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Zurich (German: Zürich, Swiss German: Züri) is the largest city in Switzerland, with a population of some 400,000 in the city proper and 1.3 million in the metro area. Zurich is on Lake Zurich, where the lake meets the Limmat River, in the north of Switzerland. While Zurich is the country's financial centre and has the busiest airport, Berne is the Swiss capital.
Zurich 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, Zürich punches well above its weight in terms of major media and business headquarters and due to to it being at the heart of Switzerland's excessively punctual and meticulously maintained train network and being home to Switzerland's most important airport, it is often the first part of Switzerland that visitors get to see. Zürich 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.
While Zurich can be expensive, it is also clean, efficient and blessed with a high standard of living, which together with the high wages, explains why people bear with the high prices. Zurich has drawn people from the rest of Switzerland for centuries, but in the 20th and 21st century it has also begun to draw both people and companies from outside Switzerland and in some cases even outside Europe. This means that you will hear a lot more languages than just Swiss German and the overall atmosphere is a lot more cosmopolitan than you might think.
Zurich is home to ETH Zurich, one of the world's leading technical universities, which has produced a number of Nobel laureates and numerous innovations and due to Switzerland's long history of neutrality it also houses headquarters of the likes of FIFA or the International Ice Hockey Federation. Zurich is also home to a number of large banking and insurance conglomerates that grew on the fabled Swiss banking secret and still enjoy good reputations in the financial sector.
The city's Latin name, Turicum, was used for a Roman customs station at the Limmat, which has some remnants today. The Alemanni, a Germanic tribe, settled in the 5th century.
While the Church used to rule early Medieval Zurich, the Guilds (Zünfte) took power in 1336, establishing Zurich as an autonomous republic. The Guilds have survived until today, though their role today is mostly ceremonial. Zurich became the fifth canton of the Swiss Confederacy in 1351, and has been its capital at times. However, Switzerland's famous neutrality and stability is a modern thing, as many battles have been fought in and around Zurich. The canton lost the Old Zürich War between 1440 and 1446 against the confederacy, and was re-admitted in 1450.
Ulrich Zwingli led the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland during the early 16th century. As the Thirty Years War ended in 1648, the Holy Roman Empire lost its grip on Switzerland, which has been functionally independent since then.
The 1830s and 40s saw a series of revolts and war, including the Züriputsch, a revolt of conservative landowners of the canton, against the city of Zurich, and the 1847 Sonderbund War. In 1848 Switzerland adopted a constitution, which established the country as a federal republic. While the government settled in Bern, many federal institutions, including the new Polytechnic University (ETH) have their seat in Zurich.
The Zurich Stock Exchange was founded in 1877, and the city rose as a financial centre in the 20th century, as Switzerland remained neutral in the World Wars, and could maintain lower taxes on capital than the European great powers. Even though Switzerland has opted out of NATO and the European Union, Zurich is today one of central Europe's most cosmopolitan cities.
Zurich has a four-season climate typical to central Europe. Temperature in winter is usually around zero degrees, which means that snow can linger or melt away. Summers are warm with temperature in the 20s and occasionally in the 30s. The nearby mountains are significantly colder than in the valley, with snow remaining well into spring.
1 Zurich Airport (ZRH IATA) is Switzerland's largest and busiest airport, handling roughly 20 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. A single ticket to the Hauptbahnhof (Main station, a.k.a. "Zürich HB") costs Fr. 6.80. Several bus lines connect to the airport and provide access to the Winterthur region near it. There is also tram 10 from Zurich terminating at the airport, a rather slow option, but it might be faster door to door for some destinations in Zurich.
Most major airlines fly to Zurich but flag-carrier Swiss is still the biggest player at ZRH and offers the widest range of connections. Almost every large hotel in Zurich provides shuttle buses from the airport to your hotel. The stops for these buses are a short walk to the right from Terminal 1 arrivals.
Zurich Airport has high passenger costs due to several noise reduction and approach restrictions. Most no-frill airlines fly to Basel which is 1 hour away by train. EasyJet offer several flights to Germany, the UK and Southern Europe.
If you are travelling without a Schengen Visa to another destination in Europe (via Zurich airport) and if you are not a European citizen, you must not stay in Europe for longer than 90 days — even if your final destination would allow citizens of your country to stay for more than 90 days. Failure to do so will lead to very high fines (around €8100) should you try to leave Europe via Zurich airport .
Zurich Airport offers free WiFi for all guests for a maximum of two hours. A mobile phone capable of receiving texts in Switzerland is required. Travelers have to connect to the "ZurichAirport" network and register their cell phone number. The user will receive the access code via text message. After the free hour, there is a five-hour waiting period before you can access the next free hour.
Regular trains to and from other Swiss and European cities leave from and arrive at Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, located in the city centre at the end of Bahnhofstrasse, with easy access to mass transit. The Zurich Hauptbahnhof (HB) is served by the local S-Bahn commuter trains, InterCity (IC and ICN) connections throughout Switzerland, Italy, Germany's IC and ICE, France's TGV Lyria and Austria's Railjet with some direct connections reaching destinations as far in Eastern Europe as Budapest. While Switzerland itself does not have many high speed lines, Zurich is connected to the high speed rail networks of neighboring countries. The once extensive sleeper train network has been cut down a lot in the 21st century, but there are still some ÖBB Nightjets connecting Austria and Germany with Zurich.
Domestic train tickets within Switzerland are available through the SBB Website though there are few early bird discounts. International tickets can sometimes be bought through the SBB as well, but often you can get better offers through the DB website (German) the SNCF website (France) or the websites of ÖBB and Trenitalia for Austria and Italy respectively. All adjacent railroads have (sometimes significant) discounts for early booking on international trains, so if you know your plans far in advance, by all means book early.
The train station and the connecting underground mall has shops, restaurants, and a grocery store which locals use when they need to do Sunday shopping, as it is not subject to the closing hours laws otherwise in force in the city. It also hosts a Christmas market and other events in the big entrance hall.
There are some 24-hour lockers in level B1 available for Fr. 6-9 per 24hr (maximum 3 days).
Just to the east of the train station on the Bahnhofbrücke bridge, there is a large Coop supermarket open Monday to Saturday till 22:00.
The region around Zurich has probably the highest density of highways in the country, which makes it very convenient to a access. A1 goes past Zurich just north of the city, with two feeders into the city centre. A3 and A4 end just south of the city. The regional highways A51, A52 and A53 all also lead to Zurich. While this makes it that there are many ways to drive into the city from every direction, it also means that there is a lot of congestions, especially during morning and evening hours. Parking is also hard to get by at affordable rates, so it might nevertheless be faster and more convenient to travel by public transport.
2 Bus station at Sihlquai. The bus station is next to the main train station, near the confluence of the Sihl and Limmat. While the domestic Swiss intercity bus market is tightly regulated and dominated by state-run Postauto that is intended to supplement the train network rather than compete with it. That said, on international routes the likes of Flixbus (a German company) do offer sone routes. There are also some routes to destinations farther away
Zürich is famous for its highly efficient, clean and safe public transport system, owned and managed by the Zürcher Verkehrsverbund (ZVV) which covers the entire canton of Zürich as well as Rapperswil-Jona in the canton of St. Gallen and Pfäffikon SZ in the canton of Schwyz. The network includes trams, buses, S-Bahn (suburban trains), cable cars and boats. The size and complexity of the network may be daunting at first, but you will soon realize that there are dozens of ways to get from one place to another and following any of them will still be efficient.
Timetable information for Switzerland is available on sbb.ch or can be obtained using the SBB Mobile iPhone or Android App (requires a working internet connection). The free Wemlin App on iPhone and on Android gives you offline access to timetable information and network maps for the canton of Zurich area without internet connection and is therefore ideally for on the go usage in case you don't want to use data roaming.
The system is divided into numerous fare zones, with the city centre and innermost suburbs being in zone 110 and the outer suburbs located in other zones (Winterthur is in zone 120, for example), and the more zones you pass through, the more you'll have to pay for your journey. There are single tickets, day cards, monthly cards and annual cards. The monthly and annual cards are collectively referred to as ZVV NetzPass.
Tickets must be purchased from a ticket vending machine before boarding or from one of the ticket selling kiosks. The ticket vending machines are in German, English, French and Italian and offer almost all regular tickets available (not personal tickets though). You select the zones you wish to pass through upon buying the ticket, with a zone map on every machine as well as clear instructions coming to your aid, so feel free to choose! Once you've got your ticket it gives you access to all modes of transport.
