Zest for Zürich
Because Zurich is the central node of the Swiss-wide train network and also runs the biggest and busiest international airport in the country, it generally is the first place where tourists arrive. And thanks to the city's close distance to tourist resorts in the Swiss Alps and its mountainous scenery, it is often referred to as the "portal to the Alps". Zurich has long been known for being clean and efficient. Due to this, it has been...
Quite a few people think Zurich is boring and too tidy. Other appreciates the city's uncluttered milieu and believes the orderliness adds to the city’s charm.
The Swiss efficiency is most apparent in Zürich, noted for its safe, clean and effective public transportation system. S-bahn (local train), buses, trams and boats for the river and lake are included in the punctually network. Moving from one point to another could probably not have been easier. Traveling to other Swiss and European cities is not any problem either. Trains are scheduled regularly from Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, located at the end of Bahnhofstrasse. The tourist city Luzerne is only forty-five minutes away, the capital Bern one hour, world class skiing in Klosters and Andermatt less than two hours, and Paris approximately six hours. Vacationers who prefer air travel have Zürich International Airport, Switzerland’s largest and busiest airport, merely 20 minutes from Zürich with the S-bahn.
A report from Mercer Human Resource and Consulting last year confirmed that Zürich once again was considered the city with the best quality of life in the world. Mercer’s annual worldwide survey placed Zürich as the winner, Geneva 2nd, and Vancouver 3rd. Although, with quality comes price, and it’s not cheap. Another Mercer survey, “The world’s 50 most expensive big cities”, put Zürich on the 9th position, right after Geneva and Copenhagen. Even though the city is expensive that’s not a reason to travel somewhere else. Zürich is well worth a stay, even if it's only for a day or two. The city has a great amount of excursion points and recreation possibilities, as well as shops, museums, hotels, restaurants, bars, and diverse night spots.
Here are ten places you shouldn’t miss:
The Lake Zürich Area
Where else in Europe, except in Lake Geneva, can you swim in pleasant water as you appreciate the view of stunning Alp tops? The Seefeld zone, near the lake, is one of Zurich’s most sought-after living areas and Strandbad Tiefenbrunnen, a well-known bathing place, is crowded during hot summer days.
Don’t forget a stroll along the lake towards the center of the city to relish the sights, sounds and smells of the lake area, or enjoying the peaceful atmosphere in the Chinese Garden on Bellerivestrasse at Zurichhorn. The garden was a gift to the inhabitants from Zurich’s twin town Kunming in south west China.
The Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden of the University of Zurich is located in the Seefeld zone at Zollikerstrasse 107. The three uniquely bubble designed greenhouses show three sorts of vegetation: humid tropical, warm humid, and tropical to subtropical. The surrounding garden is huge, and a calming place to have a picnic or read a good book.
Zurich Zoo is located about 15 minutes with the tram from the center of the city and is an excellent excursion, even if you travel without kids. Explore a part of Madagascar in Masoala Rainforest, Europe’s largest indoor rainforest, protected by a great glass hall and watch the animals, trees and flowers in the warm and humid tropical ecosystem.
Take the Sihltal Zurich Uetlibergbahn (SZU) to the end station and walk up to Uetliberg (871m or 2856 ft) and admire the view from the 30 meter viewing tower at the top. Alternatively, take the S-bahn from Zurich Hauptbahnhof to Adliswil where a 300 meter cable-car climbs up to the station at Falsenegg. From there you can follow the popular hiking path running along a crest overlooking Lake Zürich.
Bahnhofstrasse is one of the most exclusive shopping streets in the world, lined with elegant designer shops. The renowned shopping avenue starts at the main train station and continues down to the lake. In the middle of the street is Paradeplatz where several Swiss banks have their headquarters, and the city’s oldest pastry shop Sprüngli has its flagship store.
Hiltl has operated since 1898 and is the first vegetarian restaurant in Europe. They offer savory international and Indian food, as well as a splendid salad buffet. A reservation is recommended as it’s usually rather crowded. The address is Sihlstrasse 28, not far from Bahnhofstrasse.
Lindenhof square is an oasis of serenity, avid chess players’ meeting place, and offers the best view over the city. The square is situated on the small hill on the left bank of river Limmat in Lindenhof, the historic center of Zurich. Look for the neighboring, impressive St. Peterskirche that has the largest clock face in Europe.
The oldest part of Zurich attracts young people, and is a cool nightlife district with lots of bars, restaurants, and clubs. During the day, Niederdorfstrasse and the surrounding narrow alleys and courtyards have a calm medieval atmosphere. Make sure to visit the trendy fashion shops, antique bookstores and the eateries along the main street offering food from nearly every corner of the world.
This former industrial area is now a hip district, overtaken by yuppies and people who are devoted to night life and in-places, or simply like the creative ambiance. X-Tra Palais at Limmatstrasse 118, on the beginning of the multicultural Langstrasse, is the only club in the city with its own restaurant, lounge, hotel, and music label. For suggestions and upcoming events in zone 5, grab a free issue of the magazine “20 Minuten” from the bar counter.
The Lindt Chocolate Factory Shop
What would Switzerland be without its delicate chocolate? Lindt’s Shop, located at Seestrasse 204 in Kilchberg, has always special offers on the most sublime chocolate. You can reach the chocolate factory shop via S-bahn, or lend a bike for free at the main train station for a pleasant tour along the lake. Satisfaction guaranteed.
After having spent six months in Zürich I can conclude that the city is both tidy and orderly, but definitely not in a negative way.