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thursdaysd May 20th, 2015 08:09 AM

Anyone have a good word to say about Zurich?
So, I'm planning the second half of my upcoming European trip, and I'm looking at going from the Italian lakes to the Black Forest across Switzerland. I would take the train from Como to Konstanz, with a change in Zurich. It occurred to me that it would be quite a long day, given I would actually start in Varenna, and maybe I should overnight in Zurich.

But I don't care for one-nighters, and doing a little reading on Zurich it seems a bit more interesting than people here have suggested, plus I could use it as a base for Schaffhausen and the Rhine Falls, and/or St. Gallen (not sure the Rhine Falls are worth a detour). There are at least three museums that look worthwhile: the Swiss National Museum, the Design Museum, and the Museum Bellerive. Plus an old town area, assorted churches, a riverside promenade and the lake. Maybe I need three nights. Are the guidebooks leading me astray, or is it worth a stop?

(I also looked at Lucerne, but I'd have to change trains both ways. I'd sooner just go on to Konstanz.)

tipsygus May 20th, 2015 08:15 AM

Personally I think it is worth a stop, the old town is nice to walk round, the Swiss National Museum is worth a visit, if you like museums and there is always the lake and a short cruise if you have the time. The Rhine Falls are also worth a visit as is Schaffhausen.

Dukey1 May 20th, 2015 08:31 AM

I agree about the museums and the churches. St. Gallen has its own special sites. A lot of people here keep repeating the "Zurich is only a business city" mantra which I disagree with.

Andrew May 20th, 2015 08:33 AM

I did a day trip from Freiburg im Breisgau by bus to Zurich last year. It was a rainy day, and all I did was walk around town for a few hours and shoot pictures, but I still had a good time. The city has a nice feel to it. I wouldn't have minded a night there, though it is a very expensive city so my frugal instincts might have led me to avoid the night.

PalenQ May 20th, 2015 08:34 AM

I've stayed for several days in Zurich and it is an interesting city if not an old-worldish dream city most people have in their minds' eyes when thinking of Europe - but it is unique in its opulence - the Bahnhofstrasse being billed as the world's most luxurious street for its many fancy offices of large banks and small watch and fashion boutiques

I liked the hill-climbing trams too - took them up and did a sweet walk in the forests high above town.

Lake boat rides are sweet too and the old town has the usual cathedral and neat restaurant ghetto.

and yes it can be a good base as you say - though an expensive one - one of the most expensive cities I've ever seen.

For folks on limited time I'd say head for dem hills - the Alps but if you have more time yes check out Zurich - on a weekend in nice weather a walk along the eastern edge of the lake thru the large park is wonderful - all kinds of ethnicities out and about - street performers, etc.

bilboburgler May 20th, 2015 08:48 AM

I've stayed here for business and visiting friends on numerous occasions. The high point is the stained glass in the cathedral, followed by the easy access to the ski slopes and hiking to the north.

The old town is.... well chocolate boxy and always seems filled with old men with died (sic) hair and their expensive PAs in mink.

Still, if you have the money look out for little merringues in pretty colours.

The Swiss will put a museum around a collection of buttercups if you let them. Note that they also invented "cow-pat bingo".

Despite having friends in the area I'd give it half a day.

The great thing about Switzerland is the country, get your boots on and get walking.

bilboburgler May 20th, 2015 08:50 AM

Konstanz Lake is pretty good, the lake towns need about 4 or 5 days, though Konstanz itself is only a day's worth if that, get over to the island after seeing the aquarium

thursdaysd May 20th, 2015 09:23 AM

Thanks. I'm not planning a real stop in Switzerland this trip, I'm spending time in Scandinavia, can't afford another expensive country.

Sounds like I'd better find out how much it would cost me to sleep there before I decide. I've already planned four nights in Boston this trip before finding out how expensive the hotels are! Maybe AirBnB for Zurich.

