Zurich

Arts & culture, fresh Alpine air, super clean rivers and lakes

Overview

Zurich, you had me at make your own bar. Yes, at the new Lindt Home of Chocolate, you can pour your personal slab of the brown stuff and decorate it just how you like while learning all about this mouth-watering Swiss tradition. If that’s not enough, Zürich manages to cram the widest possible cultural, gastronomical and natural offerings imaginable into the smallest of urban spaces. Off the beaten track, safe and sustainable, this lifestyle city is easy to get around with many sights within walking distance and a first-class system of public transport that’s clean and easy. Explore the narrow streets of the 2000 year old riverside centre, the Grossmünster twin towers, the exquisite Chagall windows of Fraumünster, the vast and glorious eponymous Lake Zürich, and the beautiful Lindenhof Park, which marks the origins of the city.

We won’t lie, Zürich is known for being costly. But, it is so worth it. And if you’re smart, you’ll travel in low season when the best bargains are to be had. Avoid the summer and Christmas peaks and make your trip instead in January to March or September to November. Dress warmly, be prepared for showers and you’ll find a unique destination full of surprises.

Museum & Gallery Hopping
With its recent extension, the Kunsthaus is the largest art museum in Switzerland, and includes works by Swiss and International masters including an impressive collection of Giacometti sculptures. The Art in Public Places scheme actively encourages random installations and with more than 1300 pieces now showing, you can wander and choose your fave. Less high brow, but well worth a visit, is the Fifa Football Museum with some brilliant interactive exhibits. We recommend getting a Zürich Card which covers your transportation and it also gives free admission to over 50 museums. Hop on Design Line 4 which takes in many of the city’s cultural hotspots.

Low Season Events
Off peak sometimes means the opportunity to take part in events missed by most visitors. Check out autumn’s annual offerings – the fantastic Zürich Film Festival, the Drone Champions League, or Slow Up Zürich during which all motorised vehicles are forbidden. Samichlausschwimmen is not for the faint-hearted as around 300 people swim across the freezing-cold Limmat river, while the more enjoyable Food Zürich is an 11 days’ festival with cooking classes and tastings.

Fondue Frenzy
There’s no better way to warm up a cold January night than in one of the chalets that open temporarily in the city serving steaming, sticky cheese fondue. High above the city rooftops, we love cosy timber-framed Fondue Chalet which invites guests with its crackling open fire, candlelight, and winter culinary delights. Cured meat and sausage specialties are traditionally served as starters before the communal main dish. Be careful though, fondue dining is fraught with etiquette, and the first to drop their bread in the molten mess is doomed to pay for the whole group.


Major Airport

Zurich Airport ZRH

Low Season Months

Jan
0°C
70mm
2hrs
Feb
2°C
70mm
3hrs
Mar
6°C
70mm
4hrs
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep
15°C
80mm
5hrs
Oct
11°C
70mm
3hrs
Nov
5°C
70mm
2hrs
Dec

Hotels

Top Experiences

Uetliberg Mountain

Hike Zürich’s very own mountain for an unforgettable sunrise over crystal clear lakes. If that’s too much like hard work, take the train which will get you almost to the top, where the summit peaks above the cloud line, and you’ll find a handy restaurant serving warmlng drinks.

Relax at a Thermal Spa

When it’s chilly out, unwind in tranquillity at one of the city’s many bathing spots. The Old Town’s steamy hamman offers excellent body scrubs while the Zürich Thermal Baths & Spa is built into the vaults of a century-old converted brewery and boasts a rooftop hot bath with views.

Day Trip to Rhine Falls

Just an hour’s train ride from Zürich lie what some claim to be the biggest falls in Europe. Rheinfall, as the Swiss name goes, is magnificent in full flow, and it’s possible to hike, walk behind the falls or take a boat trip onto the water. There’s also a cliff-top castle if you prefer dry land.

Insider Tips

  • Breath-taking city views are to be had at Dolder Open-Air Ice Rink. This one of a kind 1930s feature is reached by train climbing through beautiful forests to the luxury Dolder Grand Hotel and is open from October to early March.
  • For all the advantages of travelling in low season, it is worth checking the schedule of seasonal activities like the Pavillon le Corbusier, Limmat river cruises and the Felsenegg cable car, and choose alternatives if they are closed.
  • Download the Drallo app for a digital wine tour with your smartphone. The app picks up your location and follows Zürich’s wine trail giving interesting briefings related to what you see en route through the Lattenberg area of Stäfa.

Good To Know

  • Nightlife can be pricy, so visit Langstrasse, for free to enter clubs. Unlike many cities, drinking in public is legal and common practice, so join the locals for an impromptu street party and save your Swiss francs for other activities.
  • The Polyterrasse at the University offers fabulous views over the old town, particularly at sunset. Take the Polybanh funicular, and while you’re there visit the stunning law library designed by Spanish architect Calatrava.
  • Autumn means mushrooms, and porcini, puffball, and parasol are served at local restaurants. You can also forage in the forests, but take great care to avoid poisonous fungi, get your picks checked for free at the inspection office.

Food & Drink

Guild House Restaurants

£££

Traditional food in a truly historic setting. These decorative buildings are not only 14th century meeting places, they also offer culinary delights such as Geschnetzeltes, thinly-sliced strips of pan-fried veal in a delicious creamy sauce served with handmade potato cakes.

Haus Hiltl, Sihlstrasse 28

£££££

According to the Guinness Book of Records, it’s the world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant, ready to treat you to Asian veggie options as well as some vegan twists on Swiss traditions. It was opened in 1898 near the popular Bahnhofstrasse and is still run by the Hiltl family.

Confiserie Sprüngli, Paradeplatz

££££

Set in the very heart of Zürich is this famous café-salon. Taste a hot chocolate or the famous Luxemburgerli macarons or take part in the well-stocked confectioner’s buffet brunch. There also a Sprüngli boutique so you can take home some of your favourite items.

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