Zurich's Christmas Markets
Updated: Dec 13, 2017
Visiting a global center for banking and finance when you don't really care about banking and finance - all you want is to hear the 'Last Christmas' in an upscale Christmas Market whilst holding a deliciously overpriced hot drink. Viva la vita!
How many times have I already swore to God that I am never ever going to drink another hot wine from the Christmas markets, and there I am, at the main train station in Zurich hearing my self saying ‘oh yes, give us the special option, the red wine with extra alcohol. Rum? Oh yes, sure, why not?’
“Stay in Oerlikon”
I am waking up in my hotel room with the kind of head ache that you can pretty easily associate with the symptoms of permanent brain damage or a huge rugby ball trying to expand in your head. I am staying in the Mariot Courtyard in Zurich Oerlikon. I strongly recommend to stay in this area. This place is literally just 5 min by train from the main station and the train is departing as often as the metro. Obviously you are paying much less than in the center. Absolutely safe for single woman traveller. You can stay also at the Swissotel in this area, the price is similar, rooms more basic but they have a nice roof top spa.
But I am suddenly not in a mood and lacking a time to fully enjoy it. Instead of a nice profound art experience I decided to just wander around and satisfy the materialistic simple part of me. I am enjoying the stunning Christmas decorations in the expensive boutiques on the Bahnhofstrasse.
This is the main avenue which leads from the train station right to the shore of the Lake. While walking across don’t hesitate to follow your instinct, choose the prettiest little parallel street which will get you to the old town. For a nice city view, don’t forget to climb to Lindenhof. You will enjoy it more if you will find the beautiful narrow street Pfalzgasse which ends right on the top of the little hill.
You are surrounded by numerous small boutiques with original products, fancy clothes or delicious chocolate. I am sure you will love Max Chocolatier. The shop is very close to Lindenhof at Schlüsselgasse 12. At this moment they offer high end chocolate figures with Christmas themes. The taste is unforgettable and if you are on pre Christmas diet, I suggest you don’t even enter to this shop. Don’t even look. Just run! Run away.
In the end of the Banhofstrasse you will find the fanciest brands of designers clothes. Not that I would ever dare to enter to the sacred temples of Prada, Luis Vuitton or Chanel but I never miss the opportunity to enjoy my window shopping there, and to imagine…well we all know what am I talking about, right? In the end of this street you will find the lake where you can take a boat and make a nice trip. Locals also like to sit here during their lunch break and enjoy their meal outside with friends and colleagues. In the winter, they build a huge Christmas Market here, just next to the Opera.
“The most remarkable are those in the Train Station and at the Sechseläutenplatz. ”
I assumed that the markets where I have been drinking the hot wine and eating the fondue hotdog yesterday was the only Christmas market in Zurich. In fact, I was completely wrong, and Zurich has the Christmas market situation very similar to for example Vienna. There are a Christmas markets in different places all around the city. Such a heaven. The most remarkable are those in the Train Station and at the Sechseläutenplatz (next to the Opera).
The atmosphere at the train station is unquestionably the best I have ever experienced. You are literally feeling like in a scene in a Hollywood Christmas romantic comedy. It is one of the biggest indoor markets in the Europe, with a 15m tall Christmas tree decorated by 150 stars made from Swarovski Crystal. (You can buy one of these stars here and it costs around 70 CHF. Yes, you have it right – the complete decoration costs probably more than 10 000 CHF.) This fancy tree is breath taking, but it is quite impossible to capture the sparkle in photos. You can try it anyway - search for stickers on the ground which will inform you where the best photo points are. If I can give you one more piece of advice, don’t drink the hot wine with the extra rum in it. It might seem like a new interesting option and it taste great but believe me, it isn't worth it...
Sechseläutenplatz is outdoors so take your gloves and beanie. It has a setup of a little village with lovely, cosy shelters where you can sit and enjoy your food and drinks while the snow is falling. It is particularly good for a variety of options for food and drink. You will find new surprising options and combinations, vegan food as well as fondue and raclette. Next to the indoor restaurants which all look like little traditional mountain chalets, there is a massive family oriented skating rink. You will surely enjoy this wooden village with all it squares, lights and stands with original products. Maybe you will be nicer person than me and instead of eating and taking selfies, you will lavishly spend your money on some cool presents for your beloved.
Now I am heading back to my hotel, going to prepare my self for another Christmas party. I will stay in the Opera side of the river. You have to say good bye to Banhofstrasse and stay here also if you plan to visit the Kunsthaus, Dada, Zoo or Archaeological museum. You should walk through lively Niederdorfstrasse. This street gives you a Mediterranean feeling.
“Search for deals.”
I genuinely recommend visiting Zurich for one or two days in a period between the 23th of November to the 24th of December. Don’t forget to search for special deals for your train tickets on Cff.ch . My ticket Geneva- Zurich cost 43CHF one way with demi tariff. But I learned that there is a lot of special deals and you can save up to 50%. Bad news is that you must purchase in advance. Do you have this special power and you are able to plan so far ahead? I am jealous......