Zurich is one of Europe’s most surprising cities. Once known mostly as the epicentre of Swiss banking, traveling to Zurich today is far from staid and conservative, offering a truly multi-faceted experience.
Topographically, Zurich has much to offer and water is at the heart of the city. With the River Limmat running through to Lake Zurich, the city is framed by a stunning mountain backdrop. Between May and October activities on the water are extremely popular for visitors and locals alike – from swimming in Lake Zurich, visiting a lido bar or simply taking a boat tour of the city to enjoy the medieval architecture from a different perspective, Zurich offers something for everyone.
Cultural life in Zurich is rich and varied. The Kunsthaus (see Unmissable below) is one of Europe’s greatest museums of art. Those that have time should also visit Winterthur just 30 minutes from the center of Zurich to see the Oskar Reinhart Collection, housing European masterpieces showcased in the collectors’ former residence, which was bequeathed to the Swiss Confederation in 1958.
The Zurich Opera and Ballet are world class, and is the only opera house in the world still running as a cooperative! Not all the culture is high-brow – there has been an explosion of the arts and pop culture in general (Zurich was, after all ,the home of Dada) and one of the very best places to see this is Kreis 5. Sitting at the epicentre, Kreis 5 is the local arts hub, where there are many contemporary art galleries. If you only have time for one, start with the Löwenbräuareal, a former brewery that now houses more than a dozen galleries under its roof.
You will also be pleased to note that Switzerland’s largest city also has more to its food scene than fondue and chocolate… go in May to experience the annual Food Zurich Festival where 200 local restuarants and suppliers participate in food related events. There is everything from sustainable eating, the very first vegetarian restaurant in the world, and the great restaurants mentioned in our dine with the locals section below.
Zurich is a vibrant, beautiful city that deserves more than a cursory half day stop. Make it part of your Swiss travel plans!