By Emma Marshall
People who know me know I love Zurich. It’s one of my favourite cities (and favourite countries).
As the largest city in Switzerland, it has so much to see and do: a chocolate box old town, a crystal clear river that runs through the historic centre and a glacial lake from which you can see the surrounding mountains. You can also swim in both the river and lake!
For me, it has pretty much everything. The only drawback is that’s it’s a pretty expensive place once you are there.
I love Zurich so much that if I have the time and money I try to visit at least once a year.
This year, with coronavirus, things are different. I obviously don’t know if it will be possible to return and if not, when in 2021 regular international travel may open up again.
So, like many people, I’m having to be a bit creative. That means trying to get my fix of Zurich in a different way.
These are top ways I’m finding to experience Switzerland’s Zurich without leaving my sofa.
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Explore the city by webcam
The website zuerich.com offers you four webcams from which you can explore the city. My favourite is the one that looks down over the old town, probably because this is the area I tend to spend most time in when I visit.
You can clearly see the river with boats moored on it, as well as one of the lidos where you can take a dip and swim in the river.
You can also see a couple of the best known churches in Zurich: the Grossmunster church with its twin towers and the Fraumunster church with its bright green steeple.
These are on opposite sides of the river but you can’t fail to miss them if you ever visit the city. In one part you can also see up to the lake.
You can also log into the Zurich West webcam which will give you a different view of the river and lake. There’s also the Sechselautenplatz camera where you get a close up view of the Opera House in one part of the tour.
For scenes outside the city centre, check out the Uetliberg webcam. This gives you a view over part of Lake Zurich from a nearby mountain. Other angles show you some of the gorgeous alpine landscape.
Get a taster of some of the city’s museums
Unlike many of the bigger cities around the world, the museums in Zurich don’t seem to be offering virtual tours (at least when I last looked).
However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to get an insight into some of them.
The Fifa World Football Museum
The Fifa World Football Museum has a series of short videos that take you around all of its floors. You can see all the displays, including the more interactive ones.
It’ll give you a sense of whether you may want to visit in person when travel restrictions are lifted.
The museum’s website also has a great blog that contains detailed stories about the World Cup. Interestingly, a recent one covers the 1920 World Cup, held in the wake of the Spanish Flu pandemic.
The blogs sometimes link to YouTube videos where you can watch entire matches if this is something you’d like to do. You can currently link to several World Cup matches from across the years, as well as the 2003 Women’s Final.
I have to admit that this museum has never been on my list of priorities when I’m in Zurich. But having delved into the website, the museum looks so good that I’m definitely going to check it out next time.
The Swiss National Museum
There’s also the Swiss National Museum (the Landesmueum Zurich). This houses a range of historical and cultural art works and artifacts spanning different centuries.
Although not currently open, it has an online collection that you can click into on its website. This states that you can “browse the 14 collection areas…learn more about your chosen objects, and download images directly”.
Indulge yourself with some Sprungli chocolate
If stopping off for tea/coffee and cake is something you like doing when you’re travelling, the chances are you’ll love the Confiserie Sprungli on Paradeplatz on Bahnhofstrasse. Here you can browse through its extensive menu of mouthwatering cakes and snacks and choose one or two of your fancy.
If you don’t have time to stop off and stay for a bit, or want to take a souvenir home, they have a fabulous shop full of delicious chocolates on the ground floor next to the café.
If you’d like to tuck into some Sprungli chocolate from home, and you live in Switzerland or Liechtenstein, they do have a delivery service (it is free if you spend over 60 CHF).
For other destinations, check out their online shop and the information on international shipping.
Try out some swiss food at home
I always have to order rosti when I’m eating out in Zurich. My partner always likes to try out the different Swiss sausages.
We therefore try to fit in a visit to Zeughauskeller, a cheerful beer keller in the centre of the city. This serves our favourite Swiss food and has a generous selection of sausage dishes to choose from.
Beforehand we pop around the corner for a glass of wine. If you’re lucky, you can sit outside on the outside terrace of the Hotel Storchen and look out over the river to the Grossmunster.
On our last visit, we were also lucky enough to be introduced by a friend to Haus Hiltl.
The oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world, this does an amazing Sunday buffet brunch.
The choice on offer is extensive to say the least: an impressive and eclectic mix of traditional Swiss dishes and more modern gastronomic inventions, as well as local and international flavours. See my post for further information.
If you visit Zurich, I’d recommended this restaurant, which is located about a 10 minute walk from the city’s main train station.
Swiss cookery books
Obviously, it’s not possible to visit the restaurant at the moment. But they do have a cookbook that you can buy online. This will whet your appetite for a time when you might be able to visit.
There are also other cookery books that will inspire you to recreate some Swiss dishes from your kitchen at home.
Helvetic Kitchen: Swiss Cooking recreates dishes that the author remembers from her childhood, some of which was spent in the capital, Bern.
Amongst the recipes you’ll find here are rosti, St. Gallen Klostertorte (a chocolate tart), cheese fondue and raclette (both involving melted cheese), and spitzbuben (jam biscuits).
The Helvetic Kitchen also has a website where you can find recipes as well as the history of some of the dishes.
A selection of recipes (e.g. a traditional rosti) look remarkably easy so you shouldn’t be put off if you’re not a culinary expert.
Plan a future trip
Last, but certainly not least, one way I can get my Zurich fix is by planning my next trip there.
I want to walk down the Limmat river again (we have a tradition of dipping our toes in the water here).
I want to catch a boat up to Zurichhorn Park and wander around the small, but beautiful, Chinese garden.
I also want to visit the Thermalbad spa again and look out over the city from their thermal rooftop spa.
Most of all, I want to explore some of things that I’ve not yet had the chance to do.
This is a womens’s only lido, but on three nights a week men can visit the “barefoot bar” here.
But I’ve had a trip to Schaffhausen, with the nearby Rhine Falls waterfall, Europe’s largest waterfall, on my list for a long time.
If Switzerland is somewhere you’d like to explore, then check out my previous post on 5 reasons why Switzerland is a perfect place for a short break.
You can also experience amazing alpine scenery by booking some of the world-famous train trips. These include a trip up the Jungfraujoch to a glacier in the Bernese Alps.
Go to my website for more ideas to inspire you to plan for your next trip away; I hope that is soon as possible.