Am also interested in more opinions on the Rhine Falls, but I may have the wrong standard of comparison - the last waterfalls I visited were Iguazu, and they're more impressive than Niagara.

PalenQ May 20th, 2015 10:40 AM

Rhine Falls are really a large cascade IMO after seeing yes proper water falls like Niagara - but there is a lot of water washing over the Rhine Falls just not the immense waterfalls pictured in your mind's eye perhaps. Schlaffhausen near the falls is a neat city however and the falls nice too.

asps May 20th, 2015 10:53 AM

Zurich is not as bad as they say. Personally, I consider the old abbey library in St. Gallen as one of the most fantastic places in Europe. I almost wept looking at music manuscripts from the 9th century.

Mimar May 20th, 2015 10:59 AM

We spent a pleasant day in Zurich. It's considerably less expensive on the weekend and, I suspect, in August when there are fewer business travelers.

PalenQ May 20th, 2015 11:16 AM

One problem with Zurich is that it is TOO clean! Spic-and-span everywhere as one would expect of one of the world's richest cities - built in large part on hiding money of crooks, criminals and druge dealers and their ilk - tainted so what?

Well the banking capital of a Switzerland that cherishes hiding money is to me a symbol of how legalized graft pays off - shame on the Swiss for allowing it and Zurich is the epitome of gains from such nefarious activities.

thursdaysd May 20th, 2015 11:25 AM

I had read a long time ago that the Rhine Falls were impressive, but after looking it up the stats weren't that exciting. I think the St. Gallen library might be more worthwhile. I'll be there in September, haven't figured out exactly when yet. September might also be a bad time for the falls - usually better in spring.

If I only went to places I found politically correct there are a lot of places I would never have seen!

PalenQ May 20th, 2015 11:27 AM

at certain times of year at least fairly impressive - the biggest water falls in western central Europe I believe.

thursdaysd May 20th, 2015 11:34 AM

But this is the competition:

Edward2005 May 20th, 2015 12:02 PM

There is nothing wrong with Zurich, I just would not put it on a list of places to see on a speedy itinerary because there are much better places to spend your scarce vacation time.

I'd like to live there but I would not want to visit.

Percy May 20th, 2015 12:40 PM

That is stiff competition thursdaysd

Having toured through Brazil and the Amazon and almost all of Argentina, I was very very impressed at the Iguazu Falls, and wait till you get your first sighting of the Devil's Throat...

.... the first impression is mezmerizing!!

I did the Falls from both sides, Brazil and Argentina.

At a few places at the Falls you can reach over and stick your hand in the water as it goes over the edge.

Just don't go down with the water. !!!

thursdaysd May 20th, 2015 01:16 PM

@Percy - yes, Devil's Throat was one of the highlights of my SA trip! I spent ages just watching the water.

@Edward - this is a four month trip. I'm not time constrained, I may be budget constrained!

neckervd May 21st, 2015 02:32 AM

As you obviously want to travel via Monza (Milan), you may check
Bellinzona - Locarno
Winterthur (museums and castle)

Along the shortest itinerary (in distance; 7 hrs ride), it would be
Andeer - Via Mala Gorge
Bad Ragaz

along the most scenic itinerary (8 hrs ride), it would be
Sils Maria
Bad Ragaz

if you are interested in Zurich museums, don't forget the 2 most interesting one's: National Museum, Rietberg Museum

If you are interested in Picasso's, Lucerne (Rosengart Foundation) is a must

Ackislander May 21st, 2015 03:08 AM

I have a close friend who lives there.

He thinks you are too kind.

Dianedancer May 21st, 2015 04:41 AM

We stayed overnight in Zurich a few years ago. Had a fine time. Went to a beer hall and hubby had a huge glass of beer. Walked through the old town and went into some quirky shops. Crossing the bridge from one side of the river to the other at night came upon a string quartet playing under the bridge. Lovely.

