Zürich is not Switzerland’s capital (that’s Bern) but it is the country’s largest and otherwise most important city. If you’ve got a lot of money in the bank this is a great place to come visit it, particularly since you’ll need to make a withdrawal to afford to stick around long. But things are changing in Zürich. Sure, this is Switzerland so things are still spotless and well organized, but there are new trendy bars and restaurants that are helping destroy the city’s image of being one of Europe’s tourism grannies.
What To Do
The Kunsthaus (the Museum of Fine Arts) holds permanent and temporary collections that are far more important than you’d expect to find in a city of around 400,000. A wide variety of pieces from the masters are on display here, including ones by Van Gogh, Monet, and Rodin. The Museum of Design has some fascinating and surprising displays that cover areas of design you’d normally not expect to see in a museum.
You can climb (or take a train) up the Uetliberg hill overlooking the city for great views, but it’s also the start of the unique Planetary Walk. This is an 8-mile walk along the ridge that shows the planets of the solar system in proper scale. And speaking of hills, skiing is within easy reach of Zürich. Flumserberg is the closest major ski resort and it’s easy to go in the morning and come back that same evening.
With Switzerland’s central location this is a very popular city to get to by train. This is a major transit hub for the region so Eurail Pass holders or just normal travelers will often find themselves crossing through on their way somewhere else. If you are coming from any further away you’ll want to book a flight into Zurich International Airport (code: ZRH). The airport is a bit out of town, but it’s on the rail line so you can get to the center quickly and cheaply. Also, many of the larger hotels offer free shuttle services so check that option as well.
Where To Stay
This is an expensive city in almost every way, but there are a few hostels in Zürich. There are plenty of hotels in Zürich as well, but most tend to cater to the luxury and business travelers so it’s not easy to find cheap rooms, particularly during busy periods. With the business traffic and winter resorts nearby this city can be booked up nearly any time so it pays to plan ahead if you are hoping to save some money.