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Switzerland / German-Speaking Switzerland

zurich jewish tour

The Jewish presence in Zurich probably dates back to the 13th century. During the Middle Ages, as in many other cities in the region, the situation of the Jews varied between reception, persecution and expulsion, depending on the power in place. In the wave of major expulsions that took place between the end of the 14th and the end of the 15th century, the Jews of Zurich were expelled in 1436.

Swiss Federation of Hebrew Communities

The collection includes the documents from JUNA, the FSCI press office, the Union of Jewish Mutal Aid Societies, the Swiss Refugees Council, the Union of Jewish Students, and the Action Group for Jews in the Soviet Union, along with extensive private archives.

The former ghetto of the Brunnengasse was the site of a 1349 pogrom against the Jews, who were accused of having spread the plague.

A commemorative plaque was unveiled 650 years later at 4 Froschausgasse, where the former synagogue stood. The narrow, nameless alley that leads to the Neumarkt was renamed Synagogengasse. In 2020, the Jewish community numbers 2500 members.

Israelitische Cultusgemeinde Zurich

zurich jewish tour

The ICZ’s synagogue, at the corner of the Löwenstrasse and Nuschelerstrasse, was built in 1884 in Moorish style; it features a beige and red-striped facade, two towers topped by domes, and traditional windows.

Its community centre housed a kosher restaurant which was closed in 2019. There is also a school, a library and a mikve.

Israelitische Religionsgesellschaft

Or chadasch synagogue, agudas achim synagogue.

In 2024, the Jewish population was estimated to be around 7,000. There are two kosher shops in the city including The Shuk, located on Waffenplatzstrasse.

Tags: agudas achim architecture ghetto hasid hasidic jewish community jewish culture jewish history jewish life jewish quarter monument or chadash shtetl synagogue

Where to eat

Fein und Schein

Schöntalstrasse 14, 8004 Zürich

+41 (0) 44 241 30 40

Places to discover

Gotthardstrasse 65, Case postale 2105, 8027 Zurich

+41 (0)43 305 07 77

https://www.swissjews.ch

Lavaterstrasse 33, 8002 Zürich

+41 (0) 44 283 22 22

http://www.icz.org/

Freigutstrasse 37, 8001 Zürich

+41 (0) 44 201 49 98

Hallwylstrasse 78, 8004 Zürich

+41 (0) 43 322 03 14

http://www.jlg.ch/

Erikastrasse 8, 8003 Zürich

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Virtual Walking Tour of Jewish Zurich

Hosted By: Baltimore Zionist District

zurich jewish tour

Join the BZD alongside our guide Jonathan Schoppig and immerse yourself in Jewish Zurich. First, we’ll visit the old town where the first synagogue was built in the Middle Ages. Then, we will walk into the quarters, which were the main centers of where Jewish life was. Finally, we’ll cover the secrets on why Jewish people in Switzerland call themselves the “8-25,” and we’ll also give you an insight into contemporary Jewish life in Zurich.

The event listed here is hosted by a third party. My Jewish Learning/70 Faces Media is not responsible for its content or for errors in the listing.

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10 of the best things to do in Zürich

Caroline Bishop

Mar 15, 2024 • 8 min read

zurich jewish tour

Discover the best things to do in Zürich, the biggest city in Switzerland © Dario Toledo / Getty Images

Even though its population doesn't even hit half a million,  Zürich is a forerunner in Switzerland when it comes to business, banking, nightlife and gastronomy. If it’s happening in Switzerland, it’s happening in Zürich first.

Highly walkable yet with a chocolate-smooth transport system , Züri – as the locals affectionately call it – has world-class museums, a diverse social scene and a lakeside culture that’s hard to beat. Here are the best things to do in Switzerland's largest city.

A church with a tall steeple dominates a cityscape

1. Admire Chagall’s modernist windows at the Fraumünster

Standing tall on the left bank of the Limmat River, the Fraumünster is one of Zürich’s oldest religious buildings, founded as a convent way back in 853 CE. But its major draw these days is something much more recent: a set of stained glass windows created by modernist artist Marc Chagall in 1967.

The five panels use bold colors and abstract imagery to depict biblical stories. Picasso was apparently a fan, and it’s easy to see why. Chagall was 83 when the windows were inaugurated, but he wasn’t done there. He created the Fraumünster's equally striking rose window at the grand old age of 90.

