What you need to know about Zürich
Zürich is an endlessly appealing mix of culture and creativity, unflappable Swiss efficiency and a beautiful lakeside setting in the foothills of the Alps. It may be Switzerland’s wealthiest metropolis and the centre of the country’s finance and banking industries, but it’s also a city that’s easy to live in, with a beautifully preserved Old Town full of winding lanes, stunning churches, and gorgeous riverside walks.
In recent years Zürich has embraced its creative and artsy side, with lots of hip bars, great nightlife and cultural events, like the annual summer Street Parade that attracts one million people for a celebration of “peace, love and dance”. Zürich is an unexpectedly wonderful city, and will surprise you at every turn.
Food and drink
The Swiss don’t do anything by halves, and that includes eating out. The culinary standard is universally high, with the best restaurants found in the Old Town (also known as Niederdorf) - make sure you try a traditional Swiss speciality like Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (creamy mushrooms with veal) in one of the Guild Houses by the river.
You can’t visit Zürich without trying traditional Swiss fondue and some local chocolate – Lindt is made in Zürich, so make sure you pick up a few bars to take home! For drinks and nightlife head to Zürich-West, where the old factories have been transformed into the coolest bars and clubs in town.
Zürich doesn’t have the shopping reputation of London, Paris or Milan, but where there’s money there’s invariably shopping, and Zürich has plenty of both. You’ll find couture brands like Gucci and Tiffany on Bahnhofstrasse, independent boutiques and traditional stores in the Old Town, and trendy local fashion and accessories in Zürich-West & Aussersihl.
If mall shopping is more your thing, head to Switzerland’s largest shopping centre, Einkaufszentrum Glatt, which has over 100 shops and department stores just outside the city, but don’t forget that most stores in Zurich are closed on Sundays.
Zürich is one of the world’s biggest financial centres, so you’ll find most of the biggest Swiss and global banks and financial organisations have offices here. Many of Switzerland’s largest companies have their head offices in Zürich, including ABB, UBS, Credit Suisse, Zürich Financial Services, Kuoni and Siemens Suisse.
The centre of Zürich is pretty compact, so you can explore the Old Town, the churches and the famous Bahnhofstrasse on foot in just a few hours, unless you get distracted by cafes, shops and restaurants (which you inevitably will). There are S-Bahn train, tram and bus stops throughout the city, all run with the famous Swiss efficiency that means your ride will pretty much always be clean, comfortable and on time. The S-Bahn runs all night too, so it’s a good way to get back to your serviced apartment after a night out.
Things to watch out for
Züri Fäscht, Switzerland's biggest public festival, takes place every three years in July - the next one is scheduled for 2016. This 3-day festival includes funfairs, free concerts, outdoor dance events and amazing firework displays over the lake.