Sunday, 12 June 2016

The ultimate guide to a fabulous citybreak in Zurich

"Chocolate" and "banks". Unsurprisingly these were the answers I got when I asked people the first thing that pops into their mind when I mention Zurich. So if you're not a chocolate loving banker does that mean that mean that you should give Zurich a wide berth? As someone who visited Zurich several years ago with similar misconceptions my answer is a resounding "No".

I'm keen to peel back the layers and show you that this beautiful city has so much more to offer. 
And to do this I've enlisted the help of a good friend, Nichola, who moved there over 4 years ago and has been having a whale of a time exploring  the city and spending weekends road-tripping across mainland Europe ever since. This is the first in a special series of guest posts from those who haven't just visited cities but have lived them.

Welcome to JustACurlInTheWorld Nichola! So let's kick off with an 'easy' one. I've got just 24 hours to experience Zurich. What would I be mad to miss?

Head to the top of Lake Zurich - on a nice clear day, you'll struggle to get a better postcard picture of the mountains.

The Old Town is well worth a walk to. It is a system of cobbled streets. beautiful buildings and has some lovely quaint shops. It's also a great place to find bars and restaurants, particularly in the evenings.

On the subject of shopping, don’t miss seeing one of the most expensive streets in Switzerland – Bahnhofstrasse. Some shops are reasonably priced (by Swiss standards), others are worth a look in the window especially as there are bouncers on the doors.

Also “Grossmünster” church sits in the Old Town area, and is a great viewpoint.

Great tips. Do you have a favourite place that is off the standard tourist trail?

If you are looking for something completely different, visit the Museum of Wax Moulages which contains a study collection of skin diseases for teaching at the University and has a 1800 wax models depicting every ailment from STDs to skin cancer.  To get there you can take the Tram 9 or 10 to Haldenbach. Best of all the entrance is free!

An unorthodox choice to be sure, and perhaps not one for the squeamish.

Moving swiftly on, Zurich is known for being one of the most expensive cities in the world where you can't swing a cat without hitting a rich banker. Is it really possible for ordinary folk on a budget to visit the city?

I wish I had a cat to swing! It is possible to visit Zurich without a huge bank balance, yes things are more expensive but normally the quality, reliability and good service justifies the price.

If you are travelling only in Zurich City then the cost is about £8.00 for a travel card, this covers the buses, trams, boats and trains. But be aware you need to buy zone extensions if you travel outside the city centre area.

For eating there are lots of places around the main train station of Zurich HB that are reasonably priced. In some shops - Jelmoli, Coop, Migros there are restaurants were you pay what the plate weighs, once the food is on it! Yes, it means you do not fill up on potatoes but it is always nice to have some variety. You could always grab something small from one of the stalls that are about the city, or make up a picnic.

Phew! That's good news. On to the really important stuff, what should I be feasting on while in Zurich?

For sausage (or Bratwurst) lovers, Sternen grill sits at the top of the lake near one of the transport hubs - Bellevue. It is considered by many as unmissable, as highlighted by the queue outside the shop. They do offer vegetarian alternatives, or if preferred, there is a café owned by the same company on Bellevue itself. 

I would also recommend Hiltl restaurant, this is a vegetarian restaurant that is so good even meat lovers do not always realise there is no meat in the meals! Hiltl is found on Sihlstrasse which is near Zurich HB, approximately a 15 minute walk.

You must also eat lots of chocolate but not just Lindt, try some Callier or Frey. Yum Yum Yum!

Oooohhh I remember Hiltl from my visit. As a meat-eater I can confirm that I absolutely loved it. 

But after all that food I suppose it's time I did a wee bit of exercise. Does Zurich have anything to offer me if I enjoy the great outdoors?

For sure! On Lake Zurich you can hire out boats and go for a little adventure, watch out though for the other boat companies as they will expect you to move!  

If you don’t have time to head to the Alps then you could also take a walk up the Üetliberg mountain, it is smaller than most at only 869m. The Üetliberg offers views of the entire city of Zurich and Lake Zurich. 

Love it! But now I have a taste for adventure. I've hired a car and have a sat nav at the ready to explore beyond the city walls. Where should I head?

Attractions outside the city are wide and varied. There are factories producing anything from chocolate to Formula 1 cars. Historians are treated to a few impressive castles and monasteries. Meanwhile, those who prefer landscapes have the choice of some of Europe’s tallest mountains to the South, and the continent’s largest waterfall to the North.

Further afield, driving for 1-2 hours would be sufficient to reach the vineyards of Alsace (France), the Black Forest (Germany), Lake Constance (Germany and Austria), or the Principality of Liechtenstein.

Before I head home I need to sample some of the incredible chocolate which the Swiss are known for. Where should I got to get my chocolate fix?

There are lots of places to go for chocolate. If you like the tourist chocolate of Lindt there is a factory down the right hand side of the lake, they have a factory shop where you can buy lots of different varieties. However, if you want to try other local chocolate I would recommend you try Callier or Frey – both yummy. In addition to this we have an amazing shop called Läderlach, they sell chocolate in slabs and take chunks off to sell.

Slabs of chocolate? Sounds like heaven! 

Finally let's end with your elevator pitch for folks to visit your fair city

Zurich is a city with something for everyone. Visitors of any age, nationality, interests or palate won't be disappointed. Although it's a financial capital, it is full of culture, spectacular views and a great atmosphere at any time of year. To top it off, the transport network makes it easy to reach anywhere in the city with ease. It is no mistake that Zurich is listed as one of the world's best places to live.

Sold! Right I am off to book my flight. 

Make up the spare room for me will you. You're going to pick me up at the airport right? I'll have my eggs sunny-side up in the morning, it would be great to be waited on hand and foot, and oh a wee mint on my pillow would be fab and.......hold on Nichola??.......Nichola?????

{Nichola has left the building}



  1. Loving this post ! :)
    Looking forward to see other in the series. x

  2. Nice post. Like it!


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