Many say Zurich is the financial capital of the world. Its impression to foreigners is one of wealth, with wealthy men and women in tailored suits scampering about from one bank to the other carrying stylist briefcases. Although there are banks galore, Zurich is a grand city of neatly decorated cobble stoned streets, museums, and expansive flea markets selling everything from chocolates to wooden figurines. Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse section is also lined with fine boutiques and is considered one of the best shopping areas in Europe. Plus, Zurich is more diverse than you think. With a bustling nightlife and more bars, clubs, and festivals that you could count – Zurich always delivers.
Getting There / Reaching the City:
Kloten Airport is Zurich’s international airport and is the gateway to the country. It is about 11 km from the city center and you can get there by taking taxis or the cheaper Swiss Federal Railway trains which cost 5.80 F (about 3.20 euros) that will take you to the heart of Zurich in 20 minutes. Getting from Paris and other European destinations to Switzerland is very easy with high speed train service and buses and cars service the city like clockwork.
Sights You Can’t Miss:
- The Swiss National Museum – This museum sits inside a castle structured building with a majestic tower. It is a national museum packed with artifacts depicting the culture and history of the country, with a collection of arts dating back from the Stone Age to the modern era. View its impressive arsenal of medieval and stained glass window works, along with a Swiss clock making exhibit that rivals the German tradition of cuckoo clocks in terms of sheer impact. Swiss combat is also generously chronicled with weapons displays holding tools from the year 800. For year-round exhibitions, take the Swiss National Museum for a spin.
- Fraumunster Church – Its spires pierce the city skyline in a sign of regal ness, with a thin blue one being the most pronounced. Right atop the historic Munsterhof square, the church was built in 853 and began its life as a German convent until the 13th century. Today, it holds five intricate stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall in the 70’s and a Roman choir. Admission is free.
- Kunsthaus Museum – The Kunsthaus Museum contains exhibits with selected sculptures from the Middle Ages along with Dutch and Italian Baroque painting in addition to the works of some of Switzerland’s finest painters from the 19th and 20th centuries, including Ferdinand Hodlet and Johann Fussli.
- Zunfthaus zur Meisen Guild House – This collection of arts right across the street from the Fraumunster has a nice array of 18th century china and pottery. Inside are the Rococo galleries which house beautiful porcelain figurines with a Kilchberg-Schooren influence. The building itself is an architectural masterpiece, built in 1757 in the highly classic Baroque style.
- Reitberg Museum – This three building museum houses art that is strictly non European. One building, the Villa Wesendonck, has a few exhibitions of Indian, African, and Chinese art while the Park-Villa Rieter building holds Indian, Japanese, and Chinese paintings. The Park Villa Rieter also holds world music concerts year round.
- Street Parade – On August 11, 2007, Zurich will host a street parade considered to be one the largest techno-music street parties in the World, similar to the Berlin Love Parada. Majestic floats, dancers, and booming music will take place along with festivals before, during, and after the parade. For more information on this year’s festivities, visit www.street-parade.ch
- Zurich Festival – This yearly celebration pays homage to opera, dance, classic, and theatre genres along with a mix of local and international artists. Performances take place throughout the city from June 15 to July 8. For more information, visit www.zuercher-festpiele.ch
Where to Stay:
Zurich is perfectly defined as a high class city. Let’s introduce some high class hotels and accommodations to the mix.
- Baur au Lac – This is one of the world’s finest hotels. Located next to the Schanzengraben Canal, it is a three story building with superior landscape design outside and an even better interior. The hotel shines with marble floors and oriental carpets. If you want an added touch, go for a room with a view of the lake. For a double room, expect to pay no less than 660 F and 1600 F for a full suite.
- The Widder Hotel – This hotel has one of the most fantastic color schemes around, and not one room looks similar to the other. There is everything here, from a health club to a restaurant along with a babysitting service. Expect to pay in the 665F range for a double room and up to 1510F for a suite, according to the seasons. Breakfast is included.
Suggested 3 Day Zurich Itinerary:
- Day 1: Museum Day – Reitberg, Kunsthaus, and the Swiss National.
- Day 2: Go on walking tours. You can take a 2 hour trolley tour which goes through its neighborhoods for a 32F fee. Tours take place every day – three times a day at 9:45 am, 12:00 pm, and 2 pm. You can also take cableway tours by boat where you are offered stunning panoramic views of the Alps and the lakes.
- Day 3: Stroll throughout the day and enjoy the nightlife by visiting the Zurich Opera and hitting some of the city’s finest clubs from the Blaue Ente to the Cranberry’s gay and lesbian bar.