Located in the heart of the Zurich Canton, modern Zurich blends old-world charm and avant-garde infrastructure. Every year, Switzerland's largest city draws thousands of visitors to its scenic splendors and beatific landscape. Breathe in the crisp Alpine air and the rich cultural heritage - though that is only the beginning! Historic museums and churches, friendly Zurchers (Zurich citizens, that is), and world-class architecture make this city one of the most frequently visited tourist destinations in Europe. The city is broadly planned into 12 Kreise (districts) arranged clockwise around the city center, making it quite simple for wandering tourists to read maps and follow directions.
Kreis 1: Altstadt
The Altstadt, Oberdorf and Niederdorf regions cover the historic core of the city. Stroll through medieval streets alongside the Limmat River and admire Marc Chagall's stained-glass windows at the
Kreis 2: Enge, Wollishofen & Leimbach
Located on the western shore of Lake Zurich, the second district is comprised of the Wollishofen, Enge and Leimbach quarters. The area is a tourist draw due to its lakefront location, historic castles and wild nightlife scene. As the main ferry terminal of Zurich, Enge bustles with tourist traffic at all times, while the famous
Kreis 4: Aussersihl
Aussersihl is Zurich's cosmopolitan district. Inhabited mostly by foreign citizens, this neighborhood lies in South Zurich and is a conglomeration of the city's diverse cultures and lifestyles. Zurich's increasingly liberal attitudes are on display at events such as the
Kreis 6: Oberstrass & Unterstrass
Kreis 6 is located north of Altstadt and is made up of the Oberstrass and Unterstrass neighborhoods. The
Kreis 7: Fluntern, Hottingen, Hirslanden & Witikon
The quarters of Fluntern, Hottingen, Hirslanden and Witikon are positioned in Zurich's eastern periphery and constitute the city's Kreis 7. Residents of Kreis 7 enjoy a high standard of living, and the neighborhood is hence promoted as the traditional upper-class district of Zurich. One popular tourist destination is the
Kreis 11: Affoltern, Oerlikon & Seebach
The northernmost district of Zurich originally enveloped the Affoltern, Oerlikon and Seebach quarters. Kreis 11 was later reorganized in 1971, at which point Schwamendingen developed into an independent district. Today, prestigious events like the Zurich Open take place in this region. Every year in December, this district also hosts the city's biggest Christmas market during the
The history of Zurich began about 2000 years ago when the Roman customs station Turicum (Zurich) was founded. With its population of 360,000 in the city and almost one million in the suburbs, Zurich is Switzerland's biggest city. As the city center is relatively small, most of the attractions are within walking distance. There is also a very convenient bus and tram system allowing you to get around quickly and relatively cheaply. Day tickets are available at the main railway station or at most tram stops.
Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum)
A walk through the city's unique Old Town, which is extremely picturesque, is quite a pleasure. Begin your day with a stroll alongside the Limmat River. You will eventually make your way to both the Grossmünster and the Fraumünster churches where you can admire Chagall’s beautiful stained-glass windows. Some time should also be set aside for a visit to the Niederdorf district in the evening. While in Kreis 1, make time to visit a museum or two. Not to be missed are the Landesmuseum (the Swiss National Museum) and the Haus Konstruktiv museum of conceptual and constructive art. The many bars and restaurants here give the area a lively, welcoming atmosphere. For tasty Chinese food, try Chop Chop and for an exotic cocktail, don’t miss Sugarlounge.
People who want to observe the city from a height should visit the Uetliberg. The view from its summit is excellent, and on a clear day, you can see the Alps to the south and the city with its lake to the north. The Uetliberg (871 meters/2857 feet above sea level) is only a short train ride away from the Main Train Station. You can also climb the mountain yourself. Many of the routes stop at the Triemli (trams 9 or 14 to Triemli). The walk is easy and takes about one and a half hours, depending on how fit you are. It should, however be noted that the route can be rather steep at times. While in Kreis 3, visit the Friedhof Sihfeld (Cemetery Sihfeld). This beautiful serene place is the resting place of many famous personalities. Also make your way to the Papiersaal. This former paper mill has been converted into a unique cultural center often hosting art exhibits, DJs and musicians. Dining options in this area include Korea Pavillon, one of the city’s top Korean restaurants and Zurlinden, the perfect place for a date.
