The Swiss capital of Zurich is divided into 12 districts named Kreis 1 to Kreis 12. While most visitors are familiar with Kreis 1, where Zurich’s most famous downtown shopping street Bahnhofstrasse is located, Kreis 5 – also called Zurich West – is a lesser known but refreshingly hip area that’s worth stopping by.
A former industrial zone located along the south bank of the Limmat River, near Hardbrücke Station, Kreis 5 underwent urban renewal in the last decade or so, transforming from a gritty neighbourhood into a lively hotspot of youthful, creative energy. Today, it is home to independent fashion and homeware boutiques, art galleries, performance venues, vintage stores, cafes, artisanal food merchants, bars and restaurants. Here are seven places to stop at in Kreis 5 the next time you are at Zurich.
1. Theatre performances at Schauspielhaus Zürich
In 2000, the Schiffbau building, where ships were once manufactured, was transformed to house the 750-seat Schauspielhaus Zürich theatre with three stages. Every season, close to 20 new productions are performed in here. Also in the old but atmospheric Schiffbau are the Moods Jazz Club, Restaurant LaSalle, and Nietturm Bar with incredible views of Zurich West.
2. Art and culture at Löwenbräukunst-Areal
Built in 1897, the Löwenbräu brewery was redesigned, modernised and turned into a contemporary art centre in 2012. Named Löwenbräukunst-Areal, it is home to museums, art galleries, a restaurant, and the Art Escape Room – an interactive gaming experience where players solve art-related puzzles.
3. Delicious local produce at Markthalle
Built in 1894, Zurich West’s railway viaduct has 36 massive arches that have been given new life from an unconventional shopping complex named Im Viadukt. Beneath the arches of the 50m-long space, and amidst fashion boutiques, restaurants and lifestyle stores, is the Markthalle – an indoor food hall with produce from more than 20 farmers and delicious treats from other local vendors Here’s where you can buy prime cuts of meat, poultry, seafood, fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as baked treats, antipasti, and specialty foods such as cold-pressed oils or rose-petal jam.
4. Vintage-inspired designs at CABINET
It’s all about vintage chic meets modern design at CABINET, located under one of Im Viadukt’s arches. It sells vintagey men’s and women’s fashion, furniture, jewellery, home décor and stationery. Besides the collection of carefully-curated items from independent shops around the world, it also retails a collection designed by owners Nina and Jeroen van Rooijen.
5. Live music at Bogen F
Also at Im Viadukt is Bogen F, a live music concert and event bar that can accommodate more than 300 people. Since 2010, both well-known and up-and-coming bands and musicians have been performing everything from garage and rock to blues and jazz for lively crowds. On Saturday afternoons, Bogen F doubles as a café bar that captures the moody, alternative spirit of Kreis 5 wonderfully. It is also open on evenings when there are no gigs scheduled.
6. Browse at Freitag Tower
Composed of 19 shipping containers stacked to create a colourful 26m-tall building, Freitag Tower is a Kreis 5 landmark. The flagship store of the iconic Zurich recycled bag brand Freitag occupies the first four floors of the tower. First designed by graphic designers Markus and Daniel Freitag in 1993, Freitag bags – the first-ever water-resistant messenger bags made of recycled truck tarpaulin, discarded bicycle inner tubes and car seat belts – are not only stylish and practical, but eco-friendly too. Right at the top is a rooftop observatory where you can look down at Frau Gerolds Garten.
7. Beer and snacks at Frau Gerolds Garten
Located in the middle of colourful construction container buildings that house boutique shops and pop-up stores, Frau Gerolds is an outdoor bar and eatery that serves home-style dishes in a sunny and convivial urban garden setting. When the weather is pleasant, locals love to catch up with friends here over cold beers and tasty food, or shop at the outdoor design market that takes place in autumn and spring.