Zürich – the city of delight and great pleasure

Lunchtime. One o’clock. The street is full of white shirts, ties and Prada women dress suits. A colourful T-shirts can be noticed only from time to time but obviously they are worn by some tourists or kids. The members of business capital city of Switzerland are out of their offices in order to eat out or just to rest a little bit from their daily duties. After having a bite to eat, they rush to their work, laptops, reports and numbers. It is how their day-to-day life looks like. It is the image of the daily routine of hard-working Zürich. Professional responsibilities to which everybody is devoted have the first place. But shortly after 6 o’clock in the afternoon, the city changes considerably.

Let’s go to the lake

Rest for a while

In the evening, the Protestant worship and the artistry of work stay somewhere behind across the street. The kerb becomes a synonym of a totally different world. The citizens of Zürich have moved to pathways, cafés and even to lawns in the parks. At this moment ties are very rare but the same situation refers also to T-shirts. One would say that this is a natural Swiss obligation to take care of fashion and style.

Apart from what we have observed so far in the other areas of life a kind of Italian lifestyle seems to be more popular than German strictness and order. You don’t have to do much so as to indulge in lovely weather and pleasant atmosphere of the afternoon. Every single lawn is occupied by picnickers as well as benches on which people are chatting and sipping some beer or wine. What’s more, people, who would like to swim in warm and crystal-clear water (18°C) lie down their towels on the stones which surround the lake. Somewhere on the lake are sailing boats and behind our backs we can hear the sound of folk music.  Today – the melodies of the Middle East. The citizens are gossiping, debating, laughing and flirting. Now it’s time reserved for friends, family or sports and hobbies or maybe everything mixed up all together.  

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The pathway, which resembles a huge letter U, is five-kilometres long and surrounds the whole Northern part of Lake Zürich.  There are numerous restaurants, bars and ice cream parlours. Everybody benefits from a warm evening.

Don’t you fancy going for a walk? You can always cycle (Züri rollt is free of charge), jog, hire a boat or just sit and observe passers-by. Once in a while, it is possible to admire snow-covered peaks of the Alps towering somewhere far away over water surface but please remember that it is possible only if the weather is sunny. 

In Switzerland the freedom of one person ends where another person’s begins. Literally. You can forget about washing on Sundays or having a shower after 10 o’clock in the evening. Of course, you can take a risk and wait for the police officer to come. A joint in the park? Here you are. Why not? If you want to have some fun, you can do it but bear in mind that you cannot disturb other people. This type of behaviour is clearly visible. Next, law and order can be found everywhere. And obviously, cleanliness of the city which, if you compare it to the Polish reality, seems to be remarkable.

From the pathway we’re heading to the city centre.

Spend a fortune

On tiny trinkets and noisy toys

Parade Square is the heart of the city. It used to be an open-air market but nowadays it plays a role of a transportation hub from which one can easily get everywhere. Even money seems to be omnipresent in that particular area since there are bank headquarters as well as the most luxurious boutiques and shops.

Banhofstrass starts at the square and it functions as the main street and shopping avenue. Without any problems you can squander a fortune on wristwatches, clothes and shiny jewels. It is possible even in a kiosk. IWC, Rolex, Dior, Armani and many other brands occupy almost one-kilometre long street which ends at the railway station. Obviously, the retailers cannot complain about the lack of customers who are going to splash out on.

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Tourists and less wealthy citizens wander around the street so as to look at the shop windows or just to be there.  

Strolling along the street in the shadow cast by trees and buildings we sigh deeply at sparkling shop windows. Red flags with a white cross hang above our heads – the ultimate symbol of Swiss scenery. From time to time local flags separate national ones. The square comprises of a blue-and-white triangle symbolises Zürich. The other flags belong to craftsmen or districts.  

Tourists and less wealthy citizens wander around the street so as to look at the shop windows or just to be there.  

Strolling along the street in the shadow cast by trees and buildings we sigh deeply at sparkling shop windows. Red flags with a white cross hang above our heads – the ultimate symbol of Swiss scenery. From time to time local flags separate national ones. The square comprises of a blue-and-white triangle symbolises Zürich. The other flags belong to craftsmen or districts.  

