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Chocolate and cheese, mountains and lakes, money and men: OutUK’s Adrian Gillan is far from neutral over the dazzling gay Swiss hub that is Zurich, often voted the world’s best city to live in.
The city of Zurich, a global center for banking and finance, lies at the north end of Lake Zurich in northern Switzerland.

Expensive: but worth it! Zurich gobbles money up as quickly as it makes it, with prices at least a third higher than even London. Perched on the Zurichsee at the mouth of the Limmat, it's unquestionably one of the most beutiful gay capitals of the world.

The stunning view from the Quai Bridge on the Limmat river at night.
As is often the way, the gay quarter is located in the old part of town, between the grand main station and the sparkling waterfront. Amid narrow sloping streets and market squares and echoing faintly to the gentle toll of church bells, nothing is much more than a five minute stroll from anything else.

BARS & CAFES

Graze out with the gay bears at the Bistrot chez Marion that sprawls out onto Zahringerplatz or prowl over the road to the Predigerhof Bistro Bar if you want less of the snack and more of the drink. Three of the most stylish bars in town are actually more mixed by day and queer by night.
Zurich offers a wonderful array of places to drink and eat.
Cafe Odeon down by the Limmat Quai is a cosy ‘n chic wood, steel and leather affair that attracts a young, arty crowd, often fresh out from the opera down the road. Barfüsser back in the old heart is so chic it almost hurts, with a comfy array of stools and sofas, beers and candlelit cocktails. Barfüsser used to be the oldest gay bar in Switzerland - maybe even Europe - before becoming a leather club and then being reinvented as a red-decked busy Japanese restaurant for sushi & sashimi, with cocktail menu, lounge & outdoor seats.

Just a few streets away is the real gay cocktail palace in town. Cranberry is less warm and ambient than the other bars, yet rather more fruity and fresh and 100% gay 24/7. But beware - even a small Sea Breeze will set you back seven or eight pounds.

But if you want something a bit more friendly and regular on the gay bar front, walk five minutes north to the Petra's Tip Top Bar on Seilergraben - a newly revamped, yet small and cosy room-with-bar where the hearty, bearded manager does his very best to ensure everyone knows at least something about everyone else in the house as he does his rounds. They also do a good small-hour, post-club breakfast.

Heldenbar, or hero bar, is now the longest running regular gay event in Zurich. The nights they run are on a non-profit basis so the drinks are relatively good value. There are always nice crowd of people around but sadly it's only open on Wednesdays. The music is not really outstanding but it's packed with guys most of the time.

Baroclub is the gay pop-up club in the Kernstrasse. Parties take place on a regular basis organised by the bar Barometer, as well as other independent promoters. The venue used to be a large restaurant around the corner from the Barometer bar and on the nights it operates, it normally stays open until 4 o'clock, weekdays and weekends. Barometer itself offers a pleasant ambience in the industrial look. Their offer of drinks and food can also be enjoyed in the small outdoor area.

Infinity Bar & Lounge is part of the growing Zurich gay scene found on Zähringerstrasse in Niederdorf. You can enjoy a beer at the bar, make yourself comfortable in their atmospheric lounge upstairs, or challenge your friends at the table football, darts or their rather retro Pac Man table.

CLUBBING

Heaven Club offers dragshows and pop nights which keep everyone dancing at this nightclub known for its eclectic music taste. It's also in the middle of Zurich's Niederdorf gay district. The clubbers are as varied as the musical program, with some well-known DJs, talented newcomers, drag queens, crispy boys and shrill guests who make the Heaven Club a colorful cosmos for everyone.
Zurich is a very liberal city and it's annual Street Parade, a celebration of love, freedom, generosity and tolerance has grown to be an event of mammoth proportions with 750,000 people taking part. Since 1994, thousands of LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, inter-queer), with relatives and friends, have been demonstrating every year in Zurich for equality and against discrimination. What began over twenty years ago as Christopher Street Day (CSD) Zurich has been called the Zurich Pride Festival since 2009. It takes place in June each year.
Rage Club is the heavyweight in nights out. Based in Wagistrasse, the club opens at 10pm and is a cruiser club on 3 floors in industrial style. Right by the entrance you will find the main bar with a wide range of drinks, the smoking lounge (the only place you can smoke there), a small darkroom and individual lockers where you can leave clothes you don't need. Downstairs in the cellar you will find cabins, partly equipped with slings or andreas-kreuz, dark rooms, a room with bathtub, gloryhole area and a bar integrated into the darkroom. Upstairs on the first floor is the fetish club sector which most of the week shows nonstop porn movies in some large bars, but on Fridays and Saturdays admission depends on that night's strict dress code.

