Zurich, located in the northeast of Switzerland, is a city of accurate time and wealthy people. Compact, far from a metropolis, but still “global” – this status it received for its importance in the global economic arena. Rich, and therefore slightly arrogant. However, this slight snobbery is taken for granted, as soon as the ideal airport, ideal roads, ideal lake, houses and shops rise before your eyes.
Note: according to allcitypopulation, the population of Switzerland is 8.698 million (2021).
According to the consulting company Arcadis, Zurich in 2016 became the leader in the ranking of the 100 most environmentally and economically prosperous cities in the world.
As a tourist center, Zurich is rich in sights and entertains for every taste. Gradually having breakfast with croissants and feeding the swans, you can join the connoisseurs of art: nod with the air of a connoisseur to Monet’s canvases in the Zurich Kunsthaus Museum, immerse yourself in the world of sounds at the Opera House, admire Marc Chagall’s stained glass windows in Fraumunster.
And you can hang out in one of the trendy bars, dance until you drop all night at the legendary Kaufleuten club or go to an open-air Afro party.
District to Zurich
Zurich is a very compact city with a convenient transport system. So when choosing a hotel, you don’t have to worry about distances – everything is close here. As far as safety is concerned, area no. 4 should be avoided, especially Langstraße, where migrants live.
The heart of Zurich, its historical center is the Lindenhof hill, which is on the left bank of the Limmat river in the Old Town. The elevation, convenient in terms of defense, at the dawn of our era was chosen for the settlement of the Celts, then the Roman conquerors and the Frankish rulers. At all times, the quarter has remained a gathering place for people, and it is still popular today. Local bourgeois come to the linden square to play giant chess, tourists to gawk at this business, and also enjoy the views, because the whole city can be seen from the hill like palms.
Lindenhof today is only part of the Old Town (Altstadt), District No. 1. Its “administrative” neighbors on this and that side of the river are the Rathaus (Town Hall), Hochshulen and City quarters. The Town Hall is a district of the medieval city and at the same time one of the main attractions, if we talk about the old building located in this quarter. Hochschulen and the City are also ancient, but outwardly much more modern areas. All this is the very center of the city, where it is expensive to live, and walking is pleasant and interesting.
The Town Hall area includes the Niederhorf or “Dörfli” as the local party-goers call it. During the day, they admire the architecture and intricate shops, and at night they unrestrainedly, if not quite legally, have fun in bars and nightclubs.
No less prestigious and picturesque areas are Nos. 2 and 8 and their Enge and Seefeld quarters, located on the shores of Lake Zurich. The eastern part of the embankment is a lively place, sunbathers come here in the warm season. Connoisseurs of contemplative promenades gather in the west. Tourists here are impressed by the Chinese Garden – a real corner of the Celestial Empire in the middle of Europe.
Bohemian and with brilliance live and rest in Zurich-West. This is the name of a part of district number 5, once an industrial zone, which has become the most fashionable quarter in the city. It’s interesting to see how old factories have been converted into theatres, dance studios, art galleries and stylish restaurants. At night, the 5th district is noisy due to the abundance of nightclubs.
As for accommodation, foreigners most often choose the Oerlikon quarter in district No. 11. It is called the second center of Zurich, it is within easy reach of attractions, and accommodation prices are quite budget.
When looking for a hotel in Zurich, there are two main points to consider. First, living here is expensive. Secondly, you need to book a room in advance – 2-3 months in advance, because events are constantly held in the city, and all good places are quickly sorted out.
A room in a three-star hotel in the very center will cost from 170 CHF. In the Oerlikon area, next to the Old Town, prices start at 130 CHF. The closer to the outskirts – the cheaper, but generally not worse, the Swiss quality is not only excellent dials, but also good service.
It is worth taking a closer look at the Swiss Star hotel chain with “automatic” check-in. The hotel does not meet the administrator, and there is no reception at all. At the entrance, you enter the code received when booking, take the key from the machine and check into a small studio with a bathroom and a kitchen. The issue price is from 120 CHF.
You can relax expensively and beautifully in Zurich for about 300-550 CHF. Such special offers are found at five-star hotels in the heart of the city.
Communication and Wi-Fi
Checking your mail, showing off your photos on social networks, chatting in a messenger – all this is easy in Zurich. Free Wi-Fi is available in hotels, restaurants, shops, on the Rudolf Bruhn bridge, railway stations.
For constant Internet access, you can rent a pocket Travelers Wifi device, but it’s expensive – more than 39.90 CHF. Where it is more profitable to buy a local SIM card. The largest operators in Zurich – Salt, Sunrise and Swisscom – will offer a prepaid rate to a foreigner. The starting price of a package with 1.5 GB of 4G internet is approximately 30-50 CHF.
Calling home from Switzerland is most economical from a telephone booth that has not yet disappeared from the streets of Zurich. If you need a mobile connection, it is better to use local networks. Tariffs for international calls by European standards are rather high here, but they are still lower than roaming rates. For example, Swisscom will charge 2 CHF per minute, and the services of its native MTS are about 20-30% more expensive.
