Zurich may be best known as a place for business, but it can also be the perfect destination for a leisurely European city break. The largest city in Switzerland was previously known as Turicum by the Romans, but evidence suggests that there has been a settlement here for well over 6000 years. Due to its low tax rates, many international companies have established their headquarters in Zurich and the financial wealth here has helped the city to be named in multiple lists for a great quality of life. This includes Monocle ranking it at number one in 2012.
But how should you go about a trip to this fantastic location? Well, here is your definitive guide.
The fact that Zurich airport is situated just 12 minutes from the city centre means that getting there couldn’t be easier. EasyJet (London Gatwick), British Airways and Swiss Airlines (both London Heathrow and London City) all offer direct flights and the flight time is just over an hour and a half.
Once you arrive at the airport, you have a range of different options when travelling into the city itself. Many of the larger hotels will offer free shuttle buses, so be sure to check whether this is the case so that you don’t end up paying for a transfer that you don’t need. If this isn’t provided then it is very simple to hop on a train (either a metro or regional one) and take the short journey to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station). From here you can either walk to your hotel or navigate to the nearest metro station on the map.
Where To Stay
If you are on a budget during your Zurich city break, the Walhalla Hotel is a great choice. It is situated right next to the main train station, close to the river. There’s no need to worry about being kept awake by the transport activity in the streets below, though, as the windows have been expertly soundproofed for your comfort. The rooms are modern and include flat screen TVs, integrated DVD players, tea and coffee facilities and a hairdryer in the bathroom. It also claims to be the first 3-star establishment in Zurich to offer free use of a tablet computer for the duration of your stay. Prices for a single room start at £87 and this includes breakfast and Wi-Fi access.
As a mid-range option, the Hotel Wellenberg offers everything a tourist needs. The location is excellent, as you will find yourself in the middle of Old Zurich and within a 15-minute walk of many of the major sights. The main train station is also just a short walk away and there is a ferry stop just down the road if you want to explore the area around the lake. The standard rooms aren’t the biggest, but they are very modern and come complete with shower, flat screen TV, minibar and a seating area. The price for a double queen room starts at £175 and this includes a buffet breakfast and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Eden Au Lac
Those looking to treat themselves to five-star accommodation should head for Eden Au Lac. Translated to mean Eden by the lake, it’s easy to see what you can expect from this city centre hotel and you won’t be disappointed when you arrive. The list of amenities within each room includes a Samsung flat screen TV, Molton Brown bathroom products, bathrobes, slippers, safe, minibar, free Wi-Fi and complimentary daily newspaper. The hotel also has a luxurious spa, fine dining restaurant and roof-top bar, all of which overlook the picturesque Lake Zurich.
The extensive Zurich travel network may look daunting at first, but it is very easy to use once you get used to it. The entire city is split into different zones and tickets are issued according to which zones you would like to visit. Once you have bought your ticket, you are free to travel on any kind of ZVV transport (including buses, trams, trains, boats and even the cable car) within your selected zones until the time printed on the ticket is reached. At the weekend, a night service is run on this transport network, which includes less frequent connections.
Aside from this, you can always explore Zurich on foot or rent a bicycle if you wish.
Where To Eat
If you are looking for traditional Swiss food with a fine-dining twist, Stefs Freieck will offer it in abundance. It may only be a small restaurant, but the dishes pack in a lot of flavour and it has made a name for itself with locals and tourists alike. There’s the option to sample the four-course tasting menu or simply eat a la carte but, either way, these traditional morsels will have you falling in love with Swiss cuisine.
If you thought a vegetarian, Asian restaurant in Zurich would fall by the wayside due to it being too niche then you would be wrong. This relaxed eatery has become very popular with the local hipster crowd, winning fans amongst meat eaters too, and is in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant. At lunchtime, there is a buffet selection of hot and cold options and then in the evening the a la carte menu comes to life. Prices are very reasonable and it is definitely worth a trying if you are looking for something a bit different during your holiday.
This classy, Michelin-starred establishment has earned acclaimed from TripAdvisor for being the number one restaurant in Zurich. It is located at the northern tip of Lake Zurich and is the perfect place to indulge your love of food or celebrate a special occasion during your Zurich city break. Pavillon has head chef Laurent Eperon at the helm, who loves to use traditional ingredients in new and exciting ways, resulting in a variety of works of art on the plate. The restaurant has recently been refurbished and the main menu features dishes such as ‘Steamed fillet of brill’, ‘Sliced veal tenderloin’ and ‘Strawberry soufflé’.
Top 3 Things To Do
Life on the Lake
If you want to see the city from a totally different perspective then you should take to the water. As well as the ferry boats that can take you to various different stations along the banks of the lake, there are specially made Limmatschifffahrt available. These boats are built to fit under the bridges over the river Limmat and can take you on hour-long cruises from the bustling Landesmuseum station. In the summer, locals gather at outdoor swimming pools (known as Badis) along the edges of the lake. Each is said to have its own unique atmosphere and charm, with some offering refreshments and even sit-down meals.
Window Shop On The Bahnhofstrasse
Whether you actually shop along the Bahnhofstrasse or simply look longingly at the different window displays will depend on how much money you have to spend. This street is known as one of the most expensive shopping routes in the world and stretches from the top of Lake Zurich to the main train station. At the lower end, you will find familiar highstreet brands, but as you approach the upper echelons of this famous road, you’ll notice stores such as Tiffany’s, Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton. Whether you buy anything or not, the chocolate shop on Paradeplatz is well worth a visit.
If there’s one thing that the Swiss do best, it has to be a traditional fondue. These cheesy pits of delight are the perfect option for a casual lunch and there is no shortage of places to try in the city centre. Raclette Stube, on Zahringerstrasse, is a great place to start, or you can take the cable car up to Restaurant Felsenegg and enjoy your fondue amongst a stunning backdrop that features the Alps, Lake Zurich and the city below.
If you would like to craft your very own Zurich city break, we can create a trip that caters to your every need. Call our team today or submit an enquiry through the website.