If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you probably noticed that I traveled recently to Zürich for a weekend. Located in northern Switzerland, famous for its global center of banking and finance, Zürich is a great city to visit: very clean, picturesque, safe and close to many outdoor activities as the mountains and Swiss Alps are reachable within an hour from the main station. The only down side is that it is VERY expensive, no wonder it has been ranked as the second most expensive city in the world after Singapore. However, do not let yourself down, there are still couple of things you can do for free or which are affordable that will make your experience worth it.
population : 378,884
Language : German, French, Italian and romansh but English is also commonly spoken
Punctuality , it might be a stereotype but it is true, the transports are always on time
Currency: Swiss Franc CHF, 1 CHF = 0,91 Eur = 1,03$
Europe's largest clock face is St Peter's Church in Zürich
Swiss mailboxes have two slots, one for letter and the other for packages
Tips to know
Once you arrive in Zürich, get a ZurichCard it costs 24 CHF for 24H and 48CHF for 72h and offers you unlimited travel on public transportation and free or discounted entry to dozens of museums.
Electricity in Switzerland is 230 V, 50 Hz AC. Plug sockets are round and take three round pins, they can take Euro plugs with two pins. But If you are coming from the US, UK or Ireland you definitely need an adaptor, as well as from many other countries.
For a stay of up to three months, many foreigners simply need a passport or an ID card to enter Switzerland. Even though not a member of the European Union, Switzerland is a member of the Schengen Agreement. As a result a Schengen visa is valid for Switzerland as well.
If you checkout early from your hostel or hotel and only have your flight in the evening, you can leave your luggage(s) at the main train station. They got lockers where you can leave your stuff for 24h. You will have to pass by the main train station to head to the airport anyway, so this is very handy.
Things to do?
Boat trip on the Limmat river
There are many decks along the Limmat river from where you can jump in a boat that cruises the seven bridges of Zürich and offers great views of the old town and the city
Shopping on Banhofstrasse
If you feel like shopping, Bahnofstrasse is the most famous shopping street and also one of the world's most expensive shopping avenues with many boutiques, department stores and timepiece stores. It is a 1.4 kilometers long walk from the main train station Bahnofstrasse to the picturesque old town and lake Zürich. If you are a fan of watches like me, you will be served!
One good thing I enjoyed about Zürich is that everyone is very relaxed, no rush, every body takes its time. Lake Zürich is a great place to experience that with people strolling around the lake, others sitting on benches facing the lake, people feeding the swans and ducks or street artists. It also offers you a great landscape view on the boats sailing and the Alps mountain in the background.
This is a Romanesque style church and one of the four major churches in the city. You cannot miss it with its two towers from which you can climb up to enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
St Peter's church
Located in the old town of the city, this church owns Europe's largest clock face.
This is a public square located in the old town of Zürich and offers a great view of the Old town of Zürich.
Altstadt or old town
This is the historic heart of the city with 19th century buildings, cobblestones streets, cafes, shops and galleries. It's home to many principal tourist attraction as said previously. I really liked walking in these old streets, great spot for photography lovers.
Lindt chocolate factory
Located a little bit outside of town in Kilchberg, it is worth traveling to shop for chocolates at their outlet that offers lower prices compared to downtown. It is not possible to visit the factory itself unfortunately. You can take the bus 165 towards Schooren that will drop you right in front of the factory.
After visiting and tasting the chocolate, you can head to Adliswil where you can take a cable car that will bring you at 805 metres of altitude to Felsenegg.
To get up there you will have to take an aerial cable car that leaves every 15 minutes. Prices vary depending on how long you wish to stay up there. It is a great spot for hiking with 6 trails and 3 level of difficulty, but also to enjoy a panoramic view of Zürich from the restaurant. On your way back, you can take the S4 train back to Zürich.
Walk over Europe highest suspension bridge
Unfortunately due to poor weather conditions, I did not manage to go because of the snow and lack of visibility. It is located at the mount Titlis. Make sure to check the weather forecast and visit their website if you are planning to go.
On your way back you can stop by Lucerne and experience the postal card like landscapes of Switzerland: picturesque lake side setting,historic old town and impressing mountains nearby.
As the weather was bad, the plan B was to go see the European largest waterfall.
The Rhine fall
Located in the lovely old town of Schaffhausen with its many oriel windows and painted facades, it is worth a visit and stroll in the streets. Then from the train station, you can take the bus that will drop you at the waterfall. From there, you will be able to enjoy the view from every angle from the promenade facing the waterfall to the castle on top of the mountain overseeing it. You can also grab a bite from the restaurants facing the waterfall. It is a very peaceful place to visit.
How to get around?
Zürich has great public transportation: train ,bus,tram,funicular or boat that are always punctual. You can also rent FREE bikes known as "Züri rollt" or Zürich on wheels, you can pick them up at different locations with the presentation of a valid ID and a deposit of CHF 20. And finally, by foot. It is not a big city and for me that's the best way to get to know a city, so the choice is yours!
Things to eat
Switzerland is known for two things to eat: Cheese and Chocolates! So don't leave without trying the Fondue, a traditional dish that consists of dunking bread into melted cheeses infused with wine and garlic. Not the healthiest meal but worth to try, especially while cold days.
Try also the Raclette, another cheese based meal that will satisfy the taste buds of all food/cheese lovers.
The chocolate obviously, some cakes are litteraly "death by chocolate"! And finally the pretzels. If you don't put on at least 2 kilos after your journey, it means you did not fully enjoy the food!
Overall a great experience, even though I was looking forward to going to the mountain but I could not make it because of the poor weather condition unfortunately. It will be a good reason to go back for another time. I really enjoyed the laid back lifestyle there, no rush, everyone is just enjoying the moment. It might not be the best destination for the youth but it is a city worth to visit in Europe.