5 Things to do in Zurich (Zürich)

Statistics

Population: 400,000
Official Language: Swiss German
Time Zone: +1 GMT
Currency: Swiss Francs (CHF)  (1CHF = 0.82EUR / 1EUR = 1.21 CHF)

Last week during Easter I managed to check out this city in Switzerland.

You may have heard rumours about Switzerland being an expensive country and Zurich being totally overpriced. Why would you want to travel here and is it worth checking out? Keep reading and find the answers below:

Getting here

The train network in Switzerland is generally very reliable and takes you to most places. If arriving by train you can get off at Zurich HB (Hauptbanhof / Train Station) which is in the heart of the city.

If you’re flying in the Zurich Flughafen (Airport) you can take a 10 minute train ride to Zurich HB for around 6.60 CHF

 

Transport

The central Zurich area is divided up into several zones.
You can buy a single ticket (4.20CHF) and it’s valid for travel within the zone you buy it in for 1 hour.
You can also get a 24hour day pass if you pay 8.40CHF and it will be valid for 2 zones.

If you you only have a day here in Zurich, consider the “Zurich Card” which allows you to travel in the zones below (including the airport) as well as free entry to various museums and discounts at restuarants and shops.

The prices for a Zurich Card are:
24Hour Pass = 24 CHF
72 Hour Pass = 48 CHF

You can get more information here: http://www.zuerich.com/en/Visitor/zuerich-card/zurich-card-info.html?b5#transport

 

Budget

Expect to spend around 100CHF a day.

Prices for dinner at a nice restaurant range from 25-50CHF, expect to pay around 35CHF for a decent meal.

Accommodation

I stayed at 6 bed mixed dorm for 100CHF for 3 nights. This place had WiFi only in the lobby, and it seemed that most travelers here were more interested in their iPads and phones over talking to people!

This place was pretty good, nice and central.

 

Places to Eat & Drink:

Zurich like the rest of Switzerland has French, German and Italian influences, so it’s very easy to find food whose origins come from the Swiss neighbours.

Germanic Bierhauses:
There are two cool beer houses here in Zurich, the Rheinfelder Bierhalle is definitely worth checking out. Honest food and service and very cheap too! Prices between 13-30 CHF for a good meal and drink.

 

The other is the old city’s arsenal, Zeughauskeller:

It has very nice setting and they’re closed on Easter Sunday and Monday.

 

Italian:
Bindella has a very nice atmosphere too, a little bit pricier at around 30-50 CHF.

My favourite restaurant was an Italian one just around the corner from The Zeughauskeller:

I think it’s also owned by the Bindella guys, but the restaurant had great service, great food as well as being very decently priced between 25-35CHF.

Things to do:

If you could only do 5 things in Zurich, I’d recommend the following.

#5. Grossmünster

All the people in Zurich would direct you here if you wanted to see something very Zurich. Check out the views at the top for 5CHF. Good views, but its a steep walk to the top!

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#4. Lindenhof

Around the corner is the Lindenhof, it’s a large square where you can play Chess with the locals or just relax and enjoy the view over the Limmat river (the river which runs through Zurich)

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#3. Cycle around & Museums

The city of Zurich provides a free bike hire service. Apparently it encourages people to cycle and not drive around. Whatever the motivation, make use of this service!

There are two bicycle hire places (Velostations) in close proximity, you need a ID and 20CHF for a deposit. Unfortunately the stations aren’t open during Easter. If the stations are closed, you can still hire a bike for the day for 35CHF at the ‘Luggage Storage’ area at Zurich HB.

If there was one Museum to check out, it’s the Swiss National Museum aka the Landemuseum, located north of the Zurich HB. It’s 10CHF entry fee, but if you have a Zurich card its included! It’s normally closed on Mondays, but funnily enough it was open on Easter Monday.

 

#2. Uetliberg

Once you have your bike, Zurich card, or a ticket to ride, why not go up the Uetliberg? It’s the large mountain to the west of Zurich. You could walk from the Zurich HB which would take about 3-4 hours or you can take the S10 which leaves from the Zurich HB and takes you right close to the top.

If you want to do it the right way, get your bike on the train, take it to the top and bike down! There are many paths you can take down to the bottom which are suitable for a bike.

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The view from the Uetliberg Kulm (Summit) are nice to see on a good day too!

 

#1. Luzern + Rigi

Technically not in Zurich, but if you have a spare day, why not spend it at Luzern. I’d say this was the highlight of my trip, despite not being in Zurich itself.

Start the day by getting a “Rigi Package” which costs 122CHF at the Zurich HB ticket station.The package includes:

  • a train to Luzern,
  • a 40 minute ferry ride to Vitznau Rigi across Lake Luzern,
  • tickets up to the Rigi Kulm summit,
  • 10CHF voucher for a cafe up the top,
  • the ticket down the other side of Rigi Kulm
  • a return train from Goldau back to Zurich HB

You also have a choice of doing this in reverse, ie going to Goldau and returning from Luzern.

The train to Luzern leaves 9minutes past the hour, 9:09, 10:09 etc, but make sure you leave enough time to get your tickets because waiting in the queue can be about 10 minutes.

I’d recommend going to Luzern first spending a few hours there making use of the daylight and then carrying on to Rigi.

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The sights are amazing and Luzern is a beautiful place. Infact I’d say it’s like Queenstown in New Zealand but even better because the infrastructure is more developed so you can enjoy the scenery more.

There are a few stops on the way to Rigi Summit so you can get off at any time and walk the rest of the way for some exercise. But just remember that the last train from Goldau to Zurich is around 6:10pm so make sure you give youself enough time as the journey back down the summit from Rigi can take around 40-50 minutes.

 

Summary

If you’re not sure about visiting Zurich, definitely do it! There’s so much more to do than what I’ve covered, it’s not too expensive and if you hunt around there are really nice places to eat at which don’t break the bank!

Also don’t be worried about going during Easter as most things are open including the Landemuseum which is normally closed on Mondays. There are also a few traditions to do with cracking hardboiled eggs with 20 cent coints with the children near the Grossmunster on Easter Monday morning.

Check it out and make use of it’s beautiful scenery and outdoors!

 

 

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