If you're staying for a longer period, consider a monthly ZVV NetzPass, because even though there are no regular tickets valid for something between 1 day and a month, it takes only 10 "zone 110" day cards for a "zone 110" monthly card to be cheaper. When travelling in all zones, it takes only 8 day cards for the monthly card to be cheaper. A 24-hour ticket for zone 110 costs just the same as two single rides.
If you don't mind starting your travels after 09:00, the "ZVV-9-UhrPass" is the best option. It is available as daily, monthly and annual cards, and will save you a lot of money compared to regular similarities, especially given that the 09:00 rule does not apply on weekends.
There are also so-called Z-passes, which can be used not only in Zürich, but also in one of the neighbouring cantons (Aargau, Schaffhausen, Schwyz, Zug, St. Gallen or Thurgau); however, only one additional canton is possible, so if you're not going to one neighbouring canton more often than the others you are probably better off with just a normal all zones Zürich monthly card and buying single ticket from the last valid station to your final destination. The Z-pass system also has its zones, even in the neighbouring cantons. It is only available as monthly and annual cards and can not be bought from ticket vending machines.
For all details regarding fares, see the ZVV home page linked to above.
The Swiss Travel Pass (not to be confused with the SwissPass) is valid on all public transport in Zurich and, if you are a tourist visiting most of Switzerland, this may be your best way to saving money and time spent trying to figure out zones, routes, and fare options. Eurail passes are valid only on the S-Bahn and boats. Interrail passes are valid on the S-Bahn (although the ZVV website claims a "reduction" for other routes for Interrail holders). Nevertheless, you may find you don't need the trams and buses if you don't mind walking around a little.
By tram and bus
Several tram lines, trolleybuses and buses cover the city at street level. Like all other public transport in Zurich, you must purchase and validate tickets before boarding, or risk a fine if they decide to spot check. You can find a timetable at every stop which is usually accurate to the minute, however delays do occur due to heavy traffic, rerouting, or other factors.
The 'S-Bahn' is Zürich's convenient and fast suburban rail system which covers nearly all suburbs of Zürich and beyond. Zürich's S-Bahn system provides convenient and fast service throughout the region. All lines except the rural ones pass through the Hauptbahnhof. The ZVV offers directions for a series of excursions on the S-Bahn.
You must have a validated ticket before you board. If you do not have a ticket you will be liable for an on-the-spot fine of Fr. 100.
There are two types of boat-based public transport operated in Zürich: river buses and lake boats. The river boats operate in the summer months only and the lake boats operate on a much reduced schedule during the winter.
The river buses operate between the Landesmuseum (near the Hauptbahnhof) along the Limmat River and out in the Zürichsee (Zürich Lake) to Tiefenbrunnen. There are several stops along the Limmat River.
The Zürichsee Schifffahrtsgesellschaft (ZSG) operates lake boats (including two historic restored steam ships) which leave from Burkliplatz (at the end of Bahnhofstrasse). The ZSG's website provides information on destinations and ships. The ZSG offers a variety of tourist-oriented trips (including Jazz Brunch), and a popular trip is to Rapperswil at the south end of the Zürichsee. The town has a beautiful castle overlooking the lake surrounded by a medieval town.
The main train station, old town and the lake promenade and all nearby tourist attractions are easily walkable. You may find that you don't need transport for most of your tourist needs once you get into the city.
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. Many of the major intersections don't have bike lanes due to space constraints, but it is generally possible to avoid those. Note that cycling on the pavement is not allowed. Cyclist are commonly fined for cycling against the traffic or ignoring traffic lights.
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 of Fr. 20. There are seven stations. Two of them are located at the main station (3 North bike gate and 4 south bike gate) and are operated year round. The rest are operated only from April to October. Two of them are located near the old town at 5 Globus City and at 6 Bellevue. The opening hours vary by station, but most of them are operated daily from 09:00-21:30.
O-Bike is a Chinese start-up bike sharing service that is new in town. It's a free floating system with its bikes parked randomly all over the city. To unlock you need their app and a deposit of Fr. 130. After it lets you rent bikes for Fr. 1.50 per half hour.
Driving in Zurich is possible but it is painful as the city centre is not easy to navigate by car. It's cheaper and more convenient to park outside the city and take a train.
The taxis in Zürich are very expensive compared to New York, London and other major cities. Most of the taxi drivers are unfriendly and uncommunicative. Better travel by tram, bus or S-bahn. Uber has gained popularity in Zurich but recently stopped their UberX service and now offers only the regular and UberBlack service.
For formal speech and writing, German-speaking Swiss use Swiss Standard German (Schweizer Hochdeutsch), which is very similar to standard German. The Zurich dialect (Züritüütsch) is dominant among the Swiss German (Schweizerdeutsch) dialects, and is difficult to understand for non-Swiss.
English is widely spoken, at least among the young and businesspeople.
Most of the interesting sights are in the old town around the river and lakefront.
- 1 Bahnhofstrasse. One of the busiest and best-known shopping streets in the world. Highly refined. Certainly a must-see for every tourist in Zurich! (see below).
- 2 Lindenhof. The hill in the heart of the old town. A beautiful view of the city and one time location of a Roman fort.
- 3 Lake Promenade (Utoquai, Seefeldquai). Especially during summer, the lake is a beautiful place to spend the evening or the weekend. Starting from Bellevue, the boardwalk goes for about three kilometers along the lake towards Tiefenbrunnen. About halfway from Bellevue there is a meadow where you will find thousands of people on a sunny day.
- 4 Grossmünster, Zwingliplatz. November-February 10ː00-17ː00, March-October 10ː00-18ː00. 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. Tower Fr. 4, Fr. 2 for students.
- 5 Fraumünster, Kämbelgasse 2. November-February 10:00-17:00, March-October 10:00-18:00. Old Gothic church (former convent) with window paintings made by Marc Chagall. No photos or videos allowed inside. Fr. 5.
- 6 Schanzengraben. A small canal that used to be part of the city fortifications between Limmat and Sihl. From the main station, go to Gessnerallee, find the stairways down to the tiny creek, and walk all the way to the lake.
- 7 Langstrasse. Red light district of Zürich, with more drug dealers and police than usual, but interesting because even this most notorious spot in Switzerland is so clean and safe. The area is the most overtly multicultural spot of the town. In recent years, ateliers and stylish bars start to coexist side by side to the about 15 strip clubs.
- 8 Friedhof Fluntern. cemetery with lots of famous people most notably James Joyce who lived in Zurich for quite some time, the writer Elias Canetti and a few nobel price winners are also buried there
- 9 Zoo, Zürichbergstrasse 221, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mar-Oct 09:00–18:00, Nov-Feb 09:00–17:00. With the new Masoala Rainforest Hall, the Zoo is really worth a visit! Fr. 26 for adults (Fr. 19 for those under 25).
- 10 China Garden, Bellerivestrasse 138, ☎ . Apr-Oct daily 11:00–19:00. This small but beautiful Chinese garden was offered to the city of Zurich by the Chinese city of Kunming as symbol of gratitude after Zurich helped Kunming with technical knowledge. Fr. 4.
- 11 Niederdorf. The old town offers beautiful alleys, restaurants and shopping mainly aimed at younger consumers. In the evenings, people visit the Niederdorf's many bars.
- 12 Zurich West. This modern quarter used to be an industrial one, but modern urban developments made it into a centre of vibrant night life.
- 13 Landesmuseum, Museumstrasse 2, ☎ . Tu-Su 10:00–17:00 and most public holidays including M, Th until 19ː00. 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. Changing temporary exhibitions usually also turn around Swiss topics. Fr. 10/8.
- 14 Kunsthaus, Heimplatz 1, ☎ . Tu, F-Su 10ː00-18ː00, W-Th 10ː00-18ː00. 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. The museum is building a new extension, scheduled to open in 2020 and thus parts of the museum might be closed at any given time. Fr. 16/11 for the permanent collection. Free on Wednesdays.
- 15 Johann Jacobs Museum, Seefeldquai 17, ☎ . Tu 16ː00-20ː00, Sa-Su 11ː00-17ː00. A museum that describes the complex history of global trade routes and goods and the culture around them. Fr. 7.
