Uster is a city near Zurich, Switzerland. Uster lies 350m above sea level, so it is just in the winter snow.
Uster is both a district and capital city in the Canton of Zurich. Being number three on the list of largest cities in the Canton, Uster has just over 30,000 people living there so the place is not that big. It is right on the lake called Greifensee so there is plenty to do in and around the water.
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History and Geography
Uster was first mentioned in the history books in around 775 with the castle – the Burg Uster – mentioned in the thirteenth century. It has quite a bloody history with mass executions and such, which were considered to be the cruelest form of punishment of its day.
In late 1830s, the male residents of the Canton of Zurich massed near Uster and lobbied for a new constitution. This is recognized as the pivotal event in the birth of the Swiss Federal State.
Half of the area is made up of agricultural land while about a quarter is forested. There are glaciers, mountains and rivers here too as well as the lake as already mentioned. In the distance, snow capped mountains are very evident so there is not much traveling involved if skiing or winter sports is on the menu.
Best time to go
June is quite a wet month with an average of 137 mm of rainfall. In general, expect at least thirteen days with rain. The driest month falls in October with just half that amount of precipitation but this still means about thirteen days where rain will appear. Of course, December and January are the coldest months.
Getting Around in Uster
Taxis in Uster are considered to be some of the most expensive in the world, so ordinary tourists will not find this very economical. However, there are two train stations with one being right in the center and the other one being on the border of Greifensee. Those who want to go to Zurich Hauptbahnhof can do so in just under fifteen minutes on the fastest train.
The bus depot is situated right next to the train station in the center of the city. Buses connect to the trains as they are also run by the ZVV network. One great way to get around on holiday is to hire a bicycle and there are plenty of outlets that hire them for a day or more.
The station of Uster is part of the ZVV S-Bahn network. The following lines pass through Uster:
- S5 from Zug (1 h 5 min) via Zurich main station (15 min), and from Pfäffikon SZ (30 min) via Rapperswil (20 min), two hourly trains.
- S9 from Schaffhausen (1 h 20 min) via Zurich main station (20 min) and ending in Uster, two hourly trains.
- S14 from Affoltern am Albis via Zurich main station (23 min), and from Wetzikon and Hinwil, two hourly trains.
- S15 from Niederweningen via Zurich main station (15 min), and from Rapperswil (20 min), two hourly trains.
All those lines operate roughly from 5:30 to 00:00.
For transport from Zurich airport, there is at least one change required. Either take a train from the airport to Zurich mains tation and switch there to the S-Bahn to Uster or take the Glatttalbahn (light rail line 12) to Wallisellen and switch to S14 service there. It’s not even much slower and saves you Fr. 4 on a full ticket. (Connecting over Zurich main station is Fr. 10.80, over Wallisellen is Fr. 6.80)
On Friday and Saturday nights, the special night services SN5 and SN9 stop in Uster.
Uster is the temporary end point of the A53 motorway, after the construction has been stalled by lengthy legal battles over clearing peatland. Coming from the A1 from either Zurich or Winterthur, the A53 forks of at Brütisellen. To get to Uster, you can take either exit Uster West, Uster Nord or drive until the end of the motorway in the east of Uster. It takes around 30 minutes from the airport near Zurich to Uster by car, or around Fr. 60-70 by taxi.
There is a boat service on the Greifensee as well, connecting Maur with Uster. The direct “commuter” boat drives all year around if weather permits.
Uster train station is located next to the bus depot. Although there is only one train stop in the city of Uster, the buses are also a part of ZVV network and travel throughout the city. A taxi stand is also located next to the train station, although Swiss taxis are some of the most expensive in the world.
Major attractions and Sights
Uster has its own small, but very beautiful, little castle that overlooks the lake and it is a great place to take photographs from.
The Uster Brewery has a great steam engine within its walls. Although it no longer produces beer, the steam engine is still quite a tourist attraction. Now it uses compressed air instead of steam and the shed which houses the locomotives has room for five engines. It also has a turntable where trains were turned around and this line previously served the Zurich Oberland route. There are occasional day trips for people to enjoy but these are advertised locally.
Hiking is a great idea when the weather is good and there are many routes that can be experienced. Local trails include the Uster-Bauma route which allows people to see how industrialization affected this area. Although the area was full of farmers on small parcels of land, they also had cottage industries in the manufacturing of textiles to make up their earnings. When industrialization took over, farmers turned to working in factories. With more goods to shift, transport was needed and this is how the railway came to Uster. Visitors can split this hike into two parts for a much easier trip although it is classed as an easy walk.
Most visitors would consider Uster lacks a few things to do and attractions, but it makes up for this by being an excellent base from where to enjoy the lakes and associated activities, to have easy access to snow sports in winter and probably the most attractive option, to explore Zurich, which is only 11 kilometers away.
Uster lies between two lakes. They are called “Greifensee” and “Pfaeffikersee”. Greifensee is the bigger one. When the sun is shining the rim of the lake is full of people, above all on bicycles and rollerblades.