The recent hot weather phenomenon has not only brought about a plethora of roof terrace “grill parties” but also seen almost everyone Zurich take to the water.
The wonderful thing about Zurich, which seems to contrast with nearly every other inland European city, is that it has a high quality of water and this means that you are able to actually swim in its rivers and lakes. The result is a huge success and nowhere can this be more clearly seen than by the banks of the Limmat or more specifically at Oberer Letten (called the Letten by locals).
For those of you unaware of the Limmat it is the river which flows into and out of Lake Zurich, part of this river is a shallow stony basin and another part transforms into a canal, originally for industrial purposes, but which seems to have a much higher popularity with the local bathers during the warm summer months.
Located on the north bank of the river just 10 minutes north of the hauptbahnhof, Letten is an integral part of the summer social scene and on sunny days the river side is packed with people sunbathing rotisserie style inbetween frequent dips, as well as volleyball players, people barbecuing and lots of just general sitting down and hanging out. The laid back beach atmosphere will nearly have you believing that you’re at the Costa del sol but without the annoying sand.
The best thing about the Limmat though is that local businesses have managed to develop along the banks of the river and beer, drinks and food are available for not an overly unreasonable cost (by Zurich standards), as well as some deck chairs, tables, grassy areas and even for the brave, bridges for some high adrenaline jumping. The bridges as yet remain a personal goal left unchecked for me.
If you don’t feel like paying out for food at the bars however you can always bring your own or nip over the more northern bridge to the conveniently placed Migros supermarket. Here you can pick up some food from the deli, or snacks and drinks from the very large supermarket located underneath. Sun cream is also an important factor (factor 30) for those of you considering a longer afternoon by the Limmat and while the sun here is not as strong as in the south of Spain for example it still has a good effect, especially on those of us not used to being frequently exposed to anything more than rain.
I personally go to swim, relax and read a book, so if this is what you are also after, here are just a few tips when finding somewhere to sit;
- Don’t sit near the ladders that come out of the water – everyone climbing out gets the deck and you really wet
- arrive early – these days it choc-a-bloc so the earlier the better, saying that small groups will usually find a place
- Avoid larger groups and standing people – especially if these people are playing annoying music and talking loudly
- try and avoid the bins – they don’t seem to smell too much but people will be constantly walking over you to put stuff in
- if you’re going to sit on the grass bring a blanket
So with the good weather set to continue into the weekend, get your swim suit out, jump in and enjoy.