A wonderful weekend in Zurich

Zurich switzerland what to know

A visit to Switzerland’s biggest city, Zurich, will always have a special place in our hearts due to our lovely reunion with Tess’s family and an old friend. Our visit to Zurich was short but sweet, filled with family moments, catch ups with friends, and exploration of old towns. Touching down in Switzerland we were instantly struck by its precision, cleanliness and reliability – a welcome change from some of the more chaotic destinations we’ve visited. Trains run on time (to the minute!), the streets are spotless and the air is so clean we wished we could bottle it and bring it with us!

We were lucky enough to spend three nights and two full days exploring Zurich and its surrounding townships thanks to the generous hospitality of Tessa’s family. While Tessa’s grandparents moved to Australia from Italy after WW2, her great aunt and uncle settled in Zurich and subsequently went on to have a big Swiss-Italian family. This lent itself to some beautiful family moments during our short stay!

We also had a chance for a reunion with an old friend from Australia who now lives in Germany! So many wholesome moments!

Things to know before you visit Zurich

  • Zurich is expensive – ok, we can’t write about Zurich without mentioning the cost… which is high. It makes sense though when you see how high the standard of living is for those who live there. We were lucky enough to have free accommodation and meals thanks to Tessa’s family (bless them!). If you’re not quite so lucky we would recommend stocking up at the local supermarket which had excellent produce at more affordable prices.

  • The Zurich Old Town is worth exploring – located adjacent to the river, this picturesque old town is definitely worth wandering through. The narrow alleyways give you sneak peaks of cathedral spires and then open up onto atmospheric squares. Wander, take photos, and enjoy!
  • Zurich has a great cafe culture – We love to eat and drink our way around a city, and Zurich was no exception. While we were on a strict time schedule we did manage to visit two cafes that served up excellent coffee. First was Cafe Henrici – situated in the heart of the old town this laid back cafe/restaurant is the perfect place to catch up over a coffee and grab a quick bite. If you’re after something a little more lux Cafe Schober has you covered, with a plush interior and an assortment of sweet treats to choose from.

    Be warned however, a coffee in the centre of Zurich will set you back between 6-8 CHF. We also noticed a smattering of ‘third-wave’ coffee shops on the fringes of Zurich’s old town. While we didn’t get a chance to check them out this time they’re definitely on the list for our next trip. Additionally, during the warmer months, the quaint squares are a great place to stop for a coffee or a drink.
  • Make sure to enjoy Lake Zurich – with some of the clearest water we’ve ever seen for an inner city lake, Lake Zurich definitely impressed us. The weather was a balmy 10-14 degrees Celsius with scattered showers in mid September which didn’t quite make for swimming, however we’re determined to visit again in July/August to make the most of the beautiful swimming spots. We did manage to sneak in a brisk walk around the lake (in a town just outside of Zurich called Horgen) and saw plenty of grassy areas where one could sit and enjoy a picnic on a sunny day.
  • Zurich has a rich and interesting history – Dating back to Roman times, Zurich (previously known as Turicum) has an old town which is brimming with significance. From cathedrals (Grossmunster and Fraumunster dating back to the 13th century), St. Peterhofstatt (Saint Peter’s church with the largest clock face in Europe) and Schloss Kyburg (An impressive castle just outside of the city), there’s plenty to keep you busy. We particularly enjoyed a visit to Fraumunster catherdral, boasting impressive stained glass windows by the legendary Mark Chagall.
  • Visit some of the towns just outside of the city centre – One of the things we love about Switzerland is how easy it is to get around via public transport. This makes accessing some of Zurich’s neighbouring towns easy without the need to hire a car. We particularly loved staying just outside the town of Horgen with stunning views of the lake, gorgeous ‘old style’ Swiss architecture and natural beauty within ‘touching distance’ of the city.
  • Take great photos overlooking Zurich’s old town at Lindenhof – Climb up the steep hill in the oldest part of Zurich to reach this slice of heaven in the middle of the city overlooking the river Limmat. The best part about it is its FREE! Perfect to bring a packed lunch or a couple of drinks on a sunny day.
  • For excellent Italian food, visit La Baracca – apparently it can be hard to get a table, however Tessa’s cousins pulled a few strings. With a lively atmosphere and welcoming staff it was the perfect place to spend our last night in the city. And the food was to die for. The pasta servings were that big we had to be rolled out of the place!
  • Visit one of Zurich’s many pop up food venues – We were lucky enough to be visiting when the weather was still nice enough to be outdoors and spotted a cool outdoor bar/food stall selling local produce. There was a particular emphasis on slow food, sustainability and even some pop up cooking classes for those who were organised enough to book ahead. Apparently this sort of this is relatively common and something we feel really adds to the appeal of a city. We can only imagine how fun it would be to enjoy a mulled wine at something like this in the winter! We enjoyed a glass of vino and a catch up with our friend from Germany!

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