Length 3.22 km (2.0 miles), terrain flat with two small hills
Zürich Routes List:
East shore out-and-back
West shore out-and-back
Zürich old-town loop
Uetliberg hilltop trail
For more running routes, see the Route List
With a big lakefront, two rivers and two mountains, Zurich has a lot of varied and fun places to run. Here's my favorite little loop through the old town, but with stretches along the Limmat River and the lake.
|Fog on the Limmat River on an autumn morning|
NOTE: see the Destinations Tips page for tips about spending your free time in this great town!
This short route starts at the main train station (Hauptbahnhof), heads up the main shopping street (Bahnhofstrasse) for a short way, then cuts through the old town and along the Limmat River to the lake. It then circles back through the other old town on the east side of the river before connecting back to the train station.
|Zurich main station with statue of Alfred Escher|
|Bahnhofstrasse: turn left at the end of the square|
Turn right here and run through the square towards the street ahead, Uraniastrasse. On the left side, you'll see a stone bridge going over the street.
Turn left and run up the gothic stone steps to the bridge, and then turn right to cross the bridge, going south on Lindenhofstrasse.
Follow Lindenhofstrasse uphill, entering the old town houses. When it narrows to a path with some steps, keep going straight uphill to the next square ahead, Lindenhof.
|Lindenhof in autumn|
|View from Lindenhof to other old-town side, with Grossmünster|
Just keep running straight towards the church as the street goes uphill again. On the side-streets to the right are some of Zurich's finest traditional restaurants. And on the streets going downhill to the river to the left are the city's most expensive designer shops.
|Roman ruins underfoot|
Here at Weinplatz, there is a wide bridge spanning the Limmat, and with the old town hall sitting out over the water on the far side of the bridge, in a neutral spot between the two old towns.
|Along the Limmat at Weinplatz|
|The old Frauenbad (women's bathing platform)|
Now turn left to cross the bridge over the river, where you come to a very busy intersection. Turn left again to start running north along the other side of the river. NOTE: To avoid crossing the street, you can also run down the steps to the right to then circle under the bridge on the little path and come back out on the north side of the street.
Running along the shore, you'll see the other old town section rising up the hillside to your right. This is actually the bigger old town, and is the city's entertainment area, full of clubs, restaurants, cafés and bars.
You'll soon come to the next church, the Wasserkirche, also built on arches over the river, like the town hall. And to its right, throning a terrace on the hillside is the Grossmünster church, Zurich's landmark building, with its twin, rounded towers.
At the Wasserkirche's front porch, turn right to go up the stairs to the terrace above. Run past the front facade of the Grossmünster and then continue uphill up the courtyard behind the church.
|One of the little lanes in the old town|
On my first night in Zurich, 25 years ago, it just happened to be Fassnacht, the main carnival day in the city. I was wandering the Niederdorf neighborhood and was amazed to find "Guggen" music groups who were also wandering the streets. Each group was made up of 4 or more drummers who played driving rhythms as they went down the street. When different guggen-groups met at a street-corner, they began playing together, with new rhythms spontaneously being born on the spot. People were dancing in the street, and I spent half the night doing the same in this surrealistic street scene. May you also collect some great memories in Zurich!
But most nights, the streets are just filled with normal people going out to dinner or to a pub. The streets further up the hill, closer to the university, are full of students and their pubs and cafés, like those on Zähringerplatz, in front of the Predigerkirche with its tall, thin spire.
NOTE: When you pass Mühlegasse, you'll come to the cheaper end of Niederdorfstrasse, with some traditional and relatively low-priced restaurants, like the Johanniter and the Rheinfelder Bierhalle. If you want to try some typical Swiss food, make sure you try them out!
|Traffic policeman at Central. Must be the last one left in Europe!|