Mark Browne of takes a fresh look at Zurich, one of Europe’s traditional cultural centres.
With its well preserved historic old town quarter and renowned cultural highpoints, such as the famous 19th century Opera, as well as almost 100 art galleries and 50 museums, Zurich has long enjoyed a reputation as a cultural capital hub.
However, Zurich doesn’t rest on the legacy of its historic laurels, the city continues to make noticeable efforts to place itself to the forefront of the European cultural and artistic scene. This includes hosting a range of festivals as well as temporary visiting exhibitions in its many host venues, all of which make it a tempting city break destination for enthusiastic culture vultures.
For example, the Kunst Zürich, to be held in late October, is an international contemporary art fair combining recent and emerging artists with the works of the more well-established. Digital Art Zurich is an international digital art festival taking place in October. Another annual public art exhibit is the city campaign, featuring decorated sculptures based on a central theme temporarily distributed in public places across the city centre. However, the city’s streets permanently boast over 1,300 works of art.
The city also has several theatres, including the impressive historic baroque Theatre am Neumarkt and the large Schauspielhaus Zurich. Film is also well represented locally, with the annual international Zurich Film Festival taking place from the end of September to October.
Zürich has long boasted prominent chamber and symphony orchestras. One of the largest and most popular annual events in Zürich nowadays, is the Street Parade in August, which is one of the largest techno and dance music festivals in the world. There is a range of local night spots to enjoy these, and other current music genres, year round. For example, Jazz and Blues are celebrated at the Rapperswil festival in June.
Apart from the metropolitan cultural attractions, Switzerland is of course more generally synonymous with the natural beauty of its mountains and lakes. Visitors can also experience both while enjoying a cultural city break within Zurich. The city borders Lake Zurich, whose crisp clean waters offer boating and swimming options in the summer as well as a stunning spectacle year-round. The Uetliberg mountain plateau on the northeast edge of the city, rising up to 870 metres, is easily accessible and affords panoramic views over the entire city and lake. Its densely forested slopes act as the city’s lungs. The slopes are traversed by an elaborate network of both walking and biking tracks for those wishing to get some exercise, but there is also rail access to the summit for those who wish to appreciate the spectacular views on a more relaxed basis!
Where to stay?
For those wishing to truly experience the modern and trendy side of Zurich there can only be one option – the newly opened FIVE Zurich. It has recently been fully renovated and re-styled after being brought into the Dubai-based FIVE group of luxury hotel properties. Continuing the cultural theme, the hotel features an eclectic modern art collection and eye-catching design features, as well as hosting alternating exhibitions of works from contemporary artists such as Pedro Martin Rojo.
With several award-winning restaurants, a rooftop nightclub and a buzzing outdoor pool scene, It has quickly established itself as the hottest dining and nightlife destination in all of Switzerland. Its blend of the best of Swiss hospitality with FIVE’s international flair has set it apart.
The hotel is situated in the countryside at the edge of the city on the foothills of the Uetliberg plateau, affording city or forest views and direct access to its many forest trails, as well as swift access to the airport and cultural attractions of the city centre. The hotel even provides mountain bikes – ideal to help sporty guests with a detox after indulging in its culinary and party options; although the lavish wellness spa, complete with indoor pool, hot tub and full range of treatments, also provides a more sedate avenue of achieving that aim.
Mark Browne was a guest of FIVE Zurich.