What are the five best things to see and do in Zurich?

Joseph Reaney

It may not be the country’s capital, but Zurich has more to see and do than any other Swiss city. Here are the Forbes Travel Guide editors’ tips for the five best things to see and do in Zurich:
 
1. Explore the Fraumünster. A Gothic church dating back more than 1,000 years, Fraumünster is one of the highlights of the Old Town. Along with its tower visible for miles and wonderful frescoes, the church is famous for its five large stained glass windows, installed by modernist master Marc Chagall in 1970.
 
2. Learn about Dadaism. The Dada art movement – conceived as a “protest against the madness of the times” – started in 1916 in the Cabaret Voltaire nightclub on Spiegelgasse. Today, the former cabaret it is filled with exhibitions, a bar and a small library.

3. Head into nature. In Zurich, nature is never too far away. Head to Lake Zurich for a boat trip, hike up the Uetliberg mountain for a panoramic view of the city, or go in search of diverse wildlife in the Sihl Forest.

4. Visit the Kunsthaus. Zurich has more than a dozen art museums, but the most significant of these is the simply titled Kunsthaus (Art House). It’s famous for its collection that includes works by the 18th-century Swiss painter Henry Fuseli and the 20th-century Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti.

5. Catch a show. Zurich has a full and varied cultural calendar, so every visit will offer different events. For a guaranteed high-quality show, visit the Opera House (for opera and ballet), the Tonhall Orchester (for classical concerts) or the Schauspielhaus (for traditional theatrical productions).

  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the best events held in Zurich?

    Zurich is a wonderful destination all year round, but the city comes alive during special festivals and celebrations throughout the year. These are the events that Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest you experience to make your trip extra special:
     
    1. Swiss National Day. Stop anywhere in Switzerland on August 1st and you’ll find parties going on — but the one in Zurich is by far the biggest and most fun. Expect markets, live music, fireworks and some locals indulging in their favorite spirited libations.
     
    2. Street Parades. There are few music festivals that consume an entire city, but Street Parade is one of them. Held every year on the second Saturday in August, the parade involves dozens of trucks driving along the lakeside, blasting out music to the million-plus visitors dancing in the street (and to everyone else within a 10-mile radius). After midnight, the party moves inside at a variety of Zurich clubs.
     
    3. Weltklasse Zürich. For sports fans, it’s hard to beat the annual IAFF Diamond League track-and-field meeting held in the city each August. Weltklasse Zürich attracts the biggest names in athletics; and since 1928, it has seen new world records being set by the likes of Sebastian Coe and Haile Gebrselassie.
     
    4. New Year’s Eve Magic. If you are in Zurich at the end of December, consider yourself lucky. Not only do you get to enjoy the city’s beautiful snow-covered Christmas markets, but you can also experience this enormous New Year’s celebration, which draws  over 150,000 revelers line the banks of the river all night long.
     
    5. Zürifäscht. As it only occurs every three years (with the next one set for 2013), this weekend-long festival is the most anticipated event in the city. It’s a celebration of Zurich that involves music, dance, open-air theater, fireworks and air shows. There’s nothing else like it in Europe.
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What is the best thing to bring home from Zurich?

    You’ll want to come home with souvenirs and gifts from your trip to this picturesque Swiss city. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks of the best things to bring home from Zurich.
     
    1. Chocolate. It may be obvious, but there’s no denying that Swiss chocolate is some of the best in the world. However, rather than picking up the traditional travel memento like a Toblerone, head to the small independent chocolatiers on Bahnhofstrasse for a take-away taste of chocolate heaven.
     
    2. Handicrafts. The Swiss are world-renowned at making timepieces, so it’s not surprising that cuckoo clocks are popular purchases here. While cuckoo clocks did originate in Germany, the chalet style is credited to Switzerland, so look for this kind if you want an authentically Swiss souvenir. Other Swiss handicrafts that make good souvenirs are hand-carved wooden toys, hand-blown glassware and unique handcrafted furnishings. Or how about a handmade fondue pot?
     
    3. Jewelry. Swiss watches are well known around the world, and you can pick up some stunning examples in Zurich (from affordable Swatches to high-end Rolexes, plus several less international brands). The city is also renowned for its extraordinary earrings, bracelets, brooches and cufflinks.
     
