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Zurich Travel Guide

About Zurich

Zurich labours under the misconception that it is nothing more than a sterile banking city – don't believe a word of it. It may be home to one of the world’s largest stock exchanges and Switzerland’s financial motor, but step back from the share prices and you'll find a vibrant, trend-conscious city.

Hang with the hip in Zurich West for a while. Its former warehouses and viaducts are now art centres, bars and quirky boutiques. Along Langstrasse, the city’s notorious red light district, you’re just as likely to take home a designer handbag as you are a piece of skirt.

Zurich’s character booms from the speakers of the annual Street Parade, a mammoth techno festival that weaves through the city with DJs and dancers. There isn’t a banker’s tie in sight.

If there are in the east bank quarter of Niederdorf, they’re loosened. These medieval streets are abuzz with cafés on corners, trendy taprooms and world-class restaurants. It’s easy to lose an afternoon absorbing its laidback atmosphere, especially in summer when the riverside adopts a beach vibe.

Winter is special too. Under the spell of snow, the cobbled alleyways, fountains and stunning architecture of the Old Town were made for the stroke of an artist’s brush.

Shoppers will love Zurich all year round, especially in the upmarket boutiques of Bahnhofstrasse, the city’s main shopping drag. But this is no longer a city for the smart set alone; there are plenty of unusual shops to be discovered down hidden streets.

Sitting astride the River Limmat and the northern tip of Lake Zurich, Mother Nature smiles down on Switzerland’s biggest city. Architects were courteous in their additions too - just check out the Fraumünster and Grossmünster churches, which face each other across the river.

Then, when you’ve had enough of the city’s diverse array of restaurants, first-rate museums and pulsing nightlife, there’s always the nearby Uetliberg mountain or a boat trip on Lake Zurich to enjoy – if only to catch your breath before diving back into the city’s delights again.

Key facts

Population:
1.48 million (Canton of Zurich). (Source: Canton of Zurich Statistical Office)
Latitude:
47.375371
Longitude:
8.541969

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Featured Hotels

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Leoneck Swiss Hotel

Just a five-minute walk from the city centre, the Leoneck Swiss Hotel is an official Swiss Alpine Club SAC partner with over 80 air-conditioned rooms, a restaurant, free Wi-Fi and a free smartphone in every room. For just CHF 20, guests can have breakfast at the hotel buffet which includes a range of egg dishes, coffee and fresh croissants and fruits.

Walhalla Hotel

The Walhalla Hotel is located directly at Zürich's main railway station. All its 48 modern and comfortable rooms are equipped with a tablet and have complimentary WiFi access. The hotel features six conference rooms which can accomodate up to 50 people, business facilities in its Business Corner and a breakfast buffet.

Lady's First

Conceived in 1994 when eight women decided to create a female-exclusive hotel in what was formerly a finishing school for country girls, Lady's First is a boutique design hotel housed in an elegant 19th-century building. This Zurich hotel is no longer, however, exclusively for women - men are welcome too. A good-natured atmosphere characterises this establishment, which also offers its guests free Wi-Fi, a wellness centre and a roof terrace. There are 28 rooms.

Widder Hotel

Composed of eight adjoining medieval houses, the Widder Hotel is named after a 13th-century Augustinian monastery that used to exist here. The 35 individually decorated rooms and 14 suites (four with private roof terraces) all combine the old and new, with features including 17th-century frescoes and old wooden floors. The Widder Bar has long been an important jazz venue - its 'Library of Spirits' offers several hundred single-malt whiskies.

Central Plaza Hotel

Built in 1883 with an impressive period facade, the Central Plaza has 105 air-conditioned rooms and suites, all fully soundproofed against traffic noise; many have views of the River Limmat and all have modem points. Highlights include a piano bar-cafe and the King's Cave restaurant. A terrace garden with illuminated waterfalls is open in summer. It's also said that the piano bar of this Zurich hotel was a favourite meeting place for Cold War spies.

The Dolder Grand

The location of this luxury residence couldn't be any better: The Dolder Grand offers its guests great panoramic views over the Lake Zürich, the city and over the mountains. It features all amenities you might expect from such an award-winning 5-star-hotel with a long history: rooms and suites with selectable butler service, spas, a pool called Aqua Zone, saunas, a fitness centre, state-of-the-art business facilities, meeting rooms, several lounges, two restaurants (one of which has earned two Michelin stars), a bar and a lobby, a ballroom and a car park.