Les Clefs D'Or
Les Clefs D'Or

Your Key To Zurich – Why the Alphabet should Start from Z to A

Ever wondered why the alphabet starts with an A and ends with a Z? Ever thought maybe it should be the other way around? Well - the people of Zurich would probably quite like this idea. Despite being one of the most attractive cities in the world, Zurich tends to be in last place in both guide books and on websites - just because of its initial letter!

So let’s turn the alphabet around for once and give you 26 Z to A reasons why our city should be at the top of your list – and not at the bottom.

We begin with “Z”: Located in a lush setting on the Zürichberg mountain high above the city, Zurich’s Zoo is undoubtedly one of the most exciting zoos in Europe with key features such as the Masoala Hall with its Madagassian rainforest and the ever so amazing Kaeng Krachan elephant park as well as the unique Lewa savannah due to open in 2020.

“Y” stands for the exciting yacht and steamboat excursions available on Lake Zurich.  Starting from Bürkliplatz harbour, enjoy cruising along several ports and exclusive lakeside-villas, or head down to the end of the lake where Lützelau and other beautiful islands await you.  Your hotel concierge will recommend a skilled skipper to guarantee a good time!

“X” is for Xmas markets! Even though Zurich may not be the first city to come to mind when speaking of Xmas markets, it hosts 5 major markets every season, including Europe’s largest indoor Xmas market located in Zurich’s main train station. Another highlight is the “Singing Xmas Tree” on Werdmühleplatz where children perform carols on a stage in the shape of a Xmas tree. So if you want to get into the festive mood, Zurich is certainly a place to be!

“W” is for Wells.  With its 1,237 wells (many of which date back to the 15th century), Zurich has the largest number of wells worldwide.  The 150 km long network of wells provides safe drinking water throughout the city.  Should you wish to learn more about this unique feature, your hotel concierge can book a specialty tour for you. 

“V” stands for the fabulous views that Zurich has to offer.  Some of the best views are from Hotel Dolder Grand looking towards the city centre and the lake or from the quai bridge along the Limmat river facing the old town with its numerous historic buildings.  My favourite views include the one from historic Lindenhof square which was founded by the Romans, looking across the river towards the Niederdorf area or the one from restaurant “Die Waid” which has a panorama view of all of Zurich, the lake and the Alps.  Be sure to bring your camera when visiting our city!

“U” is for “Uetliberg” – This is the local mountain popular among the travellers not because of its particularly high altitude (869m/2’851ft), but because of its easy accessibility to the city centre with tram S10.  Enjoy spectacular views or walks on the summit – this place is a mountain experience not to be missed.

“T” is the excellent Tram system consisting of 16 lines totalling 166 kms across Zurich. The system is reliable, punctual, safe, clean and relatively inexpensive. Tram enthusiasts might also enjoy a visit to the Tram Museum detailing the history of this network from its beginnings in 1882.

“S” stands for the annual spring festival Sechseläuten held in April. This event starts with a horse parade through the town followed by the bell ringing of Zurich’s Grossmünster Cathedral. At 6.00 pm, a big stack of wood with “Böög”, the snowman on top is lit. It is said that the faster the head of the snowman falls off, the nicer the summer will be. Don’t believe this story? Then visit Zurich in April to witness this truly amazing event!

“R” is for the beautiful city of Rapperswil.  For a perfect day trip from Zurich, Rapperswil at the other end of Lake Zurich, boasts a magnificent castle towering above the old town, a beautiful rose garden underneath as well as a footbridge spanning the lake. Families with little children might also enjoy a visit to Knie’s Kinderzoo – a zoo that caters to little ones and is located on the lakeshore with beautiful views of the nearby mountains on the other side of the lake. 

As you can see, so far the list from “Z” to “R” proves Zurich to be at the top of its game.  According to the 2018 “Mercer Quality of Living Survey”, quality of life in Zurich rates ahead of Auckland, Munich, Vancouver, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Copenhagen and Basel, outranked only by Vienna. Allow me to convince you further that Zurich should be ranked at the top with my list of “P” to “A”!

“P” stands for the coveted sense of “privacy” especially if you are an A-list celebrity.  Here in Zurich, somehow well-known visitors can enjoy quality time with their loved ones and stroll along the busy Bahnhofstrasse without being tracked down by paparazzi at every single step. 

