Here's our gay travel guide to Zurich, including where to stay, eat, party and more.
Zurich. A city so organised, so efficient, so perfect in every way, it is said to run like clockwork.
Enter the Nomadic Boys: two ditzy, calamity gay guys descending upon the city, with their mouths agape, and disrupting the peace entirely. We were two pink peas in a pod!
We quickly had to get used to how “operational” Zurich was. Like reminding ourselves that when a bus or a train says they are leaving at a specific time, they meant there are actually leaving at that time (as opposed to the time being a gentle guideline like they are back home!).
Once we got into the rhythm of the city, we fell in love. There’s the classic architecture, the mild-mannered people, the mouth-watering food, and of course, a plenitude of chocolate.
The only drawback is – how darn expensive it is! Our first night there we both audibly gasped when we opened our menus – and it wasn’t because the place didn’t serve margaritas… Other than that, there is so much to love and gush over. And we’ve laid it all out down for you below.
Here is our ultimate gay guide to Zurich:
Our top pick for gay friendly hotel in Zurich
Marktgasse Hotel is an awesome gay friendly hotel in the heart of Zurich which we highly recommend other gay travelers check out. Romantic touches abound, the on-site restaurant IGNIV has a Michelin star and guests can make use of a lush wellness center just steps away from the front door.
Is Zurich safe for gay travelers?
Zurich is totally safe for gay travelers – as is most of Switzerland. The Swiss are a very progressive and open-minded bunch, eager to show off their hospitable nature. They are, however, very conservative with a little c!
For example, despite being one of the most forward-thinking places in Europe, a law allowing gay marriage is still pending approval via a referendum – although gay relationships have been legally recognized since 2007 and Swiss voters approved a ban on anti-gay discrimination in 2020.
We personally found Zurich to be very gay friendly. We felt comfortable walking around holding hands. Even if someone did have an issue with us, in typical Swiss fashion, they kept their opinions to themselves and played the neutral card.
Save money while you're in Zurich…
… with the Zurich city card! Valid for 24 or 72 hours, pre-purchasing this card will make your trip to Zurich a breeze. One price includes all of Zurich's public transport, admission to many of the museums, discounts on souvenirs or tours and special treats at restaurants. It just makes everything easier with some extra surprises along the way!
The gay area of Zurich
We consider ourselves to be open-minded and adventurous individuals. But we were not prepared for the gay scene in Zurich. Maybe it was because we let our guard down, expecting it to be quaint, quiet, or even subdued. Well, it’s nothing of the sort!
The Altstadt neighbourhood is considered to be the “gay area” of Zurich, with lots of gay bars, clubs, saunas, and cafes. It’s a nice spot to hang around outside of peak party hours too – as it’s home to lots of shops, galleries, and theatres. Walking around this part of town, you’ll see rainbow flags hanging from the windows, whilst gay couples walk quietly holding hands.
In the evening, you’ll find androgynous folk strutting through the streets, drag queens smoking in the doorways of bars, and loud dance music bumping from the clubs. It felt like being in an entirely different city. The best part was how most of the bars have outdoor terraces and beer gardens, which meant it was perfect for enjoying a drink and snooping on the hot guys that walk by…
Gay hotels in Zurich
There aren’t any specific gay-themed hotels in Zurich, but if you book yourself into a place around the Old Town, you’ll likely find plenty of visibly LGBTQ clientele staying there. Zurich is an expensive city, but for what you get, the price tag is totally worth it. Each place we stayed in was divine, had top-tier service, and an unbeatable location. These are the best gay friendly hotels in Zurich:
Marktgasse Hotel Zurich
In a nutshell
- Very gay friendly
- Central location
- Fabulous, upscale restaurant
- Bright and spacious rooms
As we meandered down the winding streets of the Old Town, lugging our heavy cases and backpacks, our first sight of the Marktgasse Hotel took us by surprise, mostly because of how simple and modest the building was.
But we guess that’s just the Swiss way of doing things. To be super fabulous and amazing, yet never imposing!
