Getting to know Zurich a little better | Switzerland

Home to Dadaism and with enough art to keep art lovers happy for weeks, Zurich has an eclectic scene that is definitely worth visiting

marc_casolani
Marc Casolani
17 March 2017, 7:56am
The fairytale-like Schloss Laufen overlooks Europe’s largest waterfalls, Rhine Falls
The fairytale-like Schloss Laufen overlooks Europe’s largest waterfalls, Rhine Falls
Zurich doesn’t usually make it very high up on the list of places people want to visit most, especially when compared to romantic European cities like Rome, Paris, and Barcelona. When travellers think of Zurich, they think of rich bankers living monotonous lives in a reserved city of perfect, neat streets, lined with historic buildings and transport running on schedule right down to the very last second. 

Though that may be a great place to live, it doesn’t seem like much of a place for a holiday. However, like with any stereotype, if you take the time to get to know it a bit better you will be pleasantly surprised by Zurich. Home to Dadaism and with enough art, both in and out of museums, to keep art lovers happy for weeks, Zurich has an eclectic scene that is definitely worth visiting. 

Art in the city

Cabaret Voltaire, in the Old Town, is the cradle of Dadaism
Cabaret Voltaire, in the Old Town, is the cradle of Dadaism
As Switzerland was a neutral zone during World War I, it experienced an influx of refugees from neighbouring Europe, many of whom where artists. Many of Europe’s most avant-garde artists banded together at the Cabaret Voltaire, a nightclub on Speigelgasse in the Old Town, founded by the Dada Art Movement father Hugo Ball. The cabarets were used for both artistic and political purposes that were pivotal in the founding of this anarchic art movement. Featuring dance, music and the spoken word, the soirees were often raucous events with artists experimenting with new types of performance. Mirroring the maelstrom of World War I raging around it, the art it exhibited was often chaotic and brutal. 

Artists joining this movement soon moved on from the Cabaret Voltaire to other parts of Zurich, though the club has since been reopened as a cabaret with an extensive programme of events.  

Zurich has plenty of other art museums with works by the likes of Swiss artist and sculptor Alberto Giancometti as well as other artisits of international repute like Van Gogh, Monet, Chagall and Gaugin among others. Kunsthaus, Kunstahalle, Museum Rietberg and Landesmuseum are worth any art lover’s while. 

Schwamendingerplatz

Wander around some of Zurich’s most hipster shops under the 36 arches of the 1894 viaduct of Im Viadukt
Wander around some of Zurich’s most hipster shops under the 36 arches of the 1894 viaduct of Im Viadukt
To get a feel of how the Swiss really live whilst keeping your distance from the touristy spots take a walk around the Schwamendingerplatz area of Zurich. Despite being in the centre of the city it is a relatively green area with a beautiful forest just a five-minute walk from the square. The square is home to a number of pubs, cafes and restaurants – with some incredible Asian options – florists, grocery stores and other shops. It’s like the city centre but much less crowded. The last Saturday of every month sees a flea market that is not to be missed.  

Shopping

Im Viadukt is, according to their website, “the most interesting street shop in Zurich”. And from what we can see, they are not wrong. With 500m2 of space under the 36 arches of the 1894 viaduct, you can expect to find a chain of cool restaurants, unique bars, hipster fashion venues, authentic Swiss delicatessens among others. 

Dining in the dark

Dine-in-the-dark restaurants find their home in Zurich, at Blinde Kuh (Blind Cow) on Mühlebachstrasse, which was opened on philanthropic concept of providing employment opportunities for people with visual impairments. The movement has grown worldwide with foodies claiming that removing the sense of sight, enhances the sense of taste, giving the diner a truer experience of the dish presented.  

Taking a dip

Zurich’s badi bars are the best place to take a dip or enjoy some sunshine, tanning on the deck or sipping a glass of Spritz
Zurich’s badi bars are the best place to take a dip or enjoy some sunshine, tanning on the deck or sipping a glass of Spritz
Lake Promenade is the perfect spot if you’re looking for a picturesque run around the lake. In the warmer months the lake is peppered with boats and the banks are packed with picnickers and sun-bathers. For the best view of the lake and the surrounding Alps, hop on a one-and-a-half hour boat tour and take it all in. The best way to enjoy a swim is to take the plunge into one of the badis, or outdoor pools. Hang out on the wooden panels on the right bank, play a game of beach volley or enjoy a glass of Spritz. 

Rhine Falls

If you’ve had enough of the city, or have some extra time on your hands, get on the train to the Rhine Falls, that lie just north of the city between the cantons of Zurich and Schaffhausen. At 150 metres wide and 23 metres high, these are Europe’s largest waterfalls and were formed during the last ice age approximately 14,000 to 17,000 years ago. For the best views of the waterfalls find your way to the viewing platform of Schloss Laufen, the castle right above the falls. 

Schloss Laufen is what fairytales are made of. Home to Swiss nobility, Barons of Laufen, as far back as 858AD, the castle now houses a hostel in its refurbished wash house. Spending the night in the unique setting of Dachsen Youth Hostel will surely give you a taste of what it was like to live in those days. If you can’t spare the time to spend the night, have a meal at their restaurant within the ancient walls, where great emphasis is placed on both seasonal and regional dishes.

Getting there

Air Malta currently operates flights to Zurich five times a week. This summer the Maltese airline will increase its flight up to nine times a week, with a double double daily operation on Mondays
and Thursdays. One-way prices start from €44 including taxes and charges.

Visit www.airmalta.com for more info.

Marc Casolani is a freelance photographer and a chronic traveler. Bitten by the travel bug...