Zurich is a popular destination
for families from all over the world and thankfully the city offers many
activities and excursions designed to keep children entertained.
Alpamare Water Park
This huge water theme park
is one of the biggest in Europe and offers a full day’s entertainment for
the whole family. The park includes a wide range of water-based activities
for children, with standard swimming pools, wave pools and various water
slides totalling a massive 4,900 feet in length. The park’s major drawcard
is the longest water slide in Europe; the Balla Balla consists of a breathtaking
tubular ride, which is enhanced by stunning light and water effects. There
is also plenty to keep the adults entertained, with relaxing health spas,
saunas and solariums on offer.
Lindt and Sprungli Chocolate
Another entertaining and
inexpensive day out for families can be had at the Lindt Chocolate Factory
in the town of Kilchberg, just to the south of the city. This working factory
offers a museum charting the history of the company as well as a free tour
of the site and some free chocolate tasting. The factory is known for its
erratic opening hours, so visitors should check ahead to avoid disappointment.
Switzerland’s biggest zoo
is situated just a short tram ride from the city centre and is an absolute
must for visitors with children. The zoo houses over 2,500 animals in expansive
surroundings, giving all its residents ample room to live in comfort. The
zoo has recently opened its new Madagascan rainforest area, which has enhanced
the zoo’s reputation as one of Europe’s leading zoos.
Zurich Toy Museum
This small museum offers
a fascinating insight into the history of European toys and is well worth
a visit. Adults and children alike will be absorbed by the large display
of toys and games from the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century.
You will find the museum at 15 Fortunagasse in the old town area.
Switzerland’s cultural heritage
has long been influenced by its neighbouring countries, particularly Germany,
France and Italy, although these influences have only served to enhance
the broader Swiss culture rather than swamp it. The city of Zurich has
been particularly influenced by its close proximity to Germany, with the
most obvious reminder of this being the use of the German language throughout
the Zurich region. Over the years, Zurich has been home to many of the
world’s best known artisans, which has led to the city being regarded as
one of the leading art capitals of the world.
||Swiss National Museum
Located behind Central Train
Station, on the aptly named Museumstrasse, the museum houses the largest
historical and cultural collection in Switzerland. Exhibits range from
early prehistoric times to the present day, with specific collections focusing
on the history of Swiss warfare, clock-making through the ages and prehistoric
man. The museum also contains a large collection of religious artwork including
stained glass pieces and frescoes rescued from the city’s many religious
Fine Arts Museum (Kunsthaus
Zurich Opera House (Opernhaus)
This exceptional art gallery
is mainly dedicated to the 19th and 20th century periods, but it also has
many pieces from earlier periods. The Kunsthause was first opened in Victorian
times and went through a major overhaul in 1976; the museum is now regarded
as one of the most important galleries in Europe. Highlights of the collection
include great works such as Rodin’s ‘Gate of Hell’ as well as pieces by
Picasso, Rembrandt, Rubens and Monet.
Zurich Opera House is located
near Bellevueplatz in the centre of the city and has been entertaining
theatre-goers since 1891. The Opernhaus offers a wide variety of shows,
with opera, plays, ballet and concerts all on the extensive programme of
over 300 performances per year. Over the years, Zurich Opera House has
been the venue for dozens of important premiers, two of the more notable
were Alban Berg’s ‘Lulu’ and ‘Mathis der Maler’ by Hindemith.
EG Buhrle Collection
This private collection
may be small, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in sheer
quality. The collection’s main focus is Impressionist and post-Impressionist
art, with many of the greats of the genre represented including Monet,
Manet, Renoir and Degas. Other highlights of the collection include a set
of landscapes by Cezanne and a Van Gogh self portrait from 1887. The gallery
is housed in a private mansion on Zollikerstrasse and can only be visited
on Tuesdays and Fridays from 14:00 to 17:00, and on Wednesdays from 17:00
Swiss people are traditionally
great lovers of the outdoors and they like to take every opportunity to
get involved in outdoor pursuits. As a result or this and the country’s
amazing terrain, the country has developed an excellent network of outdoor
activities and sporting facilities. Whether you come for the winter sports,
mountain trekking or water sports, you are unlikely to be disappointed
with what Switzerland has to offer.
Skiing and Snowboarding
For well over 100 years,
people have flocked to Switzerland for its unrivalled scenery and superb
winter sports facilities. Zurich is conveniently located close to the Alpine
skiing region, with literally dozens of major ski resorts within a two-hour
drive of the city. Visiting skiers looking for glitz and glamour as well
as good snow, should head to one of the country’s major resorts such as
St Moritz, Verbier or Klosters, where style can come with a very large
price tag. Alternatively, those visitors looking for more space on the
slopes and more reasonable prices should head to one of the smaller resorts,
which are spread around the region.
The Dolder Recreational
Area is the venue for one of Zurich’s most popular winter pastimes. Here
you will find Switzerland’s largest artificial ice skating rink in operation
from October to March. The rink is popular with locals and visitors alike,
with many visitors coming merely to watch the skaters or to meet up with
friends in the surrounding bars and cafés. The rink is open from
09:00 to 22:00, Monday to Saturday, and 09:00 to 18:00 on Sundays.
The Cresta Run
The infamous Cresta Run
was originally built by the British-owned St Moritz Tobogganing Club in
1887 and has been rebuilt every year since. Visitors, who are brave or
foolhardy enough, can hurtle down the 3,600-foot course head first on a
small toboggan, reaching speeds of over 60 miles per hour. The course is
only open for nine weeks from late December to the end of February, with
limited days available to non-members, so visitors looking to try this
ultimate thrill ride should check with the club in advance.