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

Zurich Introduction Walk (Self Guided), Zurich

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 the following tour.
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Zurich Introduction Walk Map

Guide Name: Zurich Introduction Walk
Guide Location: Switzerland » Zurich (See other walking tours in Zurich)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Author: ellen
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Hauptbahnhof (Central Railway Station)
  • Bahnhofstrasse (Station Street)
  • Urania Observatory
  • Lindenhofplatz (Lindenhof Square)
  • St. Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church)
  • Fraumünster (Church of Our Lady)
  • Grossmünster (Great Minster)
  • Kunsthaus Zurich (Museum of Art)
  • Kronenhalle Restaurant
  • Bürkliplatz (Burkli Square)
Hauptbahnhof (Central Railway Station)

1) Hauptbahnhof (Central Railway Station)

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.
Bahnhofstrasse (Station Street)

2) Bahnhofstrasse (Station Street) (must see)

Bahnhofstrasse is Zurich's main downtown street and one of the world's most expensive and exclusive shopping avenues. In 2011, a study named the Bahnhofstrasse the most expensive street for retail property in Europe and the third most expensive worldwide. It came into existence when the city fortifications were demolished in 1864 and the ditch in front of the walls was filled in. Until that time, the name of the location had been Fröschengraben ("Ditch of the Frogs"), which then was changed to the current Bahnhofstrasse ("Station Street").

Bahnhofstrasse starts at Bahnhofplatz in front of the Zürich Hauptbahnhof, passing Rennweg, Augustinergasse and Paradeplatz before it ends after 1.4km at Bürkliplatz on Lake Zurich (National Bank), Hotel Baur au Lac. The street is largely pedestrianized but is also an important link in the Zürich tram network.

The shops are on average expensive but in late June the sales start and you may get good deals/bargains.
Don't miss the Jelmoli department store – it is "right in the mix", has something for everyone's budget, as well as a great buffet restaurant and bar.
A stop at Sprüngli, a sweet tooth's paradise, is always recommended to enjoy some of the best coffee and chocolates the world has to offer.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Urania Observatory

3) Urania Observatory

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
Lindenhofplatz (Lindenhof Square)

4) Lindenhofplatz (Lindenhof Square) (must see)

The Lindenhof is a moraine hill and a public square in the historic center of Zurich. It is the site of the Roman and Carolingian era Kaiserpfalz around which the city has historically grown. The hilltop area—including its prehistoric, Roman, and medieval remains—is listed as a Swiss heritage site of national significance.

Following the demolition of the former royal residence, the hill—the only public park within the city walls—became an area for public life and relaxation, with dense tree vegetation, stone tables, crossbow stands, and bowling and chess; the latter are still very popular in modern times.
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church)

5) St. Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church) (must see)

St. Peterskirche (St. Peters Church) was built in the 9th century, which makes it the oldest church in Zurich. It also boasts the fame of having the largest clock face in all of Europe, measuring 8.6 meters (28.3 feet) in diameter. This translates to a minute hand that is 5.7 meters long (18.8 feet)!

The church was significantly altered in the 13th century and again in the early 1700s. Up until 1911, a firewatcher manned the steeple. It was his job to loo5.73k out the windows four times an hour to look for fires. If he spotted a fire, he was to sound an alarm and point to the direction of the fire with a flag. Apparently, this ended up being an effective strategy because unlike many other European cities, Zurich never suffered any devastating fires.

The interior of the church features a Baroque nave and a Romanesque choir with some faded medieval murals including a glimpse of a saint. An fascinating sight to see inside the St. Peters is the name of God in Hebrew above the pulpit, indicating the Reformation emphasis on the original biblical languages.

One interesting fact about the church is that it has split ownership. The City of Zurich owns the church tower, while St. Peter’s parish of the Swiss Reformed Church owns the belfry and bells, as well as the staircase leading to the tower.

It is very interesting up close, but it is more beautiful from across the river.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8am-6pm, Sat: 10am-4pm, Sun: 11:00am-5pm
Fraumünster (Church of Our Lady)

6) Fraumünster (Church of Our Lady) (must see)

As you may have noticed, Zurich’s skyline is dotted with church spires; however, none are as remarkable as the slender blue spire of the Fraumünster. In 853 Emperor Ludwig founded a Benedictine convent on this site and his daughter became the first abbess of the convent. In 874 a basilica with a crypt was added. The crypt holds the relics of the martyred two Patron Saints of Zurich, Felix and Regula.

