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  • Writer's pictureGregor

Top 5 Travel Mistakes in Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich City with the River Limmat and Old Town
Zurich City with the River Limmat and Old Town

Mistake 1: Not visiting Zurich!

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland with about 400'000 inhabitants in the core city and another 600'000 in the surrounding area. It is the economic driver of Switzerland, has a rich history and is overall a great travel destination. Nevertheless, tourists avoid Zurich often and by doing that they miss out on so much.

Let's face it, there are no mountains in Zurich City, there are hardly any cows and no one is yodeling at you. If you want the standard tourist procedure, Zurich is in fact definitely not worth stopping at. But this has never been the appeal of Zurich. You want to visit Zurich for other things, namely:

  • if you want to eat and drink superbly well.

  • if you want to get to know an adventurous and rich history and spectacular present.

  • if you're interested in future technologies and science.

  • if you're in love with arts and underground scenes.

  • if you're into architecture and want to see an old city that is superbly well kept.

  • if you want to experience a unique lifestyle that is very different to Swiss cliches but in itself very Swiss still.

River Cruise stopping at iconic Hotel Storchen in Zurich Switzerland
River cruise at iconic Hotel Storchen

Grossmünster Church in Zurich Switzerland
Grossmünster in Zurich

Zurich in the morning with sun rising above old town and river
Good morning Zurich!

Bahnhofstrasse at night: world famous shopping street in Zurich
Bahnhofstrasse at night


Mistake 2: Only visiting the City Center at District 1

It is true that Zurich is most beautiful around District 1 (Kreis 1) where you will find the old town, the world famous shopping street called Bahnhofstrasse and many boutiques. But over the last 15 years life has slowly moved away from this district towards Districts 3,4 and 5 leaving the city center somewhat deserted (especially on Sundays). So if you come to Zurich, please do visit the beauty of the city center but also make sure to spread out towards either the lake or to the North where it's the new place to be!

Hardturm in district 5 Zurich
History amidst the residential area in District 5


Mistake 3: Only following your travel guide for food

When reading about restaurants in Zurich you might always get the same few suggestions. They are great and offer authentic Swiss and Zurich style food, however there are many more amazing opportunities to eat that are not listed in these travel guides. So, the best way to find out where to it is to just hit up some locals, they will explain great places for lunch or dinner close by.

Famous Zurich dishes:

Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (sliced veal and hashbrowns with cream sauce)

Bratwurst mit Bürli (veal sausage with typical Zurich bread)


Mistake 4: Driving your car in Zurich

Driving in Swiss cities rarely makes sense and driving in Zurich is kind of pointless. The public transportation system in Zurich is among the best in the world and for any given route you got various options to get there. You have boats, trains, trams, buses, you can walk and on top of that you get to rent out scooters or be driven by ricksha. On top of that the politics made life of car owners hell by canceling parking spot and implementing idiotic speed limits. Like this you will also avoid the many traffic jams that resulted from bad road planning and spend your time actually in the city and not at a red light.

Insider Tip

So, you can book a day pass for transportation zone 10 (city limits), valid for the calendar day or you can book a 9-Uhr-Pass to access all of Canton of Zurich after the morning rush hour. This pass is valid from 9am until the end of day.

Tram at Paradeplatz with Swiss banks in background
Tram in Zurich at Paradeplatz


Mistake 5: Visiting in January or February

In winter we have a weather phenomenon which we call Hochnebel, which translates to "high fog", which means it is overcast for days on end. This paired with cold weather and rarely snow makes it really dull and boring. If you visit during this time make sure to head up to the mountains to catch some sunshine and winter wonderland and leave Zurich for another time.

Zurich in January with overcast sky called Hochnebel
Zurich in January with overcast sky


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