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inhabitants in the ZĂĽrich city and suburbs
inhabitants in the entire canton of ZĂĽrich (city plus 100 surrounding
GMT/UTC plus one hour. When it is noon in Zurich, it is 6am in New York City.
Most speak a form of German called SchwyzerdĂĽtsch (Schweizerdeutsch, in standard
German). In Zurich, people in the tourist industry usually speak English.
The city of ZĂĽrich
is situated at the northern end of the lake of ZĂĽrich 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 (Ăśetliberg/Uto Kulm).
ZĂĽrich 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 47Â° 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 â€ślayersâ€ť)
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, Zurichâ€™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 Yearâ€™s
May 1 Labor Day
May (late May)
(varies) Pentecost Monday
Aug. 1 Swiss
Dec. 25 Christmas
Dec. 26 St.
Banks & Offices
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
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 ZĂĽrich airport, shops are open on Sunday.
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.
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.
( 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.
dentists can be referred in case of emergency by the English-speaking operators
at Notfalldienst (Emergency Service) phones (01/2616100).
(ZĂĽrich UniversitĂ¤tsspital, Schmelzbergstr. 8, 01/2551111).
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.
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.
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.
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
Internet CafĂ©, 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.
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
and hotel bills include all taxes.
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.
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.)
7 mi north of ZĂĽrich, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Bus & Tram
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.
transport in ZĂĽrich
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
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 ZĂĽrich from Basel, Geneva,
Bern, and Lugano.
All roads lead to
the Hauptbahnhof ( 0900/300300) in the city center.
as Inter-City or Express are the fastest, stopping only in principal towns.
Regionalzug/Train RĂ©gional means a local train. If you're planning to use
the trains extensively, get the official timetable ("Kursbuch" or "Horaire
the tram service in ZĂĽrich, 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
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 ZĂĽrich saves additional
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.
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.