Zurich was never a city that screamed out at me as somewhere I must visit, so when we were invited there on a business trip I was rather intrigued. I’d always wanted to visit Switzerland but I’d never considered a city break to Zurich, especially as I didn’t really know much about it other than there was a lot of money there!
By the end of my three days in Zurich I didn’t want to go home and I could fully understand why it has been listed several times as one of the World’s top cities or cities with the best quality of life. Zurich is a clean and friendly city, super expensive of course, but a pleasure to spend a couple of days in with it’s beautiful architecture and scenic views.
We flew with Swiss which was ace as they were super-friendly and gave us free chocolate. We stayed at the Hotel Helmhaus which is a boutique hotel in the old town. It was a fabulous little hotel. We were greeted with a lovely chilled glass of Swiss wine when we arrived and the staff were incredibly friendly. Breakfast was lovely and the hotel was in an absolute perfect location. I would whole-heartedly recommend it if you ever go to Zurich.
I didn’t take oodles of photos when I was there but I thought I’d share a few here and also share my top things to do in Zurich.
If you’re going to be visiting for a couple of days you definitely want to buy a 72hr ZurichCARD when you get to the airport. You can use this to travel on the train to the Hauptbahnhof, the central train station which is a pretty impressive building, and then also on the easy-to-navigate tram system which is most definitely the way to travel. The ZurichCARD also gets you into a lot of the museums and we used it to visit the Swiss National Museum.
Take a boat trip on Lake Zurich.
You can take a short round trip that lasts about 1.5hrs from Zurich Burkliplatz to Erienbach and then back again. It’s a nice way to view Lake Zurich which came into being between 14 and 18 million years ago. You can buy food and drink on the boat and it’s a good way to catch a glimpse of the houses of, what I presume must be, the ultra-rich in the area, with the water lapping up to their expensive glass fronted houses and boat sheds.
People watch by the River Limmat
When we arrived in Zurich it was a beautiful Thursday afternoon in September, gloriously sunny, and it was an absolute pleasure to sit at a bar on the Limmatquai and watch the world go by, whilst sipping on an incredibly overpriced Aperol Spritz. Definitely a great way to spend a few hours.
Visit Cafe Sprungli
No visit to Zurich is complete without a trip to take in the old world glamour of Cafe Sprungli. Here you can mingle with both tourists and the wealthy locals for a light lunch or even just some cake, chocolate or ice-cream. Don’t forget to go around the corner to Paradeplatz to check out the chocolate shop and buy some luxuriously wrapped boxes of chocolates to take home as gifts or try out some of their own little bitesize versions of macarons, Luxemburgerli, which are simply delicious!
Windowshop on Bahnhofstrasse
If you’re into shopping you’re going to want to have a wander down Bahnhofstrasse which is a long shopping street with smaller streets snaking off. It’s a nice area filled with designer shops and top brands like Tiffany, Prada and Cartier. It’s not somewhere to go if you prefer budget shopping but for window-shopping? It’s fab! Just leave your wallet at home!
Chill out at Lindenhofplatz
The Lindenhofplatz is a quiet park which overlooks the city. The main photo at the top of this post was taken from the park. It was a nice place to sit and relax for a while, and felt very clean and safe.
Meander through Niederdorf
Niederdorf with all it’s old fashioned charm might have been my favourite area in Zurich. It is part of the Altstadt or “old town” and is a pedestrian zone. In the daytime it’s a nice place to amble down historic streets and cobbled alleyways filled with lots of little boutique shops and art galleries, but in the evening it turns into a great nightlife district with bars, street artists and restaurants – this is your place to find a good fondue or raclette. Niederdorf is also the area where you’re likely to find strip clubs and sex/sauna clubs – yes, prostitution is legal in Switzerland – but it’s far from seedy and bar one or two, I barely noticed these places which tended to blend in.
Learn about Switzerland at the Swiss National Museum
Visiting a new city or country, it’s always nice to learn a little about the area you’re visiting. The Swiss National Museum covers art, history and culture right back to the 4th century BC. It’s worth an hour or two of your time, even though a lot of the information about the exhibits is in German. Look out for the white cards on stands when you walk into each room as these have an English explanation of most things on display.
Obviously there is so much more you can do in Zurich like visit the zoo, Grossmunster Cathedral, Zurich Opera House, Botanic Gardens, Zurich Toy Museum, go up Uetliberg mountain or take a train to Lucerne. There is definitely enough to keep you occupied here for a good couple of days.
Most of all though, just enjoy this clean, peaceful and interesting city.