Zurich – in for a good time not a long time.

I’m not quite sure what inspired us to head to Zurich but sitting at home on the couch in Wellington it seemed like a must do.

So before we knew it we found ourselves in a picturesque, less adventurous European version of Queenstown. Sitting right on Lake Zurich, the city is truly beautiful and spotlessly tidy. This cleanliness seems to come at a price though. Lets face it, unless you’re loaded, a short trip is all you’ll ever need or be able to afford. To give you an idea a large Starbucks coffee in Zurich is about $12 NZD. So you have to really need that caffeine!

Having said this, Zurich is a great size for travellers. Small enough to do away with the need for public transport and large enough that English is widely spoken throughout. Even with a mumbling Kiwi accent you can stumble your way through.

Strolling through the streets we saw it as the perfect “girls get away weekend” location.

Zurich is also the home of the oldest Vegetarian restaurant in the world (according to the Guinness World Records) founded in 1898: Haus Hiltl. A restaurant with over 100 vegetarian buffet options and a large a la carte menu – all of which is vegetarian. We went for the all you can eat option… cause why not?! See below for photos.

Side note: It was in Zurich that we also discovered the first McDonald’s vegetarian burger! We have since seen Vegetarian options on sale at McDonald’s in Italy too. The world really is changing.

We treated ourselves to an evening dinner-lake cruise the day we arrived. An ideal way to relax and re-charge after a whirlwind week exploring Germany and easily our most memorable sunset of the trip so far. If we were doing this again though we would skip the dinner option and just take the cruise. The food left a lot to be desired (maybe we were spoilt in Germany). You’ll find better options in town.

You see this so often – when restaurants have a guaranteed market (eg. they are located in the main square or in this case, on a boat) the service really drops off as there is no effort required to secure repeat business. It’s the tiny family owned restaurants down a hidden side street that have to work their butts off to get locals coming back for more and secure those all important 5 star reviews on trip advisor which we seem to take as gospel.

Would we recommend visiting Zurich? If you like the feel of Queenstown it’s definitely worth taking the time to check out a little bit of the Swiss Riviera!

The highlight of our visit was actually the exquisite train journey between Zurich to Vienna. The train borders the lake for most of the start of the journey and then heads through mountainous country side. The scenery was breath taking – steep cliffs with tiny houses perched where no house should realistically be built, dropping down to icy blue water which will leave you yearning to stop long enough for a swim. Definitely our favourite train trip so far.

Note: If you book train tickets through ÖBB transport (as we did), make sure you download their free app to display your tickets when on the train. Our tickets were booked online and emailed to us (which for most companies is fine), but with ÖBB their website said we had to print our tickets at the station at one of their machines (like you would in the UK). However when we turned up at Zurich station there were no machines to be found as ÖBB is an Austrian company. Cue a shouting match with a train official who told me I had to pay another 100 EUROS to get on the train! Just before the train left, but unfortunately just after I did my Incredible Hulk impersonation, I realised you could download their APP using the station’s free WIFI and display the tickets that way.

Europeans love to make every journey a challenge and an adventure!

For all train /bus journeys we found the best booking site to use has been GoEuro.com