“O” is for the Opera House.  If you enjoy classical music or ballet performances, the Zurich Opera House is an excellent reason for a visit to our city. Opened in 1861, this venue attracts stars such as Edita Gruberova and Cecilia Bartoli and is a major player in the country’s cultural life.  Many performances tend to sell out quickly due to their outstanding quality, so it is always advisable to contact your Golden Keys concierge to secure these sought-after tickets!

“N” stands for Nightlife.  From popular bars along the Langstrasse or in the Niederdorf neighbourhood to numerous nightclubs all over the city, Zurich is the best place in Switzerland to party!  The ultimate party, however, is the annual “Street Parade” in August which is the world’s biggest techno-parade with a record-breaking attendance of 1,000,000 visitors in 2018!  Also, the “Pride Festival” in June brings many LGBT visitors to Zurich for its quality bars and clubs!

“M” is for Marathon.  Rated as the best and biggest running event in the country, the “Zurich Marathon” is held every April since 2003.  Even if you are not part of the world’s athletic elites, you can participate in optional events such as the 10km “City Run” or the “Team Run” which are for beginners or less experienced runners. The scenery is stunning as the course follows along the lake shore for most of the distance.

“L” stands for the lakes and the Limmat River – two of the city’s main features and shouldn’t be missed.  Enjoy a wonderful dip in one of the numerous lakes or take a river bath.  The water is so clean that you can even drink it straight from the lake!  

“K” stands for “Knabenschiessen”.  This event was first introduced in 1899 as a shooting competition for boys aged 13 – 17.  For the 700th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation in 1991, girls were admitted in the competition for the first time and have won on several occasions since then!  Located at the foot of Mt. Uetliberg at the Albisgüetli shooting range, Knabenschiessen fairground also offers ferris wheel rides and other fun rides which are perfect for a great family outing.

“J” is for “Juckerhof” – this working farm is perfect for a family outing.  Just 30 minutes from Zurich, located in Seegräben next to Lake Pfäffikersee, Juckerhof offers an authentic farm experience and sumptuous brunches with homemade farmhouse delicacies.  In autumn, the famous pumpkin exhibition featuring huge sculptures made out of hundreds of pumpkins is only one of the highlights of this lovely setting.

“I” is for the Ice Skating – Should you decide to visit Zurich in winter, the Dolder Ice Skating Rink is not to be missed!  Built in 1930 and nestled in the forest behind the “Dolder Grand”, this venue is one of Europe’s largest artificial open-air ice rinks spanning over 6,000 square metres.  Beautiful Christmas decorations, ice sculpture carving, curling and a cosy fondue hut with alpine interior are just some of the elements creating a fantastic atmosphere to this place.  Taking the sweet red Dolderbahn funicular up the hill to the Ice Rink guarantees for a unique arrival and departure experience!

“H” is for History which Zurich has plenty to offer!  Founded as “Turicum” by the Romans around 200 AD, Zurich became an independent city in 1261 and joined the Swiss Confederation in 1351.  A medieval town with many churches, such as the Grossmünster, St. Peter’s Church or the Fraumünster together with pretty town squares such as the Münsterhof and the elevated Lindenhof make Zurich such a picture-perfect place. Be sure to book a guided tour through Zurich’s old town or visit the Swiss National Museum located behind the train station where you will learn all about the history of Switzerland – it will be an unforgettable experience!

“G” stands for the thriving gastronomic life in Zurich.  Some of my favourites are the guild houses which have been refurnished into restaurants such as “Zunfthaus zum Rüden” or “Zunfthaus zur Waag”.  Not only do they offer tasty local dishes such as Zürcher Gschnetzeltes, they also provide a very cozy historic dining experience.  If you are seeking a fine dining experience, “The Restaurant”, “Rico’s” or “Le Pavilion” are some of the Michelin-starred restaurants that might fit the bill.  As well, many culinary events such as “Food Zurich” (held at various locations in May) or “The Epicure” a gourmet festival which takes place in the fall at the Dolder Grand Hotel are proof that Zurich has become a Mecca for food lovers.

“F” stands for Film City!  Now in its 14th year, Zurich Film Festival has established itself amongst the great film festivals of Europe and attracts many international celebrities into the city where they compete for the prestigious Golden Eye Awards.  The Film Festival also provides a platform for young and upcoming arthouse film producers to showcase their movies.  For ten days or so, Zurich transforms into a very international and exciting place at the end of September every year.