Dianedancer May 21st, 2015 04:42 AM

BTW - We didn't spend a lot of money. It depends on where you choose to spend your money! People say NYC is expensive. But you can get $5.99 breakfasts. You just have to go to the right places.

thursdaysd May 21st, 2015 05:06 AM

Well, no I don't want to travel via Milan (been there) and am planning to fly into Turin. I will have to go via Milan to get from Turin to Stresa and then to Varenna, but I can pick up the Milan-Zurich train at Como without going back to Milan.

The direct train goes Como - Chiasso - Lugano - Bellinzona - Arth-Goldau - Zug - Zurich.

I have no interest in Picasso, but the Reitberg definitely sounds like my kind of museum, thanks.

But with these continued German rail strikes I am rethinking the Black Forest and therefore the train across Switzerland altogether.

simpsonc510 May 21st, 2015 05:14 AM

I would base in Zurich and do a day trip to St Gallen to see the library. In Zurich I love strolling the old town and the bahnhofstrasse. Zurich is clean and expensive and worth a stopover. You mentioned Lucerne. That could also provide you with a lovely day trip. Such a beautiful place!

neckervd May 22nd, 2015 05:25 AM

There is no doubt that you can go by hydrofoil from Varenna to Como, but that would mean more changes or longer journeys, like:

Varenna dp by hydrofoil 13.22 - Como Lago ar 14.12, dp by citybus 14.29 - Chiasso ar 14.46, dp by train 15.12 - Zurich ar 18.28
resp 1/2 mile walk from boat to Como San Giovanni railway station and then Como SG dp 14.47 with a train change at Lugano to Zurich ar 18.28. Only 3 Zurich bound trains stop at Como SG (in the morning and in late evening), but all stop at Monza.

neckervd May 22nd, 2015 05:35 AM

" I will have to go via Milan to get from Turin to Stresa"

You may do so. It's the fastest and most expensive itinerary (about 2 hrs,
47 EUR/OW).
You may also change at Novara (2 hrs 40 min, 14 EUR/OW)

neckervd May 22nd, 2015 05:43 AM

"I will have to go via Milan to get from Stresa to Varenna"

That's by far the shortest itinerary.
Much longer and more scenic one's go via Laveno - Lugano or Como (partially by boat).

neckervd May 22nd, 2015 05:49 AM

"I could use Zurich as a base for Schaffhausen and the Rhine Falls, and/or St. Gallen"

In this case, it would be much easier to go from Zurich to Schaffhausen, to put your luggage into the railway station lockers, to visit the Rhine Falls, to fetch your luggage and to continue by Rhine river boat up to Konstanz.
Similar solution with St. Gallen: there are direct trains from St. Gallen to Konstanz (Kreulingen railway station, from where you can reach your destination within the city by Constance citybus).

thursdaysd May 22nd, 2015 01:46 PM

@neckervd - thank you very much for the details, especially for Turin to Stresa (now Stresa to Turin). For my dates is also showing a route via Rho-Fiera Milano.

I have given up on trying to find accommodation on the Scilly Isles and revised my itinerary. I will now be going north to south instead of south to north. I am definitely leaning towards staying in Konstanz instead of Zurich.

Nancy to Konstanz - through the Black Forest if the DB workers are not on strike, via Basel if they are.

Konstanz to Como - leave Konstanz 10:03, change in Zurich onto EC 17 leaving at 11:32 arriving Como at 14:56. Is that too late for a boat to Varenna? Or is the walk from the train station a problem?

I was looking at trains from Konstanz to St. Gallen, I should use Kreulingen railway station instead?

