Killing Time on Bahnhofstrasse

Things to Do — By Zanni Davis on July 19, 2010 at 3:10 am

Hailed as the world’s most expensive street, Bahnhofstrasse can be an intimidating experience for some. Unless you have a Bentley and driver waiting to pick up your shopping, you may feel out of place on this street. However, comparable to celebrity spotting, Bahnhofstrasse is something every visitor at least wants to see – because of its great looks and global renown.

Image: Olgierd Schönwald

Stretching a short 1.4 kilometers, this street is lined with the elite in shopping options, including Chanel and Rolex. There are over 120 individual retailers and some (high-end) department stores.

As Swiss as its name suggests, Bahnhofstrasse, unsurpringly, is accustomed to the Swiss aesthetic of privacy. Despite its fame and popularity, you will feel unencumbered by crowds as you laze along the cobbled streets – no private cars allowed into the stretch allows for this kind of privacy. Thus, there is no real demarcation between the sidewalk and the road, as solely pedestrians use both.

If you visit during the summer, try an alfresco lunch in one of the high-end cafes alongside bankers and businessmen. Be prompt, however, because Swiss efficiency means that the hours of lunch begin at noon and promptly end at two so don’t be late or you’ll miss out.

Access to the street is very easy, as it is runs between Zurich’s main train station and the center of town, Lake Zurich. There is a light rail that runs the length of the street, making it very well connected with the city’s public transportation.

This street, as is most of Switzerland, is watch lovers’ paradise. The Beyer Clock and Watch Museum, opened in 1970, displays the vast private collection of the Beyers, a family of watchmakers whose craft goes back to the 18th century. It is currently located in the basement of the Chronometrie Beyer shop. This museum showcases among the world’s most valuable antique timepieces. Here you can find regal clocks from French King Louis’ private collection or Chinese pagoda clocks made of emerald.

Image: Olgierd Schonwald

The Turler Company Store is another Swiss gem in watch making. Excelling in their artistry for over 125 years, the showstopper here isn’t the vast array of luxury watches; instead the Turler Clock, weighing in at 1.2 tons, steals the show. Made up of over 250 wheels and 155 pin-ons, this is one of the most complex timepieces ever created – and also among the most beautiful. There is no admission charge to see this exquisite display, so what are you waiting for? Time’s a-ticking!