Visiting Zürich? Discover the city's best shopping destinations here. Don't visit Zürich until you've read our brilliant insiders' shopping guide
In the trendy Zürich-West district, creative entrepreneurs have made their home in former factory halls, with new ateliers, stores, galleries, restaurants, bars and clubs springing up every day. The absolute must-see? The 1,600 legendary Freitag handbags, on sale in a unique shopping ‘tower’ made up of 17 rusty freight containers piled up on top of each other, which houses the largest selection of individual recycled freewaybags in the world.
Zürich’s Bahnhofstrasse is the prime location for international designer labels, jewellery and watches. The closer you get to Lake Zürich, the more exclusive the brands, including four outlets of the Burger group, upmarket ladies fashion by Feldpausch, exclusive designs for ladies and gentlemen by Burger Zurich, the select men’s outfitters Fein-Kaller, elegant stockings and lingerie by Fogal, the World of Fashion for women, men and children by Grieder les Boutiques and various other designer outlets. Near the Bahnhofstrasse, Apartment offers a mix of avant-garde and independent labels. Meanwhile, for good footwear, a visit to Bally, the firm with more than 150 years of tradition, is definitely worthwhile. More classic and elegant styles are to be found in the boutiques along Storchengasse, Strehlgasse, In Gassen or the Wühre. You’ll also find Tom Ford’s very first European outlet on the Münsterhof.
In Zürich’s department stores, you can find everything your heart desires, from accessories to zips. Jelmoli – the city’s oldest department store, which dates back to 1899 – is also the largest shop-in-shop store in Switzerland, housing over 1,000 well-known outlets selling more than 250,000 articles, spread over seven floors. When your stomach starts to rumble, pay a visit to the Gourmet Factory in the lower basement where you can purchase choice specialties from all over the world, including take-away options. Less than a two-minute walk away are the department stores Globus (also with its own delicatessen department), Manor, Migros City and St. Annahof.
A more unconventional array of wares can be found in and around the Niederdorf where, against the backdrop of the Old Town, all manner of people and professions – from market stall holders to hairdressers – ply their trade, while local stores display the latest trends. The Oberdorf is also a great place for traditional shopping experiences. Step into colonial goods store Schwarzenbach Kolonialwaren, for example, which has been in its family for more than 140 years, and you’ll be instantly transported back to the good old days; the décor is the original and the aroma of freshly roasted coffee and spices and fruits from all over the world hangs in the air.
Zürich’s silk history dates back to the Middle Ages after religious refugees from the south settled in the city after the Reformation. As a result, Zürich was transformed into a textile center where raw materials were imported and finished goods exported (due to strict moral codes which forbade the women of Zürich from wearing fine fabrics). In the 20th century, during the 80s, Fabric Frontline and En Soie revived Zürich’s silk tradition and transformed it within the context of haute couture. The siblings, Elsa, Maya and Andy, of Fabric Frontline combine a Helvetic sense of handicraft and detail with modern-day sensibilities and design. Their silk accessories stand out due to their delicate flower patterns and abstract forms. The Zürich silk clan not only preserves traditions, but also cultivates a feel for luxury in textiles around the world.
Antique shops, antiquaries and bookshops belong to the varied range on offer around Niederdorf. On the opposite bank of the Limmat River, you will find yourself in one of Zürich’s oldest quarters. Even today, the Schipfe is still the street of artisans, where the craftspeople – whether goldsmith or expert woodcarver – take the necessary time for their customers, providing expert advice and suggestions. An outlet of Schweizer Heimatwerk, which exclusively sells quality handicrafts made in Switzerland, can also be found on the Schipfe.
Zürich ranks among the world’s leading cities that enjoy a flourishing art trade. A typical feature of Zürich is its high concentration of art galleries; around the Rämistrasse ‘art mile’, the galleries are just a few minutes’ walk apart, while in the former grounds of the Löwenbräu brewery, they stand side by side. In the Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, art lovers will find works by such leading artists as Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as other names from the world of Pop Art. Peter Kilchmann, with his exciting portfolio of avant-garde works, is widely regarded as the star among Zürich’s young gallery owners. While Bob Van Orsouw promotes up-and-coming artists, Hauser & Wirth presents such top names as Pipilotti Rist and Paul McCarthy, and Eva Presenhuber represents artists such as Ugo Rondinone and Urs Fischer.
The end of the Bahnhofstrasse is where Prada meets flea market. Here, at Bürkliplatz every Saturday from 6.00 am until 4.00 pm, between May and October, visitors can browse through the vast assortment of curios and antiques, occasionally taking time out to enjoy the beautiful view of the snow-covered mountains on the distant horizon. Opposite the market, the boats from the Lake Zürich fleet passers-by to enjoy a pleasurable cruise on the lake. The Rosenhof Market takes place every Thursday, from 10.00 am to 8.00 pm, and every Saturday from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm. Jewellery, semi-precious stones, leather articles, Swiss handicrafts and exotic scents from all over the world create an exciting ambiance in the courtyard which nestles between the ancient city walls. Clothes, household items, old records and vehicle parts, among other things, can be found at the Kanzlei Market every Saturday from 8.00 am to 4.00 pm.
The Café Sprüngli is renowned far and wide. Here, guests won’t only enjoy the finest Swiss chocolate, as can also be found at Teuscher, Schurter and Honold, but the legendary Luxemburgerli, too. These small confectionaries, similar to French macaroons, are available in an assortment of flavors and are very popular as gifts. Those who prefer to stop for a cup of coffee – or other refreshment – during a shopping spree, should not miss a trip to the furniture store, Tisch Bank Stuhl (Table Bench Chair), the bar & bookshop, Sphères, or Buch und Wein (Book and Wine), which specialises in wines and related reading material.
A department store with a difference, Saus und Braus’ colorful designer products bring a breath of fresh air into everyday life. As a platform for Swiss labels, it brings fashion, handbags, jewellery, lamps and home accessories all under one roof.