Zurich is a unique city to be in winter and there are always foggy, cold and sometimes sunny days to be experienced in the city. Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, which means most of the best places and attractions in Switzerland are located in Zurich. To give you the best picture of what the last sentence means, there are over 100 art galleries in the city; Switzerland’s National Museum is also in the city as well as several other architectural masterpieces that are known all around the world.
Zurich is not only famous for the quality of watches and chocolate they produce but also their exceptional cuisine. If you are planning on a trip to Zurich, having a taste of swiss delicacies has to be on top of your to-do list. While it is also not a bad idea to want to head to ski resorts or even mountains in winter, there are several great things Zurich has to offer that can make you glued to the city instead of heading to the mountains.
Winter in Zurich is a typical winter condition with the air foggy and cold and the rare sunny days. Irrespective of the weather conditions, the city always remains pretty which is one of the main reasons Zurich is such a good place to be at any time of the season. The snow serves as a blanket that makes Zurich sometimes look like a wonderland.
So having said that, let’s get down to the things you should do in Zurich, Switzerland in winter to enjoy your stay in the city.
15 Best Things to do in Zurich in Winter
1. Exploring the city on foot
This is the main highlight of Zurich in winter because it is regarded as the number one activity to do. The reason for this is that it can be done at any time of the year and there is even provision for it. Tourists have the chance to apply for a walking tour of the city from the body in charge. The body, called Free Walk Zurich, ensures there are always tour guides on the ready to accompany tourists to see a different part of the city.
There are usually two tour sessions. The first one is at 11 am while the second is at 3 pm. The two sessions involve walking to see the buildings in Zuriwest and also the Old Town.
One of the main reasons why you should take advantage of this is that the tours are free and you do not have to pay for it. However, you are welcome to tip the guide for his or her diligence if you enjoyed the tour. The general reaction to the tour indicates that the guide is good and know exactly what they have to show you.
2. Drop by Viadukt to shop and snack
Switzerland is also known for their unique recipes hence it should not come as a surprise to you that there is an insane number of shops to eat in all the cities in the country. of course Zurich being the largest city in the country means it has a big chunk of all the eating places or shops Switzerland.
In winter, one of the best places you can go to get a bite in the cold weather is Viadukt. You should know that the area Viadukt is found was the formerly industrial zone of Zurich. This means that there is not only an abundance of the shop to pick from; the area is also easily assessed by train.
The Viadukt has some shops noteworthy of individual mentions. For instance, there is the Markthalle which is where all high quality and fresh products can be bought. There is also a shop, The Pie Shop, which is a shop where pies are sold. Also, you should check outs Sudhang – a wine shop, Berg Und Tal – a shop where you can buy swiss delicacies as well as edible souvenirs. These are just some shops to go to when in Viadukt.
3. Lose your sense of direction at Neumarkt 17!
Have you ever what it was like for someone to be lost or are you just in for crazy adventures? If yes, then you must drop by the Neumarkt 17. The Neumarkt 17 is a shop that is housed in three houses that have some historical background with Zurich. You will find some of the most classic and beautiful furniture and fittings in the store/shop.
However, the fun here is that the store has a labyrinth of rooms contained in it. This makes it very easy to get lost as most of the shops look identical.
Another thing worth seeing is the water basin in the center of the store which some exhibition is hanging from above it.
4. Get a warmer atmosphere at the Succulent Collection (Sukkulenten Sammlung)
The cold in Zurich can be quite harsh at times so it is understandable if you crave a little more warmth than you are getting. In cases like this, you can see one of the attractions in Zurich while also being in a warmer environment. Put the greenhouse is one of the greenhouses in the city.
The greenhouse is always warm irrespective of the season of the year you visit it. It can serve as the perfect spot to get warm climates if you are sick of the cold. One of the best things about this place is that you can also buy fresh greens if you want to.
The best way to get to the greenhouse is by bus. The bus will take you directly to the greenhouse in the area.
5. Get hot Swiss Chocolate at Schober
Honestly, nobody leaves Zurich without having a taste of the famous Swiss Chocolate. Schober is a place where hot chocolate is sold alongside sweets, cakes, and other goodies. A taste of the foodies on sale at Schober and you will find yourself going back to the pace for more the next time you visit Zurich.
Please note, there is always a queue or line at Schober and you might have to wait a while to get your chocolate. However, you should ensure you get a seat in the Salon Rogue. The combination of the gold and low reddish ceilings and the chocolate is something you need to take in for yourself.