Detour: Walk over the Münsterbrücke to the Grossmünster on the opposite side of the Limmat, whose twin bell towers are a distinctive landmark in the city. Modern stained glass windows by German artist Sigmar Polke liven up an otherwise plain interior. This lack of adornment is due in part to Huldrych Zwingli, one of the founders of the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland, who preached here in the 16th century.

2. Learn Switzerland's history at the Landesmuseum

Housed in a 19th-century stone building near the train station, the Schweizerisches Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum) is a great place to get a sense of the country. The permanent collection takes visitors through the country’s eclectic history from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Exhibits illuminate Switzerland’s recent history by detailing its attitude to banking secrecy, neutrality, foreign migration and women’s rights (women only obtained the right to vote in 1971) – all much more interesting than it sounds – while a formidable display of pikes and halberds from the Middle Ages shows how far it’s come.

Don’t miss the original 1862 edition of Henry Dunant’s account of the battle of Solférino, which inspired his humanitarian ideology and led to the formation of the International Committee of the Red Cross a year later.

People walk through the pedestrianized center of an old town

3. Wander the Old Town and relax in Lindenhof

When you’re done wandering around the Altstadt (Old Town) – its narrow cobbled streets, decorative buildings, boutiques, cafes, taverns and bierkellers  (beer cellars) may keep you there a while – rest your legs on a bench under the trees at Lindenhof , a peaceful plateau on a hill overlooking the Limmat River and the skyline of its right bank. Once the site of a Roman fort and later a royal palace, these days it’s a meeting place, picnic spot, chess players' hangout and backdrop of choice for selfie-taking tourists.

Planning tip: You'll find water fountains at Lindenhof, but they are all over the city. Unless otherwise stated, the water is as clean and drinkable as anything pre-bottled. Bring your own bottle and top up as you go.

4. Explore Niederdorf’s coffee and craft culture

Known as Dörfli (meaning "little village"), Niederdorf sits on the right bank of the Limmat River and forms part of Zürich’s Old Town. Reflective of Zürich’s young heart as much as its old soul, the area’s cobbled pedestrian alleyways harbor contemporary artists’ galleries and upmarket artisan shops, cafes, delis, old taverns and fashionable bars that draw a lively crowd.

Browse the gourmet coffees and chocolate at  Schwarzenbach grocery , which looks unchanged since it opened its doors in 1864, before having dinner and drinks at Am Rank , a sleek bar that hosts gigs by some of Zürich’s latest young music talents.

5. Discover Dada at Cabaret Voltaire

While WWI was raging in Europe in 1916, a group of artists, writers and thinkers sought safe haven and like-minded souls in neutral Switzerland, which – counter to the country’s reputation these days – became a magnet for the avant-garde. These anti-bourgeois intellectuals would hang out at Zürich’s Cabaret Voltaire , a small bar on a cobbled street in Niederdorf, where they formed Dada, an experimental, anarchical literary and artistic movement.

Today, the bar celebrates this history while also showcasing the work of contemporary artists. Sip a coffee or a Dada Sour in the ground-floor Artists’ Bar – decorated by a different artist each year – or browse the Dada Library in the 1st-floor space where Dada founder Hugo Ball and his friends used to perform.

Detour: If you can’t get enough of Dada, head to the Kunsthaus Zürich , the city’s main art gallery, which holds the world’s largest collection of Dada art, including pieces by Man Ray, Tristan Tzara, and Swiss artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp.

6. Swim in a lakeside badi

Like most Swiss cities, Zürich lives for its waterways, and in summer the banks of the Limmat and the shores of the Zürichsee (Lake Zürich) simmer with sunbathers, swimmers, and the smell of barbecued sausage.

The city’s many badis (swimming baths) are a longstanding part of Zürich life, providing changing facilities, sun decks and water access, as well as offering a place to socialize, eat and drink into the evening.

There’s a quaint, old-fashioned feel to wooden bathhouses like Seebad Utoquai , which dates from 1850 and has both single-sex and mixed zones, as well as a sauna and massage facilities – plus the best sunset views over the city.

Planning tip: Most badis close in winter, so get more lake into your life by taking a boat ride from shore to shore or farther afield with  Lake Zürich Navigation Company , which runs commuter services and leisurely cruises year-round.

