Zurich is easily accessible from Basel either before or after a Rhine River cruise.
When it comes to quintessential Swiss experiences, you really can’t beat Zurich. Effortlessly blending outdoor and indoor activities, the picturesque town - with the double bonus of both a shimmering lake and gorgeous alpine surroundings - is the best of both worlds for those travelers who seek culture and outdoor recreation. From swimming in the city’s pristine open-air swimming pools to shopping along the upscale Bahnhofstrasse, from taking a cogwheel train up a nearby mountain to strolling like an in-the-know local along the Viadukt, there are countless ways to spend a few days in Zurich before or after your river cruise. Here are top experiences you don’t want to miss:
Shop, People-Watch and Dine Along the Viadukt
Beneath the arches of a historic railway viaduct, you’ll find one of the hippest places to hang out in Zurich: the aptly named Viadukt, which runs between the bank of the Limmat River and the Hardbrücke station in the Zurich West. Browse the shops, pop into the restaurants and bars and listen to open-air concerts or events in the various arches. A favorite quirky shop: the carefully curated Westflügel book shop. Hungry? Stop by the organic Markthalle. There’s a Saturday market in the summer and a fondue tent in the winter.
Take a River Day Cruise
Board one of the flat boats of the Limmatschuifffahrt and you’ll get the chance to pass below the seven bridges of the Limmat River. With just 51 passengers allowed on each boat, you’ll want to make arrangements in advance. The one-hour boat trip departs from the Landesmuseum station.
Spend a Day with Chagall … and Van Gogh and Monet
Art lovers will adore the Kunsthaus. This tidy little museum has an entire series of rooms dedicated to Swiss artists and sculpture Alberto Giacometti, as well as works by Van Gogh, Monet and Chagel, among others. There is a great collection of modern art, as well.
St. Peter’s Church (St. Peterskirche) is one of Zurich’s
most distinctive landmarks.
Explore the Niederdorf
Referred to as the “Dörfli” by locals, the old town area of Zurich is actually composed of two parts: Niederdorf and Oberdorf, stretching between Central and Bellevue. Forego the touristy fondue restaurants and souvenir shops, and instead take the time to marvel at the ancient architecture and charming narrow streets, unique shops and cozy bars. Sip a Moscatel at one such watering hole, or if you aspire to higher goals, climb up one of the towers of Grossmünster.
Shop the Bahnhofstrasse
Whether you’re just window shopping or splurging on haute couture, the Bahnhofstrasse is a must for those with a penchant for purchasing. On one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world, you’ll find recognizable, more mainstream brands at the lower half and the higher-fashion outposts at the upper end, close to Bürkliplatz and the lake. In the winter months, stick around to see the bright lights of “Lucy,” the custom-made Christmas display at the Bahnhofstrasse.
A cable car ride in Switzerland is the ride of a lifetime.
Take the SZU Up Uetliberg
One really mustn't miss the chance to ride the train up to the summit of Zurich’s hometown mountain. From the main train station, you can whisk to the top, then climb the observation tower for incredible views of the whole area. Take the trail from there to the Felsenegg, then take the cable car down to Adliswil, returning to Zurich on the train. It’s the perfect mini alpine day trip.
Soak It All In
Literally. Finally, after sightseeing or hiking in the mountains, head to Hürlimann Areal for a soak in the Thermalbad & Spa rooftop pool, steam baths and shallow pools. There are huge wooden tubs from the old brewery in the basement, in which you can sit and soak to your heart’s delight.
Ready to explore Zurich with a pre or post river cruise land extension? I can’t wait to hear about your adventures. First, let’s chat so we can get you there and arrange the perfect itinerary to match your travel style and interests. I look forward to hearing from you!
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Travel Advisor Specializing in River Cruising