By Juhi Bansal
This was our second trip to Zurich. However, this was the first time Iy and I were travelling alone. We were in Switzerland for about 2.5 weeks and we stepped out every single day whatever the weather. We braved rains, cold and extreme sunshine (towards the end) for our love for exploration. We also made sure we spent about 5 days exploring Zurich and nearby areas, walking around the old town and trying local cuisine.
PS: I plan all my trips myself right from the itinerary to the bookings and stay arrangements. We DO NOT go through a travel agent except for the visa and flight bookings because I find the paperwork cumbersome.
Getting in and around Switzerland is extremely comfortable if you have the Swiss Pass. We took the 15 day pass (kids below 6 travel for free) which included unlimited travel across Switzerland on any mode of transport (trains, buses, trams, boats, cable cars etc) and entry to most museums and castles. It cost us about 40000 INR but was completely worth it. It was practically all we needed while stepping out. Always remember to carry your passport along though.
Another thing that helped us a lot was the SBB.ch app which details public transport connections. Since the Swiss Pass includes unlimited travel, we got down at random places, changed plans last minute and planned our travel so well that we never had to wait at stations.
Iy loved it so much we went there a couple of times but make sure to spend a sunny weekend there. Feed the ducks, dance with the street buskers, get your nails done, have a picnic, do a barbeque (or watch one like we did), play volleyball, take a boat (included in your Swiss Pass), try the brezels and nusstorte and then just laze in Chinagarten :).
Museums (included in your Swiss Pass)
We went to the Science museum at ETH called Terra Focus. I always love the vibe of an educational institution- makes me think of Ahmedabad University back home :). ETH was no different. They had prototypes of the solar system, fun experiments and rock specimens, Mars insight lander and even an earthquake simulator. Iy and I had a lot of fun there.
Another museum that Iy and I loved visiting was the National Museum Landesmuseum especially for the interactive books and VR tour of the Swiss topology.
There are so so many of these in Zurich. Just grab your kindle and sit by while the little one has some fun on the slides.
Tram/ train rides
I always like to use public transport while travelling abroad especially in Europe. Not only is it cheaper, you get to experience the local life, people, pets and language like you wouldn’t otherwise. With your Swiss Pass you can actually take a tram/train ride to nowhere- get down at random stations, explore on a whim and still be on your way to your destination in no time.
Old town area (Alstadt)
While in Zurich don’t forget to make a trip to the Old Town area- it is the historic city center. Apart from the churches, guilded houses and a gaze at the Limmat- it is also a getaway if you’re craving action. Always bubbing with activity the streets in the old town make for a memorable walk even if you’re just window shopping.
If you’re feeling brave, do try the medicinal marijuana at one of the many street shops. I for one loved the Bircher Meusli and the Alpermagronen at Swiss Chuchi Café.
Aathal is about 30 min train ride away from Zurich. If your kid is into Dinosaurs it is a must visit place. The Dinosaur museum (included in your Swiss Pass) has life sized original fossils on display. It also has a fun fossil digging pit where the little ones can spend some time and have fun.
The restaurant right next door Rusticana has a kids play room which will keep them busy while you relax with a glass of wine and some pasta.
Another must visit place to visit in Aathal is the Jucker Farm. Kids will love spending the day at the farm petting animals, eating fresh produce, playing the playground and doing weather appropriate activities like pumpkin farming or apple picking. We unfortunately missed out on this because of the weather but have heard great review from the ones who’ve visited.
Rapperswil is another easy day trip you can make from Zurich. We visited it especially for the Knies Kinder Zoo. It is an extremely interesting concept which houses offsprings of various animals like giraffes, zebras, penguins, goats, sheep, ponies, seals and camels. Kids are encouraged to interact with these animals who are quite friendly. Iyra had a ball hugging and feeding most of these animals. There’s a small choo choo train that takes you around the zoo and a couple of interesting play areas. Also, don’t miss the sea lion show which is quite fun. Tickets to the zoo are not included in your Swiss Pass.
I find Zurich extremely expensive when it comes to shopping. However, there were a few places I loved visiting-
Vintage shops for some preloved clothes
Flying Tiger for some fun and interesting kids DIY activities
Bahnofstrasse for window shopping high street brands (and some chocolate tasting).
The food scene in Zurich is quite fun. From food festival to street food (expensive alert!) to boho cafes, there is so much activity. I was lucky to catch the Zurich Food Festival while I was there. Apart from the food stalls from almost all countries of the world, I loved the vibe and the set up. From grooving music to cocktails from around the world to chic sitting corners- it had everything.
By the way Hardbrucke is your failsafe for all chic eateries in Zurich. From handpicked food stalls to homey shopping to cozy tented seating, it made me feel right at home. I will do a detailed article on food in Switzerland soon.
Zurich Airport Observation Deck
If you’re flying out of the Zurich Flughafen airport, a must do activity is watching planes take off and land at the Observation Deck. You’re so close to the big birds you can almost reach out and touch them…almost!
The observation deck is accessible for free with your boarding passes. Little kids also get a colouring book and colour box 🖍:). Iyra was over the moon at the deck. If you’re not flying out of the airport, you can still access the deck for a small fee.
Apart from the main observation deck, there are several designated areas around the airport where you can sit and view the airplanes take off.
Zurich is extremely kid friendly. Kids are actually supposed to walk back home (unsupervised) from local schools- it’s extremely safe and people are very friendly. Iy instinctively picked up the route from the station and tram stops back home and learnt to follow traffic rules.
Please write in should you have specific questions. 🙂