Central Switzerland

Encircling your approach to Zürich are the snow-capped Swiss Alps. Your journey through central Switzerland is as spectacular as reaching its largest city along the shores of a serene lake and the Limmat river.

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1 Snow-capped Swiss Alps in Erstfeld, Switzerland

The snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps: what a magnificent sight to behold. But this huge mountain range was also a transportation challenge. The first Gotthard Railway depot opened in Erstfeld, Switzerland, in 1882. But more exciting is this small town in the Canton of Uri became the northern portal for the 35 mile Gotthard Base Tunnel. Since 2016, it is the world’s longest rail tunnel. The Alp Transit project cost over $10 billion. It allows passengers to travel over 150 m.p.h., making the trip from Zurich to Milan in just over an hour. In contrast, the road trip is 190 miles.

Gotthardstrasse 11, 6473 Silenen, Switzerland

2 Erstfeldertal Valley in Erstfeld, Switzerland

Drive north on the A2 Motorway through the 10.5 mile St. Gotthard tunnel, the world’s third longest road tunnel, and when your eyes adjust to the light you’ll see this peaceful view. It is the Erstfeldertal Valley with the Swiss Alps embracing some farm houses and the church steeples of Erstfeld, Switzerland. About half of the town’s 4,000 people speak German.

Passarelle 6472 Erstfeld, Switzerland

3 Jet d’Eau in Lake Zurich Hafen Enge in Zurich, Switzerland

Driving north into Zurich, Switzerland, along the Mythenquai greets you with a spectacular view of the city’s east bank. It is accented by the Jet d’Eau water fountain in the Hafen Enge port of Lake Zurich. In the distance is a glimpse of the Oberland Massif, part of the Swiss Alps. In the center of this warm, sunny afternoon is a graceful sailboat.

Mythenquai 21 8002 Zürich, Switzerland

4 Sailboats Docked at Hafen Enge in Zurich, Switzerland

Lake Zürich in Swiss German is “Zürisee” and in German it is “Zürichsee” but it is okay just to call it beautiful. It originates from the Linth river and glaciers in the Tödi range of the Glarus Alps. It provides a wonderful, aquatic playground for sailboats, small crafts and tourist cruises before flowing into the Limmat river in the old town of Zurich twenty-five miles later. These sailboats are docked in Hafen Enge with the Jet d’Eau fountain on the right.

Mythenquai 21 8002 Zürich, Switzerland

5 Lion Hafen Enge in Zurich, Switzerland

This majestic lion statue, which seems to be called Löwenkmal, stands majestically at the end of a stone pier at Hafen Enge. The port is a harbor for small, recreational boats along the east bank of Lake Zurich just south of Old Town.

Mythenquai 61 8002 Zürich, Switzerland

6 Sechseläutenplatz and Utoquai along Lake Zurich in Zurich, Switzerland

A tree-line promenade and the shore of Lake Zurich provide a perfect setting for the Sechseläutenplatz as seen here from the Quaibrücke bridge. It is Switzerland’s largest urban square at 19,000 square yards. It hosts several annual festivals, events and concerts. It’s also a wonderful place for a stroll or a lunch along the water’s edge. In the center is the Opernhaus Zürich.

Quaibrücke 8001 Zürich, Switzerland

7 Opernhaus Zürich Building in Zurich, Switzerland

Over the Opernhaus Zürich’s entrance behind the Corinthian columns are three busts of famous composers: Mozart, Weber and Richard Wagner who was exiled in Zurich for a dozen years. His Romantic opera called “Lohengrin” was the first to be performed in the Stadttheater Zürich when it opened in 1891. The performing arts venue was renamed Opernhaus Zürich in 1925 and restored in 1984. The exquisite structure now hosts dramatic, musical and theatrical events plus, of course, operas.

Schillerstrasse 1 8001 Zürich, Switzerland

8 Bagpiper Silhouette at Sunset in Zurich, Switzerland

Nearly two million people live in the Zurich metropolitan area, the largest city in Switzerland. And like many major cities, it attracts street performers who entertain tourists and residents in hopes of having their hat filled with pocket change. This bagpiper delighted his audience at sunset along the Utoquai, a promenade on the east bank of center city where Lake Zurich outflows into the Limmat river.

Utoquai 10 8008 Zürich, Switzerland

9 Spectacular Sunset in Zurich, Switzerland

I have the fault of trying to see as many cities as possible during a trip. Therefore, I am disappointed when I arrive into a major city just as the day’s best light is waning. But sometimes my tardiness is rewarded like the chance to photograph this spectacular sunset over Zurich, Switzerland. I was in awe as my finger kept pushing the shutter.

Sechseläutenplatz 8001 Zürich, Switzerland