Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and an international hub bustling with air and train traffic. However, if I could describe Zurich in one word, it would be ‘chill’. The city is a haven of calm, high altitude peace. We arrived in Zurich for our trip from Frankfurt which had been the complete opposite vibe so it was a welcome feeling.
We arrived by international train and stayed for two nights in Zurich. I would highly recommend a visit, if not for the atmosphere, for the clean mountain air and beautiful scenery!
I wanted to write this article to share what we did in a limited time in Zurich and to encourage you not to miss out on this amazing city in your travels. It is easily accessible via train – we did so using the Interrail pass (or Eurail if you are outside of the EU).
Head Straight Out
As soon as your arrive, drop your bags at the hotel/AirBnB/wherever and get outside! It’s tempting to relax a little when you’ve just arrived, I know I certainly wanted to sleep after a long journey, but Zurich is so beautiful, it would be a shame to waste any time in your hotel room! Get out and get exploring the streets.
Lindenhof Hill, St Peters Church, Old Town Streets
The old town of Zurich is called Lindenhof and it is situated on an old Roman Fort. The quaint shopping streets surrounding the area are perfect for gift shopping and a little shopping for yourself! There are restaurants and cafe’s dotted all over the place here so you can spend some real time getting to know Zurich here.
Walk up Lindenhof hill to see an amazing view of the city center as well as the Church of St Peter. This whole area is quite amazing to explore so I would advise spending as much time as you can here.
Bürkliplatz – Boat Trip
Next go for a boat trip around Lake Zurich. Really, this is an amazing view. We took the Short Cruise boat ride which took us quite far along Lake Zurich to Erlenbach/Thalwil. If you look at the size of Lake Zurich, you’ll see why we didn’t take a Long Cruise!
It was quite a reasonable fare to take this boat – around 8.80CHF.
The boat takes you closer to the alps and gives you a tour of the little villages surrounding Lake Zurich. You can even spot the Lindt Chocolate factory while you’re cruising! If you have a bit more time, you can get off and explore some of these areas.
You can walk straight up to the booth and book a ticket on the next boat. You can book online here as well.
One of the places you pass on your lake tour is Zurichhorn. This is a small park on the edge of Zurich and well worth a visit of it’s own. While we were out here, we hired some Lime Scooters, though there are other brands out there aswell as bikes if you’re not comfortable on an electric scooter. This made this park really accessible and we were able to zoom to the pier (pictured below)
Sitting on this pier felt like you were sitting on the edge of the world! And yes, the water really is as blue as it looks!
Vegetarian Buffet Restaurant
All this exploring makes you very hungry. Make sure you check out one of the vegetarian buffet restaurants! We stopped in a Haus Hiltl, which is officially the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world. They have a wide selection of foods and you pay by the weight of your plate.
Switzerland is famous for this style of restaurant and they are well worth a visit. If you’re returning from Zurichhorn, the nearest would be Tibits.
Uetliberg is the resident mountain near Zurich and well worth a visit. There is train that takes you straight up to the top and can bring you straight down again.
You can catch the train from Zurich Binz, Zurich Giesshübel or any train along that line (check out google maps).
From the Uetliberg station at the top, you can walk along the roads to get to the summit. It’s not a difficult walk and you are entertained as you climb with a scale model of the solar system with detailed explanations of each planet. This wasn’t something we expected going in but kept us occupied on the walk!
When you reach the top, there is an observation tower which you can pay a few CHF to climb and get a better view – we did do this, but the view is fairly similar so it’s not an essential!
There is also a hotel which was good to shelter from the small amount of rain we had. You can enjoy a beer in their garden or bar area, and they do serve food making it a handy lunch spot. This is a very fancy place though so I would advise a packed lunch for your trip if you’re on a budget.
Walk down to Triemli Station
You can get the train back to your desired station, in which case, skip this one. However, I would recommend you don’t! Walking from the top to Triemli station is well worth it. The nature and the viewpoints you get on the way down are unparalleled!
There are parks for children and a toilet halfway down which is totally eco friendly. You literally put sawdust over your wee and it’s fresh and clean. (you can skip this if you want). The heart shape in the door means you have a beautiful view for your wee too!
Night Time Explore
Finally, make sure you spend your evening after dinner walking around the city. The streets light up and you can really feel the magic and age of this wonderful place. The river is lit up at night across the bridges and it really feels like home.
Other Bits to Know
Vegan Chocolate – You can find Vegan Swiss chocolate at Chocolat Dieter Meier. They have a large range and it is amazing.
Vegan Pizza – An amazing pizza place with vegan cheese and extra large pizza’s is Avanti Pizza. Pizza can be eaten in or to go.
I think Zurich has a magic to it that we weren’t expecting. We did all the above things while visiting for a day and it was a fast paced adventure. You could spread these activities over two or three days and add in some museums or rest and relaxation time!
Let me know in the comments what you did in Zurich or if I’ve missed anything!