What to do in Switzerland
Here are some of our favorite highlights close to Zurich. All destinations are easy to reach by public transport or car. We bet you have not heard of all of them, some are real insider tips.
1- Stiftbibliothek St Gallen
It is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. Together with the Abbey of St Gall, it is a World Heritage site since 1983 and a perfect example of a Carolingian monastery. We recommend to join a public tour or to grab audio guides that are available directly at the tourism office which is next to the train station. Check the package offers Railaway.
2- Pilatus "Goldene Fahrt" Tour
Experience five different modes of transport and one amazing mountain, all in one day! First take the boat from Lucerne to Alpnachstad, then conquer the majestic Pilatus with the steepest rack and pinion railway in the world. After the breathtaking ascent you will be rewarded by equally spectacular views from the top. Enjoy the excellent leisure facilities at the summit and have some refreshments on the panoramic terrace or in one of the cozy restaurants. You may then descend back down to lower elevations by taking the "Dragon Ride" aerial cableway to Fräkmüntegg and finally the gondola to Kriens. You can also add some hiking to the tour. From Kriens you can return to Lucerne on the modern trolleybus, thus completing the convenient circular journey. Count at least 5 hours to complete the tour.
3- Schaffhausen & The Rhine Falls
To stand high above Europe's largest waterfall, feeling the roar and vibration of the water over one's entire body - this can be experienced at the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen. By ship one can reach castles, the Rhine Falls Basin and even the mighty rock in the midst of the waterfall. More information to organize your visit: click here. You can also view or order the official brochure here.
4- the Gonten barefoot trail
Do you feel like taking off your shoes and walking barefoot for a while?This barefoot trail takes you across the Gonten moor to the Kronbergbahn valley station. Experience first-hand the unique sensations of barefoot hiking. You will be surprised at just how rich this tactile experience is. Meadows and streams are connected by short stretches of cobblestone or asphalt. At the beginning and end, Kneipp stations in a mountain stream make it easy for you to wash your feet.
The trail is 5km long, count with 1.5 hours for the walk. How to get there: use this link. You can also extend the distance (with shoes) on one of the many hiking trails goind through the Appenzell countryside. Don't miss to visit Appenzell at the end!
5- Mainau Island
The Germans among you will say directly: "but it's not in Switzerland!". Fact is that Zurich is only 40km away from the German border, and the Black Forest and Constance lake are much closer from Zurich than Tessin or Geneva. The 45 hectar Mainau Island lies just off the shores of Lake Constance. The over 150 year old Arboretum with giant sequoias welcomes you to relax and enjoy nature seasons. Around a million tulips, rhododendrons, scented roses, perennials and colourful dahlias bloom in the park and gardens. Palms and citrus plants lend a Mediterranean flair to the island in summer. The Teutonic castle completed in 1746 and the castle church St. Marien are architectural highlights of the Baroque era and stand in close proximity to 15 metre tall palm trees. You are nature and garden lover? Come to the island! All infos under mainau.de. We give you also further hints on what else to do at Constance Lake: sailing, bike riding, or just discovering the many villages, the Pfahlbauten and public bathes along the shore - you can spend many days at this lake.
6- Bruno Weber Park
If you liked Gaudi Park Güell in Barcelona, you should definitely not miss Bruno Weber's sculptures which are exposed in the place he lived in Dietikon, 15 km (about 20 minutes by car) away from Zurich. There, he acted as painter, sculptor, architect and inventor to create a truly fairy-tale like world full of mosaics, strange animal-objects and buildings.
Those of you who hiked or took the train to Uetliberg's "top of Zürich", the highest point to contemplate the city and the lake, will remember those dragon lamp poles and benches there. Few of the inhabitants of Zurich know that they come from Bruno Weber.
The 20,000 m2 park is open from April until end of October, 60-minutes tours can be organized in French, English or German, but think of contacting the association at least 7 days in advance. More infos on the Bruno Weber park website.