Zürich has much to offer: an active cultural scene with over 50 museums and more than 100 galleries, leading hotel and catering establishments, shopping facilities featuring international labels and sophisticated Zürich brands, as well as a vibrant nightlife. Numerous lakeside and riverside lidos are located in the center of the city, and the Uetliberg, Zürich’s local mountain, is ideal for hiking. Zürich is also a leading location for science and business and is characterized by exceptional accessibility and excellent infrastructure.
The city of Zürich lies in the heart of Europe and at the center of Switzerland, on the northern shores of Lake Zürich. Its multicultural flair and the variety of leisure activities on offer attract guests from all over the world to this “region of short routes”. Zürich is quick and easy to reach, whether by train, plane or private vehicle. Its international airport has direct connections with over 180 destinations. Just a 10-minute train ride from the airport and situated right in the city center, Zürich’s Main Railway Station is regarded as a central European railroad hub.
A total of 390,000 people live in this experience, science and business center. Thanks to its top-quality infrastructure set amidst natural surroundings, it is a popular place for study and research. For example, at Zürich University or the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH); built in 1855 by Gottfried Semper, the ETH Zürich is today associated with 21 Nobel prizewinners.
Zürich is a vibrant cultural centre. Zürich offers an extremely diverse and high-quality cultural program ranging from opera to museums right through to the young creative scene. In addition, numerous festivals and sporting events attract thousands of visitors every year. Zürich’s nightlife also has plenty to offer.
Spectacular Stage Performances – Opera, Ballet, Theater Zürich offers a rich variety of cultural venues and events. The Opera House, one of the leading such establishments in Europe, enjoys international acclaim for both its opera and ballet productions. The Tonhalle concert hall boasts some of the best acoustics in the world. The Schauspielhaus, Switzerland’s largest theater, stages performances of world-class caliber. In a sophisticated blend of old and new, the historical shipbuilding halls in the trendy Zürich-West district have given way to a cultural center complete with Schauspielhaus theater auditoriums, a restaurant, the Turm Bar and a jazz club. Numerous smaller theaters also enchant the public.
A Wealth of Art in More than 50 Museums and Over 100 Art Galleries
A typical feature of Zürich is its high concentration of art galleries; along the Rämistrasse “art mile”, the galleries are just a few minutes’ walk apart, while at the site of the former Löwenbräu brewery they even stand side by side. In addition to renowned art galleries, the world-famous auction houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, have branches in Zürich, which is considered to be one of the world’s major art trade centers.
The city alone is home to over 50 museums, some 14 of which are devoted to art. The museum of fine arts, the Kunsthaus Zürich, boasts a significant collection of paintings, sculptures, photographs and videos. In addition, it has an extensive collection of works by Alberto Giacometti. Another highlight is the Rietberg Museum, one of the leading centers of non-European art in the world. Just a stone’s throw from Zürich’s main station, the Swiss National Museum – housed in an over 100 year old building reminiscent of a fairytale castle – contains the country’s most comprehensive collection of exhibits relating to Swiss cultural history.
Art can also be experienced outside of museums and galleries, for example, by paying a visit to the Giacometti Hall at the Zürich City Police headquarters, the choir at the Fraumünster Church with its stained glass windows by Marc Chagall or, outside in the open air, Jean Tinguely’s “Eureka” sculpture on the banks of Lake Zürich.
Just a 20-minute train ride from Zürich, the cultural city of Winterthur has made a name for itself as Europe’s largest center for expertise in photography, thanks to the Fotomuseum Winterthur and the Swiss Foundation for Photography. Furthermore, the Oskar Reinhart Museum, exhibiting 500 pictures by important artists, and the Technorama, the only science center in Switzerland, are based here. In the town of Zug, just 22 minutes by train from Zürich, the light installation by artist James Turrell transforms the station building after dark into a hovering illuminated object.
Celebrating Festivals – from Sechseläuten to the Street Parade
Horsemen clad in period costumes, a traditional parade and hopes for a fine summer characterize what is probably Zürich’s most traditional festival – Sechseläuten, the spring festival of the guilds that is held every April. Here, the “Böögg“ snowman, an effigy stuffed with fireworks, is perched on top of a huge bonfire, and the quicker its head explodes, the longer and hotter the summer will be – or so tradition has it.
A quite different kind of festival is the Street Parade, one of the largest house and techno parties in the world, where hundreds of thousands of colorful, energetic and tireless ravers dance to the beat of the music, generally in temperatures normally more associated with Mediterranean climates.
If you leaf further through the festival calendar, you are guaranteed to find something to suit each and every taste. One of the absolute highlights is the Zürich Festival in June and July, a unique combination of opera performances, concerts, plays, dance and fringe theater. Moreover, the Theater Spektakel, one of the most important European festivals for contemporary forms of the performing arts, offers a high-caliber event in September to round off the open air season.