    4. Swiss Army knife. There’s nowhere better to pick up a genuine, multi-purpose Army knife. This pocket tool dates back to 1897, when the Victorinox Company registered the MultiTool design. Its variety of tools that include scissors, mini saw and a corkscrew are so useful, Swiss Army Knives are part of the gear astronauts take to space.
     
    5. Clothes. Switzerland may not be one of the world’s great fashion capitals, but Bahnhofstrasse is one of the world’s great fashion streets. So whether you’re looking for a crystal-studded ball gown, a perfectly cut tuxedo, fancy designer jeans or just a high-end little black dress, you’ll find it on Zurich’s most fashionable street.
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the five best Zurich food experiences?

    Switzerland has a rich culinary heritage, and Zurich is a perfect place to partake in its best food experiences. Here are five best food experiences that Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend you try during your visit to the Swiss city:
     
    1. Fondue and raclette. Probably the two most famous traditional Swiss foods – and most delicious for cheese lovers — are the delights of fondue and raclette. If you haven’t tried it yet,  fondue is a pot of melted cheese and white wine into which you dip bread and other savory pieces of foods like vegetables. Raclette is thin slices of Swiss cheese melted on a special grill, which are eaten with boiled potatoes and gherkin pickles.
     
    2. Rösti. A crisp potato dish that closely resembled hash browns, rösti is made by grating potatoes, flattening them into a round patty and frying them. It’s usually served with bacon, eggs or cheese.
     
    3. Geschnetzeltes. A delicious dish that is rarely found outside of Zurich, Geschnetzeltes are small pieces of veal cooked in a creamy mushroom and white wine sauce, which are usually eaten with a side of noodles.
     
    4. Swiss Breakfast. Most people know that muesli was invented in Switzerland, but that’s just a small slice of the country’s early-morning culinary heritage. A traditional Swiss breakfast includes a variety of breads, cheeses, jams and honeys — and perhaps fried sausages, eggs and rösti potatoes, too.
     
    5. Chocolate. Swiss chocolate is famous around the world, so you won’t want to leave Zurich without trying some. Major Swiss brands include Nestlé, Toblerone, Lindt and Suchard, but Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend heading to one of Zurich’s traditional chocolatiers.  You’ll find the best artisanal chocolate along the exclusive Bahnhofstrasse.
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  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    Where is the best nightlife in Zurich?

    If you’re craving a night out on the town, you’ll be pleased to know that over the past 20 years, Zurich has blossomed into one of Europe’s great nightlife capitals.
     
    Forbes Travel Guide’s editors suggest starting an evening in one Zurich’s diverse bars. They range from quiet traditional pubs and beer halls (like the art-filled Kronenhalle Bar and high-ceilinged Bierhalle Kropf) to cool cocktail joints (the super-spacious LaSalle Bar and mega-stylish Onyx Bar). For livelier atmosphere, go to a live music bar like Mascotte for rock-and-roll,  Moods for jazz and blues or a popular gay bar, such as the chic Barfüsser or the bustling AAAH!
     
    But things really come to life later in the evening — around 11 p.m. or midnight — with Zurich’s many nightclubs. Some of the city’s best-known after-dark venues include Club Indochine and Club Diagonal (for live international DJs), Hive (for world-class techno/electro music), Blue Note (for soothing jazz) and Latin Palace (for samba beats). If you’re feeling lucky, you can always try one of the city’s many high-stakes casinos.
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What is the best way to see Zurich in one day?

    Zurich has a very compact city center, so you’d be surprised how much you can see in one day.
     
    Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend you stop at the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) for a buttery croissant, and then hit the famous Bahnhofstrasse to enjoy some early morning shopping – you’ll find everything from boutique fashions to Swiss watches. Then spend the rest of the morning enjoying sights on the west side of the river, such as the remains of the Roman fortification in Lindenhof, the impressive St. Peter’s Church and the large Rathaus (Town Hall).
     
    Walk over the bridge for a relaxing lunch in the wonderful Konditorei Péclard, then head to the Cabaret Voltaire to learn about city’s 20th-century Dadaist art movement. Finally, before it gets too dark, head down to the tip of Lake Zurich for a spectacular vista of water and mountains.
     
    In the evening, head back to the city center for a traditional Swiss meal at Zeughauskeller, then grab a beer at Zurich’s famous Kronenhalle Bar — those are original Picassos and Mirós on the walls. Finally, end your day of exploration with a whisky and some soothing jazz chords at the Blue Note.
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    Where is the best shopping in Zurich?