Bürkliplatz Flea Market
During the summer, a relaxing boat cruise on Zürich Lake will compliment any visit, and you can enjoy splendid views of the surrounding mountains. Most of the boats have restaurants which serve excellent food. The city's port is at the Bürkliplatz and can be reached in about 15 minutes by foot from the railway station or by tram (2, 5, 8, 9 or 11 to the Bürkliplatz). The Bürkliplatz Flea Market is the biggest in all of Zurich. It is one seriously popular destination on Saturdays. After a morning of shopping take some time to visit the Johann Jacobs Museum. This unique museum traces the history of coffee, one of the world’s most popular beverages. While getting your fill of coffee and culture, be sure to catch a glimpse of Le Corbusier Centre. This monument was the last creation of the famed architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, aka Le Corbusier, before his death. While in this neck of the woods, try Riesbächli for some fantastic French cuisine.
What better way to enjoy a beautiful sunny afternoon than to stroll through the park. Bäcker Park is considered one of the most beautiful and lush in all of Zurich.. Once you have had your fill of the outdoors, head to the very interesting Indianermuseum tracing the history of the Native American culture. For a different type of culture, head on over to Langstrasse, Zurich's red light district. As dusk falls, stop for a drink at Long Street Bar or get in a few laughs at Volkshaus Zürich comedy club.
European Walking Tours (+41 637 42 58)
Walk & Ride (+77 434 31 12 / http://www.walkandride.eu/)
RIDE Bike - Tours Christoph Schweizer (+43 211 38 19?)
Zurich & Surroundings City Bus Tour (http://www.zurichtours.net/tours/tourDetail.cfm?tour_id=10314)
Bootsvermietung Lago (+44 262 22 20 / http://www.zuerich.com/en/page.cfm/information/boattrips)
Most cities have modest origins, and Zurich is no exception. The Roman garrison of Turicum stationed in the area in 15 BCE near the present-day Lindenhof, and in 370 CE, just 30 years after the Romans had left, a small fort sprang up on the same site. In the following centuries Alemannic and Frankish tribes settled in the area, marking the place where this great city would later flourish.
The foundation of the Fraumünster cathedral was laid down in 853 by Ludwig the German, a grandson of Charlemagne, and the first recorded mention of the city dates back to 929. In the following years, Otto the Great reunited Italy with Germany, thus reinforcing Zurich's important strategic position as a bridgehead between the two states. German emperors frequently came to the Lindenhof to discuss their policies in Italy. In 1098 the imperial province of Zurich came under the rule of the Zähringer dynasty. After that line died out in 1218, Zurich became a free city, albeit still part of the kingdom. Two years later the first city council came into being. After the founding of the Swiss Confederation in 1281 Zurich allied itself with the other cantons against the Habsburgs, who defeated them and lay siege to the city. In 1336 the knights and wealthy merchants lost their preeminent position in the city council as political rights were extended to poorer craftsmen and artisans, who organized themselves into powerful guilds. Zurich formally joined the Swiss Confederation in 1351, where it remained despite various conflicts and upheavals.
In 1519 Huldrych Zwingli, a central figure in the European Reformation, became a minister at the cathedral. Battles over iconoclasm raged and by 1525 the Reformation was complete. In 1648 Zurich was expelled from the German Empire. The old confederate system came to an abrupt end in 1798 with the onset of the Napoleonic wars and the advance of the French armies. The following year, Zurich became the fulcrum of the war and was variously besieged by French, Austrian and Russian forces. After the restoration of peace, Zurich blossomed and enjoyed an unprecedented economic boom. The University, to this day Switzerland's largest and most prestigious, was founded in 1833. Fourteen years later, the first railway line going through Zurich was constructed. With the conglomeration of 11 hitherto self-contained districts, the city's population swelled to 120,000. During both World War I and II Zurich was a haven for refugees fleeing authoritarian regimes. German author Thomas Mann lived here for a while, as did Albert Einstein and Lenin.
