Hostelworld Guide for Zurich

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Switzerland's largest city Zürich finds itself ideally situated in a picturesque alpine setting. The Limmat River runs through the city centre into the breathtaking expanse of Lake Zürich. As well as natural beauty, the cityscape here is also extremely pretty, encompassing cobbled streets, towering church spires and green parks. Attractions such as the Landesmuseum, the Kunsthaus, and much more can all be visited in this culturally rich city. From Niederdorfstrasse in Zürich's Old Town to the former industrial area and currently hip district of Zürich West, the city is brimming with nightlife. Restaurants serving local and international dishes, along with numerous bars and clubs, all provide the perfect distraction each and every night. For a great taste of Swiss life in a stunning setting, be sure to check out this entirely enticing destination.



In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop

 The Essentials


Getting There

By plane: Zürich Airport is found in Kloten, around 10km north of the city centre. It has its own train station, complete with local and intercity services. Tram no. 10 goes directly from the airport to the city centre, with the trip taking around 20 minutes.

By train: When arriving by train, you'll end up at the Zürich Hauptbahnhof. Both the largest and busiest station in Switzerland, it serves numerous national and European destinations.

By bus: Zürich's main bus station can be found beside the main train station. Bus services from all over terminate here.

Getting Around

On foot: Walking to the main attractions in and around the city centre is quite doable; however, you will need to use public transport at some stage.

By tram: Tram lines criss-cross the city streets. They run on a very punctual timetable and serve many different parts of the city. 'Tageskarte', or daily tickets, last a full 24-hours and are great value.

By bike: You'll find an extensive network of bicycle lanes around Zürich. To take advantage of these, you can try out the 'Züri rollt' service, which is a bike rental and drop-off service with locations throughout the city.

 Useful Phrases

Hello: Hallo
Goodbye: Tschüss
Please: Bitte
Thank you: Vielen Dank
You're welcome: Gern geschehen
Yes: Ja
No: Nein
Of course: Natürlich
Excuse me: Entschuldigung
How are you?: Wie geht es dir?
Open: Geöffnet
Closed: Geschlossen
What is your name?: Wie heisst du?
My name is...: Ich heisse...
How much?: Wie teuer ist es?
May I have the bill?: Kann ich die rechnung haben?

Zürich has a humid continental climate, which means that it has four distinct seasons. Summers are warm and winters cold, with a mild spring and autumn. July sees both the most sunlight and also the highest temperatures, averaging out at around 19.5˚C. December is the coldest month with temperatures sometimes dropping before zero. During the summer, Zürich sees most of its rain with around 136mm falling during July.

 Good to know...

Language: German.
Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF).
Electricity: 220/230V, AC/50Hz.
Area code: +41 (Switzerland), 043/044 (Zürich).
Emergency codes: Ambulance 144, Fire 118, Police 117.
Time Zone: Central European Time (GMT +1).
Central Post Office: Sihlpost, Kasernenstrasse 95-97.
Main Tourist Office: Zürich Tourist Office, Im Hauptbahnhof.

Embassies and Consulates

UK: +41 (0)44 3836560*
USA: +41 (0)43 4992960*
Canada: +41 (0)31 3573200**
Australia: +41 (0)22 7999100***
New Zealand: +41 (0)22 9290350***
South Africa: +41 (0)31 3501313**
Ireland: +41 (0)31 3521442**
Germany: +41 (0)31 3594111**
Spain: +41 (0)43 3686111*
Italy: +41 (0)44 2866111*
France: +41 (0)44 2688585*

*Consulate in Zürich
**Embassy in Berne
***Consulate in Geneva

Hostelworld Guide for Zurich

 Cheap Eats

 After Dark

Grand Café Odeon, Limmatquai 2, Old Town A great choice for lunch, this spot tends to be quite busy. On a sunny day the tables outside are packed full of locals and visitors, and when it rains, the window-side tables are in high demand. Dishes offered include their own take on the popular 'rosti'. Open Sun-Thurs 7am-2am, Fri & Sat 7am-4am.

Pumpstation, Utoquai 10, Lake Zürich As all the tables and even the grill area here are open to the elements, Pumpstation's hours depend on the weather. On the banks of Lake Zürich, it is the perfect spot to eat on a sunny afternoon. Sausages, sandwiches and salads are just some of the tasty offerings.Open daily 11am-12am.

