Expats can expect a well-balanced and fun lifestyle in Zurich, despite the stereotype that it's a sedate banking capital. The city has great shopping, excellent nightlife and some superb restaurants. Its lakeside location and surrounding countryside provide expats with a number of exciting opportunities for outdoor activities.
Shopping in Zurich
Zurich’s shopping scene mostly consists of boutiques and speciality stores. Bahnhofstrasse is the main shopping street, and it houses department stores and jewellery shops such as Bucherer and Beyer. The street is known as one of the most elite and expensive shopping areas in the world.
For a glimpse into the city's sweeter side, expats should visit famed chocolate confectioners such as Confiserie Sprüngli or Teuscher. Well-crafted Swiss hallmarks, like Swiss army knives, cuckoo clocks, watches and embroidery, can be found at the Schweizer Heimatwerk cooperative.
The Helvetiaplatz flea market is a worthy Saturday morning excursion, and the Hauptbahnhof station also features ShopVille, which has numerous stores. The Niederdorf district and the narrow streets of the Old Town have eclectic offerings for expats who prefer trendy boutiques and speciality stores. Artwork is sold in Schipfe Street.
Nightlife in Zurich
Zurich’s nightlife is better than many expats expect. The eclectic Niederdorf area becomes a bustling hangout at night, with many alternative joints. Clubs and bars are clustered in the Zurich-West area, while the area around Paradeplatz has a good selection of upmarket lounges and hotel bars. The former red-light district of Langstrasse retains an edgy appeal and is worth checking out for something different.
Outdoor activities in Zurich
Active expats can hit the slopes for a spot of skiing, enjoy hiking in the Swiss Alps or simply relax watching the day go by while enjoying a coffee by the lake. Some of the best outdoor attractions that Zurich has to offer centre around the city's surrounding natural beauty.
►What's On in Zurich lists the city's top festivals and events
"While I take full advantage of the safe, clean and punctual public transportation, I can also easily walk to most everything I want to do in Zurich: my children’s school, the shopping mall, the local farmer’s market, the lake, the woods, etc. My children have access to many beautiful and clean parks and playgrounds, filled with potential playmates. The city provides many services specifically targeted to children and families, including lively community centres in most neighbourhoods and a wide variety of sport classes and holiday camps. When we need a change of pace, we can easily escape the city and within an hour or two, be in a quintessential quaint European village or on the top of a world-famous mountain."
For more about American expat Tanya's experiences in Zurich, read our interview with her.
Are you an expat living in Zurich?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Zurich. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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