The city on the Limmat is one of the most attractive cities in Switzerland and certainly one of my favourite in terms of nightlife and fun. A week-end in Zurich or even a few days more is a must if you are visiting Switzerland.
I highly suggest going to Zurich during summer as the sunny days will definitely make your experience more enjoyable.
You can reach Zurich by car, train or by plane. The airport is well connected to the city by train. If you are a group and don’t have a Swiss Rail Pass I recommend going there by car even though the parking may be expensive.
For this reason you should check if the Hotel or the Airbnb where you are staying has a parking spot and book it.
If not, you can park your car at the parking Hohe Promenade, just next to the train station Stadelhofen and Zurich’s old city. This parking offers a Multiple-Day-Parking ticket. Make sure you get one at one of the pay stations located at the pedestrian exits after parking your car (you have to insert your ticket and choose the Parking-Pass ticket option for 2-4days and the prices range from CHF75 for two days to CHF 120 for four days). With this ticket you can exit and re-enter as much as you like for the chosen amount of days, while you enjoy your city trip.
If you are going to Zurich for the weekend you should know that most of the parking spots on the street are free from Saturday evening until Monday morning. Make sure to check the time from which the free parking starts at the paying machines as it varies for each parking zone. Personally I like to park at Stadthausquai in front of the Fraumünster Church (free from Sat at 8 p.m. until Mon at 9 a.m.).
VISITING AND CULTURE
The old town is very beautiful and you can easily see all of it on foot. Get lost in the streets of the old town and enjoy the beautiful art galleries and shops’ vitrines.
If you are in for a bit of culture, I recommend visiting the Fraumünster Church, a 13th century church with amazing stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall (CHF 5 for the entrance).
From any position of the city you will see the 13th century tower of St Peterskirche, the largest clock face in Europe large 8.7m!
If you like art, you shouldn’t miss the Kunsthaus museum (CHF 16 for the entrance, free on Wednesday). This museum is an impressive fine-arts gallery with a rich collection of European art from the Middle Ages to 19th and 20th century masterpieces.
Do not miss the James Joyce Foundation which hosts readings of his most famous work which was written in Zurich, the Ulysses, on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons (Free entrance).
Walk up to the Lidenhof gardens overlooking the old town and offering spectacular views across the Limmat rivers. this is a very nice place for a picnic if you are in the mood and do not want to spend much.
If you are in the mood for a burger I suggest Burgermeister on Langstrasse 238 (prices ranging from CHF 11 to CHF 22). All the burgers are mad with delicious Swiss beef and the sauces are very nice!
Discover the terrace of Regenbogen Bar and their nice salads, toasts and burgers. All the dishes are quite abundant so the prices are quite good for the quantity.
On a Sunday, go have a brunch at Café Henrici, a cozy café with a wide offer of dishes that will certainly satisfy your palate (from CHF12.5 to 16.5 for the food, drinks excluded). The staff is very nice and the mood is very young.
You definitely must visit and drink a beer at Cabaret Voltaire, the birth place of the Dada art movement! The entrance to the Gallery is free and the bar on the second floor often hosts exhibitions. Try the amber beer produced in Zurich!
If the weather is good, I suggest the bar-restaurant Frau Gerolds Garten, a very popular summer drinking scene illuminated with multicolour fairy lights!
If you are up for a little fun and want to discover an alternative Zurich go and walk along Langstrasse, Zurich’s red light district. You will be surprised by the lively vibes of this neighbourhood, the amount of young people drinking a beer in the street, having a cocktail in a bar or just having fun and gathering. A nice ambient bar with industrial decoration where you can stop and have drinks is the Barometer.
For the fans of electronic music wanting to have fun until the morning and discover an alternative artsy club I recommend the Hive Club in Geroldstrasse 5 (CHF 35 for the entrance), just next to the Frau Gerolds Garten.
If you are more the house, electro-pop or nu-disco type, check out the Mascotte in Theaterstrasse 10 (CHF 25 for the entrance). The huge windows facing the lake will surprise you!
Last but not least, a day by the river. Do not forget to enjoy a good sunny day by the Limmat on the eastern bank at Letten (free entrance). This place offers different kinds of activities besides swimming: it’s possible to dive off a bridge into the crystal clear water, sit on the grass for a drink or a picnic, play volleyball etc.
Zurich is a big city and on a good day taking public transport to move around may not be the best option, not only for its cost but also because you will miss a lot. If you agree with this you’ll be happy to know that you can get a bike for free at Europaplatz (next to the train station). You just have to show an ID and leave a CHF 20 deposit (that they will return when you return the bike)!