In need of a serious and very well earned break, my wife and I decided to re-book our previously cancelled trip to Zürich, Switzerland in September. Zürich was a bucket list item for me, and my wife was more than happy to entertain my desire to spend a few days there and get away from home in mid-September.
Unfortunately, there weren’t any direct flights from Cork to Zürich, so we ended up flying from Dublin direct. The flights were reasonably cheap – about 500 for the round trip for two of us with Aer Lingus. Once you arrive in Zürich, the airport is only a short taxi ride (about 15 minutes) from the city center. There is also a rail link which we opted not to take due to having a bit of baggage.
My first taste of Zürich’s reputation for being expensive was the accommodation. We chose the Hotel St. Gottard on Bahnhofstrasse right in the heart of Zürich. Bahnhofstrasse, as you may tell from the name, is very near the central train station in Zürich, and is the main shopping street in Zürich, containing a store for every high-end brand store you can think of. The hotel itself was very comfortable with excellent service. We got upgraded to a junior suite on check-in which was a welcome bonus. In terms of location, it is really central and is a great base for a few days exploring Zürich, or even a few day trips due to its proximity to the main train station. If you’re planning a trip to Zürich, I would highly recommend staying here.
There’s quite a bit to do in Zürich, and we aimed to get in all the touristy things in our first few days, leaving us a few days to explore.
Our first stop was the Lindenhof hill, a public square in the center of Zürich. As the name suggests, it offers some nice views of the old town, and is definitely a must see. Lindenhof hill is also in close proximity to the old town of Zürich, just across the river, and it was great walking through here exploring the shops, restaurants and stopping for a casual beer every now and then.
After this, we took about a 15 minute stroll south which brought us to the edge of Lake Zürich. This is an amazing sight, and you can spend the day pretty much exploring the lake side parks. We ate lunch in a very good restaurant, Lake Side offering great views of the lake and the passing marine traffic, as well as the loads of swans.
While in Zürich, we decided to look into a day trip, with our initial thoughts being to maybe travel over the border to Germany for a day. We actually ended up going to see the Rhine Falls, which is about an hour bus ride way. We used Viator to book this trip, and it was as it said on the tin – a bus ride to the Rhine Falls, entry to the falls with some time to explore, and the bus ride back to the starting point near the train station in Zürich. The whole tour lasted from 9am – 12pm and was perfect for us, as we despise day-long tours. The Rhine Falls is the largest plain waterfall in Europe, and is a really cool sight when you get up close.
Eating & Drinking
There are no shortage of eateries in Zürich offering everything from traditional Swiss and German food, to any European or Asian dishes you can think of. Some particular favorites of ours in Zürich were:
- Hummerbar Zürich – actually part of our hotel, and an excellent seafood restaurant. It’s quite expensive – we had a two course meal and a bottle of wine and the bill was about 300 euros, but well worth it.
- Jules Verne Panoramabar – a really unique building in the middle of town offering great food and unreal views of Zürich. I recommend booking if you are trying it out as it can be very busy, especially around lunch time.
- Zeughauskeller – a traditional beer hall in a 15th century building. I’m a sucker for German-type beer halls, and am always on the lookout for one if I’m in continental Europe. The atmosphere here didn’t disappoint, and the wienerschnitzel and beer was excellent too.
Overall, we really enjoyed our time in Zürich and were sad to come home. It will definitely be on our list to return to at some point in the future.