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Zurich - A Small Metropolis Goes Big

Zurich is an extraordinary place with a great variety of art and culture. The city is also a shopping paradise with countless high-end boutiques and an exciting nightlife. Thanks to the wonderful position in the Limmat valley right next to the lake and the foot of the Uetliberg, travellers are still not from nature.

View of Zurich's old part of town

Geography - The Limmat valley is calling

Zurich is the name of the political district and the capital of the canton of the same name in the north of Switzerland. The city has an area of 91.88 km² and counts 402,275 inhabitants. It is the greatest Swiss city, comprises 12 districts and has the country's highest density of population. Zurich lies in the Limmat valley and the lower Sihl Valley, embedded between the heights of the Uetliberg in the west and the Zürichberg in the east. In the south of the city, you find Lake Zurich. The Uetliberg is the region's highest peak with a height of 869 metres. Zurich lies in the temperate climate zone. There is a lot of precipitation coming from the west. The Bise, an east or north-east wind, often brings high-pressure regions, which create cooler temperatures at all seasons. The average yearly temperature is about 8.5 °C. January is the coldest months with -0.5 °C on average and July the warmest one with 17.9 °C.

Zurich and Lake Zurich

Nature - The magical city at the lake

Zurich's old town extends on both sides of the Limmat, which flows right through the city. The city's "green lungs" are the vast forests of the Adlisberg, the Zürichberg, the Käferberg, the Hönggerberg and the Uetliberg. There are more green spaces along the lakeside. The highly developed areas are interspersed with numerous parks and gardens. Two of the various city parks are the new botanic garden of the university and the Chinese garden at the waterside of Lake Zurich. Especially Belvoir Park, one of the region's oldest landscape gardens, fascinates with a wonderful view of the lake, the city and the mountains. Visitors are advised to explore the Masoala Rainforest Hall in Zurich Zoo at the Zürichberg, which is a unique European attraction. It is populated by a number of animals such as the colourful toucan.

A toucan in the Zoo in Zurich

Culture - A historical old town and contemporary art

Formerly a Roman base called "Turicum", the city of Zurich became a free imperial city in 1262 and a member of the Swiss Confederation in 1351. Its official language is German. The inhabitants call themselves Zürcher or Stadtzürcher to distinguish themselves from the remaining population of the canton (Züricher). Zurich is one of the cities with the highest standard of living but also the one with the highest cost of living. In this respect, it has ranked first since 2012, followed by Tokyo and Geneva. The main sight is without doubt the city's well-preserved old town on the left and right side of the Limmat. A great way of exploring it is a round tour starting and ending at the central square opposite of the main station. While the old town hall displays Renaissance style, the Grossmünster was built in Romanesque style. The old town on the left side of the Limmat accommodates countless fascinating alleys with medieval houses. Especially remarkable are the Fraumünster Church with its stained glass windows painted by Marc Chagall and the cloister painted by Paul Bodmer. Furthermore, the St. Peter Church impresses with Europe's greatest clock face with a diameter of 8.70 metres. Zurich is widely known as the most important centre of Switzerland's artistic and cultural work. Together with New York and London, the city has developed into a significant place for contemporary art. The literary movement of the Dadaism, for instance, emerged in the Cabaret Voltaire around 1916. Today there are over 50 museums and more than 100 galleries in the central city alone. While the Swiss National Museum accommodates Switzerland's greatest culture-historical collection, the Kunsthaus has varying exhibitions but also a permanently accessible collection with works of Picasso, Munch, Monet, Giacometti and Chagall.

View of the Zurich Opera House

Experience - A shopping paradise and a vibrant club scene

Along the public streets and squares as well as in the parks, you find over 1300 works of art. In addition, Zurich has a great number of theatres and concert venues such as the world-famous Opera House (Opernhaus), the Tonhalle and the Schauspielhaus. There are also several well-known artistic and cultural events like the Festspiele Zürich (a festival), the Zürcher Theater Spektakel (a theatre event) and the internationally known Zurich Film Festival. However, Zurich does not only impress with art and culture but also with its cuisine. Travellers who like hearty food will enjoy the Zürcher Ratsherrntopf (a substantial meat and vegetable stew), the Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (a ragout) or the Mischtchratzerli (chicken stew with vegetables). A common appetiser is the delicious Riesbächler Weinsuppe (a soup made with wine). Visitors who have a sweet tooth should try the Zedernbrot (a pastry made of ground almonds and powder sugar) and the Schoggoladekafi (a chocolate drink). A visit of the Confiserie Sprüngli is a must. The products you can buy there are great souvenirs, especially the famous Luxemburgerli, pastries of the size of chocolates, which you can get in different flavours. Especially popular with the younger generation is the Street Parade, the world's greatest house and techno parade. It takes place at the beginning of August every year and attracts about one million visitors. Shopping enthusiasts will feel very comfortable in Zurich as the city offers a wide range of shopping facilities. Popular shopping centres in the city centre are the Sihlcity in Wiedikon with its 80 shops and the Letzipark in Altstetten. In the Langstraßenquartier, you find local and urban fashion labels, while the Bahnhofsstraße is lined by many international fashion brands, jewellers and clockmakers. The further you go down this street towards the lake, the more exclusive the boutiques become. At the end you see shops like Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Hugo Boss stringing together. The countless bars, clubs and discos provide both locals and tourists with a lively nightlife. After all, Zurich has the highest density of clubs in Switzerland. The most popular quarters for going out are the old town, the Langstraßenquartier and the former industrial area of Zurich West (Zürich-West). If you enjoy gambling, you are in good hands in Zurich as the city holds Switzerland's biggest casino, the Swiss Casinos.

Zürcher Geschnetzeltes

Activities - Exploring the sights and nature

Most of the numerous sights are located in and around Zurich's old town and can easily be reached on foot or with a short ride on the tram or bus. Travellers who go to the trouble of climbing one of the towers of the Grossmünster are awarded with a breathtaking view of the old town. You also have a wonderful view of the city, the lake and the Alps from the viewing platform on the peak of the Uetliberg, which you reach quickly by taking the Uetlibergbahn. However, you can also hike up the Uetliberg, for example on the hiking trail Denzlerweg. On the other side of the lake, you find a hiking path which leads you from the Rehalp (a farm) to the Trichtenhauser Mühle (a restaurant). The forests around Zurich offer a great variety of jogging and bicycle trails for active holidaymakers. While you can do sports on three artificial ice rinks in winter, you can be active on about 40 tennis clay courts in summer. Particularly appealing are the over 40 "Badis" (open-air baths) in and around Zurich, which invite visitors to go swimming. About 18 of them are lake and river resorts or outdoor swimming pools.

A typical hiking trail in the Zurich Region

Information

Reaching Zurich is very easy and convenient. The city is connected to the important motorways. With the biggest station in the whole of Switzerland and Zurich Airport, the city has become a global traffic hub. Almost 870 national and international trains leave the station every day. The airport is not only the most important one in Switzerland but also one of the greatest ones in the whole of Europe.

Zurich is a great travel destination in many ways. Visitors do not only experience the typical city atmosphere with the great variety of artistic and cultural offers as well as many facilities for shopping and going out but they are also close to nature and can choose from a number of trips and leisure activities.

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