In 8 words: Swiss finance, plus a handful of cultural attractions.
For your visit one full day should be sufficient.
Distances are walkable in all cases.
Worthy attractions: Grossmünster; Fraumünster; Kunsthaus.
Left for another visit: Schweizerisches Landesmuseum.
Last visit: November 2010.

Zurich is not really known for must-see attractions, but its central area is pleasant enough, deftly combining pretty sights with opulence of a major center of finance.

The town is neatly separated in two halves by the Limmat river, with some of the most pleasant medieval streets on the east bank and some of the most imposingly monumental on the west one. The former exudes hip café culture, the latter – loftiness of high finance. Both are worth a leisurely stroll through, as is a walk along quays on the river and a visit to the main street, Bahnhofstrasse.

Grossmünster ♥♥ is austere and does not really impress on the inside as it does on the outside, but if you walk up one of its towers you’ll be rewarded with excellent views over the city, the lake and to the mountains.

Fraumünster ♥♥ is famous for its Chagall stained-glass windows, and well worth a look.

Kunsthaus has a reasonable, if unexceptional, collection of Old Masters and Impressionists. During my visit, most of the cost went towards a special exhibition (Picasso, at that time), which I assume occur with regularity.

A curious place to visit is Uhrenmuseum, at Beyer store (Bahnhofstr 31). Downstairs, in a single room, it displays hundreds of interesting clock-pieces from throughout history.

Places to Eat

A number of our dining choices in Zurich were arbitrary, not truly warranting a write-up and/or recommendation. Here are a few that stood out. All last visited in the Fall of 2010, unless noted otherwise.

Ristorante Contrapunto ♥, on Paradeplatz. Situated on two levels, with simple modern interior. Fairly attentive service, good Italian menu. Tried zuppa di pesce and bistecca di vitello con porcini, which were very tasty. Not cheap: CHF 84.50 for one person, with only a single glass of wine.

Bodega Espagnola ♥♥, on Münstergasse, not far from Grossmünster. Popular Spanish place. Lower level reputedly has excellent tapas atmosphere, but we ended up in a more formal dining room upstairs. Good seafood paella, large selection of Spanish wines. Live guitar music and may get a little noisy. Our damage: CHF 150 for two, including a bottle of wine.

Ristorante Cantine ♥, on Niederdorfstrasse. Good Italian menu, nice house wine, clean modern interior. Garlic consommé (cappeletti brood) and bruschetta pomodoro for appetizers, saltimbocca and manzo all griglia for main course – all very nice. Our damage: CHF 150, including bottle of wine and tips, for two people.

Restaurant Le Dézaley ♥♥♥ is a well-known and popular fondue eatery at the foot of Grossmünster. It boasts an extensive menu beyond fondue, but my local hosts insisted on having the classic Swiss meal. No regrets – fondue was excellent. The service was beyond reproach, and, despite the fact that the place is frequented by tourists, the atmosphere of a traditional Swiss meal remained. Reservations recommended. Last visit: Winter 2008.


Other notes for Switzerland