“Turicum”, “Ziurichi”, “Downtown Switzerland”
31st of July, 2010
At 4 days after my birthday and because my birthday was in the middle of the week, we had to wait for the weekend to get on this road trip we planned ahead. But even that we planned ahead and had all thought about, last minute spontaneous decisions happen. From our plan of driving from Düsseldorf to Heidelberg on Saturday, and visiting Eppstein and Diez on the way back on Sunday, we ended up 318km farther to the south, in Switzerland.
That was a well worth decision, although very tiring too. 610 kilometres is what we did in total on Saturday morning, arriving to Zurich just in time for lunch. And what a day! Over 30 degrees and sun, that is a rare sight on its own.
Rearranging the rest of the weekend was the less difficult. Since the cities we would be visiting are small, reducing time here and there was indeed a good decision or we would have ended up with too much time not knowing what to do or where to spend. Zurich in any case deserves more time than what we spent and will plan in the future a full weekend only for this city and its lake.
Coming back to the weather, it was by far too hot, at times uncomfortable. Not the temperature itself which 30 I can stand perfectly, but being so dry without any air made it quite complicated. We were not strolling slowly around, we were on a quite busy rushy agenda making it a bit more complicated. In any case that is no excuse for complaint, I rather “suffer” for hot than rain, cloudy, cold and ugly.
The city, like anywhere else and anything in Switzerland, is very expensive. My first contact with this country and I can only imagine how the rest will be and what to expect. Surely I will plan with more money and have at least nice food avoiding any fast food chain as we did on this occasion. But hey, if you though McDonalds for example would be normal price then you are mistaken, (I was). It costs on average triple than the prices in London, and that for a simple small menu. If you want to have a laugh, then check the prices at restaurants, shocking honestly. I have never been keen to pay such prices and won’t do.
Walking along the elegant streets is the best way to enjoy the beautiful architecture and views of the city, from the river and the lake. Having a car is also a great plus since you can drive the whole lake around where you will get impressive views of the mountains, nature and landscapes, and also the little villages and castles all around.
What to see and do in Zurich:
- Lindenhof Quarter The oldest part of the medieval core and also the most prestigious.
-Münsterhof Square The largest square in the old town filled with medieval guild houses, which are one of the major sights in Zurich.
-Zunfthaus zur Meisen A large guild house housing the Swiss National Museum.
-Fraumünster Women’s Minster Church founded in 853, few remains from those origins. The choir is from the 12th century, and as the Great Minster Church, it has elements of recent addition as the north transept window from 1945.
-Augustinerkirche Another of the major churches in the city.
-Augustinergasse The main street in this quarter famous for the beautiful wooden bay windows from the 17th century houses.
-Münsterbrücke Connects Lindenhof and Rathaus quarters. The views of both banks are the best from the bridge.
- Rathaus Quarter On the opposite side of Lindenhof across the river is the other part of the historic city.
-Grossmünster The Great Minster Church started construction in 1100 with elements added as recently as 1932 with the choir windows and 1950 bronze doors. It is the most important church in the city. The views from the top of the tower are a must do.
-Limmatquai Street Built in the 19th century as a promenade parallel to the Limmat river. It passes many guild houses and bridges.
-Saint Peter Church Originally built on the 9th century, most of the building you see today is from the 15th century. It is also famous as having the largest clock face anywhere in Europe, dating from 1538.
- Central Train Station Zürich Hauptbahnhof, to the north of the city next to the historic districts and surrounding by beautiful grand buildings is the largest train station in Switzerland, major train hub with connexions to many European countries and one of the busiest train stations in the world.
- Bahnhofstrasse The main and most important shopping street in the city, running all the way from the train station to the lake.
- Opera House Near the Quaibrucke at the beginning of Lake Zurich.
- Lake Promenade Runs from Bellevue to Tiefenbrunnen. Very picturesque and nice for walking and relaxing specially if the weather is good.
- Centre Le Corbusier Directly on the shore of the lake, for architecture lovers this is the place. Also named Heidi Weber Museum, it is the last building he designed and never saw it finished as he died before. Le Corbusier was an architect from Zurich and revolutionised the world with the use of concrete, steel and glass.
The airport is just few kilometres away taking you only 12 minutes by train to the Central Train Station for 6.6 CHF. The ticket is valid for an hour after is validated therefore you can continue your journey to your final destination either by bus or tram within the city with the same ticket. For the same price you can take a tram instead but this will take around 35 minutes.
Travel cards are sold on 24 or 72 hours basis and they grant access to all Zurich museums free of charge. They cost 24 or 48 CHF.
Within the city there is a huge public transportation network if you compare it to the actual size of the city. Many buses and trams criss-cross the city to every corner therefore you are never far away from a stop, although what is the historical centre and majority of the sights do not require any public transportation to reach, distances are short for what walking is the best option, and sometimes the fastest.
Let’s face it, we did not stay overnight in the city and on purpose. Hotels here are very expensive, and does not matter if you opt for a smaller or guest house. We instead slept over in Mannheim, very near Heidelberg which was our destination for the following day.
Unfortunately I cannot recommend you any place in Zurich but to check the usual hotel websites and use any offer/voucher discount you may receive in your inbox. This is something we wait for and book our hotels mostly using any discount voucher.