Zurich (German: Zürich, Zuerich) is the largest city in Switzerland, with a population of some 364,500 in the city proper and close to 1 million in the agglomeration area. Zurich is on Lake Zurich, where the lake meets the Limmat River, in the north of Switzerland. It was one of the eight host cities in the 2008 European Football Championships.
Zurich is the largest city of the Helvetian Confederation (Switzerland) by land area and population. It's the financial center of Switzerland, houses the stock exchange and the headquarters of a large number of national and international companies. National and international media agencies as well as most of the national TV channel companies are also located here. As Zurich is the central node of the Swiss-wide train network and also runs the biggest and busiest international airport of the country, it generally is the first place for tourists to go to. Because of the city's close distance to tourist resorts in the Swiss Alps and its mountainous scenery, it often gets referred to as the "portal to the alps".
Contrary to some belief, Zurich is not the capital of Switzerland-- that honor falls to Berne. Zurich has long been known for being clean and efficient. Due to this, it has been continuously ranked as the city with the highest living standard world-wide for many years. However, only for the last ten years has it truly become a fascinating and worthwhile travel destination. This is mostly thanks to the liberalization of the cultural, party and gastronomy sectors. An increasingly cosmopolitan population has helped, as well, though more button-down Geneva remains Switzerland's most culturally heterogeneous city.
The Zurich dialect of German (which sounds very different from standard German) is the city's main spoken language, a relatively peculiar type of Swiss German, but speakers of this dialect invariably also understand and speak standard German. Many people will understand English, French, or Italian as well.
Zurich Airport (IATA : ZRH) (German: Flughafen Zürich-Kloten) is Switzerland's largest and busiest airport run with Swiss efficiency. It is actually in the community of Kloten and it is a 12 minutes by train from central Zurich. The trains depart about every 10-15 minutes but early morning and late evening connections are a bit less frequent, so if you travel at these times check the schedule . A single ticket to the Hauptbahnhof costs CHF 6.20. Several bus lines connect to the airport and provide access to the Winterthur region.
Most major airlines fly to Zurich but SWISS is still the Swiss flagcarrier and covers the biggest part of the international traffic at the airport. Almost every large hotel in Zurich provides shuttle buses from the airport to your hotel. The stops for these buses are a short walk to the right from Terminal 1 arrivals.
Zurich Airport has high passenger costs due to several noise reduction and approach restrictions. Most no-frill airlines fly to Basel which is 1.5 hrs away by train. EasyJet resumed its flights to Zurich in 2007 after a three year absence and Air Berlin offers several flights to Germany.
Regular trains to and from other Swiss and European cities leave from and arrive at Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, conveniently located in the city center at the end of Bahnhofstrasse, with easy access to mass transit. The Zurich Hauptbahnhof (HB) is served by the local S-Bahn commuter trains, InterCity (IC and ICN) connections throughout Switzerland, Italy's Cisalpino , Germany's ICE, France's TGV , and various other direct night train services to/from as far as Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Lecce, Barcelona, Budapest and Beograd.
For train times and tickets, visit the SBB or Deutsche Bahn websites, although you may not be able to book many international journeys online through these websites. If you are already in Europe, your local train station office should usually be able to book these trains. A rail pass may make your trip cheaper. For more long-distance international journeys, visit Seat61 for more information.
The train station and the connecting underground mall has shops, restaurants, and a grocery store which locals use when they need to do Sunday shopping, as it is not subject to the closing hours laws otherwise in force in the city.
Almost every highway in Switzerland leads straight into Zurich. This might be quite easy for tourists, but is also really painful if you have to cross Zurich on a daily basis.
The main bus station is next to the main train station, where the river Sihl flows into the river Limmat.
Many buses arrive there from other European cities, mainly southern destinations like the Western Balkans or Spain. There is a bi-weekly bus to Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina (look for "Cirih").
As Zurich is located at the end of lake Zurich, it can be reached by boat from other lake villages, e.g. Rapperswil at the upper end of the lake.
Zurich is famous for its highly efficient, clean and safe public transport system. The network includes trams, buses, S-Bahn (local trains) and even boats for the lake and river. The size and complexity of the network may be daunting at first, but you will soon realize that there are dozens of ways to get from one place to another and following any of them will still be efficient.
Tickets must be purchased from a ticket machine before boarding or from one of the ticket selling kiosks. The ticket machines might be intimidating at first glance, but simply get a "Tageskarte Zone 10" (day card valid for 24hr) for 8.00CHF by pushing the green button (a single ride costs 4.00CHF). The ticket covers the city and should be enough for most tourists' needs, except perhaps the Uetliberg, which is not in Zone 10. This ticket is valid for all trains, trams, buses, boats and cable cars in Zone 10, so take a trip on the lake or river with the same ticket! If you are not sure whether your destination is in Zone 10, possible destinations (with their respective code) are listed at each vending machine. Punch in the code and the price will be displayed. Note: Not all machines contain this green button (at least S-Bahn stations and Hauptbahnhof). Is there any special code for purchasing this ticket from those machines?
The Swiss Pass is valid on all public transportation in Zurich, and if you are a tourist visiting most of Switzerland, this may be your best way to saving both money and time spent trying to figure out zones, routes, and fare options. Eurail passes are valid only on the S-Bahn and boats. Interrail passes are valid on the S-Bahn (although the ZVV website claims a "reduction" for other routes for Interrail holders). Nevertheless, you may find you don't need the trams and buses if you don't mind walking around a little.
There are many other special offers on tickets for tourists so ask at the tourist information center, your hotel or visit the Zurich Public Transport Authority (Zürcher Verkehrsverbund ZVV). The ZVV is a regional agency that coordinates fares and schedules for the region's different transit companies. The ZVV's website has maps, links to transit providers in the Zürich area, and trip planning information.
Several tram lines and buses (some electrified) cover the city at street level. Like all other public transport in Zurich, you purchase and validate tickets before boarding, or risk a fine if they decide to spot check. The most surprising thing about trams and buses in Switzerland is that they are extremely punctual and you can find a schedule at every stop accurate to within a couple of minutes.
