Travel Tips

Ufenau Island on Lake Zürich: An unexpected piece of paradise in the heart of Europe

Well, here I go: this is the first entry dedicated to ‘travelling’ in this blog. As a passionate explorer, I often hear friends telling me I should have a travel blog. Well, as much as I love travelling and talking about my trips, I am definitely not going to be writing a diary-like description of my vacations.  So yeah, my travel tips won’t be telling you how awesome famous landmarks and destinations are. They will be dedicated to those travel experiences, which I consider special, yet not really to be found in every guide book – something more like little secrets and unusual destinations.

Disclaimer: as much of a law-abbiding person as I am, I must say that some of my travel stories have crossed some lines of what is ‘politically correct’ to do. I am an adventurous person and at times, I choose to take some risks. So please, 1) don’t quote me for what I’m sharing here :-) and 2) follow my tips at your own risk.

So now let’s get started: This past weekend I was in a short trip to Switzerland, more precisely to Zürich and surroundings. While the whole experience was amazing and included a visit to Lucern, an icy summer adventure to the top of Mt. Titlis in the Swiss Alps, a night out in the street festival “Dörflifäscht”, among others, one thing can be named as the special highlight of the weekend: my visit to the Ufenau Island on Lake Zürich.

When I asked friends for recommendations of ‘must-sees’ in Zürich before my departure, some said I should go on a boat trip on the lake. And as I started my online research about the lake, activities to do around it and so on, that’s when I ran into the fact that the lake has two islands: the Lützelau and the Ufenau Islands. One thing led to another until I figured that my lake plans were more than fixed by the time I finished reading through several facts about the Ufenau island.

IT IS SPECIAL BECAUSE…

  • It is a very isolated place. Although surrounded by the busy waters of the lake and all the cities that populate the landscape all along the lake’s waterfront, the island is quiet enough for one to feel truly isolated. As I got there, I was the only person taking off from the boat that took me there, and during my 2.5-hour stay in the island, I did not cross any other person on my way.
  • It is extremely beautiful, both its nature as well as its buildings. As I walked around the island, I could see myself taking a step back in time. A church and a chapel both traced back to the 7th century are two of the half a dozen constructions in the Island, all of which mix beautifully with the vineyards and the country farm landscape.
  • I could connect to nature in a very special way – and that only a few minutes away from the closest town around the lake. The combination of its beauty and the lack of human presence around the island  left me with nothing else to do except connect to the nature surrounding me. Since it is a protected area, camping and swimming are not allowed. The moment was just too perfect to let the opportunity go, though. I just couldn’t resist those crystal clear waters on that beautiful summer day. And well, it’s not like I had a family barbecue party on the island, right? So yeah! I went swimming. :-) I found a very good place between the lake and the vegetation on the waterfront, where I could easily step into the lake, lay back and have a relaxing moment in those shallow waters while enjoying both the landscapes of the island and of the mainland.

HOW I GOT THERE

Very easy! I took a boat trip from Zürich Bürkliplatz with the main company operating routes on this lake, the ZSG. In fact, I took the early Sunday 8:05 boat, and had breakfast on the boat. There are several stops around the lake and not all routes stop in all of them. So make sure to check the time schedules in the website. Their schedules can be found under www.zsg.ch. The name of the station is “Ufenau Insel” and it takes approx. 1 hour and 50 minutes to get there.  The day ticket, which is the cheapest option, costs 26CHF and can be purchased directly on the boat.

WHAT I DID THERE

Upon arrival on the island pier shown with arrow (1) on the map, I took a walking trail around the island heading to my right. It took me less than 30min to be close to the starting point again. It is a very small island after all. As I was super hyper about the crystal-clear waters around me, I kind of rushed to find a spot where I could ‘hide’ to sneak into the water. And that spot is marked with arrow (2) on the map. In fact, one can notice that there are some ‘light’ trails marked on the ground (which means I’m obviously not the first to be going towards the water through that area.) All you need to do is literally step into the area covered with plants until you find some ‘walkable’ trail towards the water. Some parts of the shore are full of mud, so be careful. As I point out in the map, that little spot I found is actually awesome, clean and does not have a really muddy soil. Once there, clothes off, and into the water! It was a very nice and relaxing experience. I could see the little fish swimming around me. It was only nature and I. AMAZING!

Google Map View of the Island

OTHER TIPS

Please note that a restaurant runs 7 days a week in the main building in the island. I am not 100% sure how isolated one feels when reaching the island at different times, but I can assure that my Sunday 9.50am arrival was perfectly fine for this! I was the only human soul around there!

Be ready to be among several seniors having their coffee and reading their paper on the boat trip if you take the Sunday 08:05AM  route. I was the only under-50 guest on that boat – and with ‘under-50’ I am actually being super friendly with the over-60-only travellers :-)

SOME IMPRESSIONS

 

1 Comment on Ufenau Island on Lake Zürich: An unexpected piece of paradise in the heart of Europe

  • Jason says:
    25/08/2015 at 13:27

    Sounds like you had an amazing time! I enjoyed your post, the best travel stories are those special experiences
    Cheers
    Jason

    Reply

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