Zurich is the biggest city in Switzerland, yet not its capital. It’s beautiful and full of magical places but stuffed with travelers. It’s stocked with the finest chocolates, cheese, and local products, but it’s expensive. It’s a healthy balance, don’t you think? I’ve got mixed feelings, but I love Zurich and I’m excited every time I visit.
GETTING TO ZURICH
If you travel by plane, there’re no cheap flights! Lines like Wizzair or Ryanair don’t fly to Zurich airport, so you need to pick some other lines. But once you’re in Zurich, consider the options below to get to the city center:
-Taxi/Uber – it’s the most expensive of all the options available. The ride should take approximately 15 minutes unless it’s the weekend or rush hour. The price for the taxi ride can range from CHF 45 to 65, while Uber is a bit cheaper: 25-35.
– Train – The rides take around 10 minutes and cost around CHF 7. Trains run often, usually every 5 minutes between 5 a.m. and 00.45 a.m. You can also consider a day pass, valid for 24 hours, which can cover way back as well if necessary.
-Tram – you can also get to the Zürich city center by tram, which runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and the ride lasts for 35 minutes. The price is CHF 6.8 for adults.
If you travel by car, you need a Swiss vignette for the highways, there’s only one: yearly and it costs CHF 40.
You can also choose trains as a comfortable means of transport.
GETTING AROUND IN ZURICH
Possibly the best and cheapest way is to move on foot, however even though very walkable, Zurich with its 80+ square kilometers is impossible to visit all at once. Most travelers stick to the Altstadt (The Old Town), but other districts are also worth seeing. Driving in Zurich is a challenge and the parking fees 24 hours a day, 7 days a week are a nightmare, so I suggest either bicycle or public transportation system.
PLACES TO EXPLORE IN ZURICH
1.Zurich lake – 40-kilometer-long glacier lake with a beautiful promenade. It’s especially beloved by the locals, who know all the hidden-away places along its shore. They often spend their free time there and enjoy sunbathing, relaxing, and swimming. You can ride it all around on a bike, it’s around a 90-kilometer distance through Altstadt, Seefeld parklands, countryside, Rapperswil, its castle and wooden bridge, and many more. There’s one place I liked the most and it’s the Cassiopea walk – a wooden bridge built above the water surface.
2.Altstadt (Old Town) – starting with the Grossmuster, the twin towers, and the landmark of the city through squares, narrow streets, and cosy cafes the historic city invites for a visit. Its heart beats at a fast pace, it’s always crowded, no matter the time. Throughout the day fans of museums and architecture walk by, while at night you can cross by young, hipster fellows, who want to enjoy themselves in the rhythm of the music. While in the Altstadt don’t forget to stroll down on one of the many bridges in the town and look at the Swiss Alps, the view is mesmerizing!
3. Lindenhof – it’s the part of Old Town where one can admire a stunning view over the Limmat river and the city itself. It’s also called an oasis of peace and relaxation in the middle of the city and a meeting place for passionate chess players.
4. Bahnhofstrasse – it’s the main downtown street known as the world’s most expensive and exclusive shopping avenue. Shops like Dior, Chanel or Cartier can be found here.
5. Opera House – Zurich Opera House sits on the shore of the lake’s left bank. It is known as being one of the best opera houses in the world and in 2014 was recognized as the Best Opera Company of the Year. The surrounding of the Opera House is also very welcoming. Locals gather at the huge square in front of it enjoying their free time after work.
OUTSIDE OF THE CITY CENTRE
6. Uetliberg – Even though very well visible from the Old Town, the hill is remoted around 6 kilometers from it. Uetliberg, which lies 871 metres above sea level offers a panoramic view of the city, Zurich Lake, and surrounding Alps. The 15-minute hike to the top is definitely rewarding, grab a coffee and savor the so-called Top of Zurich. Take tram S10 and use the tram stop called Uetliberg.
7.Switzerland’s chocolate museum – Lindt Home of Chocolate – Switzerland is the country with the biggest chocolate consumption in the world and you can experience it first-hand. If you adore chocolate, it’s heaven. The interactive tour costs CHF 15 and includes chocolate tasting as well as a bit of history. There’s also the biggest Lindt shop (500 m2), which you will doubtlessly leave empty-handed.
8. Viadukt – It’s another place favourited by residents. This is a hipster area of West Zurich, where you’ll find alternative and unique designer shops and a market hall. It’s located under the old railway viaduct. Choose either tram stop: Schiffbau or Lowenbrau, take tram: 4,6,8,13.
9. MFO Park – It’s a public park in the Oerlikon quarter in Zürich famous for its 17-meter-high construction covered by climbing plants.
10.Käferberg – It’s another hill in the city of Zurich offering a view of the city and the lake. It’s less popular and further away than Uetliberg.
KIDS WILL LOVE IT
11. Zoological Museum, University of Zurich – the permanent exhibition displays more than a thousand animals from all over the world in their zoogeographic regions. It’s open from 10- am till 5 pm every Tuesday till Sunday.
12.ZOO – Zurich Zoo is still on our list, however, we wanted to get to know the city to its maximum first. And even though it’s a controversial topic, I still think Zoo is a kids’ paradise and a true treasure trove of knowledge for them. The entrance fee for an adult is CHF 29, for kids 6+ it’s CHF 15, and kids under 6 years old can enter for free. Online tickets are cheaper.
13.Zürcher Spielzeugmuseum – It’s a collection of European playthings from the 18th to the beginning of the 20th century. Toys like trains, dolls, and children’s books can be viewed here. It’s open from 2 pm till 5 pm from Tuesday till Friday. And from 1 pm till 5 pm on Saturdays.
14. Wildnispark Zürich Langenberg – Wild Park Lagenberg is all about nature and animals. There’re few paths to be followed in order to find some animals. Entrance is free of charge; however, you need to pay CHF 10 for a parking place. Overall, I think it’s a fun place to spend a day with kids.
PASSES THAT CAN SAVE YOU MONEY
Like most cities, Zurich also offers discount passes to many places. With the Zurich City card, which cost CHF 27 for a 24-hour pass or CHF 53 for a 72-hour pass, you can visit many places and save some money. The card includes discounted or free entrance to different museums as well as free transport (ferry, bus, train, tram). But it’s not all, it also gives you a discount on the guided city tours led by the Zurich Information Centre, some wellness centers or my favourite Lindt shop. The full list of places is here.
THINGS TO TRY IN ZURICH
When you want to feel the full Swiss experience, you need to focus on its cuisine as well. Chocolate is the basics, obviously. Brands like Lindt, Cartier and Halba each offer a different, unique taste. Don’t forget about other treats as well. Grab a cake from one of many Sprungli cafes and enjoy it take-away. For a dinner try rosti (grated potatoes) with meat, or even better with cheese. In the evening, I’d suggest Swiss Cheese Fondue with bread, veggies, or any other variation.
I’ll repeat myself, but I think it’s best to stay close to the centre, public transportation or the area where you will spend most of the time. Sorell Hotel Zürichberg is close to the Zurich Zoo and is travel sustainable in addition. Trip Inn Zurich Hotel has good ratings and still is a cheaper option. Ibis Zürich Messe Airport is close to the airport, while aja Zürich seems to be a good option in Altsttete.
So, have I convinced you to visit Zurich? Do you feel like you would enjoy it?