- 16 Pavillon Le Corbusier, Höschgasse 8 (near China Garden), ☎ . W, F-Su 12:00-18:00, Do 12:00-20:00. This is the last building designed by the Swiss architect le Corbusier. The Pavillon was built after his death as a museum dedicated to his work. Access to the building has long been difficult and expensive, also due to a legal fight between the former patron and initiator of the building and the city of Zurich. Now it is however managed by the city and open to the public. The highlight of the museum is of course the building itself, but there are also yearly changing exhibitions on architecture. Fr. 12/8.
- 17 Rietberg Museum, Gablerstrasse 15, ☎ . Tu,Th-Su 10:00-17:00, W 10:00-20:00. Switzerland's only museum specialising in non-European art. It showcases pieces of art from Asia, Africa and America as well as a collection of Swiss masks. The museum building itself is a neoclassical villa, which was once home to the composer Richard Wagner and which is surrounded by a lush park. Fr. 14/12 for the regular exhibition.
- 18 Zoological Museum, Karl Schmid-Strasse 4, ☎ . Tu-F 09ː00-17ː00, Sa-Su 10ː00-17ː00. Showcases the zoological collection of the university of Zurich. The first floor has local fauna whereas the lower floor has animals from all over the world. Free.
- 19 FIFA World Football Museum, Seestrasse 27, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-Sa 10:00-19:00, Su 09:00-18:00. Explores the world of football and the FIFA. Fr 24/14.
- Take the 1 Polybahn, Central 1. Operates Mon-Fri 06:45–19:15, Sat 07:30–14:00, closed on Sun and public holidays. 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. During the week, the student cafeteria below the terrace is also open to the public. Fr. 1.20, free with ZürichCARD or a valid ZVV ticket for Zone 110.
- 2 Letten. If you go to Zurich during summer take your swimwear with you. The clean river at the public river baths "Oberer/Unterer Letten" is used by the locals to cool down after hot days. Jump in upstream and the river will carry you down. Showers and free lockers are provided but you need to bring your own lock. Free Entry.
- Go skiing by train — Buy a snow'n'rail ticket (train & skipass) at the Hauptbahnhof during winter months, train out in morning, back in evening. Flumserberg is the closest large ski-resort, popular with people from Zurich, with a good range of runs for beginners and experts. Retreat to the right side of the resort if the rest gets busy.
- Take a 3 trip on the Zürichsee. with one of the two old steam ships. There are a few different routes you can choose from, which will vary mainly in the distance. Journeys usually start from Bürkliplatz. Steam ships operate between April and mid-October. ZVV tickets valid.
- Rent a small rowboat or pedalo.
- Take a 4 Limmat river cruise, Landesmuseum Pier, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Offers views of the old town and Lake Zurich. Operates between April and October. Fr. 4.30, free with ZürichCARD or a valid ZVV ticket for Zone 110.
- Go up 5 Uetliberg. A hill overlooking Zurich. You can hike up, or take a train from the "SZU" part of the main station. Enjoy the 360-degree view from a tall viewing tower (not for vertigo sufferers!) This is also the start of the Planetenweg (planetary walk), a 12-km (8-mile) walk along the ridge with models of the planets along the way. These are scaled down in true proportion to the solar system. To look at Zürich from the other hills, go to the Irchel (Tram station Milchbuck) or Käferberg (Bucheggplatz, walk up the hill and keep right of the forest). CHF 2.50 to go up the observation tower.
- Go club-hopping — Zürich has proportionately the largest number of clubs per capita in Europe - take a look at Usgang.ch for up-to-date listings.
- The Grossmünster sometimes has organ concerts in the evenings. Check the front door for notices.
- Streetparade. 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") start driving along the lake side, starting from the east at Utoquai and ending at the west at Hafen Enge. 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. After the Streetparade the party doesn't stop, there are open air parties along the route until midnight and club parties at various locations in town until late the next day, to keep the party going. Don't be surprised if the city's cleanliness isn't up to its usual standard the next day. Check out Lethargy festival that happens during the same weekend if you're into less commercial electronic music.
- Swiss national day. August 1st — Celebrations are carried out in many cities in the evenings and fireworks are launched at night. Watch them over the lake, or if you're experienced with safely launching fireworks yourself, you can buy them in the days leading up to the national holiday and have fun. The display over the Rheinfall, one hour away by S-Bahn, is also extremely popular.
- Sechseläuten. Around mid-April, the guilds of Zürich celebrate their traditional spring festival with the burning of the snow man (Böögg). A procession of several hundreds of people with historical guild costumes and horses takes place in the centre of the town.
- 6 Caliente Festival (Around Helvetiaplatz). 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. Huge crowds.
- Züri Fäscht. A weekend festival celebrating Zurich, which occurs every 3 years (last held 1-3 July 2016, next 2019). It is visited by around 2 million people.
- Zürcher Theater Spektakel. A festival for the performing arts. Held along the lake near Rote Fabrik and features a number of free performances. Usually in August.
Shows and theaters
- 7 Opernhaus, Falkenstrasse 1 (Tram stop Opernhaus, or take the S-train to Stadelhofen), ☎ . The Zurich Opera house shows frequently changing productions of world famous operas. As with the Schauspielhaus, students get a big last-minute discount. The best seats costs Fr. 45 for students.
- 8 Rote Fabrik (Red Factory). An old silk factory converted to a centre of youth culture and art in the 1980s. The Red Factory became one of the most exciting parts of cultural life. An artists' coop, a couple of kilometers south, form along the west bank of Lake Zurich. They have a variety of events, including music, film, and theater.
- 10 Schauspielhaus Pfauen, Rämistrasse 34 (Tram stop Kunsthaus), ☎ . Zurich's Schauspielhaus is one of the most important theatres in the German speaking part of Europe. The Schauspielhaus has several locations, the most important one being the Pfauen. Students can get really cheap last minute tickets (10 minutes before the show) if they show their student ID. The best seats, if available, cost Fr. 20 that way.
- 11 Cinema Arthouse Le Paris (Arthouse Le Paris), Gottfried-Keller Strasse 7 (Tram stop Stadelhofen, or take the S-train to Stadelhofen), ☎ . Frequently changing arthouse movies; students get a discount.
For shopping in Zürich there are three different areas in the centre:
- 1 Bahnhofstrasse. Runs from the Zürich Train Main station "Hauptbahnhof" right down to the lake. Bahnhofsstrasse is famous for being one of the most exclusive and expensive shopping streets in the world. Here you can get anything from diamond rings to chocolate to fur coats. Globus and Jelmoli are two fiercely competitive department stores, both of which carry items from many high-end brands.
- 2 Niederdorf. The Old Part of Zurich which expands from "Bellevue" by the Lake right to "Central" which is just over the River from the train station. The Niederdorf is more for young people. Aside from a lot of fast food places you will find a lot of trendy clothes stores here.
- 3 Löwenstrasse. Runs west of Bahnhofstrasse from the main train station, has shops selling everyday items and a large branch of Migros, a department store chain.
Swiss clocks and watches
You may be disappointed to know that most of the cheap watches and clocks in Switzerland are imported from China and Japan for their cheap quartz movements (including most of the wall clocks and alarm clocks sold at department stores, for example). Don't purchase a "Migros Budget" clock for Fr. 8 thinking it is a Swiss clock! Nevertheless, real Swiss-made clocks are still well known for their quality and reliability, and intricate mechanics. The following are true Swiss-made watches:
- Swatch, possibly your best bet for a "cheap" Swiss watch (Fr. 40-100) and perhaps better suited for the younger generation. Available in their stores on Bahnhofstrasse and various other locations, or in department stores.
- M-Watch, based on both Mondaine and Migros and available in Migros Electronics stores such as the one on the 2nd floor of the Lowenplatz location. Also relatively inexpensive (Fr. 40-100). Do not confuse this with "M-Budget" which is an imported cheap watch.
- Mondaine is known for their use of the famous SBB railway clock face. You can buy a replica of the SBB clock as a watch or a wall clock in most major railway stations, among other locations. However, most of them do not replicate the hallmark smooth movement of the second hand for 58.5 seconds followed by the 1.5-second pause that is characteristic of real SBB railway clocks, but they do replicate the clock face. They are quartz, and the price may seem a little inflated to you (Fr. 130-180). The vast majority of SBB railway clocks are produced by Mobatime (Moser-Baer AG), not Mondaine, even though Mondaine's name appears on some of the larger clocks such as the Treffpunkt in Zurich HB. Mondaine's wall and desk clocks, however, are only of "Swiss design" and are manufactured in China and Taiwan.