“E” for Entertainment is a big reason why Zurich is such a fantastic place to visit.  Being the largest city of the country, major venues such as the Hallenstadion, Letzigrund football arena or Samsung Hall in Dübendorf attract artists such as The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran to perform here.  People from neighbouring Germany, France or Italy also flock to Zurich for the concerts and it really makes the city a fantastic meeting point for fans from all over the world.

“D” is for planning a day trip around your visit to Zurich.  Due to the efficient train and motorway connections, many breathtaking places are within reach of just under an hour.  Explore the Rhine Falls of Schaffhausen, the picturesque area around Lucerne with its mountains and lake, the art-influenced city of Basel, go hiking in traditional Appenzell or hit the skiing slopes of Hoch-Ybrig – all accessible within 60 minutes guaranteed!

“C” stands for the famous Lindt Chocolates.  Located in Kilchberg, you can visit their factory and take chocolate making courses at their “Chocolateria” workshop.  Alternatively, you check out the luxurious Sprüngli Chocolatiers on Paradeplatz where everything here is handmade and comes from Zurich.  There are also many independent chocolate boutiques such as Max Chocolatier in Schlüsselgasse where the 12 employees only produce handmade, seasonal and totally organic delicacies.  This is a must when it comes to getting your loved ones a nice chocolate present from Switzerland!

As the “Z” to “A” list of Zurich is coming to an end, I am excited to mention my favourite spot in our city as “B” for Bauschänzli.  Originally a defence post against intruders, this artificial island in the middle of the Limmat River, first became a vegetable farm, then turned into a pier for mooring boats and eventually transformed into what makes it so special today as the best beer garden on this planet! Imagine sipping a cold glass of beer in the middle of the river surrounded by the Old Town with all its beautiful buildings.  The island is not only great for the summer months, it also houses an Oktoberfest- tent in autumn as well as Zurich’s most wonderful Circus Conelli during the Christmas season – an absolutely fantastic place!

Last, but not least “A” stands for the efficient and elegant Airport!  Zurich Airport links our city to many international destinations as far away as Seoul or Los Angeles with direct connections.  The Airport is easily navigable and has won numerous awards for its high quality.  World class shopping experience plus excellent food outlets set this Airport apart from the others.  ZRH’s VIP service provides further enhancement to the arrival or departure experience.  There are also two private aviation terminals. The Airport links conveniently into downtown Zurich and it takes only 10 minutes by train to arrive in the city at a mere cost of CHF 6.80! 

Still not convinced the alphabet should start from Z to A?  Well – in this case I recommend Ascona, Basel, Chur…or basically any other place in this beautiful country called SWITZERLAND!

Meet the Author
Jens Maier

Born and raised in Germany, Jens Maier had originally wanted to become a French and Italian Language teacher. In 1998, he turned his interest towards the hospitality industry. After training for three years in the Black Forest, Jens moved to London where he worked in several 5 star properties in the Front Office and Guest Relations positions. Jens started his concierge career at the Hyatt UK in 2005 and moved to Switzerland for the re-opening of the Dolder Grand Hotel in 2008 where he started as a Desk Concierge and eventually became the Chef Concierge in 2017. Jens is heading a team of six concierges, five of which are members of Les Clefs d'Or Suisse. Jens is a keen traveller, enthusiastic skier and a firefighter. Jens lives close to Zurich with his wife and two daughters.

The Dolder Grand

Originally opened in 1899 as the "Grand Hôtel Dolder", this hotel has always held a special place in Zurich. Its exceptional architecture and outstanding luxury are why many celebrities have chosen the Dolder for their stay in our city. Surrounded by a lush forest with spectacular views of the city, the lake and the Alps, it even has a golf course right at its doorstep! After an extensive 4-years makeover including the addition of two modern wings and the award-winning Dolder Grand Spa, this Grande Dame of the European luxury hotels re-opened its doors in 2008, now re-named as "The Dolder Grand".

As a member of "The Leading Hotels of the World" and "Swiss Deluxe Hotels", Dolder Grand has a total of 175 rooms and suites, including four top suites and one residence. Two excellent restaurants: the 19 points Gault-Millau and two Michelin-starred "The Restaurant" and 14 points Gault-Millau rated "Saltz" contribute to the hotel's reputation as one of the culinary headquarters in Zurich.

The Dolder Grand offers a big variety of banqueting facilities such as the elegant Ballroom – an ideal place for meetings, functions and parties with an outstanding ambiance.

The renown art collection of the hotel attracts visitors from all over the world. The detailed description of the collection of art can be discovered with an iPad!


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