This fabulous gay friendly hotel has various room options available – be sure to check out one of their large doubles, which has tons of space and a flat-screen TV. In the rooms on the upper floors, guests can get a fantastic view of the bustling streets below. Our top pick has to be the Marktgasse suite with terrasse – it's super spacious and romantic for a lover's gay getaway.
The onsite IGNIV restaurant is beyond elaborate – with royal blue drapings, top-tier service, and fanciful dishes. It will make you feel like a true queen! With 15 Gault-Millau points as well as 1 Michelin star, you can bet the food is exquisite. In the bar, they have an extensive wine list and great cocktail options. It has an old-timey vibe, making you feel like you’re starring in a 1940s’ Hollywood romcom.
If you're traveling on business you can make use of the library and lounge for any work you need to do, or even book the space for a private event/meeting. We particularly love the red bookshelves piled with books to put you in the mood for getting stuff done. There is also the fitness and wellness centre a short walk away, where guests can unwind in a sauna, a thermal bath, or an aromatic steam bath. There’s no better way to feel revitalised!
Prices at Marktgasse Hotel start from $250 per night:
STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL
Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, voiding any nasty surprises when you check-in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off our first booking.
25hours Hotel Langstrasse Zurich
In a nutshell
- Funky, campy decor
- Relaxing sauna
- Excellent location for visiting gay scene
- Rent a bike or car
We were shook that 25 Hours Langstrasse isn’t an exclusively gay hotel. A place that has neon lighting, rainbow-coloured curtains in the bedrooms, and a fabulous cocktail bar, feels abundantly queer.
Within a few minutes of entering the lobby, we spotted men in business suits and girls in red heels and fishnet stockings. Seby was convinced we'd stepped into the castle from Rocky Horror!
Due to its proximity to spots like Barometer and Alte Kaserne, tons of gay clientele stay here – so when you think about it, it basically is an unofficial gay hotel of sorts!
The rooms are decked out in a kitschy style. Think loud colours, mirrors with lights dotted around the edges, a minibar, and a rain shower. For unwinding, they have a popular sauna. Everyone we talked to, including the staff, were lovely and welcoming, making us feel right at home.
For exploring the city, 25 Hours make everything so easy. They offer a service where you can rent a car or a bike and have maps that provide the best routes to venture out on. Just ask at reception when you arrive how you can sign up for using this service.
The hotel even has its own art studio, where every year a different artist takes over and displays their most prized works. It’s a fantastic gallery to spend a few moments soaking in the fantastic artworks.
Prices at 25hours Hotel Zurich Langstrasse start from $200 per night:
In a nutshell
- Go contactless via the app
- 24/7 canteen
- Cosy lounge area
- Surrounded by excellent restaurants
A wise man once said: “Simplicity is the key to enjoying a good life”…(Pssst that wise man was me!)
But really, in CitizenM, it’s all about making their guests stay as hassle-free as possible. In fact, they value simplicity so much that this gay friendly hotel even has its own app! You can use it to check-in and out, adjust your room temperature, and even get recommendations on the best places to eat or drink nearby. The Swiss are really on top of their innovation game, aren’t they?
All their rooms have a widescreen TV with free movies – so you can plan for a fancy evening snuggled up in bed with a loved one. Other than that, each room is simple in its décor, with the emphasis on providing just the most essential amenities. You won’t be too stuck for suggestions though – as you’ll clearly spot tons of restaurants and bars in the surrounding area. And failing that, you’ll be right beside one of Zurich’s main train stations to explore further afield.
Another highlight is the 24/7 canteen/kitchen where the staff are always willing to serve up some delicious foods, hot or cold. It's very handy for when you come in after a late night out partying. And if you are run off your feet with all the traveling, their lounge area is very inviting and cosy. It is filled with books to delve into and avant-garde art to interpret.
