If I am going to fly cross continent from India to Europe, I am always going to want to make the most of it and choose the best of all destinations. So as I decided to backpack across Europe for almost two months, exploring eight countries in total, I used it to my advantage by starting the journey from one of the most beautiful countries in entire Europe. Yes, I am talking about Switzerland! And in Switzerland, the hub of all activities and cultural treats: the town of Zurich!
As I stepped out into the Zurich airport, and headed to have my first couch-surfing experience ever, I was more skeptical than ever. I had the impression that it would feel sterile and bounded with punctuality and rules, but it wasn’t anything like that. My 48 hours in Zurich went just as smooth and happening as I wanted it to be. My couchsurfing host turned out to be one of the amazing people I’ve met in my life and so were the other locals I interacted with, during my stay in the country.
So before I go overwhelmed and write a 2000 word essay on my First Couchsurfing Experience and about the friendly Swiss locals, I’ll return to the topic at hand and share some of my favorite spots from around Zurich.
As time permitted, I’d only one dedicated day to explore and experience Zurich as best I could, as I thoughtfully spared the other day (I stayed in Zurich for two days) to explore the beautiful Swiss Alps by doing a day trip to Mount Titlis.
So if you too are a little bound with time and are struggling with the idea of what to do to complete your visit to Zurich, then read ahead. Here are my favorite moments, and some suggestions, from 24 hours in Zurich…
Start With The Landesmuseum
Because it’s very likely that you will start from the main station, located in the middle of the town, make Landesmuseum (or Swiss National Museum) your first stop, as it’s located only a few steps away, and it’s always a good idea to start your tour in a new country/city by getting to know a bit about its cultural and modern history.
With its over over 820,000 exhibits, presented in a really interesting way, the museum gives your a fresh perspective and a clear idea about the country’s origin and achievements, as we know them today. Once done, head straight to explore the colors of Zurich.
The Colorful Old Town Of Altstadt
Unlike the boring monotonous buildings that I ended up watching for two long years in United Kingdom (I’m not talking about countryside but the big southern English towns), the architecture in Zurich turned out to be much more vibrant than I’d expected.
Like all great cities, Zurich was colorful. And amongst its dreary skies, and well driven roads, the town surprised me with different color, everywhere. I just had to look. Though the best among all was the streets in the old town of Altstadt, and in Altstadt, Augustinergasse street.
Walking through this historic old town and exploring the narrow cobbled streets, as I ogled centuries old buildings was definitely a highlight in Zurich.
Walk uphill to Lindenholf park – the most ancient part of the city, where Zurich’s first few buildings (as we know them today) were constructed, back in 19th century. Just stroll through its streets in a romantically beguiling fashion, or take the Zurich City Walk Tour (for CHF 25), for an in-depth experience.
See the Chagall Windows
Fraumnster Church in Old Town Zurich, is home to five world famous Chagall windows. Created by a Russian-French artist, these magnificent stained glass windows bath the chapel in a rainbow of light and a moment of interrupted awe.
Each window located in the choir depicts a different Christian Story.
Grab A Drink At One Of The City’s Panoramic Bars
If you think Zurich has enough beauty to offer, while walking on the street, brace yourself, because it has plenty more if you go a little high and probe it from a bird’s perspective. High above the rooftops, where the noise of the city is far away and sometimes a slight breeze blows, you get to marvel at the Zurich’s beautiful architecture and a conduit of ever impressive tram-lines.
Though there are dozens of places to explore Zurich from high above the ground, as you slowly sip on your favorite beer, their prices, however, can come as a bit of a shock (drinks in Switzerland can be expensive! And to have one on a rooftop bar, simply uneconomical!).
However the place where I ended up having my beer (it’s called Jules Verne Panorama Bar) wasn’t too hard on my budget. It only costed 8 CHF to get a pint of beer, and its location, which was almost in the middle of Zurich mainstation and the town of Altstadt made it even better and convenient.
Claim The City Boundaries In A Tram
One of the best and quickest way to explore a city (any city, in any continent), when you have little time and no agenda, is by making yourself comfortable in your favorite mode of public transport and go to the end of the line. And when it comes to Zurich, trams are the best way to do so.
As people hop-in and hop-off, you slowly explore the town and its surrounding suburbs – getting a closer look to the city’s everyday life, and culture. Start your journey into any direction from the main station, and get to the other side of the town, take the same tram back or the train, to make it quicker.
Drink from a Water Fountain, And Capture It
One of the most cultural thing about Zurich is its unique drinking water fountains that are spread all over the city of Zurich. An estimated figure says that there are over 1200 such fountains, all of different design, can be found across the city, mos of which spew drinkable water 24 hours a day.
So when in Zurich, there is no need to purchase bottled water, just stick your water bottle under one of the flowing spouts and drink from an iconic Swiss fountain.
And Most Importantly, Save Your Time Using Zurich City Card
If you’re in Zurich for a limited short time, and are going to be travelling in public transport one of the simplest and easiest way to save time (and moreover money) is by investing in a 24 or 72 hour city card, that offer you a free travel in all public transport and a free or a discounted access to most of the tourist attractions, including many museums.
Though the city lets you hire free bikes pretty much on all major stations, it’s just too much of a hassle to locate (and moreover drop) the bike at their desired station (or lose your 20 CHF security deposit!). So invest in a Zurich card, skip the lines and all confusion, and get go!
Have you been to Zurich or Switzerland? What’s your favorite place there? Spill!