Fra_Diavolo May 22nd, 2015 02:19 PM

After escaping the hellish heat of West Africa one August, I stopped in Zurich. We walked to the old town and had dinner outside in the blessedly cool evening. Some kind of wurst and rosti. It was wonderful. I did not have to return to Africa, and didn't, for many years.

neckervd May 23rd, 2015 01:31 AM

Connecting BOAT: Como Lago dp 15.30 - Varenna ar 18.10
Conncting hydrofoil: Como Lago dp 17.10 - Bellagio ar 17.51, change to car ferry Bellagio dp 18.10 - Varenna ar 18.25
bus and boat via Bellagio:
Como SG railway station dp 16.07 - Bellagio ar 17.17, dp by car ferry 17.30 - Varenna ar 17.45

Konstanz dp 10.03 - Zürich dp 11.32 - Monza dp 16.32 - Varenna ar 17.24
Konstanz dp 14.03 - Zürich dp 15.32 - Monza dp 19.32 - Varenna ar 20.24
Konstanz dp 10.03 - Zürich dp 11.32 - Lugano ar 14.25 - citybus to Lugano Cassarate, Cassarate dp by bus 16.00 - Menaggio ar 16.55, dp by boat 18.00 - Varenna ar 18.10

neckervd May 23rd, 2015 01:34 AM

Kreuzlingen - St. Gallen:
direct trains every 30 min from 5.00 until 23.00; 55 min journey

thursdaysd May 23rd, 2015 08:40 AM

Thanks again, neckervd.

I have booked a room in Konstanz, but I had trouble finding one. Even the Ibis is fully booked. It's a weekend, and since I don't like crowds I'm starting to think I would be happier in Zurich. (I can cancel the Konstanz reservation.) It would certainly make for less of a trek to Varenna (which was also short on space).

kja Jun 6th, 2015 05:23 PM

I really enjoyed Zurich. Some great museums, extraordinary stained glass, lovely river and lake, interesting public squares, etc. If you are still seeking info, let me know!

thursdaysd Jun 6th, 2015 05:47 PM

Thanks kja! It turned out that Oktoberfest was starting the day I was arriving, so I canceled my Konstanz reservation and made one for Zurich instead...

I'm thinking of at least one day trip - the Rhine Falls and/or St. Gallen, but there do seem to be some interesting museums in Zurich. Any recommendations? And where did you find the stained glass? I can always use suggestions for places to eat with good food that won't break the bank!

mokka4 Jun 6th, 2015 07:17 PM

cheap but tasty eats can be found in "Shopville", the underground maze of restaurants and shops under the main RR station (yes, really!)
For a wonderful vegetarian experience, try famous Haus Hiltl. Lovely food and ambiance...Teuschers Felix Cafe at the southern end of town...delish hot chocolate, but I did drop 45 CHF on lunch...

mokka4 Jun 6th, 2015 07:26 PM

Oh, and Bierhalle Wolf on Niederdorfstrasse for reasonably-priced traditional dishes with the 'locals.' Have stopped here many times, always pleased!
PS, many of Zurich's museums are free entrance on the last Sunday of each month...

thursdaysd Jun 6th, 2015 07:52 PM

Thanks! those all sound good.

Zurich doesn't seem to get much respect around here, I'm looking forward to finding the nay-sayers are wrong.

mokka4 Jun 6th, 2015 08:08 PM

I liked Zurich very much. Click on my name to read a few of my TRs including Zurich visits....being in medicine, I especially liked the Medical History Museum.
Also was surprised how much I enjoyed the local 'mountain' trip up to Uetliberg (fast and convenient walks in nature, with snowy peaks in the distance...very pretty in the fall).
I think you will enjoy Zuerich very much..eclectic shops and quiet squares just steps away from the much-ballyhooed shopping avenue!

kja Jun 6th, 2015 08:14 PM

For the stained glass in Zurich, Fraumunster, and pay attention to not just the Chagall, but also the Giacometti. And do visit the "cloister" beside the Fraumunster (which is actually open on two sides, as I recall).

For museums in Zurich, the Swiss National Museum is excellent, IMO. I enjoyed the art museum, and would have loved to see the Rietberg. I was very happy to visit Wintherthur outside Zurich for its complement of excellent small museums, but I'm not sure any of them are up your alley....

FWIW, I was convinced against visiting Rhine Falls pretty easily, but gave up St. Gallen only with great reluctance.

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