A little Dada, bathing pools as clear as glass, glittering lake views, and mountains of colorful macaroons
Even though Zurich, with just 400,000 residents, looks small and idyllic at first glance, the biggest city in Switzerland actually brims with vibrant, young culture, art, and creativity.
And Zurich also impresses with its wonderful location by Lake Zurich and an amazing alpine panorama.
Did you know that Dadaism (Dada), before it turned the global art scene upside down, actually started in the small city of Zurich in 1916? In 2016, Dada celebrates its 100th birthday. You can find a lot of young culture in the trendy district of Zurich-West, where, for example, the lively Löwenbräu area awaits you. In addition to the “Kunsthalle” and “Migros”-Museum, lots of other small galleries and museums have found a home here.
You can find the art and culture center “Schiffbau” not far from the Escher Wyss quarter. Colorful and creative is also the order of the day at “Frau Gerolds Garten,” an urban island built from containers with a café and various designer shops.
Good films are also an indispensable element of Zurich culture. The open air cinema on Zürichhorn is worth a visit in summer, as the screen is positioned on the lake itself. The Xenix is a popular cinema and relaxed meeting place to chat and play boules.
Zurich has much more to offer in terms of food than the typical Zurich diced meat dishes such as Geschnetzeltes, and there’s a lot happening in young Zurich cuisine in particular right now. You can get a good feel for this at “Kornsilo,” located directly next to the Museum “Mühlerama.” “Soi Thai” (pop-up street food and bar) is also popular and “Bei Babette” allegedly makes the best crêpes in the city.
With Dada, Zurich has been pioneering in the world of art, and the “Hiltl” restaurant has done the same for modern food. The “Hiltl” is actually the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world and opened in 1898. It even serves the well-known Zürich Geschnetzeltes dish, in a vegetarian version, of course.
As Zurich locals love to eat something sweet with their afternoon coffee, you should pay a visit to one of the numerous cake shops to sample cakes and pralines. The UFO-shaped macaroons in all colors and flavors are a particular feast for the eyes.
Shopping for everyone: While you’ll see mainly luxury shops for fat wallets on the best-known shopping street in Zurich, the Bahnhofstrasse, there are lots of shops for younger people available in other parts of the old town. In the old town alleyways on Limmat and near the main station (Kreis 5 district), you can try your luck in some of the trendy and innovative shops.
Fitness and fun
As soon as you set foot in the small alleyways of Zurich’s old town, you’ll certainly be pretty active, anyway, given the many hills you’ll have to climb. A pedal boat trip on Lake Zurich also counts as a sporty activity during a city break and you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of the mountains and the beautiful silhouette of Zurich for your efforts.
Particularly awesome is the fact that you can hire bicycles (Velos) for free from many central locations under the motto “Züri rollt” (Zurich on wheels).
You can also jump into the Swiss water: Zurich is known for its many “Badis” – river bathing pools along the Limmat (e.g. “Oberer Letten”) and lake pools such as the “Utoquai.”
The viaducts in Zurich-West are particularly beautiful and varied: These are impressive converted arched constructions found underneath a railroad bridge.
Not only do they house a market hall offering regional and exotic specialties, but also numerous cozy cafés as well as hip shops for fashion and living.
Zurich is especially worth visiting in summer, not just for the Badis, but also the numerous district festivals (e.g. on Röntgenplatz, Idaplatz, Erismannhof) where there are many free concerts and you get to experience the special “Zurich groove” in person. If you want to go as high as possible in Zurich, take the cable car to the Zürichberg or the S-Bahn 10 train to Uetliberg and enjoy the wonderful view.