Last weekend, my brother was visiting so I took him to Free Walking Tour Zurich, which is exactly what it sounds like. It was great! Even after living in Zurich for over nine years, I was delighted to find I still had a few things to learn about my adopted city. We really liked our tour guide Maria (with me in the above pic), who was very enthusiastic and had a fun story-telling style. The guides have different specialties and interests, so while the main information is the same, some of the details with differ.
Although the tour is not specifically designed for kids, I think the tour is a good option for families, not only because it's a good tour, but it's flexible. For the free tours, you don't have to book ahead, so you can decide minutes beforehand whether your kids are up for a tour or not. Since the tour is free (tips are appreciated, but not expected), it's not a big deal if your kids have a meltdown halfway through and you have to leave early.
The tour is full of fun, interesting facts about Zurich. For example, did you know that the Bahnhofstrasse used to be called Fröschengraben (ditch of frogs) because so many frogs lived in the water canal running down that street? I quickly put together a "quiz for kids" for the Downtown Zurich Tour, where kids can match the tour stop with a picture representing a story about that location. Maybe this will help you keep the kids interested. Remember to bring along some chocolate as a prize for your kids if they finish the quiz. You can see and print the quiz here.
They offer several tours, some free, some paid. I did the Downtown Zurich tour. The Architecture tour is the next one on my list. There is a Downtown Zurich tour almost everyday, more on the weekends. Check their website for details.
Now for a few pics of the tour...
Find out why these saints are carrying their own heads around town.
Find out what old name is hiding on this old roman tombstone.
Enjoy the view and learn which buildings are which.
Find out why this lady from 1291 is wearing armor.
Here are the two stair sections over which you'll need to carry your stroller.
Look up a Zahringerplatz to see a fancy sundial.
Walk down some new-to-you streets and learn how to tell which buildings are really old.
See an old map of the city.
Find out the super cool reason this model was built and how it brings good luck.
Don't forget to retrace your steps after the tour and get a hot chocolate at Cafe Schober!