Set upon the intersection of a river and lake, and nestled amongst the mountains, Zürich is a city that boasts panoramic views, cultured inhabitants a booming banking scene.
While Bern is the capital, Zürich is the largest city and financial hub of Switzerland and it is known for its private banks made famous by the likes of James Bond.
Zürich has one of the highest standards of living in the world. It a clean and routined city that feels very safe. Everything in Zürich always runs to schedule, proof that all of those expensive Swiss watches must work!
Zürich is a very international city, so it's inhabitants are a mixed bunch, however, most people I came across were highly educated, multilingual, well presented and extremely cultured.
Here are some things that I did while exploring Zürich that I would recommend to anyone visiting the city:
WANDER AROUND THE LAKE
In the 1800's Zürich went from being a small town by a river to a big city on the lake. The lake promenade spans for three kilometres between Bellevue and Tiefenbrunnen. This lakeside park area is a fantastic place to wander, hang out, get some fresh air and enjoy the views of Lake Zürich.
This Romanesque style church was built between 1100 and 1250 and was the centre of the Protestant reformation in Switzerland. One of the towers is available for public access and once you climb the spiral of stairs, it has a breathtaking view of the city.
WANDER THE STREETS OF THE OLD TOWN
Take a step back in time and get lost in the streets of Altstadt, Zürich's old town. Altstadt is the historical centre of Zürich. It encompasses the area that defined Zürich before it grew and expanded to become the city that it is today. There are many beautiful shops, cafes and restaurants in a rainbow of flavours and ethnicities.
(WINDOW) SHOP ON BAHNHOFSTRASSE
Bahnhofstrasse is the main street of downtown Zürich and it is known for being of the most expensive shopping streets in the world. There is high street shopping at the lower end, nearer to Hauptbahnhof and luxury shops at the upper end.
EAT AT SPRÜNGI
I think it goes without saying that trying chocolate in Switzerland is a MUST. The iconic Sprüngli Cafe is the best place for stopping for a coffee and sweet treat when wandering down Bahnhofstrasse.
This central public space on the banks of the Limmat river has a great view of the City Hall and Grossmunster.
CATCH A TRAIN OR TRAM FROM HAUPTBAHNHOF
Zürich HB is the main railway station in Switzerland. from here you can catch trains to other Swiss or European destinations. From outside the station, you can catch the tram to pretty much anywhere. I was so impressed with the tram system in Zurich. It was so efficient, convenient and clean (that is Switzerland for you!).
ZÜRICH ZOOLOGISCHER GARTEN
Apparently, the Zürich zoo is considered one of the best in Europe, but let's be honest here... I just went for the view! It is on higher ground and it is a great point for looking out over the stunning lakeside city below. This particular photo was taken from the Sorell Hotel Zürichberg, near the Zoo, over some Mövenpick icecream.
Eating out in Zürich is CRAZY expensive, like seriously! I brought a ham and cheese sandwich at the airport and got a notification saying $18NZD had come out of my account. Save your franks and enjoy a cosy night in with some quality company. Some of my best experiences in Zürich were sitting with friends and enjoying a good home-made meal.
Remember the days before Instagram when actual developed photos were a thing? Built in the 60's, this retro, Zürich-made photo booth is the last manual photo booth in the city. Even though the photos smell like fart when they are developing, these strips of black and white photos are funky little souvenirs.
Swiss cheese. Need I say more? There are several farmers markets that happen across Zürich on different days. There is fresh produce, flowers, meat, delicious baked goods, wines and most importantly... CHEESE!
LEARN SOME VOCAB
Being a small country that shares borders with so many other countries, Switzerland has become a melting pot of languages. German, French, Italian and Romansh are equally recognised as being the national languages of Switzerland. Swiss German is a dialect of German, it has no official written language and the Standard German written form. Swiss German is not easily understood by native German speakers as it has different words, pronunciations and grammar. It is the most commonly spoken language in Zürich.
Have you ever been to Zürich? What were your highlights?