Switzerland's largest city might be best known internationally as a major hub for financial institutions, but there's much more to see in Zurich beyond the high-rises and sharp suits. Once you're finished in the boardroom, it's well worth setting out to explore the ancient streets and cultural institutions. If you're jetting in for a day or two and have some time to spare, here are some suggestions to make it a memorable trip.
In addition to its business credentials, Zurich's cultural eminence is undisputed. The Zurcher Opernhaus is one of the foremost opera houses on the continent, attracting the most celebrated names in the industry. Those of a less musical nature may be ambivalent about performances, but everyone should appreciate the splendour of the neo-classical architecture. Just ten minutes’ walk across town you’ll find the Kunsthaus Zurich, an art museum with a truly staggering collection. Within its walls you’ll see classic works by van Gogh, Matisse, Dalí and Picasso to name only a few, making it an ideal place to spend a few hours in quiet admiration.
Despite the modern skyscrapers that now dot the city, Zurich retains a reverence for traditional customs and festivals, and the Sechseläuten still takes place on the third Monday of April every year. This ancient rite involves a parade of the city's Zünfte (guilds) and the passing winter being 'burned' in the form of an effigy called the Böögg, creating a mesmerising spectacle that's completely unique to Zurich.
Finally, no trip to Zurich is complete without trying some of the many world-renowned restaurants and bars around the city. Vegetarians will be eager to try out the oldest meat-free restaurant in the world, Hiltl, first established in 1898. The curries, stroganoffs and pasta dishes served here are so flavourful and delicious, even hardened carnivores may be converted.
Whether you’re taking colleagues out for drinks or enjoying a formal meal with future business partners, make a reservation at Aura in Paradeplatz. With an event hall, cocktail bar, smoking lounge and gourmet restaurant on the premises, it’s well equipped to cater to all kinds of rendezvous. Try the tender veal chop followed by rich chocolate cake with sour-cream ice cream for Swiss cuisine at its very finest. Refined, glamorous, and full of variety, in many ways the food here encapsulates the spirit of Zurich.
The quality of the food in Zurich, particularly from younger restaurants, is testament to the city’s exceptionally strong economy. Thanks to Switzerland managing to maintain low unemployment levels and a highly skilled workforce even as the recession rocked several other European countries, new businesses continue to flourish, and the city gives off an unmistakable and refreshing air of optimism. The well-organised airport makes European travel quick and painless, and there are also strong international links for expats hailing from further abroad. If you find yourself returning to Zurich even without being called over by business, it may be time to consider investing in some property.
To set hotels aside and make Zurich your home away from home, contact Engel & Völkers. Whether you’re looking for a riverside chalet or a city-centre penthouse, our expert agents will be able to guide you to your ideal property. Visit our website here to start searching for your second home in Switzerland.