Zurich may be the largest city in Switzerland, but it feels like a charming small town. We’ve partnered with Kirsten Maxwell of Kids are a Trip to discover why the often overlooked business traveler’s destination is actually the perfect leisure escape for you!
The financial hub of Europe, Zurich is a melting pot of international cultures, but at the heart of it all, it is quintessentially Swiss. With it’s enviable location where Lake Zurich meets the Limmat River, it’s a must see spot. Here’s why you should add this incredible city to your travel list.
What to Do in Zurich:
Scenic boat ride: One of the best experiences in Zurich is to enjoy a boat ride on the lake. Head to the Bürkliplatz stop near the water and catch the commuter ferry. A round trip ride takes around 1.5 hours and provides beautiful views of the city and snow-capped Alps in the distance.
Beautiful views from Uetliberg: Hop on a train at Zurich’s main train station and ride to Uetliberg mountain, high above the city. The walking trails here offer stunning views of the city, lake, Alps, and the surrounding Limmat Valley. In the summer, it is perfect for hikes and bike rides, and in winter it lends itself to sledding.
Shopping in the Old Town: Bahnhofstrasse is Zurich’s main street and this pedestrian-friendly corridor houses everything from Cartier to the local co-op. Along the way are chocolatiers, boutiques, and banks, mixed in with restaurants and souvenir shops. It’s the go-to spot for tourists and locals alike, and worthy of a visit, even if you’re only planning to window shop.
Visiting the Museums: There are over 50 museums in the city, so it can be hard to choose a favorite. Definitely hit the Kunsthaus, home to Switzerland’s fine art collection, including Manet, van Gogh, and Kandinsky. The Swiss National Museum (Landesmusem Zürich) showcases the country’s history from pre-historic to present day through crafts, textiles, armor, and stories. It’s the best way to learn about Swiss culture and history in a few hours. Football (soccer) lovers won’t want to miss the FIFA World Football Museum featuring over 1,000 exhibits representing the sport. Each of the 211 members of FIFA are represented as the museum tells the story of how football became the world’s most popular sport. A must for all fans.
Admiring the Churches: One thing that is quite noticeable in Zurich are the church spires around town. Head to Grossmünster, a former monastery where Charlemagne discovered the graves of the city’s patron saints Felix and Regul and ordered the church to be built in tribute. Take time to go inside and climb the church’s tower (Karlsturm) for panoramic views that can’t be beat. Fraumünster was originally a church whose convent was occupied by the female members of the European aristocracy. It houses the breathtaking stained glass windows of Marc Chagall and is worth a visit to admire his artistry.
Where to Stay in Zurich:
The Dolder Grand: Built in 1899, this 5-star property sits on the edge of the Adlisberg forest, with a fantastic view of Zurich. This location allows guests to enjoy the city, but escape to the hotel and feel a world away.
From the second you arrive at The Dolder Grand, you can expect a luxury experience like no other. The historic property features over 100 works of art, including Andy Warhol’s “Big Retrospective Painting”, creating a unique setting for hotel guests.
There are two restaurants on site, the gourmet restaurant called The Restaurant by Chef of Fine Dining Heiko Nieder, and the all-day dining restaurant named Saltz. The Restaurant (2 Michelin stars, 18 GaultMillau points) serves fresh and innovative gourmet cuisine created by Chef Nieder. They have over 500 different wines available, and offer stunning panoramic views of Zurich, the lake, and the Alps. The Saltz restaurant (14 GaultMillau points), designed by artist Rolf Sachs, surprises guests with an international yet honest, straightforward cuisine and believes strongly in using traditional, locally-sourced products. Even locals say The Dolder Grand is THE place to go for a great brunch, high tea, or romantic meal.
If relaxation is on the agenda, don’t miss a day at The Dolder Grand Spa. This award-winning 4,000-square-meter spa offers a unique variety of treatments. The Aqua Zone features a large 25-meter swimming pool, sanarium, steam bath, the snow paradise and a reclining area with outdoor whirlpool with stunning views of the natural surroundings. You can relax in Japanese style in the wonderfully warm pebbles of the sunaburo.
Traditional wraps, massages, and scrubs are available, too. The spa incorporates the best techniques to ensure guests leave feeling completely rejuvenated and restored. With all that The Dolder Grand has to offer, it’s no wonder it was chosen as a featured Pit Stop Prize on The Amazing Race!
Where to Eat in Zurich
Adler Swiss Chuchi: For a traditional Swiss fondue restaurant, head here. Located on a quiet pedestrian side street, this charming spot serves up steaming hot pots of fondue and is a must stop in Zurich.
Zeughauskeller: This 15th century Swiss beer hall has a fantastic atmosphere with an equal mix of locals and tourists. The menu includes favorites like wiener schnitzel and sausage with plenty of hearty beer on draft.
Confiserie Sprüngli: A must visit for sweet treats and coffee. Famous for their Luxemburgerli mini macarons, this café is the perfect stop after a long day of shopping on Bahnhofstrasse. For those who prefer to linger, grab a sandwich or salad and head upstairs for a seat. The people watching from above the chocolate shop can’t be beat.
Hiltl: The world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant has several Zurich locations, each one featuring their own specialties. Portions are large, restaurants are lively, and the staff is always pleasant. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, stop here for a fresh meal that won’t disappoint.
Kronenhalle: Those looking for a more formal experience might like this restaurant which opened its doors in 1924 and has served renowned guests such as Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Pablo Picasso to name a few. The menu features seasonal specials and traditional meals served by a very attentive wait staff.
How will you spend a leisurely escape in Zurich?
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