Travel idea: 7 reasons to visit Zurich, Switzerland

Travel idea: 7 reasons to visit Zurich, Switzerland

Author: Canadian Living


Travel idea: 7 reasons to visit Zurich, Switzerland

Visiting Zurich? There's more to this city than Swiss bank accounts and financial services. Despite its affluent reputation, this European lakeside city is down-to-earth, safe, kid-friendly and lots of fun. Plus, most locals speak excellent English (even when they modestly insist they only speak a little). Whether you're visiting Zurich as a jumping-off point for a ski holiday in the Swiss Alps, or on a business trip or family vacation, be sure to venture outside the comfort of your hotel and enjoy these sights.

Here are 7 things to put on your must-do list.

1. Travel the trams, boats and subway and visit a museum with a day pass
Explore the city via the vast public transportation system that even includes boats with a ZurichCARD day pass which you can purchase for a mere CH15. Tip: Click on for today's exchange rate in Canadian dollars. This handy card allows you unlimited travel for 24 hours on the city's subway, streetcars, funiculars, and in the summer, boats. Plus, get into 40 museums free of charge, and a welcome drink at more than 20 restaurants.

2. Visit Zurich's Main Station
Called Zurich Haupt Bahnhof or Zurich HB, the Main Railway Station is a historic building where you'll find trains to all of Switzerland, and access to the city's subway and streetcars. Best yet, under the station you'll find Rail City ( a shopping centre chockablock with affordable restaurants, grocery stores, and clothing shops. Sunday shopping in Zurich takes place exclusively in the underground shops: all the stores at street level are closed.

3. See the Masoala Rainforest Hall at Zurich Zoo
If you're bringing your kids to Zurich (or even if you're not), you'll want to visit the 36,000-square-foot Masoala Rainforest Hall, billed as the only rainforest in Europe. It's a re-creation of a real rainforest in Madagascar, where you can see wildlife, ferns, rubber trees, insects and even fish you would find on the small island off the coast of Africa.

Page 1 of 24. Shop and stroll the Old Town
Though you will find H&M, Esprit, Bata and other usual suspects of the global economy on the Bahnhofstrasse, shopping in the Old Town on the other bank of the Limmat river is lots more fun. Houseware stores, bespoke leather goods, pleasant cafés, restaurants and clothing boutiques dot the narrow winding cobbled roads that give this neighbourhood its medieval vibe.

5. See Marc Chagall's stained glass windows in Fraumunster church.
Famous artist Marc Chagall created five of the breathtaking stained-glass panels in the Fraumunster, or in English, the Our Lady church. Located in the Protestant church's mid-13th century presbytery, the five panels represent different biblical themes.

6. Enjoy the view from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Albert Einstein studied and taught at this famous Zurich polytechnical university (known as the ETH, in German), which produces some of Switzerland's brightest engineers and scientists. Take the funicular or a tram up the hill, check out the beautiful campus buildings, and drink in the beautiful view overlooking Zurich and the sparkling clean Limmat river that bisects it.

7. Hit the bars and club scene
With 500 bars and clubs in a relatively small city, it’s evident the residents of Zurich like to go out and have a good time. And no, you don’t have to be a teen to enjoy the social scene in Zurich. Like other Europeans, Swiss of all ages love to go out and socialize in upscale bars like Kaufleuten, where Madonna and Prince have hung out, Acapulco, a '70s-themed bar, and Pur Pur.

Read about more places to escape, in Winter weather getaways

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Travel idea: 7 reasons to visit Zurich, Switzerland