The present church on the site dates from the mid 13th century, but the crypt still remains beneath the church. Reformation closed the convent and in 1524, the last abbess donated the church and abbey to City of Zurich. All icons and religious imagery were destroyed.

The church underwent a remodel in the 1970, with the installation of beautiful stained glass windows by the famous Russian-French modernist artist Marc Chagall. The five windows are 10 meters high and each has its own color theme. On the northern side is the red-orange “Prophet” window. On the eastern side, the windows are named “Jacob”, “Christ”, and “Zion”, from left to right. The south wall piece is called “Law”.

Why You Should Visit:
Reasonable entry fee and definitely worth stepping in to admire the lovely Marc Chagall stained glass windows.
Included in the ticket is a very good audio guide that really brings the building and the 5 windows to life.

Be sure to bring Swiss francs as only cash is accepted.
NO PHOTOS of the Marc Chagall windows allowed inside.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-6pm
Grossmünster (Great Minster)

7) Grossmünster (Great Minster) (must see)

The Grossmunster Church is a Romanesque-style Protestant church in Zurich and has a very interest history. It is one of the four major churches in the city (the others being the Fraumunster, Predigerkirche and St. Peterskirche). According to legend, the church was originally commissioned by Roman emperor Charles the Great. Construction of the present structure commenced around 1100 and it was inaugurated around 1220.

The Grossmunster Church was the birthplace of the Swiss-German reformation. In 1520, Swiss reformation leader Huldrych Zwingli initiated the Swiss-German Reformation in Switzerland from his pastoral office at the Grossmunster. Zwingli won a series of debates presided over by the magistrate in 1523 which ultimately led local civil authorities to sanction the severance of the church from the papacy.

The reforms initiated by Zwingli and continued by his successor, Heinrich Bullinger, account for the plain interior of the church. The iconoclastic reformers removed the organ and religious statuary in 1524.

These changes, accompanied by abandonment of Lent, replacement of the Mass, disavowal of celibacy, eating meat on fast days, replacement of the lectionary with a seven-year New Testament cycle, a ban on church music, and other significant reforms make this church one of the most important sites in the history of the reformation.

A statue of the emperor Carolus Magnus, or Charles the Great, can be found at the southern tower of Grossmunster Church. Carolus Magnus was the Holy Roman Emperor between 771 and 814. He united majority of western Europe Central Europe. His achievements gave a new meaning to his name. In many European languages, the very word for "king" derives from his name. The statue shows Carolus holding his sword and it looks as though his crown is falling off his head.

Why You Should Visit:
Fairly plain inside, but the sliced agate windows are some of the more interesting and colorful anywhere.
The old statue of Carolus Magnus is definitely worth seeing, and you can't miss the beautiful door as you go in.

A trip to the top of the tower is worth it if you can do 180+ steps straight up. The views are wonderful and you can stay as long as you wish.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-6pm (Mar-Oct); 10am-5pm (Nov-Feb)
Open on Sundays after the service
Sight description based on wikipedia
Kunsthaus Zurich (Museum of Art)

8) Kunsthaus Zurich (Museum of Art) (must see)

The Kunsthaus is one of the most important museums in Europe. The museum's collection is impressive and diverse, from pieces dating to the middle ages to contemporary with an emphasis on 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 also boasts a collection by Monet and another by Chagall.

Special 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
Kronenhalle Restaurant

9) 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.
Bürkliplatz (Burkli Square)

10) Bürkliplatz (Burkli Square)

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.

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.
Zurich's Historical Churches Tour

Zurich's Historical Churches 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: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles
Zurich Souvenir Shopping

Zurich 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: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Old Town Walk

Old Town Walk

The historic heart of the city beats on both sides of the Limmat river, where guild houses, churches and historic places line the romantic little streets and adorn the hidden corners. This self guided tour takes you to explore some of the most important sights in the old town Zurich.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 Km or 0.9 Miles
Zurich Gourmet Tour

Zurich Gourmet Tour

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: 2.1 Km or 1.3 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 on this...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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