    Whether you’re seeking the latest in designer fashions to great value in local handicrafts, you’ll find Zurich is a shopper’s mecca. Here’s where Forbes Travel Guide editors recommendation for the best shopping in the Swiss city:
     
    For fashion, head to Bahnhofstrasse, which is one of the most exclusive and expensive shopping streets in the world. Running from the train station down to the lake, it’s lined with department stores, independent boutiques and jewelers selling some of the finest things money can buy. However, the city is also home to some more alternative shopping options, such as the Niederdorf (famous for small, über-trendy clothes stores) and Löwenstrasse (the best option for mid-range, mass-produced fashion).
     
    Just like with high-end fashion, the best place for quality Swiss souvenirs is Bahnhofstrasse. Stroll past boutique Swiss chocolatiers and confectioners, Victorinox Swiss army knife outlets and luxurious Swiss watch stores. There are fantastic mid-range souvenir options scattered across the city too. You’ll find with high-quality chocolate sold in supermarkets, Swiss handicrafts such as cuckoo clocks in Bellevue and kids’ toys sold in stores along the river.
     
    If you prefer a more eclectic shopping experience, Zurich’s two best flea markets are the enormous Flohmarkt Kanzlei on Helvetiaplatz, which has up to 400 stalls open every Saturday; and the slightly more relaxed Bürkliplatz flea market in the Bellevue area of the city. The city also boasts a number of flower and vegetable markets (like Altstetten and Milchbuck); gourmet food markets (like Spezialitätenmarkt im Hauptbahnhof and Oerlikon); arts and crafts markets (like Rosenhof and Créativa); and, of course, festive Christmas markets.
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the five best things to do with kids in Zurich?

    You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that Zurich is much more than an international business center or a hub for teenage trend-setters. This gorgeous city is also a great destination for families. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ recommendations for the five best things to do with kids in Zurich:
     
    1. Meet some animals. If your kids are fascinated by animals, take your pick between Zurich Zoo (Zürich Zoologischer Garten), which is home to more than 340 different living species; and the Zoological Museum, which has many realistically preserved animals and remains.
     
    2. Enjoy the view. The 2,864-foot-high Üetliberg Mountain offers spectacular panoramic views of Zurich. And since the summit is accessible either by walking paths or by train, it makes an ideal urban escape.
     
    3. Explore the history of toys. Zurich Toy Museum is home to a 1,200-piece collection of antique toys from all around Europe. Your kids will be delighted by everything from 18th-century wooden horses to modern train sets and dollhouses.
     
    4. Take a dip in the river. If the weather’s good, why not go for a swim in the river? The Flussbad Unterer Letten is a river bath that boasts not only has an 82-foot-long swimming pool but also a 12-foot-long kids’ paddling pool. You’ll also find a diving platform, a small playground, several sports facilities and a snack bar.
     
    5. Explore Josefweise. Although it’s located in the heart of the industrial district, Josefwiese is Zurich’s biggest natural playground, with a large meadow, various eating options and open-air concerts during the summer.
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the five best things to see and do in Zurich?

    It may not be the country’s capital, but Zurich has more to see and do than any other Swiss city. Here are the Forbes Travel Guide editors’ tips for the five best things to see and do in Zurich:
     
    1. Explore the Fraumünster. A Gothic church dating back more than 1,000 years, Fraumünster is one of the highlights of the Old Town. Along with its tower visible for miles and wonderful frescoes, the church is famous for its five large stained glass windows, installed by modernist master Marc Chagall in 1970.
     
    2. Learn about Dadaism. The Dada art movement – conceived as a “protest against the madness of the times” – started in 1916 in the Cabaret Voltaire nightclub on Spiegelgasse. Today, the former cabaret it is filled with exhibitions, a bar and a small library.

    3. Head into nature. In Zurich, nature is never too far away. Head to Lake Zurich for a boat trip, hike up the Uetliberg mountain for a panoramic view of the city, or go in search of diverse wildlife in the Sihl Forest.

    4. Visit the Kunsthaus. Zurich has more than a dozen art museums, but the most significant of these is the simply titled Kunsthaus (Art House). It’s famous for its collection that includes works by the 18th-century Swiss painter Henry Fuseli and the 20th-century Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti.

