Zurich! The cream of the crop of picturesque Switzerland as well as its largest city and global financial hub! I am so glad to be finally here after so long. Previously I have only been to Lucerne and Geneva and that was almost 7 years ago. I fell in love with Switzerland and now I am back for a second date. To me, Zurich is a city that has literally everything and one of the most livable city in the world. Of course, to enjoy such perks and living in such a beautiful does comes with its price! An awful expensive cost of living with an equivalent quality of life. Definitely it might be everyone dream city especially for us the travelers as well. It is certainly not one that will be kind on your wallet. 30 SGD for a meal out, public transport cost that runs into the hundreds. That’s the expectations! The city or mainly the touristy zones spans in the hub of the city, mere miles away from the airport and the central train station which is right in the old town, the largest in country with connections to most places in Europe. The city runs around the centerpiece, Lake Zurich. Zurich can definitely be said as the beating heart of continental Europe. Follow me on my 6 days stay in the city!
Before I get into my thoughts and places that I have been to I will first touch on the public transport in the city. Trains runs like swiss clock work. Punny. Always on time and always efficient, clean and safe. Trams make up some of the smaller connections in the city. With that, this comes as a price. There are an assortment of tickets available either as a Swiss Pass, Swiss Day Pass or even a half fare card which almost every local have. No one literally pays full price in the country or city. So do note that the fares you see on screens and kiosk are likely to be 50% off and if you don’t have a half fare card, be prepared to pay extra. The cities are divided by zones and usually a ticket for both 110 and 121 should be sufficient. A day pass for this already cost 13.60 CHF. This two covers even the Polybahn. The SBB Mobile App is a good tool for planning journeys and buying ticket. Two of the major train stations would be the Zurich HB and Zurich Flughafen.
Zurich city centre is first up on anyone list. It sure is idyllic for everyone and immediately after coming up you will be amazed by the waterfront promenade of Zurich See which stretches along the old city. Alongside you also have cute little buildings which looks neatly and clean. The Bahnhofstrasse also stretches along a huge stretch of the old city and it the most prominent and expensive street in the city. Of course, brands and boutiques of famous watch manufacturer greets you alongside. I will touch more on the shopping later on. Nothing is better than just taking a stroll along side the Zurichsee aimlessly and going about snapping pictures. The whole thing is an attraction!
The Fraumünster Church is a must see in the area and you can’t miss it. Students even get free entrance into the church which is rather tranquil. I remembered vividly the amazing color stained glasses in the interior. Sadly, we are not allowed to take any pictures inside. Lindenhof is the best area of all in the city centre and perhaps my favourite. It is actually a little hill located right in the city centre. It is not very high but gives you a very nice view point of the old city with the houses and buildings underneath you and the stretch of the Lake. Very very amazing spot for picnics or even just grabbing a bite with bread from the supermarket. It used to be a former Roman fort although now it is just a mini city park. The most amazing view ever. It is a place where time can literally stood still. This place is also perfect for pictures.
Niederdorf on the opposite side of the lake is another area that you should explore, it is part of the old town as well and you can find its charm with cobblestone street, quaint shops and restaurants. In the evening it is also a popular hang for the city nightlife although I didn’t get a chance to experience that for myself.
Grossmünster is probably the most iconic religious site in the city. This 12th century cathedral is standing right in the city. A landmark it is a must see. Furthermore the area is also super good for pictures and it definitely look like it is straight out of the postcard.
Lake Zurich is my the shining pearl over here. Tranquil, clear, clean, emerald green water in the heart of the city, besides being such a pretty thing, it is also a major transportation route with ferries in the city and also an outdoor swimming pool in the summer. I certainly miss out by not having my swimwear with me! In the days that I was here I saw so many people stripping down and just flinging themself over into the water like a natural waterpark. I could only envy. After all who isn’t attract to these water. One of the more popular spots is along the Park Platzspitz area which is just next to the train station. You can see people getting their tans, picnic and of course lazing by the water.
