With a history that stretches back to the 13th Century, Zurich has built itself a mighty legacy from its humble Roman beginnings. The still-pristine natural surroundings and quaint architecture attract thousands of tourists annually. Seeking entertainment in the financial capital of Switzerland is no sweat.
Though Zurich's culturally rich ambiance can best be taken in on foot, there is also a solid and punctual public transport system of trams, buses and trains that ferry passengers to their destinations with efficiency. Dress for the cool climate, arm yourself with a few major credit cards and you are ready to hit the town.
Galleries & Museums
One of Zurich's top museum attractions is the Kunsthaus Zürich, home to masterpieces by modern artists and constantly changing exhibitions to keep you coming back for more. If you are more interested in the great history of this independent, neutral country the Schweizerisches Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum). For more off-the-beaten path museums, the Johann Jacobs Museum serves up a history of coffee and coffee culture. The Spielzeugmuseum (Toy Museum) offers a glimpse back at children's playthings of yesteryear.
Opera fans will love the Opernhaus Zürich where over a dozen operas are performed each season at this historic Zurich landmark. Switzerland's largest theater, the Schauspielhaus, performs modern pieces with numerous premieres annually. There are also modern pieces put on at the small Theater Neumarkt. Classical music fans will thoroughly enjoy the symphonic tunes of the Tongalle Orchester Zurich.
If movies are more your thing, catch the latest blockbusters at the Cinemax multiplex which has ten screens. Or, if more intimate and independent venues are what you want, the Morgental has films for children, documentaries and foreign films. Super-trendy Xenix has independent films, a movie club, outdoor movies in summer and film festivals throughout the year.
Bars & Nightlife
With the number of watering holes burgeoning in the city, it is hard to find yourself in want of something to sip. Brews come in various forms, ranging from the local variety at Olé-Olé, to the stronger spirits at the sporty Nelson Pub. The unusual Schminkbar offers pampering and makeup sessions to fritter away the time, while the 1970s Retro Bar Kaufleuten is popular with the yuppie crowd. If you're looking for a date, Palavrion is the place to go. Zurich's night crawlers meet up at happening spots like Club Indochine, which throbs to techno beats and serves Vietnamese delights.
Your credit cards can be put to good use on Bahnhofstrasse, one of Europe's most attractive shopping streets, which streaks through the city center. While fashion boutiques may set trends, it's the local markets that attract maximum crowds. The Hirschenplatz Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt) is eagerly awaited by bargain shoppers, and during the summer the locals delight in the markets at Flohmarkt Bürkliplatz, held on Saturdays. For those who cannot do without daily spending sprees, there is the posh Globus and the more affordable Jelmoli, department stores that stock up on almost every household requirement. When in search of the likes of Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Donna Karan, head to Trois Pommes Outlet. Hip bags can be picked at Freitagtaschen. Before heading back home, shop for some more Swiss delicacies. For those fond of chocolate, Confiserie Sprüngli, the oldest bakery in the city, is the ideal spot.
Scenic Splendor & Architecture
Switzerland is the epitome of scenic beauty, and there are plenty of panoramic views to take in if your tastes run towards the natural world. The Käferberg mountain, the beatific Zürichhorn lakeside or the Schipfe area along the Limmat River open up the city's geographical gems to the public. Check out renovated Roman Baths to take in some of the remnants of the city's glorious past, more of which can be found within the confines of the Schloss Kyburg, a castle from the Middle Ages, and the Museum Schweizer Hotellerie und Tourismus, which showcases exhibits on the country's long history of tourism. Cathedrals like the Grossmünster, the Fraumünster and the Wasserkirche allow tourists to wander through some breath-taking architecture, while the musical Street Parade in August and the self-explanatory Santa Claus Parade (Samichlaus-Umzug) around Yuletide allow visitors an opportunity to mingle with friendly locals. You can also stroll through the picturesque Old Town, divided by the Limmat. A number of well-preserved period structures are perched along winding cobblestone pathways in this neighborhood. Explore the streets by foot to discover the myriad sights and sounds in this charming Alpine city.
The abundance of parks invites visitors to make plans for picnics out in the open: the Irchelpark is a great place to sit back and relax with some bread and cheese while watching the ducks sweep across the pond. Or you can explore the themed Chinagarten which is alive with blossoming cherry trees, and take in the Platzspitz, seemingly straight out of a fairy-tale. One could catch a music concert at the Bäcker Park, considered one of the most beautiful in the city, or marvel at larger-than-life sculptures at Bruno Webers Weinrebenpark. A trip to the Zurich Zoo is ideal for those with kids in tow.
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