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Our tips to visit Zurich

#insiderTips 5 - Novotel Zurich City West Hotel

We joined Billal, Claudia, Yvonne, Nico and Chris, our team at the Novotel Zurich-West, to get an insider look at Zurich. Fascinating architecture, its perfect location on the lake shore and a rich and diverse cultural calendar make this small city of some 400,000 inhabitants a not-to-be-missed destination for a city break or business trip. Our team sneaked us some insider tips.

#insiderTips 5 - Discover Zurich with the Novotel Zurich City West Hotel team - Novotel Zurich City West Hotel

Frauenmünster Church, t

What is your city’s treasure?
When you think of Zurich and its treasures, the first that comes to mind is Frauenmünster Church, the symbol of the city. This architectural marvel is impressive for its age and incredible size. But its real treasure is hidden inside: stained glass windows by Marc Chagall and Augusto Giacometti. It’s a must-see monument for history and art fans, and even those who aren’t experts will love it.
What monument or building holds a special place in your heart?
Giacometti’s Entrance Hall at the police station is known as “the hall of flowers” for the floral motifs covering the vaulted ceilings. When the orphanage became the police station, the vaulted lower floor became the entrance hall. A lack of light made it quite difficult for architects, but artistic skill won out.  There’s no need to break the law to admire the display: simply head over during official opening hours.
Any local celebrities?
Many celebrities have left their mark on the city, like Albert Einstein, who taught at the ETH in Zurich, or Lenin, who lived in exile in the Niederdörfli district. Still today, Zurich attracts public figures such as Tina Turner and Nick Heidfeld, who have settled down here.

Letzigrund stadium

A not-to-be-missed event?

Events like Fashion Night, the movie festival, and the Street Parade are must-see annual events. But the Züri Fäscht, Switzerland’s largest popular festival, held every three years, is hands-down the best. Everyone should go at least once! Sports fans will also enjoy Zurich: in the summer, Letzigrund stadium hosts the Weltklasse Zürich, a top-level athletics event. The FIFA World Football Museum, opened in 2016, offers soccer fans an enthralling overview of the sport’s history around the world.

What should visitors definitely take home?

The treats at the world-famous Sprüngli confectionery shop, or some Tirggel. Until 1840, only the city’s bakers were allowed to make this traditional cake. It’s a  perfect souvenir to add to your suitcase; the small cakes are beautiful and keep for a long time, and their Zurich-themed decoration, make them a pleasure to look at as well as to eat.

Where can one find your favorite (sweet or savory) treat?

At the Café Schurter in the Niederdorf district, in the heart of the old town. Since 1869, this establishment has lovingly and carefully crafted Zurich specialties such as Offleten, Geduldszältli, Hüppen and Zürcher Leckerli. These pastries are all so delicious, it’s easier to try them all rather than choose. Visitors quickly understand why these treats are a part of Switzerland’s culinary heritage.

What other specialties is the city famous for?

As its name suggests, Züri Geschnetzeltes, made with minced veal, is no doubt the city’s most famous dish. But there are many other things to try as well: Zürcher Ratsherrentopf, a meat and vegetable ragout, is delicious, as is Mischtchratzerli, a chicken and vegetable stir fry, and, of course, cheese fondu, my favorite specialty. Visitors should definitely try it, especially when it’s cold.

New Year’s Eve zurich

What’s the most incredible thing you’ve seen in the city?
Switzerland’s fireworks tradition is spectacular. Whether it’s for New Year’s Eve or Züri Fäscht, every year, fireworks specialists go to great lengths. Just after midnight every year, the ‘New Year’s magic’ offered by hotels in the city comes to life for thousands of spectators: palms, leaf shapes and other bright showers of sparks light up the sky in an incredible show on par with those of London, New York and Sydney.
What languages are spoken in Zurich, and what common words should visitors learn?
Swiss German is the official language. But in the country’s biggest city, you can also be understood in English and French. The dialect spoken in the city and canton is Zürideutsch (Zurich German), with slight variations from one region to the next. When you go shopping, you say: ‘I ga poschte’. ‘Lose’ means listen, and ‘Stutz’, another important word, means money, or francs (the Swiss currency).

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