I love love love LOVE Switzerland. Part of that has to be the company of my amazing friend and host Arta (who I met at a hostel in Costa Rica and instantly knew I loved), but it is a place that makes me feel happy in just about every moment. Starting with the basics- the air and the water are unbelievably pure. I honestly miss breathing there.
There are public water fountains all around Zürich. Be sure to bring a reusable water bottle when you go (or just buy something in a glass bottle once you get there then reuse it) because the free, unlimited Evian-esque refreshment can’t be missed.
Another thing that cannot be missed is the chocolate. We literally went directly to the store and bought all of the kinds following my arrival at the airport. My top grocery store picks: Ragusa (dark chocolate), Branche Classic and Torino (both milk and dark). My mouth is watering as I write this. I’m not ashamed that the grocery store was also my last stop and I filled my tiny carry on bag with as much chocolate as I could carry home. For finer flavors head to Läderach (their white chocolate with berries is one of the best things I have ever tasted. Ever.) My number one tip is to indulge– you CAN take it with you.
For couple of days in Zürich…
On the first day wander around the old town, getting a little lost on purpose. Maybe try fondue? (It’s not for me but when in Switzerland…)
I loved seeing the Christmas Market in late November. If you do visit during the colder months please don’t miss hot spiced wine on sale at cute little kiosks. To drink something bubbly while seated on a fur-covered outdoor patio would also be ideal.
I keep to a relatively low budget (#teacherlife) so I opted for a few grocery store takeaway meals (not bad veggie quiche) from Co-op or made some pasta where I was staying. Grabbing a coffee while you’re out and about (and carrying a few chocolate bars in your bag) during the day is survivable for a few days 😉
A wonderful (and low budget) activity in Zurich is a hike to a lookout in Uetliberg. It takes about 20 minutes from the main station to Uetliberg on the S10 train. I like to get off one stop before Uetliberg and walk up more of the mountain. The panoramic view from the top is incredible and there is a hotel with a nice restaurant and patio. They have a very nice pumpkin soup which I pair with bread and wine. There are many little trails around the top so leave time to wander around for a few hours up there!
Arta and I took a day trip up to the top of the Matterhorn Glacier in the Alps. We didn’t go to bed early the night before trying to catch the first (6am) train and we did miss it. After eating a pretzel for breakfast + coffee from a vending machine, we were on our way. The journey is long. I recommend booking train tickets as far in advanced as possible because they only get more expensive. If you are staying for a few days look into rail passes. We journeyed to the ski town of Zermatt then rode several gondolas up to the top of the world. It was a complete blizzard for a while so we had a soup and waited it out… and finally the glacier was revealed. The intensity of the conditions up there, the beauty and scale of the natural features.. I can feel the energy of that experience even now as I write about it.
In warmer months I recommend a trip across Lake Zürich by ferry.
An easy route is to train from Zürich to Rapperswil then have a lunch, walk around (see the castle etc.) before ferrying back into Zurich via the lake. I had a lovely meal at Kaffee Klatsch in Rapperswil.
I hope to return to Switzerland again and again. It is a place that instantly felt good and is home to some very dear friends as well. Happy travels – enjoy Suiza!