Lake Zurich and more: Our favorite outdoor paradises in Switzerland's largest city
By Sarah Gillespie, Feb 2020
Rising up around the lake that shares its name, the stunning Swiss city Zurich is two destinations rolled into one. In the summer, Zurich lures active sun-seekers with water sports and hikes for every endurance level. During the winter, Zurich is a nexus for cold-weather sports. And all year round, the city's snow-capped peaks are a favorite among photographers.
Immerse yourself (literally) in the beauty of Lake Zurich
This is where it all began. Five thousand years after the city's first inhabitants put down roots, the crystalline Lake Zurich still serves as a focal point for the city. During the summer, locals descend en masse to set up picnics, bathe in the clear blue waters and engage in stand-up paddleboarding, waterskiing, windsurfing and other water sports. Taking a boat ride on the lake is also a popular pastime; it's a great way to visit the villages that dot the shoreline and idyllic Ufenau island. During the winter, go ice skating at the Romantik Seehotel Sonne, when Küsnacht is decked out in thousands of twinkling fairy lights.
See the Churfirsten mountain range in all its glory when you climb the seven peaks at Flumserberg.
Get your mountain fix at Flumserberg
The winter sports resort of Flumserberg, nestled between Zurich and the alpine city of Chur, has ski slopes for every skill level. For a more tranquil alternative, take a snowshoe hike or cross-country ski tour; there are more than 11 miles of well-maintained tracks here. In the summer, hikers take over Flumserberg's 93 miles of trails. The challenging but rewarding 7 Peaks tour, a 9-mile ridge walk over (you guessed it) seven peaks, ends with a spectacular view of the Churfirsten mountain range overlooking the Walensee.
Marvel at the thundering Rhine Falls
At 492 feet wide, Rhine Falls is the most powerful waterfall in Europe; an incredible 21,000 cubic feet of water cascades down its face every second during the summer months. After snapping photos from the elevated viewing platform, get your adrenaline fix on one of Adventure Park Rheinfall's rope courses or ride a boat out into the river. Schloss Laufen, the medieval castle that overlooks the falls, is also worth checking out.
Make your way across the slender Cliff Walk suspension bridge at Mount Titlis for breathtaking views below.
Explore a winter wonderland at Titlis
Less than two hours from Zurich, the 3,062-meter mountain Titlis will take your breath away. From the resort village of Engelberg, you can reach the summit station via the Titlis Rotair cable car, which rotates 360 degrees during the five-minute ride. Titlis is the only glacier in the region and can be viewed from the Ice Flyer chairlift, or you can explore a sparkling ice cave that burrows 32 feet below the glacier's surface. If you don't mind heights, walk the Cliff Walk suspension bridge, which is just a meter wide and hangs over a mountain abyss.
See the whole city from Uetliberg
If you're strapped for time, Zurich has its own mountain: the 2,850-foot Uetliberg. From the summit, you can see the city wrap itself around the lake; on a clear day, you can see the Alps rise from the horizon. Relatively gentle hiking routes make this a great half-day excursion from the city; for adventure-seekers, there are some well-worn mountain biking routes. During the winter, the hiking trails become thrilling sledge runs.
No matter when you visit Zurich, adventure awaits around every turn. Whether you're into swimming at the lake or exploring ice caves, Zurich is a year-round outdoor utopia.
Ready to get your adventure started? Browse our Zurich vacation packages today!