Prices at CitizenM Zurich start from $123 per night:
Zurich Overnight Gay B&B
In a nutshell
- Awesome, bubbly gay hosts
- Clothing-optional policy
- Delicious morning breakfast
- Swimming pool to enjoy in summer
We may be venturing outside of the main city for this hotel but it’s for a totally good reason. The Overnight Gay B&B is located in Kilchberg, which is the closest suburb to the inner city, around 12 minutes from the downtown area.
There are lots of transport options, so you won’t feel too far out from the Zurich gay nightlife action at all. In fact, it means you get the best of both worlds. You’re close to the energetic Zurich spirit, but have a quiet sanctuary to go when catching those zzzzs.
Every morning, you’ll enjoy a freshly prepared breakfast to set you up for the day. And if you’re up for it, there is an option to book a romantic candlelit dinner for two. If you feel like taking a break from running around sightseeing, the B&B has a pool to laze around by. The whole house has a clothing-optional policy so lots of guests enjoy a dip in the waters au naturel.
The B&B hosts are a really sweet gay couple, who aren’t just talented at welcoming guests, but can deliver the best massage! Seriously, they are licensed massage therapists. Now that’s really getting a bang for your buck!
Prices at Zurich Overnight Gay B&B start from $66 per night:
Gay bars in Zurich
Gay bars in Zurich are in abundance. Each one with its own energy, vibe, style, and eccentricity. Whether you’re in the mood for a quiet drink, a boogie, or a drag performance, there is something out there on the Zurich scene.
The only drawback is how early bars close in the city – some even before midnight. Most people just use them as a spot to pregame before heading out to a bigger venue. Regardless, we had lots of fun checking out what Zurich had to offer. Here are the best gay bars in Zurich:
This was our favourite gay bar in Zurich – mainly due to its fruity cocktails, central location, and eccentric themed nights. When we went, they were throwing a Balkan night – everyone else arrived decked in their best Balkan inspired outfits and danced all night. We didn’t get the memo, so we arrived in our signature tank tops, but hey, we live to stand out. Other events they put on include karaoke nights and ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ viewing parties.
Open: Cranberry is open daily from 4pm (from 3pm on the weekend) until 8pm (9pm on Fridays and Saturdays)
Location: You can find Cranberry Bar at Metzgergasse 3
Predigerhof Bistro sits close to the Old Town of Zurich. By day, it’s a quaint café where you can enjoy some hot tea (the drinking kind), watch the world go by, and eavesdrop on fellow diners’ juicy gossip (the other kind of hot tea). By night, it gets a bit zanier, with drinks and dance music. Sadly, it closes quite early, so most people just stay there as a warm-up to their night out. Lotti, the bistro’s hostess and sandwich maker, welcomed us with open arms. She is known as the mother of the Zurich gay scene and is full of queer historical knowledge.
Open: Predigerhof Bistro is open daily from 2pm until 11pm
Location: It's located at at Mühlegasse 15
Perched in the Hirschenplatz square, the Platzhirsch Bar is perfect for anyone looking for a quiet night. Of course, it’s a great spot to get your pregame on (it’s conveniently located close to the popular gay club Heaven). The laidback ambiance, soothing music, and stripped-back décor cater to those who’ve had a long day and simply want a nice cocktail before hitting the hay. The bar has a massive wine and cocktail menu, plus a few snacking options.
Open: Platzhirsch Bar is open Thursday to Sunday from 2pm until 11pm
Location: It's located at Spitalgasse 3
Heldenbar is a gay party that takes place at the Provitreff Bar every Wednesday night. It is one of the longest-running gay events in all of Zurich. It may be held in a smaller space, but it makes up for it in personality with all the Swiss punks, gay or straight, coming out and going wild. They even put on the occasional drag show to truly celebrate the queer fantasy. After all, it’s the middle of the week, there are still two more days until the weekend, so people naturally want to squeeze in some cheeky mid-week partying.
