Thursday, April 01, 2010

Dear Frau: What to do in Zurich?

Welcome to the sixth edition of Dear Frau. It’s kind of like Dear Abby, except with an international twist. If you have a question, be sure to contact the Frau and maybe your little Frage will be in next week’s Dear Frau Column.

Dear Frau,

I'm gonna be in Zurich on the 18th, en route to Amsterdam. I managed to get a 12-hour layover. Since you're practically a local, what would you recommend? I'd love to get some tips. I want to make the best of my 12 hours in der Schweiz.

Pimp My Layover

Dear Pimp My Layover,

Good for you. If you’re going to do the layover thing you might as well go all out and get as jetlagged as possible. Twelve hours is plenty of time to see most of the highlights in Zurich—even in your delirious state.

Number one: put your stuff in a locker. There are lockers right above the train station at the airport.

Number two: buy a Zurich Card (see below) and take the train to Zurich HB. The HB means “main train station”. It should only take 10 minutes from the airport. Don’t get off in Oerlikon unless you want to go bowling.

Number three to infinity: Walk down the main shopping street, the Bahnhofstrasse. Smile at some Swiss people and see what happens (not for the faint at heart).

Eat at Hiltl, Europe's best and first vegetarian restaurant. While you’re eating you can grab some food for thought in the form of a Hiltl cookbook, or Swiss News, a magazine The Frau writes for.

Stop in Sprüngli, a chocolate store and café, for dessert or an edible souvenir. The Swiss eat 12 kilos of chocolate a year without getting fat. Now’s your chance to try it and see what happens.

Look at the Marc Chagall windows in the Fraumünster church. Just don’t ask The Frau to come with you. She's seen these windows about fifty times now and is going through withdrawal.

Walk to the lake and enjoy the views. Take a boat ride if the season allows.

Explore Niederdorf, a section of Zurich’s old town. It’s less stuffy than the Bahnhofstrasse and has lots of cool shops and bars.

If you're interested in museums or the weather sucks, you could check out Zurich's Kunsthaus, its art museum, or the Landesmuseum, a history museum.

Another alternative if the weather is nice is to go up to Uetliberg, nicknamed "the top of Zurich". It's the highest point in Zurich and you can get there in about 20 minutes from Zurich's main train station. There are lots of good hiking trails up there as well. If it’s foggy or raining though, you won’t see much.

Tip: If you plan to take public transport and visit a museum or two (or go up to Uetliberg), buy a Zurich Card for CHF 19. It’s valid for 24 hours and includes free entrance to most museums and free public transport within Zurich, including to and from the airport, and including a boat ride on the lake. Buy it at the airport and that’s all you’ll need all day. It’s one of the best deals in Zurich. Trust The Frau, after you see the prices here, you’ll know what she means.

Ok, the Frau has run out of ideas. Come on, all of you Zurich locals out there, what’s great to do in this city? The Frau wants to know what she forgot. Let’s help Pimp A Layover. And Happy Easter to all.


swisssidejewelleryetc said...

Hi Chantal,
Loved this concise intro to Zürich - might use it myself soon! I'll be getting withdrawal symtoms from Baden soon, as I finish my teaching course on April 9th & hope to get back to blogging soon. In the meantime, have a great Easter!!

mrsmac said...

buy the luxemberglis at sprungli (lemon is my favorite)

and the grossmunster! climb the steps to the top and make sure to visit charlemagne in the crypt.

Chantal said...

Hi Vicky, glad you found this useful. I think the Zurich Card is a great deal for locals too if they plan on doing a museum day in Zurich and don't also have a GA or Zurich public transport card. I got it myself once!

Happy Easter to you as well!

Chantal said...

Mrs Mac

Luxemberglis are the Zurich cliche. And the Frau loves cliches! So try them. Ok, Pimp?

Good point about the Grossmunster tower. Great views at the top. So do a little climbing, Pimp. You'll need it after Sprungli anyhow.

mrsmac said...

they are definitely cliche. but they are oh so tasty! and they don't travel well so really, you can only get them here!

Kay B.Elle said...

Grab the Kalbsbratwurst at Vorderer Sterne at Bellevue. Miam!

Chantal said...

Hi Kay,

Great suggestion. I haven't even tried that one yet!

Kristi said...

1. Take a walk along the lake on the Seefeld side. Lots of great people watching in the summer. We are talking "men playing volleyball in their underwear" people watching. Some may think this is a good thing, some may think it is bad. You decide.

2. Take the 161 or 165 bus from Burkliplatz to the Lindt Factory. Here you can get their chocolate at a discount...if Lindt is your thing, I hear it is a worthwhile trip. Unfortunately word on the street is they no longer offer tours. Lame.

3. In the warmer months, rent a free bike and bike around Zurich. Yeah, sorta an oxymoron- "rent a free bike" but there are 6 locations you can choose from, notably at the main station (HB) and along the river at Burkliplatz. Give em 20 francs, an ID, return it undamaged and get your 20 francs back.

4. Take the francs you just got back from renting your free bike and go to the biergarten just to the right or left of the bike rental shop (can't remember). You can't miss it, it is on the river near Burkliplatz, tons of picnic tables and tons of beer.

Chantal said...

Men in underwear is always something to see!

Great point about the free rental bikes! Ah, free things. I'm wrong. There is something free in Switzerland!!!

Holiday Hedgehog said...

Dear Frau,
"Frau," "Abby," very funny! Your sense of humor encouraged me to read your blog. My husband and I will be in Zurich this summer. I liked your ideas for the 12-hour visitor. We will have about 2+ days in Zurich on our way back from Bernese Highlands; after a much-needed fresh air alp break. Other than using the Zurich Airport to get to more intimate surroundings in the Bernese Highlands, I was wondering how to spend our time in Zurich. Your description of how to use the train from the airport was very helpful. I am sorry we will be too late to take in the Impressionist Exhibit at Kunsthaus Zurich, but I do understand there are some great artists in The Kunsthaus Collection. We will definitely hang out in Old Town, and go to the other areas you have mentioned. Upon our arrival, we are taking the train from Zurich through Bern with plans to visit Bern for 2 days en route to Lauterbrunnen. Should we return from Lauterbrunnen via Luzerne? There doesn't seem a lot mentioned about Luzerne highlights compared to Bern and Zurich. Is there a day-trip from Zurich that you would recommend via train? Perhaps I am getting carried away…after relaxing in the Alps, I am not sure I want to run around like crazy upon re-entry into city life! Humm…what do you think?

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