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Zurich, Switzerland City Info
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Population: 380,000.

960,000 inhabitants in the Zürich city and suburbs

1.2 million inhabitants in the entire canton of Zürich (city plus 100 surrounding localities)

Time Zone: GMT/UTC plus one hour. When it is noon in Zurich, it is 6am in New York City.

Language: Most speak a form of German called Schwyzerdütsch (Schweizerdeutsch, in standard German). In Zurich, people in the tourist industry usually speak English.

Geographical position

The city of Zürich is situated at the northern end of the lake of Zürich on Switzerland's central plain, in the heart of Europe. The city is clustered around the banks of the Limmat River. The city covers a total area of approx. 92 km, its highest point is 871 m above sea-level (Üetliberg/Uto Kulm).














































Zürich has a temperate climate, but frequently finds itself in the path of warm, moisture-laden winds blowing from the Atlantic ocean. This results in a milder climate than its northern latitude of 47° might otherwise suggest. If you will be in the mountains the weather is unpredictable and often changes suddenly. Most first-time visitors will be surprised by the 20-40F difference in temperature between where they began the day and the mountain peaks that they visit. (Dress in “layers”)

Be prepared, even on overcast or cloudy days, for a faster suntan (or burn) at high altitude. The thin air in the beautiful higher elevations not only makes breathing and staying warm harder, it blocks less of the suns rays. Sunscreen or sunblock is a must!


When to Go

In July and August, Zurich’s best weather coincides with the heaviest crowds. Summers in Zurich are not as warm as on the French Riviera, but the lake is usually warm enough to swim in during July and August (70-72F). June and September are still pleasant, and hotel prices can be slightly lower, especially in resorts. Winter is cold throughout, and in low-lying areas it is frequently overcast and damp. Many days are chilly, and spring and fall can be quite cold. In winter, however, the temperature rarely goes below zero.



Jan. 1 New Year’s Day

Mar/Apr (varies) Good Friday

Mar/Apr (varies) Easter Monday

May 1 Labor Day

May (late May) Ascension Day

May/June (varies) Pentecost Monday

Aug. 1 Swiss National Holiday

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Dec. 26 St. Stephen’s Day


Business Hours

Banks & Offices

Some businesses still close for lunch in Switzerland, from 12:30 to 2, but this is changing, especially in larger cities such as Zurich. All remain closed on Sunday, and a few stay closed through Monday morning. Banks are open weekdays from 8:30 to 4:30.


Museums & Sights

Museums are usually closed on Monday. Increasingly, they open late one night a week, usually on Thursday or Friday evening.



Shops are open every day but Sunday, though a few stay closed through Monday morning. Smaller stores close for an hour or two for lunch. Stores in train stations often stay open until 9 PM; in the Zürich airport, shops are open on Sunday.


Emergency Contacts

Ambulance: 144

Police: 117

Fire: 118



the current is AC, 230V, 50 Hz. The standard plug is three-prong, but you may, in older buildings, run across some others. The Swiss plug is used nowhere else in Europe. While a general purpose "European-style" conversion plug may work, we'd hold off buying more than one of those (no kits, etc.) until you get to your ho The hotel or a nearby hardware or variety store will be able to help you if you don't have with you what you need. Most laptops operate on 110 and 220 volts and so require only an adapter.



The country code for Switzerland is 41. When dialing a Swiss number from abroad, drop the initial 0 from the local area code.


Zurich Area Code: 01

Directory & Operator Information

Dial 111 for information within Switzerland All telephone operators speak English and instructions are printed in English in all telephone booths. Precede the area-code number with 0 when dialing long-distance within Switzerland.


Anglo-Phone ( 1575014) is an English-language information service that gives details on hotels, restaurants, museums, nightlife, skiing, what to do in an emergency, and more. Lines are open weekdays 9-7 and 9-1 on Saturday.


Medical Emergency

Doctors and dentists can be referred in case of emergency by the English-speaking operators at Notfalldienst (Emergency Service) phones (01/2616100).