- Mid-range brands (Fr. 100-500) can be found at clock and watch stores throughout the city. Just walk in and have a look if you're interested.
- Upper-end watches and clocks, such as Rolex, are also sold, but you should probably do more research into them than you can find here. If you just want to stare at some of the most expensive watches for sale, take a look at the Bucherer store window at Bahnhofstrasse and see what a Fr. 25,000 watch looks like.
- Frey is not as well known abroad as other Swiss brands, but with a market share of roughly 35%, it is the most popular brand in Switzerland. It mostly produces for the Migros supermarket chain and is known as good quality chocolate at a cheap price. A big share of the production is also exported, mostly however under store brand labels for chains such as Marks & Spencer, Loblaw, Tesco, Coles. The factory is in Aarau (about 1 hour by train and bus), where there is also a visitor centre.
- Lindt is available at the Coop and other supermarkets besides Migros for Fr. 2-2.50, but Lindt chocolates are also sold at the Lindt & Sprungli Chocolate Factory Shop, which is accessible by taking the S-Bahn S8 to Kilchberg (12 min) and then bus 165 to the stop "Lindt & Sprüngli" (2-3 min). Hours are limited (M-F 09:00–17:00). The factory store prices are somewhat lower than supermarket prices (on the order of 10-20%), but there are some sale items, including factory rejects (for underweight chocolates, improper packaging, or filling showing through) that are sold for roughly half-price. The Lindt factory used to offer tours and free samples, but this is no longer the case.
- Chocolats Halba is the chocolate producer of Coop and responsible for most of their own sortiment, but it is also the producer of several Fairtrade chocolate products in other countries, e.g. the Alter Eco brand in France. They have a factory store called Schoggihüsli in Zürich located at Alte Winterthurerstrasse 7 which is 750 m from train station "Wallisellen". There is a changing sortiment of very cheap factory rejects packages, each consisting of 1 kg chocolate at a price of Fr. 3-8.
The larger Coop supermarkets carry many brands, including Lindt, Camille Bloch, Goldkenn, and others, including all sorts of alcohol-filled chocolates.
- Teuscher. — An upscale confiserie that specializes in truffles. There are three stores in Zürich: Bahnhofstrasse 46, Storchengasse 9 and Jelmoli Department Store.
- Sprüngli — A Zurich institution that offers a variety of sweet and savory goodies including a wide variety of chocolates, from handmade truffles to special chocolate bars. There are locations throughout the city, including Bahnhofstrasse and inside Zurich HB. Some specialities include the Luxemburgerli, a sort of soft macaroon resembling a hamburger in looks but is actually completely pastry and cream, and comes in a variety of flavors; the Truffe du Jour, a chocolate truffle that is made daily from raw cream and is meant to be consumed immediately; and the extraordinary Grand Cru Sauvage truffle, made from wild cacao beans from Bolivia. Most items are rather pricey but worth it. The flagship store on the Paradeplatz is a very popular spot for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Try their berry-filled muesli, it's like no other muesli you've ever had. There are two handy stores at the Kloten airport for last-minute gifts to bring home.
- 4 St. Jakobs Confiserie. Badenerstrasse 41. The background organisation, Behindertenwerk St. Jacob, aims at providing jobs for disabled people.
- 5 Schweizer Heimatwerk, Uraniastr 1 (on the Limmat river), ☎ . M-F 09:00-20:00, Sa 09:00-18:00. Also branches at the Bahnhofstrasse 2 and the airport. Quality Swiss handicrafts and other Swiss-made products presented in a gallery-like setting. You won't find many cuckoo clocks and the like here (cuckoo clocks are not really Swiss, they are from the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) in Germany!), the emphasis is on real traditional crafts and the work of modern craftspeople. You will find things like sleek modern hand-blown glassware and beautiful hand-carved wooden items from the Appenzell region. A worthwhile visit even if you just browse.
Swiss army knives
- Coop City in Bahnhofstrasse sells the Victorinox line at uninflated prices, although you won't get additional bells and whistles like customized faceplates or engraving. Many other department stores also carry them.
- Any cutlery shop will probably carry both Victorinox and Wenger lines of products. However, do make sure they are not inflating the price. For example, a SwissChamp (possibly the most popular model) should be retailed around Fr. 78.
- Flohmarkt Bürkliplatz (Fleamarket), Bürkliplatz (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). Helvetiaplatz. Open Sa 08:00–16:00. A big fleamarket that hosts up to 400 stalls on busy days.
- Pastorini Spielzeug, Weinplatz 3 (near the river). A high-end toy store.
- There is an English language bookstore at the intersection of Bahnhofstrasse and Rennweg.
- 6 Sihlcity (Tram S4 to "Zürich Saalsporthalle-Sihlcity"), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 09:00-20:00; Su off. A good old fashioned shopping mall, which is a 5-minute S-Bahn ride away from the main station. It comprises some 100,000 m² of rental space with a range of facilities, such as restaurants, a shopping center, a multiplex cinema, entertainment, health and fitness/wellness area, nightclub, a Four Points hotel and a chapel.
The quintessential Zürich dish is Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (Swiss-German: Zürigschnätzlets), sliced veal in a cream and wine sauce. Various kinds of grilled wurst (sausages) are also popular. These are most often accompanied by boiled potatoes, rösti, a Swiss potato pancake (grated potato, formed into a pancake then pan fried until crisp in butter or oil similar to hash browns) or chnöpfli, in German sometimes called Spätzle (small noodle dumplings).
Veal is still very popular, though the use of turkey and other meats as a substitute is growing.
While fondue (melted cheese in a central pot, dip bread into it) and Raclette (cheese melted in small portions, served with potatoes and pickles) are not really local to Zürich (they come from the Western Switzerland) they are commonly available at restaurants aimed at tourists. Swiss people usually eat those dishes at home and only during winter.
The bread available in Zürich is generally delicious. There are many varieties, and your best bet is to go to a bakery or a supermarket in the morning or just after work hours, when most people are doing their shopping and bread is coming out fresh.
Try grilled bratwurst from street stands, served with a large crusty roll of sourdough bread and mustard, or sandwiches made with fresh baked bretzeln (large, soft pretzels). A typically Swiss bread is the zopf, a braided soft bread that is commonly served on Sundays (the other name for it is Sonntagszopf).
For breakfast, try a bowl of müesli, which was invented as a health food in Switzerland. The Sprüngli confectionery store tea rooms serve a deluxe version of this fiber-filled cereal with whole milk, crushed berries and cream.
There are a huge variety of cheeses available at the supermarkets, specialty stores and markets, as well as all kinds of hams and dried sausages. Dairy products are generally delicious, especially the butter. Do not miss the supermarkets! You should take a thorough look through Migros or Coop and maybe even assemble your own lunch or dinner some time. Even the cheap, budget prepackaged desserts in the supermarket exceed the quality of what you may be used to.
For those with a sweet tooth, there's a huge variety of chocolates to enjoy, from the cheapest chocolate bar to individually handmade truffles. (See the Shopping section above). The chocolate bar displays at the supermarkets will overwhelm you! Also enjoy pastries and cakes from the various Konditorei scattered around town. In pastry shops, you can also find special pastry from Zurich: The most famous of them probably is Tirggel, a rather hard pastry made of flour and honey. Although traditionally made and eaten during the Winter holidays, many pastry shops (including larger supermarkets) sell them throughout the year. Often, they've got sights of Zurich printed on the top, can be stored for months and thus make up a pretty good and cheap souvenir. Another famous type of pastry are Luxemburgerli exclusively sold by the confectionery chain of Sprüngli (part of the famous chocolatier Lindt & Sprüngli). A typical cake is the Mandelfisch, an almond cake shaped like a fish.
Like most European cities, Zürich abounds with cafés where you can enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee, glass of wine or other beverage, and watch the world go by.
There are many international dining options available too. The current hot trend seems to be pan-Asian noodle, rice, and sushi places. However, due to the far distance to the sea and the lack of original, well-trained Chinese/Japanese cooks, the quality cannot live up to that of the original countries. Instead, the Italian cuisine holds the highest popularity among the foreign restaurants. They can be found throughout the city and are relatively cheap. Turkish fast food restaurants are also a delicious, cheap option.
