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Im Viadukt in Josefwiese-parken. Photo: Lea Huser
Im Viadukt in Josefwiese-parken. Photo: Lea Huser

Alternative Zürich

When people think of Zürich, they tend to think of business, banking and fashionable shopping streets. But the Swiss financial center is also home to a hip, alternative urban scene.

Zürich is a rich and highly attractive city with lots of very nice people and plenty of SUVs. The city isn’t just about the bourgeoisie and business meetings at expensive restaurants, though. It’s also home to Switzerland’s biggest alternative culture and bar scene, a part of the city’s urban identity that passes most visitors by. We’re putting that right with this guide to alternative venues, cultural centers, designer markets, urban parks and pop-up bars that will let you see another side to Zürich. 

Photo: stall 6

Stall 6

The evocative Stall 6 is many things – a bar, a yoga studio, a club, a concert venue and a theater foyer for the Gessnerallee experimental theater across the road. It’s a great place for an aperitif, either indoors or outside, where you can chill with a drink on a sun lounger. VJs and DJs get the party going in style at the weekend.

Stall 6

Gessnerallee 8

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Hive

Hive is Zürich’s cool breeding ground for electronic music and upcoming DJs, where you’ll quickly find you’ve danced the night away to the hot, sweaty beats. Appropriately housed in an old industrial building.

Hive

Geroldstrasse 5, Zürich

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Rote Fabrik

In a textile factory dating from the 1880s lies Zürich’s alternative cultural center, which holds over 300 events every year. Murals, experimental theater, film events, poetry readings, artist workshops and folding bicycles all help to create the subculture vibe. The red factory is in a fantastic location down by Lake Zürich and you can hang out in its wonderful large outdoor area. There’s also an affordable eco-conscious restaurant, Ziegel au Lac.

Rote Fabrik

Seestrasse 395, Zürich

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Josefwiese og Im Viadukt. Photo: Nelly Rodriguez

Josefwiese & Im Viadukt

When the weather’s nice, the locals flock to Josefwiese, an urban park in the trendy Züri West district. The park is flanked on one side by 36 picturesque old railway viaducts, which have been converted into cafés and little stores, and is also home to lots of grass and shady trees, barbecue areas, children’s playgrounds and pétanque courts.

Josefwiese & Im Viadukt

Josefstrasse, Zürich

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Helsinki club

Helsinki is a true classic on the Zürich alternative scene, where artist types, cool kids and originals party to DJs, garage rock and everything in between. It also holds release parties for oddly-titled niche albums.

Helsinkiklub

Geroldstrasse 35, Zürich

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Rimini - pop-upbar at the river swimming pool. Photo: Rimini

Rimini og MontagsMarkt

As evening falls, one of Zürich’s hottest pop-up bars, Rimini, opens its outdoor bar at the Männerbad river swimming pool at Schanzengraben. Here you can enjoy a drink by the water in the company of the young, beautiful and creative, with cool design in the summer – and the Montagsmarkt flea market is a must.

Rimini

Badweg 10, Zürich

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Montagsmarkt is open from May to September.

El Lokal

Atmospheric bar with an eclectic interior of string lights, sailing gear and colorful bar stools. Top music, food, drinks and everything else you need for a great night out. Sometimes shows soccer on the big screen.

El Lokal

Gessner-Allee 11, Zürich

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Bäckeranlage. Photo: evamaria/flickrCC

Bäckeranlage

Just a stone’s throw from Zürich’s old red-light district and the bar-laden Langstrasse lies Bäckeranlage. Once a sinister-looking park frequented by drug addicts, where you wouldn’t go if you could possibly avoid it, today it’s an urban oasis, where the locals hang out, enjoy the café, cultural center and playground, have barbecues or listen to music. Great atmosphere and popular all year round.

Bäckeranlage

Hohlstrasse 67

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Text: Lise Hannibal

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