Lay of the Land
The largest city in Switzerland, Zurich is located in the north of the country, just 15 miles from the German border. Locals consider themselves Swiss-German and predominantly speak German, although most can jump gracefully between English, French and Italian. A third of Zurich’s 375,000-person population is made up of foreigners, drawn by Zoogle (Europe’s Google headquarters) and the many Swiss banks located there. Named one of the top ranking cities in the world for its quality of life, Zurich is also an easy place for visitors to explore.
There are direct flights from major US cities to Zurich Airport, as well as connecting options from most European destinations. The airport is an easy 10-minute drive from the city center. Trains are also a good way to get to Zurich for travelers already on vacation in Europe. The route into the city passes through the Alps and affords stunning views of the Swiss countryside.
Train times from Zurich:
- Basel: One hour
- Geneva: Three hours
- Munich: Three hours
- Lugano: Three hours
- Paris: Four hours
- Milan: Four hours
On the Ground
Zurich has an excellent public transportation system. The city can be navigated easily on foot, but there are other ways to take in the region’s stunning landscapes. Some of the best views can be had by taking the funicular to the hilltop Dolder Grand, the blue tram to Zurich West or a steamboat down the Limmat River, which divides the financial district and the cobblestone streets of the Old Town.
Indagare Tip: The Swiss Pass allows visitors to tour Zurich by funicular, steamboat, bus, tram and train for less than the cost of coffee and a Zopf.
When to Go
Switzerland may be known for skiing, but Zurich averages only 18 inches of snow a year and can be enjoyed year-round. Peak season is from June to August, when the warm weather is a big draw, but the other months of the year are equally enjoyable thanks to vibrant fall foliage, Christmas markets and brisk spring hiking.