After the upheavals of 1968, Zurich saw further student protests, which reached a climax in the early 1980s. The city also earned notoriety for its harm-reduction approach to drug policy, its liberal party atmosphere, especially the Street Parade, and for its position as the center of offshore banking. Zurich, with its 360,000 inhabitants, undoubtedly sets the standard in banking and finance, service industries and culture. It is considered a "world city" and earned recognition in 2006 for having the best standard of living in the world.
The city of Zurich is beloved by tourists, business people and locals alike for its intriguing history, thriving economy, and alpine location. From a culinary point of view, Zurich also has a lot to offer. Apart from the traditional Swiss food that dominates the city's restaurant scene, a range of other international cuisine can be sampled throughout the city. Italian and French restaurants are especially popular, and Asian restaurants are becoming increasingly common.
Kreis 1: Altstadt, Oberdorf & Niederdorf
The influence of the four different countries that border Switzerland – Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria to the east - can all be tasted in Swiss cuisine. Those who enjoy dipping dishes such as cheese fondue and raclette, both heavily influenced by French cuisine, regularly visit Le Dézaley. For sliced veal, a classic dish from Zurich, the restaurant Veltlinerkeller or the Zunfthaus zur Waag come highly recommended. For a night out with good company and great food, visit Brasserie Lipp, where the seating arrangements encourage chatting among neighbors.
No culinary trip would be complete without something sweet to seal the deal. Thankfully, the Swiss have a way with their chocolate. At Sprüngli you can indulge in some world-class chocolate mousse, or treat yourself to some ice cream at Häagen Dazs. If you are in the mood for some decadent hot chocolate, look no further than Conditorei Café Schober. Relax as you enjoy all the cakes, candies and teas that this city has to offer, and make sure to buy some for your return trip!
Kreis 2: Enge, Wollishofen & Leimbach
Entehuus and Palavrion are always worth a visit if you are looking for some authentic Asian cuisine. For a mixture of flavors and cultures, try Colors. The smoked fish, roasted chicken and mushroom risotto are divine. And, if you're looking for something on-the-go, don't miss Café Z which offers excellent deli-style sandwiches.
Kreis 3: Wiedikon
Sukhothai is said to have the best Thai food this side of Thailand and is well worth the visit. If you're craving for something exotic still hasn't been satisfied, try traditional Indian delicacies at Maharaja Restaurant. Last but certainly not least is Korea Pavillon, one of the city's top Korean restaurants.
Kreis 4: Aussersihl
Switzerland is well known for its vineyards, particularly those in the French and the Italian-speaking cantons. The white wines from the Lac Léman area in Geneva are among the best in the world. Caduff's Wine Loft offers a wide range of different wines to sample and is a favorite spot for gourmands to meet for an aperitif. For a truly lavish meal try Seidenspinner, or if you're just looking for casual pub grub, Olé-Olé is a safe bet.
Kreis 5: Industriequartier
If you want to sample some Japanese cooking, try Sala of Tokyo. If traditional French cuisine is more your taste, Bistro Le Lyonnais is not to be missed. Tibetasia is an interesting establishment combining Tibetan cuisine with traditional Asian flavors.
Kreis 6: Oberstrass & Unterstrass
Italian cuisine is very popular throughout Switzerland and enjoys an excellent reputation. As is to be expected, Italian restaurants abound in Zurich with Casa Ferlin and Cucina among the finest.
Kreis 8: Riesbach
French flavors are an integral part of the Zurcher cuisine. Those with a penchant for seafood will feel right at home at A l'Opera - be sure to sample the trout dishes. Connoisseurs meet at the first-rate Riesbächli, undoubtedly the city's most exquisite French restaurant. Flavors from the Far East are well represented in this part of Switzerland. For Chinese specialties, the Hong Kong Chinoise.