Vegetarian food is easy to find throughout the city. Vegans may have a little trouble because cheese is used generously in most food, but should be fine living off supermarkets at the very least. Hiltl, the first vegetarian-only restaurant in Europe, is also worth a visit. You choose from the buffet, where your meal is priced by weight or from a variety of à la carte menus, which are a bit more pricey, but include vegetarian/vegan versions of popular Swiss meals like Züri-Gschnätzlets or Beef Stroganoff amongst Indian food and classic vegetarian plates. Another vegan friendly restaurant is "Bona Dea", which is located directly at Zurich Mainstation.
- 1 Baba's take-away, Seeanlaga Utoquai, ☎ . Part of the Restaurant Pumpstation is located direct at the lake promenade (south of Banhof Stadelhofen). From April–October, serves fresh grilled sausages, ribs, and chicken for about Fr. 6-10.
- 2 Lee's take-away, Preyergasse 8 (in the Niederdorf). Stand-up place serving excellent large portions of Asian food. Special student dishes under Fr. 10
- 3 Pizzeria Molino, Limmatquai 16, ☎ . Pizzas and pastas in a relaxed setting. Check website for more locations.
- 4 Ah-Hua, Ankerstrasse 110 (next to Helvetiaplatz). Offers delicious Thai dishes to budget prices. Great pit-stop in a Langstrasse pub crawl.
- 5 Gambrinus, Langstrasse 103 (near Helvetiaplatz). A typical Swiss restaurant with good food and cold beer. It is located in the Red Light District (Langstrasse) of Zurich and is not the ideal place to bring children or acquaintances. Gambrinus looks like a pub more than anything else, but the staff are friendly and speak English. Try the Zürigschnätzlets mit Rösti or the fondue (one of the best in town). From Fr. 14.
- 6 Rheinfelder Bierhalle, Niederdorfstrasse 76 (at the beginning of the Niederdorf, near Central), ☎ . In this huge and boisterous restaurant you get good value food and rich portions (only try the Jumbo Jumbo Cordon-Bleu when really hungry). Cheap beer. Service can range from very good to poor depending who is working that day.
- 7 Millennium Restaurant, Limmatplatz 1 (Limmatstrasse at Langstrasse, right across the X-tra bar), ☎ . Offers great pizzas, large hamburgers, spicy kebabs and other Italian and Turkish dishes at reasonable prices. Staff is very friendly and service is great. Perfect for lunch or a late-night snack.
- 8 Sternen Grill, Theaterstrasse 22. Zurich's most famous sausage stand near Bellevue tram stop. Red or white sausages for around Fr. 6, a piece of bread and (hot!) mustard is included.
- 9 1001. A nice Turkish place with remarkably good kebab, friendly service, and possibility to seat conveniently inside.
- 10 St. Peter, In Gassen 10 (Enter the building and use the staircase to the 1st floor), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mo-Fr 11:15-14:00. A canteen, which is mainly frequented by employess of nearby banks and other office workers. 3 delicious lunch offers - one of them vegetarian - are offered. The price is unbeatable in the city center. Only Manora and the food courts described below are similarly low priced. On weekdays only. CHF 12-17.
- 11 Manora, Bahnhofstrasse 75. Mo-Sa 09:00-20:00. Restaurant on the top floor of Manor department store. Fresh buffet or daily menus. During the summer months it is possible to sit on a terrace with decent views. CHF12-20.
- 12 Bank, Molkenstrasse 15, ☎ . Restaurant, café, bar and bakery in old bank. Mostly organic and mediterranean food.
- Flavour Of India, Kalchengasse 12, Kloten, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 08:00 to 01:00. One of the best Indian restaurants in Zurich. Also does takeaway and catering.
- 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. The Coop Bahnhofbrücke branch near the main station also has a small fast-food restaurant. The Migros branch in the main station is open on Sundays when most other stores are closed, and also until 21:00 on weekdays, whereas the Coop Bahnhofbrücke is open M-Sa 07:00 to 22:00.
- Jelmoli, St. Annahof and Manor department store restaurant for a cheap buffet lunch, good salad and vegetable stands. All located at Bahnhofstrasse and open during the day
- 13 Rosalys, Freieckgasse 7 (near Bellevue), ☎ . Typical Swiss food including Älplermacrone (pasta with apple purée). Excellent cocktail bar, too.
- 14 Commercio, Mühlebachstrasse 2 (near Stadelhofen station), ☎ . Excellent pasta and a busy atmosphere.
- 15 Commi-Halle, Stampfenbachstrasse 8 (near Central), ☎ . Italian food served late.
- 16 Swiss Chuchi, Rosengasse 10 (in the Niederdorf), ☎ . A kitchy place serving up classic Swiss fare, mainly for tourists. Serves fondue year round.
- 17 Zeughauskeller, Bahnhofstrasse 28a (near Paradeplatz), ☎ . 11:30–23:00. Offers hearty sausages, stews, rösti potato, etc., in a Brauhaus-like setting. Touristy, but good and large portions. Housed in a historical building, built in 1487.
- 18 Zum Kropf, In Gassen 16 (just down the street from the Zeughauskeller), ☎ . Offers beer hall fare such as sausages and pork shanks in a somewhat refined setting. The restaurant features a beautiful painted ceiling.
- 19 Globus Bellevue, Theaterstrasse 12. This relatively new branch of the Globus department store in the Bellevue near the Stadelhofen station is totally dedicated to food. There is a large eatery on the ground floor that serves various fusion-type foods (decent noodle bowl) and a passable sushi bar. The ground floor has a gourmet food market, and upstairs there are kitchen wares.
- 20 Sprüngli Paradeplatz, Bahnhofstrasse 21 (1. Floor). The flagship store of the Sprüngli confectionery store chain has a beautiful turn-of-the-century style dining room upstairs that is extremely popular for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Choose from the menu or from the gorgeous display case filled with beautiful cakes, tarts, open-face and regular sandwiches. Try the muesli! Great people watching too, since this is the place for an after-shopping snack for the rich ladies of Zurich.
- 21 Masala, Stauffacherstrasse 27 (near Stauffacher), ☎ . Tasty Indian cuisine.
- 22 Hiltl, Sihlstrasse 28 (behind Jelmoli department store), ☎ . The oldest vegetarian restaurant in Europe (from 1890).
- 23 Tibits, Seefeldstrasse 2 (behind the Opera house), ☎ . The fast-food outlet of Hiltl, Europe's oldest vegetarian restaurant. Offers a nice self-service buffet of fresh veggies and fruit and a surprising variety. Try the freshly squeezed juices. Buffet: 3.60 Fr for 100g.
- 24 Outback Lodge, Stadelhoferstasse 18 (at Bahnhof Stadelhofen), ☎ . Unrelated to the U.S. Outback Steakhouse chain. Enjoy Aussie tucker like ostrich, kangaroo, and crocodile, as well as more conventional fare. Popular with locals as well as expats. Has a hopping bar scene (see Drink section). There's also a branch in Winterthur.
- 25 Iroquois, Seefeldstrasse 120, ☎ . Tex-Mex food in the trendiest part of town, with the best margaritas in Zurich.
- 26 Tiffin's, Seefeldstrasse 61 (between Kreuzstrasse and Feldeggstrasse), ☎ . M-Sa. Great place for Asian food. Crowded.
- 27 Lily's, Langstrasse 197 (between the railway and Limmatplatz), ☎ . Great Thai and other Asian food. The curries are particularly good and come in huge portions. Come before 19:00 or after 21:00 if you don't want to wait.
- 28 Manzoni Bar, Schützengasse 15, ☎ . Morning till evening. Authentic Italian coffee and aperitif bar that offers clients over 20 different coffee specialties and a vast take away menu. The concept was created by the Manz brothers together with Francesco Illy, the most famous coffee brand in Italy.
- 29 Nooba, Kreuzplatz 5, ☎ . Pan-Asian noodle bar, a short walk up the hill from Stadelhofen station. Stylish setting, attentive and multilingual service and a broad selection of freshly prepared noodle, rice and curry dishes.
- 30 Nooch, Heinrichstrasse 267 (opposite the Cinemax movie multiplex), ☎ . Yet another Pan-Asian noodle, rice and curry joint. Also has a sushi bar.
- 31 Ristoranto Toscano, Schmidgasse 3, ☎ . M-Sa. A very good Italian restaurant in the old part of the city (Niederdorf). You should try the Spaghetti al Bacio!
- 32 Restaurant Eisenhof, Gasometerstrasse 20, ☎ . Has the warm feel of an old pub. The house specialty is horse steak, served on a hot stone with fries.
