Despite its reputation as being one of the largest financial centers in the world, Zurich wasn’t exactly what we expected. A far cry from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, Zurich was a quiet, unassuming city – sleepy almost.
We decided that we would try to fit in, so we made it our mission to walk around the city to explore it. Here is that exploration so you can do it too: our 24 hours in Zurich.
The Bahnhofstrasse is a street. One which starts at the city’s train station and works its way down to a lake. If you’re planning on doing 24 hours in Zurich, this is a great place to start out your day. It’s centrally located, easily accessed by the city’s public transport, and there’s a lot of shops and retail outlets around it.
In fact, the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich is one of the busiest and most well-known shopping streets in the world! Didn’t know that? We didn’t either, but taking a walk down the street will show you how exclusive it actually is. Try heading to either the Globus or Jelmoli department stores; you’ll see what we mean.
We started our journey at the Paradeplatz tram station. Having rolled in early(ish) via the city’s convenient public transport. However, from this point, we’re on our own. No more public transport for us (or you if you follow this guide).
After exploring the retail ‘exclusivity’ that is the Bahnhofstrasse, you would be forgiven for following pretty things. That’s what we did when we headed off the main road and to Rennweg Street. This colorful dimension was once the city’s main road (many hundreds of years ago). The houses here are an assortment of beautiful colors and ‘ancient’ stylings. Check it out for yourself.
After Rennweg Street, we headed back to the main road and up towards the train station. Here, we crossed over to Central Polybahn, where we took a funicular (don’t get too excited, it’s basically a small tram), up the hill. The views from the top were pretty good! If you have a public transport ticket for the city, it also seems to work on the funicular; depending on which areas you have access to. A must for anyone spending 24 hours in Zurich.
After having made it down the hill, we headed over to Niederdorfstrasse. This old town street has a nice collection of cafes and restaurants to chill and relax in. We spent a while walking through here taking a look at the buildings and their architecture. What we really wanted was a nice café to sit down and relax for a bit whilst doing some work (we love our work!). The problem was that there was nothing.
You read that right. There was nothing. No cafes which have good coffee and free Wi-Fi. We had to pick. Did we want Wi-Fi, or did we want coffee…? What do you think we picked? Coffee of course! This was probably the point where we decided work was going to come in the evening, whilst the day was going to be spent exploring the city. Onwards and upwards!
The Rathaus is the political center of Zurich and a place you need to go if you’re spending 24 hours in Zurich. It’s a seemingly innocuous building located just on the river. In fact, it’s really not that much to phone home about. You might even say that it’s boring. However, if you’re into politics, check out the times or look to the sky.
If there’s a flag floating in the wind (or just lying there limp because there’s no wind), you can actually head inside to witness Zurich’s intrepid political scene.
Our next destination was the Grossmunster Cathedral. This 13th-century relic is still used today. The church is rather vanilla in some regards, but you can climb its bell towers to have a great view of the city (Europeans love towers to view cities from above). This climb is worth it, but try to go on a sunny day.
Lake Zurich is a great photo op. The lovely lake is backgrounded by some magnificent mountains and the Zurich Opera House. A definite must see if you’re spending 24 hours in Zurich.
St. Peter Church
After the Lake, head up the river to get some views of St. Peter Church. We didn’t head inside, but the whole point of the church is that it has the largest clock in the whole of northern Europe, so we took some pictures of that instead.
Where better to end the day of sightseeing than at the chocolate shop? With Agness known for her sweet tooth, she went straight for the chocolate. We saved it until last (after we burned a lot of calories walking), but there are in fact lots of chocolate shops located throughout the city, so you can stop at one whenever you want!
A City of Surprising Quiet
When we came to Zurich, we expected a place like Hong Kong. A bustling financial center, with people rushing around everywhere to try and find their next paycheck. We thought the people here would be somewhat insular and uninviting. We expected New Yorkers (as per their stereotypical characterization). We didn’t expect friendly faces and a rather unassuming town. That was, what Zurich was though.
Probably one of the most eventful things we saw in the city was a marathon race taking place through the streets. We mean, it’s a great thing, but it wasn’t what we expected from one of the world’s largest financial centers. On that note those, we’re planning on heading on a marathon run next year. We don’t know where yet, but let us know! We’re always in the mood for fit traveling, so let us know your favorite marathons in the world!
Despite the city’s seemingly simple lifestyle, it was a great place to walk around. Its buildings are unique, and there’s a lot to say for being forced to just sightsee for a day and not think about work (the lack of a good café). Regardless, at the end of the day, Agness’ sweet tooth was satisfied with some of the local Zurich chocolate. Yum!