The 'S-Bahn' (suburban rail) is Zürich's regional rail system, used mainly by commuters but also a good way to get to many destinations outside the city center. Zürich's S-Bahn system provides convenient and fast service throughout the region. Most of the lines pass through the Hauptbahnhof. The ZVV offers directions for a series of excursions on the S-Bahn. One popular destination (not mentioned on the ZVV website) is Stein am Rhein, a restored medieval village on the river Rhine which can be reached using the S-Bahn number 29 from Winterthur.
You must have a validated ticket before you board. If you do not have a ticket you will be liable for an on-the-spot fine of 80CHF.
There are two types of boat-based public transportation operated in Zürich: river buses and lake steamers. The river boats operate in the summer months only and the lake boats operate on a much reduced schedule during the winter.
The river buses operate between the Landesmuseum (near the Hauptbahnhof) along the Limmat River and out in the Zürichsee (Zürich Lake) to Tiefenbrunnen. There are several stops along the Limmat River.
The Zürichsee Schifffahrtsgesellschaft (ZSG) operates lake steamers which leave from Burkliplatz (at the end of Bahnhofstrasse). The ZSG's website provides information on destinations and ships. The ZSG offers a variety of tourist-oriented trips (including Jazz Brunch, and historic restored steam ships), and a popular trip is to Rapperswil at the south end of the Zürichsee. The town has a beautiful castle overlooking the lake surrounded by a medieval town.
The main train station, old town and the lake promenade and all nearby tourist attractions are easily walkable. You may find that you don't need transportation for most of your tourist needs once you get into the city.
You can "rent" bikes, skateboards etc. for free from 7AM-9:20PM daily May-Oct at several places in Zurich and year-round at the central train station. This offer is called "Züri rollt (German only)". You can get and return the bikes at several locations: the bikegate just next to the central station, next to the "Globus City" shopping center, next to the opera, or at the Swissotel in Oerlikon. If you can't find these places, don't hesitate to ask some locals, they should know at least the bikegate at the central station. The Zurich Transit Company, VBZ also provides information about these bikes in English . Nevertheless, you shouldn't count on it because sometimes the "rent" spots run out of bikes.
Driving in Zurich is possible but it is painful as the city center is not easy to navigate by car.
Most of the interesting sights are in the old town around the river and lakefront.
Landesmuseum , +41 44 218 65 11, Tu-Su 10AM-5PM and most public holidays including M, Museumstrasse 2, The biggest Swiss history museum. You can also learn about the various traditions of the cantons comprising Switzerland. It's currently undergoing major refurbishment works until 2009 though many exhibitions are still open.
Kunsthaus , +41 44 253 84 84, One of the major Swiss art museums. Its specialities are modern sculpturer Giacometti and the surrealist 18th Century painter Fuseli, both Swiss. Entry is free to the main collection Wednesdays.
Schanzengraben, A small canal that used to be part of the city fortifications between Limmat and Sihl. From the main station, go to Gessnerallee, find the stairways down to the tiny creek, and walk all the way to the lake.
Langstrasse, Red light district of Zürich, with more drug dealers and police than usual, but interesting because even this most notorious spot in Switzerland is so clean and safe. The area is the most overtly multicultural spot of the town. In recent years, ateliers and stylish bars start to coexist side by side to the about 15 strip clubs.
Lake Promenade, Especially during summer, the lake is a beautiful place to spend the evening or the weekend. Starting from Bellevue, the boardwalk goes for about three kilometers along the lake towards Tiefenbrunnen. About halfway from Bellevue there is a meadow where you will find thousands of people on a sunny day.
Chinese Garden , +41 44 435 21 11, This small but beautiful Chinese garden was offered to the city of Zurich by the Chinese city of Kunming as symbol of gratitude after Zurich helped Kunming with technical knowledge.
Le Corbusier House , near Chinese Garden, A beautiful, modern villa planned by the famous Swiss architect. The visiting hours are very limited (i.e. one day / week only in the summer) and entry is expensive. Additionally, there is a legal battle between the city (owner) and the long time tenant.
Lindenhof, The hill in the heart of the old town. A beautiful view of the city and one time location of a Roman fort.
Niederdorf, The old town offers beautiful alleys, restaurants and shopping mainly aimed at younger consumers. In the evenings, people visit the Niederdorf's many bars.
Bahnhofstrasse, One of the busiest and best known shopping streets in the world. Highly refined. Certainly a must-see for every tourist in Zurich! (see below).
Museum Buehrle , +41 44 422 00 86, Zollikerstrasse 172, A rich private art collection worth visiting - although a little less rich after a recent brazen robbery in broad daylight. Call ahead, as it's currently not open during regular hours.
Zurich West, This modern quarter used to be an industrial one, but modern urban developments made it into a center of vibrant night life.
Take the Polybahn, a 19th century funicular, up the steep hill for a fine view. Starts at tram station Central and goes up to the ETH. Zone 10 ZVV ticket is valid. Nice terrace up there. During the week, the student cafeteria below the terrace is also open to the public.
Go skiing by train — Buy a snow'n'rail ticket (train & skipass) at the Hauptbahnhof during winter months, train out in morning, back in evening. Flumserberg is the closest large ski-resort, popular with people from Zurich, with a good range of runs for beginners and experts. Retreat to the right side of the resort if the rest gets busy.
Take a trip on the Zürichsee with one of the two old steam ships. There are a few different routes you can choose from, which will vary mainly in the distance. Or rent a small rowboat.
Go up Uetliberg, a hill overlooking Zurich. You can hike up, or take a train from the main station. Enjoy the 360 degree view from a tall viewing tower (not for vertigo sufferers!). This is also the start of the planetenweg (planetary walk), an 8 mile walk along the ridge with models of the planets along the way. These are scaled down in true proportion to the solar system. To look at Zürich from the other hills, go to the Irchel (Tram station Milchbuck) or Käferberg (Bucheggplatz, walk up the hill and keep left of the forest).
Go club-hopping — Zürich has proportionately the largest number of clubs per capita in Europe. Pick up a free copy of the 20 Minuten (20 Minutes) paper and start exploring.
Go for a bike ride! You can get free bikes, skates or other fun transport at several stops throughout town. Beware though that biking within the city is only for the experienced, as trams and buses frequent the roads and tram tracks are a serious hazard to inexperienced cyclists.
The Grossmunster sometimes has organ concerts in the evenings. Check the front door for notices.
