It’s Mid-February, the days are getting longer, the sun feels warm on our skins and the first flowers peak from the ground. Spring is around the corner and while I am well aware that there is still a possibility of colder days and even snow, I am very excited about this. Spring in Zurich is especially nice. I just love to experience how the city slowly transitions from winter into summer. People start to spend lots of time outdoors, even on colder days, getting as much sun as possible. And, towards the end of May, the public baths finally start to open and the first brave souls go for a swim in the lake.
Oh, there are plenty of ways to enjoy spring in Zurich. So, as a follow up on my post with things to do in Zurich in winter, here are some of my favorite things to do in Zurich in spring.
1. Have Drinks in the Sun
As soon as the first warmer afternoons arrive in Zurich, cafés open their outdoor sitting areas and people sip their coffee, beer or Weinschorle while holding their faces into the sun, collecting vitamin B and freckles. Here are some of my favorite places to go and have a drink outside to welcome spring in Zurich.
Rio Bar is a small bar in the city centre, right next to the river Sihl and the Schanzengraben, the canal that marks the former town fortifications of Zurich. The place can be very crowded on the weekends. But, as their outdoor seating area is made up of plenty of seating and tables, you will probably be lucky and find a spot in the sun.
Gessnerallee 17, 8001 Zürich
Xenix is bar close to Helvetiaplatz. It belongs to the small Indie-cinema of the same name. It’s a no-frills place that has a very laid back groove. Get a beer by the bar and find a seat at one of the tables in front of the bar or get settled onto one of the benches around the Pétanque area.
Kanzleistrasse 52, 8004 Zürich
Stazione Paradiso, is a small bar and restaurant inside an old train carriage right by the Limmat. There are many tables to choose from, or you take your drinks to the small wall next to the path along the river for even better people watching opportunities. It’s very close to the public beach of the Letten, so later in spring and in summer it’s also a fun place to go swimming.
Wasserwerkstrasse 89A, 8037 Zürich
2. Enjoy la Dolce Vita on Lindenhof
The Lindenhof is quite a tourist attraction. It’s located in the centre of the old town, up on a little hill overlooking the river Limmat. It offers splendid views onto Zurich and the lake. On sunny days you can see the snow-capped Alps looming behind the spires of the Grossmünster. However, the gravel square does not only attract tourists. Locals head there for a for a game of chess on giant chessboards, a match of pétanque or simply for the views.
So, you have two options on Lindenhof. Either you sit down on one of the benches or the wall that frames the square and just take in this lovely scenery, or you try your luck at a chess or boule match yourself.
Lindenhof, 8001 Zürich
3. Spot the Magnolias at Rieterpark
Another beautiful public space in Zurich is the Rieterpark, an extensive park on a hill on the right side of the lake. The park is best known as the location of the Museum Rietberg, a museum for arts and crafts from all around the world. But, at Rieterpark you will also find a couple of stunning, old Magnolia trees that start to bloom in March. They are quite a sight and the park with the noble Villa Wesendonck are a great backdrop to those beautiful trees.
Get some coffee or snacks at the small café inside Villa Wesendonck and take a seat on the stairs of the villa facing the park, or bring a blanket and get comfortable on the lawn. The park is also a great place for a picknick and if you head towards the end of the park on a clear day, you will be rewarded with some stunning views of the lake and the mountains.
Rieterpark, 8002 Zurich
4. Eat all the Ice Cream
Ice cream is always a good idea, but nothing beats the first ice cream of the season. While there weren’t so many great places to get ice cream in Zurich when I moved here in 2013, by now we do have a couple of ice cream parlors that are worth trying out. If you don’t make it to one of these, Swiss supermarkets will provide you with yummy popsicles as well.
Gelateria di Berna
Gelateria di Berna supposedly makes the best ice cream in Zurich. It is surely tasty and they do offer a wide range of flavors. The downside however is that the lines are long as this place is super popular. As there are many great restaurants in the area, Gelateria di Berna is a great spot to get dessert after dinner.
Weststrasse 196, 8003 Zürich
Zentrale für Gutes
Zentrale für Gutes has a more minimal approach to flavors. Here you will find just a small, carefully curated selection of different flavors every day. The ice cream is home-made and of flawless quality. Also, the Josefswiese is just a stone throw from Zentrale for Gutes, so you can enjoy your ice cream in the park.
Ottostrasse 15, 8005 Zürich
Gelati am See
Even better than ice cream in the park is ice cream by the lake. Gelati am See is a movable ice cream cart that you will find at Hafen Riesbach on the left side of the lake. There are plenty of flavors to choose from and while the lines can be rather long as well, at least you can enjoy the view onto the water while waiting.
Seefeldquai, 8008 Zürich
5. Launch into “Badi-“Season
The “Badis” (those public baths and beaches you find dotted all around the lake and alongside the river) open in the beginning of May each year. While the water might be a little bit cold in spring you might not go for a swim yet. But the Badis are nice places to hang out while you wait for summer – and to get a first layer of tan. Bring a blanket, a book, a podcast or some friends and lounge on the wooden planks that float above the water.
The Frauenbadi (Women’s Bath) is my absolute favorite “Badi” in Zurich. It is women-only and a very relaxed and laid back place. It can get a bit crowded in summer, but in spring it is perfect. Located in the river Limmat right in the centre of the city centre, this beautiful old floating art-nouveau bath offers great views on the Grossmünster and other buildings across the river. There is also a bar that offers drinks, coffee and snacks. Note that you’ll have to pay an entrance fee to enter the bath.
On some evenings the Frauenbadi opens for men and women and turns into Barfussbar (bare-foot-bar). A lovely place for drinks as soon as the temperatures in the evening become bearable. There generally is no entrance fee if you visit in the evening.
Stadthausquai 12, 8001 Zürich
Slightly bigger and open to all genders is the Badi Utoquai close to the Opera. As it is located on the left side of the lake it has quite a long exposure to the sun. So, it is the perfect place to spend late afternoons and early evenings. There is also a little kiosk to cater to your needs. Note that you’ll have to pay an entrance fee to enter the bath.