Top 5 sights for first-timers
This two-towered church dates back to around 1100AD and is a defining feature of the Zurich skyline. The climb up to the top of the tower is painfully steep and long, but you’ll be rewarded with one of the best views in the city.
This stilted concrete building is to Zurich what the Tate is to London. It houses works by some of the most revered Impressionist and post-Impressionist artists, including Manet, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Monet and Picasso. Look out too for thought-provoking work by sculptor Alberto Giacometti.
Zurich Zoo amalgamates a range of habitats and environments from around the world. Around 300 species co-exist here, and a stroll through the attraction will take you from the jungles of Madagascar to the icy reaches of Antarctica. Don’t miss the penguin parade, performed every day at noon during cold weather.
Running for three kilometres along the shores of Lake Zurich, this airy boardwalk is a wall-to-wall visual feast. On summer evenings, it’s the perfect place to chill out and watch the world go by. Rumour has it the lake water is so pure you can even drink it – but we don’t recommend testing that theory.
This Swiss institution is actually three museums in one – the National Museum Zurich, the Castle of Prangins and Forum of Swiss History Schwyz. You could easily spend days in here exploring, but for a whistle-stop tour of the Landesmuseum’s best bits head straight to the Collections Gallery. It offers a visual overview of the museum’s permanent collections.
Top 5 sights for old hands
Centre Le Corbusier
The last building ever designed by celebrated Swiss architect Le Corbusier is an elegant medley of sweeping lines and technicolour cubes that’s now a small but intriguing museum. It has limited opening hours, but if you can squeeze in a visit then you won’t be disappointed.
Most classic photographs of the Zurich skyline are taken from this 869-metre peak, which is known fondly as the city’s ‘local’ mountain. In winter, the hiking trails that crisscross the slopes become sledding runs, and you can’t move for over-excited locals whizzing at breakneck speeds down the snowy tracks.
A picturesque collection of pastel houses around 25 kilometres from Zurich, Baden is a spa town with a curative history dating back to Roman times. A dip in the sulphurous thermal springs is said to heal everything from rheumatism to circulatory problems – that’s if you can stand the whiff of bad eggs.
This exquisite Oriental gem on the shores of the lake is so small that many visitors overlook it. Among the locals, it’s known as an eccentric little landscaped hideaway with a collection of colourful Chinese buildings and a curious artificial ‘mountain’. The open art galleries are sure to lull you into serenity.
It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but this bland white facade in Zurich’s Old Town is a temple to the best of modern interior design. Architecture geeks can spend a happy few hours admiring furniture by some of Europe’s top design geniuses.