Zürich seen from the viewpoint on top of Uetliberg mountain, Switzerland

7. Hike up Uetliberg, Zürich’s local mountain

Higher and mightier mountains are within a short distance of Zürich, but Uetliberg holds a special place in people’s hearts as Züri’s local mountain – so local, in fact, that all you need do to get there is take the S10 tram from the main train station (Hauptbahnhof) and walk 10 minutes to the viewpoint .

Popular in all seasons, Uetliberg has family-friendly hikes and picnic spots in summer, toboggan runs in winter and an eye-filling panorama of the city and lake all year. It’s particularly special on a fall or winter day when you can rise above the fog that habitually hovers over the city at that time of year and enjoy the blue sky overhead.

8. Join the post-work crowd in Zürich West

In stark contrast to the beauty of the city’s Old Town and riversides, Zürich West isn’t pretty at all. But what it lacks in looks, it makes up for in personality. A patchwork of former industrial buildings, concrete flyovers and railway tracks, this area has been seized upon by enterprising locals in recent years who have opened quirky bars, restaurants and cultural attractions in its unusual spaces.

Explore the boutiques and food hall under the railway arches at Im Viadukt  or catch a theater performance at the Schiffbau , the former site of Zürich’s shipbuilding activity. The post-work crowd can be found at Frau Gerolds Garten , a surprising pocket of greenery where shipping-container bars, independent shops and an organic kitchen garden surround a central area of shaded benches.

Planning tip: Get from the town center to Zürich West on an electric scooter – several companies including Bolt, Vio and Lime offer on-street rental through their apps.

White-painted exterior of Hiltl restaurant in Zürich, Switzerland

9. Eat plant-based food at Hiltl, the world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant

Plant-based food may be all the rage these days, but in Zürich, it’s nothing new. The vegetarian restaurant Hiltl has been operating since 1898, making it – according to the knowledgeable folk at Guinness World Records – the oldest meat-free restaurant in the world.

The original restaurant at Sihlstrasse, Haus Hiltl, has since spawned several other outlets across the city, all serving a buffet spread of imaginative salads, pasta dishes and mezze-style creations inspired by flavors from around the world. Even if you’re a dedicated meat eater, you’re bound to find something here to sate your appetite. Haus Hiltl also offers an à la carte menu with table service.

Detour: If vegetarianism isn’t your thing, seek out a classic Swiss bratwurst instead.  Sternen Grill  has been serving this traditional snack since 1963. Pair it with a hunk of bread or a tub of potato salad.

10. Climb the Freitag tower

It’s hard to pass a day in Switzerland without seeing someone with a Freitag bag. This ubiquitous Swiss brand began life in Zürich in the early 1990s as the brainchild of two inventive brothers who decided to make practical messenger bags out of old truck tarps.

It’s appropriate, then, that the flagship store in Zürich West is also made out of recycled materials, nine former shipping containers, to be precise, piled one on top of another to create a creaky old tower. It's a trek up the stairs to the top, but worth it for the view of the area’s industrial sprawl and its surprising incongruities, such as the nearby wave pool where surfers can be seen catching a ride.

This article was first published May 13, 2019 and updated Mar 15, 2024.

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Jewish Heritage

Europe's Jewish Heritage Jewish history and culture along the rivers

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Europe's Jewish Revival

The 2,000-year-old history of the Jewish people in Europe is an inspiring one, rife with tragedy and discrimination, as well as the endurance and profound sense of community that survived it all.

Uniworld’s Jewish Heritage cruises pay homage to this legacy. Our distinctive program showcases Jewish communities, highlighting positive developments and locals who are helping Jewish culture grow and thrive in the modern day.

While visits to Holocaust memorials, Jewish museums, and WWII sites are an important part of this journey, our aim is to tell the whole story—the story of a culture that flourished for centuries despite the odds.

We’ve designed our Jewish Heritage theme cruises to serve as cross-cultural “bridges of understanding,” both for those looking to explore their roots and anyone who would enjoy an immersive journey through an integral aspect of European history. Please note: some sites may be closed for inside viewing during the High Holidays, Passover and other significant events.

