Zurich city breaks whisk you to one of Europe’s most intriguing spots, where a formal past is being replaced by trendy future.
City of change
Zurich has forged a pretty sturdy reputation as a big business player, and one of the world’s financial heavyweights. That might sound a bit dreary for a prospective city break, but recent years have seen a new side to the city start to emerge. The former formal character has bloomed into a home for art lovers, foodies and outdoorsy sorts. They’ve started flocking here for the mural-doodled streets, the easy-on-the-eye old town, and the lakes and hills that book-end the city limits.
Cobbles and culture
Venturing into Zurich’s old town is a real treat for architecture buffs – tower-topped churches like the Grossmunster and Fraumunster peek above the rooftops, and the cobbled lanes unexpectedly open onto squares and parks. In amongst the twistiest turns of the old town, a fresh batch of cafés, wine bars and cosy restaurants have injected new life into the historic streets. And holiday budgets are taking an increasing battering over on Bahnhofstrasse, where a gaggle of designer brands have cottoned on to the city’s growing appeal.
Without getting too technical, Zurich’s geography is one of the things that make it such a unique place to visit. The River Limmat scores a line through the centre of the city, where it eventually meets the northern tip of vast Zurichsee Lake. This body of water comes to life in summer, when boat trips ramp up and swimmers chuck themselves in from over-water platforms. And when you’re not getting up close and personal with the water, you can take a 20-minute train journey to Üetliberg mountain, which has sweeping views of Zurich, the neighbouring lake and even the distant peaks of the Alps.
Art on tap
The stuffy corporate character has become something of a distant memory in Zurich West – this part of the city sings from its own hymn sheet, and there’s not a bank or businessman in sight. Instead, art-lovers and creatives flock here for the sense of freedom. There are massive murals colourfully daubed on walls, studios and galleries squirrelled away on side streets, and a pair of big-time museums that go all out for art exhibitions.