A Long Weekend in Zürich
A couple of weeks ago – although it seems like a lifetime away – I spend a long weekend in Zürich. As you’ll know from my last post on the Top 10 Reasons to Visit Switzerland, it was love at first sight! So here’s my Zürich City Guide, or a more in depth look at Switzerland’s biggest city.
See & Snap
Most of the city’s key sights are clustered around Lake Zürich and the Old Town. I began my exploring at Zürich’s Hauptbahnhof, or main train station. From there, I followed the tree-lined Limmat River to the steeples of the Old Town. Here, medieval residences act as gateways to narrow, winding streets.
I spent a good couple of hours ambling around the Old Town, stumbling upon Zürich’s famous Fraumünster and several smaller churches. I also discovered the Lindenhof Lookout during my wanders, which, although crowded, provided d great views over the Limmat’s left bank.
Still on foot, I made my way to the glistening shores of Lake Zürich, a popular spot for a sunny day stroll. A park curves along the right side of the lake; on the left, you’ll find some of Zürich’s most exclusive hotels, several boasting rooftop terraces. Clusters of boats, swans, and magnolia trees add to the sophisticated charm of Lake Zürich.
From there, it is only a short walk to Stadelhofen, with direct, frequent connections to the main train station. The station of Stadelhofen’s roof was clad in wisteria. Before hopping back on a train, I explored the neighbourhood behind the station for a bit – sunny villas and private hillside homes, including one of Wagner’s old residences.
Bahnhofstrasse, Zürich’s elite shopping street, also runs from Hauptbahnhof to Lake Zürich, a few blocks away from of the river. Call it the rain on my last day, but when I wandered around Bahnhofstrasse, I wasn’t impressed. Either by the architecture or by the boutiques. It’s pretty much what you expect of a street that has several Chanel shops.
Eat & Drink
I had several amazing dining experiences in Zürich.
Brunch: The Swissôtel has a fabulous brunch spread, where guests and locals linger over Swiss cheese platters, fresh croissants, a fruit and salad bar and hot food buffet with everything from dumplings to scrambled eggs. And unlimited coffee refills. Even if you aren’t staying at the hotel, the delicious brunch is definitely worth making the trek over to Oerlikon for!
Lunch: On my first day in town, I stumbled upon the Widder Hotel’s AuGust Restaurant, with its extensive menu showcasing local specialities and charcuterie. High end but low key, family friendly but sleek enough for a dinner date, I definitely recommend AuGust – especially for meat lovers. AuGust is set amidst charming Old Town streets, so it’s a perfect pitstop if you get hungry exploring!
Coffee: Even though I was travelling over Easter weekend, many of Zürich’s trademark cafés and restaurants remained open. One afternoon, led by my sweet tooth, I spent a couple of hours sipping a cappuccino and opéra at Confiserie Sprüngli‘s iconic Bahnhofstrasse café, which was bustling with locals picking up their Easter treats. While not the best opéra in the world, according to the French snob in me, it was fun to sit back, relax and soak up the scene.
Rooftop drinks: If you’re looking for a nice, quieter rooftop with lake views but away from the (pretentious) action, I suggest spending some time on the terrace of the Ambassador Hotel. Grab a drink from the lobby bar, and bring it upstairs to soak up the sun and panoramic views. It was getting chilly at 5 pm, but I can imaging that you’d get quite a sunset from the boutique hotel’s rooftop.
This was the first time I stayed at a Swissôtel – and I doubt it will be the last! I had a gorgeous room on the 19th floor. Bay windows meant I could wake up to sweeping views over the pretty Oerlikon neighbourhood. In the evenings, I could watch the sun set over the Alps.
On top of the amenities, such as a spa and infinity pool on the 32nd floor, the staff was courteous and friendly. Zürich’s Swissôtel is set a couple of stations away from the main touristy areas but in a lovely residential area. I really enjoyed walking around Oerlikon and discovering the parks, architecture and cafés. As you can imagine, I would 100% stay there again!