Holidays to Switzerland Travel Podcast episode 90 - Zurich beyond the tourist trail
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Episode 90: Zurich beyond the tourist trail

January 24, 2024 Last Updated on January 24, 2024

For many travellers, the must-see sites and attractions in Zurich include the Old Town, the twin-towered Grossmunster cathedral, a lake cruise and the Lindt Home of Chocolate museum, but the city has so much more to offer.

In this episode, we’ll be uncovering some of the hidden gems and local favourites of Switzerland’s largest city. 

My guest is Seraina Engert, a Zurich local, who some of you may know as she’s one the moderators in our Switzerland Travel Planning Facebook group.  She’s also featured on the podcast previously, in episode 55 when she gave us lots of useful tips about visiting Switzerland in the winter.

Today, Seraina shares some of her top recommendations for those who’d like to discover parts of Zurich that are mostly only frequented by locals.  If you’re looking for a fantastic view over Zurich, would like to know where to find vibrant flea markets, funky bars or a great gelato, Seraina reveals all that and more.

She’s also got some great tips about the wonderful variety of festivals that are held in Zurich throughout the year.  These are definitely worth a visit if you’re in the city whilst they are being staged.

So plug in your headphones, relax, and let’s explore some of the local secrets of Zurich that await you. 

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Show Notes

In this episode you’ll learn about:

  • Zurich’s very own mountain, Uetliberg
  • Fun things to do and places to visit in District 5
  • Zurich’s Urban Surf and Prime Tower
  • The special funicular in Zurich, called Polybahn
  • Best places to enjoy spectacular views
  • Zurich’s flea markets and festivals
  • Everything you need to know about Zurich’s Christmas Markets

Our Guest

Seraina Engert
Seraina Engert

Seraina Engert was born and raised near Zurich, where she now lives with her husband. She is an avid skier and regularly takes ski vacations in Switzerland, especially around Pontresina in canton Graubünden.

Seraina is a moderator of our Switzerland Travel Planning group on Facebook where she generously shares her local knowledge and advice. 

Places mentioned in this episode

>> Uetliberg – Zurich’s ‘house’ mountain can be reached by train in just 25 minutes from the main station. The summit offers superb views of the city, the lake and the Alps.

>> Freitag Tower – the headquarters of Freitag, a Swiss company that makes bags from recycled truck tarpaulins, is made of 19 stacked shipping containers. The Tower is located in Zurich’s District 5 and is close to Hardbrücke train station. A designated viewing area in the Tower provides great city views.

>> Frau Gerold’s Garten – also in District 5, and next door to Freitag Tower, you’ll find Frau Gerold’s Garten, a casual al fresco restaurant and bar.

>> Urban Surf – close to both Freitag Tower and Frau Gerold’s Garten, Urban Surf offers surfers the chance to hit the waves in Zurich thanks to the wave pool. Lessons are also available.

Customers at panorama restaurant at Uetliberg looking at views over Lake Zurich.
There are fantastic views of Lake Zurich and the Swiss Alps from Uetliberg.

>> Viaduct Arches – this former railway viaduct is now home to shopping arcade with stores specialising in vintage and secondhand clothing and accessories. Viaduct Arches are also located in District 5 and is open daily (except Sundays) from 9am to 8pm.

>> Prime Tower – Zurich’s highest building at 126 metres, Prime Tower (also in District 5) was completed in 2011. Clouds restaurant and bar, on the top floor, is a popular spot for enjoying Sunday brunch or watching the sunset with spectacular city views.

>> Polybahn – this small funicular railway is used as a mode of transport between Zurich city and the University of Zurich which sits on a hill (known as Züriberg) above the city. The funicular operates daily.

>> Waid Restaurant – for great views in a less-touristy part of Zurich, the Waid Restaurant on Käferberg is a great choice. Bus #11 from the city will take you there, or you can enjoy a one-hour walk.

Zurich cityscape with Prime Tower.
Prime Tower is Zurich’s tallest building.

>> Urania Sternwarte – astronomy fans will enjoy a visit to Urania Sternwarte which is located in District 1 (the city centre). The round observatory tower is 50 metres high and has protected monument status.

>> Flea market at Burkliplatz – this weekly flea market (held every Saturday) can be found at the end of Bahnhofstrasse, opposite the Lake Zurich boat pier. It’s known as a good spot to buy vintage and unusual goods.

>> Letten – on hot summer days locals flock to two swimming spots on the Limmat River known as Oberer Letten and Unterer Lettern. Here you’ll find designated swimming areas, diving boards and kiosks.

>> Hurlimannbad and Spa – housed in a former brewery, Hurlimannbad and Spa is a wellness centre with a rooftop infinity pool. Various thermal pools and spa rituals are available. > Check prices and options here.

Couple enjoying the rooftop spa at Hurlimannbad and Spa in Zurich.
The rooftop infinity pool at Hurlimannbad and Spa offers relaxation and great city views. Image courtesy Aqua-Spa-Resorts.

>> Festivals – Seraina also mentioned the Sechseläuten and Knabenschiessen festivals as well as the Zurich Christmas markets. You’ll find information about each of these on the Zurich Tourism website.

Useful resources

Our website features lots of helpful articles about visiting Zurich including:

If you are spending at least 24 hours in Zurich, it’s worth considering purchasing a Zurich Card.

You’ll find all our Zurich travel guides > here.

The Zurich Tourism website is a great source of information about Zurich, too.

🎧 Listen to a previous podcast episode: Visiting Zurich (episode 3)

To see all our podcast episodes, > click here.

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