Falling in love with Zurich

Getting lost in Zurich didn’t just help me find the values and characters that make Zurich a consistent candidate of being one of the most livable Cities on Earth, but it also made me realize how loveable the City is from every angle and corner. Indeed, it is impossible not to fall in love with the City that offers all sorts of one-of-a-kind experiences to its visitors who are looking for gastronomic adventures, European artistry, exquisite shopping escapades, and more than enough sight-seeing to please one’s soul.

Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of my trip in Zurich. I have given you an overview of what to expect in Switzerland’s busiest city in my previous post (Getting lost in the City). However, I am hundred percent certain that you are itching to ask what I did in Zurich, what places to visit and other relevant WH questions which I would do my best to detail in this blog post. Bear with me, as this will be another quite long post, but I guarantee that it is all worth it.

It is impossible not to fall in love with the City that offers all sorts of one-of-a-kind experiences to its visitors.

Let’s do some logistics 

The first thing to do is to finalize how many days you are planning to stay in the City. Truth be told, two days should be more than enough. The second item you would have to decide on are your plans after Zurich. Make up your mind whether you want to visit Zurich’s neighbouring cantons or get out of Switzerland and cross to another Schengen State. If you plan to visit other Cantons in Switzerland, then I highly suggest that you buy the Swiss Travel Pass (STP). It will give you unlimited access to all means of public transportation – both first and second class (don’t get confused with the second class, it still feels like first-class anyway). If you want to cross to another Schengen State after your trip in Zurich, then I suggest that you buy a Zurich Card instead. It has the same transportation perks as the STP, but is only limited within Zurich as the card name implies.Zurich Train Station

Visit the Altstadt  

The German word “Altstadt” means Old Town. The history of the City goes as far back as the Neolithic and Bronze Era, and the Zurich we know of today is a combination of rich cultural heritage that started brewing thousands of years ago. It is not surprising that in Zurich, there are truly breathtaking heritage sites that stand strong until today. The Altstadt is also the home to the City’s main attractions that I will further detail later on.

Altstadt Zurich
The Zürich Old Town
Go to Church

In most countries that are predominantly Catholic or Christian, churches are common as one of the main tourist destinations. The same is true with Zurich. Churches in Zurich have been witnesses to how history unveiled to the now global banking and finance centre. The same churches are also of great historical significance to their society and are now continuing to witness equally significant historical milestones. I’ve been to three of their churches and each church truly has its own character. Not to mention, the stories behind why the churches were established, and their cultural significance to the country, are something that shouldn’t be overlooked. The churches that you must see are as follows:

1. Predigerkirche  – The Preacher’s Church

Predigerkirche - Zurich

It was first mentioned in 1234 AD and was the first Romanesque church built in Zurich.Predigerkirche - ZurichOriginally a Dominican church, however after the Swiss Reformation, the Predigerkirche is turned to a Protestant church and even its architecture was slowly restructured to becoming a Baroque/Gothic church in the 16th Century.

2. Fraumünster – Women’s Minster

Fraumünster Zurich

Said church is built in the remains of a former abbey for aristocratic women founded in year 853. The founder,  Louis the German, granted the convent with lands and [political] immunity. Above all, Henry III, a Roman Emperor, also granted the convent to hold markets, collect tolls and mint coins, thus making the abbess the ruler of the City. Now it belongs to the  Evangelical Reformed Church of the Canton of Zurich. It also houses the famous Chagall Windows. Unfortunately, taking pictures inside is not allowed and thus I had no chance at all to take pictures of the stained glass windows which are truly breathtaking.Fraumünster Zurich

Fraumünster ZurichSaid church is built in the remains of a former abbey for aristocratic women founded in year 853. The founder,  Louis the German, granted the convent with lands and [political] immunity. Above all, Henry III, a Roman Emperor, also granted the convent to hold markets, collect tolls and mint coins, thus making the abbess the ruler of the City. Now it belongs to the  Evangelical Reformed Church of the Canton of Zurich. It also houses the famous Chagall Windows. Unfortunately, taking pictures inside is not allowed and thus I had no chance at all to take pictures of the stained glass windows which are truly breathtaking.

