In December, children can ride around Zürich with Samichlaus on the Märlitram, a delightful holiday tradition. Samichlaus and a few angels welcome your children onto the festively decorated tram and tell them stories (in German) during the 20 min ride around downtown Zürich. Children aged 4 to 10 years old are welcome, but no parents. Here’s everything you need to know about how to get tickets and enjoy the event.
Tickets can be purchased at Jelmoli on the 4th floor (shown below), at the Märlitram booth at Bellevue or over the phone. You can buy tickets up to one week in advance and they sell out fast for popular days and times. The Jemoli ticket office is closed on Sundays, so for Sunday tickets, you can buy your tickets on the preceding Saturday.
There are about 25 tickets available for each time slot. Tickets are CHF 8 per child. They accept cash and cards. Parents may not accompany children on the tram.
If you want a specific day/time, it’s best to go to Jemoli at 9:00 sharp (one week before the day you want to go) to make sure you get the tickets you want. Sometimes the line can be quite long. One time I waited 40 minutes in line but I always got the tickets I wanted. I usually buy tickets for a bunch of friends so we don’t have to all wait in line.
If you’re a Jelmoli Card holder, you can order by phone starting at 8:30 (044 220 45 29 or 044 220 45 30). Have your Jelmoli Card and credit Card ready. Sometimes it takes a while to get through but it can be faster than people in the store. By phone, there is a limit on the number of tickets you can buy, maybe about 6.
You will also receive a coloring page for child, which they can complete and return to enter a contest. One of our friends actually won the contest a few years ago.
In 2017, the tram is running from 24. November through 24.December. The tram runs every day Mon-Fri from 13:25 to 18:50, Sat-Sun 12:10 to 18:50. The tram ride lasts 25 minutes. Be on time, it leaves punctually, every 25 minutes.
The tram ride
The tram ride starts and end at Zurich Bellevue, from a special tram stop at the south side of the Bellevue area, near this red booth. Arrive a few minutes before your tram is scheduled to leave and crowd around with the other kids.
Kids line up to give their ticket to Samichlaus and hop on the tram. It goes fast, so if you want a pic, push to the front of all the other parents clicking away.
The ride lasts about 20 minutes, which goes faster than you think. You have enough time to wander around the Christmas market across the street, but probably not enough time to go get a coffee. When the kids come back, the angels dust their noses with glitter and help them out of the tram. The end.
The ride is short, so we usually make the event into a longer evening by getting hot chocolate beforehand and food afterwards. Here are nearby places for hot chocolate:
- Cafe Felix across the street from Bellevue (Schillerstrasse 5, 8001 Zürich)
- Starbucks two blocks north of Bellevue (Limmatquai 4, 8001 Zürich)
We love eating our way through the Christmas market across the street. But sometimes it’s too cold and/or crowded for the kids at nighttime. So we often go for pizza at the nearby Vapianos, one block north of Bellevue (Rämistrasse 8, 8001 Zürich).
Tip: Märlitram tree ornament
To remember this special time, you can purchase a beautiful Märlitram ornament at Jelmoli. There’s a limited supply and they will sell out, so go early in December to get one. It’s expensive, about CHF 40, but worth it in my opinion as it will always remind us of Christmas in Zurich with our kids.
Getting there and parking
The tram ride starts and end at Zurich Bellevue, from a special tram stop at the south side of the Bellevue area. If you live in or near Zurich, it’s easiest to ride a tram to Bellevue or take the train to Stadelhofen and walk over. From Zürich HB, you can take trams 4, 11, or 17.
By car: It’s easiest to park in the Parkhaus Opera (Schillerstrasse 5, 8001 Zürich), which is adjacent to Bellevue. If that’s full, try the Parkhaus Hohe Promenade (Rämistrasse 22A, 8001 Zürich), which is two blocks from Bellevue. Both are very expensive, about CHF 4.50/hr depending on how long you stay.