Zug (German), French Zoug, capital of Zug canton, north central Switzerland, on the northeastern shore of Lake Zug (Zugersee), at the foot of the Zugerberg (3,409 ft [1,039 m]), just south of Zürich. First mentioned in 1242 as a possession of the counts of Kyburg, it was purchased by Rudolf IV of Habsburg (later Rudolf I of Germany) in 1273. It entered the Swiss Confederation in 1352, and after several turbulent decades the Habsburgs renounced all claims to the town. Zug joined the league of Swabian cities against Leopold of Habsburg and shared in the victory at Sempach in 1386. At the time of the Reformation, it remained Roman Catholic and became a member of the Golden, or Borromean, League in 1586. In the 14th and 15th centuries it acquired various districts in its neighbourhood, which it ruled as subject lands until 1798. Historic landmarks include the Zytturm, or Clock Tower (1480), the town hall (1505), St. Oswald’s Church (1478–1545), and the Capuchin monastery (1597). An important cattle market, Zug manufactures metal goods, electrical apparatus, and textiles. The population is German speaking and mainly Roman Catholic.
The town of Zug, with its attractive location by Lake Zug, its picturesque Old Town and culinary specialities, is an attractive destination for holidays or excursions in Central Switzerland. Zug is also highly rated by business people: because of the low rates of taxation, the canton of Zug is a popular place to do business, and many international companies have settled here.
In the Middle Ages, the town belonged in succession to the noble families of the Lenzburgs, the Kyburgs and the Habsburgs. The charming Old Town, dating from the time of the Kyburgs, has a number of impressive historical buildings. The emblem of the historic centre around the Kolinplatz square is the Zytturm. The house, dating from the 16th century, is a popular meeting place. The quayside in Zug, the promenade along the lake, is a popular place for a stroll, from where you can see the famous mountains of central Switzerland such as the Rigi, Pilatus, and Bürgenstock, and on a clear day even the peaks of the Bernese Alps.
The modern part of the town of Zug between the Old Town and the station is an inviting place for window-shopping along its arcades. Specially noteworthy are the Zug Art Museum, giving an interesting overview of the art of the 20th century, the History Museum in the castle, an Africa Museum, a Fishing Museum and a Museum of Prehistoric Times.
You should not leave Zug without tasting its gastronomic specialities: “Zuger Kirschtorte” – Zug is famous for its Kirsch liqueur, distilled from the region’s wonderful fruits – and “Zuger Rötel”, a particularly delicious type of fish from the lake.
Thanks to free bike hire from May to October, it’s easy to explore the town and the surrounding area on two wheels. There is an extensive network of footpaths, with several walks along the shores of the lake and over the Zugerberg or the gently rolling moraine landscape of the region. As an alternative to walking, try the paths for cycling or skating along the side of the lake. A popular biking route goes over the Zugerberg to Lake Ägeri and through the Lorzentobel valley back to Zug. On a hot summer’s day, the shady, romantic gorge of the Lorze is an attractive way to hike to the caves, complete with stalactites and stalagmites.
Thanks to its central location between Zurich and Lucerne, and good infrastructure, Zug is, of course, an excellent starting point for excursions.
- Old Town – an impressive Old Town building from the late Gothic period, emblem of the historic centre, is the 52 m high Zytturm, rising above the other ancient towers.
- Art Museum – six annual exhibitions of modern art, artists are invited to help create the exhibition.
- Zug station – a light installation by the American light artist James Turrell has turned Zug station into a trendy work of art.
- Lake Zug – organise a boat ride or enjoy a romantic sunset from the lakeside promenade.
- Baar Caves – especially fine cave with stalactites and stalagmites in the deep, shadowy Lorzentobel valley.
- Chapel of former Cistercian abbey – impressive early Gothic monastery church near Zug, dating from the 13th/14th century, with fine choir stalls and stained glass windows.
- Carnival – the traditional Carnival figures in Zug include Greth Schell, who carries her husband home in a basket on her back after he has had too much to drink in the inn (February/March).
- Zuger Seenachtsfest – a cheerful summer festival with fireworks (June).
- “Märlisunntig Zug” – old and young listen with rapt attention to the tales of storytellers in more than 30 fairy-telling sessions (December).
- Zug Christmas Market – an aroma of cinnamon, mulled wine and fir trees, streets full of Christmas music and stalls selling handicrafts (December).
How to get there
Canton Zug is easily reached by train. The Intercity trains of the Gotthard line and Zürich-Lucerne line stop at the city of Zug. Moreover, Zug is connected to the S-Bahn network (rapid transit trains) of Canton Zürich. Besides Zug, the villages of Baar, Cham, Rotkreuz, Steinhausen, Walchwil are connected to the SBB system. Driving time from Zürich: 30 minutes.
By car from St. Gotthard on Autobahn A2 and A14 via Lucerne on t A4 via Arth-Goldau, with exits in Rotkreuz, Cham, Zug-West and Baar. From Zürich you can drive via A3 up to exit Hirzel and then to Sihlbrugg/Baar, or via cantonal road 4 through the Sihl forest up to Sihlbrugg/Baar.
Other/Air: The nearest airport is Zürich-Kloten. From Zürich-Kloten there are half-hourly train connections to Zug. Driving time: 53 minutes