The last time David and I were in Switzerland we only stopped through Zurich for 2 hours to grab lunch with one of David’s former colleagues at Google. During that short drive through town our faces were pressed to the window of our rental car as the picturesque buildings of Old Town gave way to the edgier structures of Zurich West, and we wished we had more time to experience the city properly.
Returning at the invitation of Zurich’s tourism board, Visit Zurich, we couldn’t wait to see more of this gorgeous lakeside city. Best known as an international financial hub and home to many talented Swiss chocolate houses, on this trip Zurich also impressed me as a very livable city with a vibrant creative class, international culinary scene, and easy access to outdoor activities.
We stayed at Atlantis by Giardino, a sleek Design Hotel tucked into the side of the Uetliberg, Zurich’s best known mountain. The James Bond-esque interiors featured luxurious finishes, bespoke furnishings and every room had forest views which was surprising given it’s city address but very calming. We had dinner at their restaurant Hide & Seek on our first night and loved the menu which combines Asian and European culinary traditions to create novel dishes like the deceptively simple sounding banana soup! From our hotel’s rooftop terrace we could look out over all of Zurich, and we were only a short train ride from the center of town.
Visit Zurich designed an incredible itinerary for us focused on two of our favorite things: exploring Zurich’s many neighborhoods on foot and eating! Here are the highlights from our visit:
- Park Lindenhof – Built on the ruins of a Roman fort this beautiful hilltop park is the perfect place to take in your first views of the city.
- George Bar and Grill – Seemingly the power lunch spot with a Madmen-style interiors to match, George Bar and Grill overlooks the Limmat River and the pretty rooftops of Zurich. Order the burger!
- Juicery 21 – Cold Pressed perfection this darling juice bar’s pretty, plant-filled space has the decor to match its clean living juices. A plexiglass floor lets you see downstairs into the pressing facilities, order your drink to go, and enjoy it while wandering through the Zurich Botanical Garden.
- Romantik Seehotel Sonne – One of my favorite meals of the trip, take a romantic boat ride from Boat Pier in Zurich to the darling lakeside town of Kusnatch for dinner at Romantik Seehotel Sonne, a 350 year old restaurant and hotel. As you can tell from this list, Zurich has a very international food scene but ordering the zurcher geschnetzeltes (a traditional local dish) here was one of the most memorable meals of the trip! I definitely want to come back and stay at this hotel on our next visit, as most of the guest rooms have lake views and the halls are adorned with notable art, including an amazing lobster painting by Andy Warhol that I want for our own home!
- Conditorei Schober – A fanciful cafe overflowing with chocolates and charm, Conditorei Schober is located in my favorite corner of Old Town surrounded by charming shops. Neighboring store Contra-Punkt is full of gorgeous home goods and linen by the yard and Schwarzenbach Teecafe is a gourmet food store where you can watch them roast coffee right in front of you.
- Neni – A trendy Israeli fusion spot serving small plates in the Langstrasse quarter, Neni is a great place to visit with friends so you can try their many delicious dishes from virtuous pink beetroot hummus to the more decadent brown sugar sweet potato fries.
- Turicum Gin – Gin is certainly having a moment throughout Europe, and one special distillery in the heart of Zurich is making waves with their Turicum Gin. Turicum is the ancient name for Zurich and they draw on local ingredients such as lime blossoms, pine cone tips and rose hips to create this distinctive spirit. You can visit the distillery for a tour and tasting like we did or sign up for one of their GinLab courses where you can make and bottle your own batch of gin from their assortment of botanicals. (I really want to take their class!) We grew to love gin and tonics on our world trip and couldn’t help but bring home a bottle!
- Im Viadukt – Zurich’s first covered market built under the arches of an aqueduct is the perfect place to gather picnic essentials like wine and cheese or discover up-and-coming local designers amongst the market’s 50+ vendors. Open air bars such as Frau Gerold’s Garden come alive at night.
- Cho Chin Chin – Cochinchin was the name for South Vietnam when it was still a French colony, and in this buzzy French-Vietnamese eatery, they serve classic Vietnamese dishes such as bo bun, pho, and bahn cuon alongside plates with a French influence incorporating baguettes, crepes and croissants. Their cocktail list pairs beautifully with their spicy dishes.
This post is sponsored by Visit Zurich and Finnair, however all opinions are my own.