Top Sporting Events – at the Focus of the Action Several times a year, the cameras of the sporting world focus on Zürich – for example, during the Mercedes CSI show-jumping tournament; the Art on Ice figure-skating gala; the World-Class Zürich track and field meeting and Europe’s largest freestyle event, freestyle.ch. At the Zürich Marathon, Monday Night Skate, Ironman Switzerland or the Silvesterlauf race, participants can either go all out to win or simply take part for fun. Afterwards, there is ample opportunity to relax and recuperate, such as at a lakeside sauna or a hamam.
Nightlife – Unconventional and Trendy Side by Side Parties in Zürich really get going after 11.00 pm and continue into the wee hours of the morning. Here, there are no official closing times. In summer, nightlife can be found not only in the clubs, but also outside in the open air; the venues where visitors bathe and relax during the day are ideal places to flirt and dance at night.
The clubs in the trendy district of Zürich-West have turned Zürich into the European party metropolis; here, hip locales rub shoulders with unconventional bars, and out of the old is born the new.
Zürich provides first-class hospitality and dining experiences.
With around 250 hotels and 15,000 rooms, Zürich offers a diverse range of overnight accommodation. There is something to suit every taste – everything from simple youth hostels to first-class luxury hotels. The mid-range accommodation segment is also extremely well catered for. In Zürich, it’s easy to find the right accommodation for every budget – whether luxurious or simple, in the Old Town or by the lake.
Zürich – Culinary Temptations Zürich’s restaurant scene is as diverse as the city itself. Here innovative ideas are implemented on the spot. Creative chefs develop culinary classics and ensure that modern cuisine is introduced to traditional Zürich restaurants. Some guild houses belonging to the craftsmen’s guilds, which ruled Zürich from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century, are now restaurants renowned for Zürich specialties in the classic style. Where can Zürcher Geschnetzeltes sliced veal in gravy possibly taste better than in one of the magnificent guild halls with their impressive history?
Creative gastro entrepreneurs have also established themselves in Zürich’s former industrial districts. They use the space in empty factories to realize their innovative ideas. Cuisines from around the globe delight the palate here.
The city’s numerous outdoor restaurants represent an additional highlight of Zürich’s gastronomy scene. On warm days, garden terraces with breathtaking views of the city and Lake Zürich as well as restaurants located directly by the water offer alfresco dining. In the Old Town you will find numerous restaurants in romantic courtyards.
Haute cuisine is also represented in Zürich: more than 40 restaurants have been awarded Gault Millau points. For the top chefs in the city on the River Limmat, haute cuisine is an art form. Their restaurants are characterized by culinary luxury, magnificent dining rooms, obliging service, first-class wine menus, and experienced sommeliers.
Zürich’s fashionable cafés are the right venue for anyone who feels like enjoying a sweet treat. Enjoy homemade cakes and chocolate specialties. Let a Luxemburgerli macaroon melt on your tongue, or sample the inspired pastries.
Zürich offers shopping pleasures for every taste.
Shopping in Zürich inspires both lovers of exclusive items and the fashion conscious. You can stroll through pulsating Bahnhofstrasse with its international reputation for excellence, in a picturesque old town with over 2,000 years of history on the banks of the River Limmat, or among the trendy districts of Zürich-West and Aussersihl.
Bahnhofstrasse: luxury shops and international brands
The people of Zürich call shopping for pleasure “Lädelen” or “looking around the shops” – and there are almost no limits to this in Zürich. Every quarter of the town has it own individuality in shopping terms. The world famous Bahnhofstrasse in Zürich has made a major contribution to Zürich’s reputation as a shopping paradise. It is the first port of call for lovers of luxury: watches and jewellery glint not only in the windows of Beyer, Bucherer, or Türler; top class fashion and accessories may also be found at Bally, Bongénie Grieder, or Feldpausch; top international brands can be found everywhere, and even the department stores Jelmoli or Globus may surprise you.
Old town: where trends meet tradition
In Zürich’s Old Town on the banks of the Limmat, trend and tradition meet: The traditional Schipfe quarter has now become a crafts quarter. At Schwarzenbach Kolonialwaren, you can make the same purchases as over 100 years ago, while in the trendy shop Time-Tunnel you will find both second-hand designer pieces and a hairdressing salon. And the Zürich label Alprausch interprets international Swiss items in the trend setting store Street & Snow-Ware in a new way.
Zürich-West and Aussersihl: urban Zürich labels which will impress you
For the fashion-conscious, a visit is recommended to the Zürich-West & Aussersihl former industrial quarters: here, designers like the cult label Freitag with its bags and accessories will surprise you daily with new creations that are an international sensation. Then there is also Fabric Frontline, which is continuing in Zürich’s silk tradition, and the famous Swiss designer Tran Hin Phu, who also knows how to surprise with his exclusive fashions.
Zürich offers inspiring landscapes.
With the lake, the extensive forests and hills, Zürich is a great place to recuperate. In summer, the banks of Zürich’s rivers and lake are buzzing with activity. Here, everyone from street artists to party-goers to business executives can be found enjoying the sun.
