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Our tips to discover Zurich

#insiderTips 11 - Novotel Zurich Airport Messe Hotel

David and Madleine from the Novotel Zürich Airport Messe gave us the tour of Zurich, Switzerland’s biggest city. A perfect location, a rich cultural calendar and countless things to do and see make Zurich an excellent spot for a weekend getaway that is also enjoyed by business travelers. With David and Madleine’s insider tips, you can experience Zurich like a local.

#insiderTips 11 - Explore Zurich with the Novotel Zurich Airport Messe Hotel team - Novotel Zurich Airport Messe Hotel

What is your city’s treasure?
The Old Botanical Garden is a green oasis in the heart of downtown. It’s the perfect spot for a relaxing break and to admire an amazing plant collection. The new botanical garden on Zollikerstrasse in the Weinegg district is also a great place for a walk. There are three dome-shaped greenhouses, each with a different climate and corresponding plant species.

St Peter

What monument or building holds a special place in your heart?
St Peter is one of the city’s most beautiful churches. It has the biggest clock face in Europe, with an external diameter of 8.64 meters. In the past, its bell tower was used as a fire station. Now, St Peter, along with the two other churches in the historic district, form the Zurich skyline. The old walls of St Peter, which date back to 1706, are regularly the site of masses and other celebrations.
Any local celebrities?
Figures from the art, literary and movie world live here, as well as famous athletes. The famous soccer player Ricardo Rodríguez, for example, grew up here and started his career with the Zurich FC. He’s one of the best defenders in the world, and plays for Switzerland’s national team. This exceptionally talented player currently plays for VfL Wolfsburg. 
A not-to-be-missed event?
The Zürifäscht is without a doubt the city’s biggest event; it takes place every three years, the first weekend of July. With two million visitors, its the Swiss Confederation’s biggest festival. Carnival rides, food, merchandise and every kind of music and performance are on offer, plus a particularly exceptional fireworks display. We heartily recommend that visitors take a boat cruise on Lake Zurich during the fireworks display, for a front row seat.
What should visitors definitely take home?
The Luxemburgerli at the traditional Sprüngli Confectionery shop are an excellent idea for a small gift. These treats, famous the world over, are made there daily using traditional methods. Let yourself be tempted: the shop offers a wide variety, ranging from classic flavors like vanilla and chocolate to fruit flavors like raspberry and lemon. The first Sprüngli shop opened on the Paradeplatz in Zurich in 1836. Today it’s one of the most renowned confectionery shops in the country.

Where can one find your favorite (sweet or savory) treat?
The Schober confectionery shop, located in what’s called the ‘sugar’ district of the old town, near Grossmünster church, makes wonderful Zürcher Hüppen. This traditional treat, previously seen on the tables of wealthy families for special occasions, has been a local favorite since 1693. Today, this wafer specialty is often filled with chocolate or cream. At Schober – a heritage building – visitors can try Zürcher Hüppen in a beautiful setting where time seems to stand still.
What other specialties is the city famous for?
Culinary delights abound here. Zürcher Geschnetzeltes, made with minced veal, is the city’s most famous dish. Thin slices of sautéed veal are served with a cream sauce and button mushrooms. In the original recipe, the sauce also contains veal kidneys. The dish is usually served with rösti. 

What’s the most incredible thing you’ve seen in the city?
The Street Parade: it’s the biggest techno festival in the world, and every year is more spectacular than the last. And techno fans aren't the only ones who have fun: during the parade, colorfully decorated floats make their way along Lake Zurich and it’s one surprise after another. It’s a whirlwind you can drift into.
What languages are spoken in Zurich, and what common words should visitors know?
Even if Swiss German is the official language, you can hear almost every language spoken in the street. Zurich is an international city and you can get along fine with English and French. Some helpful local words you’ll hear often and which are easy to remember include: “Hülse”, which means can of beer, “Zältli”, which means candy and “Büez”, which means work.

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