Winterthur is a small city in the canton of Zurich, located northeast of Zurich city. The city has a population of around 96,000, and like a lot of other Swiss major cities, it succeeded and was built upon a Roman settlement.
Even though Winterthur is not that popular as a tourist destination, this small city is filled with beautiful landmarks, parks, museums, and monuments. It is perfect for tourists who want to fill their vacations with different activities. Let’s look at some of the best things to do in Winterthur.
Winterthur is a major technology hub, and the best representative of the city’s relationship with technology is Technorama. Technorama is a science center that allows visitors to experience hundreds of natural phenomena and technologies. These phenomena and experiments are created by different artists and scientists worldwide.
Besides its exhibitions, Technorama also serves as a museum and a center for workshops and seminars. The center is located on the street bearing its name, Technoramastrasse 1, in downtown Winterthur. The center is unique in the world in terms of its services and quality of its displays and has become one of the most famous attractions for the city, so you definitely should not miss the opportunity to check it out.
The Fotomuseum Winterthur is the perfect place to go for tourists who love photography. This museum is home to different forms and photography experiments by famous photographers and young artists and is a center of art criticism. Its main goal since its foundation in 1993 has been the exchange of ideas and dialogue between artists. So if you are a photography fan, the Fotomuseum should be on your must-visit list.
Another art museum worth checking out is the Kunstmuseum Winterthur. This museum is the oldest surviving in Winterthur, established in 1848. It was founded and run by the local Kunstverein, an art association made up of local artists of Winterthur. In addition to being one of the oldest in the country, the museum also has the fourth-largest public art collection.
Kunstmuseum holds many impressionist and post-impressionist works of post-WWII, including works of famous Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. The range and fame of the artworks it contains have made the museum one of the favorite destinations for art fans from all over Switzerland and abroad. Besides seeing and appreciating the paintings at the museum, you can also buy copies of the famous artworks and other memorabilia.
Oskar Reinhart Museum
Next is the Oskar Reinhart Museum. This museum holds most works by Oskar Reinhart (1885-1965), a wealthy art enthusiast from a merchant family. The museum, located in the city’s Stadtgarten (City Garden), contains around 600 of the art pieces of the collection, mainly by German, Swiss and Austrian artists from the 18th to the 20th century. The museum’s collection is a unique and historical gathering of European paintings that exhibit the development of art in the continent throughout time.
Oskar Reinhart Collection – Am Römerholz
The second batch of works collected by Reinhart is now on display at Reinhart’s former house, the “Am Römerholz” villa. The building was designed by Maurice Turretini and was built in 1915, and it initially served as the residence of the Reinhart family. However, Oskar Reinhart decided to endow the building and his collection of artworks to the Confederation in 1958.
The building now displays about 200 artworks from Reinhart’s collection, authored mainly by German, French, Dutch, and Spanish painters. The exhibition enables visitors to see how European art evolved and changed throughout history from the 14th century until the early 20th century. Also, the collection is a testimony of Oskar Reinhart’s passion for art and is of significant historical value for the city’s rich cultural history. Since the display is divided into two different museums, it is best to visit both to grasp the artistic values of the collections, which attract art enthusiasts from all over the world.
Standing on top of a hill on the banks of the Töss river is the Kyburg Castle, a unique medieval attraction of Winterthur. The Castle’s first mention dates back to 1027, when it was said to be destroyed by Roman emperor Conrad II, but was later rebuilt, and since then, the Castle’s fame only grew. The Castle became the base of the von Kyburg family, which was one of the most important ruling families in Switzerland. Later it came into the ownership of the Habsburg ruling family, who sold the Castle to the city of Zurich, which was used as an administrative office.
Finally, in 1856 the Castle’s private owner opened it to the public as a castle and an art museum, and it has remained so until now. Nowadays, the Castle is back into the ownership of the Canton of Zurich and is regarded as a Swiss national heritage site. It is open to every visitor interested in seeing the castle museum.
The museum contains many medieval items such as pictures, swords, and armor. Also, it serves as a monument where the history of the Castle is exhibited. Therefore it gives people the opportunity to discover the different purposes the Castle served throughout time, the historical events and eras it went through, and the important historical objects that the castle houses. So visiting the Castle will enable you to discover the historical authenticity and richness of the city and familiarize you with how the region came into being through historical events.
The town church or Stadtkirche is a historical monument of the city. Located in the central part of the old town, the church has been an important city institution since the 7th century. The original church was a simple wooden hall built to serve the community but was rebuilt in the 13th century in an elaborate Romanesque style with an aisle extending to the south.
The building retains most of the original structure of the 13th century rebuilt, while the current murals were painted by Paul Zehnder from 1923-to 1930. Its most distinguishing characteristics are its two towers, the north and the south. These red-painted towers attract people’s attention and interest for their characteristic Baroch look. But the church also has other unique and interesting objects to behold, such as the church’s Walcker organ and its five large bells.
Even today, the church holds services as it’s still a functional church belonging to the Reformed-Evangelical branch of Christianity. If you’d like to visit it, the church is open to visitors from 9 a.m to 5 p.m; every day except Sundays.
