Zurich, a great place for a city break

Switzerland is seen by many as an extremely expensive destination however a recent trip to Zurich proved to me that it is affordable and well within the budget traveller’s range.

If you are arriving at Zurich airport it is a good idea to make for the service desk where you can buy yourself a Zurich Card. These can be purchased for 24 or 72 hours. This card will then give you unlimited travel within the Zurich borders on trains, trams, buses and on some boats. There are also a number of useful discounts which can be obtained with the card in restaurants and also museums.

ZurichZurich is a compact city and most of the attractions you will need to visit are in easy reach of the main railway station. A good idea is to find a central hotel. There are several good ones just across from the main railway station. I stayed in the Hotel Rutli which was close to the Polybahn, the University and just a short walk from the main shopping street, lake and most important landmarks.

There are plenty of magnificent churches including the Fraumunster, Saint Peter’s and The Grossmunster. A very good time to visit is just as they open or as the sun is going down. In this way you will be able to appreciate fully the magnificence of the many stained glass windows.

I spent some time walking around the old quarter with its narrow streets and leafy squares. Zurich has over 1,200 fountains which provide free drinking water so have your empty bottle ready. 

The old town is full of cafes and restaurants and one of the best is the Neumarket. However if you just want to have a coffee or hot chocolate then you should make for Schobers. They use their own recipe and I can say from personal experience that it is quite delicious. Converted from a 14th century house into a shop and cafe in the 19th century this delightful resting place is divided into different areas. They also serve excellent soup and sandwiches.

ZurichIf you are on a budget then there are plenty of stalls where you can pick up a cheap cup of coffee or you may want to try Manora, one of the main department stores. Their restaurant has a wide range of reasonably priced meals. Snacks can also be taken at one of the many stalls scattered around the city or in the main railway station.

Known for its links to banking Zurich feels a very safe city.

The main shopping street is Bahnhofstrasse which has arrange of different stores. For reasonably priced souvenirs you could try either the Coop City or Manora.

Well placed for visiting other parts of Switzerland, I was able to travel to Lucerne in less than 50 minutes and Berne in under an hour.

If you want to escape the city and admire the view then you need to take the S10 from the main station. This takes you out of the city and up into a natural area where you walk, enjoy a coffee or just sit and look at the view. The journey takes just 20 minutes and is included in your Zurich Card.

Lake Zurich is just a few minutes from the centre of the city and can be reached by walking along the river. Here you will find a selection of boat trips. The opera house and lots of places to sit.

ZurichIf you are looking for somewhere special to eat then you should try the Zeughauskeller. Built in 1487 it was once an artillery store but now is a successful restaurant. They serve a number of local dishes including veal in a wine sauce with rosti, a range of speciality sausages and some delicious sweets. I visited on a Monday evening and found it full of people. I would therefore suggest getting there fairly early if you want a seat. Another good place to eat is at the main station where on Wednesdays there is an excellent market with a number of food outlets. 

Another place you might like to try is the Restaurant Markethalle which has a range of organic dishes. This can be found in Zurich West, an area that is currently being redeveloped. Very popular with the younger set there are plenty of things to do in this part of the city including trying out the  Hive, an iconic underground club, the Frietag shop and Prime Tower, currently  Switzerland’s tallest building. The Clouds bar, lounge and restaurant at the top has a wonderful view over the city.

Zurich is ideal as a short break destination. It is full of life and you are sensible and search out the best deals it is not expensive.

I was impressed by the excellent transport system, the cleanliness, the standard of service and the ‘buzz’ that it generates.

Basically a great place!   

For more information go to www.zuerich.ch/zh/en/index/tourism.html

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Kirker Holidays.

Top tips for visiting Zurich

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Godfrey Hall

Award-winning travel writer

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