The club is famous for its massive rubber events featuring rubber only in all variations: rubber, latex, f-wear, nasty-pig, oilskin and neoprene. They also have a naked party plus, after work cruising on Thursdays, sports-shorts, jocks, underwear, army, militaria, uniform, jumpsuit, chaps, worker-gear and skins. Most famously they regularly hold Arschfickerei, (Arse Fucking Night) where the cashier at the entrance gives you a white silicone wristband - right on the arm means: I am passive; left arm means: I am active.

ALL STEAMED UP

There are at least half a dozen gay saunas in Zurich, but the best known and most central are the Paragonya Wellness Club (again, near the Marion) and the Apollo, although the former has a bit of a reputation for attracting rent boys during the day if that’s your want.

Moustache Sauna in the Engelstrasse is another sauna offering fun and relaxation in a pleasant atmosphere. Reductions for Teenies under 20, Young guys under 25 and Partners under 30 on Tuesdays. They have a finnish sauna, bio sauna, video steam bath, bubble bath and whirlpool, plus recliners, a dark room and video cabins.

The lovely Arboretum park, a ten minute amble from the gay district around the bay is a well-known place for evening cruising. Macho Cityshop (yet again, back by Marion) sells the usual pile of pink pap and queer trash.

STAYING

OutUK's online Bookings service has a selection of gay-friendly mainstream hotels in all price ranges at special discount rates.

Gay-friendly hotels from Bookings

Zurich is a great place for lovers, not just clubbers. The cobbled streets of the Old Town leading to towering churches and the swans adorning the Lake Zurich shores, make Zurich an idyllic place for romance.

Browse the world-class Kunsthaus gallery, especially its fine collection of impressionist and early twentieth century paintings... sit and gaze down on the town from the lofty Lindenhof terrace... or just drift aimlessly around the bay promenade of that mighty lake.
Photography courtesy ST/swiss-image.ch

THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
Apollo Sauna (Seilergraben 41; T: 0041 (0) 1 261 4952; Website)
Barfüsser (Spitalgasse 14; T: 0041 (0) 1 251 4064; Website)
Baroclub (Kernstrasse 60; T: 0041 (0) 44 577 67 67; Website)
Barometer (Brauerstrasse 48; T: 0041 (0) 76 387 90 94; Website)
Bistrot chez Marion (Muhlegasse 22; T: 0041 (0) 1 261 2726; Website)
Cafe Odeon (Limmatquai 2; Website)
Cranberry (Metzgergasse 3; T: 0041 (0) 1 261 2772; Website)
Heaven Club (Spitalgasse 5; Website)
Heldenbar (Sihlquai 240; Website)
Infinity Bar & Lounge (Zähringerstrasse 11; T: 0041 (0) 43 244 88 90; Website)
Macho Cityshop (Häringstr. 16; T: 0041 (0) 1 251 1222; Website)
Moustache Sauna (Engelstrasse 4; T: 0041 (0) 44 241 10 80; Website)
Paragonya Wellness Club (Mühlegasse 11; T: 0041 (0) 1 252 6666; Website)
Petra's Tip Top Bar (Seilergraben 13; T: 0041 (0) 1 251 7822; Website)
Predigerhof Bistro Bar (Mühlegasse 15; T: 0041 (0) 1 251 2985; Website)
Rage Club (Wagistrasse 13; Website)
Zurich Pride Festival (Website)

Revised April 2019

 

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