It is especially pleasant to relax in Zurich in summer – there are almost 30 swimming areas in the city. Local beaches, or rather, baths, are wooden walkways laid over the water. There are changing rooms, sun loungers and umbrellas, and in popular places there are cafes and equipment rental for water sports.
Always lively and fun on the territory of the Enge Lake Bath. During the day people sunbathe here, play beach games and do yoga, in the evening they relax noisily in bars. Entrance fee 8 CHF, children are given benefits.
There are also sandy beaches in Zurich, for example, the Mythenquai paid recreation area on the lake, well-known in the city. The beach has a 5-meter diving tower, tennis tables, barbecue areas and even a small library. The ticket price is about the same – 8 CHF.
Of the free recreational areas, it is worth noting the Oberer Letten bath. It is well equipped, there are sunbeds, changing rooms on the beach, lifeguards are on duty. Nearby is a volleyball court.
The Limmat River can be frustrating with strong currents and cool temperatures, so it is better to swim in the lake with sandy shores with children.
Alpine skiing in Zurich
Zurich is not the main starting point for skiers traveling to the Swiss mountains. But there would be a desire, as they say, because one of the most beautiful snow resorts – Engelberg – is located just 1.5 hours from the city. A beginner will quickly get used to its tracks, but there is also a place for a professional to turn around. One day of active recreation on the slopes will cost 66 CHF excluding equipment rental (another 20-30 CHF).
An hour’s drive east of Zurich is the Atzmaennig Resort, an ideal place for beginners, even children can frolic safely on its easy trails. On the territory there is Fun Park – a kind of obstacle course for skaters. The price of a day stay is 35 CHF.
If you really want to go wild, and your preparation allows, go to Melchsee-Frutt (69 km from Zurich), Brigels-Waltensburg-Andiast (79 km) or Falera (144 km).
Many resorts will offer the guest a ride under the light of the stars. It is imperative to agree. Night descent along empty tracks, illuminated only by a spotlight, will give an unforgettable experience.
The ski season usually means the period from the beginning of December to the end of May. Trails located above 2000 m are open all year round. In addition, most resorts offer summer activities – hiking in the mountains, for example.
It is nice to spend money in Zurich if there is a lot of it, because local souvenirs are as expensive as they are unique. However, as tourists joke, what difference does it make whether chocolate was bought at the market or in a boutique, it is still Swiss.
The main trade route of the city is Bahnhofstrasse. This street is known all over the world for its exorbitant price tags, but not only boutiques with big names await tourists here, but also beautiful buildings with a rich history. Luxurious Swiss souvenirs – knives and watches – can be looked at right here if you are hunting for a specific brand, or look for cheaper options.
Bahnhofstrasse starts at the main station – here the prices are not as high as in its central part or by the lake.
Across the river, Niederdorfstrasse is bustling, where prices are lower and the selection is more unexpected. In addition to well-known youth clothing and footwear brands, boutiques of local designers and stalls with handmade goods lined up here.
The largest shopping center in Zurich is Sihl City. The only place where shops are open on weekends and until late is the station shopping center Shop-Ville. On Saturdays in the warm season, a flea market operates on Burkliplatz, where you can buy literally everything.
Shopping in Zurich is a test even for the thickest wallets.
Authentic delicacies – cheese and chocolate – are sold everywhere in Zurich. You can eat on a budget in Migros and Coop supermarkets. Sophisticated forms and tastes at not the “sweetest” prices are offered by branded boutiques, for example, JDGross and Lindt & Sprungli. Read more here: shopping in Zurich.
Cuisine and restaurants in Zurich
Good food in good company is the motto of the local cuisine. Switzerland tastes expensive, but simple, warm and satisfying, or rather, cheesy. It is Swiss cheese, more precisely – “fondue” or “raclette”, that tourists are looking for in the menu in the first place. Visitors and even Zurich chefs agree that the best cheese delicacies are served at Pinte Vaudoise and Walliserkeller.
They say that the first to dip bread in melted cheese came up with shepherds, who did not really like to dine dry in the cold mountains. And in order to save money, they drowned the cheese in parts – this is how raclette is prepared today.
It is impossible not to note the love of the Swiss for meat. The chefs of the Kronenhalle, Zeughauskeller and Barengasse establishments are noted for their skill in its preparation. The most famous dish is minced veal with mushroom sauce and potato pancakes “reshti” for garnish. Beer, wine, schnapps or cherry vodka will be served as an alcoholic accompaniment.
In Switzerland, there is a tradition: if you drop bread into fondue, you kiss the neighbor on the right.
And, of course, the sweetest dreams come true in Zurich. After all, it was the Swiss who made chocolate a dessert many centuries ago – creamy, not bitter. The very best truffles surprise in the Sprungli cafe.
There are about 1,200 active drinking fountains in the city.
In Zurich, Italian, French, German restaurants are often found, which is not surprising, because it was under the influence of the traditions of these countries that the local cuisine was formed.
A gastronomic must-visit in Zurich is the legendary Sternen Grill on Bellevue Square. We write about this, and other noteworthy institutions of the city, here: the best restaurants in Zurich.
Lunch in an inexpensive institution by Swiss standards will cost about 20-30 CHF. For a solid dinner for two, you will have to pay 100 CHF. The same will be the bill for lunch for one in a Michelin restaurant.