Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland. It is located in north-central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich. Zurich is a hub for railways, roads, and air traffic. Both Zurich Airport and railway station are the largest and busiest in the country.
Inside FIVE City Apartments
I stayed at Inside Five City Apartments, which is about a 17-minute walk from the central train station and a 25-minute walk from Old Town. If I were to stay in Zurich again, I would stay a bit closer to the city center, although the hotels in Old Town are very expensive. The walk wasn’t that bad. You also have the option to take the tram into the city center, but I prefer to walk. In addition to being a bit far from the main attractions, the hotel’s check-in time is a bit limited. You can only check-in between 3 and 6PM, which definitely wouldn’t work if you had an afternoon or evening arrival time. The room was clean and it was nice having a fridge and stove to make a couple meals during my stay to save money.
New Year’s in Zurich
My highlight of my time in Zurich was without a doubt the New Year’s Eve party around Zurich’s lake basin. Many bars, restaurants, and event halls invite the public at large to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Approximately 100,000 visitors flock to the Lake Zurich basin each year and marvel at the spectacular fireworks display that traditionally heralds the New Year. Food and drink stalls, bars, and live music performed on various stages created the perfect festive ambiance.
The party started around 8PM and went on until 3AM. A Countdown began at 11:59PM, but the fireworks display does not occur until 12:20. It lasts approximately 15 minutes. I found it a little weird that the fireworks didn’t begin at midnight. I’m not quite sure the reasoning for this. All in all, I had an amazing time! I much preferred Zurich’s environment compared to London and other major cities that I have been to on New Year’s.
Since it was winter when I went to Zurich, I was not too keen to go on a boat ride. However, during the summer time, it would be nice to enjoy a cruise around Zurich Lake. Prices start at 8.60 CHF and longer cruises cost more. Tours take place daily. Departure times differ according to the type of a cruise. You can check the official website for the timetable.
Zurich Train Station
This old and charming railway station is quite modern on the inside, extending both on and under the ground. It was built in 1871 in neo-Renaissance style as the second railway station in Zurich after the first one was closed due to being too small. Apart from train-related information (which is very well organised and allows you to find what you are looking for very quickly), the station houses a shopping mall. Although the station is among the busiest in the world, it’s also one of the best ones regarding efficiency and availability services.
I arrived in Zurich by train from Lucerne. The price was 25 CHF and it too approximately 50 minutes. During my time in Zurich, I took a day trip to Liechtenstein. Although I didn’t have a great experience in Liechtenstein due to the weather, this makes for a fabulous day trip from Zurich. The transportation was SO easy and convenient. You can read more about it on my Liechtenstein blog post.
Zurich’s Old Town is everything you would expect from a historical heart of a city, but also of a lively center of modern-day life. It is characteristic by its pedestrian-only streets, paved with cobblestone and lined with picturesque houses, some of which have been standing here since the Middle Ages. I loved strolling around and enjoying the atmosphere, as well as relaxing in the local restaurants.
If you aren’t much of a history buff, the Old Town may still entice you. There are plenty of places to enjoy the night here with its bustling nightlife. Altstadt boasts the highest concentration of clubs per square meter in the whole of Switzerland.
Urania Sternwarte is a public observatory in the Lindenhof quarter of Zurich. Its name Urania refers to the muse of astronomy in Greek mythology. Astronomy fans can reach the stars in the 50 m (164 ft) high round tower. Whether you want to take a closer look at the craters on the moon, the bands of clouds surrounding Jupiter, or the church tower of the Fraumunster, a guided tour of the non-profit public observatory is a memorable experience. Public tours are held in the evening from Thursday to Saturday for 15 CHF.
This street is lined with colorful houses reconstructed to look exactly like they did in the Middle Ages. It is a great place to just aimlessly stroll about, wander through the many small shops and stalls offering a wide variety of trinkets and goods, and just enjoy the atmosphere.
St. Peter’s Church
Wherever you’re standing in Zurich’s old town, you can’t miss the largest clock face in Europe. It is the greatest pride of this church, with a diameter of almost 9 meters. The church, standing on the south bank of the river Lemmat, is one of the four main churches in Zurich. When visiting, do not miss the chance to look inside the church as well, since the interior is beautifully decorated by painted murals in the Baroque style.
The location on which the church stands has a long history as a place of worship. It is here, that once stood a Roman temple to the god Jupiter. After the Romans left, it fell into disuse, however, in the 8th or 9th century AD, a new Christian church was erected here. This is the church which was later, in 1706, reconstructed and consecrated as the first Protestant church and that you can see today. The church is still in active use and hosts a number of events, including concerts.
This church has been a place of reflection and silence for more than 1,000 years. It was build in 853, in the same spot where an abbey for aristocratic women used to be. It is mainly famous for its stained glass windows.
This church sees about 500,000 people every year. You are not allowed to take pictures inside, but you can buy postcards and other souvenirs in the church’s gift shop.
The Grossmunster is a Romanesque-style Protestant church and one of the four major churches in the city. Construction of the present structure commenced around 1100 and it was inaugurated around 1220. It was a monastery church, vying for precedence with the Fraumunster across the Limmat throughout the Middle Ages. According to legend, the Grossmünster was founded by Charlemagne, whose horse fell to its knees over the tombs of Felix and Regula, Zürich’s patron saints. The legend helps support a claim of seniority over the Fraumünster, which was founded by Louis the German, Charlemagne’s grandson. Recent archaeological evidence confirms the presence of a Roman burial ground at the site.
Zurich’s Opera House is located at the Sechselautenplatz beside the lake. It has been the home of the Zurich Opera since 1891, and also houses the Bernhard-Theater and Zurich Ballet. You can take a guided tour for 10 CHF. To book tickets, you should visit the official website.
Shipfe is a residential district in Zurich located on the eastern slope of the Lindenhof by the river Limmat.
Where To Eat
I absolutely loved this place! I had spent the days leading up to Zurich in Italy, and I think this restaurant was by far better Italian food than I had in Italy. The food was excellent, the service was great, and the wine was delicious. The restaurant atmosphere is warm and cozy.
My favorite memory from my time in Zurich was this phenomenal fondue restaurant. I had to ignore the prices for one meal and just go for it since I think fondue is worth the price! I do not regret it because it was delicious. Inside seating was completely booked so I sat at a table outside. They provided blankets to put in my lap to keep warm. It was nice sitting outside so that I could people watch. The waiter was a bit slow, but I didn’t mind since I was in no rush. To eat, I got the French Onion soup for a starter and then the small chicken platter with cheese fondue. The menu had a lot more options, but this was enough for me on my small budget.