In Switzerland for the 1st time: one day in Zurich

It wouldn’t be a trip to Switzerland if I didn’t stop in Zurich. As you already know, Zurich was my “base” for a few days, so I had more than one day in the city and could get to know it better. And that there was a lot to see!

I arrived in Zurich on Friday night. From the airport I took the train to HB (the main train station in the city). I had a hotel right across the river. Initially, I thought it would be quite simple to find my way, but in the end I had to connect to the local WiFi (which was actually a good experience – you don’t fill in anything there except for a phone number, to which they send a code to log in). Of course, there was a construction around the station and I didn’t know which way the river was. In the end, I was helped by the illuminated sign on the hotel roof, which I spotted in the distance.

I was staying at the Limmathof hotel in the center of Zurich for several reasons – availability without a chance to check the information online (just a hotel as close as possible to HB so that I don’t have to figure out how to get there in the middle of the night without internet) and price (then also how the room looked good, but hotels are expensive in Zurich, so in the end there weren’t many options). The room was okay, it wasn’t modern at all, but it was enough for 4 nights. But the bathroom was more modern. However, hotel experiences: I couldn’t sleep because people kept banging with the doors and it was very hot. And when I fell asleep the first night, I was woken up by the vacuum cleaner around half past five in the morning… Well, next time it will require a bigger budget!

My plan in Zurich was hmm… even for a day and a half in the heat it was enough. I didn’t make it to the places circled in red, but the Lindt chocolate factory, for example, was more of a plan for a rainy day. And the rest are almost all street artworks. What was important to me personally was the city center and I had a great time there.

What I remember from Sunday is that it was insanely hot. Of course, I had water with me, but in the heat it quickly warmed up and became impossible to drink, and one liter was simply not enough for the whole day. For health reasons, I can’t drink still water and honestly, I probably wouldn’t drink it from those public fountains. After all, every second person dips their hands and sometimes their whole body in it. Getting sparkling water was a problem. In the Altstadt there are mainly restaurants and shops that do not sell food and drinks. Things are no better on the other side of the Limmat river. I mainly decided to go to Bahnhofstrasse from HB to the lake and I still don’t understand who shops on that street (it’s all Dior, Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, Louis Vuitton and so on). The further you get from the train station and the closer you get to the lake, the less chance you have of a grocery store. I must say that in this case I am quite used to Ireland and our Centra shops, as well as Deals and EuroGiant. I ended up buying water at the lake and took the tram to the hotel instead of walking.

I started the day with a walk around the river and then I dived into the old town. Don’t be fooled by the names of parts of Zurich – even the part around Bahnhofstrasse has a lot of history and old buildings/churches. Altstadt, like Basel, is more or less uphill. The view from the local university is a popular spot for tourists, mainly because the “cable car” runs from my hotel. But I didn’t take it, because the hill can be climbed all right (if you don’t have any disabilities, in that case I recommend the cable car or tram).

I’m glad I ended up walking, even though some of the roads were under construction and there wasn’t even asphalt on them, but whatever. However, on my way to the university I discovered a beautiful garden right next to the campus, the Rechberggarten. Check out the photos below:

To get to the view, you have to walk past the university itself to ETH Zürich. In front of this building is the so-called Polyterrasse and from there you can see the view. At the time of my visit, more than half of it was overgrown with bushes and trees, so one could only see the left part of the city and the view beyond. However, it was more than enough. In addition, if you are lucky with the weather, unlike me, you can even see part of the Alps (they can be seen better from elsewhere, but I will get to that later).

A funny thing happened to me at this vantage point. While I was waiting for other people to take pictures of the view and selfies, I noticed a guy with the same camera as me. I was quite excited because I don’t know many 90D owners, so I decided to approach him. It turns out that we also have the same lens. The guy was from Germany and he went to Switzerland just to make a documentary about Switzerland. That day I was wearing an Alice Merton t-shirt (no, I’m not 15 anymore, so the t-shirt doesn’t have her face, but part of the lyrics of a song) – L. recognized the merch immediately, so apart from Switzerland and our cameras, we also talked about Alice haha (this is a crazy contrast because a few days later I was wearing my Raccoons in Eras t-shirt and no one (!) said anything to me. Swiss swifties, shame on you.)

From Aldstadt I went to the hotel to cool off and then I set off to the other side of the river. I already knew the part at HB thanks to my purchase of the SIM card and the jacket (I randomly remembered that they played Come back… Be Here by Taylor at Swisscom and I just have to write this memory down here). I was interested in the old part of the city and of course the lake. While in the Aldstadt they have the Grossmünster, on this side of the river are the churches of Frau Münster and St. Peter. All three buildings feature a lot on tourist stuff (It’s interesting how many of us don’t believe in any god, but we get overly excited about churches). I think at Grossmünster you can climb one of the towers for a fee, which might be nice, but I avoided it during my trip.

