A historically old city with charming half-timbered houses, a lively art and culture scene, several museums and colorful festivals: peaceful Winterthur has everything. We set off with our local team – Hamada, Ibrahim, Sarah, Sindia, Myriam and Vural – to explore Switzerland’s sixth largest city with some 100,000 inhabitants. And what did we find? A lot of insider tips!
What is your city’s treasure?
Winterthur has the biggest single pedestrianized area in Switzerland. Its many shops, cafes and restaurants make it a perfect place, year round, to stroll, shop and enjoy a coffee. On hotter summer days, kids can splash about in the city’s fountains, or have fun in the many municipal parks, where sprawling lawns provide a perfect spot to have a cat nap, disconnect for a moment, and recharge one’s batteries. The towering Roter Turm building offers a breathtaking view of the city. Spend an unforgettable evening at the restaurant/bar, located at the top of the building 90 meters above ground – a not-to-be-missed experience.
What monument or building holds a special place in your heart?
The Sulzer building, formerly named the ‘Wintower’, was the tallest building in Switzerland until 2003. At Christmas, the building’s interior is lit up in the shape of a Christmas tree for a festive feel, and is recognizable from afar. The spectacular view goes quite well with the sound of champagne classes clinking at midnight!
Any local celebrities?
A wide variety of public figures have been drawn to Winterthur over the years. Albert Einstein, for example, taught at the city’s Technikum school in 1901. Joachim Löw, coach of Germany’s national football team, played for Zurich from 1992 to 1994. The most famous local, however, is without a doubt Jonas Furrer, the first President of the Confederation, who was born in Winterthur in 1805.
A not-to-be-missed event?
Every year, the last weekend in June, Winterthur organizes Albanifest, the biggest annual city festival in Europe. Music, carnival rides and local street food fill the streets of the old town and a laid-back atmosphere carries on late in the night! On Whit Sunday, the Eine Welt, or ‘World’ festival, is an opportunity to check out traditions and foods from around the world. The festival is a memorable event, with multiple music stages and a market with over 300 stands.
What should visitors definitely take home?
One original gift idea that’s long on fun is a Zurich-themed memory game, with pictures of all the historical buildings in Winterthur. Pick up a game at the tourism office.
Where can one find your favorite (sweet or savory) treat?
Winterthur and the surrounding region are famous for certain cookies and treats. Lienhard sells delicious cakes and hearty bread, as well as Tössemer Fröschli (frog-shaped chocolates), Rieter Spindel and Fastenwähen, a type of bread traditionally served in Winterthur and Basel during Carnival that tastes good year round.
What other specialties is the city famous for?
Without a doubt, Giraffentorte! Giraffentorte is a delicious almond and hazelnut chocolate cake with chocolate icing and details. The recipe is a well-kept secret of the Vollenweider confectionery store, located downtown.
What’s the most incredible thing you’ve seen in the city?
The most impressive place is the Swiss Science Center Technorama, unique in Switzerland. It’s perfect for an outing with the whole family: big or small, everyone can explore natural phenomena in an interactive setting. The museum has over 500 testing stations, for explorers of all ages, on every field of natural science. You learn something new every time you go, and seemingly mundane things become fascinating.
What languages are spoken in Zurich, and what common words should visitors know?
People in Winterthur speak a local dialect of Swiss German that is influenced by the Canton of Thurgau. But you can also get by with English and French without any problem. “Paradiesli”, a charming local term, translates perfectly what visitors feel while hiking along the idyllic hills surrounding the city, which offer a spectacular view over Winterthur and the surrounding countryside.