Explore the full and vast selection of foods and condiments available at any Swiss supermarket, heavily influenced by cultures of all the countries around Switzerland. Migros is everywhere and cheap for Swiss standards; Coop is slightly more expensive but has a greater selection of high quality foods; Globus at Lowenplatz has a more upscale supermarket in the basement which is worth at least a browsing.
Streetparade, — Currently the biggest open air techno rave in Europe. It happens one day each year on the second Saturday of August, during which trucks which function as mobile soundsystems ("Love mobiles") start driving along the lake side, starting from the east at Utoquai and ending at the west at Hafen Enge. Every year this event attracts nearly a million visitors who dance in the streets to the music which you can hear from anywhere in the city. After the Streetparade the party doesn't stop, there are open air parties along the route until midnight and club parties at various locations in town until late the next day, to keep the party going. Don't be surprised if the city's cleanliness isn't up to its usual standard the next day.
Swiss national day, August 1st — Celebrations are carried out in many cities in the evenings and fireworks are launched at night. Watch them over the lake, or if you're experienced with safely launching fireworks yourself, you can buy them in the days leading up to the national holiday and have fun. The display over the Rheinfall, one hour away by S-Bahn, is also extremely popular.
Züri Fäscht, which occurs every 3 years (next in 2010), is a weekend festival celebrating Zurich.
Rote Fabrik (Red Factory) , An old silk factory converted to a center of youth culture and art in the 80's. The Red Factory became one of the most exciting parts of cultural life. An artists coop, a couple of kilometers south, form along the west bank of Lake Zurich. They have a variety of events, including music, film, and theater.
Schauspielhaus , +41 44 258 77 77, Schauspielhaus Pfauen, Rämistrasse 34, 8001 Zürich, Tram stop Kunsthaus, Zurich's Schauspielhaus is one of the most important theatres in the German speaking part of Europe. The Schauspielhaus has several locations, the most important one being the Pfauen. Students can get really cheap last minute tickets (10 minutes before the show) if they show their student ID. The best seats, if available, costs 20 CHF that way.
Opernhaus , +41 44 268 64 00, Falkenstrasse 1, CH-8008 Zurich, Tram stop Opernhaus, or take the S-train to Stadelhofen, The Zurich Opera house shows frequently changing productions of world famous operas. As with the Schauspielhaus, students get a big last-minute discount. The best seats costs 45 CHF for students.
The quintessential Zürich dish is Zürigschnätzlets, veal in a cream and wine sauce. Various kinds of grilled Wurst (sausages) are also popular. These are most often accompanied by boiled potatoes, Rösti, a Swiss potato pancake (grated potato, formed into a pancake then pan fried until crisp in butter or oil) or Chnöpfli, in German sometimes called Spätzle, (small noodle dumplings).
Veal is still very popular, though the use of turkey and other meats as a substitute is growing.
While Fondue (melted cheese in a central pot, dip bread into it) and Raclette (cheese melted in small portions, served with potatoes and pickles) are not really local to Zürich (they come from the Valais region of Switzerland) they are commonly available at restaurants aimed at tourists.
The bread available in Zürich is generally delicious. There are many varieties, and your best bet is to go to a bakery or a supermarket in the morning or just after work hours, when most people are doing their shopping and bread is coming out fresh.
Try grilled Bratwurst from street stands, served with a large crusty roll of sourdough bread and mustard, or sandwiches made with fresh baked Bretzeln (large, soft pretzels). A typically Swiss bread is the Zopf, a braided soft bread that is commonly served on Sundays (the other name for it is Sonntagszopf).
For breakfast, try a bowl of Muesli, which was invented as a health food in Switzerland. The Sprüngli confectionery store tea rooms serve a deluxe version of this fiber-filled cereal with whole milk, crushed berries and cream.
There are a huge variety of cheeses available at the supermarkets, specialty stores and markets, as well as all kinds of hams and dried sausages. Dairy products are generally delicious, especially the butter. Do not miss the supermarkets! You should take a thorough look through Migros or Coop and maybe even assemble your own lunch or dinner some time. Even the cheap, budget prepackaged desserts in the supermarket exceed the quality of what you may be used to.
For those with a sweet tooth, there's a huge variety of chocolates to enjoy, from the cheapest chocolate bar to individually hand-made truffles. (See the Shopping section above). The chocolate bar displays at the supermarkets will overwhelm you! Also enjoy pastries and cakes from the various Konditorei scattered around town. In pastry shops, you can also find special pastry from Zurich: The most famous of them probably is Tirggel, a rather hard pastry made of flour and honey. Although traditionally made and eaten during the Winter holidays, many pastry shops (including larger supermarkets) sell them throughout the year. Often, they've got sights of Zurich printed on the top, can be stored for months and thus make up a pretty good and cheap souvenir. Another famous type of pastry are Luxemburgerli exclusively sold by the confectionery chain of Sprüngli (part of the famous chocolatier Lindt & Sprüngli). A typical cake is the Mandelfisch, an almond cake shaped like a fish.
Like most European cities, Zürich abounds with cafés where you can enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee, glass of wine or other beverage, and watch the world go by.
There are many international dining options available too. The current hot trend seems to be pan-Asian noodle/rice/sushi places. However, due to the far distance to the sea and the lack of original, well-trained Chinese/ Japanese cooks, the quality cannot live up to that of the original countries. Instead, the Italian cuisine holds the highest popularity among the foreign restaurants. They can be found throughout the city and are relatively cheap. Turkish fast food restaurants are also a delicious, cheap option.
Vegetarian food is easy to find throughout the city. Vegans may have a little trouble because cheese is used generously in most food, but should be fine living off supermarkets at the very least. Hiltl, the first vegetarian-only restaurant in Europe, is also worth a visit. You choose from the buffet, where your meal is priced by weight or from a variety of à la carte menus, which are a bit more pricey, but include vegetarian/vegan versions of popular Swiss meals like Züri-Gschnätzlets or Beef Stroganoff amongst Indian food and classic vegetarian plates. Another vegan friendly restaurant is "Bona Dea", which is located directly at Zurich Mainstation.
Baba's take-away part of the Restaurant Pumpstation is located direct at the lake promenade (south of Banhof Stadelhofen). During the summer (April-October) serves fresh grilled sausages, ribs, and chicken for about 6 to 10 Francs.
