The unashamedly businesslike headquarters of Switzerland plc
Zurich is more than a city of pin-striped bankers and ultra-secret safe deposit boxes. As befits a town of business people, it more than justifies its reputation for cleanliness and efficiency. There are truly impressive places to eat and drink, too, and more than a fair share of art and culture.
Whether you prefer big brands or niche independent stores, Zurich has much to offer in the way of shopping. For luxury brands, upmarket Bahnhofstrasse can’t be beaten. Go to Les Ambassadeurs (Bahnhofstrasse 64) for iconic watches, or splurge on food and fashion at Globus department store (Schweizergasse 11). Quirkier shopping can be found in the lively Sihlpromenade and District West areas – a stroll along Viadukt will reveal multiple boutiques housed in its archways. Nearby, Waldraud concept store (Josefstrasse 142) offers avant-garde furniture and fashion from all over Europe. Foodies are spoilt for choice with markets; on Wednesdays, try the Hauptbahnhof Market at the train station for great cheeses and local wines.
Food & Drink
There’s no denying it; eating out in Zurich can be expensive. If you’re on a budget, try sampling a beizen, the Swiss equivalent of a pub, where you can grab an honest meal for cheap. A stalwart is Eisenhof (Gasometerstrasse 20) where the fillet steak is reasonably priced and comes served on a hot stone so it can cook to your taste. Don Leone’s (Bäckerstrasse 31) freshly prepared pizzas make it a favourite with the locals but if money’s no object, splurge at Michelin-star Spice (Germaniastrasse 99) where exquisite fusion food is matched by the view and attentive service. End the night by sinking into the leather club chairs at Bederbar (Brandschenkestrasse 177) with a cocktail or two.
The merry sounds of traditional guggen music in the air and bizarre costumes on the streets can only mean one thing: it’s carnival time! Grab a mask, head into the city centre and witness the raucous festivities – if you make it till night, check out the annual concert in Münsterhof Square at the end of the day.
Cheer the athletes towards the finish line as they wind their way around some of the city’s most picturesque lakeside routes. It’s a good way to see parts of the city that don’t always make it onto the tourist trail.
The largest gay and lesbian film festival in Switzerland, Pink Apple shows over 60 different films over a 10-day period, in a bid to support and encourage tolerance within Zurich. Showings take place at local cinemas, with tickets on sale a month before.
Join in with the crowds as revellers make their way through the city in a giant celebration of all things LGBT. Tasty street food stalls, blaring music and friendly chants make the parade a fun event for all.
If you’ve always wanted to quaff a boatload of wine whilst on deck, here’s your chance. November sees 12 boats lined up in the harbour, hosting 180 international vendors, laden with bottles of wine from over 4,000 vineyards and, best of all, open for public tastings.
Zurich’s position as a financial hub may mean more visitors come on business but there are plenty of hotels to suit more leisurely tastes. The stylish B2 Boutique hotel (Brandschenkestrasse 152) won’t break the budget and is an exercise in post-industrial chic, with the former brewery featuring stripped-back décor and a 33,000-strong library. The 650-year-old Hotel Storchen (Weinplatz 2), perched on the Limmattakes River brings the classic luxe level up a notch, as does the Widder Hotel (Rennweg 7), famed for its excellent service – complimentary champagne anyone? Slightly less central (and easier on the wallet) is design hotel 25hours Hotel Zürich West (Pfingstweidstrasse 102), where the cool interiors reign supreme.