Zurich Travel Guide

Zurich is a beautiful banking city with an eponymous lake, the splendid Limmat river running through it, exquisite views of the Alps, terrific walkin... Read More

Zurich is a beautiful banking city with an eponymous lake, the splendid Limmat river running through it, exquisite views of the Alps, terrific walking streets, a medieval quarter, and the Niederdorf, a section of town where things start heating up past midnight. It’s typically Swiss in terms of broad decorum and first-rate shopping, a pinnacle in hotel standards, and has a range of upscale restaurants offering sophisticated fare and the country’s best wines. There’s much to do in this upscale destination, and T+L’s Zurich travel guide has the scoop on what you can’t miss.

Despite its former bad rap as an uptight financial capital, Zurich has more style, more modernity, more experimental venues in art and music and theatre, and more willingness to try new things than most realize. The truth is, Zurich is loosening its tie and getting downright hip. The draconian liquor laws that stifled the local bar scene have been relaxed, and a youthful entrepreneurial fever is sweeping the Swiss metropolis.

The city bows to tradition and keeps intact what’s there, but adds to the lustre of its glorious past. Similar to New York City in that Zurich is not the governmental seat of power (that’s Bern), it is the place where change happens first in Switzerland. It’s ironic given that it’s also the banking capital, but art needs finance, and it’s no coincidence that James Joyce lived here, and that Dada and Surrealism thrived in the city, too. When you visit Zurich these days, you’ll find wonderful art galleries, shops, museums, churches, restaurants, and cafes that seamlessly blend the city’s many facets.

Though it’s famous for fancy chocolates, high-end watches, and its corporate industry, Zurich has plenty of affordable and cool offerings, too, from its blossoming boutique hotel scene, glut of free cultural landmarks, and versatile shopping options. Read on for your options when planning a Zurich trip.

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Visit Zrich

Best Time To Visit

Year-round. Summertime offers festivals, river and lake swimming, crowds, and outdoor cafes, while winter has many cozy—gemutlich—cafes, and neighborhood clubs and restaurants.

Zrich Transportation

Zurich is a great walking city, with most diversions concentrated in a small area: from the train station to the lake, and just on the other side of the river near the university. Public trams are ubiquitous, with fares based on zones (a single ride starts at $5).

Zrich Weather

July is the hottest month, with an average high of 65°F (19°C) and the coldest is January, with an average high of 32°F (0°C).

Know Before Visiting

People tend to be slightly more formal here than at home; don’t take it personally, their reserved manner is just a form of Swiss shyness.

Language

Swiss-German

Electric

Type J three-prong plug

Currency

Swiss Franc (CHF)