Zurich – the largest city in Switzerland and perhaps more importantly home to the Lindt chocolate factory.
Having backpacked through Switzerland and never seen more than Zurich’s Banhhof Station, I was pretty excited to recently have an extended stopover to explore the city. Whilst I would definitely recommend at least an overnight stay, I still managed to cram in as much as I could – so much so, I’ve put together the S&G very quick guide to Zurich. So grab yourself a hot chocolate and settle in…
- If you arrive by plane, getting to Zurich city centre from the Airport is easy-peasy. Simply follow the signs to the Train Station and buy yourself a ticket (I got a return ticket but you can also get a Zurich CARD which offers 24hr travel on the city’s transport system and admission to some of the city’s attractions). With your train ticket in hand, jump on the next train the to Hauptbahnhof (HB) – Zurich’s Main station – this is a great starting off point for exploring the city.
- The best way to see the city if (as we usually recommend) on foot, so make your way to the ever charming Aldstadt – Zurich’s ‘Old Town’. Cobblestone streets, colourfully painted boutiques and restaurants…this area is an absolute must for all visitors to Zurich.
- Grossmunster should be next on your list. It’s a stunning, twin tower, 12th Century Cathedral and one of Zurich’s most iconic and recognisable landmarks.
- The Church of our Lady or Fraumunster (or Women’s Abbey) is also worth a visit and is known for its beautiful stain glass windows and gorgeous green spire. Please do not miss this lovely building – it’s simply gorgeous!
- Lindenhof is another popular attraction. It is the historical site of the roman castle and as it’s located on a hill it has some very pretty views of Zurich.
- St Peter’s Church – can be recognised by its large clockface (the biggest in Europe) and is a great landmark to look for if you get lost like I did! It’s also the oldest parish in Zurich.
- Lake Zurich is stunning year round but perhaps best enjoyed in the summer months. You can do tours and boat cruises around the lake or you can cycle or walk around it – a popular pastime for locals.
- SHOPPING…is there a better way to kill time than shopping? If you’re looking to splash some cash then make your way to Bahnhofstrasse. Here there is exclusive designer brands, alongside favourites like H&M and Zara – great people watching and window shopping too.
- As always food is a big deal in a S&G Guide. When I visited recently I bought food from street vendors, including my giant cheese pretzel that was amazing. They had loads of different flavours too – I would have bought about 6 different flavours if I could have!
- Eating Swiss chocolate in Zurich is of course non-negotiable. As we mentioned earlier you can go to the Lindt Chocolate factory or if you don’t have time I’d recommend you wander the streets, check out the window displays and pick a chocolate shop that takes your fancy. You won’t regret it but your waistline might. As the weather was rather miserable on my trip I also warmed up with an exorbitantly priced hot chocolate..so worth it though.
- Bircher muesli, rosti, and raclette are also popular swiss dishes that you should try if you get the chance. Cheese, meat, bread and pastry are also key staples and they’re easy to find so go forth and forage.
- Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world so be prepared to pay through the tooth for almost everything (hence why walking around town and eating on the go are good budget friendly options). Remember that everyone accepts Euros but you will get your change back in Swiss Francs so if you’re not staying for long, try not to use big notes unless you have to.