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Guide to Zurich, Switzerland - as Swiss as the chocolate

Think of Zurich and you probably imagine international spy settings and un-numbered bank accounts. Zurich brings much more to the mind when you start to explore it

Zurich is perhaps the most well-known of all of Switzerland’s cities.  It is, by all measures, the largest city in Switzerland, with the metro area of Zurich being home to nearly 2 million people, around a quarter of all the residents of the country. 

Zurich Switzerland

It should therefore come as no surprise that it’s not only a major economic and cultural powerhouse within Switzerland, but ranks highly across all major cities throughout Europe.

 Likewise, it should be unsurprising that here is a major international destination for both business and tourism.

Clarification to Travelers:  City vs.Canton

Before we dive into the history of Zurich, Switzerland, or talk about the best hotels in Zurich to consider for your trip, it’s necessary to provide a little clarification.  

Often, those who are unfamiliar can become confused around Zurich, as a name, itself.  Zurich is both a city (the focus of this article), and a canton.  

A canton is one of the member-states that makes up the Swiss Confederacy, commonly called Switzerland.  It can be thought of like a county or province, in many ways. 

This is not uncommon – a good example is New York, the city, is located in New York, the state, in America.  

The difference is New York, the city, is often called New York City, so it is immediately obvious to where you are referring.  

Zurich City isn’t generally a term that is used, as most people expect you are referring to Zurich, the city or metro area, rather than the canton – especially if you are an international tourist.  Hopefully, this information will help keep you from getting lost or confused!

History of Zurich

Zurich is one of the oldest continually-inhabited cities in Europe, with permanent habitation dating to around 15 BC, and inhabitants in the area as a whole that dates back even further, to the 5000-6000 BC period.  

It was founded by the Romans in 15 BC, and remained part of the Roman Empire for the majority of its early history.  It gained quasi-independence in 1218, being granted, effectively free state status. 

In 1351, the city joined the Swiss Confederacy as its fifth canton.  Despite a brief departure in the 1440s due to a war, by 1450, Zurich was allowed back into the Confederacy, where it remained until the formalization of the Swiss Confederacy into Switzerland in 1848.

Today, Zurich stands as a cultural and economic center of not only Switzerland, but Europe as a whole.  It is disproportionately a major center of finance, despite the relatively small population compared to other global financial hubs.  It is considered the wealthiest city in Europe in terms of GDP per capita.

Routinely, it receives awards and rankings as one of the most livable cities in the world, and one of the global cities with the best quality of life.

Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Zurich

If you’re interested in visiting the city, one of the things you’ll need to do is decide on where to stay.  

To help, we’ve compiled a brief overview of some of the best hotels in Zurich, based on feedback and ratings from various travel sites and guides.  Depending on the style of hotel, amenities you seek, and your budget, you’re sure to find an outstanding choice or two from our best hotels in Zurich list!

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