Welcome to Zurich!
Enwrapped by the breathtaking Alpine mountains and set alongside the shore of a shimmering lake, Zurich, Switzerland, is one of the most beautiful places in the country. It is the largest city in Switzerland, with a population of over 1.3 million people. According to the latest annual survey by global consulting company Mercer, the quality of living here is one of the best in the whole world. This makes Zurich the perfect destination for visitors who want to enjoy the finer things the city has to offer. Tourists know the famous spots, but a worldwide local knows how to experience this city best. This is an insider’s guide to some of Zurich’s most exquisite places.
From the moment you sail over the Alps to land in Zurich airport, you can see how the city embraces a vast historical culture, boasting beautiful streets that are adorned with ancient architectural structures. With so many things to see and do, exploring can be quite frightening, but this guide will help you make the most out of your visit.
The transport system is very comprehensive, with an underground metro, bus system, and tram routes that will easily transport you from any of the Zurich hotels. According to the city tourism board, however, exploring Zurich is best done on foot. For a leisurely journey around the city, you can take a tram or a bus; luckily, there are bus and tram stops every 300 meters.
Worldwide Local Tip: Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. Some parts of the city require hiking up steep inclines to get to your destination. If you are not wearing proper footwear, cobblestone streets can be rough on the feet.
Where to Begin: Must-Visit Neighborhoods
Visiting Altstadt (Old Town) is one of the most captivating things to do in Zurich, and should be one of your first activities. Stroll through the narrow cobbled streets, admire the 19th-century buildings, or walk uphill to Lindenhof park to get a good position for seeing the city in action. The streets are filled with history as well as trendy shops and cafes.
If you’d like to tap into Zürich’s creative and stylish side, visit Viadukt, located in Zürich-West. This trendy neighborhood was formerly an industrial zone. Now, the factories have been transformed into theatres, shipyards into art galleries, and mills to house pop-up shops--meaning it’s the place to go to have a hip time in Zurich. The disused 550-feet long railway viaduct houses most of the shops and restaurants, making this the perfect place to eat, shop, or just chill.
Worldwide Local Tip: Throughout Zurich, you will see beautiful, ornate fountains with ever-flowing water. The water is safe for drinking, so be sure to carry a water bottle to keep hydrated as you continue to explore the city.
Museums in Zurich
Zurich is home to more than 50 museums, each unique and dedicated to a specific genre. For the diehard football fanatics, the FIFA World Football Museum is full of facts about the history of football. Learn more about Switzerland’s history by visiting the Swiss National Museum. Lovers of archaeology can visit the Rietberg Museum, which exhibits art and archaeology from around the world. Go on an ecological exhibition from the center of the earth all the way to the tops of the Alps at focusTerra, the Museum of Earth Sciences. You’re not likely to be bored, as Zurich has museums that cater to a wide variety of interests.
Worldwide Local Tip: Get yourself a 24-hour or 72-hour metro card as soon as you get to the city. This will not only save you money on your transport cost, but will also grant free access to some museums, or get you discounted rates.
Dining in Zurich
Zurich isn’t exactly known for being a culinary capital, but it does have a lot of unique dishes beyond cheese and chocolate (two of the most famous Swiss foods). A recommended dish to try, while in Zurich, is the classic Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (German for “sliced meat Zurich style”). This is a traditional Swiss dish from the part of Switzerland neighboring Germany. It consists of sliced veal, onions, and mushrooms in a savory white wine cream sauce usually served with potato rösti (shredded potatoes, fried in butter or fat).
Fondue is another must-eat dish while in Zurich. A blend of different cheeses (normally Gruyere and Emmentaler), dry white wine, seasoning, and a touch of garlic, it can be enjoyed with cubes of day-old bread that are dipped in the hot cheese. It is an excellent meal to try, especially during the cold winter months.
Worldwide Local Tip: Be sure to try out a variety of flavors of chocolate while in Zurich, and take some home to enjoy later. If you are on a budget but still want a taste of the world’s most delicious chocolates, stop by a grocery store, like Coop, where you can still get good quality chocolates at a lower price.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Zurich is the most expensive city in the world; a fact that may deter many people from exploring it. Experiencing the city as a worldwide local will allow you to enjoy a good quality of life on any budget.