- 33 Blinde Kuh, Mühlebachstrasse 148, ☎ . Restaurant in complete darkness, served by blind people. An amazing experience.
- 34 Bebek, Badenerstrasse 171, ☎ . Breakfast until 16:00. Meze dishes and bar in the evening.
- 35 White Elephant, Neumühlequai 42 (5 walking minutes from Zurich HB (Main Train Station)), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mon-Fri 12pm to 2pm, Sun-Thur 6pm to 10pm, Fri - Sat 6pm to 11pm. Original Thai Food. Since 1991 it offers an authentic cuisine with the full scope of original spices.
- 36 eCHo Restaurant, Neumühlequai 42 (5 walking minutes from Zurich HB (Main Train Station)), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. daily 6 pm to 10.30 pm. Traditional Swiss cuisine. Everything is prepared according to original recipes, and all products originate from the region.
- 37 Mesa Restaurant, Weinbergstr. 75, ☎ . Tu-F 11:45-15:00 and 18:30-00:00; Sa 18:30-00:00. Traditional kitchen with Catalan influences as one of the best restaurants in Zurich
- 38 Kronenhalle, Rämistrasse 4 (at Bellevue), ☎ . 12ː00-24ː00. The city's most famous restaurant where all the glitterati go to see and be seen. Good Swiss food and heavenly chocolate mousse are one reason to go, the opportunity to dine among original artwork by famous Swiss and European artists (who paid in paintings instead of money) the other. Dress nicely, and treat yourself to a drink at the classy bar before or after your meal. Mains Fr. 30-65.
- 39 Widder Hotel, Rennweg 7, ☎ . High-class food in a cool setting. The hotel has a trendy bar, great piano music, cool red leather decor, and halogen lighting. Mains Fr. 20-50.
- 40 Zunfthaus Zur Waag, Münsterhof 8, ☎ . Very authentic Swiss high-end restaurant. To ensure your meal does not get cold, they split your order into 2 plates and bring you one at a time. Mains Fr. 25-50.
- 41 Le Dezaley, Römergasse 7 (Near the Grossmünster Cathedral in a street connecting Limmatquai and the Niederdorf), ☎ . Traditional French-Swiss food from the French-speaking Kanton Waadt (Vaud). One of many fondue restaurants in Zurich. Mains Fr. 25-40.
- 42 Blaue Ente, Seefeldstrasse 223 (at the far end of tram 2 and 4 near Bahnhof Tiefenbrunnen), ☎ . Romantic cuisine in a beautiful building.
- 43 Coco Grill & Bar, Bleicherweg 1A (next to Paradeplatz), ☎ . Mo-Fri 10:00–14:30 & 17:00–00:00, Sa 17:30–00:00. Grill restaurant that offers set menus for lunch and a menu surprise for dinner (either fish or meat). Also has a good wine selection and very nice in the summer due to a small garden
- 44 Da Angela, Hohlstrasse 449, ☎ . Authentic Italian food.
The restaurants at the top of the Uetliberg are great to combine a nice view of town (a hike in the summer) and some great food. It also has a cheaper self-service area.
Zurich has a lot of places to go out. There are a lot of clubs, restaurants, cafés, bars but also many museums and theatres. The most common drinks in Zurich include: Beer, Swiss white wine (e.g. Fendant), Swiss red wine (is delicious), and Spanish red wine (is generally good value here). At apéro time (after work), you will find many people drinking a Cüpli (glass of sparkling wine).
- 1 Bar & Lounge 42, Neumühlequai 42 (5 walking minutes from Zurich HB (Main Train Station)), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. daily 9 am to 0.30 am. New York in the middle of Zurich. Exclusive whiskey rarities, unique cocktails, premium liquors, snacks, a homemade gin and an elegant smoker's lounge with a broad selection of cigars.
- 2 Bierhalle Wolf, Limmatquai 132 (At the northern end of the old town, facing the river), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. A lively beer hall often with live music. In addition to the beer selection, they serve great local food.
- 3 Edi's Weinstube, Stüssihofstatt 14. nice wine bar in Niederdorf where you can get the cheapest okay wine in Zurich
- Federal, Main Station (Tram 3,4,6,7,10,11,13,14, Bus 31, Main Station). A big brasserie-like bar inside the Main Station with a choice of 100 Swiss beers.
- 4 Nachtflug, Stüssihofstatt 4 (Niederdorf). Stylish, coffee and some snacks during the day, large choice of drinks at night.
- 5 James Joyce bar, Pelikanstrasse 8. Where the writer used to drink. Now mostly frequented by bankers.
- 6 Oliver Twist, Rindermarkt 6, ☎ . An Irish/British pub with a good atmosphere, and many English-speaking foreigners. Has English ales on draught.
- 7 Öpfelchammer (apple chamber), Rindermarkt 12, ☎ . Not a real pub or café, they only serve wine or water. But if you succeed in climbing over the roof beams, you get a free glass of wine to drink hanging upside down and you can mark your name into the wood afterwards.
- 8 Widder Garage, Widdergasse 6, ☎ . By far the best stocked whiskey bar in town, with a separate whiskey menu containing 250 single malts. In the famous hotel of the same name.
- 9 Corazón, Zähringerplatz 11, ☎ . A Spanish-themed bar with a good selection of wines and excellent service.
- 10 Bohemia, Klosbachstrasse 2 (at Kreuzplatz, just up from Stadelhofen), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Trendy place popular for its coffee during the day and an even better nightlife. Usually a popular place for college students.
- 11 Barfussbar, Stadthausquai 12 (a 3 minutes walk from Bürkliplatz along the Limmat river), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. W Th Su 20:00–00:00, summer only. During the day this is a public bath for women only. But at night (after 20:00) men are also allowed. It is a beautiful place to spend a warm summer night with a great view of Zurich.
- 12 Rimini, Badweg 10 (Go down Badweg from Talstrasse). 19:30–00:00, Sa 17:00–00:00, only in summer and only when it's not raining. Another open air bar. This one is at the men's public baths. Really cool atmosphere because of the nice colored lights and the straw mats and pillows.
- 13 El Lokal, Gessnerallee 11 (on the Sihl). Bar, restaurant, and intimate gig venue attracting alternative crowd, "soccer vs elvis vs che guevara" themed.
Kreis 2 (Wollishofen)
- 14 Shamrock Irish Pub, Studackerstrasse 1 (end station of the 7, Wollishofen). Open to midnight everyday. Irish pub with regular event & good crowd (food served)
Kreis 4 (Langstrasse)
- 15 Xenix, Kanzleistrasse 56 (by Helvetiaplatz). Small art house cinema with a busy beer garden in summer. There's a mixture of students, bohemians, and bicycle messengers posing with their fixies.
- 16 Total Bar, Tellstrasse 19 (a block east of the Langstrasse). Tiny bar serving a range of Zurich's microbrews. There's always good music.
- 17 Acapulco, Neugasse 56 (near Langstrasse). Bar with comfortable seats and on weekends quite crowded. Every Sunday is karaoke evening.
- 18 Riffraff, Neugasse 57 (near Langstrasse), ☎ . Cinema bar attracting a largely alternative crowd.
- 19 Mars Bar, Neufrankengasse 15 (Langstrasse). Bar frequented mostly by the leftist youth of Zurich.
- 20 Acid, Langstrasse 67. Hip café and bar.
Kreis 5 (Zürich West)
- 21 4. Akt, Heinrichstrasse 262 (near Escher-Wyss Platzfor), ☎ . Teens and tweens love this place.
- 22 Frau Gerolds Garten, Geroldstrasse 23/23a (near Bahnhof Hardbrücke). huge open air bar with urban gardening and little shops inside. great during summer but also offers a couple tables inside during winter
- 23 Aya Bar, Hardstrasse 260 (near Escher-Wyss Platz), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mo – We: 06.30 – 01.00; Th: 06.30 – 02.00; Fr: 06.30 – 04.00; Sa: 10.00 – 04.00; Su: 11.00 – 01.00. A roof lounge on top the Cinemax complex. Older crowd, very expensive, but stylish.
- 24 Moods, Schiffbaustrasse 6 (near Escher-Wyss Platz), ☎ . Jazz club in the Schiffbau complex, concerts on Saturdays.
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. There is always a Club that has a party going and Zurich's young make sure to splash all their income on going out. Most of the clubs are located around the Langstrasse and Hardbrücke. The internet site usgang.ch is a good place to look up what's up.
