Zurich Essentials:

How many people inhabit it?
Over 376,000 people call Zurich home.
What are the language and the currency?
In Zurich the people speak German, French and English, and use the Swiss Franc (CHF).
How big is Zurich?
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and covers an area of 35.5 square miles.
  • The Zurich skyline
The Zurich skyline At the Flohmarkt Bürkliplatz The tram Famous Swiss chocolates Shopping along the Bahnhofstrasse Sunbathing on Lake Zurich Crossing the river One of the city's many fountains Great graffiti mural in Zurich

Things to see in Zurich

The famous Landesmuseum
Anything which shouldn’t be missed?
Lots! For art lovers, the Kunsthaus Zurich on Heimplatz is an absolute must. The permanent collection of this prestigious art gallery features paintings and sculptures by some of the world’s most famous artists. These include Jackson Pollock, Van Gogh, Rodin, Monet, Renoir, Munch and many, many more. Spread out over a number of different floors, this bright and airy museum is a must while visiting the city. If you’re looking to save some money on admission fees, visit the Kunsthaus on a Wednesday when you can access the permanent collection for free. Zurich is a city filled with many beautiful churches. Three of the most popular are incredibly well-located and can all be visited close to each other. These three stunning places of worship are Fraumünster, Grossmünster and St. Peter’s. Colourful stained glass, towering spires, and impressive clock faces are just some of the delights waiting for you at the churches. If you’re looking for somewhere tranquil and beautiful to wander around, check out the Chinagarten close the Lake Zurich. Filled with beautiful plants and colourful wooden structures, the gardens were a gift from Zurich’s twin city in China, Kunming and opened in 1994.
Tell me about one of the main attractions in Zurich...
One of Zurich’s main attractions is also one of the most important attractions in all of Switzerland. This is the Landesmuseum, which can be found right in the city centre beside the Hauptbahnhof. Throughout this extensive museum, which was opened in 1898, you’ll come across lots a huge collection of exhibits and artefacts covering Swiss history from prehistoric times to the present day. Among the pieces on display you’ll see everything from clothing to crossbows.
Say I want to hit the shops. Where should I go?
There are plenty of places Zurich where you can sample top-notch shopping. Why not start with Bahnhofstrasse in the city centre. This long street is filled with internationally recognisable brands including everything from Hugo Boss to Claire’s. Men’s and women’s fashions, cosmetics, electronics, and of course a huge number of watches, are all available. Along this street you’ll also come across large department stores like Jelmoli and Bally. A short tram trip from the city centre will bring you to one of the most-visited shopping complexes in Zurich. Sihlcity houses four floors of stores in a bright and modern environment. Wandering around the various levels, you’ll come across top international bands including Nike, Mexx, Esprit, C&A, New Yorker and much more. Local brands are also well-represented. The Freitag Shop Zurich on Geroldstrasse in Zurich West is well worth a visit; this unique shop is housed inside 17 converted freight containers and offers a huge selection of bags, wallets and other accessories. Freitag also boasts an observation platform on its roof. Stretching up 25 metres, this desk offers a bird’s eye view of the vibrant Zurich West area and beyond. If you’re in Zurich on a Saturday, make sure to check out the Flohmarkt Bürkliplatz. Boasting a huge number of stalls selling everything you can imagine, this flea market is a treasure trove of great value items from records to clothes.