Lee's take-away, Preyergasse 8 (in the Niederdorf). Stand-up place serving excellent large portions of Asian food. Special student dishes under 10CHF.
Pizzeria Molino, Limmatquai 16 (near Stauffacher), +41 044 261 01 17. Pizzas and pastas in a relaxed setting.
Ah-Hua, Ankerstrasse 110 (next to Helvetiaplatz) offers delicious Thai dishes to budget prices. Great pit-stop in a Langstrasse pub crawl.
Rheinfelder Bierhalle, Niederdorfstrasse 76 (at the beginning of the Niederdorf, near Central), +41 44 251 57 09. In this huge and smoky restaurant you get good-value food and rich portions (only try the Jumbo Jumbo Cordon-Bleu when really hungry). Cheap beer.
Millennium Restaurant, on Limmatplatz (Limmatstrasse at Langstrasse) (right across the X-tra bar). Offers great pizzas, large hamburgers, spicy kebabs and other Italian and Turkish dishes at reasonable prices. Staff is very friendly and service is great. Perfect for lunch or a late-night snack.
Vorderer Sternen Grill, 22 Theaterstrasse. Zurich's most famous sausage stand next to the UBS bank building at Bellevue. Red or white sausage for 6CHF, piece of bread and (hot!) mustard is included.
The Migros and Coop supermarkets (several branches all over the city) are good places to assemble an inexpensive and delicious picnic lunch consisting of freshly baked bread, cheese or ham and fresh fruit. Migros Gourmessa is the 'gourmet' takeaway counter, available in larger Migros stores including the Migros City branch at Löwenstrasse. The Coop Bahnhofbrücke branch near the main station also has a small fast-food restaurant. Note: the Migros branch in the main station is open on Sundays when most other stores are closed, and also until 9PM on weekdays.
Jelmoli, St. Annahof and Manor department store restaurant for a cheap buffet lunch, good salad and vegetable stands. All located at Bahnhofstrasse and open during the day
Rosalys, Freieckgasse 7 (near Bellevue), +41 044 261 44 30. Typical Swiss food including Älplermacrone (pasta with apple purée). Excellent cocktail bar, too.
Commercio, Mühlebachstrasse 2 (near Stadelhofen station, Mühlebachstrasse) +41 044 250 59 30. Excellent pasta and a busy atmosphere.
Commi-Halle,Stampfenbachstrasse 8 (near Central), +41 044 250 59 60. Italian food served late.
Swiss Chuchi, Roseng 10, (in the Niederdorf), +41 044 266 96 66 . A kitchy place serving up classic Swiss fare, mainly for tourists. Serves fondue year-round.
Zeughauskeller, Bahnhofstrasse 28a (near Paradeplatz), +41 044 211 26 90. Offers hearty sausages, stews, rösti potato etc. in a Brauhaus-like setting. Touristy, but good and large portions. Housed in a historical building, built in 1487. Open 11:30AM-11PM.
Bierhalle Kropf, In Gassen 16 (just down the street from the Zeughauskeller), +41 044 221 18 05. Offers beer hall fare such as sausages and pork shanks in a somewhat refined setting. The restaurant features a beautiful painted ceiling.
Globus Bellevue — This relatively new branch of the Globus department store in the Bellevue near the Stadelhofen station is totally dedicated to food. There is a large eatery on the ground floor that serves various fusion-type foods (decent noodle bowl) and a passable sushi bar. The ground floor has a gourmet food market, and upstairs there are kitchen wares.
Sprüngli Paradeplatz, at Paradeplatz. The flagship store of the Sprüngli confectionery store chain has a beautiful turn-of-the-century style dining room upstairs that is extremely popular for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Choose from the menu or from the gorgeous display case filled with beautiful cakes, tarts, open-face and regular sandwiches. Try the muesli! Great people watching too, since this is the place for an after-shopping snack for the rich ladies of Zurich.
King's Kurry, Freyastr 3, (next to Bahnhof Wiedikon), +41 43 268 48 28. Offers a good value daily Indian lunch buffet.
Masala, Stauffacherstrasse 27, (near Stauffacher), +41 44 240 03 61. Tasty Indian cuisine.
Tibits, at Seefeldstrasse (behind the Opera house). The fast-food outlet of Hiltl, Europe's oldest vegetarian restaurant. Offers a nice self-service buffet of fresh veggies and fruit and a surprising variety. Try the freshly squeezed juices.
Outback Lodge, Stadelhoferstrasse 18 (at Bahnhof Stadelhofen), +41 44 252 15 75. Unrelated to the U.S. Outback Steakhouse chain. Enjoy Aussie tucker like ostrich, kangaroo, and crocodile, as well as more conventional fare. Popular with locals as well as expats. Has a hopping bar scene (see Drink section). There's also a branch in Winterthur.
Iroquois, Seefeldstrasse 120, +41 44 383 7077. Tex-mex food in the trendiest part of town, with the best margaritas in Zurich.
Tiffin's, Seefeldstrasse 61 (between Kreuzstrasse and Feldeggstrasse), +41 44 382 18 88. Great place for Asian food. Crowded, closed on Sundays.
Lily's, Langstrasse 197, (between the railway and Limmatplatz), +41 44 440 18 85. Great Thai and other Asian food. The curries are particularly good and come in huge portions. Come before 7PM or after 9PM if you don't want to wait.
Nooba, Kreuzplatz 5, +41 43 243 60 06. Pan-Asian noodle bar, a short walk up the hill from Stadelhofen station. Stylish setting, attentive and multi-lingual service and a broad selection of freshly prepared noodle, rice and curry dishes.
Ristoranto Toscano, Schmidgasse 17, . A very good Italian restaurant in the old part of the city (Niederdorf). You should try the Spaghetti al Bacio! Closed for lunch on Saturday and all day on Sunday.
Restaurant Eisenhof, Gasometerstrasse 20. Has the warm feel of an old pub. The house specialty is horse steak, served on a hot stone with fries.
