What ever the season or the weather there is never a bad time to visit Zürich. Often mistaken as the capital of Switzerland, it is the largest city in the country and has an unenviable position in the heart of the Alps, meaning there is outstanding natural beauty in every direction. Whilst you will need to ensure you have plenty of Francs when you arrive, there are things to do, eat, drink and sleep for all budgets. And with a flight time of less than 90 minutes from most UK airports, it is a perfect 24 hour destination – in fact due to the size of the country, Zürich is within touching distance of all corners of the country as well as neighbouring Southern Germany, Austria, Italy, France and of course Liechtenstein.
For those arriving by air into Kloten Airport, around 8 miles north of the city centre and linked by a regular train service that runs from below the building opposite the terminal below the shops. The ZürichCARD offers travel to/from airport and the city centre plus discounts on many places for CHF24 for 24 hours (CHF16 for 6-16 year olds) or CHF 48/32 for a 72 hour period. Most major airlines operate at least one route from the UK to Zürich. Most of the places you will visit in the city are walkable but if necessary there is a good network of trams that cover all points. Most stops have very clear displays showing the routes and when the next service is due.
Just outside the main station is the National Museum on Museumstrasse, one of the most iconic buildings in the city and charting the history of the nation and the city as well as temporary exhibits. Another interesting museum worth a visit is the Money Museum in Hadlaubstrasse that traces the history of one of Switzerland’s most important specialities – banking. The No Show Museum is an art museum, devoted to nothing and its various manifestations throughout the history of art. It claims to be the first of its kind. Founded in 2013 by Swiss conceptual artist and curator Andreas Heusser, the museum’s collection today includes around 400 works and documents from over 120 international artists of the 20th and 21st centuriesUndoubtedly, the most interesting museum in the city (OK, so I am biased!) is the World Football Museum housed at FIFA’s HQ on Seestrasse where you can get up close and personal to the genuine (apparently) World Cup Trophy. Talking of football, the two city rivals, FC Zürich and Grasshoppers share an intertwined history and a stadium, the stunning Stadion Letzigrund.
Some of the beauty of the city is simply the stunning location and some of the historic buildings around the city centre. The Old Town on the hill to the east of the main station is perfect for a couple of hours wandering, with plenty of shops, restaurants and bars, whilst the two churches of Grossmünster and Fraumünster dominate the skyline, the latter of which houses 5 large stained glass windows designed by artist Marc Chagall depicting a Christian story. Of course the lake comes alive in the summer, with boat trips heading out in all directions providing some of the best views of the city and the surrounding area.
The main shopping, should you decide to indulge (and we really mean indulging here) can be found in the Old Town around Zäringerstrasse and Banhofstrasse on the left bank of the Limmat. There is also a shopping centre at SihlCity well served by tram line 5, 13 and 17 which also houses the Four Seasons Hotel and Arena Cinemas as well as a host of bars and resturaunts.
So where do you start with places to eat and drink? Many will want to try (or retry) fondue and one of the most historic places to sample it is Le Dézaley, a 13th century restaurant on the edge of the Old Town. One of the best, and most reasonable, places to eat is the Zeughauskeller on Paradeplatz which is reminiscent of a German beer hall and serves meat, potatoes and beer – oh and a foot long sausage. Just around the corner from here is the Bauernschänke in Rindermarkt which is the place to go for a schnitzel.
Fancy a drink? Of course you do. There’s a million and one bars you can try in the city centre but if you are spoilt for choice how about starting at Widder Bar in the hotel of the same name in Widdergasse which is famed for his huge range of single malt whiskey. For a view with your drink head to the Jules Verne Panorama Bar on Uraniastrasse, located above the rooftops of the city. The International Beer Bar is the home of craft beer in Zürich and can be found in Luisenstrasse and is well worth an hour or two.
There’s loads of places to lay your weary head in the city but don’t expect any bargains. A decent three star hotel such as the Altstadt in Kirchgasse may still set you back a couple of hundred pounds, whilst the Ascot Hotel in Tesserinplatz is a favourite of the footballing community. If you really (and I mean really) want a slice of Swiss humour then book a room at the cow-inspired Leoneck Swiss Hotel in Leonhardstrasse.