Not packed in a bus. Not herded with a group. Self guided walk is the SAFEST way to sightsee while observing SOCIAL DISTANCING!

Architecture Walking Tour (Self Guided), Zurich

The beauty and individuality of Zurich's architectural heritage is striking. Outstanding samples of traditional styles like Baroque, Classicism, Neo-Classicism are in harmony with the new trends in architecture. Major architectural masterpieces of the medieval period and modern structures blend perfectly to represent the many facets of the city. Don't miss the next list of attractions if you decide to visit Zurich.
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Architecture Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Architecture Walking Tour
Guide Location: Switzerland » Zurich (See other walking tours in Zurich)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.5 Km or 4.7 Miles
Author: ellen
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Aussersihl Community Center
  • Urania Observatory
  • Hauptbahnhof (Central Railway Station)
  • ETH-Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
  • Opernhaus
  • Ferrohaus (Klinik Pyramide am See)
  • Foundation E. G. Buhrle Collection
  • Cocoon Offices
Aussersihl Community Center

1) Aussersihl Community Center

The Aussersihl Community Center is a unique building that was born out of a 1999 design competition. The building was designed by EM2N architects and construction was completed in 2004. The building is situated adjacent to a historic memorial park, so the design needed to be sensitive to the surrounding area. To reduce the building footprint, the architects decided to go vertical with the building, instead of horizontal. This allowed all mature trees on the site to be retained. The building stands four stories tall and has a tower shape. Structurally, the building features lime brick walls and floors of poured concrete slab. It is clad in dark green stained timber boards. The interior, on the other hand, is painted in a variety of bright colors, such as yellow and lime green. There is a public café on the ground floor which is popular for visitors to the nearby gardens. An interesting side note about this building is that when it was being designed, parliament members battled back and forth about what the appropriate budget. It fell along party lines and got ugly at times. The budget for the project ended up being cut by 45% which left the designers with the challenge designing a building to meet the end users needs, but while adhering to a significantly-reduced budget.
Urania Observatory

2) Urania Observatory (must see)

The Urania Observatory is visible on the city landscape, with its curved dome and impressive height. It was named after Urania, the muse of astronomy in Greek mythology. It began, first, as an observatory on the roof of the Zunfthaus zur Meisen. The Urania Observatory was initiated in 1899 and went into operational use in 1907. The refracting telescope is equipped with a two-lens system allowing for 600-fold magnification. The refractor is what sits in the large dome structure. The telescope stands on a pillar and is fitted with anti-vibration components. The optical telescope, designed by Carl Zeiss, weighs 12 tons and was considered a technical masterpiece at the time. The telescope underwent a restoration in 2006 and was placed back in the observatory in 2007. Tours are available at the observatory for viewing of the moon and Solar System objects, such as stars, star clusters, and galaxies. Because the observatory is in the middle of the city, it is subject to urban light pollution, so views from within are fairly limited. Paid public tours are given in the evenings, Tuesday through Friday when there is clear weather. A restaurant and bar are located in the building.

Why You Should Visit:
To experience an great view of downtown Zurich, all while learning new things about telescopes and the outer space.

Opening Hours:
Thu-Sat: 9pm-10pm
Hauptbahnhof (Central Railway Station)

3) Hauptbahnhof (Central Railway Station) (must see)

The Hauptbahnhof is the largest rail station in Switzerland. Zurich is a major rail hub, not only to other cities in Switzerland but also for service to Germany, Italy, Austria, and France. The station is located in the old town portion of central Zurich at the confluence of the Sihl and Limmat Rivers.

The first rail station in the city was constructed by Gustav Albert Wegmann. At the time of the construction, it was on the northwestern outskirts of town. In 1871, a newer building was constructed on the site. That building was designed by Jakob Wanner. It features a triumphal arch at the main entrance. A monument to Alfred Escher, a railway pioneer, stands in front of the arch. The building is constructed of sandstone in a neo-Renaissance style. The station features 200 underground shops that cater to travelers, including cafes and souvenir shops. The two underground shopping areas are connected via a hall that features marble and granite walls and floors. There are 20 terminal tracks on the ground floor with two additional tracks one level below. Commuter train service is also provided.

Why You Should Visit:
Lots of good food for sale, several grocery stores, chocolate shops, bookstores, stores for knick-knacks, restroom facilities, shower stalls, and trains to take you everywhere in Europe!

There are a lot of meeting points in the station so if you wish to meet up someone in Hauptbahnhof, make sure you make it very clear of where to meet.
ETH-Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

4) ETH-Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

The massive main building of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology is impressive and leaves no one indifferent. ETH Zürich is an élite university which consistently ranked by major World University rankings among the top universities in the world. Its grandiosity is appropriate for this most important Swiss institute. Twenty-one Nobel Prizes have been awarded to students or professors of the Institute in the past, the most famous of which is Albert Einstein in 1921, and the most recent is Kurt Wüthrich in 2002. The construction of the Zentrum of the ETH (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule) lasted from 1861 till 1864. The neoclassical style of the building is a unique characteristic feature of architect Gottfried Semper.
Sight description based on wikipedia

5) Opernhaus (must see)

The Zurich Opera House is the primary venue for the opera and performing arts in the city. The site, as a performance space, has its origins as a theater. It started in 1834 with a production of Mozart’s Zauberflote. The theater burned down in 1890 and replaced by the current building you see today. The building was designed by Fellner and Helmer and was established as the Zurich Opera house. It is rather dramatic, with pillars, columns, and arched windows. It features a neo-classical façade of white and grey stone. The busts of Weber, Wagner, Mozart, Shiller, Shakespeare, and Goethe adorn the building. The auditorium space seats over 1,200 people and features a Rococo style.

