The best summer bars in Zurich

Our selection of the city's top spots for sipping in the sun
Pumpstation
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Barchetta
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Barchetta
By Alex Peghoux and Time Out contributors |
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The summer months see an enviable range of drinking destinations come out of hibernation and spring to life across Zurich, from rooftops to the lakeside. Read on to discover our pick of the best bars for whiling away those long summer days and nights.

Bars and pubs

Cinchona Bar

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A great setting and friendly staff complement this trendy urban bar in the 25hours Hotel on Langstrasse. During the course of the day, it morphs from a cosy relaxed setting to a buzzing bar ideal for the after-work crowd. Highball cocktails are the feature here crafted with the collaboration of Jörg Meyer of Le Lion and Boilerman Hamburg fame. 

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Bars and pubs

Bar Sacchi

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Don’t be fooled by this Italian bar’s simple rustic pink interior and that the house specialty, the negroni, comes dispensed from a beverage gun. Make no mistake, Claudio and his team serve up classic cocktails, but the negroni is the way to go, especially if you’re a gin aficionado looking for something other than a G&T. There’s also a fine selection of Italian wines that pair well with its panini.

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Restaurants

Restaurant Kiosk

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The laid-back atmosphere at this colourful place is ideal if you’re in the mood to chill by the lake with the bare necessities of summer – ice-cold beer and wood-fired pizza. Kiosk specialises in home-made pasta and all manner of grilled favourites, from bratwurst and cervelat to a mixed grill platter. Vegetarians aren’t left out either, with a variety of salads on offer. The Sunday brunch is particularly popular, though reservations are recommended.

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Bars and pubs

The View

This self-proclaimed ‘hidden bar’ is perched atop the Ambassador hotel, nestled between the opera house and the lake. Its limited opening hours only add to its mystique, while the drinks are good and the staff very friendly.The real draw here, though, is the unobstructed view of the waters, Sechseläutenplatz and Bellevue. It doesn’t serve much food-wise, so best to visit as a pre-dinner stop. For the best seats in the house, try to reserve the two-seater table at the north end of the terrace.

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Bars and pubs

Kleine Freiheit

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Half repurposed shipping container, half urban garden and only a five-minute walk from the main station and the university, Kleine Freiheit is a calm oasis during the day (albeit with several tramlines crisscrossing nearby). But it gets very packed on Friday and Saturday nights – and even more so when there are live bands playing. It offers a selection of mezzes, excellent cakes and coffee.

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Bars and pubs

Pumpstation

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In the mood for a barbecue and drink by the lake? Pumpstation has you covered. Mere metres from Lake Zurich, this alfresco terrace serves drinks alongside specialities prepared by Baba, the resident showman grill-master. It’s a popular place – especially at the weekend in the afternoons – and doesn’t take reservations, so either stop by early or armed with a little patience. 

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Bars and pubs

Primitivo

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Comprising a stack of converted cargo containers by the Oberer Letten outdoor swimming area, Primitivo is a Zurich institution during the summer months, serving up simple-yet-satisfying fare. Grab a drink and a bite to eat after a refreshing plunge in the Limmat or a gruelling game of beach volleyball.

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Bars and pubs

Beach Lounge

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Yearning to get some sand between your toes and kick back with a cocktail this summer? No need to head abroad or even to a badi: just visit the Beach Lounge on Bauschänzli island in Zurich city centre. Tucked away in a secluded corner of the Bauschänzli restaurant and beer garden, this cosy pop-up offers drinks as well as a special menu crafted by celebrity chef Karim Schumann.

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Bars and pubs

Barchetta

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Barchetta at the Storchen hotel offers three areas to enjoy the well-crafted drinks created by Julio Clemens Enzler and his team. The bar and lounge are beautiful examples of art deco chic, while the outdoor section boasts high-top tables right by the Limmat with unparalleled views of Grossmünster cathedral. Meanwhile, the hotel’s Piazza terrace is fast becoming an after-work buzz spot in summer, perfect for enjoying Italian-inspired drinks and dishes.

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Restaurants

Schipfe 16

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This listed building by the Lindenhof on the banks of the Limmat is partially hidden beneath the shade of several linden trees. It’s a great no-frills place to go if you want simple yet decent food at reasonable prices – possibly because it’s run by the city rather than one of the many restaurant conglomerates that have taken over the Zurich food scene. Nevertheless, for a table on the terrace, reservations are highly recommended.

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