Best Outdoor Activities to Enjoy Near Zurich

Andrew AstonApril 29, 2019

Zurich is best known throughout the world for its high quality of life and its presence as an international banking and finance hub, but when one heads a short distance away from its gleaming metropolis there is a myriad of beautiful and gorgeous natural landscapes that allow for fun and adventurous outdoor activities.

Zurich’s relatively close proximity to the Swiss Alps means there are ample opportunities to head out and explore such a fascinating region, with Winter activities such as ski touring and ice climbing proving popular on the post-card pretty snow-capped mountains.

In other parts of the nearby regions, there are a wide variety of terrains to discover, and in the warmer months, activities such as canyoning, rock climbing, and mountaineering are exciting ways to see much of the tranquil, idyllic and peaceful waterways and alpine scenery the country is known for.

One of the handiest features of all these trips is that they only require 1-3 days to complete, ensuring that if you are in Zurich for business or vacation you will be able to fit in an awesome outdoor adventure – a different and unique way to spend your time there!

Take some time to have a look at the diverse and exciting trips available, all just a short trip from Zurich!


1. See the stars while ski touring in the Swiss Alps


Seeing the stars of the nighttime under a full moon, whilst skiing down the Swiss Alps, sounds like something straight out of a movie, however just 2 hours from Zurich this becomes reality, as you wind your way down the sublime powder of the slopes of Engelberg during the night.

After meeting at a local ski shop, you make your way to the top of the magnificent slopes and then ski down to your heart’s content, with the full moon glowing in the night sky, the stars nice and bright, and the lights of the resorts and villages illuminating the sumptuous alpine scenery below.

ski touring near zurich
Heading to the Swiss Alps when the sun goes down. Photo courtesy of Urs Odermatt.

This is a truly special and unique experience that will stay with you for a lifetime, and you can always say you’ve experienced the Swiss Alps like few people are able to do!

Getting there: From Zurich, Engelberg is located approximately 80km away and is easily accessible by car or train. By car, it is quickest to take the A4 motorway, and trains depart several times a day between Zurich and Engelberg stations.

Book this awe-inspiring and special nighttime ski during a full moon, just a short way from Zurich!

Read more about the ski resorts near Zurich, like Andermatt and Engelberg.

2. Scale icy cliff faces with views out over the Swiss countryside


Not far from Zurich, excellent ice climbing locations abound. The immensely popular outdoor activity region of Engelberg, just 80km from Zurich, is home to some of the best spots in the country.


Ice climbing near Zurich, Switzerland
The thrilling and awe-inspiring ice falls near Zurich. Photo courtesy of Urs Odermatt.

Whether you are a beginner ice climber or an expert, there is a wide array of climbing routes and options here for all. The mesmerizing and stunning ice falls and cliffs provide ideal conditions, with plenty of different types of climbing to take advantage of.

The views when you are ice climbing take the breath away, with the surrounding Swiss Cantons of Bern, Uri and Nidwalden, and their associated amazing scenery, stretching out beneath us, the Swiss Alps looming large above it all.

Getting there: From Zurich, Engelberg is located approximately 80km away and is easily accessible by car or train. By car, it is quickest to take the A4 motorway, and trains depart several times a day between Zurich and Engelberg stations.

Get out of the city and climb on dramatic ice falls whilst admiring the sensation views of the alpine scenery, not far from Zurich!

3. Come to Jungfrau to indulge in some epic mountaineering


Located just a couple of hours drive from the hustle and bustle of Zurich, the towering, majestic and famous mountain of Jungfrau (4158m) has been attracting climbers and mountaineering enthusiasts for years, with its exquisite snow-capped peak remaining one of the most distinctive sights in the Swiss Alps.

Photo courtesy of Roger Schali.

Some of the options for ascending the mountain are remarkably easy, and the views back out over the Swiss landscape are truly something special to behold, with enchanting sunrises proving beautiful and irresistible.

Getting there: Via car or bus, it is approximately a 2-hour drive from Zurich via the A8 motorway.

Climb up Jungfrau, one of the most famous mountains in Switzerland, in just a short amount of time, easily accessible from Zurich!

Read more about this on our guide to climb Jungfrau.

4. Enjoy a day out canyoning around the thrilling waterways of Switzerland


Sitting just an hour South of Zurich, the cliffs, slides, waterfalls, ridges and rock faces of Chli Schliere canyon are an exhilarating, fun and lovely part of Switzerland, seemingly tailor-made for the addictive activity of canyoning.


Canyoning near Zurich, Switzerland
Slipping and sliding near Zurich! Photo courtesy of Peter Frick.

Spending time here is a guaranteed blast, with the sheer thrill of abseiling down cliff faces, jumping from rock formations into the clear water below, and swimming and sliding along rockslides making for one of the most adrenaline-pumping and exciting activities possible near Zurich.

The epic and awesome Mt Pilatus towers above it all, providing a dramatic backdrop to proceedings.

The Chli Schliere is very close to Interlaken, the best destination for outdoor adventures in Switzerland.

Getting there: Approximately a 1-hour drive from Zurich along the A4 motorway. Regular train and bus services from Zurich to Chli Schliere Station via Luzern.

Splash your way around the riveting waterways of Switzerland and sign up for a canyoning adventure just a hop, skip and jump from Zurich!

Read more about the best canyoning spots in Switzerland.

5. Swap Zurich’s city streets for rock climbing in the great outdoors!


The area of Oberland, just 2 hours Southwest of Zurich, is rock climbing nirvana, with huge rock walls of granite and limestone offering an insane variety and amount of climbing options.


Rock climbing near Zurich, Switzerland
The rock climbing spots near Zurich are absolutely stunning. Photo courtesy of Silvan Schupbach.

Some of the best spots, including Wendenstocke, Eldorado and Engelhorns, are home to some glorious and challenging climbs, with spectacular views the norm and rewarding climbing routes to test everyone, from beginners through to experts.

Rock climbing this close to Zurich allows you to free your mind, forget the stresses of modern city life and have fun!

Getting there: Approximately a 2-hour drive via the A8 motorway.

Rock climb your worries away in a delightful setting close to Zurich!


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