Once you are done with your coffee, there is an old store opposite Schober, where general items are sold. The old store is a beauty and you should also check out the things they have available for sale.
6. Have a nice time at Kosmos
Kosmos was not part of Zurich initially but it is a recent addition that cannot be overlooked. The Kosmos serves several functions. for instance, it is a bookstore; it also has a club and a bar as well as event spaces for people to rent.
Kosmos also has a cinema where you can watch exciting preselected movies. At times the movies might be in a different language to yours. Because of this, subtitles are usually added to the movie. The Kosmos also has a bistro which is a very good place for hanging out with snacks while sipping coffee.
The best place you want to be in the Kosmos is the Bookstore. Although their collection of books is not that large, they managed to arrange an impressive selection you would fall in love with. There are tables and nooks which you can sit on and use to read any book you pick. There is a bar in the bookstore section where you can buy alcoholic drinks, cakes, coffee, etc.
7. Hike and sled down the Uetliberg Mountain
The city of Zurich is known by many to have a plethora of hills which line up both sides of an infamous lake. The views from the side of the lake are something you won’t get enough of. Also, the view on top of the hills is spectacular.
Of all the hills, one, however, stands out and it is called the Uetliberg. It is also referred to as the Hausberg and although it is only about 871 meters high, the view it offers is truly stunning. To get to Uetliberg, there is a train that goes up Uetliberg and you only have to book a ride. The train makes it easier to reach. There are lots of hiking trails leading from the foot of the mountain to its top. Once you are at the top and you have had enough of the stunning Zurich views, you can decide to walk back or sled down (if there is enough snow covering the hill)
8. See the eye-catching art collections at Kunsthaus (Zurich’s Museum of Art)
The Kunsthaus which can also be referred to as the Museum of Art in Zurich is a museum that serves as the perfect getaway from the cold and frosty atmosphere in the city. The collection of art here is quite extensive with works of modern and old painters and masters all available for tourists or visitors to marvel at.
There are many things to talk about in terms of the art collection you will find but you should be on the lookout for the Sculptures made by Alberto Giacometti. There are also moments you do not want to miss at the museum.
TIP: Admission to the Museum is usually free on Wednesday!
See Also: 15 Things to do in Lisbon in Winter
9. Participate in the Penguin Parade event at the Zoo in Zurich
Even if you hate Zoos personally, you will find yourself falling in love with the animals here at the Zurich Zoo. During lunch breaks, the penguins in the zoo are available in an event called Penguin Parade, where human beings are allowed to walk with animals.
You have to pay a small fee to gain entrance but the revenue generated here is employed into making the zoo a better place for animals.
10. See some beautiful views of Zurich on a boat ride
There is no limit to what you can do in Zurich. Even the views you get on the boat ride can be pretty spectacular and stunning. It does not matter if the day is foggy or not; the ride is usually peaceful and relaxing.
The best spot to get incredible views of the outskirts of the city is Tina Turner Garden. It is also a place where you can explore the garden itself.
11. Go on a tour at the Zoological Museum at the University of Zurich
You can visit this museum alone or together with your families; if you have them with you. The museum is free to enter and there are no laid down fees you have to pay. As with any Zoological museum, there are lots of animals which have been taxidermied or stuffed. However, they still retain some of their deadly facial expressions.
See Also: 10 Things to do Edinburgh in Winter
12. Eat as much melted cheese as you can!
If there is one thing you should not dare to miss out on in Zurich in winter, it is Melted cheese. Melted cheese is served in two different ways.
The first one, Fondue, is much more popular and even iconic in some respect. The alpine dairy bubbling in the pot is the best you can find in Zurich. The Fondue is usually served with chunks of bread which serve as a dipping for the crème.
The second one which is not as popular or iconic as the first is Raclette. Raclette is not very popular and it involves having only melted cheese to serve as your entire meal. There are potatoes to eat the melted cheese with!
13. Spend a couple of hours at the Swiss National Museum
This is one of the most historic buildings in Zurich. Here, you can learn a lot about the history of Zurich as well as that of the teacher. The National Museum is in a castle and only a few people are allowed to explore the exhibits at a time.
14. Catch a show at the Opera House
If you are lucky, you might catch a live show at the concert where you can sing along with the pop star performing.
There are also different buildings for different things in the house. For instance, if you are a hockey fan, you can watch hockey games at Hallenstadion.
15. Shop at the Christmas Markets
Christmas Markets which are usually open throughout December provide a great way of buying the things I need as well as an avenue to enjoy and be happy.