The Zurich Opera House has been the setting for many world premier events, including works by Berg, Hindemith, Schonberg, Klebe, and Kelterborn. Event tickets to this venue sell out quickly, so if you want to see a performance, some pre-planning is required. There are open guided tours of the opera house, including the backstage area (call the museum directly or visit their webpage to find out the dates).

Why You Should Visit:
The building itself is beautiful and part of Zurich's landscape, while the setting by the lake is just delightful.
As the theatre is rather small-sized (1100 seats), you are much closer to the stage, comparing to other opera houses.
Most days have no dress code, and no one really cares about the attire – another huge plus compared to other opera houses.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 11am-6pm
Ferrohaus (Klinik Pyramide am See)

6) Ferrohaus (Klinik Pyramide am See)

The pyramid-shaped Ferrohaus is an exclusive private hospital with the motto of “pinnacle on the lake.” The hospital specializes in surgery, including plastic surgery and vascular hand/ foot surgery. The building was designed by Justus Dahinden, a Swiss architect, and its construction completed in 1970. The very modern pyramid shape makes it unique on the Zurich landscape, where buildings are traditionally much older. The building is situated on the banks of Lake Zurich against a backdrop of trees and grass. The Ferrohaus is located adjacent to the Zurichhorn Park, a peaceful urban oasis that is popular with locals and visitors. Be sure to look for the nearby Henry Moore sculpture. The park features an open-air movie theater operating in the summer and is also the site of the sea-side community swimming pool. The Zurichhorn park also features a China Garden, a gift to the city from its Chinese sister city, Kunming.
Foundation E. G. Buhrle Collection

7) Foundation E. G. Buhrle Collection

The Foundation E.G. Bührle Collection (Stiftung Sammlung E. G. Bührle) was established by the Bührle family in Zürich to bring to public viewing Emil Georg Bührle's important collection of European sculptures and paintings. The Foundation's art museum is in a Zurich villa adjoining Bührle's former home. Although the collection includes a number of Old Masters and Modern art including works by Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso, it comprises mainly French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism paintings by Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Georges Seurat, Alfred Sisley, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent van Gogh and others.

Operation hours: by appointment for group visits; individual visits by appointment first Sunday of the month
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cocoon Offices

8) Cocoon Offices

The Zurich Cocoon Office is incredibly modern for a city that boasts churches hundreds of years old. The building was designed by the Swiss architectural firm, Camenzind Evolution, and construction was completed in 2007. The very modern building sits in a green park-like oasis, with mature trees on three sides, which result in a sharp contrast. The hillside location provides stunning mountain and lake views. The stand-alone building is spiral shaped and is meant to have flexible interior spaces for a variety of users. Unlike traditional storied buildings, where it is clearly demarked the start of one floor and the end of another, the Cocoon building flows from story to story seamlessly. Views to the interior of the building are shielded by a stainless steel mesh enveloping. During the day, the building looks inward toward the naturally lighted interior. At night, it looks like a lit tower of sorts, with the interior lights visible from the outside. The designing architects were looking for a building design that would communicate with the landscape.

Walking Tours in Zurich, Switzerland

Create Your Own Walk in Zurich

Create Your Own Walk in Zurich

Creating your own self-guided walk in Zurich is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Culture Self-guided Tour

Culture Self-guided Tour

Many of Switzerland's most important cultural venues are located in Zürich. The city has been home to many distinguished figures, including Richard Wagner, Thomas Mann, James Joyce, Carl Jung, Felix Bloch, and others. Zürich’s theaters are famous all over the world. Take the following tour to discover Zürich’s most popular and prominent cultural venues.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Religious Sights Walking Tour

Religious Sights Walking Tour

Zürich has many splendid churches and monasteries, which provide an immense spiritual and cultural contribution to the entire country. Many of them played a significant role in the Protestant Reformation. Each church is inimitable in its architecture. Follow this walking tour to become familiar with Zürich's most beautiful religious edifices.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Museums Walking Tour

Museums Walking Tour

Zürich has a great number of museums, many of them historical museums displaying the history of Zürich and its citizens and the history of world civilizations. Many exhibit unique objects, documents and artifacts witnessing the past. One of the most interesting is the museum of timepieces from ancient times till the present. Take a look at Zürich's most popular historical museums in this...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.3 Km or 4.5 Miles
Walking Tour for Gourmets

Walking Tour for Gourmets

Gourmets from all over the world come to Switzerland to enjoy its splendid tastes. It is famous not only for its high-quality watches, but also for its numerous specialty and confectionery shops offering many delicacies with inimitable flavors. The secrets of making these unique delicacies have been preserved for centuries, passed from father to son. Most of the products are still made by hand....  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

It would be a pity to leave Zurich without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Zurich, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Zurich Introduction Walk

Zurich Introduction Walk

Switzerland’s largest city, Zürich, is rich in heritage and historic value, and is a popular travel destination. Its medieval architecture is well-preserved and worth seeing, as well as the city’s historic monuments and modern sculptures. Old Town, with its 13th century buildings, is an especially wonderful historic area to be seen. Be sure to visit some of Zürich's best landmarks in...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.0 Km or 2.5 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

16 Distinctively Swiss Things to Buy in Zurich

16 Distinctively Swiss Things to Buy in Zurich

Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city, and although it may feel like a bustling metropolis, the tranquil essence of the Alps flows fervently through the lively cobblestone streets, the buzzing train station, and the frenzied designer boutiques. Most shops in downtown Zurich open at 9 am and close...