The unusual sides of Zurich
From the Altstadt on the Limmat River to the iconic Alpine skyline, Zurich exudes finesse and culture. That its history is littered with famed composers, artists and philosophers is no surprise, and its weight as a financial power and importance as an ethical one are almost assumed.
But it's not all seriousness and high culture in Zurich, the city does have a more eccentric side – you just need to know where to look. As soon as you've settled in from your airport shuttle service, get out and discover the side of Zurich many people don't get to experience.
A very good place to start is with the city’s alternative art. In hotel lobbies or boutique bars, you may see a hint of radical art on the walls, but it's more likely to be the usual tourist emblems. If you want to see the quirkier side of a city that is as proud as Madrid or Paris of its creative self-expression, you need to dive into its hidden spaces. Zurich’s 'off-spaces' are artist run exhibition areas. They're often hidden away in quieter places, but they're not too hard to find. Station 21, Art Dock Zurich and KIOSK TABAK are a few examples where the art is ever changing. Your airport shuttle service driver will be a wonderful source of local information as well, so ask about any 'pop-up' art events or exhibitions.
Bar hopping in the more glamorous parts of Allstadt is luxurious and cruising the typical backpacker pub can be fun and quirky, but a little generic. If you want to sip on a unique beverage in an unusual space, Zurich has its fair share of bizarre bars. From the somewhat crusty charm of the 24/7 Grabli Bar to the 'chlopfti' of the heavy-metal loving Kon-Tiki, there is a little something for every peculiar taste, it seems. Again, to get the very latest information on the hip and happening places around town, ask your airport shuttle driver for advice.
History is still Zurich’s main allure and its tourism actually revolves around its historic precedent. From Galle and Cartagena, to the alleyways around Niederdorf and Gottfried Keller’s birthplace, there is plenty to satisfy even the most avid history lover's palate.
One important part of the city's architectural history – which can be glimpsed as you pass in your airport shuttle service vehicle – is the odd buildings that do not fit the usual Swiss mould. The sculpture in Paradeplatz, the austere edifices of Hardau, and the Roman foundations of nearby Solothurn, all offer examples of how different historical influences have combined to make it about more than just the high profile Allstadt.