Mesa Restaurant , +41 (0) 43 321 75 75, Weinbergstr. 75, 8006 Zürich, 17 points from Guide Gault Millau and one star from Guide Michelin proves that traditional kitchen with catalan influences as one of the best restaurants in Zurich
Kronenhalle, Rämistrasse 4 (at Bellevue), +41 44 262 99 00. The city's most famous restaurant where all the glitterati go to see and be seen. Good Swiss food and heavenly chocolate mousse are one reason to go, the opportunity to dine among original artwork by famous Swiss and European artists (who payed in paintings instead of money) the other. Dress nicely, and treat yourself to a drink at the classy bar before or after your meal. Mains 30-65CHF.
Widder Hotel, Rennweg 7, +41 44 224 2526 High-class food in a cool setting. The hotel has a trendy bar, great piano music, cool red leather decor, and halogen lighting. Mains 20-50CHF.
Zunfthaus Zur Waag, Münsterhof 8, (near Bahnofstrasse), +41 44 216 99 66. Very authentic Swiss high end restaurant. To ensure your meal does not get cold, they split your order into 2 plates and bring you one at a time. Mains 25-50CHF.
Le Dezaley , +41 44 251 61 29, Römergasse 7, Near the Grossmünster Cathedral in a street connecting Limmatquai and the Niederdorf, Traditional French-Swiss food from the French-speaking Kanton Waadt (Vaud). One of the best fondue restaurants in Zurich. Mains 25-40CHF.
Coco Grill & Bar , +41 (0) 44 211 98 98, Mo-Fri 10 AM-2:30PM & 5PM -Midnight, Sa 5:30-Midnight, Bleicherweg 1A , next to Paradeplatz, Grill restaurant that offers set menus for lunch and a menu surprise for dinner (either fish or meat). Also has a good wine selection and very nice in the summer due to a small garden
The restaurants at the top of the Uetliberg are great to combine a nice view of town (a hike in the summer) and some great food. It also has a cheaper self-service area.
Zurich is the financial center of Switzerland and most travellers come with an expense account. The hospitality sector focuses therefore mostly on the 4 and 5 star sector. Zurich is known for its superb hotels, but these won't come cheap. Best is to go on a company rate, because rack rates are sometimes ridiculous.
City Backpacker/Hotel Biber , +41 44 251 90 15, +41 44 251 90 15, Niederdorfstrasse 5, In the old-town, a few minutes walk from the main station, The most convenient hostel for backpackers. There are shared bathroom and cooking areas.
Youth hostel , +41 43 399 78 00, +41 43 399 78 00, Mutschellenstrasse 114, 2 kilometer, 15 minute tram ride from the center, A little way out of the center, but the city is easily reached by public transport (take the S-Bahn to Wollishofen and walk over the hill). A clean and sleek facility, if a little quiet.
Martahaus, Zaehringerstrasse 36, +41 44 251 45 50 (Fax +41 44 251 45 40, email: email@example.com), . A "clean and friendly" place which doubles as a hostel and a one-star hotel, this is one of the few hotels in Zurich which goes out of its way to proclaim itself "gay-friendly". They also have weekly and monthly rates for rooms, as well as a couple of studio apartments. 40-150 CHF (dormitory bed to double room with a shower). (current as of December 2008)
Otter, Oberdorfstr, 7, +41 44 251 22 07 (Fax: +41 44 251 22 75), . A good hotel for the price. The rooms have been decorated with the kind of care that one normally expects in a much more expensive hotel, each with its own theme. You can choose from the jungle room with its hammock, or the pink Carmen, or go for the top floor apartment. Each floor's three rooms share a bath, shower and toilet (WC), with the exception of the apartment which has its own shower. 115 CHF for a single room, 150 for a double, and 200 for 2-person apartment (240 for 4-person apartment).
Hotel Splendid, Rosengasse 5, . This hotel is relatively cheap. The rooms are clean but spare. Private showers and bathrooms are not available, you share with your floor. What is really great is the location, right close to the Gemüsebrücke and the city center! 62CHF for a single, CHF160 for a 4-person room, plus 2.50 City-Taxe per person.
Etap Hotel, Technoparkstrasse 2, +41 43 276 20 00, Fax : (+41) 44 276 20 01; website: . This hotel is in a great place if you want to party. Located in Zurich West, next to some great bars and restaurants. The rooms are clean and comfortable. 90CHF (low season) to 155CHF (high season) for a single room, and from 100 CHF for double/triple occupancy. For Zurich, this is cheap. Located near a tram station, which takes 10 minutes to get to the main train station.
Hotel Schäfli, Badergasse 6, +41 44 251 41 44. Fax: +41 44 2513476. The location is the draw in this somewhat run-down hotel. Situated in the old-town near the station and just by the charming Niederdorstrasse, where there are tons of bars and restaurants. The shower has a timer. Be sure to get all the coins for the shower you need by Saturday, as the reception desk closes on Sundays. 102 CHF for a double room.
Hotel Adler, Rosengasse 10, +41 (0)44 266 96 96, Fax +41 (0)44 266 96 69, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Clean rooms and breakfast is included in the price. They have a terrific restaurant attached and associated with the hotel that has delicious fondue. The hotel is in a great area for foot exploration. With many bars, restaurants, and cafes all within a few minutes. They have a single computer on the 2nd floor with free internet access. 110-230CHF single room; 180-310CHF double)
Ambassador à l'Opéra , +41 044 258 98 98 , +41 044 258 98 98 , Falkenstrasse 6, CH-8008, Four star boutique hotel situated in the town center, opposite the Opera House and only ten minutes away from the main station Hauptbahnhof and 30 minutes from the Zurich airport. Newly renovated and exquisitely decorated. Single room from 220CHF, two-person room from 390CHF in the low season.
Claridge Hotel Zurich , +41 44 267 8787, +41 44 267 8787, Steinwiesstrasse 8-10, Four star hotel located within 5 minutes walking distance from Bahnhof Stadelhofen. The theater and the museum of art are just around the corner. Single room from 190CHF, double room from 230CHF.
Helmhaus , +41 44 266 95 95, +41 44 266 95 95, Schifflände 30, Three tram stops with tram number 4 from the main station. Located directly next to the Limmat in the old town of Zurich. Very traditional four star hotel with first-class service, style and modern comfort. Single room from 230CHF, double room from 300CHF.
Rex , +41 44 360 25 25, +41 44 360 25 25, Weinbergstrasse 92, Three star hotel, 5 minutes by tram number 7 from the Hauptbahnhof. All rooms are non-smoking. Single room from 158CHF, twin room from 194CHF.
