With its striking 19th-century buildings and winding cobblestone lanes stretching along both sides of River Limmat, Zurich’s Old Town (Altstadt) is the most atmospheric part of the city and home to many principal tourist attractions.
Old Town makes an ideal starting point for a Zurich sightseeing tour. Walking and bike tours of Zurich typically take in the highlights, including Church of Our Lady (Fraumunster) and Grossmunster cathedrals, St. Peter Church (Peterskirche), the Swiss National Museum, and the Bahnhofstrasse shopping boulevard. Popular additions to an Old Town tour include a cable car ride to Felsenegg viewpoint, a Lake Zurich cruise, or a half-day trip to Rhine Falls, the largest waterfall in Europe.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Zurich’s main visitor information center is located opposite Church of Our Lady in Old Town.
- Large parts of Old Town are pedestrianized, and the best way to get around is on foot or by tram.
- Old Town is also the center of Zurich’s nightlife, with dozens of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs around Niederdorfstrasse and Limmatquai.
How to Get There
Old Town is the navigational center of Zurich and home to most of the city’s attractions, hotels, and restaurants. The main Hauptbahnhof train station lies at the north end of Bahnhofstrasse, with connections to Zurich Airport and other cities around Switzerland. It’s easy to walk to all the central attractions, but a number of tram lines also run throughout Old Town, with stops at Paradeplatz, Neumarkt, and Central.
When to Get There
Visit early in the morning to escape the crowds, if you’re visiting during peak season (July–August), or head down to Limmatquai at sunset to soak up the atmosphere and experience Zurich’s legendary nightlife. The most exciting time to visit is during one of the many annual events and festivals: Time your visit for the Zurich Festival (June), Long Night of Museums (September), Sechseläuten Spring Festival (April), Zurich Street Festival (August), or the festive Christmas markets.
Zurich Old Town Walking Tour
Zurich's landmark cathedrals—Church of Our Lady (Fraumunster) and Grossmunster—on opposite sides of the Limmat River make navigating Old Town easy. From Hauptbahnhof on the west bank, stroll down Bahnhofstrasse, one of Europe’s most expensive shopping streets, to Paradeplatz. Detour to St. Peter’s Church and admire views from Lindenhof hill. Continue to Church of Our Lady, cross Munster footbridge to Grossmunster, from where it’s an easy stroll to the Niederdorf district and Limmatquai promenade.