If you think that Zurich is all about banking and business, it’s time to explore Zurich West. This formerly industrial district sitting less than 15 minutes from the downtown core is known for its art scene, cool shops and trendy bars and cafés. Follow our roadmap to explore all that this eclectic art-centered neighborhood has to offer.
A Brewery Turned Art Space
A good place to begin a Zurich West art tour is in the former Löwenbräu brewery, which dates to the 1890s and now houses several contemporary art spaces. Start in the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, a two-level gallery featuring eclectic art and design showcases, including a multimedia exhibit by renowned video artist Charles Atlas (on display through May 13).
Upstairs, check out the equally avant-garde rotating exhibits at Kunsthalle Zürich, which holds an installation by sculptor Lena Henke titled An Idea of Late German Sculpture; To the People of New York, 2018 (through May 13).
On the opposite side of the Löwenbräu courtyard, you’ll find the aptly named Silosilo, a multi-use dining space housed in a historic grain silo. Head here after your gallery-hopping adventure to refresh with fresh juice and a protein bowl at Roots and Friends café or with a cocktail in the recently opened Santa Rosa bar upstairs, where amaro-based drinks are a specialty.
Under the Viaduct
Another chicly repurposed industrial site in Zurich West is the IM Viadukt, a former railway bridge that extends for more than a quarter-mile and provides a great backdrop for your urban selfies.
Under its 36 brick archways is a collection of trendy shops, restaurants and food stalls centered around the Markthalle, where vendors sell everything from cured fish to sausages to chocolate.
If you want to do more than graze, sit down for lunch in the Restaurant Markthalle to nibble on Mediterranean-inspired fare among the jovial market atmosphere.
Recycled Bags and Shipping-Container Beers
For more shopping, check out Zurich’s signature shabby-chic messenger bags, laptop totes and other carryalls, all made from recycled materials, at the Freitag flagship store. In the spirit of sourcing reusable goods, the shop can be found in a tower constructed of old shipping containers.
If you’ve worked up an appetite after all that retail therapy, hunt down Restaurant Rosso, a hidden spot in an industrial warehouse that locals praise for its thin-crust pies.
Another popular stop for a drink or snack is Frau Gerolds Garten, a café-bar built from a quirky mix of picnic tables and more shipping containers in an outdoor garden.
From Yogurt to Design
When it’s time for more art, see what’s showing at Museum für Gestaltung Zürich Toni-Areal, the Zurich West branch of the city’s design museum. Maintaining a collection of more than 500,000 objects, the gallery is in a building that once served as Europe’s largest yogurt factory; it’s now the campus of the Zurich University of the Arts.
Enjoy a guided tour or simply meander the exhibits on your own. Just keep in mind that the museum is closed on Mondays and holidays.
And for something completely different…
If you’d like to take a break from your art explorations and learn more about the city’s place in the financial world, detour to the newly opened Swiss Finance Museum, a small exhibition space on the lower level of the Zurich stock exchange building. While it might appeal more to economists and policy wonks than to the average tourist, the exhibits about currency, stocks and Swiss banking history make an interesting contrast to some of Zurich West’s more unconventional attractions.