The waterfront area is pretty huge and amazing. I walk all the way to down to the Wollishofen area and have a lovely stroll. The views are never disappointing as are the pictures. You can even see the locals firing up an outdoor BBQ which looks so so lovely.
Sechseläutenplatz and Opera area is another popular spot in the city. The opera house which open in 1834 is one of the most glamourous ever alongside the huge square outside which is full of activity in the peak of summer. Another great spot and this is not really an attraction! The University of Zurich area, it is located towards the east of the train station and perched slightly above the city. The view is rather amazing over here and worthy of a visit. Furthemore you can also ride on the Polybahn if it is operating. This popular funicular is a popular way for people to travel from the campus to the city centre. It is also part of the city transport travelling zone which means that your day pass will allow you to travel on it as well.
Uetliberg is a little mountain within striking distance of Zurich, making it perfect for a little day trip or some city hiking. Being close to the city centre also means that it is rather popular especially on a day with nice weather. It is also super easy to get up there as the S10 takes you right up there. Do take note of the train timings where you are here. This area is outside of the main transport zone so you do need to get a extension. Once up there, you can walk around the trails and there is quite a number of things to see up there including the TV tower. There are a couple of lookouts area and restaurant at the top as well. It is a rather nice walk and the views are amazing. I took lots of pictures here. Perfect for a half day trip.
Now it is time for those who are interested in shopping or swiss watches. Zurich is the perfect place for your Rolex or IWC and Patek Philippe. You can definitely find all the Swiss brands over here in Zurich and if you are shopping you are probably at Bahnhofstrasse, the most expensive street in the city which is lined up with all sorts of boutiques and luxury brands. Shopping here is a little unique, most boutiques or watch sellers takes out the VAT straight off the store price although you still got to go to the custom when departing. There is also usually a discount when you are really interested and it depends if you can pay a portion in cash or if the model is something that they want to get rid of. Usually it is around 1-5% which is alot when the watches goes for thousands. For the normal people like us, the street is worth a stroll as well. It is lined up with trees, looking very chip. Come here and soak up the vibes some window shopping doesn’t hurt too. There are plenty of cafes and ice cream parlours to go around as well.
How to live on a budget in Zurich? Probably the 101 for most travellers in Zurich. To be frank. I was lucky enough to stay in a hotel that provided me with Public Transport. I also got breakfast and lounge access which means that I do not really spend much in the city. It is so expensive when meals go for around 20 CHF and even take out cost around 10CHF. Heck even mcdonalds and burger kings are not cheap here. For most of my lunch, I settled it in the supermarkets. Yes that is a thing here, supermarkets meals! Coop, Migros are your best bet! Get their cook food and settle on them. Well half a roast chicken cost me 7 CHF as well which is still cheaper than other meals out! Splurging on some movenpick is definitely on the plan regardless of your budget.
How is it like on Sundays and Public Holidays! Zurich or Switzerland does still seems like the good old Europe. On sundays and holiday the city literally have a break, no shops and business are open with the exceptions of bars and restaurants. So if you have a plan it is much better to head to places like Uetliberg or the Rhine instead of staying in the city. Although if you really need to get stuff, shop and all, head to the train stations and airports, they will always be open and sometimes even later timings than shops in the city. Zurich Hauptbahnhof have a tons of shops and you can definitely find most of the stuff that you need. It also have huge Migros and Coop if you want some of that supermarkets meals I mentioned earlier.
Phew, that is a long post and in addition to my previous ones on the Rhine Falls and Kandersteg, Oeschinensee, Blausee & Thun. That should pretty sum up my stay in Zurich as well as this trip which Zurich being my last city before flying home. Zurich is such an amazing place to live, work and travel in. I certainly miss it alot. At the same time it is a place where I really feel the pinch when travelling. Hopefully one day I will be back! Certainly there are a lot more places left in Switzerland that I have to explore. Seeing The World In Steps signing out!