Our Most Beautiful 3 Days in Zurich, Switzerland

This summer we went for a week-long road trip in Central Europe, where the main highlight was to spend 3 beautiful days in Zurich.

This was the first real visit for all of us in Switzerland, other than just driving through it before. We had heard a lot of positive things about the country, it was now time for us to have our own experience. And even without visiting the Alps or any mountains during this trip, we will always remember it as one of our best 3 days.

An Excellent Accommodation

Accomodation, at least for us, is of utmost importance in almost any trip. This time luckily we had found an apartment that met all of our requirements. In fact, whenever we return to Zurich, this will be the first place that we’ll check out whether it’s available.

CITY STAY Franklinstrasse is located in the second center of Zurich, Oerlikon. In fact I was a bit afraid before we got there that the place might be far from the city center, maybe in a bad neighborhood and maybe I just should have had reserved any other place than this one.

CITY STAY Franklinstrasse Zürich
CITY STAY Franklinstrasse, Zurich

Oh boy, was I wrong. This is such a nice neighborhood, such a nice apartment that we couldn’t have asked for anything better. It turned out that this district, Oerlikon, used to be an independent municipality up until 1934, when it joined Zurich. So we pretty much felt like being in a real city center here.

The Oerlikon railroad station, with frequent connections to Zurich main railroad station, was just a short walk from our apartment. We were able to literally get in the touristic center in under 15 minutes by train, including walking. One night we choose the tram to come back home, the ride taking no more than 20 minutes while enjoying the view of the streets.

I think this is a much better neighborhood to stay in Zurich that many areas that are advertised as city center. With a nice market every Wednesday and Saturday, our beloved cheese and bread shop where we bought the ingredients for our authentic home made Swiss fondue, we loved the fact that our accomodation was in Oerlikon.

Oerlikon market
Oerlikon market Zurich

Our Very First Trip, A Swiss Travel Adapter

I thought I had planned for everything in this trip, and I did. Almost.

I really wanted to buy a couple of swiss travel adapters before leaving from home, but somehow forgot it in the excitement of our travel.

Switzerland has a unique electric plug system which is only partly compatible with EU electric plugs. And if you are coming from any other part of the world, you definitely need an electrical plug adapter if you want to use or even charge any electric device.

Swiss electric outlet
Swiss electrical outlet

As we had forgot to buy such an adapter back at home, we got a bit scared at first that we would not be able to charge our phones and laptops. But this was actually much easier to solve as I thought.

Just walking on the streets next to our apartment, we found a shopping mall with an electronic store. It turns out that a Swiss travel adapter is such an everyday gadget here that you can find it in almost any place that sells electronic supply.

So we fortunately solved this problem in just a couple of minutes, and were able to focus on exploring the city.

Swiss travel adapter
Swiss EU electrical travel adapter

Exploring This Beautiful City

Zurich is beautiful, and just the right size to explore the old town by foot. We hopped on a tram or an S-Bahn, a regional train service, and went to explore the city center several times in the next 2 days.

Whether you have just a few hours or a couple of days, and whether you want to enter churches or museums or not, I definitely advise you to put aside some time to explore downtown.

Grossmunster Zurich

The S-Bahn train took only 8 minutes to get to the Hauptbahnhof, Zurich main railroad station. In fact hauptbahnhof literally means main station, you can find a station with this name in virtually every German speaking city.

Fortunately we found a way to purchase a cheap 24 hour Zurich ticket that was only CHF 8.80 per person. I say fortunately, because this is tricky to buy at a ticket machine if you’re not familiar with how to do it. But luckily we got help from a nice railroad employee at Oerlikon railroad station. Thus we could explore the city easily, being able to use literally any kind of public transportation for 24 hours straight without any limitations.

Lindenhof view Zürich
Zurich view from Lindenhof
Limmat by night
Limmat river view by night

Polybahn Funicular

Among the public transportation options one is the Polybahn Funicular. It’s a short link between the downtown area, just beside the river, and the university.

This type of transport is usually a tourist attraction that costs a larger sum of money, but here it is included in the public transport network. It means that if you have a Zurich pass, you are able to use this little red mountain tram for free.

That’s just what we did, and enjoyed the view of the city on this 2-minute ride.

Zürich Polybahn
Polybahn funicular at the valley station

Our Cheapest Lunch at the University Canteen

The upper station of the Polybahn is at the University of Zurich. We just wanted to take a quick walk around the station, but discovered one of the cheapest meal options in the city.

Zurich or Switzerland is famous for being very expensive, and this is especially true if you plan to eat out. Even in a regular restaurant, you’ll pay at least 30 Francs just for one food. Add drinks and anything extra that you might order, and you’ll easily end up spending a fortune for just one meal.

At the university however you can eat at the canteen and have a great meal for half the price that you would pay at a restaurant. They actually have 3 different prices for every food, the most expensive applied to anyone not being a student or university employee. Even by paying full price, we still had a great Tandoori Meatball for just 15.50 and a Moussaka for 14.50. In my opinion, nowhere in Zurich can you eat a whole meal at a table for such prices.

Zurich University canteen tandoori meatballs
Cheap tandoori meatballs at Zurich University canteen

Lindt Chocolate Factory

Every single Zurich recommendation video on YouTube starts with the Lindt chocolate factory tour at Kilchberg, Lindt Home of Chocolate. That’s just what we also explored during our stay, reserving the tickets way in advance, back at home.

I am actually glad not only because of the reservation, but for selecting the 5 PM time slot. This way we had almost the entire day to explore the city before the chocolate factory visit. Also we were one of the last groups to enter the museum, closing at 7, so it was less crowded than usually is during the day.

