Get to Zurich Old Town
We flew in from our Reykjavik City Touring to get to Zurich Old Town. The Zurich Airport is the largest in Switzerland. We stayed in a hotel in Rumlang near the airport. The train from Rumlang to the Main Train Station in Zurich ran every 10 – 15 minutes and was an inexpensive way to get to Zurich Old Town. The Old Town starts as soon as you step out of the Zurich main train station.
Zurich Old Town – Limmat River Cruise
The Swiss National Museum is right beside the train station. You can catch a Limmat River cruise across the street from the train station. We started our Zurich Old Town Walking Tour by lining up for the river cruise. We hadn’t bought any Swiss francs for our two days in Switzerland and the cruise only took cash, so we continued our self guided tour of the Old Town by walking. This turned out to be a better choice. The low height and solid glass windows made the boat look very hot in the heat of the day. The glass also would be reflective for views of the Old Town. The low height of the bridges meant that you couldn’t stand up in the open air.
Zurich Old Town – Giacometti Murals
We headed south along the west bank of the Limmat River. Within a couple of blocks we reached the Police Headquarters where the Giacometti Murals are found. The site was being renovated, so we weren’t allowed in to view the murals. Through the doorway we did glimpse the impressive red glow on the arches and ceilings. I had to rely on a wikimedia picture to share what the Giacometti Murals look like. If I ever return to Zurich, I will definitely visit again.
Zurich Old Town – Niederdorfstrasse
After the Giacometti Murals, we crossed the pedestrian only Mühlesteg footbridge over the Limmat River to the east bank of Zurich Old Town. The Mühlesteg is also called the Love Lock Bridge because of all the padlocks on the bridge placed there by lovers. On the east bank, we found many narrow winding pedestrian only streets with shops and cafes that were mainly being enjoyed by locals. The best known street here is Niederdorfstrasse or Niederdorf Street. Most tourist walking tours of Zurich Old Town will visit Niederdorfstrasse.
Old Town Walking Tour by GPS
From the Niederdorfstrasse area, I needed my GPS to get back on track to visit the Grossmünster Church. Technology makes it easy to do an Old Town Walking Tour by GPS. The days of trying to read a map to find a destination are long gone. You see lots of tourists checking their direction on a smart phone and confidently continuing their tour. You can now pre-load your favorite destinations into a map and the app will do the rest. Doing an Old Town Walking Tour by GPS saved me from the frustration of being lost in Zurich. We easily found the Grossmünster Church. We checked out the unusual front door and peaked inside, but we decided to skip a visit to the interior. You can only visit so many churches in Europe before the experience becomes repetitive.
Zurich Opera House
After the Grossmünster, we still had enough energy in the summer heat to continue along the Limmat River to Lake Zurich and the Sechseläutenplatz. The Sechseläutenplatz is the largest public square in Zurich. The Zurich Opera House faces the square and beside it is the building housing the Neue Zurcher Zeitung newspaper. People enjoy sitting on chairs under umbrellas that are there for everyone to use. In April, the Sechseläutenplatz holds the Sechseläuten spring fair. Beside the square is a lakefront walkway where people were strolling and sitting along the shore of Lake Zurich.
Zurich Old Town – Fraumünster Church
After visiting the Zurich Opera House and Lake Zurich, we crossed back to the west bank of the Limmat River and walked to the Fraumünster Church. The Fraumünster Church is on bank of the Limmat River opposite from the Grossmünster Church. We chose not to visit the inside of the church because I hadn’t been impressed by pictures I’d seen of its stained glass by Chagall. This turned out to be a big mistake. I later discovered the frescos by Paul Bodmer were also inside, which gives me another good reason to return to Zurich.
Zurich Old Town – Schipfe
The last section of our Zurich Old Town Walking Tour led us in search of the Schipfe. The Schipfe is a narrow riverfront walkway. Our search took us past St Peter’s Church to a spot just below Lindenhof Park. The Schipfe was fun to experience even though its only a few feet long. The Schipfe waterfront walkway is just over one person wide. The ceiling over head is about 5 feet high. The walkway is directly against the river and the tight space makes the whole experience not only fun but a bit claustrophobic.
Zurich Old Town – Places to Eat
You will find lots of options for places to eat in the Zurich Old Town. The Niederdorfstrasse pedestrian area has lots of restaurant dining right on the street, which is very pleasant. The Haus Hiltl claims to be the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world. The Haus Hiltl buffet was in our plans, but we never made it there. The Coop to Go in the Zurich train station keeps serving fresh baked goods and pizza all day long, which we found irresistible. We packed a picnic lunch for our walking tour and never made it to Haus Hiltl. So, I have yet another reason to return to Zurich some day.