Zurich is often associated with nothing more than banking and finance, so you may get the wrong perception of Zurich as a sterile city. Don’t believe the stereotypes and you’ll see that Zurich is an energetic, trendy city. Most of the warehouses and industrial buildings in Zurich West are now art centers, boutiques, restaurants and bars. The main shopping street Bahnhofstrasse is like a paradise for shoppers, where they can find designer and trendy clothing, Swiss watches and souvenirs.
The nature has been generous to this city and granted it with a river, crystal blue lake and the Swiss Alps in the background. A boat trip on Zurich Lake or boat sightseeing on the River Limmat is an experience you don’t want to miss. There are so many things to do and sometime not enough time, so here are the essential things you need to know on your first time visit to Zurich.
Arriving in Zurich
Zurich airport is the synonym of Swiss perfection and is often referred to as the Europe’s leading airport. The ultra modern infrastructure and easy navigation when changing flights are the things which make this airport one of the best airports in Europe. It is located on the north of Zurich only 10 km from the city center, so it will take 10-20 minutes to get there, depending on the transportation type and traffic.
The Zurich airport is well connected with the city and nearby regions, as well as the ski resorts. Public transport is well organized and there is dedicated bus terminal for regional buses. The train station is located in Check-in area 3, with trains leaving every 10 minutes and this is the recommended public transport option. You can take the Glattalbahn tram 10 to Zurich Central Station but it will take approximately 40 minutes to get there.
Airport taxis are located in the Arrivals 1 and 2 areas. They usually charge a fixed starting fee + additional fee for every km. If you want to arrange your airport transfer in advance, there are many reliable Zurich airport transfer providers online which offer door-to-door private transfer.
Places to visit
Grossmünster – Zurich’s Famous Landmark
Located in the Old Town, the Grossmünster is one of the most famous landmarks of Zurich. This Evangelical Protestant church was built in the 12th century and it is believed to be placed on the graves of the Zurich’s patrons Felix and Regula. The church dominates the Zurich skyline with the two towers and we suggest climbing the southern tower and enjoying the magnificent view over the city. The interior is quite modest and the stained glass windows are a piece of art you must see.
The Swiss National Museum
If you want to understand Swiss culture, dive into their historical heritage displayed in the Swiss National Museum in Zurich. Behind the walls of the fairytale-like castle, you will learn about the history going back to the Stone Age. Exhibitions show how the Swiss culture grew over the years and you can take a peek into the clock making tradition in Switzerland.
Zurichsee and Lake Promenade
On the lower Lake Zurich, there is a knot of beautiful parks, gardens and promenades, altogether known as Lake Promenade. This is one of the most beautiful places to spend a relaxing day away from the city crowd. When the weather is warm, take a boat trip on the lake or sunbathe on the banks of the lake. This area is famous among the locals as a jogging place.
If you’re ready for real shopping spree, head straight to Bahnhofstrasse. The world renowned boulevard in Zurich is a real paradise for shopaholics and you can find everything from fashion to art and souvenirs. The boulevard is 1.km long and connects the Lake Zurich and the Main Railway Station. You will find department stores, luxury designer labels and watch stores of the best Swiss brands. Take a breath from the shopping at one of the restaurants or cafes.
Fun activities in nature
Just above Zurich lies Uetliberg, an 871 meters high mountain which is the locals’ favorite place for hiking and mountain biking. Climb to the top of the mountain and you will enjoy a majestic view over the Zurich’s rooftops, Lake Zurich and Limmat valley. Uetliberg is especially a popular destination in autumn, when most of the time, the city is covered with fog and the peak lies over it.
Dining scene in Zurich is sophisticated and diverse, offering plenty of options. No matter the purpose of your visit to Zurich, you will find many great places to eat, whether you’re looking for a dinner with a lake view or traditional Swiss restaurant.
The traditional Swiss delicacies you must try are cheese fondue and raclette. Cheese fondue is melted cheese served in a traditional ceramic pot called “caquelon”. This dish is served with bread which you swivel in the pot with the cheese. Raclette is another melted cheese dish which is served with boiled potatoes and pickles.
If you have anything to add to this list, let me know. I would love to hear about your Zurich experiences!
Marija Keleshoska writes the travel blog for City-Airport-Taxis.com, an online booking agency for airport transfer. She likes to explore new travel destinations and their hidden gems.