I travel to Switzerland regularly, and use Zurich as the gateway. The great thing about travelling from South Africa is that it is an overnight flight, with a maximum one-hour time difference, depending on daylight saving.
On arrival you’re only 10 minutes away from the city centre and, thanks to the incredible public transport system, moving around couldn’t be easier. My visits take me to various parts of the country, but Zurich is the one consistent part of any trip. Finding myself there over a weekend, or with a free day at the end of a visit, opens up many interesting opportunities.
I choose to stay at the Hotel Kindli, a small, family-run hotel in the Mediæval Quarter, which genuinely feels like a home from home. It has been there since 1474 and is easy to get to. It includes a well-known restaurant on the ground floor that serves a great variety of dishes.
Zurich is beautiful, organised and absolutely, 100% litter-free. You can walk the Bahnhoffstrasse from the main station to the lake and see some of the most beautiful and up-to-date shop displays by luxury brands. There’s not
a time I walk that stretch without being inspired.
In the general area of the Bahnhoffstrasse, there are fantastic department stores, sports stores, and everything else your heart desires. Travelling on the rand does tend to lead to a lot more window-shopping, however.
There is also no shortage of great restaurants. I really like the Old Town, which offers many restaurants with outside tables during the warmer months, along with a variety of food choices. A favourite is the Restaurant Adler, on the ground floor of the old hotel of the same name, which specialises in traditional Swiss cuisine.
A cheese fondue or raclette is a wonderful thing on a freezing night. I often travel with my sister and business partner, Janine, who is a vegetarian. She has found an amazing vegetarian restaurant called Hiltl, in the newer part of the city.
The Old Town also offers plenty of night spots, most of which move onto the pavements during the summer months. While we take warm evenings for granted in South Africa, the Europeans seem to get a definite “lift” from them, and there is a festive atmosphere wherever you go.
Zurich is a city of museums and art galleries, with prominent exhibitions on almost all of the time. There is always something historic or interesting to see. Cathedrals and monasteries dating back to the 15th century are both awe-inspiring and easy to get to.
As a sports-loving South African, I have also found a great venue to catch major rugby and cricket events. It’s an English-style pub and restaurant called The Lion. It has very nice food, cold beer, and a screaming crowd, and is only
a few minutes’ walk from Hotel Kindli.
In Zurich itself, there are excellent places to walk or run. Lake Zurich is exquisite, and one can walk for hours. Even on a warm spring day, the snow-covered mountains are clearly visible in the distance. There are fantastic homes along the banks, with the western shore being referred to by locals as the “Gold Coast”. There are no shortage of lakeside restaurants and cafes where one can stop in for a refreshing drink along the way.
As someone who enjoys walking in the Drakensberg, I really enjoy exploring the area on foot. Zurich is surrounded by woody hills, and the options for taking
a hike to a spectacular lookout point are almost endless.