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Zurich Travel Guide

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Zurich is fucking expensive. Yeah. There is really no other way we can say it. But Zurich is also beautiful, clean, and well worth the visit. It isn’t some city that seems arbitrarily expensive while offering little value. The steep taxes and inflated cost of living ensure that the city is clean and the citizens are healthy, educated, and happy. We quickly fell in love with this gorgeous city as we took the metro/trolly/tram from the train station to our Airbnb and got a wonderful tour through the center of the city. We passed the lake, gorgeous cathedrals, and some of the cleanest streets that you’ll find in any city in the world. Ever heard the old travel quote, “When you plan to travel lay out all your money and your clothes on your bed – then take half the clothes and twice the money.”? Whoever said that just got back from Zurich. Switzerland on a budget is not really a thing. You can only cut so many corners. Plan to spend a bunch of money on things that would otherwise seem affordable in the States. Here is our Zurich Travel Guide.

Zurich Travel Guide

Zurich travel guide information

  • Location: Northeast Switzerland (toward Liechtenstein and Austria). Zurich is located at the westernmost tip of Lake Zurich.
  • Language: The official language in Zurich is German, however, we didn’t meet a single person who didn’t speak English fluently. Most people also speak other languages such as Italian, French, and/or Dutch
  • Currency: Swiss Franc (during our stay in May 2018, the Swiss Franc was about 1:1 with the US Dollar, so if you’re visiting in 2018, you can assume a Franc is equivalent to USD). Most places accepted Euro as well – providing change in Francs. Don’t do this if they exchange Euro at 1:1…you’ll end up losing a lot of money.
  • Elevation: Ranging from 1,286 feet (about 400 meters) at the lowest point to 2,858 feet (about 900 meters) at the highest point
  • Population: 400,000

Where to stay in Zurich

If you’ve caught yourself in a bit of shock when you search best hotels in Zurich (or when you see the recommendations on other blog’s Zurich travel guide) and realize that they’re all out of your budget, then do what we did and rely on Airbnb. Register for Airbnb and get $40 credit.

If money is not a concern, there are loads of gorgeous hotels in the city. Create an account on Booking.com and we will both get $20 when you register. Booking offers one of the most comprehensive booking solutions you’ll find anywhere online. Many options include “pay when you stay,” providing travelers greater flexibility to cancel or change trips.

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Where to eat in Zurich

Our goal here is to highlight some of the traditional (and famous) restaurants that you ought to eat at in Zurich while also providing what we found to be the most affordable dining options. Obviously, your best bet is to buy food from a grocery store and cook at home, but if you don’t have a kitchen in your hotel/Airbnb and/or don’t want to cook, some of the options below are cheap places to eat in Zurich:

Best fondue in Zurich

What would a Zurich travel guide be without a recommendation for fondue?? Many of you likely saw our stories on Instagram while we were eating fondue and attempting to pronounce the name of the restaurant. The best (and most famous) fondue spot in Zurich is Zunfthaus zur Zimmerleuten. The building that houses the restaurant was built in the 14th century when it was originally built as a guild house.

The location of the restaurant directly opposite the lake makes it the perfect place to enjoy fondue on an afternoon or evening. The fondue is €38 per person and comes with a basket of bread bites, potatoes, and pickles. We added pear pieces as well.

Zunfthaus zur Zimmerleuten has a fancy restaurant to accompany the patio that is mostly used for fondue and drinks.

Best chocolate Zurich (and sweets)

Believe it or not, the macaroon was actually invented in Zurich by a chef from Luxembourg in 1857. To honor the chef, they named them Luxemburgerli. The French later stole the idea, rebranded them as macaroons, and launched a much more successful marketing campaign. A century and a half later, no one knows the story of the Luxemburgerli save those who visit Sprungli and hear the story. Luxemburgerli seem to be the double stuff Oreo of macaroons, offering a fluffier and creamier version of the famous French macaroon.

Sprungli offers pastries, chocolate, Luxembugerli, breakfast, lunch, and of course, coffee and tea. Sprungli has a number of restaurant fronts in Zurich as well as other parts of Switzerland and even a few locations in Dubai.

Lauderbach is another great chocolate shop in town.

Cheap Zurich dining options

As mentioned above, if you want to spend as little money as possible, go to the grocery store and buy food to cook at your Airbnb. Many of the grocery stores have prepared food that you can eat if you don’t have a kitchen.

Some restaurants that we found that are quite affordable (in Switzerland’s sense of the word) are:

  • Tibits (Vegetarian buffet where we ate almost every meal)
  • Tiffins (Asian take away)
  • Asian Moon (Thai food)
  • Al Natura (bio market)
  • Sternern Grill (for a walk up Brat – apparently it is Federer’s favorite)

Restaurants in Zurich continued:

  • Zeughauskeller (Traditional Swiss food)
  • Confiserie Teuscher Zurich (stores all over the world)
  • Cantinetta Antinori (Italian)
  • Santa Lucia (Pizza)
  • Zunfthaus Zur Waag (Zurich stroganoff dish)
  • Caffè Felix
  • Bellevue restaurant
  • Chaslap Restaurant
  • Seerose (Zurich beef dish)
  • Restaurant Waid
  • Restaurant Helveti
  • Gainsbourg – Bar and event location

 

Things to do in Zurich

  • View from Lindenhof (The place were Zurich was founded and the old Roman citadel was located to control the river)
  • Drink out of all the water fountains (1200+, all with water as pure as the Evian you pay $4 for)
  • Grossmunster Tower – climb up and enjoy a gorgeous view of Zurich
  • Quaibrucke Bridge and Münsterbrücke Bridge
  • Lake Zurich – Enjoy a walk around the lake or take a boat out. You can also train around the lake for even more spectacular views
  • Hike Uetilberg
  • Take a day trip to Liechtenstein

Best gym in Zurich

Indigo Fitness – for those familiar with Equinox, this is the Swiss equivalent. Their pricing is steep, but you can get a 1-week trial membership if you say you’re moving to Zurich and are looking for a gym.

(Big thanks to my friend Taylor (Cox) Pereyra and her lovely mother for many of the recommendations above! Without your help our Zurich travel guide wouldn’t be half as detailed. We really appreciate the local touch! Thanks to the Switzerland tourism board as well for our Swiss travel passes!)

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