Zurich is much more than banking. In reality, groups will discover a city bubbling with both urban style and natural beauty. And while the Swiss metropolis is clearly a global center of high finance, the city offers plenty of unique options for groups.

Nature-wise, the city sits right on Lake Zurich, so aside from offering a sophisticated global meetings infrastructure, the compact metropolis--sometimes referred to as a boutique city--presents groups with a variety of natural activities to complement its modern conference facilities.

“I call it the water town,” says Roland Ottiger, head of markets & business development for Zurich Tourism.

“Here you have a large metropolitan city, but with a lake in the heart of the city. When you organize a meeting during the summer, this is one of the feelings that you get from Zurich: Yes, it is a city, yet at the same time, it has this combination of city and nature.”

Groups can meet in various venues near the lake or on the lake. For example, one can take a boat from the city center to Quai 61, a lakeside restaurant, bar and event space. Giardino Verde, in another case, provides three tropical greenhouses for numerous events. In still another instance, the Uetliberg, Zurich’s own mountain, provides panoramic views of the Alps and the city.

For planners targeting the main inner city, AURA, a luxury venue for high-tech events at Zurich’s Paradeplatz, is over the top. Other venues like Papeirsaal und Folium and Giesserei Oerlikon are located in repurposed buildings, showcasing Zurich’s urban edginess.

When the meeting is done, Zurich has all the high-end shopping one could want, and the Zurich West neighborhood, a former industrial part of town, has morphed over the last 10 years into a combination of artisan shops, creative urbanism and high-tech companies.

All in all, when compared to London, Paris, Vienna and other sprawling European cities, Zurich is very compact, offering a very high level of infrastructure, but on a boutique scale.

“You have a wide variety of experiences, but in a relatively small area,” Ottiger says.