The number of restaurants and cafés is incredible. However, finding a cheap meal seems to be mission impossible. The quality of those places is one of the best in the world and, of course, the supply and demand for splendour can’t be forgotten. If we also add an opportunity to show off, we will receive a perfect recipe for a luxurious food industry. The restaurants near Hauptbahnhof are less expensive and tourists who don’t have stuffed wallets will be able to find something for themselves.

Undoubtedly, the public transport in Zürich is one of the best developed in Europe. Trams and trolleybuses leave every few minutes, boats depart in every 15 minutes and moreover three railway stations plus the main one (it has 20 platforms located on two floors) provide excellent service for the agglomeration with a population of one million inhabitants. Have you missed the tram? Don’t worry, there will be the next one in a moment. However, nothing is for free and this precision and frequency cost an arm and a leg. 1-hour ticket to the city centre is 5 CHF.

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Wander to kill some time

In the labyrinth of cobbled streets

Undoubtedly, the public transport in Zürich is one of the best developed in Europe. Trams and trolleybuses leave every few minutes, boats depart in every 15 minutes and moreover three railway stations plus the main one (it has 20 platforms located on two floors) provide excellent service for the agglomeration with a population of one million inhabitants. Have you missed the tram? Don’t worry, there will be the next one in a moment. However, nothing is for free and this precision and frequency cost an arm and a leg. 1-hour ticket to the city centre is 5 CHF.

We are going to the Lindenhof that is a green hill placed on the left side of the river and from which you can admire the splendid view. At the top and in the shadow of trees, some pensioners play chess with youngsters, whereas white-collar workers meet up in order to sip some wine and nibble cheese. The majority of visitors come here just to take a photo and to look at the eastern skyline of the city. The Grossmünster, so-called great minster of the Swiss Protestant Reformation, towers above the Old Town and the river. It is impossible to overlook its twin soaring towers and what is more the building of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology seems to be a cherry on top of greenery.

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Not so far away one can find another but smaller church – The Fraumünster Church with a golden clock placed on the tower. This is a good place to cross the river and visit the second shore.

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The western part is dignified and calm in comparison to the eastern side. Both parts are similar to each other from the architectural point of view, however the eastern side is noisy, full of the hustle and bustle of the city as well as fragrances from all over the world. Small restaurants and bars, which are at each and every corner, makes citizens and tourists come here and eat. Prices are reasonable (if we compare them to the rest of the country) and a wide selection of cuisines is incredible. Tiny workshops, boutiques, shops selling almost everything and galleries are squeezed between restaurants. 

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We are wandering around squares in order to find some distinctive and unique flavours that don’t fit to the omnipresent order or maybe they are just the essence of this particular place.

Heading towards the Institute of Technology is a little bit arduous. However another skyline of the city is going to be our prize. Obviously there is a possibility to take a tram or funicular (The Polybahn runs till 7 p.m. on weekdays).

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Maybe going a little bit up

Uetliberg – the private mountain of Zürich

If you feel tired of buildings and noisy streets, it is worth going hiking. Nature is the good way to have a rest from the hustle and bustle of a city life. The Alps are around 90 kilometres from Zürich – a little bit too far to go for a walk in the evening but we can take an urban train or cable car to Uetliberg. Moreover, the tram can ride us to the place where the majority of trails cross (e.g. tram lines 13 and 17 – the final stop called Albisgütli).

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This is not the alpine peak covered with snow and about which people tell legends. Actually, it is a high green and steep hill with a TV mast, restaurant and a great viewpoint at the top. Many playgrounds, barbecue places and sheds for parties are located around the slope. Of course, some demanding and steep trails are not missing there.  

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We went to the top of Uetliberg on a rainy day. The sightseeing trail took us 90 minutes and a huge amount of sweat accompanied us. The gradual descent through the upper part of the city was much longer and lasted 2.5 hours; the pleasant feeling of being tired was guaranteed.

Once we visited the hill on a sunny day. The train from Zürich Binz to Uetliberg needs approximately 20 minutes to get there and it costs 10 CHF. The view of the city, lake and mountains from the top is heartily recommended.

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The moment of sweet oblivion

Confiserie Sprüngli

Square, triangular, oval. With nuts, almonds, champagne or cherry. Dark, milk, colourful. Flat, long or big. With or without the filling and even in strips… and all of them made of chocolate. Those lovely sweets lie next to each other in rows behind the glass. They tempt and don’t allow anyone to make rational decisions.

