By getting myself lost among the snaky streets of Zürich, I have gradually discovered some fantastic places where one can relax and enjoy the great panoramic views over the roofs of Zürich. Whether you are just passing by or want to spend more time, these are my four favorite sightseeing spots of Zürich:
Grossmünster North Tower
The "Big Cathedral" of Zürich is a 12th century Romanesque ex-cathedral with a fascinating history of Catholic saints and Protestant preaching. According to legend, the Grossmünster was founded by Charlemagne after his horse stopped over the graves of three early Christian martyrs...
Four francs and 200 narrow, uneven stone/wood steps take you to the top of the highest of the towers. Its spires and tops were actually destroyed after a fire in 1763 and then were reconstructed with the Gothic-style sections that can be seen today.
The four balconies of the tower provide marvelous views of the city, including several other nearby churches such as the Fraumünster or the Peterskirche. In addition, it is fascinating to see the Limmat river flowing out of the lake of Zürich from high above.
Just like all roads lead to Rome, all alleys lead to Lindenhof. Climbing the narrow streets south from the river docks or climbing them north from Rennweg, I always manage to get to this hill-top park!
Apart from playing chess on a gigantic chessboard, you can approach the low stone wall that offers cozy, charming and colorful views of the Limmat river and the Grossmünster (which, of course, couldn't be seen while standing on the top!).
This is the first Zürich sightseeing point I was taken to. So to me, Lindenhof has a special meaning, having a kind of romantic, picturesque atmosphere that makes me feel like it still remains the same it was some centuries ago.
Urania Café Bar - A Historical Observatory Perspective
The tallest bar in Zurich is magically located in a 48 m tower belonging to the Urania Observatory.
Here, you can chose between magnifications of up to 600 times or "simply" have a drink in the almost always crowded bar. However, you will certainly experience the best coffee time you could imagine!
The Urania Café Bar is especially welcoming during the winter when the snow is falling on the roofs, the chimneys are on and the warmth behind the glasses create a place where time seems to have stopped.
This hill and its iconic steel tower are visible from anywhere in Zürich. The top can be reached by taking an antique-looking train and walking for about 15 minutes (girls: wearing heels is not the best idea if you decide to visit this place!). As an alternative, you could simply hike or bike up the paths among the trees that reign all over Uetliberg.
I was pretty surprised by the masses of people who decided to do sports in the area, but recovering while watching the entire city (including the lake and airport) from the top is a nice incentive, I guess!
Just to make it a bit better, the watchtower can be climbed, offering a 360º view over the city and its surroundings! I went there in summer and can't wait for winter to come to get up there again... I am sure the views with the snow will be spectacular!
Wonderful views of Zürich! Went to school in the Grossmünster Cloister building in the late 50’s. Now living in Central Florida, USA. The “Urania view” of the snow dusted city caused a couple of tears flowing down my cheeks …. Thanks for the memories.
-A very nice and easy place from where to see a large part of Züri is the ETH – Terrasse.
– For nature lovers it’s the Looren Kopf Tower, above Witikon. A wooden structure on the “Pfannenstiel”, across the valley from the Üetliberg. Yes, you will have to walk a bit and leave the car behind!
P.S. the Limmat does not “… mouth into Lake Zürich; the Limmat flows OUT of the lake.
Thank you for you comment! I’m glad you liked the pictures, and I certainly have to visit those locations you proposed.
The Limmat flowing out of the lake is really much more logical than mouthing into it… :) mistakes of a newly swissed! Sorry! :)
Thanks for the tips! Just what I was looking for when I searched for “cafe with view zurich”. Heading over to Urania cafe!
We’re glad you found a hint here! Did you like the spectacular view from the observatory?
These were perfect! I personally like them all and both Uto Kulm and Felsenegg give a great view from the distance by day and also by night. The other ones are amazing, while I would probably take the Grossmuenster in the morning due to the suns position and Lindenhof in the evening. I also like the view from Prime tower despite its through windows.
Thanks for the value adding tips, Daniel! Really helpful for planning a visit to see them all…
You’ve missed the KTH terrace at the end of the polybahn line, which starts from beside the Starbucks near the Zurich Central tram station.
Yes! The ETH terrace is a gorgeous spot and needs to be added to this list. Did you know about the ice rink during December? http://www.newlyswissed.com/event/ice-rink-over-rooftops-zurich
Did not, thanks for sharing. Surprised at the season specific utility of the otherwise empty space, and how different it looks in the winter.
Zurich is the best city in the world – and I’ve lived in several countries!