Wellenberg, +41 043 888 44 44, +41 043 888 44 44, Niederdorfstrasse 10, The four star Art Deco Hotel Wellenberg with its idyllic inner court terrace is in the car-free old town of Zurich, 10 walking minutes from the Hauptbahnhof. The rooms are modern and elegant. One-person room from 290CHF, two-person room from 370CHF.
Palais Kraft, Kraftstrasse 33, +41 44 388 84 85, Fax +41 44 388 84 86, email: email@example.com, . Three luxury rooms in Zurich's most prestigious residential building. Located 2 kilometers from the center, above the university district at Toblerplatz (Trams 5 and 6, direction Zoo), in the heart of Zurich's prime residential area. The rooms come with a large well-stocked fridge, kitchenette, 32" or bigger flat screen TV, wireless internet access, and open to the terrace of the Palais Kraft. Beginning at 385 CHF per room/night, including continental breakfast, soft drinks, snacks, internet, local calls, and all taxes. 330CHF double-bed guest room with bath and kitchette.
Designer Hotel Greulich , +41 (0)43-243 42 43, +41 (0)43-243 42 43, Herman-Greulich-Strasse 56, CH-8004 Zurich, Located in the heart of Zurich's vibrant Aussersihl district, the stunning Hotel Greulich is a haven of style and comfort with a renowned gourmet restaurant. Online booking.
Hotel Widder, , Rennweg 7, +41 44 224 25 26. Best hotel in town, known for excellent service and unique location in the old town, but just 1-2 min from Bahnhofstrasse. Prices from from 600CHF single room up to 1500CHF for 1 bedroom suite.
ALDEN Hotel Splügenschloss, , Splügenstr. 2, +41 44 289 9999. A small and intimate five-star boutique hotel in Zürich, located on a quiet side street, near the lake shore and Bahnhofstrasse. The hotel comprises of two restored landmark buildings and has a modern interior.
Zurich has numerous camping sites, in true Swiss style they are usually very clean, all the sites are the the southern end of the city, normally in river valleys (for obvious reasons). Most campsites close for the winter.
For shopping in Zürich there are three different areas in the center:
Bahnhofstrasse, which runs from the Zürich Train Main station "Hauptbahnhof" right down to the lake. Bahnhofsstrasse is famous for being one of the most exclusive and expensive shopping streets in the world. Here you can get anything from diamond rings to chocolate to fur coats. Globus and Jelmoli are two fiercely competitive department stores, both of whom carry items from many high-end brands.
Niederdorf, which is the Old Part of Zurich and expands from "Bellevue" by the Lake right to "Central" which is just over the River from the train station. The Niederdorf is more for young people. Aside from a lot of fast food places you will find a lot of trendy clothes stores here.
Löwenstrasse, which runs west of Bahnhofstrasse from the main train station, has lower range shops and a large branch of Migros, a department store chain.
You may be disappointed to know that most of the cheap watches and clocks in Switzerland are imported from China and Japan for their cheap quartz movements (including most of the wall clocks and alarm clocks sold at department stores, for example). Don't purchase a "Migros Budget" clock for 8CHF thinking it is a Swiss clock! Nevertheless, real Swiss-made clocks are still well-known for their quality and reliability, and intricate mechanics. The following are true Swiss-made watches:
Swatch, possibly your best bet for a "cheap" Swiss watch (40-100CHF) and perhaps better suited for the younger generation. Available in their stores on Bahnhofstrasse and various other locations, or in department stores.
M-Watch, based on both Mondaine and Migros and available in Migros Electronics stores such as the one on the 2nd floor of the Lowenplatz location. Also relatively inexpensive (40-100CHF). Do not confuse this with "M-Budget" which is an imported cheap watch.
Mondaine is known for their use of the famous SBB railway clock face. You can buy a replica of the SBB clock as a watch or a wall clock in most major railway stations, among other locations. However, you should note that most of them do not replicate the hallmark smooth movement of the second hand for 58.5 seconds followed by the 1.5 second pause that is characteristic of real SBB railway clocks, but they do replicate the clock face. They are quartz, and the price may seem a little inflated to you (130-180CHF). The vast majority of SBB railway clocks are actually produced by Mobatime (Moser-Baer AG), not Mondaine, even though Mondaine's name appears on some of the larger clocks such as the Treffpunkt in Zurich HB. Mondaine's wall and desk clocks, however, are only of "Swiss design" and are manufactured in China and Taiwan.
Mid-range brands (100-500CHF) can be found at clock and watch stores throughout the city. Just walk in and have a look if you're interested.
Upper-end watches and clocks, such as Rolex, are also sold, but you should probably do more research into them than you can find here. If you just want to stare at some of the most expensive watches for sale, take a look at the Bucherer store window at Bahnhofstrasse and see what a 25,000CHF watch looks like.
Frey is the number one in the Swiss Chocolate market and is mainly sold in Migros and Denner supermarkets. It is offering a premium quality for a customer friendly price. Having a market share of more than 45% it well established in the market. Chocolat Frey is 30 minutes away from Zurich and offers factory tours for free. It is 100% Swiss and produces as one of the only Swiss manufacturers from bean to bar all by itself. It also is present in more than 50 export markets. In Export it is very often available under Private Label offers such as those from Marks & Spencer, Loblaw, Tesco, Coles, Woolworths and many more.
Lindt is available at the Coop and other supermarkets besides Migros for 2-2.50CHF, but Lindt chocolates are also sold at the factory store, a 15-minute walk from the Kilchberg S-Bahn stop. Alternatively, take the bus 165 from Bürkliplatz (lake-side end of Bahnhofstrasse), after ca. 12 minutes you reach the stop called "Schooren" which is located directly at the factory. Hours are limited (M-F 9AM-5PM). The factory store prices are somewhat lower than supermarket prices (on the order of 10-20%), but there are some sale items, including factory rejects (for underweight chocolates, improper packaging, or filling showing through) that are sold for roughly half-price. If Germany is on your itinerary you can also stop at the Lindt factory store in Aachen which is huge.
The Lindt factory used to offer tours and free samples, but this is no longer the case.
The larger Coop supermarkets carry many brands, including Lindt, Camille Bloch, Goldkenn, and others, including all sorts of alcohol-filled chocolates.
