The city of Zurich is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. With three official languages (German, French, and Italian) the Swiss tend to be multi-lingual primarily in German, French, and English.
While Switzerland is part of the European Union, they’re one of those special countries that do not use the Euro, instead, they have continued to use the Swiss Franc, however, you can often use Euros at many locations, but credit cards are widely accepted and tap from my Pixel 2 works great!
While I would always recommend you learn a few basic phrases in the language of the place you visit, it’s certainly not going to be a problem to speak English in Switzerland, at least in the major city centers. Nonetheless, a few phrases like, ‘good morning/day’, ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, will go a long way.
Getting data is super easy, you can hit up one of the three major phone companies, Swisscom, Salt or Sunrise. I recommend Salt, with 2 CHF/day unlimited data, it’s cheaper than Sunrise and was super easy to get. The man at the store charged me 10 CHF and I got 20 CHF credit and a sim card. Speeds are good enough to have a VoIP call while out and about.
Topping up can be done at any Salt store, just make sure you keep your number so they can do that, or sign up on the website to top up online.
Arriving in Zurich
Zurich is located in Northern Switzerland, near the German-Swiss border. It is possible to arrive via bus or train from Germany, or by air at Zurich International Airport (ZRH). The main train station is located at the hub of all the action and is itself a hub of action. Stores here are generally open earlier and later so if you’re in need of something and can’t find a place that’s open it’s possible you can get it at the train station.
You can buy a 1-way ticket for the city transit, or a day pass, or the Zurich Card or Swiss Pass. Ticket machines are everywhere and they take credit cards and they even speak English so don’t’ get stressed about finding your way. At stations you’ll find SBB employees to help and don’t be afraid to ask a local for a bit of assistance, the Swiss are very nice and
Seeing in Zurich
Zurich is full of wonderful delights around every corner. The city is impeccably clean and organized and things just seem to work, so very Swiss.
- The Lake – you can’t visit Zurich without seeing the lake, I suggest you start near the main train station and make your way down via the river that connects. Along the way, you’ll find swimming and kayaking, bridges and cafes.
- Münsterhof – this small square next to Fraumünster Church is a great place to snap some photos and explore the church. If you do a walking tour in this area there is a good chance you’ll learn more about this church.
- Lindenhof – this historic city center has a great view and cannot be missed. Centrally located it’s easy to get to and offers shade and fresh water from one of the 1,200 fountains int he city that you can drink from.
- Grossmünster – another castle, on the other side of the river from Munsterhof. The two towers at Grossmünster burned down at one point, upon rebuilding they were done in a different style than the rest of the church. You can climb up one of them for sweeping views, but be warned it’s a lot of steps!
- Shopping – if shopping is something you like then make sure to check out some well known and less well known Swiss brands. The Victorinox Flagship Store is in Zurich. there are also a few Navyboot locations, a shoe and bag company from Zurich.
Staying in Zurich
You’ll have a large selection of brand and independent hotels to stay at in Zurich. I’m partial to the 25hours brand and have stayed at the newer property on Langstrassee and on a previous trip I stayed at the Sheraton which was a very nice experience as well.
- 25hours Hotel Zurich Langstrasse – this hotel is in a newly developed area of Zurich and is only a 10-15 minute walk from the main train station so it’s easy to get to. Rooms are small but functional and the staff is super nice.
- Sheraton Zurich Hotel – a bit outside of the city center but there is tram access directly in front of the hotel that takes you to the main station just a few minutes. Rooms and service are a standard Sheraton affair so there’s nothing to be disappointed by.
- 25hours Hotel Zürich West – directly next to the Sheraton is another 25hours Hotel. The 25hours brand is fun, youthful and fresh. If this is your vibe then this is another good option.
- Park Hyatt Zurich – for something a little more advanced and pricey, check out the Park Hyatt Zurich. This luxury hotel is located near Lake Zurich and offers beautiful views and a top-notch experience from Park Hyatt.
Bonus + Fun Facts
- Zurich has 1200 public fountains that you can actually fill a water bottle from. So don’t forget to bring a reusable bottle or keep the plastic bottle when you do get one. Check out the map of available fountains here.
- Switzerland has no capital, each city is treated equally, however, the government does sit in Bern, so for the sake of simplicity, we’ll call Bern the capital.