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Zurich

Zurich West. There’s much more to Zurich than banks and business!

Zurich’s old industrial centre has been reborn. Where before lay abandoned land and warehouses, now sit trendy clubs, bars and cafés in what’s become the city’s newly born bohemian district. At Frau Gerolds Garden old shipping containers have been turned into a bar, while along Im Viaduct, the city’s railway viaduct has transformed into a street of shops and restaurants, where trains still trundle overhead. As night falls, Zurich West is filled with youngsters, flocking to the many bars and clubs. Visitors familiar with London will likely draw comparisons with Brixton.

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No visit to Zurich is complete without a tour through the Old Town or a stroll along its stunning lake, but tourists can add to that list a destination that may be the best way to experience Switzerland’s largest city like a local.

While medieval history and natural beauty spots are deservedly at the top of every itinerary, visitors can explore an alternative side in modern Zurich West, a former industrial quarter where young, hip and creative types learn, work and play in old factories or warehouses that have been reclaimed.

A revival has been taking place here for more than a decade, with converted industrial buildings offering everything from concert halls and rooftop bars to luxury flats and space for start-ups.

An old yogurt factory is now a high school for the arts and a former soap and candle plant now houses loft apartments, a cinema and office space.

Although it is still unpolished, Zurich West is not as rough as it used to be and there is very little industry remaining, as the area is now a hotspot for food, design, art and culture.

For holidaymakers looking for authentic experiences, these are some of the top things to see or do in Zurich’s trendiest neighbourhood.

 

 

Frau Gerold’s Garden

Londoners who visit this cosy outdoor spot will compare it to Pop Brixton thanks to the converted shipping containers and the community vibe.

With a beer garden, kitchen, boutique shops and art, Frau Gerold’s Garden  began as a temporary project three years ago and has grown into a go-to meeting place, especially during the warmer months.

When the sun is out the best seats are on a terrace overlooking the urban garden below and adjacent railway tracks. In fine weather the mountain peaks can be seen in the distance.

It was grey and cool on the day of my visit, but the crisp April weather didn’t deter the Instagram crowd who spent their Saturday afternoon downing a few pints of craft beer.

Frau Gerolds Garten is located next to another attraction, the Freitag building, a small tower made out of old shipping containers.

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Enjoy the view from the FREITAG tower

Right next to Frau Gerold’s garden there is the FREITAG tower. You can check out their huge selection of bags. Make sure to climb up to the top to enjoy the view onto Zurich!

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Go on an art tour at the Toni Areal

The Toni Areal is a huge complex, which includes the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste. Moreover, there is the Museum für Gestaltung, which has an archive of more than 500’000 pieces from design, graphic, textile and poster. We had a tour through it and it is definitely worth a visit.

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Visit the Schiffbau building

Ships were once built at Schiffbau, a brick building that is now home to theatre performances and a fancy restaurant.

Today, the upscale La Salle restaurant, Nietturm Bar and a live music and theatre venue occupy this old brick building where ships were once built.

Many of the building’s original features have been retained, including the large windows and exposed walls.

For those looking for culture, it is home to three theatre stages where the Zurich Schauspielhaus holds performances. Admission is half price on Mondays.

Today, the upscale La Salle restaurant, Nietturm Bar and a live music and theatre venue occupy this old brick building where ships were once built.

Many of the building’s original features have been retained, including the large windows and exposed walls.

For those looking for culture, it is home to three theatre stages where the Zurich Schauspielhaus holds performances. Admission is half price on Mondays.

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Eat or drink something at Les Halles

This is one of those rare places where customers can eat and drink and then buy one of the used bicycles scattered around the interior.

The noisy restaurant is wonderfully shabby, with antiques, second-hand goods, posters and mirrors decorating the walls.

It has plenty of local beers on tap and, despite being hip and trendy, its menu isn’t pretentious. Moules-frites appears to be the most popular item.

Les Halles also sells bicycles and has a small food shop at the back. Bring cash, as debit and credit cards are not accepted.

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Shop downtown at the Viadukt

Shops, galleries, restaurants and bars occupy the spaces under 36 arches of a railway viaduct that was built in 1894.

It has become an urban meeting place, with the Markethalle at the centre of it all. Locals come here every day of the week (it’s closed on Sundays) to buy produce, meat or fish from local vendors.

One of the viaduct’s retired train lines has been converted into a path for pedestrians and cyclists, leading to the Limmat river.

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