Sprüngli — A Zurich institution that offers a variety of sweet and savory goodies including a wide variety of chocolates, from hand-made truffles to special chocolate bars. There are locations throughout the city, including Bahnhofstrasse and inside Zurich HB. Some specialities include the Luxemburgerli, a sort of soft macaroon resembling a hamburger in looks but is actually completely pastry and cream, and comes in a variety of flavors; the Truffe du Jour, a chocolate truffle that is made daily from raw cream and is meant to be consumed immediately; and the extraordinary Grand Cru Sauvage truffle, made from wild cacao beans from Bolivia. Most items are rather pricey but worth it. The flagship store on the Paradeplatz is a very popular spot for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Try their berry-filled muesli, it's like no other muesli you've ever had. There are two handy stores at the Kloten airport for last-minute gifts to bring home.
Coop City in Bahnhofstrasse sells the Victorinox line at uninflated prices, although you won't get additional bells and whistles like customized faceplates or engraving. Many other department stores also carry them.
Any cutlery shop will probably carry both Victorinox and Wenger lines of products. However, do make sure they are not inflating the price. For example, a SwissChamp (possibly the most popular model) should be retailed around 78CHF.
Flohmarkt Bürkliplatz (Fleamarket), Bürkliplatz (in the Bellevue area near the Stadelhofen station). May-Oct Sa 6AM-3:30PM. Fairly relaxed yet large flea market with many interesting stalls.
Pastorini Spielzeug, Weinplatz 3 (near the river). A high-end toy store.
There is an English language bookstore at the intersection of Bahnhofstrasse and Rennweg.
Zürich, like most cities in Switzerland, is relatively safe. Nevertheless, be on guard for thieves and pickpockets. Carry your wallet or purse in a secure way, not in your hip pocket or a backpack outer pocket.
In recent years, certain areas along the lakefront are frequented by young people who sometimes try to pick a fight when they are drunk. Do not let them provoke you, as they are likely to be there in numbers and will use any excuse to go at you.
Public Transportation is very safe. You can use it without any special precautions.
If you decide to bicycle in the city, understand that Zurich is a city of public transportation. Beware of tram tracks which can get your wheel stuck and send you flying into traffic, of the trams themselves which travel these tracks frequently (and may scare you into getting stuck into the track as just noted), and the buses, which make frequent stops in the rightmost lane. In short, bicycling downtown should be only done by those experienced with cycling with such traffic.
Switzerland has a very strict labor market. You will need a work permission visa and promotion from an employer.
For citizens of the old EU-15 states the bilateral agreements makes it easier to gain a temporary work permit typically for 5 years that is renewable if you have worked. Often a 1 year permit is issued to EU applicants, as such candidates can repeatedly renew even these 1 year permits. Legally, EU applicants have the same status as Swiss applicants when applying for jobs (employer does not need to justify hiring them, and must hire them in preference to non-EU/non-Swiss applicants if skills are equivalent).
For all other citizenships you need a company behind you and you must have skills that are rare in the Swiss (or EU!) labor market.
Working without permission can lead to a night in prison and deportation depending on you and the agreement with your home country.
Zurich has a lot of places to go out. There are a lot of clubs, restaurants, cafés, bars but also many museums and theaters.
The most common drinks in Zurich include: Beer, Swiss white wine (e.g. Fendant), Swiss red wine (is delicious), and Spanish red wine (is generally good value here). At apéro time (after work), you will find many people drinking a Cüpli (glass of sparkling wine).
Bierhalle Wolf , +41 44 251 01 30, +41 44 251 01 30, Limmatquai 132, At the northern end of the old-town, facing the river, A lively beer hall often with live music. In addition to the beer selection, they serve great local food.
Nachtflug, Stüssihofstatt 4 (Niederdorf). Stylish, coffee and some snacks during the day, large choice of drinks at night.
Outback Lodge Stadelhoferstrasse 18, (at Bahnhof Stadelhofen), +41 44 252 15 75. Australian in theme, drinks and food, but also well visited by the locals.
Blue Note, Stockerstrasse 45. Jazz club, quite expensive but great atmosphere.
James Joyce bar, Pelikanstrasse 8. Where the writer himself used to go. Now mostly frequented by bankers.
Oliver Twist, Rindermarkt 6. An Irish/British style pub with a good atmosphere, and many English-speaking foreigners.
Öpfelchammere (apple chamber), Rindermarkt 12. Not a real pub or café, they only serve wine or water. But if you succeed in climbing over the roof beams, you get a free glass of wine to drink hanging upside down and you can mark your name into the wood afterwards.
Widder Bar, Widdergasse 6. By far the best stocked whiskey bar in town, with a separate whiskey menu containing 250 single malts. In the famous hotel of the same name.
Corazón, Zähringerplatz 11, +41 44 261 09 59. A Spanish themed bar with a good selection of wines and excellent service.
Bohemia, Kreuzplatz, (just up from Stadelhofen). Trendy place popular for its coffee during the day and an even better nightlife. Usually a popular place for college students.
Barfussbar , 20h-24h Wed, Thu, Sun, summer only, Stadthausquai, a 3 minutes walk from Bürkliplatz along the Limmat river, During the day this is a public bath for women only. But at night (after 8 o'clock) men are also allowed. It is a beautiful place to spend a warm summer night with a great view of Zurich.
Rimini , 7:30PM-12AM, Sa 5PM-12AM, only in summer and only when it's not raining, Schanzengraben, Go down Badweg from Talstrasse, Another open air bar. This one is at the men's public baths. Really cool atmosphere because of the nice colored lights and the straw mats and pillows.
Casablanca, Langstrasse 62, (near Helvetiaplatz), +41 44 241 60 00. Cool, modern setting.
Total Bar, Tellstrasse 19, (a block east of the Langstrasse). Tiny bar serving a range of Zurich's microbrews. There's always good music.
4. Akt, Heinrichstrasse 262, (near Escher-Wyss Platzfor), +41 44 271 03 68. Teens and tweens love this place.
Hard One, Hardstrasse 260, (near Escher-Wyss Platz), +41 44 444 10 00. A roof lounge on top the Cinemax complex. Older crowd, very expensive, but stylish.