Open: Heldenbar is held every Wednesday from 8pm until 3am
Location: It's held at the Provitreff Bar which is located at Sihlquai 240
A quirky find – Barometer is a gay-friendly hang out with a large drink menu. Beer and wine lovers will be well catered for, though we personally recommend the bar’s signature slush – an icy, fruity explosion of flavour. We were amused by the eccentric design, from the display of compasses on the brick walls to the sepia-toned lighting. The bar also has an outdoor terrace, so you can enjoy your drink in the cool evening breeze and watch the world go by.
Open: Barometer is open Friday to Sunday from 7pm until 11pm
Location: It's located on Brauerstrasse 48
A gay-friendly bar with a rustic twist, Daniel H. is a fabulous spot to meet a group of friends or colleagues. They serve food, so you can also grab some dinner before heading out to a bigger venue. A different DJ plays there every evening, so the mood is constantly changing. Crowds typically tend to be on the quieter, laid-back side, so if you’re looking for a peaceful night, you’ve got one right here.
Open: Daniel H. Bar is open Tuesday to Thursday from 5pm until 11pm (until 2am on weekends)
Location: It's located at Müllerstrasse 51
You’ve not truly lived until you’ve seen the iconic Petra perform. She is the Queen of Queens. Switzerland’s answer to RuPaul. And her Tip Top Bar was at the tip top of our must-visit list. This is THE place to go for dancing and laughing away all your problems. Petra goes full-out to make sure every time she takes to the stage is unique and memorable. When she isn’t doing some outrageous stunts to keep the audience entertained, there is often a DJ playing some campy pop music.
Open: Tip Top Bar is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 6.30pm until around 1am
Location: You can find it at Seilergraben 13
Infinity Bar & Lounge – PERMANENTLY CLOSED – updated May 2022
Infinity has a very sporty vibe to it. When we walked in, we noticed two guys playing at a foosball table, whilst some other men were throwing darts. We thought we’d stepped into the wrong place, but trust us, it’s a gay bar! The music is every bit as fabulous as you'd want. The drinks are just as fruity. And the people are super open-minded. Every Friday and Saturday, they have a Latin-themed night with salsa music. And on Fridays, they offer free tickets into Heaven. Night out: Sorted!
Open: Infinity is open daily from 2pm until 8pm
Location: It can be found at Zähringerstrasse 11
Gay clubs in Zurich
Once all the bars begin to close, the crowds migrate to the clubs. Luckily for LGBTQ folk, they aren’t tight on choices as Zurich has so many gay hangout spots or queer event nights dotted around the city. We picked out a handful of our favourite gay clubs in Zurich right here:
As soon as you descend upon the gay scene in Zurich, you’ll know about Heaven. It’s undoubtedly the most popular gay club in the city, with most LGBTQ outings typically culminating in a visit to Heaven. Expect to see electrifying drag performances, gorgeous handsome exotic dancers, and a refreshingly diverse crowd. Your ears will be pounding for days with the intense musical beats in the club – expect to hear anything from classical pop to alternative grunge to Balkan beats.
Open: Heaven is open on Saturdays from 11pm until 5am
Location: It's located at Spitalgasse 5
Alte Kaserne is a massively popular gay club. We put this down to its total unpredictability, as they are always throwing some crazy themed event. If all the gay clubs in Zurich were a part of the friend group, Alte Kaserne would be the pal who was constantly getting their hair dyed funky colours. In the past, they’ve thrown electronic swing parties, techno nights, a Bob Marley tribute event, and 90s/2000s throwback celebrations. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You really need to experience it to believe it.
Open: Alte Kaserne holds parties on Friday or Saturday nights, usually from 10 or 11pm which can last 8-10 hours! Check their Facebook page to see details of the next event
Location: It's located at Kanonengasse 16
It may only take place once a month, but oh boy, do they make it count! King Kong lives up to its namesake by being loud, massive, and totally unpredictable. It welcomes anyone with an open mind and a zest for life, so that was enough to get us in the door. It’s spread across two floors, each of which have polarizing vibes. The first is where all classic gay hits get played – you have your Britney, your Gaga, your Ariana. The second floor is more catered to the EDM/techno crowd.
