There’s a lot more to Switzerland’s biggest city than fondue, chocolate and financial banking. It’s not often a prime travel destination like so many other places in Europe and rarely mentioned in the backpacking circuit…but here are 12 reasons why Zürich should top your travel list and what makes it a perfect European city:
The tallest buildings are churches, cathedrals and clock towers
Unlike the other financial centers of the world (New York, London and Hong Kong) Zürich isn’t congested with skyscrapers and looming high rises. It maintains all the charm you want in a European city with beautiful and historical architecture.
The public transportation is incredible
Even though the entire city is pedestrian friendly, the city’s trains, trams, busses and incredible networks and pathways for bicycling will easily get you anywhere in a snap.
The food is world class
Whether you came for the Swiss fondue or plan on staying for the delicious local chocolate, it’s actually all the other meals in-between that you will be writing home about. (Photos: via zuerich.com)
You can swim and tube down all the city’s rivers and canals
It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekend or after a workday, the people of Zürich don’t need much reason in the summer to strip down to swim or float in a tube down the city’s many different river channels of super clean water. (The locals even have their own system to surf in the currents!)
There are countless parks to hang out, BBQ and drink in
The Swiss love being outside and Zürich showcases that perfectly with its abundance of public parks, gardens, open grassy areas, free communal gas BBQ’s and drinking fountains with their continuous flow of fresh water from the Alps. (Let’s not forget the glorious European aptitude to openly consume alcohol in public.)
Zürich hosts the World’s biggest party and rave parade
The locals in Zürich are known to work hard and party harder. The nightlife and DJ scene in the city is ready to rival Berlin, Paris or London. And in August, Zürich hosts the biggest party and rave parade in the world with over 100 stages and a million partiers taking over the city.
Zürich has free drug testing throughout the city and onsite during festivals
Having a prominent party scene is always correlated with one of it’s obvious attributes: drugs. Kudos to the Swiss government for embracing the 21st Century by providing open information, education and ways to help its people party safe. DIZ provides free biweekly drug testing downtown as well as onsite at city festivals.
It’s only an hour drive or train away to the Alps
Above: The 73 peak view from Pilatus near Lucerne.
Below: The four-hour hike up to the Aescher cabin near Appenzell
It doesn’t matter what time of year, there is all-season skiing, hiking, biking and sightseeing in some of the most famous and beautiful mountains in the world…right in Zurich’s backyard.
Swiss women are beautiful
There must be something in that fresh air and clean water…
Zurich is modern, hip and full of hidden gems
Whether you want to go shopping in boutiques built under a train bridge, eat out on a patio made of old cargo containers, or hit up a nightly rave in a castle…there is no shortage of creative ways the people of Zürich like to have fun.
Zürich isn’t crowded by hordes of tourists
It might not be on the bucket list for backpackers like Paris, Rome or Prague…but luckily, Zürich doesn’t make you feel stuck in a tourist trap, someone's stupid selfie or make it difficult to actually find locals to talk with.
(Leaning Tower of Pisa photo via mentalfloss.com)
Zürich is in the heart of Europe
Surrounded by four countries (Germany, France, Italy, and Austria) and with four official national languages (German, French, Italian and Romansh) means Zürich doesn’t only have ample culture to tap into but makes visiting another country as simple as taking a short trip by train or plane in any direction.
Of course you can't compile a list like this without noting Zürich's obvious problem for travellers - the city is expensive. Like, really expensive. According to Mercer International, Zürich is the third most expensive city in the world after Hong Kong and Luanda, Angola.
When a rum and coke in a bar is $18 USD and a standard dorm bed at a hostel starts at $50 (a cheap hotel room is under $350)...you have to be crafty with your spending to enjoy one of Europe's coolest cities. But hey, perfection has a price.
*(Swiss German for adios)