Zurich: A City of Culture and Cuisine

Switzerland’s largest city is a feast for culinarily and creatively inclined travellers. Join us as we explore some of its highlights

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Zurich has had a reputation for progressive thinking and innovation for centuries. The avant-garde Irish writer James Joyce found inspiration here, and Zurich's Cabaret Voltaire was the birthplace of the Dada art movement in Europe. In the 21st century, the city's spirit of creativity has given rise to a thrillingly diverse and forward-thinking culinary scene, as well as cultural riches spanning the spectrum of world-class art galleries to edgy grassroots theatres.

Kunsthaus Zurich, Exterior
Kunsthaus Zurich, Gallery Space

Kunsthaus Zurich exterior, left, and a gallery space.

Art lovers should start off at the Kunsthaus Zurich, the largest art museum in Switzerland. An architectural as well as artistic wonder, the building's striking extension by David Chipperfield Architects, opened in late 2021, gave this extraordinary collection space to breathe, doubling the number of artworks permanently on show to 700 pieces. The light-filled extension focuses on post-1960s art, with temporary exhibitions featuring work by the likes of Yoko Ono, Federico Fellini and Aristide Maillol, and a permanent Bührle collection, which includes paintings by Monet, Cézanne, Degas, Gauguin and Van Gogh. The extension cemented the entire area's status as the artistic nerve centre of Zurich, with other gallerists having since set up shop in the neighbourhood. Zurich has some 100 galleries and museums, from small indie operators to global players like Hauser & Wirth, which is headquartered here.

Art isn't all contained indoors in this famously outdoorsy city, though; there are around 1,300 works on display in public places. These are best discovered on two wheels, by taking a guided e-bike tour curated by Zurich Tourism.

25 Hours Zurich Langstrasse Hotel, Bike Truck
Kosmos Foyer

The bike truck at 25hours Zurich Langtrasse Hotel, left, and the foyer at Kosmos. | Photo Credits: Stephan Lemke & Vera Hartmann

Best of all, after a day drinking in art, travellers can feast on some equally creative cuisine. On Viaduktstrasse, a former viaduct transformed into Zurich West's most buzzy drinking and dining neighbourhood, you'll find Restaurant Markthalle occupying one cavernous archway. Another must-visit for food-obsessed travellers is the recently, radically regenerated Europaallee area, a former red-light district that now houses independent boutiques and design ateliers, as well as some of the most interesting drinking and dining offerings in the city. The ever-popular dive bar Olé Olé, next to the gleaming 25hours Zurich Langstrasse Hotel, is the best place to take the pulse of this vibrant district. The Latin-themed bar is now run by three young women, and every night it welcomes an appreciative crowd of local tech workers, designers and local oddballs. But there's also refined dining to be found here, such as the sumptuous Italian eatery Osso and the Greek wine bar Yamas. Swing by either, before catching an arthouse film at Kosmos, the local cultural centre.

Zurich, Old Town

Zurich Old Town, left, and Uetilberg Lake. | Photo Credits: Jan Geerk & Ivo Scholz

In 2022, it's hard to think of a European city that can match Zurich's appeal to the sort of traveller who adores art and gastronomy in equal measure. And these urbane delights are backdropped by spectacular mountain, lake and river scenery, an ever-present reminder that Zurich is a work of art in itself.

The Lowdown

Start planning your city break to Zurich at myswitzerland.com

Rooftops of Zurich
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