Open: King Kong parties take place once a month on a Saturday from 10pm, but check their Facebook page for the latest details
Location: It takes place in Dynamo, which is located at Wasserwerkstrasse 21
It may call itself ‘Behave’ – but these partygoers are anything but goody-two-shoes'. This event only happens once every few months, yet when it does, it is the talk of the entire LGBTQ scene. Inside Frida's Büxe club, you’ll find a massive dancefloor, giant disco ball, and a rambunctious crowd dying to make the most of the night. Even when Behave isn’t happening, Frida's büxe is still a gay-friendly club, so it’s worth paying a visit either way. Keep an eye on their Facebook page to see when the next Behave party is.
Open: Opening times will be specified once details for the next event emerge, so keep an eye on their Facebook page
Location: Behave Parties are held at Frida's Büxe on Friedaustrasse 23
Boyahkasha takes place in the Plaza Club – a giant dance club spread across two dance floors. We danced all night to pulsing electronic beats beneath flashing disco lights, whilst enjoying the eccentricities of our fellow patrons. It’s the kind of place that no matter who you are or what you look like, Boyahkasha will celebrate you. In the past, they’ve had some famous guests perform, most notably queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race like Aja. Plus, Eurovision iconic Conchita Wurst has popped in for a visit and singsong.
Open: Opening times will be specified once details for the next event emerge, so keep an eye on their Facebook page
Location: Boyahkasha can be found in the Plaza Club at Badenerstrasse 109
Angels is Switzerland’s biggest gay event organiser. Their monthly events in Zurich are marked on the calendars of any queer person in the Swiss city. We were told about how legendary these events were, and yet we were blown away by how wild things got when we went. Drag queens pulling all sorts of jaw-dropping stunts, naughty images displayed on giant screens, and hot shirtless dancers. We were blushing the whole night! Throughout the year, they throw everything from Black Parties to Dress Up Parties and even Kink Clubs. Pretty much anything goes in Angels!
Open: Check out their Facebook page for the next event
Location: Angels can be found at Limmatstrasse 118
Gay saunas in Zurich
Holding out strong against the hook-up app culture, Zurich’s gay saunas are every bit as salacious and frivolous as one could hope for! If you’re prior image of the Swiss is being proper and uptight, then let’s just say, your mind’s about to be blown! The gay saunas of Zurich are open and free where guys go to relax, get naughty, or simply meet with friends. Here are some of the best gays saunas in Zurich to check out:
This is undoubtedly the busiest sauna in Zurich. Towels are offered upon entry. Inside includes Finnish saunas, steam rooms, open-showers, video rooms, and obligatory maze/dark rooms. They even have a grooming corner where you can replenish yourself with hair gel or moisturiser!
Moustache can be found at Engelstrasse 4, 8004. It is open daily.
Renos is super popular with gay locals in Zurich, so a great way to connect with them and make new friends – as well as friends! It's also the only gay sauna in the world we've come across that is for everyone in the LGBTQ family – they have 2 days each week for women, straight people, bisexuals and transexuals. Check their website for the latest details.
Renos Relax is located at Kernstrasse 7, 8005 in the heart of District 4.
Paragonya is a gay man’s oasis within Zurich. It’s a popular cruising spot where men can go to explore their sexuality and enjoy the company of fellow gay guys. It features cozy private cabins as well as a relaxing whirlpool and steam bath. The bar has over 40 drinks on its menu, as well as some delicious sandwiches, soups, and sweets. However, it does tend to feel like there are more rent boys than customers at times!
Paragonya can be found at Mühlegasse 11, 8001. It is open daily until 10pm.
It may not be big, but it makes up for it in spirit. Sauna Mylord is a tiny, intimate space where men of all colours, creeds, or orientations can go to enjoy each other’s company. Discretion is the key factor here as some men are married, and just looking to socialise in private. The sauna room and showers are where most of the action happens. Though if you just want to be left alone, you can head to the lounge bar. This is where dudes can chill, enjoy a drink, or watch some TV.