Sprüngli pralines are the essence of Swiss sweets. Over 40 different flavours in thick chocolate. Their small and fancy forms keep you staring at them while taste buds are hyperactive. Logical thinking seems to be far away from you.

And maybe let’s take this one too, it looks so delicious.
And that one, and the one over there… oh come on, we can splash out on one more!

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Do not enter the shop. Avoid it, otherwise the chocolate domination will take control over you.

For sure – mountains and chocolate are two symbols of Switzerland. After hiking this chocolate will give you some energy but . . . what are you waiting for? Begin with eating chocolate!

And if we’re going to have some fun… let’s do it

Zürich by night

The nightlife of Zürich has become a legend. Parties at the rooftops, enormous clubs at the hotel cellars or discos on boats. The only things that matter are your wallet and physical strength. However, if you don’t want to stick to this snobbish world, you can visit Langstrasse where pubs, bars and restaurants are always open. 

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For those of you who prefer calmer events Kries 5 (the District 5) is waiting. It is a great alternative. Everybody can find something interesting here. But if you realize that the place is inappropriate, just take a tram – simple as it is. 

The citizens of Zürich like having parties. The age and beliefs don’t count. It’s only about having a good time.

Twice a year the streets of the city are full of people and one big party lasts till dawn. The Street Parade – a techno party (August –  link) and The Sechseläuten – more traditional event (April – link).

And every three years . . .

Zürifest – Zürich’s celebration

The festival of Zürich, a street party comparable to the Olympic Games, takes place in every three years. The city centre is closed for cars and a crowd of people occupy main streets. The event lasts for three days when you can see some air shows, acrobatic and dance performances as well as try different cuisines. In addition, music, open-air discos and stalls with drinks are everywhere. On the streets of Zürich every single stall or merry-go-round tempt passers-by.

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The main attraction of this festival is the display of fireworks near the lake. One would like to say that this is the closing event but indeed it isn’t since the city organizes four different 30-minute displays. When the lights fade and silence dominates at the shore, thousands of people look at the sky and their deep sighs of contentment can be heard. The climax is on the sky.

Over two million people took part in the last festival. It brought a lot of money. The next edition is planned for 5 – 7 July 2019.

Sunset in Zurich

A photo posted by Asia and Maciek (@onedaystop) on

Zürich – main attractions

  1. A walk across the market square – from Niederdorf through Lindenhoff to Fraumunster
  2. The Zürich skyline from Uetliberg
  3. Café Sprüngli on Paradeplatz
  4. A walk through Bahnhofstrasse – from Paradeplatz to the station Hauptbahnof
  5. Kunsthaus – museum and the art gallery (we will visit this place next time)
  6. A picnic at the lakeside or even a better option – swimming in the lake (swimming zones: Seedbad Enge or Seedbad Utoqai)
  7. A party or at least a glass of beer on Langstrasse

Zürich – general information

Public transport tickets

  1. The city is divided into zones. The city centre is in one zone. Tickets for trams, buses and water taxi are common.
  2. 1-hour ticket for all zones in the city costs 4.30 CHF.
  3. 30-minute pass (limited number of stops – the scope of the ticket should be checked in the ticket machine) – 2.80 CHF.
  4. Day pass – 24hrs all zones – 8.60 CHF.

 Prices

  1. beer 500 ml at a pub – around 5 CHF
  2. a pizza – 22 CHF
  3. BigMac Meal– 14,00 CHF (the most expensive BigMac in the world)
  4. a bottle of water 1.5 Litre – 1 CHF
  5. Sprungli –10 CHF per 7 pralines at a café
  6. A bike rental – Zuri rollt is free of chargé but it is required to pay a 20 CHF deposit

Shops

  1. the majority of shops is closed on Sundays, you can do some shopping only in Migros located near Bahnhof Enge and Hauptbahnhof
  2. the majority of corner shops is opened till 18:00
  3. shopping malls (e.g. Sihlcity) open till 21:00 from Monday to Saturday

Parking lots

  1. white lines without numbers–free of charge and without limits
  2. white lines with numbers–is not free of charge in the specific time
  3. blue – free of charge, up to 90 minutes –you should have a parking permit for the Blue Zone with the time of your arrival 
  4. yellow –reserved, do not park
  5. if you do not stick to the parking rules, you can be fined
Rigi Kulm

Mount Rigi – Queen of the Mountains with a wreath of flowers in a crown