Hospital (Zürich Universitätsspital, Schmelzbergstr. 8, 01/2551111).



Switzerland's reputation for cleanliness is well-earned. Even at the foot of an icy-pure glacier you're likely to find locals drinking bottled mineral water.

If you're traveling with a child under two years old, you may be advised by locals not to take him or her on excursions above 6,560 ft. Check with your pediatrician before leaving home. Adults should limit strenuous excursions on the first day at extra-high-altitude resorts, (those at 5,248 ft and above). Adults with heart problems may want to avoid all excursions at high altitudes.



Postal codes precede the names of cities and towns in Swiss addresses.



The unit of currency in Switzerland is the Swiss franc (SF), available in notes of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 1,000. Francs are divided into centimes (in Suisse Romande) or rappen (in German Switzerland). There are coins for 5, 10, and 20 centimes. Larger coins are the half-, 1-, 2-, and 5-franc pieces. Switzerland has not joined the European Union.


Exchanging Money

For the most favorable rates, change money through banks. Although ATM transaction fees may be higher abroad than at home, ATM rates are excellent because they are based on wholesale rates offered only by major banks. You won't do as well at exchange booths in airports or rail and bus stations, in hotels, in restaurants, or in stores.


Internet Access: Internet Café, Uraniastrasse 3 01/210-33-11), in the Urania Parkhaus. Open Monday 10am to 6pm, Tuesday and Thursday 10am to midnight, Friday and Saturday 10am to 2am, and Sunday 10am to 11pm.


Passport Offices

The best time to apply for a passport or to renew is during the fall and winter. Before any trip, check your passport's expiration date, and, if necessary, renew it as soon as possible.

U.S. Citizens



Restaurant checks and hotel bills include all taxes.


Value-Added Tax

Switzerland's value-added tax is 7.6%.However, on any one purchase of 550 francs or more from one store, refunds are available to nonresidents for clothes, watches, and souvenirs, but not for meals or hotel rooms.


To get a VAT refund, pay by credit card; at the time of purchase, the store clerk should fill out and give you a red form and keep a record of your credit card number. When leaving Switzerland, you must hand-deliver the red form to an officer at the customs office at the airport or, if leaving by car or train, at the border. Customs will process the form and return it to the store, which will refund the tax by crediting your card.



Tipping is expected at the same rate as in the US.



is the two-letter country abbreviation for Switzerland and is displayed on currency and cars. Switzerland has four official languages, French, Italian, German and Romantsch

Hence, the choice of a Latin construct, Confoederatio Helvetica.

(The Helvetii were one of the native tribes in the area of Switzerland in Roman times, and Helvetica a Roman province.)



Arriving & Departing

By Air

Zürich-Kloten (ZRH) 7 mi north of Zürich, 1571060, is Switzerland's busiest airport and the 10th busiest in the world.

Flying time is just under two hours from London, seven hours from New York, 10 hours from Chicago, and 14 hours from Los Angeles.

Airport Transportation

Fares to downtown Zurich: Taxi $35; Train $5; Bus: $4. From Kloten Airport our preferred (and fastest) method of travel is by train. The airport station is below ground and adjacent to terminal 5; trains depart for the 12-minute trip to Zurich several times an hour, dropping passengers at Central Train Station. The considerably slower City Bus #768 departs every 10 minutes during peak hours - by bus the trip into Zurich takes 1 hour.


By Boat

The Zurichsee-Schiffahrtsgesellschaft, Mythenquai 333 01/482-10-33), offers regularly scheduled service on modern passenger ships as well as old steamers plying both sides of Lake Zurich. The service is operated from Easter to October, going from Zurich as far as Rapperswil.

By Car

From Basel, take N3 east, and from Geneva, take N1 northeast, going via Bern, where you'll connect with E4 and E17 heading east into Zurich.