When visiting Winterthur and in need of a quiet place in nature to relax, the city’s Rose Garden (Rosengarten) is the perfect place to go to. This property belonged to the wealthy Reinhart family at the beginning of the 19th century, but by 1961 the city bought back the property. Finally, in 1964 in honor of the 700th anniversary of the city, the garden was gifted to the people of Winterthur. Before the delivery of this present, the city council had contracted local gardener Johannes Muller to turn the property into a rose garden.
Today Rosengarten is a natural wonder, containing around 2,900 roses of 300 varieties. It is a proper representative of Swiss gardening and botanical achievement, and it is a favorite destination for the residents of Winterthur. The best way to discover the beauty is to visit it yourself, which most visitors do as soon as they arrive in the city.
When people think of a visit to Switzerland, they don’t usually imagine going around a natural park to spot wild animals. But that is what you are going to do at the Bruderhaus Wildpark. This park is one of Switzerland’s oldest, founded in 1890 by the wildlife park association.
The parks were taken over by the city’s forest administration in 1956 and are still under the city’s administration. Today, 12 species live in the vicinity of the park, including bison, grass snakes, and sand lizards. For visitors interested in discovering the park, there are guided tours available as well as public transport to take you to the park. It is a perfect destination for a relaxing and adventurous family trip, as the park also has special facilities for the younger visitors to play.
Next on the list of nature-related attractions in Winterthur is the Naturmuseum. This museum was founded in 1916 and has since been active with its permanent and temporary exhibitions. It contains many collections of animals, plants, and other geological objects related to the planet’s history. It also allows young explorers and collectors to donate their findings, which become part of the collection that can be examined at Kerala’s children’s museum.
This is where kids can discover and learn more interactively. Also, the museum’s temporary exhibitions aim to explain the history of a single animal through a dedicated presentation for children. Since the museum is very children-friendly, it has become a favorite destination for schools and families alike.
Are you looking for a serene place to enjoy a beautiful sunset? Then Bäumli is the perfect place for you. This sunny terrace is located northeast of the city above the Goldenberg vineyards. It offers stunning views of the city and the Alps and is a very popular place to visit for residents and tourists alike.
The terrace also connects to the forest, which is a favorite destination of residents for jogging and other recreational activities. You can reach it by car or the built walk path, which ensures an easy climb up to the top. So, if you are a visitor of Winterthur looking for a good spot to take pictures of the city, Baumli is ideal for you.
Rhine Falls is another local natural spectacle to leave you breathless. The natural wonder is thought to have been formed around 17,000 years ago in the last Ice Age. This waterfall is the most powerful in Europe, it is 150 meters wide, and the water drops 30 meters below. It is divided by a natural rock formation in the middle, which is a location of climbing activities for visitors. There are also boat rides available at the end of the fall, which adrenaline enthusiasts like. However, most visitors prefer to watch the show from the specifically-built platform.
Even though the waterfalls have been considered for many hydropower projects, they have been opposed by several civil organizations. This waterfall is one of the most visited sites of Winterthur by visitors, and you should not miss it either when visiting the city.
Marktgasse is a lively and busy street in the old town part of Winterthur with many shops of international brands. The area is a perfect destination for avid shoppers looking for a place to find high-class products. Besides tourists, this shopping area is frequented by residents regularly, as it is a car-free zone and the location where local farmers and other traders sell their products.
This zone transforms into a vibrant Christmas market and meeting point for festivities during the holiday season. Foreign visitors also frequent this street regularly, as they get the chance to discover the city and shop at the same time in this beautiful part of the old town.
Another attraction located in the old town is the Gewerbmuseum. This workhouse and museum stages exhibitions of different themes relating to art, design, trade, and everyday culture. The museum primarily focuses on the technologies used to design and produce various products on different types of traditional trades. It also offers an interactive material research laboratory to interested public members, experts, and students interested in discovering or studying these technologies.
The museum is also known for its open-air and engaging social activities. It is a must-visit for people interested in learning how old trades worked and discovering traditional technology.
And the last but not least must-visit museum of Winterthur is the Coin Cabinet and Antiquities Collection. The coin cabinet originated back in 1660 when the city’s public library received its first coins as donations.
After this donation in 1861, the coin cabinet was made a separate institution. A key event for the development of the cabinet was when in 1866, Friedrich Imhoof-Blumer, who was the cabinet’s first curator, purchased what was then the biggest assortment of currencies in Switzerland from Carl Friedrich Emil Lohner, the Landammann of Thun.
Imhoof-Blumer later gifted this assortment, along with his own collection, to his hometown of Winterthur in 1871. The gift contained more than 10,578 coins. Consequently, this significantly increased the coin cabinet’s possessions and made it the home of Switzerland’s most significant numismatic assortment. Therefore the contribution of Imhoof-Blumer as a coin collector played an important role in the development of this cabinet and the city’s coin collecting culture.
Today, the museum contains over 63,000 numismatic items and over 2,500 antique objects and is one of the most attractive destinations for enthusiasts of the field.
As you can see, Winterthur is the personification of the phrase “Big things come in small packages.” The small city is so vibrant, rich, and diverse with so many attractions of different kinds that it looks unproportionate to its size. This list may be helpful for tourists exploring the city, but know that Winterthur has much more to offer, and the best way to discover the city is to wander around it yourself and uncover its beauty.