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Zurich, Switzerland

Great Destination:

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Personality Types that Like it Best

Did You Know…?

  • Albert Einstein was a student and later a professor at Zurich universities.
  • Zurich’s St. Peter’s Church claims Europe’s largest clock face (28.6 feet in diameter).
  • Zurich has more than 1,200 fountains.
  • Johanna Spyri was a Zurich resident in 1880 when she created the Heidi children’s books.
  • Zurich hosts the world’s largest wine-tasting event (Expovina) for the public (80,000+ attendees).

Tops for quality of life

Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city with around 400,000 residents, is a business and financial center. But it also is a university town, a design center, the country’s cultural capital — and the Swiss city with the liveliest nightlife.

Once a Roman town, it has history, too, made manifest most clearly in the Old Town with its churches, medieval guildhalls, historic public buildings, ubiquitous fountains and narrow cobblestoned streets.

The city sits on Lake Zurich; the Limmat and Sihl rivers run through it, and forested hills and mountains provide a backdrop. Almost a quarter of the city itself is wooded.

The city’s cultural offerings and the proximity to recreation areas, plus such criteria as cleanliness, cuisine and safety, have won accolades for Zurich as the city with the world’s best quality of life.

Tourists choose Zurich for a variety of reasons, but those reasons come down to an opportunity to experience multiple aspects of Swiss life and culture in and around this city. Besides, choosing the largest city translates into the broadest choices for dining and nightlife.

Visitors are drawn by the prospect of outdoor activities that include cycling, hiking, marathons and other competitions, winter sports in the mountains, and swimming. Zurich also has natural hot springs.

As to culture, the city boasts more than 50 museums and more than 100 galleries. Visitors may hear the orchestra, see ballet or opera and attend theater (mostly in German). At various times, the streets and halls are alive with festivals of various stripes. Just wandering in the Old Town, studying historic structures or exploring boutiques or other businesses tucked into its narrow streets, is part of the cultural experience, too.

Zurich’s quality of life comes with a price, which can send the budget-minded elsewhere. Several tactics mitigate the effects. Visitors may stay in nearby towns and use the excellent transportation system to visit Zurich.

Zurich Tourism offers other suggestions for cost control, listing the many museums and other options — including city bicycles — that are free. Further, purchasing the Zurich Card covers the cost of public transport in town and gives free or discounted access to various attractions.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Go mountain biking on one of the area’s hills, or small mountains, such as Uetliberg or Zurichberg. Or hike on Uetliberg.
  • Make the rounds of nightclubs in the city with the highest density of clubs in Switzerland. Here, there are no official closing times. In summer, the action may be outdoors as well as indoors.
  • Rent a rowboat or a sailboat and take control of your excursion on Lake Zurich.
  • Pursue an interest in contemporary art. Head to the Lowenbrau Areal, adapted from a former brewery in the Zurich West neighborhood. It has three contemporary art museums and several galleries. Add an uncharted stroll in Zurich West, a former industrial quarter and now the trendiest part in the city.
  • In April, run in the Zurich Marathon. Or, in summer, compete in Ironman Switzerland.
  • Participate with thousands of children, amateur hobbyists and professionals in the Swiss Inline Cup, the world’s largest annual in-line skating series. It is held in mid-June.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Time your visit for the event most traditional to Zurich, the Sechselauten, the city’s spring festival, held in April. The event ends with the burning of a symbolic snowman, signaling the end of winter.
  • In one of Europe’s richest countries, put Zurich’s Money Museum on your itinerary. In this land of watchmakers, add the Beyer Watch Museum, holder of the country’s largest collection of watches and clocks.
  • Use Zurich as a base for skiing and snowboarding at Amden.
  • Admire two historic churches in the Old Town (the Fraumunster and the Grossmunster), then devote some time to the 20th century stained glass windows found in each. And see the Reformation Museum in the Grossmunster cloister.
  • Swim in the city on the shores of Lake Zurich. In winter, try the ice skating.
  • Join the throngs in November at Expovina to taste some of the more than 4,000 wines served at the tasting event held on 12 boats anchored near Burkliplatz. Or wait until December for Whiskyship, the world’s only floating whiskey-tasting event, held on six ships.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Shop on the Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich’s famed shopping mile. Depending on timing, peruse the Christmas markets, too.
  • Eat traditional fondue. Also, taste the apple or cherry strudel.
  • Take a cruise on Lake Zurich.
  • For great views of the city on a nice day, ride the Polybahn (a funicular railway) from Central (the tram hub) to the Polyterrasse viewing point, or take the train up to Uetliberg mountain.
  • Have lunch in a restaurant located in a former guildhall.
  • Join a guided walk in the Old Town or join a Segway tour. Tours come with many themes, such as architecture, Christmas, design, food, history and romance.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Zurich Tourism at www.zuerich.com and choose your language if necessary.