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Zurich Zeitgeist

Until quite recently, Zürich was known solely as Switzerland’s financial capital (in fact there’s a Swiss joke that the name comes from Zu Reich meaning ‘too rich’). Regardless, in the last couple of decades the city has successfully revamped its image so it can be recognised for what it truly is: a beacon of culture and history, highlighted by trendy eating and drinking spots, great shopping and chocolate for which you’d trample over your mother in the street.

Zürich is safe and clean (in fact, unnervingly so), but in no way is it boring, with the Zürich Street Parade beating out London’s Notting Hill Carnival for the title of the biggest street party in Europe. There’s a stack of things to see and do, whether you want to stroll along the cobbled streets of Altstadt (Old Town) and soak up the majesty of the ancient cathedrals and palaces, or venture out into the breathtaking panorama of mountains that surround the city.

If you’re looking for culture, don’t miss the swathe of museums, galleries and, of course, the Opera House. But to really let go of the misconception that Zürich is a boring city, make sure you check out one of its Badi-Bars,the poolside lounges that line the river and transform into havens for the glitterati at dusk.

Like a typical Swiss, Zürich’s staid and orderly civic structure belies a passion and joy that’ll keep you dancing all night long.

Zurich's Top 10

10. Uetilberg Hop on a train and be mesmerised by the views from the top.

5. Lindt and Sprungli Factory A real life chocolate factory that produces some of the best in the world. Plus… THEY HAVE FREE SAMPLES!

9. Rietberg Museum This museum’s exhibits specialise in Asian art. One of the best non-Euro museums on the continent.

4. Zürich Zoo One of the best in Europe, come for a fun-filled day and subtle hints of education.

8. Grossmunster A magnificent, Romanesque church built on a Roman cemetery and steeped in history.

3. Bahnhofstrasse Even if you don’t have the coin, Zürich’s version of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue is a must-see.

7. Kunsthaus This art museum has an impressive collection of art and sculpture.

2. Fraumunster This amazing gothic church has incredible stained glass windows and is rooted in the 13th century.

6. Lake Zürich A long, scenic cruise along this beautiful lake is a relaxing must.

1. Schweizerisches Landesmuseum Educate yourself on Swiss history in this castle-like museum.

Zurich History

  • Grossmunster – This 12th-century cathedral in central Zurich was reportedly commissioned by Charlemagne in honour of the city’s patron-saint martyrs Felix, Regula and Exuperantius.
  • Altstadt – Known as District One and divided into four sections.
  • Fraumunster – To view works by master artist Marc Chagal, check out this 13th-century abbey.
  • Fluntern Cemetery – Ulysses writer James Joyce is buried in Fluntern.
  • Sechselauten – The coming of spring is annually celebrated by a parade of Guild Nobles from the Zunfte and the burning of a snowman named Boogg.

Zurich Art & Culture

  • Kundsthalle – Experience contemporary art in this museum, which features exhibits and events from modern artists.
  • Lindt & Sprungli factory – Visitors can tour this working factory, watch a film about the company’s history and view several exhibits about chocolate.
  • Opernhaus Zurich – The Zurich Opera House has been the home to the city’s opera company for more than 50 years.
  • Museums – Zurich is home to multiple museums, including the Swiss National Museum, the Reitberg, Museum Buehrle and the Landesmuseum.
  • Seidenspinner – This is a stunning, luxurious restaurant in which decadence in décor is the rule.

Zurich Shopping

  • Bahnhofstrasse – One of the most fabulous shopping avenues in the world, with pricy and luxurious goods.
  • Candy – Zurich has several high-end confectionaries, including Teuscher and St Jakob’s.
  • Flohmarkts – Flohmarkts are basically flea markets that sell everything from bargained products to one-of-a-kind collectables.
  • Pastorini Spielzeug –This is a luxury toy store for kids or those who are kids at heart.
  • Sihlcity Shopping and Leisure Centre – This centre offers 80 shops, a hotel, cinema, cafes, pubs, eateries and a hotel.

Gay & Lesbian Zurich

  • Clubs – There are multiple nightclubs, including Lotus Club, G-Colours House, Bastard, Boyahkasha and Lollipop.
  • Pubs – Pubs include the Odeon and several selections on Spitalgasse.
  • Zurich Pride Festival – The festival includes Zurich Pride week, huge parties, conventions, demonstrations and reportedly up to 40,000 attendees.
  • Saunas and Massage – Saunas include Adonis, Moustache, Mylord and Apollo.
  • Werdinsel – In the lower part of River Limmat, there is a bathing area where naturists can swim and tan.

