City of Zurich

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Zurich

Zurich (map) is Switzerland’s biggest city and a cultural center of German-speaking Switzerland. Despite it not being the administrative capital of any more than its *Kanton, Berne is the Swiss capital.

Zurich is close to some excellent skiing resorts and many people headed for the Swiss Alps don’t spend much time in Zurich itself, but you’d be missing a lot if you don’t stay in Zurich for a couple of days at least.

Most of Zürich’s sites are located within the area on either side of the Limmat, between the Main railway station (map) and Lake Zürich. The churches and houses of the old town are clustered here, as are the most expensive shops along the famous Bahnhofstrasse.

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Lindenhof (map). The hill in the heart of the old town. A beautiful view of the city and one time location of a Roman fort. Lake Promenade (Utoquai, Seefeldquai, map). Especially during summer, the lake is a beautiful place to spend the evening or the weekend. Starting from Bellevue (map), the boardwalk goes for about three kilometers along the lake towards Tiefenbrunnen (map). About halfway from Bellevue there is a meadow.

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Niederdorf (map). The old town offers beautiful alleys, restaurants and shopping mainly aimed at younger consumers. In the evenings, people visit the Niederdorf’s many bars.

Flohmarkt Bürkliplatz (Fleamarket, map), in the Bellevue area near the Stadelhofen station. May-Oct: Sa 06:00–15:30. Fairly relaxed yet large flea market with many interesting stalls. Flohmarkt Kanzlei (Fleamarket, map), a big flea market that hosts up to 400 stalls on busy days.

The Migros and Coop supermarkets (several branches all over the city) are good places to assemble an inexpensive and delicious picnic lunch consisting of freshly baked bread, cheese or ham and fresh fruit. Migros Gourmessa is the ‘gourmet’ takeaway counter, available in larger Migros stores including the Migros City branch at Löwenstrasse.

Street Parade. The biggest open air techno rave in Europe. It happens one day each year on the second Saturday of August, during which trucks which function as mobile soundsystems (“Love mobiles”). Every year this event attracts nearly a million visitors who dance in the streets to the music which you can hear from anywhere in the city.

Caliente Festival. The largest latin festival in Europe. Held every year in early July. Try all types of Latin American food and listen to samba, merengue & co.

Bahnhofstrasse (map). One of the busiest and best-known shopping streets in the world. Highly refined. Certainly a must-see for every tourist in Zurich!

Polybahn (map). A 19th-century funicular, up the steep hill for a fine view. Starts at tram station Central and goes up to the ETH. Nice terrace up there. Langstrasse (map). Red light district of Zurich, with more drug dealers and police than usual, but interesting because even this most notorious spot in Switzerland is so clean and safe.

Grossmünster (map). Old Romanesque church, symbol of reformed Zurich, where reformer Huldrych Zwingli was appointed the people’s priest in 1519. Go up the tower for a great view of Zurich, though the stairs can be quite small and steep.

Fraumünster (map). Old Gothic church (former convent) with window paintings made by Marc Chagall. No photos or videos allowed inside.

Landesmuseum (map). This is the place to go if you want to learn more about the history of Switzerland. There are permanent exhibitions on history, archaeology and art.

Kunsthaus (map). Zurich’s most famous art museum. The collection includes works from many Swiss artists, such as the sculptures of Alberto Giacometti or the paintings of Ferdinand Hodler. There are also major works from international artists on display.

Rietberg Museum (map). This is one of the largest art museums in Switzerland, administered by the City of Zurich. Its focus lies on the traditional and contemporary arts and cultures of Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Oceania.

Zurich has proportionally more clubs than any other city in Europe. You will find anything from very “fancy” clubs to places you can just chill. If you want, you can go to a club every night. Most of the clubs are located around the Langstrasse and Hardbrücke. The uncommercial platform denkmal.org aggregates published events from all clubs and bars in Zurich and is a good place to look up what’s up.

Public transport

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ZVV.ch – Zurich public transport. The network includes trams, buses, S-Bahn (suburban trains), cable cars and boats.

Swiss Travel SystemSwiss Pass

 BUS >   Swiss PostAuto bus network + EurolinesFlixbus

 RAIL >   The Swiss Travel System includes a rail network of 29 000 kilometres, including several popular rail lines. SBB-CFF-FFS. + TGV LyriaInterCity Express (*Rail travel in Switzerland)

 AIRPORTS >   Zurich Airport is Switzerland’s largest and busiest airport, handling roughly 30 million passengers a year. It is actually in the community of Kloten and it is 10 minutes by train from the main station. The trains depart about every 10-15 minutes, during the day, but less frequently at earlier or later hours. Major international airports >> Genève Aéroport • Zurich AirportEuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg.

 WATERWAYS >   Association of Swiss Navigation Companies

Zurich is generally easy to get around by bicycle. There are bike lanes marked out in most parts of the city and if you don’t mind the hills, a bike might be a fast and cheap alternative to public transport. The city has an online map service, which can calculate routes for biking and also shows locations of bike parking and pumps.

Züri rollt offers free bike “rental” around the city. To get a free bike, you have to register with your I.D. or passport and pay a refundable deposit.

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