Just a two hour train ride from Lugano, Zurich offers the best of Switzerland: cleanliness, elegance, safety, and charm — all with a palpable city vibe. While summertime offers a plethora of fun activities on Lake Zurich, the real magic of the city appears in winter. (I highly suggest visiting in December right before Christmas as the city spares no decorating expense. With multiple Christmas markets and lights on every street, it is a true winter wonderland.) So, start planning now!
The Dolder Grand is a five-star hotel that oozes luxury. The facade looks like a castle sitting mysteriously above the city, but the centralized location makes it easy to get everywhere. It boasts wonderful restaurants, as well as a spa, gym, and indoor swimming pool.
EMA House Hotel Suites offer the amenities of an apartment in the middle of the city. The rooms are decorated with simple, modern furniture and feel clean. A full, complimentary breakfast is brought to you daily. The company also offers apartments with kitchens and laundry access for longer holidays so you’ll feel like a true local. Reasonably priced, it’s perfect for the whole family.
Ona Poké is a casual, vegetarian-friendly Hawaiian restaurant that offers some of the healthiest poké bowls around. You choose a base (either quinoa, zucchini noodles, and black or white rice), and then choose a few of their many topping choices. (They also have the strongest ginger tea I’ve ever tasted, which is the perfect complement to the bowls.)
Hiltl Restaurant was the very first vegetarian restaurant to open in Zurich, and it’s no surprise it’s still around. Offering multiple options with an open buffet, you’ll find a plethora of locals here on their lunch breaks enjoying the healthy menu. For another option, try Tibits, the sister restaurant to Hiltl, which offers a more casual spot for vegetarian choices.
Kunsthaus Zürich, the city museum containing art from the Middle Ages through today, boasts an impressive permanent collection worth visiting. The museum is huge and it’s easy to spend hours inside wandering the various floors of well-curated shows — a perfect rainy-day activity.
The Migros Museum of Contemporary Art is supported by the Swiss popular grocery store chain, Migros. The contemporary art exhibitions always leave me thinking about the reality of society today. The museum book shop also offers a large selection of aesthetically pleasing books you know you don’t need… but really want.
Walking through Zurich, you are guaranteed to stumble upon shops and cafes that entice you to go inside. One of my favorite places to walk through is Old Town (Altstadt). Its buildings will transport you to an ancient past juxtaposed with the modern luxuries of Switzerland. Your stroll will lead you through churches and towers, all open to the public. End your walk in Bahnhofstrasse, one of the most expensive shopping avenues in the world.
Jelmoli, dubbed “The House of Brands” is a luxury department store that also hosts an incredible sushi bar that rivals any Japanese food I have tried elsewhere in Europe. Located on the bottom floor, in the food section, it is very easy to get distracted by the aisles of expensive chocolates and gorgeously displayed fruits and vegetables. The entire department store is worth checking out, and although expensive, the clothing they sell is beautiful and well-made.
After picking up fresh bread and Swiss chocolate from Jelmoli, walk along the lake and choose a spot to picnic in Enge Park. In the summer, it seems to be the liveliest place in the city, filled with people young and old playing music, barbecuing, and enjoying the sun.
Multiple bars make up Frau Gerolds Garten, a space overflowing with seating and lush greenery. It’s constantly filled with young, stylish people enjoying the countless nooks to cozy up in and have a drink. I personally love to come here during the day as the entrance also hosts local fashion labels with small storefronts that I always like to stop in before said drink.