Zurich Outdoor

  • China Garden – Open from the early spring to the middle of fall.
  • Lindenhof – This is a hill overlooking several parts of the city.
  • Zoo – The zoo is home to more than 1,500 animals and has a rainforest area of approximately 13,000 square meters.
  • Lakeside – The lake near Bellevue is a good location for street art and vendors.
  • Bachlihof Jona – The Bachlihof farm is a nice place for those who want to experience a natural farm in a lush countryside.

Zurich Sport

  • Sixday-Knights – This cycling race includes 30 cyclists from around the world.
  • Art on Ice – An ice extravaganza that features the finest figure skaters and is held in February.
  • Freestyle – A huge sporting event with extreme skateboarding, biking, skiing and snowboarding.
  • Zurich Running – The Zurich Marathon is a 43-kilometer, one-stretch race.
  • ZSC Lions – This professional Zurich Hockey team plays in National League A.

Zurich Local

Niederdorf

This medieval district sits to one side of the Limmat River and is one of the most historic areas of Zürich. Stroll along the streets to witness some of the most amazing (and oldest) structures in the country, including the Grossmünster Cathedral and Fraumünster Church. Once you’re done being a holy historian, head to one of the many restaurants for a hearty meal and well-deserved sit-down. Aussersihl

Along the Sihl River, this district hosts some of the lushest, greenest spaces in the city including Bäcker Park. Grab one of Zürich’s superb coffees, make yourself comfy and relax amongst the trees. If you’re more about the hustle and bustle of people, the Kanzlei Flohmarkt (flea market) will see you bagging a deal and a half. This area has a pretty thriving Red Light District, too, if you’re after a different sort of deal.

Industrie

This was once the city’s industrial core (could you have guessed from the name?), but is now a trendy area filled with warehouse-converts, hip bars and eateries, a buzz of art and culture and some serious hipsters. Some of the city’s best galleries are here, including the Galerie Peter Kilchmann, the Galerie Hauser and Wirth, and the Kunsthalle Zürich. Get into your skinny jeans, asymmetrical haircut and ironic spectacles and you’ll fit right in.

Zurich Eat & Drink

Zeughauskeller A cosy, medieval-style place with specialties of steak served on a sword (weird but delicious) and metre-long sausages.

Sprungli This place has been churning out gorgeous chocolate creations and other sugary goodies for 175 years. Grab something to go or stay for a meal.

Iroquois A popular spot for fans of Tex-Mex. The enchiladas and fajitas hit the spot.

Restaurant Mesa The chef is renowned for his traditional cuisine with a modern take.

Bierhalle Wolf A big, booming venue filled with live music (a real, honest to goodness oompah band), beer, great chow and rowdy patrons.

Zuntfhaus zur Waag This big, blue building offers high-end Swiss cuisine.

Mascotte The hippest of hipsters party their black-rimmed glasses off at this joint.

Indochine This bar/club is the place Swiss hotties like to frequent. Catch a set, down a cocktail and make eye contact with hot strangers.

Commercio Italian food and a heck of a wine selection. They serve way into the night/morning, so they’re good for a post-club nosh.

Kronenhalle Rub shoulders with celebs and socialites while sampling some very posh cuisine.

Zurich Events

Ravers and clubbers unite in mid-June for Street Parade, a techno-lovers dream festival that promotes love, freedom, respect and tolerance. We’re talking epic sound systems and over half a million party people. There are dozens of after-parties but one of the most epic (and we mean epic) is Energy at Hallenstadion. BIG DJs spin trance, dnb and techno into the wee hours.

Zürich Festival (mid-June to early July) hosts a mix of theatre, dance and music at a mix of venues throughout the city. The programme is pretty full so you’ll no doubt find something you like.

If the thought of a heaving mob of sweaty ravers makes your skin crawl, the cute Swiss Teddy Festival could be your ultimate alternative. Held in August, it’s one of the most popular events in the Zürich calendar and the place where teddy fanatics and collectors come to celebrate their love for the cuddly cuties. ‘If you go down in the woods today’ and all that…

September through to October welcomes the Zürich Film Festival. Come and catch some work by soon-to-be-famous movie makers as well as interesting docos. The winner is awarded the freakily-named ‘Golden Eyes’.