Tre Cucine, Niederdorfstrasse 33, Old Town As one of many restaurants along bustling Niederdorfstrasse, Tre Cucine's tasty traditional Italian fare ensures it stands out from the crowd. To save some money, go for the smaller portion option offered for some dishes, as you'll still get more than enough to fill you up. Open Sun-Thurs 11.30am-11pm, Fri & Sat 11.30pm-12pm.

Restaurant Au Gratin, Bahnhofplatz 2, City Centre A huge variety of meat and vegetable gratins (baked dishes covered in melted cheese) can be sampled here. The soundtrack to your meal will be lots of chatter from both the restaurant and the busy bar below. Open Mon-Thurs 11am-2pm & 6pm-12am, Fri 11am-2pm & 6pm-2am, Sat 6pm-2am, Sun 6pm-11pm.

 All-day breakfast treat

Bichermüesli One of Switzerland's favourite dishes, Bichermüesli is a healthy mix of rolled oats, mixed with yoghurt or cream, fruit and nuts. The perfect way to start a day of exploring Zürich, this dish is also a popular late night snack. You'll find it, in its various forms, on the menus of cafés and restaurants across the city.

Newsbar, Bahnhofplatz 2, City Centre Beneath the Au Gratin restaurant and a stone's throw from the Hauptbahnhof, this lively bar attracts a young crowd. From the two bar areas, affable staff serve up cocktails, wines, beers and more. Perch yourself on one of the tall stools at the bar or lounge on the cushions in the wide windowsills while you sip your drinks. Open Mon-Wed 11am-1am, Thurs & Fri 11am-2am, Sat 4pm-2am, closed Sun.

 Gay/Lesbian Zürich

This city is home to an open and lively gay scene. Along with various annual festivals and parties, Zürich boasts many top-notch gay bars and clubs. Some of the most popular of these include Barfüsser (Spitalgasse 14) which is the city's oldest gay bar, Club AAAH! (Marktgasse 14), Jim Club (Pelikanplatz), and Cranberry's (Metzgergasse 3).

Riffraff, Neugasse 57, Zürich West An alternative haven, Riffraff combines a bar, cinema and bistro. In the retro chic bar area, you'll be able to sample the comprehensive wine list along with scrumptious cocktails and various beers. A great place to combine a few drinks with some movie-watching in a laidback, friendly atmosphere. Open Mon-Thurs 3pm-12am, Fri-Sat 3pm-2am, Sun 12pm-12am.

Bar Havanna Club, Niederdorfstrasse 64, Old Town Right in the heart of the action, this well-liked bar serves a wide range of lip-smacking cocktails, along with wines, beers and spirits. From the Latin music playing in the chic interior to the comfortable tables outside, Havanna is definitely worth checking out. Open daily 4pm-2am.

Hard One, Hardstrasse 260, Zürich West A club, lounge and bar all-in-one, Hard One offers something for everyone, whether you'd prefer to sample lots of bubbly or shake a leg out on the main dance floor. Pick up a drink from the swanky 20-metre main bar or chill out in one of the funky lounge areas. Cigars are in vogue, so expect smoke! Open Tues-Thurs 6pm-2am, Fri & Sat 6pm-4am, closed Sun & Mon; admission free Tues-Thurs, varies Fri & Sat.

Opernhaus Zürich, Falkenstrasse 1, Utoquai Zürich's beautiful opera house offers a more cultural option for your night out. Numerous ballet and operatic performances are held here throughout the year and the Opernhaus can seat 1,100 people. Opening hours and admission vary with performances.

 Don't Miss

 Mark Your Calendar

 Place of worship

Fraumünster, Fraumünsterstrasse, Am Münsterhofplatz A mix of Gothic and Romanesque design, this church complete with its towering spire, was initially founded in the year 853. Make sure to look up so you catch a glimpse of the star-covered dome. Open Apr-Oct Mon-Sat 10am-6pm & Sun 11.15am-6pm, Nov-Mar Mon-Sat 10am-4pm & Sun 11.15am-4pm; admission free.

Kunsthaus Zürich, Heimplatz, Niederdorf The permanent collection of Zürich's prestigious Kunsthaus features paintings and sculptures by world-renowned artists like Van Gogh, Monet, Munch and more. Open Sat-Sun/Tues 10am-6pm, Wed-Fri 10am-8pm, closed Mon; admission 18 CHF, free Wed.