    5. Catch a show. Zurich has a full and varied cultural calendar, so every visit will offer different events. For a guaranteed high-quality show, visit the Opera House (for opera and ballet), the Tonhall Orchester (for classical concerts) or the Schauspielhaus (for traditional theatrical productions).
  • On July 16, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where are the five best places to eat in Zurich?

    With its luxurious setting and international community, Zurich offers some of the most impressive restaurants in Europe. Here are five of the best places to eat in Zurich recommended by Forbes Travel Guide editors:
     
    1. Restaurant Spice. For acclaimed world-class gourmet cuisine in Zurich, head to Restaurant Spice in the Rigiblick Hotel. This award-winning eatery on the outskirts of the city serves up three- to nine-course tasting menus that bring a succession of inventive and surprising dishes that delight with their unexpected presentations and flavors.
     
    2. Zeughauskeller. Tucked inside a former Swiss arsenal, Zeughauskeller offers hearty, traditional Swiss-German cuisine. Choose from the menu items marked nach Zürcher Art (cooked in the Zurich style), such as Kalbsgeschnetzeltes (sliced veal and mushrooms in a creamy white-wine sauce) and a variety of sausages such as Kanonenputzer (a pan-fried sausage served in half-meter or meter lengths).
     
    3. Kronenhalle. A traditional Swiss restaurant with an international twist, this elegant institution combines stunning décor — look for the original paintings that Picasso and Miró once traded with the owners. The spectacular menu offers a mix of French-inspired and traditional Swiss cuisine.
     
    4. The Restaurant at the Dolder Grand Hotel. If you visit this acclaimed restaurant with views of the Alps during lunchtime, Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend the Amuse Bouche menu, made up of small tastings of the restaurant’s most outstanding dishes. Dinner service brings four- to seven-course dinners; while true gourmands will want to put themselves into chef Heiko Nieder’s hands for a fantastic 12-course  tasting menu. The restaurant also offers special vegetarian fare; everything is paired with the first wines from around the world.
     
    5. Restaurant Schauenstein. It’s an hour from the city, but any true gastronome will savor the journey to Restaurant Schauenstein in the Swiss Alps. The highly acclaimed restaurant is housed in a medieval castle; and according to some, the food served in its hallowed halls is among the best in the world.
  • On July 16, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Which are the five best places to stay in Zurich?

    As one of the world’s great business hubs, Zurich offers an abundance of distinctive and luxurious hotels that offer every modern amenity and comfort. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editor’s suggestions for the five best places to stay in Zurich:
     
    1. The Dolder Grand. An extraordinary 19th-century Zurich luxury hotel on the outskirts of the city, the Dolder Grand offers 173 spectacular rooms and suites, world-class cuisine and a spectacular Alpine setting. It also boasts many ways to relax — from a top-notch spa retreat to the adjacent nine-hole golf course.
     
    2. Widder Hotel. Ideally located just steps from the chic Bahnhofstrasse, the Widder artfully juxtaposes modern and classic design. The hotel is set inside 10 Old Town houses built from the 12th to 17th centuries; yet the décor and furnishings are contemporary. There are just 49 rooms including the seven suites, and each one is different. So while one room might offer an Italian baroque feel, another stuns with its artsy loft-like vibe.
     
    3. Baur au Lac. Family owned for more than 160 years, the recently renovated Baur au Lac combines historic elegance with modern luxury. The marble-swathed bathrooms are impressively large and the hotel has an exclusive top-floor fitness center with stunning views of Lake Zurich and the Alps. Aside from the attractive interiors and crafted comfort, the hotel is also home to the summer restaurant Le Pavillion and winter restaurant Le Salon Français renowned for serving the best Mediterranean haute cuisine in Zurich.
     
    4. Alden Hotel Splugenschloss. Located in a building dating back to 1895, an extensive renovation in 2004 restored the Alden to its original beauty. You’ll find this boutique hotel with just 22 rooms offers classic service and décor. The rooms feature both contemporary furniture and antiques, while the suites impress with perks like private rooftop terraces and saunas.
     
    5. Park Hyatt Zurich. For a prime location in Zurich, it’s hard to beat this ultra-luxe Park Hyatt. Each spacious room in this striking newly built hotel is outfitted with modern multimedia technology, wireless Internet access and one-touch controls for the lighting and sound systems. You’ll be in the heart of the commercial district and just a few steps from the exclusive Bahnhofstrasse shopping street and Lake Zurich. It’s also within easy strolling distance of the city’s finest restaurants and bars.