Ten Things to Do in Zurich in Winter

Things to Do in Zurich in Winter: Walk along the Sihl River
Are there things to do in Zurich in winter? That’s what I aimed to find out when I visited Switzerland for business in the middle of December. I love combining business with pleasure. My meetings started bright and early on a Monday which means that I needed to fly in to Zurich on Sunday to be ready on time.  It didn't really matter what time I flew on Sunday so I picked the earliest possible flight to ensure that I had some time to poke around and add a bit of bleisure to my trip.  I arrived in Zurich in mid-afternoon which essentially gave me half a day on Sunday plus before and after work on Monday and Tuesday to see what Zurich had to offer in the wintertime.  I discovered ten things to do in Zurich that work well in winter. Read on to learn more about what to do in Zurich when the weather turns cold.

1. Winter Cocktails at Kronenhalle

A colleague took me out for drinks when I arrived in Zurich.  He recommended Kronenhalle for an upscale cocktail or an Australian beer bar.  Hmm...let me think about that.  I'll pick the expensive cocktail with local ambiance every time.  Kronenhalle features a heavy wood bar and expert bartenders in white jackets crafting perfect cocktails.  They'll even offer recommendations based on your preferences.  I tried two sake based cocktails, one with citrusy lemon and one with chartreuse.  It was fun watching the action at the bar while sipping and noshing on premium almonds and chips.
Winter in Zurich - Cocktails at Kronenhalle

2. Birdwatching on Zurich See

The next morning, I needed to walk off those cocktails so took a detour along the Zurich See on my commute from the area near the Opera House to Enge.  In the dim morning light, I saw tons of winter birds swimming by serenely.  Birdwatching along Lake Zurich was an ideal way to collect my thoughts before the business of my trip began.

Birdwatching on Zurich See

3. Winter Canal walk to Enge

I try never to take the same walk twice when I'm commuting to the office on a business trip.  With this in mind, I veered away from Zurich See on my second day in town and followed a quiet canal to the Sihl River.  En route, I discovered an early morning farmer's market, a rushing waterfall, and a path lined with stately old growth trees.  
Places to Visit in Zurich in Winter - Walk to Enge

4. The Singing Tree Christmas Market

The weather may not be the nicest in Zurich in December, but winter is the perfect time to visit for a little festive cheer.  I had a chance to stop at a few Christmas Markets in the evenings including the Singing Tree Market.  Various choirs and even some randomers would mount the decorative tree and belt out a selection of Christmas carols.  You can't beat that for Christmas spirit.

Winter in Zurich - Singing Christmas Tree Market

5. Old Town Glühwein For A Winter Warmer

Old town Zurich also featured a festive market with plenty of glühwein in December.  Located amidst a warren of narrow streets, this market was ideal for those doing a bit of last minute Christmas shopping as there were plenty of arts and crafts on display which were complemented by deals at local retailers lining the street. 

Zurich Old Town Christmas Market

6. Crystalline Christmas

If you like your holidays a bit upmarket, then the Christmas Market at the Zurich Train Station is ideal.  This winter market was incredibly crowded with each person jockeying for position to get a perfect photo of the Swarovski Crystal Christmas tree. 

Zurich in Winter - Christmas Market at the Hauptbahnhof

7. Holiday Lights

I enjoyed walking the streets of Zurich after dark.  The city was all aglow with holiday lights to celebrate the Christmas season.  This was one advantage of the sun setting so early.  
Zurich Christmas Lights

8. City in a Spotlight

Zurich has a large number of eye catching spires.  The city looks simply magical when viewed from any number of the bridges crossing the Limmat River. Since the sun goes down early in winter, taking a stroll through the city at night is an ideal thing to do in Zurich in winter.

Zurich landmarks at night

9. Communal Cordon Bleu: Hearty Winter Fare

Food in Zurich can be quite pricey, especially their signature dish, Cordon Bleu.  I popped into Rheinfelder Bierhalle where I found a 'normal' size Cordon Bleu offered for less than 20 CHF (~20 USD).  They also offered a larger size for nearly 30 CHF but the small one was plenty.  I downed my meal with a pint of local beer while attempting to converse with an elderly local gentleman at the communal table where I was sitting.  I speak very little German and he spoke no English.  The experience was slightly awkward but memorable at the same time.  I highly recommend the communal cordon bleu experience as an ideal thing to do in Zurich in winter. Get inside out of the cold and fill up on hearty Swiss fare.
Things to Do in Zurich in Winter - Cordon Bleu at Rheinfelder Bierhalle

10. Heartwarming Love in Winter

On a cold winter's day, it's always nice to see a bit of heartwarming love in the air.  There is a tradition in Zurich of attaching a lock to one of the bridges across the River Limmat as a declaration of never-ending love.  
Zurich - Love locks on the bridge
As you can, there are plenty of things to do in Zurich in the wintertime.  It's always worth combining business with pleasure for an efficient holiday.  All the points and walks mentioned in this post are captured in the map below.

Map of Places to See in Zurich in Winter


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Ten things to do in Zurich Switzerland in Winter

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Ten Things to Do in Zurich in Winter
Ten Things to Do in Zurich in Winter
Ten things to see and do in Zurich in winter. A blog post by travel blogger, Jennifer (aka Dr. J), from Sidewalk Safari.
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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog
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