White Christmas Outside, Warm Market Inside
The festive Christmas Market held at Zürich’s busy Hauptbahnhof Train Station (aka Zürich’s Main Station) is one of the largest indoor Christmas markets in Europe. It may be a white Christmas and winter wonderland outside but keep cozy and warm in here – with 150 festively decorated market stalls to get in the yuletide spirit. The fragrant aroma of cinnamon, glühwein (mulled wine), glögg (another mulled wine), traditional tirggel biscuits (which have been enjoyed here since 1461), Christstollen fruit loaf and roasted almonds waft through the station, beckoning commuting travelers and shoppers alike. Find charming handmade gifts – including holiday ornaments, jewelry and handmade candles as you listen to Christmas carols. But of course, the big showstopper here is the 50-foot Christmas tree decorated with between 5,000-7,000 Swarovski crystals and ornaments.
Originating in 1994, this is one of Europe’s newer markets, kicking off with just a dozen stalls. While it has flourished in the relatively few years since its founding to 150 stalls, its location of the Hauptbahnhof station lends to an older, more established feel. Opened in 1871, this Neo-Renaissance masterpiece features an elegant triumphal arch at the main entrance and faces the dazzling Bahnhofstrasse. Richly decorated lobbies, atriums, restaurants, halls and a monumental fountain commemorating Swiss Alfred Escher – it is clear to see why it is listed in the Swiss Inventory of Cultural Property of National Significance – and is a must-see in its own right.
Stroll Down Christmas Lane
Of course, there are many other ways to celebrate Zürich’s holiday season. One of the favorites is strolling down the vibrant and exclusive Bahnhofstrasse. Zurich’s tantalizing shopping avenue is always at its most stunning when aglow for the holiday. Bahnhofstrasse, one of the most expensive and exquisite shopping avenues in the world, is on par with New York City’s 5th Avenue – and home to stores like Bvlgari, Hermés, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Shopping here anytime is a special treat but during the holidays, the street becomes particularly magical. As if the bling in nearby Tiffany’s and Dior weren’t quite enough, 12,000 glittering LED lights are sure to keep the festive twinkle in shoppers’ eyes. The annual Santa Claus Parade also uses the Bahnhofstrasse as its festive route.