Zürich is a city lover’s dream. I was privileged to live there between 1999 and 2007, these pages provide information, tips and my impressions from living there (updated whenever I can find an excuse to visit!) as well as a series of city walking tours I developed.
Zürich with a population of about 350,000, is Switzerland’s largest city and commercial center. It is clean, well organized and surrounded by beautiful natural areas. Zürich’s motto “Little Big City” means that it has the amenities of a big city (world class opera) but is small enough to make visitors feel welcome. In short, it’s a great place to live.
Zürich was first settled in the Neolithic period. The Romans named the city Turicum and used it as a tax collecting point for goods entering the province of Raetia. The city is famous for protestant religious reformer Zwingli who preached there in the late middle ages. Today, the city is a financial center serving as headquarters for several major Banks and Insurance companies. The city is also the home of the famous University of Zürich and the 150-year old Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). Interestingly for a city often considered conservative, Lenin lived here in 1917 and the Dada movement began in Zürich’s Café Voltaire in 1916.
Alain de Botton‘s wonderful article, “The discrete charm of the Zürich Bourgeoisie” describes the city as:
“There are communities, far rarer, many of them imbued with a strong (often Protestant) Christian heritage, where the public realm exudes respect in its principles and architecture, and where the need to escape into a private domain is therefore less intense. Citizens may lose some of their ambitions for personal glory when the public spaces and facilities of a city are themselves glorious to behold. Simply being an ordinary citizen can seem like an adequate destiny. In Switzerland’s largest city, the urge to own a car and avoid sharing a bus or train with stranger loses some of the urgency it may have in Los Angeles or London, thanks to Zürich’s superlative tram network – clean, safe, warm and edifying in its punctuality and technical prowess. There is little reason to travel alone when, for only a few francs, an efficient, stately tramway will transport one across the city at a level of comfort an emperor would have envied.“
I especially love de Botton’s description of Zürich’s public transport, because it so elegantly captures what’s needed to make public transport successful.
Zürich Walking Tours and Tips
- Zürich’s Annual Sechseläuten Celebration
- Zürich Public Transport and day trips tour
- Zürich Altstadt (Old City) walking tour
- Bahnhofstrasse and Zürichsee walking tour
My tours were designed with city planners in mind. They provide suggestions of where to go rather than details. More information is easily available in tourist books and websites. These tours only skim the highlights, Zürich is full of interesting neighborhoods, places to walk, restaurants, markets, and more.
The Zürich Tourist Service also offers many day excursions and city tours.