Landesmuseum, Museumstrasse 2, City Centre From coins to clothing, the artefacts on display here chart the course of Swiss history from prehistoric times to the present day. The museum is handily located beside the Hauptbahnhof. Open Tues, Wed, Fri-Sun 10am-5pm, Thurs 10am-7pm, closed Mon; admission 10 CHF.

Zoo Zürich, Zürichbergstrasse 221, Fluntern Home to around 320 different species, you'll see lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) here along with lots of other animals. Try and catch one of the scheduled feedings or even the elephant wash.Open daily March-Oct 9am-6pm, Nov-Feb 9am-5pm; admission 22 CHF.

Grossmünster, Grossmünsterplatz, Old Town The two tall towers of this beautiful cathedral are one of the most identifiable sights in all of Zürich. Simple stone walls and wooden pews are complimented by a huge organ with ornately crafted pipes. Open daily Mar-Oct 9am-6pm, Nov-Feb 10am-5pm; admission free for church, 4 CHF for towers.

March - Art on Ice This 4-day festival is a celebration of ice skating with numerous events taking place. After show entertainment is also organised.

April - Sechseläuten A traditional festival to welcome the arrival of spring, Sechseläuten sees the burning of a straw snowman symbolising winter. Costumed revellers parade through the streets while huge numbers of spectators look on. Then the snowman is set alight outside the Opera House in the evening.

May-June - EuroPride In existence for 40 years, this annual celebration stretches out over five weeks. A colourful parade, numerous parties, sporting events and much more are all part of the popular event.

June-July - Zürich Festival During the course of its 3-week run, this festival combines opera, dance, art and drama events. Its aim is to promote the diverse selection of cultural institutions based in Zürich.

July - Live at Sunset Held at the Dolder ice rink, this 12-day music festival features popular and classical music acts from all over the world. The music stages are complimented by a number of food and drink areas.

August - Street Parade Each year, hundreds of thousands of people attend this lively event. 25 moving stages complete with musical and dance acts head around the city, with a number of after parties taking place too.

August - Dörfli-Fäscht Taking place at the end of the month, this festival features live music performances, food stalls and much more.

September - Long Night of the Museums On this night, over 40 museums and attractions, including the Zürich Zoo, open their doors late into the night. Concerts and lectures also take place.

November-December - Christmas Market Stalls are set up around Zürich's old town area. Here you can find handmade crafts, food and drink, and much more.

December - Lichterschwimmen During this annual event, hundreds of small boats, each one fit with a candle, are sent floating down the River Limmat. Stalls are set up in the Weinplatz and offer treats like mulled wine and more.

Hostelworld Guide for Zurich

 Neighbourhood Watch

 Retail Therapy

Old Town Covering a substantial area of the city, Zürich's Old Town straddles both sides of the Limmat River. Wander through narrow cobbled streets taking in the traditional houses and impressive churches. Niederdorfstrasse is Old Town's swiftly beating heart, filled as it is with lively bars, popular restaurants and funky stores.

 Industrial chic

Zürich West The former industrial quarter of Zürich West is now one of the hippest parts of the entire city. You'll find a number of cool museums here, including the two contained within the converted Löwenbräu brewery. Perfect for strolling along leafy streets during the day, Zürich West is one of the city's liveliest sectors once the sun sets.

Winterthur Winterthur is one of Zürich's most important satellite towns and is the sixth biggest in Switzerland. Visitors here will find plenty to occupy themselves with, including numerous stores and a top-notch food market. This town is best known for its impressive collection of museums. The world-famous Oskar Reinhart art collection is just one of the treats in store here. Parks, gardens and theatres only enhance Wintherthur's appeal.

Riesbach This district is bordered on one side by the tranquil Lake Zürich and hosts a number of the city's most popular attractions. You can appreciate the beauty of the Chinagarten, stroll through the impressive Botanischer Garten or take a dip in the lake. One of the most popular parts of Zürich, a visit to Riesbach should feature in any trip to this city.

Uteilberg A mere fifteen minutes from the city centre by train, Uteilberg is the highest peak in Zürich's immediate surroundings, stretching up 814 metres or 2,671 feet. Active types will delight in this alpine setting, complete with hiking trail through the woods. This well-loved route takes about two hours to cover.

Jelmoli, Seidengasse 1, City Centre Also known as the 'House of Brands', Jelmoli is a pretty impressive department store covering six floors. It is home to around 1,000 different brands, many of them world-renowned, including Chanel, Zara and New Yorker. Cosmetics, accessories and household goods are all well-represented here too. Open Mon-Fri 9am-8pm, Sat 9am-8pm, closed Sun.