Acapulco, Neugasse 56, (near Langstrasse). Bar with comfortable seats and on week-ends quite crowded. Every Sunday is karaoke evening.
Zurich has proportionally more clubs than any other city in Europe. You will find anything from very "fancy" clubs to places you can just chill. If you want, you can go to a club every night. There is always a Club that has a party going and Zurich's young make sure to splash all their income on going out. A lot of clubs are located in the so called Zurich West (District 5). The internet site usgang.ch is a good place to look up what's up.
K5-Club, Hardturmstrasse 171, +41 44 440 04 90.
Rathauscafé, Limmatquai 61, +41 44 261 07 70. Coffee and a croissant in the morning, moving over to sparkling wine in the afternoon and early evening. Nice terrace in the summer. Mixed crowd, friendly service.
Cranberry, Metzgergasse 3, (opposite Rathauscafé), +41 44 261 27 72. Very crowded on Fridays and Saturdays 8PM-midnight, before the boys head to the clubs.
Barfüsser, Spitalgasse 4. Once Europe's oldest gay bar, it has now been converted into a fancy and large lounge and sushi place. Has a relaxed atmosphere and mixed crowd.
T&M Disco club, Marktgasse 14, and Aaaah house club, . Open daily, but only crowded on Friday and Saturday. Share the same house and entry ticket at Marktgasse 14, you can switch atmosphere as much as you like. 23CHF cover charge on busy nights.
Sunday Trash, Schiffbaustrasse 3, +41 44 272 44 02. Gay and Lesbian party in Labor Bar, Schiffbaustrasse. Place to be on Sunday night, 9PM-3AM, 10CHF cover charge.
Permanence Hauptbahnhof at the main train station provides urgent out-patient care for tourists without prior appointments. There is also a dentist downstairs at the station. For serious emergencies rush to "Kantonsspital", the university clinic which has a 24/7 emergency ward. Tram stop "Universitätsspital" (look out for the golden boy in front, then follow the red "Notfall" signs). They will not send away people with serious, urgent health problems. Ambulance phone number is 144.
If you're on a budget, don't stay out too late — the "N" night buses only run on weekends. When they run, they run only once per hour and you must purchase a Nachtzuschlag for 5 CHF from the machine and validate it before boarding. On work nights, there is no public transportation at all after about 12:30AM (although expensive taxis still exist in case you're stuck).
Stores are generally closed on Sundays including all supermarkets in the city, except those in the main train station and airport.
On Sundays, there are supermarkets open at the following train stations: Zurich main station, Enge, and Stadelhofen.
Avoid reaching/visiting Zurich on 1 May. The city is on a Labor Day/May Day holiday. The trams don't run for half the day so getting around could be a problem. Also, there could be some minor violent outbreaks and damages to cars.
Zurich has two police departments, the Stadtpolizei Zurich which is responsible for the city area and the Kantonspolizei Zürich which is responsible for the whole region. With approximately 1800 and 3000 employees, these departments are the biggest in Switzerland. While police officers in Zurich will happily help you out if you are in trouble or need an information, they are also known for approaching "suspicious" persons in order to check their papers. This procedure is annoying, but legal as you will probably have a hard time proving you were not acting suspicious. Carry a photocopy of your passport and your onward ticket with you, stay calm and polite and you probably won't have much trouble.
Short excursions from Zurich:
Winterthur — Since in winter there is little to do outdoors, people flock to this city, the city of museums.
The Rheinfall, a large-volume waterfall. Take the S-Bahn to Winterthur and change there for another S-Bahn to the station called Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall.
Schaffhausen — Pretty town located very near the Rheinfall, but accessible even faster than the Rheinfall by direct IC and ICE trains.
Stein am Rhein — A pretty town, accessible by S-Bahn.
Rapperswil — Pretty town on the other end of the Zurichsee, accessible by S-Bahn or boat, famous for its rose gardens.
Lucerne (Luzern) — Pretty city, home of the transport museum, and further excursions possible, less than one hour away by train.
Arth-Goldau — Your gateway to the Rigi railway, also less than one hour away.
Other further away easy excursions from Zurich include:
Sankt-Gallen — Famous for its convent and extremely ornate Stiftsbibliothek. Also the point of access for the Appenzeller Bahn system, which can take you to the pretty town of Appenzell where there is a cheese factory you can visit.
Solothurn — A very pretty baroque town, accessible by frequent ICN (direct) and R (via Olten) trains.
Basel — Near the triple point between France, Germany, and Switzerland.
Access to most other parts of Switzerland is extremely easy, thanks to the efficient and frequent SBB train system. Other locations easily accessible from Zurich worth a complete visit in their own right include:
Berne — The capital of Switzerland, nice looking city, one hour away by IC train.
Chur and Landquart — Although not so much to see within these cities, they are your starting points for exploration of the nature-rich and mountainous canton of Graubünden and the Rhaetische Bahn system which runs over naturally scenic routes.
Interlaken — Your gateway to the Berner Oberland, an incredibly scenic part of Switzerland with some of the highest peaks in the Alps. You can continue from there using the (also incredibly touristy) Berner Oberlandbahn to the Lauterbrunnen valley and beyond, or get off somewhere and hike away from the touristyness if you are fit for it.
Jungfraujoch, you can definitely take a day trip from Zurich, although there is so much more that the Berner Oberland offers that you'll be missing if you don't spend more time there. Tip: The direct Zurich-Interlaken trains run via Bern. However, if you have time to spare, try reaching Interlaken by going to Luzern first and then taking a train from Luzern to Interlaken (Golden Pass or Zentralbahn). It's a much more scenic route.
Lausanne is 2 1/2 hours away by train and is a gateway to the Lavaux vineyard region.
Geneva is three hours away.
The Italian-speaking region of Ticino, including the fortified city of Bellinzona are up to three hours away.
The canton of Valais includes the famed Matterhorn in Zermatt and other gorgeous scenery, but is a little harder to reach from Zurich as there are no direct trains to these areas. Nevertheless, if you know where you are going, can give you the schedules.
The Schwarzwald (Black Forest) of Germany is also easily accessible from Zurich. ICE trains run every two hours during the day to Stuttgart, stopping at Rottweil where you can find decent connections to most places in the Black Forest. There is also the Bodensee ("Lake Constance") which you can reach by good connections to Konstanz.
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