3. Grossmünster – Great Minster

Grossmünster - Zurich

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In my opinion, Grossmünster is the most majestic of all the churches I visited in Zurich. On top of that, it has the most fascinating story on how it was established. According to legend, the Romanesque Protestant church was founded by none other than Charlemagne and the same spot where the church stands mighty is believed to be the burial site of Zurich’s patron saints: Felix and Regula.

Grossmünster - Zurich

It also houses Augusto Giacometti’s (known Swiss Artist) modern stained glass windows that were added back in 1932.  Equally astonishing as Chagall’s, taking of photos likewise is not allowed.

Shoptill your wallet drops in Zurich

Like in most European cities, in Zurich, shopping is defined on a totally different level. The City has its own shopping street known as Bahnhofstrasse strategically located in front of the City’s Main Train Station. However, consider this as a word of warning, said street is ranked as the third most expensive shopping street on Earth. Not a big deal, yeah? To most ladies and some men though, if you’ve been eyeing for luxury items in your local stores, you might wanna save up before you go to Zurich. There’s a big chance that the street has what you are looking for and it can even be at a discounted price. Another word of warning: discounted, but still may be pricey for some.

Bahnhofstrasse - Zurich
Bahnhofstrasse

My trip to Zurich was on a tight budget, so all I bought from there was a Swiss Knife, plus a matching scarf and jacket that was vital for my survival during the trip.

Avoid the main roads at least once

I’m giving this advice, not because of heavy traffic, human congestion or any other factors. I am asking you to walk in their alleys mainly for the experience. The alleys in Zurich downtown really have a strong character and an ambience worthy of one’s time. I felt like I am walking in Diagon Alley, only that I am a muggle and not Harry Potter (sorry, geeky Pottermore stuff). Imagine finding yourself walking in cobblestone streets in a fine cold weather while breathing the surroundings in and seeing the contrasting scenery of small buildings and houses.  I never thought that I’d have much opportunity to experience what I most of the time see only in the movies and series.

Zurich

ZurichThe alleys are also full of artsy stores, restaurants, and even clothing shops which complete the vibe and ambiance.

Where to eat

It might surprise some of you that I didn’t eat in their five-star restaurants. Well, as mentioned, my Switzerland trip is on a tight budget. Not to mention, if there are two more things that are expensive in Switzerland other than shopping, those would be transportation (one taxi ride alone can cost you around $100)  and food. The food is pricey but there are definitely practical ways to fill in your tummy. Yes, please don’t starve your self, otherwise, you wouldn’t really enjoy the whole experience.

First off, if you’re looking for good food without taking a toll on your pocket money, I highly suggest that you go to the Main Train Station. There are lots of food stalls to choose from. You can have a decent meal for only CHF 6.00 (roughly 5 – 6 USD). Their pastries  (CHF 1 – 2) and sausages (CHF 6 – 10)  are more than enough to satisfy anyone’s hunger. If you’d like something a bit heavier, then you can go for sandwiches (CHF 6 – 10). Since it was winter then, coffee (CHF 4 – 5) would be a nice addition to any meal. Try their local coffee stalls and you’ll never go wrong. A regular sit down dinner would cost you CHF 15 – 25.

Zurich
Sandwich and hot chocolate for CHF 15.00.

Walk in the park

Zurich has a lot of parks where you can chill both literally (since it was winter back then) and figuratively. I like the Lakeside Park very much because you can relax under the sun while in front of Lake Zurich, and while watching pigeons gather around the Ganymede Sculpture. I was also fortunate to have seen said park in two different ways because of the changing weather in the City – one during a sunny day, and another with moderate snow showers.Winter Zurich

Winter - ZurichThere are other activities you might want to consider doing, which I also am planning to do on my next trip to Zurich, such as visiting the museums, going to Uetliberg  (the highest point in Zurich where you get to enjoy the whole Zurich view at your own pleasure), and taking the Limmat Cruise.

Without any doubt, I fell in love with the City! And as of this writing, I am already missing everything about it: from the elegant Churches, magnificent architecture, one-of-a-kind dining experiences, and of course the nice inviting cold weather.

Zurich makes you want to live there, and not leave the City. Above all, in just a couple of days, it’ll make you unknowingly fall in love with it, leaving you no other choice but to want to go back again, experience Zurich the second time around, and fall in love with it over and over.

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