Zurich is surrounded by some of the most interesting sightseeing in Switzerland. We've listed a few of exceptional interest. All these attractions can easily be reached on a short trip from your hotel in Zurich, either by train or by lake steamer.
Great Rides Through the Environs
A few fun, quick tours you can take on your own make use of funiculars and trains. If you have time for only one of these trips, make it the Uetliberg.
Alpamare -- We recommend a visit to Alpamare (tel. 055/415-15-15; www.alpamare.ch), Europe's largest water park (as certified in the Guinness Book of World Records). It lies at Churstrasse 111, in the village of Pfäffikon on Lake Zurich, offering year-round fun in and around the water on four body flumes and both indoor and outdoor tube slides. There's also an indoor swimming pool with breakers, a bubbling hot spring, and an open-air pool with underwater music and massage jets, as well as 90m (295 ft.) of lazy river. An outdoor thermal pool contains iodine. The attraction is open daily from 10am to 10pm. Weekdays adults pay 39F for a visit of up to 4 hours, or 49F for a daylong visit. Children 15 and under are charged 32F for a visit of up to 4 hours or 40F for a daylong visit. Weekends adults pay 42F and 52F, respectively, and children 35F and 42F. Children 2 and under are not allowed in the water.
The Dolderbahn -- Take the Dolderbahn for a short aerial cable ride to the Dolder Recreational Area, 596m (1,955 ft.) above the city. Trains leave every 10 minutes from Römerhofplatz, which you can reach by taking tram no. 3, 8, or 15. The recreational area is open year-round and has restaurants, nature trails, old rustic taverns, a path to the zoo, a miniature golf course, and, from October to March, a huge ice-skating rink. There's a place to swim, the Dolder Schwimmbad (tel. 044/267-70-80), which is carved into a hillside with a view of Zurich. The swimming area is a 5-minute walk along a forest trail from the end of the cable-car line; follow the signs to Dolder Wellenbad. Admission to the pool with its artificial waves is 8F, 5F for children 5 and under. The Dolderbahn funicular ride costs 5F; buy your tickets from the machine.
Felsenegg -- An excursion to the alpine aerie at Felsenegg isn't as vertiginous as other mountain stations in higher-altitude regions of Switzerland, but its proximity to Zurich makes it one of the most consistently popular. To reach it, take one of the frequent (every 25 min.) trains from Zurich's Hauptbahnhof for the 14-minute ride to the residential suburb of Adliswil, 10km (6 miles) south, for a cost of 10F each way. Get off in Adliswil, then embark on a brisk, 10-minute uphill climb to an aerial cable car, the Luftseilbahn Adliswil-Felsenegg (LAF; tel. 044/710-73-30; www.laf.ch), for a 6-minute uphill ride to the top of Felsenegg, at 795m (2,608 ft.) above sea level. Expect to pay 8F round-trip. From here, it's a 10-minute hike to the Restaurant Felsenegg (tel. 044/710-77-55; www.felsenegg.com), which serves typical alpine food on a panoramic outdoor terrace or indoors. Main courses range in price from 9.50F to 34F. The restaurant is open June to September Monday to Friday 11am to 10pm, Saturday 11am to 11pm, and Sunday 10am to 6pm; October to May, hours are Monday to Friday 11am to 8pm, Saturday 11am to 11pm, and Sunday 10am to 6pm.
The Forchbahn -- For a close-up view of some of the most desirable residential real estate in Zurich, consider a ride on the Forchbahn, a short-haul railway line originating in downtown Zurich at the Stadelhofen Bahnhof, which lies at the junction of the Bellevueplatz and the Limmatquai, adjacent to the Quaibrücke (tel. 044/434-41-11 for more information). The Forchbahn travels through the capital's staid and endlessly respectable suburbs (local wits refer to it as "the Gold Coast") to endpoints at Esslingen and Forch, both of which lie within 30-minute rides south of the city center. The area is noted for its sunlight, and gardening seems to be a passionate pastime for local residents. You can get off the train at any of the stops, and pick any of the signposted trails that meander to nearby points of scenic interest. (The tourist office in Zurich is a good source of information. Otherwise, just ask a local or set out on a brief excursion on your own.) The shores of both the Greifensee and the Zurichsee are good bets for a walk, with paths that meander down from many points en route. Trains on the Forchbahn run without conductors, so you must buy your tickets from a machine at whatever point you happen to get on.
A round-trip ticket from Stadelhofen Bahnhof to Forch costs 20F; a round-trip ticket from Stadelhofen Bahnhof to Esslingen costs 24F. Trains depart from downtown Zurich (Bellevueplatz) at 30-minute intervals throughout the day and evening.
Kilchberg -- If you're an admirer of Thomas Mann, we recommend a visit to Kilchberg, 6km (4 miles) from Zurich along the southwestern shore of the lake. Mann spent the last years of his life here and was buried on the south side of the small church in the village in 1955. His wife died here in 1980. Fans of the author still flock here to see the grave site, but Kilchberg is more famously associated with the 19th-century Swiss author Conrad Ferdinand Meyer. Train S8 departs from the Zurich Hauptbahnhof every half-hour for an 11-minute ride to the village. If traveling by car, proceed along the southwestern shore route of Lake Zurich, following the signposts to Kilchberg.
Uetliberg -- Southwest of Zurich, Uetliberg, the northernmost peak in the Albis ridge, is one of the most popular excursions from the city, reached in only 15 minutes. Take the mountain railway Uetlibergbahn from the Selnau station in Zurich. A round-trip costs 19F. You arrive near the Sihl River, at an elevation of 840m (2,755 ft.).
From the station, you can hike 10 minutes to the summit, where there's a cafe and restaurant. The tower is a climb of about 170 steps; from the lookout, on a clear day, you can see as far away as the Black Forest. For more information about the train, call tel. 044/206-45-11.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.