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City Tour Through Zurich by Bus

General view of the city of Zurich

  • City tour taking in Zurich's highlights 
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  • Short stroll through Zurich's Old Town

10% discount with the Zürich Card

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  • Over 50 discounts

This classic city tour in a comfortable, air-conditioned tour bus takes in Zurich’s highlights: Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich Opera House, Lake Zurich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH, Zurich University, Kunsthaus, Old Town, and Zürichberg.

The photo stops along Lake Zurich and in the Old Town  –  at the historical guild houses, St. Peter’s Church, Grossmünster, and Fraumüster  –  provide stunning photo opportunities.

The tour also includes a short ride up to the Zürichberg quarter, where guests are treated to magnificent views of the city, the lake, and the snowcapped mountains in the distance. A short stroll leads through the history-steeped Old Town, before the tour bus returns along the picturesque Limmatquai to the Sihlquai bus parking area. 

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    The Jewish presence in Zurich probably dates back to the 13th century. During the Middle Ages, as in many other cities in the region, the situation of the Jews varied between reception, persecution and expulsion, depending on the power in place. In the wave of major expulsions that took place between the end of the 14th and the end of the 15th ...

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    Virtual Walking Tour of Jewish Zurich. Hosted By: Baltimore Zionist District. Join the BZD alongside our guide Jonathan Schoppig and immerse yourself in Jewish Zurich. First, we'll visit the old town where the first synagogue was built in the Middle Ages. Then, we will walk into the quarters, which were the main centers of where Jewish life ...

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    Israelitische Cultusgemeinde Zürich (Jewish Community of Zürich), commonly shortened to ICZ, is a united Jewish community in the Swiss city of Zürich.Consisting of about 2,500 members, the ICZ is the largest Jewish community in Switzerland. The community has a Synagogue in Löwenstrasse in Zürich-City, a community center with a kindergarten and Jewish library in Zürich-Enge, and two ...

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    14 Vevey. 15 Mürren. 16 St. Gallen. 17 Schaffhausen. 18 Chur. 19 Davos. 20 Fribourg. Discover the famous city highlights of Zurich on an open bus tour that offers unbeatable views of the city. See Lake Zurich, the Swiss National Museum, and the FIFA World Football Museum.

  19. Jewish Heritage

    The 2,000-year-old history of the Jewish people in Europe is an inspiring one, rife with tragedy and discrimination, as well as the endurance and profound sense of community that survived it all. Uniworld's Jewish Heritage cruises pay homage to this legacy. Our distinctive program showcases Jewish communities, highlighting positive ...

  20. City Tour Through Zurich by Bus

    24 or 72 hours. Public transportation included. Free admission to museums. Over 50 discounts. Buy a Zürich Card. This classic city tour in a comfortable, air-conditioned tour bus takes in Zurich's highlights: Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich Opera House, Lake Zurich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH, Zurich University, Kunsthaus, Old Town ...

  21. 9 Day Jewish Heritage Israel Tour

    Our 9 day Jewish Heritage Tour of Israel will provide you with an up-close and unforgettable experience with the Land of Israel. From visiting places of ultimate religious significance and importance such as Jerusalem, Yad Vashem, and Masada, to highlights of modern day Israel such as Tel Aviv and modern Jerusalem, iconic natural wonders such as the Dead Sea and Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, and ...

  22. Warsaw: Jewish Heritage 4-Hour Private Tour

    Warsaw: Jewish Heritage 4-Hour Private Tour. 4.7 / 5 18 reviews. Activity provider: Poland Tour D.Racz M.Robak S.C. Add to wishlist. View all 9 images. Follow the footsteps of Jewish community in Warsaw. Learn about its glorious and shameful moments. Discover places related to the past and present Jews and try kosher dishes.

  23. Berlin Jewish Quarter and Holocaust Private Walking Tour

    Ths walking tour covers a distance of approximately 3,5 km so we recommend wearing comfortable shoes. The New Synagogue and Jewish Cemetery are closed on Saturdays and on the Jewish and German holidays. The dome of the New Synagogue can only be visited from April to September. From$199.97per person. Check availability.

  24. Zurich steps up security at Jewish sites after possible antisemitic

    ZURICH, March 3 (Reuters) - Police have stepped up security measures at Jewish sites in Zurich following a serious knife attack on an orthodox Jewish man in the Swiss city overnight, local police ...