Sauna Mylord can be found at Seebahnstrasse 139, 8003. It is open Monday to Saturday and closes at 6pm.
Gay events in Zurich
If you’re thinking of jetting off to Zurich, you should consider checking out the city-wide gay events that are planned each year and book your visit for around then. Visiting during a busy period on the social calendar can help fill up your itinerary – especially when you’re lost on what to do. Some of the gay events we’ve listed below are what made Zurich so appealing to us in the first place, so they're definitely worth checking out!
Arosa Gay Ski Week (January)
Who needs the January blues when you can spend your time in the scenic mountain range of east Switzerland? By day, you can soak in the blindingly white landscape and have a go at skiing. You don’t need to be a professional skier or have prior training as there will be beginner lessons. By night, snuggle up in the cozy lodging accommodations, kick back in a luxury sauna, and enjoy some great entertainment with all the other gay guests. To get there from Zurich, hop on the Intercity train to CHUR and connect to the Rhaetian Railway which will get you to Arosa. These trains come hourly so you can easily plan your way there.
Pink Apple Gay Film Festival (April)
We must confess that we are quite the avid movie buffs! We are full of useless trivia and fun facts which cause our friends to eye roll when we tell them about it. It’s why we geek out over city film festivals like Zurich's Pink Apple Gay Film Festival. Every Spring this festival features over a hundred LGBTQ-themed movies. In mainstream cinema, queer representation is low, so dedicating an entire festival to gay cinema is incredibly important. Expect to find dramas, romcoms, documentaries, short films, as well as panels/Q&As with filmmakers and actors.
Zurich Pride (June)
Zurich Pride takes place every June, taking over the whole city for an entire weekend. It is also referred to as Christopher Street Day to signify the Stonewall riots that kickstarted the gay rights movement in the United States. Dousing the streets in rainbow, confetti, and glitter, Sechseläutenplat is the place to be. There are tons of events throughout the city to keep you busy, from movie screenings to workshops, peaceful demonstrations to club nights. Check out their Facebook page to see what they’ve got planned for the upcoming year.
Street Parade (August)
Zurich's Street Parade is not an exclusively gay event, but it’s super popular with the LGBTQ crowd mostly due to its celebration of electronic and dance music, which we gays gag over! It takes place every August and has attracted over 1 million people in the past from all over the world. The event involves 30 Love Trucks driving through the Zurich streets blasting electronic/techno music at top volume. Stages pop up throughout the city where internationally renowned DJs and stars perform for a swarm of party lovers. Now THAT’S what we call a party!
Where to eat in Zurich
When you think of Zurich, you immediately think of cheese, fondue, and chocolate. And whilst all three of these things feature extensively on restaurant menus, there is so much more to Swiss cuisine than you’d initially think – at least that’s what we found. We went bold with our dining experience, ready to take on new dishes we’d never heard of before. And there were plenty of those. Here were some of our favourite restaurants in Zurich.
Regal. Opulent. Decadent. These were the words going through our heads as we stepped into IGNIV. Located in the Marktgasse Hotel Zurich, IGNIV proudly declares itself as “the place to be for champagne”, which was more than enough to pique our interest! IGNIV is a restaurant custom-built for couples, with its royal blue draping that sets the romantic ambiance, and a menu full of sharing options. The waiters are experts in recommending what food goes best with what wine – we truly felt like we were in professional hands here.
You might be wondering why we opted to include an Asian restaurant in our Zurich guide. And yet Restaurant Nihao is just that deserving! The staff were beyond lovely, the food was served promptly and tasted incredible, while the mood was very laid-back and casual. It’s a great place to go for families, with lots of options from sushi to Chinese dishes. The dessert was the highlight for us – there's a big chocolate fountain with fresh fruit to dip in it and several different ice-cream flavors!
