Zurich

From the northern tip of the Zürichsee, the Limmat River starts its brief journey to the Aare and, ultimately, to the Rhine—and it neatly bisects Zürich at the starting gate. The city is crisscrossed by lovely, low bridges. On the left bank are the Altstadt, the grander, genteel pedestrian zone of the old medieval center; the Zürich Hauptbahnhof, the main train station; and Bahnhofplatz, a major urban crossroads and the beginning of the world-famous luxury shopping street Bahnhofstrasse. The right bank constitutes the livelier old section, divided into the Oberdorf (Upper Village) toward Bellevue, and the Niederdorf (Lower Village), from Marktgasse to Central and along Niederdorfstrasse, which buzzes on weekends. Most streets between Central and Bellevue are pedestrian-only zones, as is the Limmatquai from the Rudolf-Brun-Brücke to the Münsterbrücke.

Similar to the arrondissement system in Paris, Zürich is officially divided into a dozen numbered Kreises (districts), which spiral out clockwise from the center of the city. Kreis 1, covering the historic core, includes the Altstadt, Oberdorf, and Niederdorf. Zürich West is part of Kreis 5. Most areas in the city are commonly known by their Kreis, and a Kreis number is generally the most helpful in giving directions.

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  • 1. Bahnhofstrasse

    Kreis 1 | Neighborhood/Street

    Reputedly "the most expensive street in the world"—thanks to all of its extravagantly priced jewelry stores—Zürich's principal boulevard offers...Read More

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  • 2. Fraumünster

    Kreis 1 | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Of the church spires that are Zürich's signature, the Fraumünster's is the most delicate, a graceful sweep to a narrow point. It was added to...Read More

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  • 3. Grossmünster

    Kreis 1 | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    This impressive cathedral, affectionately known to English speakers as the "Gross Monster," features plump twin towers (circa 1781) on which...Read More

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  • 4. Kunsthaus

    Kreis 1 | Museum/Gallery

    With a varied and high-quality permanent collection of paintings—medieval, Dutch and Italian baroque, and impressionist—the Kunsthaus is Zürich...Read More

  • 5. Sammlung Oskar Reinhart "Am Römerholz"

    Museum/Gallery

    Lucas Cranach's Portrait of Johannes Cuspinian, Pieter Breugel the Elder's Adoration of the Magi in the Snow, Peter Paul Rubens's Decius...Read More

  • 6. Alfred Escher statue

    Kreis 1 | Public Art

    Leave it to Zürich to have a statue that honors not a saint, not a poet or artist, but rather the financial wizard who single-handedly dragged...Read More

  • 7. Graphische Sammlung

    Kreis 1 | Museum/Gallery

    The impressive collection of the Federal Institute of Technology includes a vast library of woodcuts, etchings, and engravings by such European...Read More

  • 8. Hauptbahnhof

    Kreis 1 | Transportation Site (Airport, Bus, Ferry, Train)

    From the bustling main concourse of this immaculate 19th-century edifice you can watch crowds rushing to their famously on-time trains. Beneath...Read More

  • 9. Haus Konstruktiv

    Kreis 1 | Museum/Gallery

    Housed in a former electrical substation set by the River Sihl—an impressive 1930s modernist architectural statement in its own right—this collection...Read More

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  • 10. Helmhaus

    Kreis 1 | Museum/Gallery

    Changing exhibitions of contemporary, often experimental, art by Zürich-based artists are hosted at this museum, the open court of which once...Read More

  • 11. James Joyce's Grave

    Cemetery

    The inimitable Irish author not only lived and wrote in Zürich, but died here as well. The city's most famous literary resident is buried in...Read More

  • 12. Kirche St. Peter

    Kreis 1 | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Dating from the early 13th century, Zürich's oldest parish church was built on a site that has been occupied by a church since the 9th century...Read More

  • 13. Kirchgasse

    Neighborhood/Street

    Antiques, art, and book enthusiasts will delight in the shops on this street, and those interested in history or religion should note that No...Read More

  • 14. Kunsthalle

    Kreis 5 | Museum/Gallery

    Set in West Zürich, this is one of two major modern art venues on the top floors of a former brewery. The gallery hosts exhibitions presenting...Read More

  • 15. Lindenhof

    Kreis 1 | Plaza/Square

    On the site of this quiet square, overlooking both sides of the river, a Roman customhouse and fortress and a Carolingian palace once stood...Read More

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  • 16. Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst

    Kreis 5 | Museum/Gallery

    One floor below the Kunsthalle, this airy, white loft has the same focus—up-and-coming contemporary artists—but is privately funded by Switzerland...Read More

  • 17. Museum für Gestaltung

    Kreis 5 | Museum/Gallery

    The main repository for Switzerland's important legacy in graphic design, posters, and applied arts, this vast collection has been rehoused...Read More

  • 18. Museum Rietberg

    Kreis 2 | Museum/Gallery

    Dancing Indian Shivas, contemplative Tibetan thangkas, late-18th-century literary paintings from China, and royal Benin bronzes from Nigeria...Read More

  • 19. Paradeplatz

    Kreis 1 | Plaza/Square

    The hub of Bahnhofstrasse and a tram junction, this square is a great place to observe a microcosm of the local upper crust—furrowed-brow bankers...Read More

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  • 20. Rathaus

    Kreis 1 | Government Building

    In Zürich's striking baroque government building, dating from 1694–1698, the interior remains as well preserved as the facade, with a richly...Read More

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