You’ll soon discover that I am no good at surprises. This was my first attempt for my boyfriends birthday. I had this brilliant idea of booking us a trip over the bank holiday Easter weekend to Zurich, where my plan was to keep him in the dark until we had actually landed in Switzerland.
My typical impatient self booked our flights a good 6 months in advance as I found a relatively cheap deal. However, I suppose that’s when you could say the deals ended. I was pretty naive and didn’t realise how expensive Zurich, or Switzerland in general was. Being from London, I am fairly used to the overinflated prices so it had never really occured to me, but gosh was I wrong!
After finally coming to terms with the fact that this quick city break would be more than anticipated, with a heavy sigh I booked our hotels; 2 nights in Zurich and 1 night in Lucerne (at non-refundable rates…)
Unfortunately, my whole plan came crashing down when Oli got offered a work project on that exact weekend which he couldn’t pass up; this holiday now went from pretty expensive to almost double the cost . After paying extra to change the flights, I spent the next couple of weeks battling with booking.com to change the dates of our hotels. Whilst the one in Zurich kindly obliged, we had no luck in Lucerne. Since this meant we had to book an additional night, I had to involve Oli; and it was only fair that I told him where we were going. Surprise number one.. FAILED.
Nevertheless, all of this aggro was long forgotten once we arrived in Switzerland and both fell head over heels in love with this country. Europe was having some freak early heat wave in May when we visited, so the weather was absolutely glorious; perhaps it was all meant to be!
As we were travelling to and from both the airport and Lucerne via train, we stayed at the Walhalla Hotel for the first two nights in Zurich due to its close proximity to the station. If we were anywhere else, I would have expected much more for the price we paid (just under £200/night!). The room was relatively small and simple, and we were not overly impressed with the breakfast: However, we couldn’t fault the location and it did the job.
There’s no denying that Zurich is a beautiful and affluent city. From the minute we arrived, we could understand why it ranks high at being one of the most expensive city’s in the world. It just oozes wealth, with its clean cobbled streets, church steeples and pastel coloured window shutters; it wasn’t long before I exclaimed to my boyfriend that I wanted to move here. However, its real selling point for us was the pristine water which surrounds the area.
We actually spent most of our time in absolute awe over Zurich’s crystal clear and emerald coloured river (Limmat) which runs through the middle and flows out into Lake Zurich; a stark contrast to the river Thames at home!
We wandered through the narrow streets of the old town, admiring the historic architecture, cute cafes and shops, before arriving at the Grossmünster; one of Zurich’s famous church landmarks. We love a good viewing point and discovered that for 5 Swiss Francs, we could climb the steep and narrow 189 steps to the top. It offered 4 platforms which provided fantastic views of the city and the distant mountains.
Once we had explored the city by foot, it was time to get onto the water. We took a short roundtrip boat tour which took us about a third of the way around Lake Zurich (which is ginormous by the way!). It departed from Zurich Bürkliplatz and stopped off at various places around the lake, before returning; I liken it to a hop on hop off bus.
The journey in total took 1.5 hours which we believe was an adequate amount of time to take in the sights. Any longer and I think I may have gone green with envy; some of the lake houses were to die for! There was also a drinks service on board, so it was great to give our feet a rest and admire the gorgeous scenery with a beer.
What we really loved about this city, was its vibrancy. Whilst I am sure the abnormal weather was a contributing factor, it had such a lively and fun atmosphere, with everybody making the most of the outdoors, and the lake in particular. It was absolutely heaving, with something going on wherever you looked; whether that be people jumping off bridges into the lake, paddleboarding, renting pedalows or simply relaxing by the waterfront.
Before long, our two days in Zurich were up and it was time to head to a city called Lucerne which was an hour away by train (an easy and delightful journey where you get to admire the rolling green hills of the Swiss countryside). The main reason we were visiting was because I saw a picture one day of the most beautiful wooden bridge I had ever seen and I just knew that I had to see it in person. I later discovered that this bridge is what symbolises Lucerne.