Sihlcity, Kalanderplatz 1, Enge One of the most-visited shopping complexes in Zürich, Sihlcity houses four floors of stores in a bright and modern environment. Whether you're looking for a phone or a pair of sneakers, this is the place to go. Open Mon-Sat 9am-8pm, closed Sun.

Freitag Shop Zurich, Geroldstrasse 17, Zürich West This unique shop is worth a visit, even if you don't plan on buying any of the multitudes of bags, wallets and other accessories on sale. Housed inside 17 converted freight containers, Freitag also boasts an observation platform on its roof stretching up 25 metres. Open Mon-Fri 11am-7.30pm, Sat 11am-5pm, closed Sun.

 City centre shopping

Bahnhofstrasse, City Centre Zürich's premiere shopping stretch Bahnhofstrasse is a long street boasting decorative flowerpots, traversed by trams and often teeming with people. Shops include everything from Hugo Boss to Claire's. Men's and women's fashions, cosmetics, electronics, and of course a huge number of watches, are all available.

Rennweg, Lindenhof Another one of the main shopping streets in Zürich, Rennweg is home to a wonderful mix of stores. Whether it's souvenirs or the neon clothing of American Apparel you need, look no further than this busy stretch. Other stores include Lacoste, Benneton, as well as some local brand names.

 Zürich for Free

 A Day in Zürich...

Visit St. Peter's Church Dating back to the 7th century, St. Peter's Church is the oldest in the city. Its most stunning feature is the church tower's clock face, the largest of its kind in Europe at 8.7 metres in diameter. The interior is just as enticing, with its hanging chandeliers and giant organ. Open Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sat 8am-4pm.

Check out Lindenhof, the highest point in Zürich's Old Town Head up here to see stunning views of much of Zürich, including Limmatquai, Grossmünster and more. One of the oldest sites in the city, this hill was where the Roman settlers set up shop in 15BC. Today, as well as enjoying the view, you can watch the games of street chess and boules regularly played here.

Enjoy views of Lake Zürich from Zürichhorn Park An open area, Zürichhorn Park is filled with locals and visitors on sunny days. Here you'll find wide stretches of grass to sunbathe on, and a long jetty stretching into Lake Zürich. The frequent boat trips that head around the Lake and up the Limmat River can be caught here too.

Stroll along Mythenquai and watch the fountain Starting at the Arboretum Enge, an open park area complete with aviary, a walk down Mythenquai provides great views of the city and of Lake Zürich. Head out onto the jettys, past the boats moored at the quay, and have a seat, taking in the continuously changing and impressive lake fountain.

 How does your garden grow

Wander through the beautiful Botanischer Garten Administered by Zürich University, the Botanischer Garten are home to approximately 9,000 species of plants and flowers. These stunning gardens cover an expanse of around 53,000 square metres. Open Mar-Sept Mon-Fri 7am-7pm & Sat-Sun 8am-6pm, Oct-Feb Mon-Fri 8am-6pm & Sat-Sun 8am-7pm.

Enjoy a delicious bowl of Bichermüesli at any number of cafés throughout the city. This filling dish will set you up for the day.

Start your exploration of Zürich at the city's Hauptbahnhof. Behind it you'll find the Landesmuseum, which is filled with numerous artefacts chronicling Swiss history.

From here, take tram number 3 to the Kunsthaus. This impressive art museum houses works by great artists such as Monet, Van Gogh and more.

Head to Utoquai and stop for lunch at Pumpstation, where you can eat while enjoying great views of the lake.

Walk along the quays as far as Zürichhorn Park. Check out the Chinagarten, go for a quick dip or sunbathe on the grass.

Go back towards the city centre and have a look inside Fraümunster and St. Peter's, two of the city's top attractions.

bahnhofstrasse pic

To sample some of Zürich's top-notch shopping opportunities, wander up Bahnhofstrasse (above), which is home to many internationally renowned brands.

Cross the river and go to Niederdorfstrasse in Zürich's Old Town area, where you'll find numerous restaurants to choose from.

On your way towards Zürich West, stop off for a few drinks in the Newsbar by the Hauptbahnhof.

Finish the night at Hard One, a club with a 20-metre long main bar, some cosy lounge areas and an animated main dance floor.

Hostelworld Guide for Zurich