How to experience winter and Christmas in the most chic city in Europe


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On Zurich you breathe Christmas, that kind of charm of Central European cities that travelers to southern Europe love so much. Lights, decorations, mulled wine, a stage full of magic in which it is very easy to get caught up. But in addition, this city of about 400,000 inhabitants, the most populous in Switzerland, shares that traditional atmosphere with another cosmopolitan, elegant, luxurious and multicultural side. Many do not know, but here we can enjoy the liveliest nightlife in Switzerland with amazing clubs, bars and an excellent live music program. Zurich is modern, fun and has a great location in the Swiss country for other excursions, such as to the nearby white Alps.

Christmas market at Sechseläutenplatz
Christmas market at Sechseläutenplatz – Alex Buschor / Zurich Tourism

Christmas markets and illuminations

Lovers
Central European markets
they will not be disappointed when touring the urban Christmas village (The little village of Christmas) at Sechseläutenplatz, near the Opera, or by the glittering 15-meter-high Christmas tree and 7,000 Swarovski crystals in the Christkindlimarkt at the city’s main train station.

In both corners you can enjoy, without leaving the old town, a glass of punch or mulled wine accompanied by a ‘raclette’ or a ‘fondue’, and it is even more attractive from 6 o’clock in the afternoon, when turn on the
Christmas lights
that amaze locals and visitors.

The snowy roofs of Zurich, a bucolic picture of winter
The snowy roofs of Zurich, a bucolic picture of winter – Christian Beutler / Zurich Tourism

A shopping paradise

This is a special time when some adults even dare to swim in the icy waters of the Limmat RiverChildren prefer instead to ask Santa Claus for gifts when he parades through the popular Bahnhofstrasse or drives the Märlitram tram through other streets of Zurich with his young passengers, all of them children between 4 and 10 years old who listen in wonder to the Christmas stories told by two angels. Bahnhofstrasse is the street with the most cache Zurich, one of the most commercial in the world that concentrates trams, sports cars and pedestrians eager to make purchases in its many fashion, jewelry, handbag and watch stores, but there is also a lot of commercial activity in other parts of the city such as the Viadukt, located in the West district (Zürich West), a bouquet of clothing, gastronomy and decoration businesses tastefully installed in the 36 arches of an old viaduct near the old industrial estate of the city. There are other alternatives in the city for get caught up in the ‘shopping’ with a wide range of international fashion boutiques, emerging designers and department stores full of tradition where you can find the perfect gift.

Classic Christmas lighting in Rennweg, a pedestrian zone in the center of Zurich
Classic Christmas lighting in Rennweg, a pedestrian area in the center of Zurich – Mattias Nutt / Zurich Tourism

The charm of Zurich

In case you decide to stroll through the old streets of
Zurich
, some of them steep but very charming, you can access Lindenhof, the quiet heart of the old city, a true oasis of peace in the shade of the lime trees, where the first customs of the Roman Turicum stood around 15 BC when the Limmat River was navigable to the Rhine. Its viewpoint offers the beautiful postcard picture of Zurich with its four emblematic temples: St. Peter’s Church (St. Peter Kirche, 13th century), whose clock has the largest dial in Europe (8 , 64 meters in diameter); the Fraumünster church, with its famous stained glass windows created by Marc Chagall; the Grossmünster, symbol of the Zurich of the Reformation with its two twin towers (from the south tower there is also a great view of the other side of the river) and the Water Church (‘Wasserkirche’), built on the same Limmat, scene according to the legend of the beheading of the city’s patron saints (Felix and Régula).

Hotel Noël, an original accommodation

Hotel Noël reception
Hotel Noël reception

Zurich also proposes a varied and wide range of accommodation, although this year, for the first time, Christmas can be enjoyed in a special way in the singular
hotel pop-up Noël
until December 26. It is an experience that can be lived in ten hotels in the city staying in ten rooms that have been designed by ten local artists, including graphic designers, gallery owners, musicians, photographers, artists specialized in videos and ‘performances’ , sculptors or painters who capture from small paintings to wall paintings of 300 square meters. The goal is for guests to feel inclined to explore, immerse themselves and stay in new creative worlds.

The lake and the ski domains

Nor can we forget the city’s close relationship with the Zürichsee, its popular banana-shaped lake that links the cantons of Zurich, St. Gall and Schwyz, always with the horizon of the Alps and their snowy peaks, a panorama that fascinated writers and thinkers as diverse as Goethe, Mann, Brecht or Einstein. Zurich can also boast of being a perfect destination for
winter lovers
with ten ski domains within 90 minutes that invite visitors to enjoy sledding, ice skating, ‘tobogganing’, as well as skiing itself on its slopes, while the city has a great gastronomic bet and World-class cultural activities with 100 galleries and 50 major museums led by the Kunsthaus. At the end you can always end the day by enjoying the best hot chocolate or a delicious coffee accompanied by truffles or ‘macarons’ at ‘Springli’ (Paradeplatz) with the locals themselves. Another unique experience to enjoy the final stretch of the year in this destination with two thousand years of history, with squares, palaces, bridges, union houses, fountains, antique shops, cafes, restaurants … and a lot, a lot of life in its streets and alleys.

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