This culture-rich lakeside city has a split personality — and that’s a good thing. History is alive on the cobblestoned streets of “Alstadt” (Old Town), while contemporary art and architecture thrive in hip Zurich West. Best of all, Switzerland’s largest city has sparkling Lake Zurich and the scenic, snowcapped Alps as a backdrop.
What We Love
Old Town: While much of Zurich bustles with modern energy, its historic heart entices with its elegance and charm. Daytime strolls weave past galleries, antique shops, churches, and cafés. Once the sun sets, Alstadt transforms into entertainment central as bars and discos spring to life; the party often lasts until just before dawn.
Cabaret Voltaire: This is the birthplace of the avant-garde dada movement. Located at Spiegelgasse 1 and celebrating its 100-year jubilee in 2016, the club retains its confounding personality hosting themed evenings honoring dada artists.
Rooftop Spa: Nab a day pass and rejuvenate in warm mineral waters with a panoramic view at the Thermalbad & Spa, located atop a historic Zurich brewery.
Best Known For
Lake Promenade: Walk, bike, people watch, or snap a few selfies with Zurich’s steeples in the background on this postcard-perfect waterfront pathway.
Bahnhofstrasse: A mecca for shoppers, this mile-long street traversed by streetcars dates back to the construction of the city’s main railway station 150 years ago.
Stained Glass By Chagall: Created in the early 1970s — when Marc Chagall was in his 80s — five brilliantly hued windows and a rosette at Fraumünster Church showcase the painter’s distinctive approach to the art form.
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Who It's Best For
Culture Vultures: This glistening city is home to 100 galleries and more than 50 museums, including the Kunsthaus Zürich, which has a large collection of works by Alberto Giacometti. There's also a bonanza of seasonal performances of ballet, opera, theater, and musical cabaret.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It Isn’t Cheap: Be prepared for a bit of sticker shock — Switzerland’s reputation as a pricey destination is well earned.
Donna Heiderstadt is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Coastal Living and Islands.