At just 87 sq. km, Zurich is a compact city but there’s a good deal of ground to cover here. It’s beloved for its sparkling lakes, sprawling parks and medieval buildings, like the Fraumünster Church. Unsurprisingly, it offers up some excellent terrain for strolling, rambling and hiking too. From hefty hikes up urban mountains to leisurely lakeside strolls, here are some of the best walks in Zurich.
The most scenic walks in Zurich
This seriously scenic walk connects the Main Station to Lake Zurich via Schanzengraben, known as the “Little Venice of Switzerland”. It’s an idyllic waterside promenade that sits around two metres below street level and zigzags over a boardwalk and sandstone slabs. There are plenty of pit stops along the way, including the Old Botanical Garden, Flussbad am Schanzengraben (the men’s public swimming bath) and the baroque Schanzensterna fortress. The easiest way to get here is at the steps by the Rio Bar or Gessnerallee Theatre.
For a short, scenic stroll you can’t go wrong with the Cassiopeia Boardwalk. The 284-metre-long boardwalk gives pedestrians the chance to enjoy an uninterrupted stroll along the lakeshore between Bürkliplatz and Wollishofen. At just 2.8 metres wide, you’ll feel like you’re walking on water. Budding astronomers hotfoot here on clear nights for starry sky views.
3. Lakeside Promenade
Built in the early 19th century when afternoon strolling became popular, the lower basin of Lake Zurich was the largest continuous public park grounds of its time. It transformed Zurich from a small riverside city to a lakeside metropolis. The promenade has been a popular recreation centre ever since, lined with street artists, beaches and boutiques. The 3.5-mile park is the ideal spot for an afternoon stroll and is teeming with attractions, from The China Gardens to Bellevue Square.
This six-kilometre hike offers showstopping views from Zurich’s very own mountain. Soaring 2,850 feet above sea level, the mountain is part of the Albis chain, which stretches some 19-km from Sihlbrugg in the south to Waldegg. This route begins in Gratweg and loops back on itself via the Panorama trail at the edge of the forest. Come winter, the hiking trails transform into sledding runs. To reach it, you can take the S10 line or use VBZ transport. There’s a restaurant and a hotel at the summit too.
The best way to top off a trip on the Rigiblick funicular is on two feet. Built in 1900, the five-minute funicular ride reaches heights of close to 100 metres and offers sweeping views across Lake Zurich and out over the Swiss mountains. After a hot drink and a cake at the Rigiblick bar, take a short walk through the forest to Orelliweg. It’s a beautiful spot for strolling, lined with benches along the way.
Once the widest street in Zurich, Rennweg is a popular promenade that cuts through the heart of the Old Town. In the Middle Ages, this street was the city’s main commercial artery. These days its status for shopping has been usurped by Bahnhofstrasse, but the gently sloping pedestrianized street is still lined with pastel-coloured buildings housing boutiques.
7. Die Waid
For the best views of the city, head to Die Waid. Perched high above Höngg on the edge of the forest, the views are breathtaking. The best times to visit are at sunrise and sunset, but the views are worth the schlep at any time. You could hop on a bus here, but it’s worth carving out a couple of hours to stroll up here from the city centre, through Wipkingen and Hongg. As well as delightful views, you could make a meal out of the whole experience with a trip to Die Waid. The spacious terrace offers magnificent views, particularly in the evening when the city is a sea of twinkling lights.