By Train

Several trains bound for Switzerland leave from the Gare de l'Est in Paris. Without a stop, a train departs Paris at 10:43pm daily, arriving in Zurich at 6:45am. Other connections are via Basel. One train leaves Paris daily at 2:43pm, arriving 9:22pm in Zurich; yet another leaves Paris at 5:19pm, also going via Basel, arriving in Zurich at 12:06pm. From Munich, the Gottfried Keller Express departs daily at 6:15pm with a 10:23pm arrival in Zurich. The Bavaria leaves Munich daily at 8:15am, arriving in Zurich at 12:26pm. All trains arrive at the Zurich Hauptbahnhof 01/157-22-22).


By Bus

Zurich's bus routes function only as feeder lines from outlying suburbs, which lie off the train lines, into the vicinity of the town's railroad station.

slopes of the Z|richberg and Kdferberg hills into the Glatt River valley.


Finding an Address

In a system that developed during the Middle Ages, all Swiss cities, including Zurich, begin their street-numbering system with the lowest numbers closest to the center of town. In Zurich, the center is the Hauptbahnhof. All even numbers lie on one side of the street, and all odd numbers are on the other.


Getting Around Zurich

By Bicycle

Biking is a good way to get around Zurich, especially in the outlying areas. Bicycles can be rented at the baggage counter of the railway station, the Hauptbahnhof 0512/22-29-04). Hours are daily from 6:45am to 7:45pm.


By Car

the city is too congested for automobile use, and parking is scarce and expensive. If you have a car with you, plan to drive only when exploring the environs.


On Foot Zurich and its quays are ideal for walking, and many of the places of interest, such as the sights of Altstadt on both sides of the Limmat, are conveniently grouped together.


Bus & Tram

Zurich's combination of buses and streetcars, operated as the Swiss VBZ system, is terrific: efficient and inexpensive. Buy your single tickets, valid for 5 stops - at the vending machines situated at each stop. At Central Station you can purchase a 24-hour pass, which allows unlimited travel on the buses and trams.



Taxis are not easily found in Zurich and are among the most expensive in Europe.


Public transport in Zürich

S-Bahn commuter railway, bus, trams, ships and local excursion trains make up the extensive transportation network, known for its high level of comfort and unique tariff system based on fare zones. While your ticket is valid you are entitled to an unlimited number of rides in all directions on all public transport within the designated zones.


By Train

The Swiss Federal Railways, ( 0900/300300), has an extensive network; trains and stations are clean and service is prompt. There are straightforward connections and several express routes leading directly into Zürich from Basel, Geneva, Bern, and Lugano.

All roads lead to the Hauptbahnhof ( 0900/300300) in the city center.

Trains described as Inter-City or Express are the fastest, stopping only in principal towns. Regionalzug/Train Régional means a local train. If you're planning to use the trains extensively, get the official timetable ("Kursbuch" or "Horaire


By Tram

VBZ-Züri-Linie, the tram service in Zürich, is swift and on time. It runs from 5:30 AM to midnight, every six minutes at peak hours and every 12 minutes during non-peak times. All-day passes can be purchased from the same vending machines at the stops that sell post maps and one-ride tickets; tickets must be purchased before you board.

There is a comprehensive and unified bus, tram and S-Bahn service in the city, which includes boats on the Limmat River. Tickets allow you to switch between modes of transport as you like. A 24-hour city pass is available, and a 24-hour pass valid for unlimited travel within the whole canton of Zürich saves additional money.


Biking and Swimming on the Lake. In July and August, one can bike from Seebach station through the forest to Katzenruti where there are several places ideal for a picnic. After lunch, cycle to the Katzensee with its sandy beach, returning later via Affoltern. It takes about 1 1/2 hours to go the full 8 miles.


Road Conditions

Swiss roads are well surfaced but intricate and curving, especially in the mountains. There is a well-developed highway network.

A combination of steep or winding routes and hazardous weather means some roads will be closed in winter. Signs are posted at the beginning of the climb.

Drive on the right in Switzerland, except when merging into traffic circles, when priority is given to the drivers coming from the left.

Children under age seven are not permitted to sit in the front seat.


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