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Zürich: Our insider's guide to running the city

You knew this one was coming. We’ve navigated New York, mapped out Melbourne, swung by Shanghai, passed through Portland, and taken on Tokyo. Now we’re back on home turf with three routes to show you why Zürich isn’t just one of the world’s most liveable cities but one of the most runnable too. Yes, we’re biased. But run these routes, then try telling us we’re wrong.

 

Zürich is Switzerland’s largest and most diverse city. It’s a business hub and a tourist destination known for its luxurious lifestyle, high-end shops, fancy chocolates and even fancier watches. But there’s so much more to it than this. 

 

Away from the glitz of Bahnhofstrasse and Paradeplatz is a city that’s surprisingly small and intimate, punctuated with cosy hangouts, lush green spaces and hidden hotspots that are well worth venturing beyond the usual tourist attractions for. 

 

Even better? Most of them are just a bike (or e-scooter) ride away. Worst case, the network of always-punctual public transportation options will get you where you want to be. But for the ultimate experience, we suggest you go for a run. Obviously. 

 

From the banks of the Limmat river to the peak of the Uetliberg mountain, Zürich is incredibly runnable. And it’s full of natural zones where you can relax and catch your breath – which is just as well because the stunning views you’ll discover are sure to take it away. 

 

The greater Zürich area is home to 1.4 million people. Internationals from an estimated 172 different countries make up an impressive 32% of the city’s population, adding an unmistakably multi-cultural twist to its charm. 

 

The official language is German but, like most of Switzerland the language you’ll hear the most is actually a unique Swiss German dialect — züridütsch in this case. But if you’re thinking of visiting then there’s no need for a crash course, you should be fine with English.  

 

 

Hey Mike 

 

Being in our home city, we had quite a few choices when picking your guide. Mike is a UX designer at On, and he’s lived and worked in Zürich for most of his adult life. He loves being outside and he loves to move. In fact, he’s tried his hand at pretty much every sport you can think of — from golf to Crossfit.  

 

Mike takes a varied approach to training – regularly finishing or breaking up runs with bodyweight exercises. And he’s a firm believer in the ‘sharing is caring’ mantra, as he’s well known at On HQ for rounding up random groups of team members to take part in lunchtime workouts – followed, of course, by high-fives and hearty meal. 

 

“I love how simple running is. A pair of shoes and some clothes is all you need. And it can be anything you want; a break in the day, meditation, sport, competition or self-improvement,” he says.

 

 

“I arrived in Zürich after finishing my studies. Until then, I’d lived in smaller cities and towns in Switzerland. I haven’t left because, for me, it’s the perfect mixture of size and culture. Plus, if you feel like you need to get away, the airport is really close and connected to countless European destinations.

 

"Zürich has so much to offer, but at the same time, it’s quiet and humble.

 

So without further ado, here are some of Mike’s favorite Zürich routes – including one that we regularly do at lunchtime here at On HQ. As with all of the On city running guides, we’ve got three routes to give you an overview of the city and to highlight some nice areas and eateries.

 

 

5km: Lochergut Loop

 

“My 5km route is a great way to experience a more urban side to Zürich. It goes through places that you wouldn’t see on a tourist guide but are commonplace for anyone that lives here.” 

 

“For me, this route really hits a lot of cool hang-out spots in Zürich. It’s a great, quick, fun run where you can probably expect to bump into friends.

 

“Along the way, we pass Langstrasse and Europaallee, where you’ll find the party district and lots of shiny new shops pretty close to each other. We also go past Bullingerplatz and Idaplatz, which are both great places to get a drink and talk life with your friends.”

 

5km Lochergut Loop
See on Strava

 

10km: City Center Circuit 

 

“For the 10km route, we get a little elevation for a beautiful panorama of Zürich and the lake. For me, the view demonstrates what makes the city great. But keep in mind that this can be a busy route, so be ready for that. 

 

“This run is a great mixture of everything. You get a fantastic view, some of the most beautiful parks the city has to offer, as well as some of the more scenic parts of the old town and a good dose of modern Zürich. 

 

“Highlights include the wooden walkway that stretches from the Bahnhof (train station) to the old botanical gardens. It’s beautiful and great for a quick lunch. The jogging route under the autobahn (highway) bridge is also pretty cool and something you don’t see in most cities." 

 

It’s a weird industrial faux pax, but somehow it works.

 

10km City Center Circuit
See on Strava

 

15km: Green and Gray Getaway 

 

“My longest route is the most serene, as it stretches along Limmat river. It starts with some elevation as we head up to the Chäferberg (if you like trails, this spot has enough to run 15km here), continues along the river to the industrial part of town before ending with a swim in the river – what else could you want? 

 

“You can easily change the route to make it shorter by crossing one of the earlier bridges along the Limmat path and heading back. Or, alternatively, if you’re feeling strong, you can add a workout to your run at the outdoor gym along the way. 

 

“I’d describe this run as one that you have to have time to do it slowly. For a father like me, this is when the kiddo is sleeping, so an early start makes sense. Lots of us will do part of this route during lunchtimes at work though – so that works too.

 

“It takes in some wonderful locations for sunrise and sunset views – I recommend the bridges over the train tracks.”

 

15km Green and Gray Getaway
See on Strava

 

Mike’s tips for running in Zürich 

 

“Mix it up when you’re running around Zürich. The Uetliberg and Käferberg allow you to enjoy elevation on trails while the lake and river give you great fast and flat routes.

 

“Don’t be afraid to take a route you’ve never run before because the Swiss love signage and you’ll always be directed back to a spot that’s familiar.

 

“You can usually leave clothing at a certain spot if you fancy a swim and don’t have a wet bag. But I’d avoid leaving any valuables behind because you never know…”

 

Food and drink recommendations

 

“I love coffee as much as I do running. My top coffee spots to check out are Grande, Miro and  Coffee @ Grüngasse – all good choices.

 

“Looking for an amazing meal? Be sure to stop by Gül at Langstrasse.

 

“And to finish, why not grab an amazing cocktail at one of the bars in the Lochergut area? Gamper, Dante and, of course, Sacchi – where we end our final route in the video – are always worth a shot.” 

 

 

Mike's wearing

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