Welcome to Zurich, one of the most expensive cities in the world
Welcome to Zurich, one of the most expensive cities in the world. You may think it is also the capital city of Switzerland, but it’s not. It’s the biggest and the most popular one, but Bern is still considered to be the official capital city.
You’ve probably already heard of it since it’s one of the most important financial centers of the globe. And you may think there’s nothing to see, except for busy people rushing around. Yes, there may be many people in suits, everything is very well-organized, the trains, the restaurants, but Zurich is much more than that. Especially if you are a tourist, then you can take time to focus on the fun aspects of this beautiful city.
Prepare yourself for window-shopping only, since the prices are jaw-dropping. But, nevertheless, walking around the old town is fun and there are many spectacular buildings and sights to see.
So, read along to hear about this expensive city from a Canadian family of five’s point of view.
Zurich – Punctual Like a Swiss Clock
With the population of around 400,000 people, Zurich is the biggest Swiss city, located in the north-central part of the country. Most of the people speak German, but it is a bit moderated, so some call it Swiss-German. This is an ancient city which roots can be traced back to 6000 years ago, but it got its independence in the middle ages, so the majority of the buildings are built in that era and preserved to this very day.
While walking around town, you will notice that many buildings have the year of construction engraved above the entrance. Some of them date back to the 14th century before the United States even existed. There is a huge number of banks, research and development centers and low-cost companies. The city’s low taxes attract international entrepreneurs to set up their headquarters there.
Since the Zurich Airport, roads and the railway station are the busiest in the country, there can be a lot of traffic, a lot of highways, so our recommendation is to move with trains. And make sure to get there on time, since the Swiss trains are very punctual, 20:03h always means 20:03h and not a single minute more.
What else is interesting is that they are very punctual when it comes to eating habits, too. Lunchtime begins at 12 o’clock and in that period of time, the whole city falls silent. So, make sure to eat before 12, because the restaurants are full from 12h to 13:30h and after that, many kitchens and restaurants stop serving hot food.
And don’t be surprised if the shops are closed at this time of the day, because the shop clerks go to lunch, too. Well, I wouldn't recommend going to shops anyway, since the prices are enormous. For example, you get French fries for 7.50 Francs (8$) and a Cesar Chicken salad for 18 Francs (19$).
Quiet Swiss People vs. Loud Americans
Most international flights are from here, so there is a big number of tourists, but not as many as in France or Italy. Many European travelers skip Switzerland because of its unreasonable prices. Or some people believe that there is nothing interesting to see.
But, this country is charismatic, beautiful, super-organized, clean and very safe. People may be a little bit reserved, but if you approach them, they will be very polite. It is definitely worth visiting.
What’s so funny to us is that it is so easy to spot Americans because they are much louder than the Swiss. We used to be really loud in the beginning, which was just a normal way of speaking to us, but many people started asking us to keep the volume down because that's just how people are around here. Quiet.
In the trains, people don’t talk to each other, and on the streets and restaurants, conversations are kept intimate. So, here’s a little tip if you are a foreigner and come from a livelier place like we do, be careful not to raise your voice because people will shush you. We got used to it eventually and now it’s so funny to see Americans, not knowing anything about it just like we used to when we first arrived here.
Blend of Modern and Medieval
It may seem like there’s nothing but old buildings around town, but that’s not actually true. We were impressed with its blend of the ancient and modern, and that’s exactly what gives the city a unique vibe. Residents came up with a brilliant idea to turn old factories and medieval buildings into cultural centers and create new living spaces. There’s even a part of the town called Zurich-West where you can see buildings like this.
There are many festivals and events, especially on Swiss National Day. Every April, Zurich’s guilds and residents celebrate their traditional spring festival with great fervor. And what you may not know is that Zurich is the host for one of the world’s biggest techno parties every August. It draws fans from all over Switzerland and neighboring countries to join the street parade.
In June, there’s an event called Caliente which involves hot rhythms like salsa and samba. The diverse mixture of top acts and trendsetters in Latin music drive the hips of partygoers to sway.
The Walking Tour
From the train station, you can walk over the river to the old town. There is an old Romanesque-style Protestant church with two staples named Grossmunster. It is one of the best places to go to when you want to take a panorama photo of Zurich. You have to climb more than 200 steps to get to the top of the tower, but it is worth it since the view from out there is magnificent.
A little bit past there is a bridge to cross to get to the new town where you can see the Lake Zurich. Walk along the water edge to see a couple of nice churches and squares. Visit the Main street for window-shopping, and you are back at the train station. All together it takes 3 km, it’s not such a big city; it takes you one hour with taking pictures.
So, that’s it, an overview of the Switzerland’s most popular city. Get to know more by watching our YouTube video and let us know what you think of this magnificent, colorful city in the comments below.