Zürich is a city whose reputation precedes it - and does it a complete disservice, trashes its name, gives it a good kicking. A boring banking capital? 'Zu Reich' (too rich), business-minded and uptight? The spotless Singapore of Europe? If Switzerland's largest metropolis once lived down to those dull descriptions, it certainly no longer does.
Contemporary Zürich might still be home to the world's fourth-biggest stock exchange and remain Switzerland's financial engine, but it's also (whisper it softly) surprisingly vibrant and trendy. Located on a picturesque river and lake whose water you can drink, easy to get around and a stranger to the hassled lifestyle that defines bigger cities, this affluent, fashion-conscious place enjoys the finest things in life.
Hundreds of new bars, restaurants and clubs have opened since the late 1990s and, since its Street Parade overtook London's Notting Hill Carnival, Zürich now hosts Europe's largest annual street party. Its former industrial quarter brims with nightlife venues catering to a youngish crowd, and this happening 'Züri-West' district has the same buzz as Berlin's Prenzlauerberg or Mitte. The infamous 'gnomes', as the British like to call Zürich's bankers, are still here, but sometimes they can astonish you by whizzing by on a Segway scooter.
Fortunately, the city's Protestant modesty saves it from ever becoming too schmicki-micki (chi-chi). With church steeples rising against a backdrop of hills and mountains, the medieval old town will also appeal to traditionalists.
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Best places to stay in Zürich
Zürich: more than finance and fondue
Ask the average person to name the party capital of Europe and Zürich probably would not top the list. What's in Zürich? Erm…bankers, fondue, chocolate, cuckoo clocks. Think that covers it? Think again.
Best places to eat in Zürich
Zürich destination guides
The stranger side of Switzerland
The typical images of Switzerland -- cuckoo clocks, tick-tocking watches and chocolate-box churches -- are all out-of-date clichés. In reality, the modern metropolis and pulsating financial hub of Zurich has more in common with Europe’s more offbeat, avant-garde cities, like Berlin or Barcelona, than many first think.
Jungfraujoch: Top of Europe Day Trip from Zurich
Venture aboard an unforgettable Alpine tour to the majestic world of the Jungfraujoch - Towering at 11,333 feet (3,454 meters) you're officically at the top of Europe! Your guided full day coach tour from Zurich takes you to the magnificent mountain world of the Bernese Oberland.
Mount Titlis Day Tour from Zurich
Witness breathtaking snowy mountain landscapes on this day trip from Zurich to Mount Titlis. First, see top Lucerne attractions on a guided walking tour and enjoy some free time in this charming city. Then, continue to Engelberg in the Swiss Alps and ride in a revolving cable car to the top of mighty Mount Titlis for majestic views of ice boulders and crevasses.
How (and where) to eat fondue
Few visitors leave Switzerland without dipping into a fondue (from the French verb 'fondre', meaning 'to melt'). Get clued up on how to expertly tuck into this dish with our guide to the dish, taken from Lonely Planet Magazine.