Fun-Seeking Travelers Should Visit These Two Switzerland Cities
Amsterdam? Of course. The Greek Islands? Most certainly. Berlin? That’s definitely on my party radar, a destination I’m looking forward to visiting in the future.
But there are two other places that summer party travelers should have on their destination list: Zurich and Basel, Switzerland.
I know what it’s like to try and choose a place – or places – to go where the atmosphere is intoxicating, the bars are lively and the scene is ripe for meeting and mingling. You’re only have a limited amount of time and you want to make the most of it, and the last thing you want to do is wind up in some place where the “action” is centered around a few boring cafes.
Plus, you can’t stay in Amsterdam more than a few days at a time. Any more than that and you may never make it back home, at least in any recognizable condition by your boss or parents or even your own standards.
Frankly, I prefer both Zurich and Basel to Paris and even Prague. Paris, well, the Bastille has a few fun places, but I found the Latin Quarter and its few tiny bars to be highly overrated (judge for yourself with PubClub’s Paris bar guide). In Prague, you’re constantly on alert trying not to become victim of the pickpockets, which is a bit of a buzzkill. Still, I did find a couple of cool places as pointed out in this review of Prague bars.
Zurich is the ideal place to start in Switzerland.
You certainly won’t be disappointed from the moment you step out of the train station. Cross a bridge and you’ll see hundreds – eventually a couple of thousand – of people walking along and hanging out on the side of the river. Keep walking and eventually the river turns into Lake Zurich, alongside of which is a long walkway that become a park. Grab a king can of beer from the bar by the ferris wheel (6 Swiss francs) – no worries here because you can drink in the streets in Switzerland! – and soak up the atmosphere.
Pop into one of the many bath houses that at night, become bars.
You can spend all night here, or go hit the bars. I suggest starting at the cool Euro lounge Corazon up the hill of a main walk street on the opposite river side of the steeples.
Then hit Bierhalle Wolfe along the river close to the train station bridge; it’s a German beer hall that’s like a non-stop Oktoberfest. After midnight, make your way to the splendid Splendid Bar(the street name is Rosengasse, this is a side street along the river, across from the small boat dock), a casual bar with a guy at a piano rocking the crowd to classic rock songs (Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, etc.).
Or walk a half a block further to Niederdorf street, turn left and feast your eyes on a kilometer of bars lined up side by side like bowling pins ready to be toppled.
Clubbers should get on a tram for 15 minutes and head to Zurich West. When the weather is good, people are out and the city is vibrant in activity.
You can get more specifics about Zurich’s nightlife from PubClub.com’s Zuich bar guide.
Two hours away by train is Basel. Located on both the German and French border it’s a small town that packs a rather surprising party punch.
If it’s early evening, grab a beer and check out all the activity at the tram-heavy Barfusserplatz, the stroll up Steinenvorsstadt; with the word “stein” in it, you correctly guessed that it’s a good place to have a beer. There are many cafes; find the one with the most people with which you would like to mingle. I personally like Kuchlin and so, too, do many people as finding a table outside can be difficult.
That same street has an English bar, the Mr. Picwick Pub, but the place you want to wind up at is the Irish bar. That’s one street over, just a half block from the Radission Blu hotel (an outstanding place to stay, by the way; it’s nice and the location is the best in the city for party travelers). Paddy Relly’s just flat out rocks it. On weekends, get there by midnight, for otherwise there’s a good chance you’ll be waiting in a line.
There are three levels to this bar, the main level and a dance floor downstairs, with a quieter pub upstairs. Tell bartender Kevin that PubClub.com sent you there.
For the more sophisticated party travelers, there’s a really cool bar past Paddy’s a block and a left up the hill, on Binningerstrasse. City Beach (you’ll see why it’s called that when you get there) is just plain cool. It has an outdoor “hangout” patio with – get this – a small swimming pool – but the rocking place is the indoor bar. There’s even a small dance club.
Basel pleasantly surprised me; there’s a lot of 20-somethings walking around and there are fun places to party.
The drinking age in Switzerland is 16 for beer and wine (that’s right, 16!) and 18 for hard alcohol. Beers in bars cost 8-10 Swiss francs (about 9-11 USD) and mixed drinks are 11-14.