A number-crazy financial city on the one hand (and Europe’s wealthiest), a beautifully clean and peaceful living space on the other, Zurich is not ready to be so easily defined by either end of the scale. Among the many notable figures who lived in Zurich, the Irish writer James Joyce found it the ideal place to write his most famous novel Ulysses. Set against wondrous views of the Swiss Alps and the smaller hills that surround the city, where the Limmat River flows from the north western end of Lake Zurich, Zurich is a city in touch with nature. Still more convincing, its population of over 360,000 has helped declare Zurich to be one of the world’s most livable cities. Take a city-break and find out, almost at glance, why Zurich is so beloved by so many. airBaltic flights to Zurich land at the largest airport in Switzerland, Zurich Airport, located in the community of Kloten.
Gruezi! (Hello!) Switzerland is known for its multilingual nature, but whereas Italian, Romanian, German and French are to be found in other cities in the county, the official language of Zurich is a German dialect called Schweizerdeutsch, or, simply, Swiss German. This dialect differs from other variations found in Switzerland, making it rather difficult for Swiss tourists to perfectly communicate. For business purposes and in any major hotel, restaurant and tourist area, English is widely spoken.
See and Do
Getting in touch with the spirit of Zurich does not take long. From the picturesque old centre of the city on the small Lindenhof Hill to the host of old churches to explore and admire, including the symbolic Grossmünster Romanesque church, where Huldrych Zwingli became the first people’s priest in 1519 and the Fraumünster Old Gothic Church, once a convent and with beautiful window paintings by Marc Chagall, finding something to enjoy is not a difficult task. Visitors love to stroll along the shopping street called Bahnhofstrasse, to find everything from watches to chocolate (to honour the Swiss stereotypes) and many elegant and luxurious items in between. Thrill seekers might wish to venture into Langstrasse, Zurich’s own red light district, while literary buffs and wanderers alike should like to visit the grave site of James Joyce, who was buried at the Fluntern Cemetery. Those more in tune with art will likely choose the Kunsthaus (Museum of Fine Arts) for its collection of Munch, Monet, Van Gogh and Gioccometti, to name just a few of the artists inside this impressive showcase.
And for a truly educational experience, travelers should devote as much time as possible to the Landemuseum, the largest of Swiss history museums. For a stroll and to admire the pavilions along the pathways, the Chinese Garden makes for a pleasant blooming spring or leafy summer afternoon. To further admire the Swiss approach to the natural world, don’t miss Zoo Dolder with 1,800 animals, making it among Europe’s finest.
For culinary treats, one must have a go at the Zürigschnätzlets, veal in a cream and wine sauce, with chnöpfli (dumplings) on the side, or try fresh delicious bread at the bakeries daily and especially the Zopf, a particular favorite reserved for Sundays. While wandering around the city, grab a grilled Bratwurst from one of the street stands, served with a large crusty roll of sourdough bread and a dab of mustard.
No visit to Zurich is complete without a sampling of chocolate, and the Lindt & Sprüngli chocolate factory south of the city is an excellent (and relatively cheap) way of feeding your urge.