before you leave or at the airport on arrival, or you can withdraw local currency from ATMs once you arrive - major credit cards are also accepted for most purchases. Swiss prices, and Zurich prices in particular, are known to be on the high side, so be sure to plan ahead.
What is the best way to get around Zurich?
Zürchers are rightfully proud of their world-class transit network, with trams, trains and buses serving the entire city. This includes a train link to the airport, making public transit the best way to head into the city once your flight lands. If you expect to be doing any kind of regular travel around the city, the Zürich Card is an excellent investment, providing unlimited transit use for three days and reduced or free admission to a number of attractions. For a more active experience, the pedestrianized streets of the Old Town are excellent for walking, while the Züri Rollt program offers free bicycle hire throughout the city.
Attractions of Zurich: Discover the energy
From the moment you arrive in the city, you’ll find yourself in the middle of a historic setting with modern, vibrant energy. As one of the cultural capitals of Switzerland, Zurich has been home to renowned thinkers, artists and cultural movements, the results of which are on display in its galleries, museums and theatres. From the dozens of galleries of the Swiss National Museum, encompassing thousands of years of history, to the works that grace the stage of the Zurich Opera House, there is always something more to discover in Zurich.
Zurich’s top tourist attractions
- Kunsthaus (Art Gallery)
- Design Museum (Museum für Gestaltung)
- FIFA Museum
- Cabaret Voltaire
- Beyer Clock and Watch Museum
Visit Zurich’s beautiful cathedrals
In addition to these cultural attractions, simply strolling through the city centre is a treat in itself. Two cathedrals, the Grossmünster and the Fraumünster, face one another on either side of the Limmat River. The Fraumünster boasts an exquisite 20th century stained-glass window and was the seat of a women’s abbey for centuries.
Explore the Christmas markets
Depending on when you visit, you may encounter some of Zurich’s most famous festivals. From late November until Christmas, the city comes alive with Christmas markets in nearly every neighbourhood. From the medieval plazas of Niederdorf to the palatial displays of the Central Station’s Christmas market, the season’s cheer is fêted with mulled wine and tasty delicacies.
Party on the streets
A slightly more raucous scene awaits if you visit in August, when the streets come alive for the Zurich Street-Parade, a week-long electronic music festival that is one of Europe’s largest. No matter when you visit, there will be plenty to enjoy – so book your flight from Cape Town to Zurich with SWISS today.
For even more tips about attractions of Zurich see our Zurich guide.
Dine in historical Zurich
While much of Zurich is modern, commercial and cutting-edge, its dining scene has a rustic flair that recalls the historic settings of the old city. From sausage and beer in a 15th-century cellar to a traditional veal geschnetzeles in one of the Zünfthäuse, or guildhalls, traditional Zurich fare is just a bite away. Meanwhile, the trendy cafés of the Limmatquai and Bahnhofstrasse are perfect for a coffee, snack or some old-fashioned people watching.
Cool off at a Zurich badi
The Sihl and Limmat rivers, which pass through Zurich, are said to boast mineral-water levels of purity. This water is used in the swimming pools of riverside badis, which become open-air bars at sundown. During the summer months, nowhere is as refreshing as these venues, where patrons can dangle their feet into the refreshing river water as they enjoy their drinks. For a traditional beer hall experience, the bars of the Limmatquai are a local favourite.
Trendy, upmarket, diverse: Zurich’s shopping scene
Well-heeled Zürchers and visitors to the city have a wealth of options when it comes to retail therapy. From the shopping avenues of the Bahnhofstrasse and Langstrasse to the boutiques of the Niederdorf, a unique find is never far away. The city also offers unique shopping centres such as Im Viadukt, located in an old viaduct, or the converted paper mill that has become the Sihlcity mall. For souvenirs in an authentic ambiance, check out ShopVille, a mall nestled in the cavernous Zurich Central Station.