The Zurich Tourist Office, Bahnhofplatz 15 (tel. 044/215-40-00; www.zuerich.com), is in the main railway station. It's open November to April, Monday to Saturday from 8:30am to 7pm and Sunday 9am to 6pm; May to October, hours are Monday to Saturday 8am to 8:30pm and Sunday 8:30am to 6:30pm.
Zurich lies situated on both shores of the Limmat River, which flows from the northern end of Lake Zurich. The Sihl River, a tributary of the Limmat, also flows through the city, and quays line the riverbanks and the lake. The city spreads across a ravine in the eastern hills between the wooded slopes of the Zürichberg and Kääferberg hills into the Glatt River Valley.
The hamlet that became Zurich began at the Lindenhof, which is where you, too, may begin your orientation to the city. This square is the architectural center of historic Zurich. From here, you can survey the city as it rises on both banks of the Limmat from Bahnhofbrücke (brücke means bridge) to Quaibrücke. Between these two bridges are four other spans over the river: Muhle-Steg, Rudolf Brun-Brücke, Rathausbrücke, and Münsterbrücke.
Below this square runs Bahnhofstrasse, one of the most elegant and expensive shopping streets in the world. It begins in the north, at the Hauptbahnhof (the railway station), opening onto Bahnhofplatz, and runs south to the lake. It crosses Paradeplatz, a converging point for trams and the modern center of the city. From Paradeplatz continue east, passing Fraumünster church and crossing Münsterbrücke to reach the right bank of the river. Here, the narrow streets of the Limmatquai are the second-best place in the city to shop. Running parallel to Limmatquai is Niederdorfstrasse, in the so-called red-light district of Zurich.
Old Town, or Altstadt, was developed during the early medieval period and is focused on Lindenhof, Fraumünster, Grossmünster, and St. Peter's. It expanded to Weinplatz, the oldest market square, and Strehlgasse. By the 11th century, the city developed on the right bank with such centers as Kirchgasse and Neumarkt.
Finding an Address -- 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.
Maps -- The best map, published by Falk, is a pocket-size Stadtplan (city plan) with an index. Copies are available at various newsstands and bookstores. Try the Travel Book Shop, Rindermarkt 20 (tel. 044/252-38-83; www.travelbookshop.ch). Hours are Tuesday to Friday 10am to 6:30pm, and Saturday 10am to 5pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.