- Airport – Zürich Airport (ZRH), also known as Kloten Airport
- Currency – Swiss Franc (CHF)
- Official Languages – German, Italian, French, Romansh
- Population – 400,000
- GDP – $664 billion (19th Overall)
Zürich is the largest city in Switzerland. It is located in the north-central region of the country, on the northern tip of Lake Zürich. The city is a financial hub, home to many financial institutions and large banks. Additionally, the city is known for its beautiful churches, historical sites, and natural beauty. The ancient Romans settled Zürich over 2000 years ago, and you can find evidence of this rich history all over the city.
If you are coming from the U.S. and visiting for tourism, as long as your passport is valid for at least 6 months after the date you plan to depart Switzerland, you won’t need a visa.
Switzerland uses the Swiss Franc (CHF), and even more so than other European cities, Zürich can be very pricey. If you plan on using a credit/debit card abroad, make sure that you alert your bank (that you will be out of the country) before you go. To avoid hefty banking fees, we recommend signing up for a travel credit card that doesn’t charge the international credit card transaction fee. And we also recommend you withdraw all your physical Swiss Francs in one ATM transaction.
There are many languages spoken in Zürich! French and German are two of the most popular, but you will find that English is widely spoken, especially in larger cities like Zurich. The weather in Zürich is very mild. The temperature (on average) ranges from 30° Fahrenheit (-1° C) in the winter months to 65° Fahrenheit (18° C) in the summer months. It rains a lot in Zürich, so make sure to bring an umbrella!
One of the most popular destinations in Zürich, Lake Zürich offers many activities depending on the time of year! Boat tours are an interesting way to experience both the city and the iconic lake! The prices depend on the amount of time spent on the water, the boat, and the level of luxury. If the weather permits you can also spend a day at the beach, swimming in the beautiful lake waters. Prices start at around 5 Swiss Francs (CHF). Or you could walk around the lake (for free), and enjoy the beautiful sights!
Check Out Old Town
Discover centuries of Swiss history with a visit to Old Town. Old Town, or Altstadt, encompasses the entire historical city before 1893. Often considered the heart of Zürich, Old Town is known for its beautiful architecture, historic churches, and cobblestone streets. You can take a guided tour through Old Town for about 30 Swiss Francs (CHF). Or you can explore on your own. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, and historic sites to keep you busy!
German for “long road”, the Langstrasse area of Zürich offers some great bars, restaurants and clubs. This used to be Zürich’s red light district, but today it’s better known as a fun area for nightlife, shopping and more!
Feeling artsy? Kunsthaus Zürich is an art gallery that is home to more than 4,000 paintings, sculptures, and panels. Known as one of the most important galleries in Switzerland, this is a must see for all art enthusiasts. The gallery’s collection has pieces from Picasso, Monet, Chagall, Kokoschka, Beckmann, and Edvard Munch, as well as paintings from the Dutch and Italian Baroque eras, and Swiss works from the 19th and 20th centuries. Additionally, the gallery displays medieval sculptures and panels as well as temporary exhibits. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10am to 6pm. Ticket prices start at 15 Swiss Francs (CHF).
Historically, the Swiss were farmers so traditional Swiss food is very simple. Many traditional Swiss dishes contain cheese, bread and potatoes. In fact, many people consider rösti (a fried potato dish similar to hash browns) to be the national dish of the country. Other popular Swiss dishes include fondue (melted cheese in a pot), zopf (special bread traditionally eaten on Sundays), cervelat (a sausage made of pork and beef), and of course: Swiss chocolate!
Swiss Chuchi: A traditional fondue restaurant located in Old Town. Known for its friendly staff, prompt service, and delicious cheesy fondue.
La Fonte: An Italian restaurant with a traditional atmosphere and great food. Known for its delicious pizza and pasta, friendly owner, and house wine.
Zeughauskeller: A traditional Swiss/German restaurant in Old Town. The restaurant is known for its atmosphere, beer selection, and delicious food (especially the sausages).
Switzerland is known around the world for its high-quality chocolate, and lucky for you, there are chocolatiers working all over Zürich. Because of the strong French, German, and Italian influences, you can find different kinds of food all over the city. From a traditional French bakery to a German tavern, to Italian pasta, Zürich has it all!
Favorite Place for Swiss Chocolate: Läderach
Läderach Chocolatier Suisse
Läderach’s store is located on Banhofstrasse, approximately across the street from Zurich HB. This is THE place to get fresh Swiss chocolate! Take your pick from options such as dark chocolate with caramelized hazelnuts, or milk chocolate with hazelnut wafer pirouettes! Or go for the milk chocolate with cornflakes or milk chocolate with caramel bits. I highly recommend checking this place out!
There are many historic and beautiful churches throughout Zürich. There are four main churches in Old Town Zürich:
- Grossmünster, which was inaugurated in 1220, and is believed to have been founded by Charlemagne
- Fraumünster, which was built on the remains of an abbey and is known for its large stained glass windows
- Predigerkirche, built in 1231 and known for its high bell tower. Today, the bell tower is regarded as the highest Gothic building in Zürich
- Saint Peter’s, which has a tumultuous history of being built, burned down, and then rebuilt. In 1706 it was inaugurated as the first church under Protestant rule.