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Culture Self-guided Tour (Self Guided), Zurich

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.
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Culture Self-guided Tour Map

Guide Name: Culture Self-guided Tour
Guide Location: Switzerland » Zurich (See other walking tours in Zurich)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: ellen
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Museum Rietberg
  • ArteF Fine Art Photography Gallery
  • Tonhalle Orchester
  • Bürkliplatz
  • Opernhaus
  • Kronenhalle Restaurant
  • Kunsthaus Zürich
  • Schauspielhaus Zürich
Museum Rietberg

1) Museum Rietberg (must see)

The Rietberg Museum in Zürich is the only non-European art gallery in Switzerland. It features works from Africa, Asia and the ancient Americas. The goal of the museum is to make the visitor aware of the diverse type of artistic expression that can be found outside of Europe. The museum was founded on the private collection of Baron Eduard von de Heydt. The physical location of the museum dates back to the purchase of the Rieterpark and Wesendonck Villa, a Renaissance mansion, by the city of Zurich in the 1940s. The museum is located in Reiterpark and stretches across several historic villas. The city purchased the adjacent Shonberg Villa in 1976 and expanded the museum. The Remise Villa and the Rieter Park-Villa were later additions. A fifth building was opened in 2007 and is primarily underground. This building is called The Emerald and features a wall of green glass at the same height as the historic villas. Instead of creating a tall building that would be out of scale, the architects opted for an underground extension. This expansion more than doubled the museum’s space. In addition to the permanent collection, the museum shows rotating exhibits.

Why You Should Visit:
Culture and spirituality from around the world in beautiful surroundings.
Some of the ancient artifacts going back several centuries BC or more are quite impressive.
Various types of decorative arts as well, so everyone is sure to find something to their taste.

Admission fee is collected for the collection/exhibition but the garden is free – you may as well spend a whole day on the grass.

Opening Hours:
Tue, Thu-Sun: 10am-5pm; Wed: 10am-8pm
ArteF Fine Art Photography Gallery

2) ArteF Fine Art Photography Gallery

The ArteF Gallery, established in 2004, is dedicated to promoting photography as a fine art. It exhibits photos from the 20th century, as well as outstanding contemporary works. Some of its fine collection has also toured many significant galleries all over the world.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Wednesday: by appointment; Thursday - Friday: 12 pm - 6.30 pm; Saturday: 12 pm- 5 pm.
Tonhalle Orchester

3) Tonhalle Orchester

Tonhalle Orchester Zürich is a symphony orchestra founded in 1868 in Zürich Switzerland, where it established its residence in the neue Tonhalle (new concert hall) in 1895. For many years, Tonhalle Orchester has been one of the most recognized orchestras in Europe.The orchestra of just over 100 musicians now plays all over the world; it has twice performed widely-broadcast BBC Promenade Concerts at Royal Albert Hall. This 100-piece symphony orchestra, gives great performances not only in Switzerland but all over the world, with remarkable compositions by Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Wagner, as well as Swiss composers.
Sight description based on wikipedia

4) Bürkliplatz

Bürkliplatz is a popular attraction with both tourists and locals. From the promenade you can admire the view of Lake Zürich's calm waters and a fascinating panorama of the Alps. There is also a statue of Ganymede and Zeus, in the form of an eagle, being taken to Mount Olympus.

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
Kronenhalle Restaurant

6) Kronenhalle Restaurant

This is the most prominent restaurant in Zürich. It was a favorite meeting place of famous Swiss and international writers, musicians and artists, among them Thomas Mann, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Igor Stravinsky, Yves Saint-Laurent, and many others. It not only serves superb cuisine, but also contains a great collection of original paintings by famous painters.
Kunsthaus Zürich

7) Kunsthaus Zürich (must see)

The Kunsthaus is one of the most important museums in Europe. The building was designed by architect Karl Moser and completed in 1910. The facades contain bas-reliefs designed by Oskar Keifer, a long time collaborator with Moser. The collection is impressive and diverse, from pieces dating to the Middle Ages to contemporary ones. Overall, the collection emphasizes Swiss art through various periods. Some of the Swiss artists represented include Fussli, Hodler, Rist and Fischli. Works by Munch, Lipchitz, Van Gough, Picasso, and Giacometti are a draw as well. The museum has a group of works by Monet and another by Chagall.

Specific collections include Swiss Paintings, Swiss Realism, Zurich Concrete Art, and collections featuring paintings and sculptures by Bocklin, Segantini, Hodler, and Vallotton. The museum also has a good collection of video art that started in 1979, with the thought that video art is an independent and creative medium. Video artists represented include Acconci, Baldessari, Calle, Graham, Hill, Marclay, Paik and others. In addition to the permanent collection, the museum features temporary exhibits and a library with books focusing on modern art. An audio guide which highlights over 200 of the pieces in the collection, is available.

Why You Should Visit:
Super modern with lots of unique perspectives! If you're a fan of modern art and appreciate surrealism and impressionism, this museum is a must.

Free entry to the main collection on Wednesdays, and you can also get an audio guide for no cost. Their library is open-access anytime.
The building might not look massive on the outside, but the collection is extensive, so make sure you leave at least 2-3 hours to visit.

Opening Hours:
Tue, Fri-Sun: 10am-6pm; Wed-Thu: 10am-8pm
Schauspielhaus Zürich

8) Schauspielhaus Zürich

The Zurich playhouse is one of the most well-known theaters in the German-speaking world. The theater was constructed in 1892 as a “people’s theater” and featured a beer garden and bowling alley, along with a performance space which primarily showed vaudeville. In 1901, the building was rented by the Zurich Opera in order to have an additional space for performances. For the next 30 years, the theater switched hands and never got a lot of traction. In 1933, well-known actors and directors moved to Switzerland from Germany and Austria. The presence of these skilled performers breathed new life into the theatre and it rose to become the largest free stage in the Germany-speaking world. This was due to the fact that performances in German and Austria were strictly regulated. After the war, the theater maintained its reputation as an important place in the German-speaking theater world. Since that time the theater has continued to flourish. The performances gain consistently good reviews. It was recognized as the theater of the year in 2002 and 2003. The theatre performs both classical and contemporary works of theater with an occasional premiere. Today the theater seats 750 people.

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.
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Zurich Introduction Walk

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

Architecture Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.5 Km or 4.7 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
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
Walking Tour for Gourmets

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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

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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