Top 5 unexpected things to do in Zurich, Switzerland

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Zurich is well known as the financial capital of Switzerland. Unfortunately, the city’s reputation as a banking powerhouse (as well as its notoriety as one of the most expensive cities in Europe) can lead many potential visitors to underestimate all that this urban center has to offer. The city’s attractions are anything but staid and there is a world of fascinating, delicious and stylish sights, restaurants and shops just begging to be discovered. Here are five of the best things to do while visiting Zurich.

Market

Did you know that Zurich is one of the great walking cities in Europe? Many tourists know the Bahnhofstrasse, a pretty pedestrianized street reserved for trams. Walking along Bahnhofstrasse is a great way to center yourself in the city, and you’ll find some of the most exclusive boutiques on the planet lining the captivating boulevard. But a world of discovery awaits wanderers eager to leave the tiered promenade. A few steps from Zurich main station is Schanzengraben. This calm, picturesque, pedestrian path along the water with its picturesque canal and its abundance of boats is sometimes called “the Venice of Zurich”. If you’re looking for more of a nature-focused hike and incredible views of the city and Lake Zurich, head to Uetliberg. The mountain is a sentinel above the city and offers hiking, biking and even tobogganing trails in winter.

Explore a wine region (Yes, Zurich has one!)

Switzerland has six main wine regions and Zurich is part of the (rather unimaginative) region of “German-speaking Switzerland”. In fact, the city and its surrounding municipalities are in fact the largest wine-growing area in the entire region. The region is particularly known for its Pinot Noir and Riesling-Silvaner wines, as well as a fruity and crunchy white grape called “Räuschling”, which cannot be found outside of the region (and therefore would make an ideal souvenir). A lot of the cellars of the region can be visited for wine tastings and guided tours. One of the most popular winemakers is Zweifel, a family winery with an incredible showroom in Zurich. Tastings at Zweifel offer a tasty and informative deep dive into the culture and wine history of Zurich and Switzerland.

Go vegetarian

Zurich is known as a popular destination among foodies. While vegetarian options can be hard to come by even in the most acclaimed city centers, Zurich stands out for its plant-based dishes. Haus Hiltl is not only one of the city’s most beloved vegetarian hotspots, it’s also the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world. But – whether you are a vegetarian or not – if you are really looking to add a touch of flavor to your palate, go for a meal at Neue Taverne Restaurant. This one Michelin star restaurant puts vegetables in the spotlight with an incredibly creative menu of gourmet dishes that will make even the most devoted carnivores salivate. The field caviar with finger limes and egg yolk cream served with blinis is not to be missed.

Explore a new neighborhood

Most visitors to Zurich tend to stay in busy areas like the city center around Bahnhofstrasse, Niederdorf (part of Zurich’s old town) or Seefeld on the eastern shore of Lake Zurich. These are all interesting areas that are certainly worth exploring, but why not try the recently revitalized Zurich West district? A former industrial area, Zurich West is now the creative (and hip) heart of the city and offers many excellent shopping and dining options. Dinner at the popular Frau Gerolds Garten for comforting Zurich-style cuisine in a pretty garden or visit IM VIADUKT Markthalle for a tantalizing selection of food vendors. Buying options abound, but some stand out Freitag (famous for its unique bags made from recycled truck tarpaulins), Maiuki (elegant clothes and bags) and IM VIADUKT (an old railway viaduct transformed into unique shops).

Sleep in style

Zurich offers all kinds of accommodation imaginable, from over-the-top luxury to understated and comfortable hostels. But if you are looking for accommodation that offers something unusual and that really exploits the artistic and whimsical side of Zurich (yes, Zurich can be wacky!), Then consider a stay at 25hours Hotel Zurich Langstrasse. Located near the city’s main train station and a short walk from trendy Zurich West, the modern property embraces a fun, unconventional aesthetic that’s hard to resist. The rooms are so cool and comfortable, and the property includes a fantastic Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant, as well as a small gym and sauna that offer great vistas of the city.

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