Zurich is one of those city that will make you want to visit again and again. It isn’t the typical tourist destination, like Rome, Paris, etc, therefore you won’t have to wait forever on lines and bump into huge crowds. Yes, Zurich (and Switzerland in general) is a pretty expensive place, but if you know where to go you can spend some bucks.
A few tips and facts that will come in handy
Zurich has an amazing public transport system. You can get from place A to place B in no time, and can get a 24h (or more) card for around 7 euros. Most of the tourist attractions are in the centre, within a walking distance, so such a card will serve you well.
Also most of the spots worth visiting are free. Since there aren’t that many places to visit, you can spend 1-2 days in the city and use the rest of your time (if you have such) to visit the surroundings or a neighboring city. Now let’s get into the essential spots is Switzerland’s largest city!
The Altstadt (old town in German) starts somewhere near the Central station and its cobbled narrow streets will lead you to the Bellevue and the Zurich Lake. You can find lots of different shops, galleries and cafes among these streets. The old churches with tall towers and spikes overlook both banks of the Limmat river, which makes for a perfect postcard type photo. The most famous ones are the Grossmunster cathedral, the Fraumunster and St. Peter’s church.
Beautiful views is one thing Zurich definitely doesn’t lack! You can find those at many places. Make sure to visit the Lindenhof hill, situated on the right bank of the river (looking towards the lake) to get a full view on Zurich’s old houses with smoking chimneys and the Grossmunster towers in the back.
Speaking of Grossmunster, this one is probably one of the most popular spots. It is located right before the lake and the Opera house. This is a 12th century protestant church and played an important role in the Reformation. What it is known for, however, is the magnificent 360 degree view you get from its towers. For just 5 franks you can get to the top and enjoy what you see. Unfortunately when we visited it was snowing, so it was pretty cloudy, but still we managed to take some good photos.
Zurich stands on the hills around both sides of the river, so there are many high points. You must just find them! Also on Bahnhofstrasse, which is Zurich’s main shopping street you can find several rooftop bars, overlooking the whole old town and the Limmat river.
Be close to nature
Apart from it being just 30 km away from the Alps, Zurich offers some in-town spots to bond with nature. For beautiful flora visit the Botanical gardens or the Chinese gardens. If you are an animal lover enjoy the penguins and seals at Zurich Zoo. Or if you would like to wander a bit more, take some of the trails starting near the zoo. Another option – Uetliberg. This is Zurich’s own mountain – a place combining both nature and a stunning view of the whole city and the lake. Just take tram 10 and it will leave you there! Of course, you can enjoy a picnic at any of the parks or lawns around the lake.
Culture and museums
Did you know that Zurich is the city with the most night bars and clubs in whole Europe? Well, now you know. Visit the iconic Old Crow bar or the first vegetarian restaurant or try fondue at a restaurant. Zurich has it all! Don’t forget to visit the Opera house. If not for the opera itself, then at least for the beautiful architecture! When it comes to museums Zurich is full of those. FIFA museum, art museums, museums of classic cars – you name it! Also there is a free museum called FocusTerra where you can experience what an earthquake feels like!
Sail lake Zurich
The lake is probably one of the most beautiful sites in the whole city. The calm waters, the swans and ducks waiting for you to feed them, the boats. Everything about it is so peaceful and charming! You can choose from different types of cruises – a tour around the whole lake or just an hour long one. Either way, this is a must when you visit Zurich!
Think outside the box!
As I said you can easily do a day trip from Zurich. My suggestions are:
Rhine Falls – biggest waterfall in Europe, 40 km away
Bodensee – favourite place for Swiss, German and Austrian people, 70 km away
The Alps – for example mount Pilatus for a mesmerizing view, 50 km
Lucerne – one of the most beautiful Swiss cities, 50 km away
Jungfrau and Lauterbrunnen – a bit further (140 km) but definitely worth it!
These are my top suggestions that will make your stay unforgettable. Once you see for yourself, you’ll understand how truly amazing Zurich and its neighboring area are. As for now, I’ll be counting the days till my next trip there!