If I had to describe Zürich in three words, it would be wealthy, vibrant and classy.
When you head out to the streets of Zürich, you will see it from the people, from the places they hang out, and from the local events and happenings. I recently left my Swiss home in Bern for a weekend of rediscovery in Zürich. Here are some recommendations for a memorable weekend stay in Zürich.
Go for a short round trip boat ride
As the second largest city in Switzerland to none, Zürich can be a bit overwhelming. I see those of you nodding who are spoilt by the peace and quiet of a small Swiss town. Because in Zürich, and especially around the main train station, there are crowds of people busying around.
Embarking on a scenic boat ride on Lake Zürich was the perfect way to kick off the weekend. A commuter boat heading to Erlenbach leaves from Zürich Bürkliplatz twice an hour. It is doing a loop and in nearly one and a half hours, returns to the same starting point.
Spoil yourself with a glass of wine at the boat’s restaurant and enjoy the views combining shimmering waters, city and snow-capped mountains. The sunset hour is particularly beautiful on the lake.
Have a vegetarian dinner at Hiltl
The Hiltl restaurant, known as the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world since 1898, was love at first sight for me. The à la carte menu offers delicious fixed meals. And at the buffet, you will find countless homemade vegetarian dishes waiting to be tasted.
The final meal on my plate consisted of a mix of different foods from three continents! Great food, elegant ambiance and a long, surprising history - this restaurant will not leave you indifferent.
Stay in class at Hotel Schweizerhof Zürich ****
At first glance, the interior of Hotel Schweizerhof Zürich looks like a part of the White House. (No wonder this historic hotel with its royal looks is highly favored among Swiss politicians.)
And if you have ever been to Zürich, you have likely passed by Hotel Schweizerhof. There are many reasons why I like lodging there: The top location across the main station, the five star service, tasteful rooms and indestructible peace. You will be surprised to discover that the hotel is like a peaceful oasis in the middle of a bustling city - triple insulated windows do the trick.
The Schweizerhof has undergone several renovations since its beginnings, yet it has managed to keep its "soul" and down-to-earth majesty.
At the classy in-house restaurant, “La Soupière”, you will enjoy an unhurried meal with the rest of the world bustling outside. If you are not staying overnight, it is possible (and worth it) to come by and indulge in the fantastic breakfast buffet before starting the day (38 francs weekdays, 49 francs weekends).
Stroll along the Bahnhofstrasse and do some shopping
Since I had the luxury of staying at such a convenient location, Zürich suddenly seemed a bit more relaxed. There was no need to take a crowded tram to go to the center, giving us more time to stroll around.
Bahnhofstrasse is one of the most popular and exclusive shopping districts in Switzerland. Sometimes called the city’s “golden mile”, this street boasts famous international luxury brands next to local businesses and budget shops. Whether you are looking for a new piece of clothing, watches, jewelry, a Swiss made souvenir or nothing at all, it is the place to go for (window) shopping.
On this nearly one mile long street, there is always an interesting mix of locals and tourists, of the rich and not that rich. Everyone has one thing in common: They are enjoying the buzzing city life that Zürich has to offer.
Visit a museum or an art gallery
Zürich has a high density of art galleries and is home to numerous renowned museums. Alas, it would be a sin not to visit at least one of them.
One of my favorite Zürich museums is the Museum of Art (Kunsthaus Zürich) which features one of the greatest art collections in Switzerland. Rated as No 1 of 52 museums in Zürich by visitors on TripAdvisor, Kunsthaus is home to the works of both Swiss and international artists, namely Monet, Munch, Van Gogh, Giacometti, Pipilotti Rist and others.
There is always something exciting going on. The current guest exhibition is The Berlin Years by the German Expressionism artist E. L. Kirchner. In case your Zürich city break is in the middle of the week, you can visit the main museum collection free of charge on Wednesdays.
Bonus: Have a drink at Clouds on top of the Prime Tower
Nothing else wraps up a trip to a city like enjoying a far-reaching view over it. When the sun goes down and the city lights start to flicker, the stylish Clouds bar on the 36th floor of the Prime Tower offers one of the best views over Zürich for one last farewell drink.