Zurich

From the northern tip of the Zürichsee, the Limmat River starts its brief journey to the Aare and, ultimately, to the Rhine—and it neatly bisects Zürich at the starting gate. The city is crisscrossed by lovely, low bridges. On the left bank are the Altstadt, the grander, genteel pedestrian zone of the old medieval center; the Zürich Hauptbahnhof, the main train station; and Bahnhofplatz, a major urban crossroads and the beginning of the world-famous luxury shopping street Bahnhofstrasse. The right bank constitutes the livelier old section, divided into the Oberdorf (Upper Village) toward Bellevue, and the Niederdorf (Lower Village), from Marktgasse to Central and along Niederdorfstrasse, which buzzes on weekends. Most streets between Central and Bellevue are pedestrian-only zones, as is the Limmatquai from the Rudolf-Brun-Brücke to the Münsterbrücke.

Similar to the arrondissement system in Paris, Zürich is officially divided into a dozen numbered Kreises (districts), which spiral out clockwise from the center of the city. Kreis 1, covering the historic core, includes the Altstadt, Oberdorf, and Niederdorf. Zürich West is part of Kreis 5. Most areas in the city are commonly known by their Kreis, and a Kreis number is generally the most helpful in giving directions.

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  • 1. Bahnhofstrasse

    Kreis 1 | Neighborhood/Street

    Reputedly "the most expensive street in the world"—thanks to all of its extravagantly priced jewelry stores—Zürich's principal boulevard offers...Read More

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  • 2. Fraumünster

    Kreis 1 | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Of the church spires that are Zürich's signature, the Fraumünster's is the most delicate, a graceful sweep to a narrow point. It was added to...Read More

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  • 3. Alfred Escher statue

    Kreis 1 | Public Art (Mural/Sculpture/Statue)

    Leave it to Zürich to have a statue that honors not a saint, not a poet or artist, but rather the financial wizard who single-handedly dragged...Read More

  • 4. Hauptbahnhof

    Kreis 1 | Transportation Site (Airport, Bus, Ferry, Train)

    From the bustling main concourse of this immaculate 19th-century edifice you can watch crowds rushing to their famously on-time trains. Beneath...Read More

  • 5. Haus Konstruktiv

    Kreis 1 | Museum/Gallery

    Housed in a former electrical substation set by the River Sihl—an impressive 1930s modernist architectural statement in its own right—this collection...Read More

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  • 6. Kirche St. Peter

    Kreis 1 | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Dating from the early 13th century, Zürich's oldest parish church was built on a site that has been occupied by a church since the 9th century...Read More

  • 7. Lindenhof

    Kreis 1 | Plaza/Square/Piazza

    On the site of this quiet square, overlooking both sides of the river, a Roman customhouse and fortress and a Carolingian palace once stood...Read More

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  • 8. Paradeplatz

    Kreis 1 | Plaza/Square/Piazza

    The hub of Bahnhofstrasse and a tram junction, this square is a great place to observe a microcosm of the local upper crust—furrowed-brow bankers...Read More

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