Forget Germany, Oktoberfest in Zürich is the business. Squeeze into the tent with thousands of others and enjoy beer, sausages, beer, Bavarian music, beer, beer and beer. If you don’t get obliterated, you’re doing it wrong. Oct-Nov.

When To Go

  • Spring, summer and autumn are all great times to be in Zurich as the weather is pleasant and the atmosphere is vibrant. Avoid winter’s wet days, frosty nights and all-round gloom from December to February (unlike the rest of Switzerland, Zurich isn’t noted for its ski fields).
  • Winter temperatures average around -6°C (21°F), spring usually gets to around 15°C (59°F), the summer average is a pleasant 20°C (68°F) and autumn a crisp but beautiful 11°C (52°F).
  • Make sure you bring warm gear at any time of year – if you plan to take any hikes to the nearby mountains, the weather can be quite cool even in summer.

Getting Around

  • Zürich is noted for its awesome public transport system, which runs like clockwork (not surprising, it is Switzerland after all) and is managed by the ZVV. Whether you need a bus, tram, boat or S-Bahn train, this system will keep you moving.
  • Ticket prices vary on the length of your travel and there are multi-trip Z-passes and Swiss Passes available.
  • Cabs are reliable and standardised across Zurich, and can be hailed from the street or from the many cab ranks around the city.

What To Miss

  • Parking is (pardon us) practically impossible, so don’t bother hiring a car unless you’re going further afield or you want to spend your trip looking for a space.
  • While the city is safe, pick-pocketing can still be a problem in tourist areas. Keep your belongings sealed and secure, as always.
  • If you are lured into buying a Swiss army knife (hey, no judgement here), don’t forget to take it out of your carry-on before going home. There’s a Swiss security guard who has a room in his house dedicated to his collection, we’re sure.

General Information

Switzerland's premier city, synonymous with banks, luxury timepieces, posh hotels and chocolate, is a wonderful cosmopolitan destination to explore. Zurich was simply made for tourists to enjoy and delivers a consistent level of hospitality and charm that almost overwhelms. With the bar set quite high in Switzerland as it is, from Gstaad to Geneva, Zurich is singularly special.

As the urban center of record in the neutral nation, Zurich, with more than 375,000 inhabitants who enjoy a rather enviable quality of life in comparison with the rest of the world, let alone the continent, is attraction-rich. The efficient and spotless city is replete with all of the typical eye candy one has come to expect from Old Europe, from dramatic cathedrals to ornate palaces. Where Zurich is truly exceptional however, is in the retail department. Magnificent shops galore, with fine Swiss craftsmanship on display, seduce and cajole everywhere you go. Fine restaurants and nightlife spots have become a hallmark of the city of late and promise memorable experiences, as only Zurich can.

Attractions & Activities

Attractions

  • Grossmünster Church
  • St. Peter Church
  • Museum of Design
  • Kunsthaus Zürich Museum
  • Fraumünster Abbey
  • Activities

  • Zurich Arts Festival
  • Caliente Festival
  • Knabenschiessen Market
  • Expovina Wine Festival
  • Jazznojazz Festival
  • Restaurant & Nightlife

    Restaurants

  • Alpenrose
  • Hirschberg
  • Kropf
  • Kronenhalle
  • Zeughauskeller
  • Nightlife

  • Ba Ba Lu
  • Forecast
  • La Dézaley
  • Seerestaurant 61
  • Widder Bar
  • Climate

    Like the rest of Switzerland and proximate continental Europe, Zurich has four seasons, with snowy winters and wet, relatively humid summers.

    • Winter (December to March) -4-9°C
    • Spring (April to May) 3-18°C
    • Summer (June to September) 9-24°C
    • Fall (October to November) 0-14°C

    Hotels in Zurich

    Recommended hotels

    From US$119

    1 Sorell Hotel Seidenhof

    3 stars
    4.4 / 5 8 reviews

    Sihlstrasse 9 Map

    Stay 3 nights save 20%

    Nestled on Zurich's world-famous Bahnhofstrasse, the Sorell Seidenhof Hotel welcomes you to enjoy all the privileges that are required for an unforgettable experience. GeneralYour business... More

