Nothing’s more frustrating than having a long layover or single day stop somewhere and wanting to explore but not quite knowing where to start, giving up before you’ve even begun… Only have one day in Zürich? Here’s what you should do, sights to see, and most importantly, where you’ll want to eat. Zürich’s city center is easily reached from the airport via the direct, non-stop 10 minute train – check out www.sbb.ch for up to date timetables and fares. With the help of the following tips and a little extra reading before arrival, you’ll have no excuse not to get out and explore one of Europe’s historic gems… Thank me later!
Breakfast: Lindt is now as synonymous with Switzerland as is cheese, watches, and alpine scenery. The chocolatiers took Swiss chocolate global and became a household staple; what is Easter without the iconic gold rabbit? If you’re looking to splurge on the calories, you’ve come to the right place; nothing screams indulgence more than the freshly baked and handcrafted pastries and chocolates. Start your day off on the right foot with breakfast at Confiserie Sprüngli at the Paradeplatz on Bahnhofstrasse. The Birchermuesli – a quintessential Swiss overnight oats favorite filled with creamy yoghurt and berries – is one of the best, but the extensive menu has plenty of other options. Satiate your sweet tooth after with one, or a few, of the irresistible Luxemburgerli – a smaller version of the french macaron. You might find the rich pralines and truffles on display too tantalizing to pass on – after all what’s an extra bite or two?
From the Paradeplatz, wind your way along the narrow streets of the city’s old town, finishing off on Renweg and then on to Bahnhofstrasse – Zürich’s main shopping strip. Spend the rest of the morning splashing some cash or simply window shopping, admiring the tree-lined walking streets and the traditional architecture.
Lunch: Take a break with a quick stop for lunch in the area before heading across the river. Restaurant – Boucherie AuGust on Renweg is a modern take on the more traditional Swiss cuisine. Slightly heavy on the meat – boucherie or butchery is in the name after all – there are still a few vegetarian salads, soups, and sides options… And fear not, the portions definitely aren’t on the skimpy side. If you’re looking for something that’s not a ‘sit-down’ meal, Bahnhofstrasse’s newest vegan hotspot Roots is a must try. With a mix of salad bowls, sandwiches and soups on the menu, everything is lovingly crafted, resulting in ‘fast’ food that both looks and tastes incredible. Think of it as Zürich’s take on Sweetgreen, serving up hearty healthiness.
If it’s a rainy day – which sorry to say, is quite likely – the Kunsthaus Zürich – Museum for Modern Art in Zürich is the perfect place to get lost inside of for a few hours. Impressively curated with a large permanent collection featuring everything from Swiss and German altar panels dating back to 1500, to Europe’s most important Monet collection outside of Paris, it’s a good option for escaping the rain and cold outside. The entrance fee? At CHF. 22 and CHF. 17 for a concession ticket, admission prices definitely offer value for money.
Afternoon Tea: Péclard at Conditorei Schober is the city’s finest. With cosy tea rooms and a generous terrace for the sunnier summer days, this places oozes with the quaint romantic charm of a bygone era; everything from the large antique cash register up front to the lusciously opulent decor all lend to the charm. Oh, and the cakes and pastries? It’s safe to say that these little beautifully crafted masterpieces are rather delectable.
Finish the afternoon off with a walk along the riverside Limmatquai promenade, past one of the skyline’s most prominent features, the double towered Grossmünster church. From next to the church, look back across the Limmat towards the skyline’s second most prominent church, with the Fraumünster’s faded teal spire towering over the grey cobbled streets.
Sundowners: Cross back over the Limmat and sit alongside the river to enjoy some downtime with this season’s it-drink, the Aperol Spritz, in hand. The Hotel Storchen’s ground floor Barchetta riverside bar and terrace offers some of the Niederdorf’s best unobstructed views back across the river, busy businessmen and tourists alike buzzing past. Time permitting, hop aboard the Limmat’s water taxi during the summer months at the hotel’s private stop right in front of the terrace. Stopping every 30 minutes, this hour or so long river cruise offers a uniquely different perspective of the buildings neatly lined along the river bank. If the riverside views could be topped, it’s done at the • • • Rooftop Restaurant, perched above the bustling Bahnhofstrasse atop Modissa’s flagship store. Home to an eclectic mix of modern fusion gastronomy, stay for more than just drinks and enjoy the Asian inspired fare, digging in to Dim Sum whilst soaking up the fun atmosphere, and more importantly, incredible views.
Dinner: If you still have space, and energy, left, then Zürich won’t let you down with the abundance of dinner options. Head to the world’s original vegetarian restaurant, Haus Hiltl on Sihlstrasse, founded in 1898. Popular long before the healthy #cleaneating trends swept through our kitchens, the ultimate healthy-eating institution offers both an à la carte restaurant and sumptuous, extremely popular, buffet. If you’re more of a carnivore, then no trip to Zürich is complete without trying the famed stroganoff type Geschnetzeltes Zürcher Art or Zürcher Geschnetzeltes with crispy potato Rösti, available at most of the local Swiss restaurants.
Whether you manage to tick one of the above items off your list, or all; even if you just take a quick walk through the Niederdorf, across to the Limmatquai and back up alongside the river, make the most out of your stop-over or stay in Zürich and explore. With more english speakers and a fresh air of internationalism sweeping across the city, adding to its newfound vibrancy, you’re still bound to be greeted by the classic Swiss German grüezi!