The Swiss city is shedding its buttoned-up reputation for a trendier vibe.
Zürich has long been recognized as one of the world’s leading financial capitals, but the cosmopolitan destination is also one of Europe’s most diverse and contemporary cultural hubs with events like the recent FOOD ZÜRICH culinary festival and 14th Annual Zürich Film Festival.
The waterfront Swiss city is garnering a reputation for its cutting-edge design, first-rate shopping, award-winning restaurants, and countless natural wonders. Here, your guide to making the most of a weekend trip.
WHERE TO STAY
Located in the heart of Old Town, the five-star Widder Hotel is housed in a renovated 12th-century building, seamlessly blending medieval charm with modern amenities, such as personalized concierge service.
For a more minimalist aesthetic, head to Marktgasse Hotel. The 39-room boutique hotel occupies a building that dates back to 1291, but its clean lines and neutral color palette make it feel contemporary. Just steps from the Limmat River and Lake Zürich, the hotel is also adjacent to some of the city’s best shopping.
Start your morning by paying a visit to the historic (and Instagram-worthy) Café Mohrenkopf, where you can fuel up on fresh-brewed coffee, made-to-order omelets, and käseplättli, an assortment of Swiss cheeses with nuts and fig mustard.
Choose Your Afternoon Adventure
OPTION 1: CULTURE
Familiarize yourself with one of Europe’s most impressive fine art collections with a trip to Kunsthaus. The gallery features works spanning from the Middle Ages through the 20th century, including masterpieces by Rodin, Monet, van Gogh, and more.
OPTION 2: FITNESS
Hire a guide from Toptrek, and spend a few hours soaking in the city’s top tourist attractions while cycling through beautiful public parks and past multiple rivers and lakes.
Peruse the market at Im Viadukt, a former aqueduct in a once-abandoned industrial zone of the city. The revived area is now a bustling destination for Zürich’s creative set, brimming with quirky concept stores, emerging fashion designers, artists, and culinary visionaries.
For lunch, grab a bite at Restaurant Markthalle, which serves local fare and seasonal specialties like beef ragout and beluga lentils. If you’re in the mood for seafood, Vom Fischer & Syner Fru is located just next door and has an ever-changing menu including wild oysters and fish sourced from the Mediterranean Sea.
Once the sun sets, walk through the cobblestone streets of Old Town. Make a reservation at Zunfthaus Zur Waag, a former guild house sitting on the Münsterhof. Here guests can dine on authentic dishes like sliced veal or opt for lighter options such as homemade falafel with red pesto and grilled wild turbot served with lime foam, artichoke, and edamame. And for a nightcap, stop by BarMünster to mingle with the friendly mixologists and hear live music.
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For a pick-me-up, pop into Babu’s Bakery and Coffeehouse. Their java is some of the best in the city, and their extensive breakfast menu includes vegan and gluten-free dishes such as acai bowls and porridge.
Choose your Afternoon Adventure
OPTION 1: CULTURE
On a nice day, stroll through the Botanical Gardens at the University of Zürich. Home to more than 8,000 species of flora, visitors can admire flowers, trees, and mosses sprinkled throughout the extensive grounds and greenhouses, which stretch over 13,000 acres.
OPTION 2: FITNESS
The Planet Trail, a roughly two-hour hike from Uetliberg to Felsenegg, demonstrates the epic scale of our solar system, with each meter of the trail representing one million kilometers in space. Facts about the Milky Way are positioned along the way, while panoramic views overlook the mountains and Lake Zürich.
Venture to Helvetiaplatz in Zürich’s Kreis 4 neighborhood for a lunch of shareable plates at BANK. Locals rave about their roasted cauliflower, tuna tartare, and fennel salad served with a yuzu-citrus vinaigrette. If you happen to find yourself visiting Zürich over a Tuesday or Friday, build in time at Bürkliplatz. The weekly open-air market is teeming with fresh produce, colorful bouquets, and plenty of one-of-a-kind crafts.
End the trip on a high note at AuGust. One of The Widder Hotel’s multiple restaurants, AuGust is part boucherie and part brasserie, known for their premium meats and house-made sausages. Split some small plates, such as their truffled salami, roasted veal carpaccio, or spinach salad served with black walnuts, cranberries, and Belper Knolle cheese. Snag a seat outdoors for prime people-watching before turning in for the night.