- 25 X-Tra, Limmatstrasse 118. Big club with events and concerts, the famously have a weekly goth (dark scene) party, can be trashy depending on the party check beforehand
- 26 Hive Club, Geroldstrasse 5, ☎ . Many rooms to wander through and listen to DJs from Switzerland and abroad. Sometimes offers nonstop parties during the weekends. Focus on Techno and House.
- 27 Helsinki, Geroldstrasse 35. Small Bar and Club with nice atmosphere especially in summer when the outdoor area is open. Also features live concerts.
- 28 Zukunft (Zukki), Dienerstrasse 33. longstanding techno club that books djs and live acts from all over the world while trying to keep its underground vibe. Mostly techno and house music. Door policy can be pretty unpredictable.
- 29 Gonzo, Langstrasse 135. A basement club that plays no electronic music. Can be lots of fun but the queues are long and the door is pretty strict. Great on Wednesday and Thursdays.
- 30 Klaus, Langstrasse 112. Member only club that is mostly frequented by the local "scene". Features mostly local DJs but is the new place to be. Befriend a local to get in.
- 31 Kauz, Ausstellungsstrasse 21. underground club with great drink and cocktail selection.
- 32 Exil, Hardstrasse 245. small club and concert venue in Kreis 5, there's always party on Tuesday with Afrotunes and Hip Hop
- 33 Friedas Büxe, Friedaustr. 23. small underground club with techno and house music, beloved by the local scene
- Alice Choo, Kaufleuten , Mascotte and Plaza are the fancier clubs in Zurich where you get champagne, lounges and all that jazz.
Gay and lesbian travellers
- 34 Rathauscafé, Limmatquai 61, ☎ . Coffee and a croissant in the morning, moving over to sparkling wine in the afternoon and early evening. Nice terrace in the summer. Mixed crowd, friendly service.
- 35 Cranberry, Metzgergasse 3 (opposite Rathauscafé), ☎ . Very crowded on Fridays and Saturdays 20:00–00:00, before the boys head to the clubs.
- 36 Barfüsser, Spitalgasse 14, ☎ . Once Europe's oldest gay bar, it has now been converted into a fancy and large lounge and sushi place. Has a relaxed atmosphere and mixed crowd.
- 37 Sunday Trash, Schiffbaustrasse 3, ☎ . Gay and lesbian party in Labor Bar, Schiffbaustrasse. Place to be on Sunday night, 21:00–03:00. Fr. 10 cover charge.
Zurich is the financial centre of Switzerland and most travellers come with an expense account. The hospitality sector focuses therefore mostly on the 4- and 5-star sector. Zurich is known for its superb hotels, but these won't come cheap. Best is to go on a company rate, because rack rates are sometimes ridiculous.
- Couchsurfing. Has a lot of members in Zurich. Public transport is very fast and good, so also consider staying in surrounding areas instead of in the city centre. Remember that couchsurfing is about the community and not only a free place to crash.
- 1 Langstars Backpacker-Hostel, Langstrasse 120 (at the party-mile of Zurich, a few minutes from the trainstation), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00-00:00, check-out: 10:30. The coolest place to stay in Zurich with lot of free concerts and a nice cafe-bar where you easily meet locals. Dormitory Fr. 45 incl. breakfast & bedsheets.
- 2 City Backpacker/Hotel Biber, Niederdorfstrasse 5 (In the old town, a few minutes walk from the main station), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The most convenient hostel for backpackers. There are shared bathroom and cooking areas. Dormitory Fr. 34. Private rooms available from Fr. 71.
- 3 Hotel Krone Limmatquai, Limmatquai 88 (In the heart of the old-town), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. A simple, small hostel. Some rooms have river view. from 34 Fr per person.
- 4 Youth hostel, Mutschellenstrasse 114 (2 kilometre, 15 minute tram ride from the centre), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A little way out of the centre, but the city is easily reached by public transport (take the S-Bahn to Wollishofen and walk over the hill). A clean and sleek facility, if a little quiet. From Fr. 42 for a dormitory bed with breakfast; Fr. 104 for a single room with shower.
- 5 Martahaus, Zähringerstrasse 36, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. A "clean and friendly" place which doubles as a hostel and a one-star hotel. They also have weekly and monthly rates for rooms, and a couple of studio apartments.
- 6 Otter, Oberdorfstrasse 7, ☎ , fax: . A good hotel for the price. The rooms have been decorated with the kind of care that one normally expects in a much more expensive hotel, each with its own theme. You can choose from the jungle room with its hammock, or the pink Carmen, or go for the top floor apartment. Each floor's three rooms share a bath, shower and toilet (WC), with the exception of the apartment which has its own shower. Fr. 115 for a single room, Fr. 150 for a double, and Fr. 200 for 2-person apartment (Fr. 240 for 4-person apartment).
- 7 Hotel Splendid, Rosengasse 5. This hotel is relatively cheap. The rooms are clean but spare. Private showers and bathrooms are not available, you share with your floor. What is really great is the location, right close to the Gemüsebrücke and the city centre. Fr. 62-85 for a single, from Fr. 160 for a 4-person room, plus Fr. 2.50 City-Taxe per person.
- 8 Etap Hotel, Technoparkstrasse 2 (Zurich West), ☎ , fax: . This hotel is in a great place if you want to party, next to some great bars and restaurants. The rooms are clean and comfortable. It's also near a tram station, which takes 10 minutes to get to the main train station. 90 Fr (low season) to Fr. 115 (high season) for a single room, and from Fr. 100 for double/triple occupancy. For Zurich, this is cheap.
- 9 Hotel Schäfli, Badergasse 6, ☎ , fax: . The location is the draw in this somewhat run-down hotel. Situated in the old town near the station and by the charming Niederdorfstrasse, where there are tons of bars and restaurants. The shower has a timer. Be sure to get all the coins for the shower you need by Saturday, as the reception desk closes on Sundays. Fr. 102 for a double room.
- 10 Hotel Neufeld, Friesenbergstrasse 15, ☎ , fax: . The comfortable, modern 3-star owner-run hotel is located just a few minutes away from the city centre. All 40 new renovated rooms are comfortable and modern furnished. Perfect for businespeople and tourists. The rates start from Fr. 110 for a single and Fr. 155 for a double room, including tax breakfast and free wifi.
- 11 Hotel St. Georges, Weberstrasse 11, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Traditional and charming owner run hotel in the city centre, 10 minutes walking distance to the train station. Convenient for businespeople as well as tourists and backpackers. The rates start from Fr. 99 for a single and Fr. 228 for a double room, including tax, breakfast and free Wifi.
- Hotel Adler, Rosengasse 10, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Clean rooms and breakfast is included in the price. They have a terrific restaurant attached and associated with the hotel that has delicious fondue. The hotel is in a great area for foot exploration. With many bars, restaurants, and cafes all within a few minutes. They have a single computer on the second floor with free internet access. Fr. 110-230 single room; Fr. 180-310 double.
- Ambassador à l'Opéra, Falkenstrasse 6, CH-8008, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Four-star boutique hotel situated in the town centre, opposite the Opera House and only 10 min away from the main station Hauptbahnhof and 30 minutes from the Zurich airport. Renovated and exquisitely decorated. Single room from Fr. 220, two-person room from Fr. 390 in the low season.
- Helmhaus, Schifflände 30, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Three tram stops with tram number 4 from the main station. Located directly next to the Limmat in the old town of Zurich. Very traditional four star hotel with first-class service, style and modern comfort. Single room from Fr. 230, double room from Fr. 300.
- 12 Rex, Weinbergstrasse 92, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Three-star hotel, 5 minutes by tram number 7 from the Hauptbahnhof. All rooms are non-smoking. Single room from Fr. 140, twin room from Fr. 190.
- Wellenberg, Niederdorfstrasse 10, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. The four-star Art Deco Hotel Wellenberg with its idyllic inner court terrace is in the car-free old town of Zurich, 10 walking minutes from the Hauptbahnhof. The rooms are modern and elegant. One-person room from Fr. 290, two-person room from Fr. 370.
- Palais Kraft, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Kraftstrasse 33. Three luxury rooms in Zurich's most prestigious residential building. Located 2km from the centre, above the university district at Toblerplatz (Trams 5 and 6, direction Zoo), in the heart of Zurich's prime residential area. The rooms come with a large well-stocked fridge, kitchenette, 32" or bigger flat screen TV, wireless internet access, and open to the terrace of the Palais Kraft. Beginning at Fr. 385 per room/night, including continental breakfast, soft drinks, snacks, internet, local calls, and all taxes. Fr. 330 double-bed guest room with bath and kitchenette.