Lindt home of chocolate giant fountain
Lindt chocolate factory

The tour itself was, however, great and kind of a disappointment at the same time.

The cocoa history tour is okay, but just an average museum walk, with some of the displays not working.

But I personally wouldn’t come here just to see this exhibit alone. You see, one definite reason why people come to this place is to sample the Lindor bonbons. In other words, to eat free chocolate.

Our Disappointment

And here is where our disappointment comes from. You can sample free chocolate at the chocolate fountains, as much as you want. Great value. You can also sample free chocolate bar portions at a station where you need to guess the flavor. Also a great value.

But when you enter the Lindor room, they only offer 8 different flavors, the most common ones. This was already a disappointment as we were hoping to taste some exotic or new flavors. The bonbons were too cold in my opinion, I guess they just took them out of a fridge. There is a quite narrow temperature range to really enjoy these, so this was another disappointment. And to add to all that, behind the counter two Lindt employees made sure that everyone took only one of each flavor.

Sampling Lindor bonbons
Free Lindor bonbons at Lindt Home of Chocolate

Don’t get me wrong, 8 bonbons are way enough to fill yourself with chocolate, especially after the first 2 other samplings. And I also understand why they try to limit your chocolate consumption. Some visitors packed their pockets and bags literally full with bonbons before the employees actually told them not to do it. But it just gives you a wrong feeling when the place is advertised as you can eat as much as you want, and someone tells you to stop after one.

On the other hand, those ladies weren’t really tough on anyone. If you take one bonbon at the time, eat it right there and go back to take another one, nobody will tell you to stop.

All in all, we had fun in the Lindt Home of Chocolate, got a bit less that we had hoped for, but it was worth visiting this place once.

On the other hand, I would not come back here again as you can buy Lindt chocolate at pretty much at the same price that you pay for the ticket. And there are also much better and less industrial Swiss bonbons to taste.

An Excellent Swiss Bonbon

We happened to find such a place in the heart of the city, where we literally had the best chocolate bonbons of our lives. This is what I call real Swiss Chocolte.

The shop is called Max Chocolatier, and it’s located on Schlüsselgasse, just besides St. Peter church in the historic city center.

Max chocolatier Zurich
Max Chocolatier, Zurich

I have to tell you, if you really want to use the word heavenly when referring to chocolate, this is the place to come to. Bonbons here were definitely expensive, more than 2 Francs for one little piece, but it was well worth it for the extraordinary experience.

Their chocolate bonbons are hand made in Switzerland by expert chocolatiers, and you can really tell the difference. This is not ordinary chocolate that you get in a supermarket. An extremely silky and pleasant texture accompanied with whatever flavor you choose. They actually have a different selection for every season, we happened to taste their summer collection with lots of raspberries and almonds.

Heavenly, just the right word to describe it.

Free Water on the Streets

Talking about food, let me add this quick note on drinking water in Zurich. We heard this before, but wanted to check whether it was true or not.

It turns out to be true.

You can drink water from every public fountain in Zurich. The city is so fortunate that it has a lot of hills and mountains around it, providing a 24/7 stream of fresh water on the street. So just have an empty bottle with you, and fill it up whenever you feel thirsty.

Fresh water fountain in Zurich
Free drinkable water at Zurich fountains

Zurich Lake and the Waters

Talking about water, we saw people swimming two different times at two different places in Zurich. And although it was very tempting, did not try it ourselves on neither of those occasions. Here is why.

The first time, actually coming back from the Lindt Factory Tour, we got off our bus one stop before the city center. There was a nice park there facing directly at Zurich Lake, called Rentenwiese. Lots of people relaxing in the sun, and also quite a lot of them taking the opportunity to immerse in the relatively warm August water of the lake.

Lake Zurich swimmers
Relaxing at Zurich Lake

It was so tempting that we decided to come back the next day with our bathing suites.

Unfortunately the next day we had probably the worst weather of the month in Zurich. Clouds, even some light rain. So we never actually had the opportunity to swim in Zurich lake during this trip.

Later that night we were walking around the city center, and wanted to try a new path just outside the main train station. It turns out that there is a place where people are actually jumping into the Limmat river from a bridge, called Drahtschmidlisteg.

You can go there and see them dive and swim and then come back and do the same thing again and again. Also very tempting for us, but got just maybe scared not having towels and changing clothes, so we left it for next time at the end.

Limmat swimmers
People swimming in the Limmat river at Drahtschmidlisteg

Making Swiss Fondue at Home

Probably one of the most exciting things that happened to us in Zurich was making fondue at our apartment.

Obviously we wanted to experience authentic fondue in Switzerland. But as I told you earlier, eating out is very expensive here. Also we didn’t really find a place that we liked enough to spend 150 Francs or more on some fondue experience.

So we ended up in a local cheese store next to our apartment. It turned out that they had their own fondue cheese mix, a great way to try this food the most authentic way. Also next door we could buy some real Swiss bread at a nice local bakery.

Fondue cheese and bread
Bread and cheese for homemade fondue

So might not look like the most exquisite cheese fondue on a photo, but this was such a great experience to make at our apartment. Other than that, it also proved that you can make the finest fondue at home without even owning a fondue set.

Swiss fondue in a regular pot
Homemade fondue at our Zurich apartment

Zurich Is a Lovable City

All in all we had a very pleasant 3 days in the “capital” of German Switzerland. The city is very nice and loveable, and to somewhat to our surprise, people were also very kind.

You might also have that bias that Swiss people are not smiling and not kind, but that was not the case for us. Everyone we talked to was extremely helpful in a genuine and honest way.

We really felt home here and plan to come back soon.