Going out in Zurich

Graffiti in Zurich West
Where are most of the bars found?
Well, there are a few areas you can head to in Zurich while on the search for a bar or club. Around the Old Town area you’ll find quite a few places, while the former industrial area around Zurich West also throws up a whole lot of great venues, no matter what kind of night out you’re looking for.
Do I need to carry my ID with me when going out?
Probably best to carry some form of ID with you; however, you more-than-likely won’t be asked to show it.
Where would you recommend?
For one, you should definitely try to check out Riffraff on Neugasse. A really alternative gem, this place combines a bar, cinema and bistro. In the bar, you’ll find a comprehensive wine list along with scrumptious cocktails and a variety of beers. All these drinks can be brought into the movie theatre with you. A great way to combine having a few drinks with some movie-watching, Riffraff boasts a laidback, friendly atmosphere as well as prompt service. Newsbar on Bahnhofplatz is the bar located beneath the Au Gratin restaurant; a stone’s throw from the Hauptbahnhof, it’s a lively spot that attracts a young crowd. At the two bar areas, you’ll be able to get your hands on a selection of cocktails, wines, beers and more. Seats come in the form of tall stools at the bar or at tables scattered around the floor area. You can also sit in the windowsills, comfortably cushioned with numerous throw pillows. If you’re looking for somewhere to go dancing, check out Hard One on Hardstrasse in Zurich West. Here you’ll find a large dance floor, a 20-metre long main bar and numerous cosy lounge areas. Music on the dance floor runs the gamut from house to disco. There’s no admission fee on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, but you will have to pay to get in on Fridays and Saturdays.
Anything to do that doesn’t involve alcohol?
Of course! If you want to do something a little more culturally minded with your evening you could check out Zurich’s beautiful opera house. Throughout the year, numerous ballet and operatic performances are held here. The Zurich Opera has been based here since 1891, and following major renovations in the early ‘80s, the Opernhaus can now seat 1,100 people.

Eating Out in Zurich

Bichermuesli, a local favourite
Is it expensive to eat out in Zurich?
It is a little expensive; however, there are definitely ways to keep the cost of your meal down. Lots of places offer smaller portion sizes on main dishes at a lower price, and these will still be enough to fill you up. Check out some of the fast food kiosks and lakeside cafés too. These offer filling snacks like bratwurst at very reasonable prices.
Where is the best selection of restaurants in the city?
If you’re looking for one main stretch of restaurants, then check out Niederdorfstrasse in the Old Town area. Limmatquai also has its fair share of restaurants and cafés. A little further afield, Langstrasse over in Zurich West boasts numerous places to eat, day or night.
Are international cuisines well represented?
They are indeed! While in Zurich you’ll be able to sample the best in Japanese and Italian cuisine, along with dishes from many other countries throughout the world.
Any places you’d recommend?
Sure! Right by the main train station you’ll come across a great place called Au Gratin. Here you can choose from a huge variety of meat and vegetable gratins (baked dishes covered in melted cheese). English menus are available from the friendly staff and include good value set menus offered to groups of four people or more. Located above a busy bar, you’ll be able to hear the chatter from below as you eat. Over in the Old Town area you’ll be tempted by numerous restaurants. One of the top stops is definitely Tre Cucine on Niederdorfstrasse. This Italian restaurant serves pastas, pizzas and risottos, alongside a variety of meat and fish dishes. Service is friendly and prompt, and both indoor and outdoor seating is available. If you’re looking for a great view to accompany your meal, check out Pumpstation on Utoquai. Beside Lake Zurich, this restaurant’s tables and even the grill area are all open to the elements so its opening hours depend on the weather. On a sunny day, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy some food and a beer. Sausages, sandwiches, salads, baked potatoes and seafood are just some of the tasty offerings available here.
Anything else I need to know?
While you’re in Zurich, there’s no better way to start the day than with a bowl of Bichermüesli. This is one of Switzerland’s favourite dishes and is popular as both a breakfast dish and a late-night snack. Bichermüesli is made from a healthy mix of rolled oats blended with yoghurt or cream, fruit and nuts. You’ll find it in a number of different forms on the menus of cafés and restaurants across the city.

Transport in Zurich

Trams along Bahnhofstrasse
How many different modes of public transport are there in Zurich?
A few! The most visible is, without a doubt, the trams that criss-cross the city streets. This punctual service is an extremely efficient way of getting around Zurich. Daily tickets (‘tagestkarte’) are available from 8 CHF, which is pretty good value!
Will I need to use public transport at all?
You will be able to walk to most of the main attractions in and around the city centre; however, you will need to use public transport at some stage during your stay.

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  • Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2009
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  • Posted: Wednesday, May 18, 2011
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