We came upon this restaurant completely by chance after a day of shopping. As we entered, we thought we’d been transported into the Netflix show, The Queen’s Gambit as the floor was decorated with sparkling black-and-white tiles, exactly like a chessboard. Owners Giovanni and Rosa were on the floor to welcome us in and make us feel like part of the family. The menu is full of traditional Italian items – with delicious pastas and pizzas on offer. To say we left stuffed is an understatement. You might want to book yourself in for an intense gym session the day after you visit this place…
What to do in Zurich
Sure, Zurich may work like a clock but that doesn’t mean you have to! It can be just as free-spirited and spontaneous as Berlin or Los Angeles. We planned out our itinerary before jetting off. And yet, as always, we allowed ourselves to get swept away by the magic of a new city. Here are some of our favorite things to do in Zurich:
Lake Zurich is one of the busiest spots in the city. People rush there every time there is the tiniest bit of sunlight – as it’s a sublime bathing spot. For one, the water feels amazing (yep that’s right, a city lake you can swim in without needing a tetanus jab!). It’s also surrounded by incredible views. Particularly, the iconic Rapperswil Castle, where you can spot deer frolicking around the grounds. If you’re going for a dip though, it’s advised to bring colorful swimming gear so cruise ships can spot you… If you join a Zurich bike tour like this one you'll even get to cycle around the lake.
Explore the Old Town
From the luxurious boutiques of the Rennweg High Street to the Gothic-like Augustinergasse, the Old Town district deserves a full-days’ worth of attention during your trip to Zurich. Seby always hates me for this – but I joined us up on a walking tour of the Old Town. It’s the best way to see everything, learn about the city’s ancient history, and get some insight into how Zurich came to be the way it is today. Plus, you’ll get some good recommendations for unique local eating spots by your tour guide.
Swiss National Museum
There are over 150 museums and galleries in Zurich – and while we couldn’t cover them all, the Swiss National Museum was one of our absolute favourites. The exhibition brings its visitors from the medieval days of Europe all the way to present today. We came across manmade objects that date back to 5,000 BC – and we thought we were old! Art lovers will geek out over the gallery exhibitions, with its wide display of gothic paintings and wooden sculptures.
Trek up to Uetliberg Mountain
We love any city that has a mountain range close by. We spent a long day making our way up Uetliberg Mountain from Zurich, breathing in the crisp, Swiss air and marvelling at the natural wonder. When we reached the top, we took in epic panoramic views of Zurich. 100% worth the hike up! To get there, you can fetch a train from the inner-city, which disembarks to the mountain every 20-25 minutes. A few of the hiking trails up to the top can be a bit tricky – especially after bad weather. Bring shoes that have a good strong grip and plenty of water!
Swiss Finance Museum
Ok, we know what you might be thinking: “Guys? A museum about finance? Maths?!” The stereotype that gay people and math don’t mix springs to mind. But Zurich is known for its banking, so we decided to give it a go. The Swiss Finance Museum walks its visitor through the financial system of Switzerland in a way that isn’t intimidating or full of money-jargon. In fact, dare we say, the exhibitions were so cool and innovative to look at that it made finance seem, almost, cool… Don’t cancel us for saying so!
Day trip to Liechtenstein
One of the more overlooked countries of Europe, Liechtenstein is definitely not to be missed! After all, it’s just a few hours’ bus ride from Zurich into Liechtenstein’s capital, Vaduz. Top things to do include visiting vineyards and enjoying some wine tasting. Poke your head in the door of a café and try some of the classic coffee. Or simply stroll around Vaduz Old Town, that looks as if it fell straight from the pages of a fairy-tale book! If you're strapped for time join a tour that visits Liechtenstein and Switzerland's “Heidiland”.
Before You Go
We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Zurich. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go.
How to get there: You can fly directly into Zurich's international airport from many destinations both in and outside of Europe. If you're already in Europe it's also possible to reach Zurich by train or car. It's only about a 12-minute train journey from the airport into central Zurich, although the trains run less frequently later in the evening. We like to pre-book a private transfer if we know we'll be arriving late at night, so we don't have to worry about public transport while juggling our luggage and possible jet-lag!
