Here I am with an embarrassingly overdue post! You may remember J and I went to Switzerland and Lake Como back in November. Well, I’m finally done going through photos and am ready to share what we did! Trip coverage will be split into three different posts: Zurich, Lucerne, and Lake Como. Yay!
We booked our flights back in June and got a great deal on American (<$500 RT), but due to a slight flight change on the airline’s part, ended up flying British Airways through codeshare. This was great–I’d take BA over American any day! The flight was Dulles to Zurich via Heathrow, and we got to fly in an A380 on our way there.
Flights to Europe are pretty inexpensive right now… I found ours while randomly browsing Google Flights, but definitely sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights if you’re considering a trip abroad. Our trip was seven days total (including the flights) and we didn’t want to spend too much time traveling between cities. So we landed in Zurich late Friday morning, took the train into the city from the airport (super quick and easy), explored downtown a bit, stayed the night, and took a train to Lake Como early Saturday morning (about 3.5 hours). We were in Como till midday Monday, took the train back to Zurich, and spent the rest of our time there other than a day trip to Lucerne on Tuesday.
It sounds a little complicated, but it wasn’t at all! I’ll share more logistics/how we got there in the posts on Lucerne and Lake Como.
I’d been to Zurich twice before, but it was J’s first time to Europe. Highly recommend Switzerland or Italy if you haven’t traveled abroad much…the language barrier isn’t much of an issue, and in the case of Switzerland, things are incredibly clean, safe, and easily navigable.
The first night in Zurich (before heading to Como), we opted for a hotel really close to the main station since our train was at 7:30am the next morning. I found Hotel Townhouse online–it’s rated highly and, given the location, is well-priced by Zurich standards. Our room was really large and nice but note that the entrance is kind of funny…it basically looks like an office building and check-in is in this little room on a random floor, so you essentially use a key fob to buzz yourself back in. Don’t stay here expecting super hands on hotel service but if you’re looking for a nice, non-home rental place to stay, it’s a solid option!
We stayed in an AirBnB for the other three nights (this one, if you’re curious…highly recommend). It was located in a more residential part of the city, about a 30 minute walk from the main train station (totally doable since we just took carry-ons). The area is definitely less busy than more central parts but is also only a 15 minute walk to the middle of town. There was public transportation nearby but we opted to walk everywhere…totally necessary based on our diet the entire trip :)
I’ll also note that traveling off-season helped keep flight and lodging costs down. Europe is pricier in the summer–that’s when everyone seems to want to visit–and November is close enough to winter where things are both less expensive and less crowded. Definitely something to consider if you’re going to one of the most expensive countries in the world!
This is just the tip of the iceberg…we opted for free things and skipped the museums/leaving central Zurich for things. I’m also a huge proponent of just walking around and people watching–one of the best ways to see a city!
Lake Zurich: The main lake in Zurich…you can’t miss it! The last two times I visited the city, we went to the lake the day we arrived. It’s easy, close to most parts of the city, and gorgeous whether or not you opt for the boat tour (we didn’t do it this time around, but I did it once before and it was great if you have a few hours to spare!)
Altstadt: The “Old Town” area. It’s filled with restaurants, cafes, and shops…easy to walk around and get lost in the narrow little streets. Have your camera out for this one!
Lindenhof Hill: 100% don’t miss this! The view of the city is spectacular, even on a cloudy day (as seen in the next three photos). If the weather is nice, take a picnic. There’s lots of space to spread out and people watch!
Grossmünster: One of the four famous churches in the city. It’s easily accessible from Lindenhof Hill and is near Le Dezaley (discussed below!)
Fraumünster: Another well-known church, built on the remains of a former abbey. It’s viewable right as you walk down Lindenhof and is the last image in this post!
Zeughauskeller: We went here for lunch right after dropping off our stuff at the hotel. It’s traditional Swiss food and so, so good. They have an English menu and there were definitely some other tourists, but the place is huge, was mostly packed with locals, and has a lot of character. Oh, and this large marching band covered in face paint came in partway through our meal and started performing well-known songs. We had no idea why but it was pretty neat!
Zum Gutten Gluck: A lot of places are closed midday, and this came up as “open” on Yelp when we were looking for a place to eat near our Airbnb after arriving from Como. It was pretty inexpensive, had really good service, and was really casual…kind of like a hipster restaurant/bar tucked underneath a hotel or hostel.
Holy Cow!: A local, yummy burger place that won’t break the bank–definitely keep this on your list if you’re looking to take a break from spending a pretty penny on restaurant meals! Also, unsurprisingly, the beef in Switzerland is so much better than in the States.
The Bite: I really wanted a burger [: A memoir] so when The Bite popped up really highly on Yelp, we had to go for lunch. Pretty sure we were the only tourists there (yay!), so that was great. The burgers were also delicious, albeit quite pricey, but it was fun to visit a local place that wasn’t even located anywhere near touristy things.
Cafe Plecard Schober: Plecard is apparently a local institution, favorited by locals and tourists alike. We had no idea when we decided to stop in–we were just looking for somewhere to get out of the rain and have a snack–but warmed up with some of their legendary hot chocolate (SO good) and sat at a cozy table for nearly two hours before heading to dinner.
Le Dezaley: This came highly recommended by Victoria (she had her rehearsal dinner there!) and we went on our last night because we’d somehow made it through the trip without fondue. It was a quintessentially Swiss experience–we went around 6pm without a reservation, but it gets really crowded–there were a bunch of locals and while it’s rated highly among visitors as well, other restaurants seemed to be more tourist trap-ey.
If you can’t tell, I love Zurich and will happily look for any excuse to go back! It’s such an easy trip from the east coast, especially if you get a direct flight. Let me know if you have any questions about where we stayed, what we did, where we ate, etc. etc.!
Photos by Monica Dutia