31 May 2015

Suitcase. Zurich, Switzerland - Travel Guide

Ah Switzerland; land of clear waters, rugged mountains and picturesque valleys.  I first came across pictures of this beautiful country as a little girl, and since then I’ve been chomping at the bit to get there. My first 4-day sojourn into the German part of the country didn’t disappoint, particularly since it was my birthday weekend so there was extra cause for celebration.

Despite that fact that it was my birthday, this was a solo trip, which is actually a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine because I like being a free agent to do what I wish… I had about 24 hours in Zurich to cram in all the sights before I would be heading onto Lucerne. Challenge accepted.

To be honest, I hadn’t expected too much from Zurich, people had told me there wasn’t much to see or do there and I generally got an “ehh, it’s ok” vibe from previous visitors. Not so! I loved this city. From the picturesque church towers dotted all over the city, to the river running through the centre, it had a very European kind of charm which I adored. Then of course there was the lake which I found spectacular; crystal clear and full of birdlife. In 24 hours I think I walked back and forth along it 4 separate times!

Didn't want to interrupt their nap time but I had to get a photo!

The city is divided by the river into the Old Town and the New Town. Both sides are worth a stroll, although I loved the cobblestoned alleys of the Old Town.

Thanks to plenty of advertising all over the city for Edelweiss (the airline) I had the song stuck in my head the entire trip, you know from The Sound Of Music. Edelweiss, edelweiss, every morning you greet me… Adding to the musicality of my visit was the bells of the four churches which chime out frequently and for up to 20 minutes at a time. Annoying perhaps for the residents but I thought it was lovely.

Whilst you’re in the city, make sure you take a stroll up to Lindenhof for the great view...

...then make your way down along the lake towards the Chinese Gardens, which make a great picnic spot.

If you’re lucky you’ll spot a family of baby swans on the way.

Zurich itself isn’t overly large. I managed to walk everywhere I needed to, although there is a good network of trams around the city if you so desire. In terms of when you first arrive, I recommend taking the train from the airport to Zurich HB in the centre of the city. It’s the quickest and cheapest method. I found Switzerland to be an extremely expensive country so I would avoid taxis if you can. With its lake and waterways, it’s a great city for strolling.

I can’t really claim to be too much of a connoisseur here because due to my budget I didn’t eat out a whole lot. I did, however, shop in the supermarkets in Zurich (Coop is a great one) and had my own little picnics by the lake. The produce here is really top notch; everything tastes fresh and is superior quality particularly the cheese and bread… Great cheese and bread!

One place you must go whether for lunch, afternoon tea or just a sweet snack is Café Schober. This little venue in the Old Town is Zurich’s most well known café. I indulged in a delightful strawberry tart and glass of prosecco whilst listening to a trio of buskers playing flamenco-inspired music across the square. Cheers.

Around the Opera part of town, I saw some beautiful lakeside restaurants and cafes so I’m sure these would also be worth a visit. Hotel Eden Au Lac also has a delightful rooftop brunch but sadly I was a bit slow on the uptake and it was booked out… You can tell me how good it is when you go!

24 hours in Zurich was a whirlwind but I did feel like it was the perfect amount of time to spend in the city, and a great introduction to Switzerland. I was thoroughly spoiled by my hotel, The M Gallery Hotel Continental. They upgraded my room and delivered me cake and a card for my birthday the following day. It was definitely a great start to my weekend. Next stop Lucerne…

Photos by Krissie.