Practical Life in Zurich


Shopping in Zurich


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There are shops for couture, Swiss specialities, and everyday living in Zurich. Stores are generally closed on Sundays, including all supermarkets. The exceptions are at the main train station, Enge, Stadelhofen, and airport. Another exception is if a business is family-owned and doesn't employ a non-family member, they can stay open on Sunday.

Credit Cards

Most stores and supermarkets accept local EC/Maestro Cards. Smaller shops may only deal in cash.

Main Shopping Areas

Bahnhofstrasse - One of the busiest and best known shopping streets in the world. Exclusive, expensive, and refined shops are an attraction in itself. Globus and Jelmoli are well-known high-end department stores, on the street. It runs from the Hauptbahnhof to the lake.

Niederdorf - In the old section of Zurich, this area primarily offers fast food, trendy clothes, and the roving grounds for young Swiss.

Lowenstrasse - Runs west of Bahnhofstrasse from the main train station. There are many medium range shops and a large branch of Migros, a department store chain.

Specialties

Many of the things Switzerland is known for -such as watches and clocks- are now imported from inexpensive manufacturing centers like China and Japan. If it is important to you to have the authentic product, do your research. Real Swiss-made clocks are still well-known for their quality and reliability.

Clocks & Watches

    Example of quality Swiss Brands
  • Swatch - Least expensive option, you can obtain a watch for as little as 40 CHF. Available in their stores on Bahnhofstrasse and various other locations, or in department stores.
  • M-Watch - Available in Migros Electronics stores, this is another relatively inexpensive option. Note that the "M-Budget" is an imported cheap watch.
  • Mondaine - known for their use of the famous SBB railway clock face. You can buy a replica of the SBB clock as a watch or a wall clock in most major railway stations, among other locations. However, you should note that most of them do not replicate the hallmark smooth movement of the second hand for 58.5 seconds followed by the 1.5 second pause that is characteristic of real SBB railway clocks, but they do replicate the clock face. They are quartz, and somewhat pricey at 130-180 CHF. The vast majority of SBB railway clocks are actually produced by Mobatime (Moser-Baer AG), not Mondaine, even though Mondaine's name appears on some of the larger clocks such as the Treffpunkt in Zurich HB. Mondaine's wall and desk clocks, however, are only of "Swiss design" and are manufactured in China and Taiwan.

To see some watches of the upper echelon, check out the Bucherer store window at Bahnhofstrasse. There are some of the most expensive watches in the world here.

Chocolate

Swiss chocolate is legendary for good reason. A perfect gift or just a bit of heaven for yourself, even the cheap chocolate is good here.

    Swiss Chocolate Brands
  • Frey - Number one in the Swiss Chocolate market, this brand is primarily sold in Migros and Denner supermarkets. It offers a premium quality for a customer friendly price. It is 100 percent Swiss and is one of the only Swiss manufacturers from bean to bar. The factory offers free tours.
  • Lindt - Available at the Coop and other supermarkets besides Migros, you can also visit the factory and store.

Sprungli - This is a Zurich institution that offers a variety of sweet and savory goodies. Their variety of chocolates include hand-made truffles and chocolate bars. The Luxemburgerli is a specialty and appears as a hamburger but is actually a soft macaroon. The Truffe du Jour, a chocolate truffle that is made daily from raw cream and is meant to be consumed immediately, is another favorite.

Handicrafts

There are a variety of beautifully crafted Swiss products to be enjoyed. Cuckoo clocks are a commonly misconstrued to be Swiss- they are actually form Germany's black forest. Dig in and find the real Swiss crafts.

Schweizer Heimatwerk - A great shop for quality Swiss handicrafts and other Swiss-made products presented in a gallery-like setting. The emphasis is on traditional crafts like beautiful hand-carved wooden items from the Appenzell region.

Swiss army knives truly are a thing of beauty. Coop City in Bahnhofstrasse sells the Victorinox line at fair prices. More elaborate pieces with customized face plates or engravings are available at some shops. Expect to pay about 78 CHF for a SwissChamp (the most popular model).

Flea Markets

Flohmarkt Burkliplatz - This large, relaxed flea market has many interesting stalls. Located in the Bellevue area near the Stadelhofen station, this market runs from May until October on Saturdays from 6:00 until 15:30. Flohmarkt Kanzlei - A big market that hosts up to 400 stalls on busy days. Located on Helvetiaplatz, the market takes place on Saturdays from 8:00 till 16:00.

Supermarket Chains

Swiss employment law bans working on Sundays, so shops are closed on this day. Look for railway stations which are exempt from this law.

Swiss supermarkets can be hard to spot as they usually have small entrances and may be located in a basement. Look for the supermarket logos above entrances between other shops. Do try to find a supermarket as their full and vast selection of dairy products and chocolates are purchased most inexpensively here and are divine.

    Supermarkets
  • Migros - This cooperative of supermarkets provides average to good quality food and homeware. However, they do not sell alcoholic beverages nor cigarettes. Brand name products are rare as the chain does their own brands. You can sign up for a Migros card and they will send you coupons to use at the store. The stores are marked with an orange Helvetica letter "M" sign. The number of "M" letters indicates the size of the store and the different services available - a single "M" is usually a smaller grocery store, a double M ("MM") may be larger and sells other goods like clothing, and a MMM is a full department store with household goods and possibly electronics and sporting goods.
  • Coop - A cooperative with an Emphasis on quality. They usually have multi-buy offers, points collection schemes, and coupons. Coop City is usually a department store with a Coop grocery store inside, a multi-floor layout provides space for clothing, electrical items, stationary, paperware as well as beauty products and perfume.
  • Denner - A discount grocery store, noticeable for their red signs and store interiors. Relatively low priced.
  • Aldi Suisse - This German discounter has a growing presence in Switzerland. The prices are a little lower than at the other supermarket chains, but still significantly higher than in Germany.

Update 18/08/2011



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