Summer, Sun and Water Fun
With no fewer than 40 swimming facilities – 18 of them outside in the open air, including on the lake and by the river – the Zürich region has an enormous density of public bathing areas. In recent years, these venues have developed into veritable leisure centers. During the day, guests relax in, on or by the water, while after dusk, the waterside areas are transformed into bars and lounges offering a varied cultural program, with events ranging from readings to theater, sport and poetry slams through to concerts. These venues are regarded as the ultimate meeting place on a mild summer evening.
While the water flowing in Zürich’s lakes and rivers is among the cleanest in the world, that gushing from the city’s fountains is of drinking quality. Consequently, anyone who gets thirsty in Zürich can simply take a drink from the nearest fountain. Fortunately there is never one very far away, for with a total of around 1,200, Zürich has one of the greatest number of fountains in the world.
At the gateway to Zürich is Baden, with its picturesque Old Town. This town boasts the thermal springs with the highest mineral content in Switzerland. The Rhine Falls, the largest waterfall in Europe, is a spectacular natural attraction just an hour’s drive from Zürich. Moreover, whether rain or shine, Apamare, Europe’s largest covered water park, offers the ultimate experience in water fun.
Nature on the Doorstep
In Zürich, you can get to the woods within just 10 minutes from any point in the city. Barbecue areas, educational trails and hiking paths delight nature lovers by guiding them past lakes and rivers, through woods and meadows, up hill and down dale. Lake Zürich, which extends right into the city itself, invites visitors to enjoy boat trips lasting between one and seven hours. Depending on the route, the boats cruise leisurely past romantic villages as far as the charming harbor town of Rapperswil. The Chinese Garden, situated in the Zürichhorn park, was presented to Zürich by the city of Kunming and is one of the most important gardens of its kind outside China. This gift was a token of thanks to Zürich for its assistance in developing Kunming’s drinking water supply.
Indigenous animal species such as deer, squirrels, hares, foxes, woodpeckers and owls can be seen in the Sihlwald forest. A quite different world of flora and fauna is to be found in the indoor Masoala Rainforest at Zürich Zoo; here, even in the depths of winter, visitors can observe exotic species of animals and plants that thrive in a tropical climate. Zürich Zoo is home to some 4,000 animals from all over the world. Moreover, at Knie’s Children’s Zoo in Rapperswil, visitors can feed the circus animals, have a ride on the elephants and ponies, and enjoy live animal shows.
In Zürich, on a clear day, even snow and perpetual ice appear to be almost within touching distance – Mount Titlis, among other places, is just a short journey. From Zürich, it is possible to book a trip to top Swiss destinations as a tour lasting anything from a few hours to a whole day. Visitors are thus able to combine an outing to Swiss places of interest during the day with a chance to enjoy Zürich’s culture, cuisine and nightlife after their return. Indeed, even such famous persons as Goethe and Mozart enjoyed the benefits offered by Zürich as the gateway to the Alps.
Christmas Delights and Winter Magic
The melodious tones of Advent concerts intermingle with the scent of the many delicious items on sale at Zürich’s Christmas markets. The Advent period only lasts a short time, which means that the calendar of events is all the more tightly packed. Highlights range from the traditional Christmas market in a picturesque Old Town setting to the largest indoor Christmas market in Europe, held at Zürich’s Main Railway Station. Or from Christmas concerts and theater to the Live on Ice ice-skating rink. Furthermore, at Switzerland’s largest New Year’s Eve party, visitors and locals alike welcome the New Year in style with a spectacular fireworks display organized by Zürich’s hoteliers.
Zürich offers quality of life at the highest level.
Zürich has been permanently settled for around 7,000 years. What started out as a Roman customs post known as Turicum has since developed into an experience, science and business metropolis, without forfeiting any of its rural charm.
After the withdrawal of the Romans, in the Middle Ages Zürich, as the burial site of Zürich’s patron saints, the martyrs Felix and Regula, was an important place of pilgrimage. This continued until 1519, when Huldrych Zwingli was appointed the first priest of the Grossmünster Church and started the Reformation. Under Zwingli, Zürich became the birthplace and center of the Reformation in German-speaking Switzerland. Subsequently, religious refugees from the South settled in Zürich, bringing with them specialist expertise and business connections, and the city gradually grew into a textile centre.
There followed the age of industrialization, and with the construction of Zürich’s Main Railway Station, the railway opened up a gateway to the world. The various structures that were subsequently put into place transformed Zürich into a major transportation, research and business center. Despite its growth, Zürich is a sustainable region which boasts an excellent public transport network.
Nowadays, Zürich is the cultural and business capital of Switzerland and a popular domicile for the head offices of many multinational companies. Wherever influences from different countries converge, a multitude of lifestyles and forms of cultural expression can always also be found. Thanks to the city’s open attitude towards things new, in Zürich innovative trends can be quickly put into practice and further elaborated. This enormous innovative power and cultural diversity ensure quality of life at the highest level.
The information on our Zurich pages has been compiled with the help of Zurich Tourismus – ”http://www.zuerich.com” – to ensure quality, up-to-date information on the wonderful city of Zurich Switzerland.
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