Home to the country’s busiest international airport and connected to all of Europe’s major cities by regular flights and high-speed trains, Zurich is the first port-of-call for many visitors to Switzerland and makes a popular choice for a city break. With its notoriously lofty prices and glamorous reputation, this isn’t a city for a budget getaway, but if you’re feeling flush, there are plenty of ways to spend the perfect weekend in Zurich.
From world-class shopping boutiques to lakeside beaches, Switzerland’s biggest city is well equipped for entertaining all ages and there are plenty of family friendly activities to enjoy in the city. Whether you’ve got under-5s to keep amused or thrill-seeking teenagers to impress, here are a few ideas for things to do with kids in Zurich.
Measuring around 40km long and reaching depths of up to 143 meters, Lake Zurich (Zürichsee) is one of Switzerland’s largest lakes, stretching south of Zurich to the Rapperswil dam, where it passes into the cantons of St. Gallen and Schwyz. Marking the south side of Zurich, the vast lake fronts one of the most scenic parts of the city, flowing into the Limmat River and bordered by a scenic lakeside promenade. A natural retreat for city dwellers, relaxing at the waterfront parks and lakeside beaches is a popular pastime, but for visitors to the city, cruising Lake Zurich is the best way to discover the lake’s many attractions.
With its cluster of traditional timber-framed houses and cobbled medieval lanes winding along the banks of the Rhine River, Stein-am-Rhein ranks among Switzerland’s oldest and most picturesque towns. Perched right on the German border, where Lake Constance flows into the Rhine River, visiting Stein-am-Rhein from Zurich is a popular choice for a day trip, often combined with nearby sights like Schaffhausen and the famous Rhine Falls, but the historic town also makes a strategic base for discovering Germany’s Black Forest region or cruising the vast Lake Constance.
Summertime is festival time in Zurich and hot on the heels of the Swiss National Day celebrations and the Zurich Street Parade, is the Niederdorf Old Town Festival (Dörfli Fest). Held in the atmospheric Niederdorf district of Zurich’s Old Town, the 3-day festival has the feel of a lively village fete with the cobblestone alleyways and historic squares playing host to a myriad of free events and entertainment.
One of Switzerland’s most famous spa towns and not to be confused with its double-barreled German counterpart (the Black Forest town of Baden-Baden), Baden has been a favorite retreat for city dwellers since Roman times. Visiting the spa town of Baden from Zurich is easily done on a day trip, with regular train links taking just 30 minutes, and the tranquil riverfront town provides a welcome change of pace from the city.