In addition to the churches, I also recommend a stop at Augustinergasse – another tourist spot. It is a street with very nice historical architecture and lots of Swiss flags. And the caption on Zurich’s official tourist website got me: “With many well-preserved, colorfully painted bay windows, it provides an insight into the history of the city. In addition to better light, the bay windows provided above all the possibility to see who was at the door. They were never built directly above the entrance door, but instead always slightly offset. As a result, residents could already spot unwanted guests from afar and avoid them in an elegant manner when necessary.” That’s totally me at home leaning out the window above the front door to see if I should go down the stairs hahaha

Otherwise, I don’t know why, but I didn’t go through Augustinergasse at all, I just took a peek from one side and went on. So if you ever happen to be in Zurich, take a walk down the street for me!

One of my favorite parts of Zurich is that last stretch of the Limmat River between the Münsterbrücke and the Quaibrücke. If you are on the side of the old town, you are looking at the beautiful architecture on the other side, and the locals have their boats anchored right here. Lots of seagulls too – love them! (Note: while editing the photos, I noticed that on one side as the local women were sunbathing, some were topless. I don’t know if this is normal and expected in this part of town, but just a note if you happen to be around and maybe does it bother you and so on./I don’t mind, actually I would like to have their self-confidence.)

The lake itself is simply amazing. As I already mentioned, unfortunately it was very hot and the Alps could only be seen a little – and all blue. However, Google confirmed that in good weather you can easily look directly at the Alps from the lake. That’s life! Nah seriously, I stood there and was simply envious that the locals wake up in the morning and go for a walk around the water and look at the Alps. Of course, there were many boats on the lake and there are also some tourist ones that will take you around the lake. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time, but one day I would definitely like to.

I returned to this part of the city on my last day, aka the day of departure, because where else to end such a great trip? And I am very happy to report that the visibility was already a little better (which I already knew from Interlaken, the last morning was insanely beautiful – but about that in another article). The Alps were still blue, but the camera captured them beautifully even with snow!

On the last day, I was hoping that I would be able to leave my suitcase in the storage room at the train station, but all the boxes were occupied, so I took the tram. However, it’s a bit of a shame because I would have been more mobile there even though it was still insanely hot.

The only thing I regret is that I didn’t go to the other side of the lake (to the part where the Lindt chocolate factory is). I think it must be very nice there too. But this is connected with my usual “I would like to spend X days in each place in order to get to know it better and see everything and in any weather”. Maybe one day 🙂

Okay, and now the cherry on the top of Zurich: Uetliberg. View of the entire city AND the Alps! The observatory (and the restaurant, of course) is located on a hill above Zurich and can be seen beautifully from the old town. It wouldn’t be Switzerland if you didn’t have a way to get there. The s-bahn line S10 from the main train station took me to Uetliberg station in the evening. The journey took about 20 minutes and offered beautiful views of the city, surroundings and nature. In addition, the s-bahn itself was beautifully clean! I’m used to the German ones and they just aren’t that clean (and DART in Ireland isn’t any better). It’s about a 10-minute walk uphill from the station to the lookout, which wasn’t exactly something I’d enjoy in this weather. There is a hotel and a restaurant on the lookout itself, and then you have two options: go up to the viewing tower (paid and there are only stairs), or walk around the place for free and see basically the same thing. Since I was dying (Even though the path to the lookout is nicely done, sometimes it was really too much. And I was completely done when I saw the guy who ran up it!) and the Alps were almost invisible anyway, I stayed on the ground and just looked around Zurich and the surrounding area. The view was divine, but of course it would be better if the Alps could be seen and the sunset was a beautiful orange. I know from a new German friend that the Alps can be seen beautifully from here (he showed me a photo). Maybe next time!

What I liked about Zurich
I saw a kid wearing a North Face t-shirt and I immediately felt like less like an idiot 🙂 No seriously now. Architecture. But as I’ve said a hundred times, we just don’t have it in Ireland. About four people wanted to take pictures, that’s always a pleasure. And at Burger King (I know, but it was Sunday and almost everything was closed when I got back to town) I had an order number of 492!!! (yes, it has a personal meaning for me)

What I didn’t like about Zurich
You’re probably wondering what I’m going to complain about, but there are a few things. People are not as friendly as in Basel (which is ok), but it was a bit of a culture shock haha That’s why most of the photos are just architecture, while I have beautiful street photos from Basel. Few benches!! Jesus, I complained in the article about Basel, but Zurich is even worse. There were a few benches by the lake and under the trees and you didn’t have a chance to sit down because they were all occupied of course. That didn’t help in this heat either. But I’ll give you a tip: there are plenty of benches under the trees on Bahnhofstrasse.

Zurich is simply worth it. It’s a very nice city with a rich history, beautiful architecture and views that will take your breath away haha

If you found this article interesting and would like to read the rest of my Swiss adventures, then simply click/tap on the tag below “switzerland eng” and the blog will show you all available posts.