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.
Once the industrial center of the city, Zurich West (District 5) reinvented itself in the mid-1990s with its abandoned factory buildings transforming into a warren of bars, restaurants, art galleries and nightclubs. Today, the district is linked to the city center by tram and home to the Im Viadukt market (Zurich’s first covered market), but for most locals, the hip neighborhood is synonymous with Zurich’s best nightlife.
Located at the meeting point of the Limmat River and Lake Zurich, opposite the lively Limmatquai, Zurich’s Schipfe Quarter is all-too-often missed off tourist’s itineraries, but the waterfront district is one of the city’s most historic and authentic neighborhoods. Once the busy focal point of medieval life, the Schipfe Quarter was best known for its street of artisans, crammed with leather craftsmen, furniture makers and silk warehouses, as well as being an important merchant port and center of the boat-building industry.