- 13 Designer Hotel Greulich, Herman-Greulich-Strasse 56, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Located in the heart of Zurich's vibrant Aussersihl district, the stunning Hotel Greulich is a haven of style and comfort with a renowned gourmet restaurant. Online booking.
- NH Zurich Airport, Schaffhauserstrasse 101. 8152 Glattbrugg, ☎ . This modern hotel offers 140 rooms, function rooms, and a fitness room and sauna. There is a free shuttle service to take you to and from the airport. Rooms from Fr. 155.
- Hotel St. Gotthard Zürich, Bahnhofstrasse 87, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Business hotel. A five-floor building, with 143 spacious rooms, 11 of which aresSuites, comfortable lobby and three restaurants, the Hotel Gotthard meets all the expectations of the demanding traveller. The Hotel Gotthard lies center of the city, located on the Bahnhofstrasse, within 10 minutes walk from sightseeing, the business district and Lake Zurich.
- Crowne Plaza Zürich, Badenerstrasse 420, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Clean rooms and breakfast included in most of the rates. It has a fitness centre, a bar and a restaurant. It is about 200 m away from Albisreiden Tram station (tram number 3). €150-300 per night depending on the room type and the season.
- 14 Dorint Airport-Hotel Zürich, Riethofstrasse 40, 8152 Opfikon-Glattbrugg, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The hotel (opened in 2014) is located near the airport and offers 235 rooms. from 160 CHF per room/night.
- 15 Hotel Widder, Rennweg 7, ☎ . Known for excellent service and location in the old town, 1-2 min from Bahnhofstrasse. From Fr. 600 single room to Fr. 1500 for 1-bedroom suite.
- Movenpick Zurich Airport Hotel, ☎ . Glattbrugg. 5-star hotel minutes from Zurich Airport offering accommodation, 3 restaurants, meeting & conference facilities and a gym.
- 16 Hotel zum Storchen, Am Weinplatz 2, ☎ . On the river Limmat with an exclusive restaurant.
- 17 Baur au lac, Talstrasse 1, ☎ . Located at the lake, excellent restaurant, popular with actors, celebrities, and politicians.
- Savoy Baur en Ville, Paradeplatz, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Rooms are clean and modern but small.
- 18 Park Hyatt Zurich, Beethovenstrasse 21, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. expensive but has a very nice room and spa there is a casino too Fr. 2000.
- 19 Dolder Grand, ☎ . Kurhausstrasse 65, flagship hotel of Zurich with amazing view and excellent spa.
- 20 ALDEN Hotel Splügenschloss, Splügenstr. 2, ☎ . A small and intimate five-star boutique hotel in Zürich, located on a quiet side street, near the lakeshore and Bahnhofstrasse. The hotel comprises of two restored landmark buildings and has a modern interior.
- 21 Zurich Marriott Hotel, Neumühlequai 42 (5 walking minutes from Zurich HB (Main Train Station)), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. International business hotel with spacious guest rooms, popular restaurants, meeting facilities and a fitness center.
- 22 Fischer's Fritz Camping, Seestrasse 559, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This camp site is the closest to the city. Many guests were not too happy with the facilities and the friendliness of the owners.
Zürich, like all cities in Switzerland, is relatively safe. Nevertheless, be on guard for thieves and pickpockets. Carry your wallet or purse in a secure way, not in your hip pocket or a backpack outer pocket. In particular, thieves are known to operate around the Zurich main train station. Do not let your bags out of sight for even a moment.
Certain areas along the lakefront are frequented by young people who sometimes try to pick a fight when they are drunk. Do not let them provoke you, as they are likely to be there in numbers and will use any excuse to go at you. You may also notice many of said young people smoking something that isn't a cigarette. Switzerland is surprisingly lenient about such things but it is hardly a cause for alarm.
Public transport is very safe. You can use it without any special precautions.
If you decide to bicycle in the city, understand that Zurich is a city of public transport. Beware of tram tracks which can get your wheel stuck and send you flying into traffic, of the trams themselves which travel these tracks frequently (and may scare you into getting stuck into the track), and the buses, which make frequent stops in the rightmost lane. In short, bicycling downtown should be only done by those experienced with cycling with such traffic.
- Gay and lesbian travelers — Zurich is the favourite place to live for Switzerland's (German-speaking) gays and lesbians. The Canton of Zurich was the second canton, after Geneva, to allow registered partnerships for same-sex partners for example. The city of Zurich is probably the place in Switzerland that offers the most open environment for gays and lesbians. Gays and lesbians need not take special precaution for their safety on the streets. It is always possible for random homophobic behaviour to happen, though.
The bigger railway stations around the city (including the main station and Stadelhofen) offer one hour of free wireless internet per station per 3 hours. You will need to be able to receive a text message for a one-off registration.
- The Wings lounge, Limmatquai. Wireless internet. Free.
- Urania Internet Cafe (Close to Bahnhofstrasse and above a car park.). PCs, printers, and a selection of snacks.
Permanence Hauptbahnhof at the main train station provides urgent out-patient care for tourists without prior appointments. There is also a dentist downstairs at the station. For serious emergencies rush to "Kantonsspital", the university clinic which has a 24/7 emergency ward. Tram stop "Universitätsspital" (look out for the inexplicable golden boy statue in front of the building, then follow the red "Notfall" signs). They will not send away people with serious, urgent health problems. Ambulance phone number is 144 but the European 112 emergency number works as well.
If you're on a budget, don't stay out too late — the "N" night buses only run on weekends. When they run, they run only once per hour and you must purchase a Nachtzuschlag for 5 Fr from the machine and validate it before boarding. On work nights, there is no public transport at all after about 00:30 (although expensive taxis still exist in case you're stuck).
Stores are generally closed on Sundays including all supermarkets in the city, except those in the main train station, Enge and Stadelhofen stations, and at the airport which remain open.
Avoid reaching/visiting Zurich on 1 May. The city is on a Labour Day/May Day holiday. The trams don't run for half the day so getting around could be a problem. Also, there could be some minor violent outbreaks and damages to cars.
Zurich has two police departments, the Stadtpolizei Zurich which is responsible for the city area and the Kantonspolizei Zürich which is responsible for the whole region. With approximately 1'800 and 3'000 officers, these corps are the biggest in Switzerland. While police officers in Zurich will happily help you out if you are in trouble or need directions, they are also known for approaching "suspicious" persons in order to check their papers. This procedure is annoying but legal as you will probably have a hard time proving you were not acting suspicious. Carry a photocopy of your passport and your onward ticket with you, stay calm and polite and you're unlikely to have any trouble.
Some interesting destinations nearby:
- Baden — This town is known for its castle ruin and the thermal baths. It takes 15 minutes by train to get there from Zurich.
- Greifensee — A lake and village next to the nearby town of Uster. The village of Greifensee is within a conservation area and very untouched.
- Lucerne — Probably Switzerland's most popular destination. Go there to see the famous chapel bridge or the impressive transport museum.
- Rapperswil — Located at the opposite end of lake Zurich. A small, picturesque town, good for a stroll. It is possible to go there by boat from Zurich in summer.
- The Rhine falls — Europe's largest waterfall. It is located near Schaffhausen, which has a nice old town in the Renaissance style.
- Winterthur — Around 25 minutes from Zurich, this city is worth a visit on a rainy day to visit some of its many museums. Technorama is the most popular one, an interactive science centre.
A bit further away, but also worth a day trip:
- Appenzell — As close to the stereotypical image of Switzerlands with wooden farm houses and traditional clothes as it gets. An interesting visit is the cheese factory, where the Appenzell cheese is made.
- Augusta Raurica — Close to Basel, this is one of the best preserved Roman sites north of the Alps.
- Bellinzona — Since the opening of the new Gotthard tunnel in 2016, the Italian speaking part of Switzerland is less than two hours away by train. Go to Bellinzona to see its three castle, which are inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
- Biel — Traditional watch making town. Visit the Omega factory to learn more about the watch industry.
- Chur — Not only a nice city, but a good hub for hiking or skiing in the mountainous Graubünden region.
- Fribourg — Home town to the famous Swiss fondue. A good choice if you want to make a short trip into the French part of Switzerland.