    Zurich stay
    Great hotel in a fantastic location. Only a short 5 - 10 minute walk to the main train station if arriving by train. Conveniently located near all the sights. I wouldnt hesitate in choosing to stay...
    26 Jun 2015
    From US$134

    2 Leoneck

    3 stars
    4.2 / 5 9 reviews

    Leonhardstrasse 1 Map

    The Leoneck Hotel is a traditionally designed Swiss hotel that will makes its guests smile. The decorations are big and bright and the friendly staff makes this a nice central place to stay. ... More

    Perfect Stay in Zürich
    The Hotel is on the route for Tram 10, which runs from the Airport, so you can catch it at the airport and it'll drop you off right outside the hotel at Haldenegg tram stop. The hotel is very close...
    3 Jul 2015
    From US$98

    3 Hotel Senator

    4 stars
    4.0 / 5 22 reviews

    Heinrichstrasse 254/256 Map

    Presenting luxurious lodgings and convenient facilities, the Hotel Senator is the ideal starting point for short trips and excursions further a field, as well as jaunts into Switzerland's wonderful... More

    business trip
    expensive like in the big city , clean and confortable
    28 Jul 2015
    From US$109

    4 Leonardo Boutique Hotel Rigihof Zurich

    4 stars
    3.8 / 5 4 reviews

    Universitatsstrasse 101 Map

    Boasting an excellent location and offering spacious accommodation, the Leonardo Boutique Hotel Rigihof Zurich is the ideal base for a relaxing stay. GeneralWhether it is a conference, meeting,... More

    Nice hotel
    Nice hotel , friendly staff, and convenient location in front of the tram stop that take to city in less than 10 minutes.
    19 Dec 2013
    From US$165

    5 Sorell Hotel Rutli

    3 stars
    3.9 / 5 7 reviews

    Zahringerstrasse 43 Map

    Book now and get 10% off

    Sorell Hotel Rutli Zurich presents quality services, comfortable accommodation and modern facilities for the visitors of Zurich. The tourist attractions of Zurich include Church of Our Lady, Rhine... More

    Well located and super clean
    We had room 101 for 2 adults and 1 child. Great service, we arrived at 9am and they were able to quickly finish cleaning the room for us which was great as we just got off a long haul flight.
    24 Dec 2014
    From US$207

    6 Hotel St Gotthard

    4 stars
    4.0 / 5 9 reviews

    Hotel St. Gotthard Map

    Free WIFI included!

    St. Gotthard Hotel Zurich is a family-owned business base providing modern comforts and prime location close to corporate districts in the heart of Zurich. In free time, travellers can learn facts... More

    Great experience
    The location of the hotel is perfect, In the middle of city where shops, restaurants, train station, are whithin short walking distance. all the staff are very friendly and they will rush to help...
    17 Jul 2015
    From US$143

    7 Sorell Hotel Seefeld

    3 stars
    4.0 / 5

    Seefeldstrasse 63 Map

    Weekend Speacial - Stay 2 save 15%

    Presenting comfortable accommodation in a cosy, family-like atmosphere, the Sorell Seefeld Hotel Zurich is an ideal place to reside for both business as well as leisure travellers. GeneralThe... More

    From US$118

    8 Hilton Zurich Airport

    4 stars
    4.5 / 5 2 reviews

    Hohenbuehlstrasse 10 Map

    Park & Fly - Includes up to 8 nights of parking

    Combining impeccable service, high standards of comfort and cosy atmosphere, Hilton Zurich Airport Hotel is an ideal place for an unforgettable vacation. GeneralHilton Zurich Airport Hotel offers... More

    From US$163

    9 Hotel Continental Zurich - MGallery Collection

    4 stars
    4.1 / 5 21 reviews

    Stampfenbachstrasse 60 Map

    Save 33% on your stay. Includes breakfast

    The homely Continental Hotel is a unique Swiss style hotel with traditional chalet style furnishings. The hotel is centrally situated and near to all the major attractions such as the... More

    OK room but location very good
    Furniture in room below average for a four star rating Room lacked stationary and no listing of TV channels Room small but bathroom was very nice Location excellent Would consider staying again...
    24 Nov 2014
    From US$120

    10 Hotel City Zurich

    3 stars
    5.0 / 5

    Loewenstrasse 34 Map

    Gruezi!A warm welcome to our *** Superior Boutique-Hotel in the heart of Zurich! Full renovation has made our building a real gem - timelessly modern and comfortable. Here you can unwind after a... More

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