Visa requirements: Visitors from around 90 different countries can visit Switzerland visa-free as a tourist, including residents of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Passport holders from other Schengen Area countries only need a valid ID card. Make sure you double-check your personal visa requirements before heading to Zurich though!
Getting around: Zurich is famous for its efficient, clean and reliable public transport, so you can easily get around, especially if you have pre-booked the Zurich card we mentioned earlier. The network includes trams, trains, buses, cable-cars and boats, which can seem a bit daunting but at least with the card you don't need to figure out each part, just enjoy!
Power Plugs: Switzerland and Liechtenstein both use a power plug type not found anywhere else so you will definitely need to bring a travel adaptor with you to Zurich so you can use any electronic devices!
Travel insurance: Even though Zurich and the rest of Switzerland is a very safe destination, sometimes things go wrong while traveling – from catching an illness to losing your luggage or missing a flight. But if you ensure you have adequate travel insurance you'll be protected and can travel without worry. We have been using World Nomads Travel Insurance for years and wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to others. Their cover is comprehensive and affordable, plus it's easy to make a claim online if you need to.
Vaccinations: Travelers to Zurich should ensure they are up-to-date with routine vaccinations for things like measles, mumps and chickenpox. It's also recommended that you be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B but make sure you check the CDC website and speak to your doctor before making travel plans.
Currency: Switzerland is not part of the European Union so the currency used in Zurich (and the rest of the country) is the Swiss Franc. The code is CHF and the symbol when it's written is Fr. or fr. Just to be more confusing, if you're talking about the subunit (the cent part) it's called rappen in German, centime in French and centesimo in Italian. Some places may accept euros but it's better to ensure you have local currency on you. Currently $1 converts to around 90 rappen, £1 is worth about 1.28 fr. and €1 converts to about 1.10 fr.
Tipping culture: Generally in Switzerland tipping is not expected and a service charge is usually included on the bill for restaurants etc. The wages are also high so you don't need to tip at all unless you really want to reward some wonderful service. The only exception is perhaps for hotel staff in Zurich, where you may like to give 1 or 2 Fr. to the porter or housekeeping each day.
Internet access: Free WiFi hotspots are available throughout Switzerland, plus any hotels, restaurants, bars and even train stations in Zurich do the same. If, however, you want to ensure reliable and private online access, especially for work, you can pre-order a portable WiFi device to pick up on arrival at the airport. We particularly like to use this option as you can usually connect multiple devices at the same time.
Accommodation: We love using Booking.com to find the best places to stay in Zurich as they have all the best choices as well as the lowest prices. Many of the listings also offer free cancellation, which is perfect if you like to be spontaneous with your travels, like we do! Booking.com also have excellent online customer support that's available 24/7.
Sightseeing and adventure: For more fun things to see and do in Zurich you can't go past GetYourGuide. They provide many exciting tours and activities plus it's really easy to book online. Their online customer support is also available 24/7 and they are really helpful.
When to visit: Summer in Zurich is between June and August, when the temperatures are lovely enough to go swimming in the lake. This is also peak season though, so expect prices to be higher and the city to be busier. The winter off-season is also not really an off-season as Zurich's proximity to great ski resorts makes it popular with snow bunnies. The lowest prices are generally in spring and fall, where you can also enjoy spring blossoms or the colorful leaves of fall.
Gay Map of Zurich
Here's our gay map of Zurich to show you all the gay spots we've mentioned in this article. Use it to find out where all the best gay friendly hotels, bars and activities are for your own visit.
For more inspiration:
- These are the gayest cities in Europe for gay travelers who love a city-break
- As well as our favorite gay holiday destinations in Europe
- If you love the sun and sand these are the best gay beaches in Europe
- If you're traveling on a budget make sure you check out these best gay hostels in Europe
- For the snow-bunnies, these are the best gay skiing events all around the world
- And the best gay cruises if you prefer a tropical getaway