The vibrant city of Zurich, located at the north end of Lake Zurich in northern Switzerland, maybe better known as Switzerland’s center for banking and finance but it is also a city with a rich past, inspiring art and culture, picturesque squares and streets, international dining scene and so much more.
Luxurylaunches and Claudia Premoli, from Zurich tourism list out some of the top attractions.
Top Day Trip: Cruise on Lake Zurich
One of the best ways to discover the Lake Zurich area is by taking a boat trip. Framed on the southern side by the Albis and Zimmerberg hills and on the north by the Pfannenstiel chain of hills, it doesn’t get more picturesque than this.
The Lake Zurich Navigation Company offers a number of daily tours including the “Gipfeli-Schiff” (early mornings) and “Sonnenuntergangs-Schiff” (sunset sailings) excursions.
A lakeside park area encloses the lower basin of Lake Zurich with a splendid promenade that serves as a recreation area with skaters, beach lovers, jewelry sellers and street artists, gathered to create a colorful scene.
Best Local Secret: Meet the locals
Only the locals can tell you their favorite local secret. Zurich Tourism have collated a few local favorites and our personal favorite is a visit to the Botanical Gardens at the University of Zurich.
Right in midst of historic Zurich is the taste and smell of the Mediterranean. The Botanical Garden has the best to offer in spring but the tropical greenhouses are also worth a visit in bad weather. With around 9000 different plant species spread over an area of about 53,000 sq m, there is always something in bloom.
Must try dish: Zürcher Geschnetzeltes
Sliced veal with gravy, prepared Zurich style with mushrooms and cream, served with some Rösti or shredded fried potatoes, the Zürcher Geschnetzeltes is a popular Zurich dish, served best at the Zunfthaus zur Waag – known for its Biedermeier style dining room with a grand view of the Münsterhof.
Another favorite is Wynegg, a rustic locale with honest, down-to-earth Swiss cuisine and a cozy ambiance. Serving fondue cheese that comes from the local cheese shop, solely Swiss meat on the grill, a wine list that features wines from Zurich, Graubünden, Ticino and Western Switzerland and a good old jukebox for entertainment, Wynegg is a real insider tip.
Top Architecture – Viadukt Arches
An architectural delight, now alive with a trendy shopping and cultural district, the Viadukt Arches is a 550-yard-long urban meeting place and shopping paradise of delicatessens, studio galleries, sport and fashion boutiques has been created under 36 viaduct arches.
Zurich is also home to the Architekturforum Zurich or Information on Contemporary Architecture. Located in a former garage in the middle of Zurich’s Kreis 4 district, the Architekturforum Zurich is an art gallery and a living space to explore architecture and urban planning.
With temporary exhibitions on the history of architecture and modern-day architecture, the Architekturforum has contributed largely towards the city’s planning and building policies.
Best place for local shopping – Bahnhofstrasse
The world-renowned shopping boulevard was created after construction of Zurich’s Main Railway Station. At the spot where city moats were 150 years ago, today it connects Lake Zurich with the Main Railway Station on a length of 1.4 kilometers (0.87 miles). You find numerous boutiques, department stores and timepiece stores here, as well as at Paradeplatz – the Swiss banking center. Bahnhofstrasse is just as popular with locals and visitors, and it is always worth a visit.
Best activity in town – Walking tour of the Old Town
A guided walk or tour of Zurich’s Historic Center is the best way to see and discover the best of Zurich. Visitors will come face to face with Zurich’s past and present through a selection of buildings, stories and anecdotes of the bygone days, which document the early international significance of the city.
This summer (until September 6, 2015), the city will be home to several installations and works of art presented for the open-air “Aufsehen! Summer Festival”.
Best view in town – Uetliberg Mountain
Uetliberg is Zurich’s very own mountain, from where you can see the best panoramic views of Zurich, the city and lake and even a glimpse of the Alps. At 2,850 feet above sea level, Uetliberg towers over the rooftops of Zürich. The area is particularly popular in November when the peaks are above a blanket of fog that can cover the entire city.
In summer, Uetliberg is popular for its well-marked hiking routes, a mountain bike route, and the Planet Trail – a two-hour walk from Uetliberg to Felsenegg (Adliswil) that takes you on a tour through a model of our solar system. In the winter, the hiking trails to the summit are converted into sledding runs.
Best family activity: Zurich Toy Museum
From cultural events to attractions like the Zurich Zoo and Swiss Children’s Museum, Zurich has plenty of offer for its younger guests.
Our favorite pick is the Zurich Toy Museum – a wondrous exhibition showcasing a nostalgic journey through the last 300 years of childhood. While adults can reminiscence, the kids can explore toys that are probably owned by their forefathers and those that don’t exist anymore.
A peek into an old doll’s house will evoke memories of domestic life and fashion in the past, while train sets and steam engines reflect the beginnings of technology.
The small yet refined museum will be a sure hit for members of all ages in the family.
Best cocktail with a view: Clouds
At Clouds, 120 metres above the city, the view is enough to give you a high! Extending far beyond that of a casual dining restaurant Clouds also comes with a bistro, a bar and spectacular views of the city, Lake Zürich, and the Alps at sunset. Spontaneous visits to the bistro or the bar are always possible as you sit back and enjoy your cocktail and a menu inspired by Catalonia.
Other notable venues include Jules Verne Panorama Bar, which sits in the tower of the former observatory and George Bar & Grill, the penthouse restaurant in the Haus Ober, high above the rooftops of Zurich – with a bar, lounge, terrace, drinks and music.
Must-see Museum: Rietbergmuseum
The Museum Rietberg features a unique collection of non-European art and cult objects amidst one of Zurich’s most beautiful parks.
Visitors can get take a trip around the world as they explore treasures including enchanting sculptures from Africa to Buddhist art from Asia and cult objects from the South Sea and America. The museum also features a collection of intricately carved Swiss masks can also be seen.
A stunning feature at the museum, which was extended in 2007, is its “Smaragd” (emerald) entrance, named after its greenish-blue glass. When you’ve had your fill of culture and art, grab a picnic basket from the Museum Café and enjoy the rest of your leisurely summer afternoon in the museum’s glorious park.
Best cultural secret: Festspiele Zürich
The Festspiele Zürich which takes place over four weeks in June and July is an event supported by Zurich’s cultural institutions with an aim to add to Zurich’s appeal as a city of culture.
The festival provides the occasion for a summer meeting of the arts which reflects the diversity of Zurich’s cultural life. The festival boasts of a calendar that covers a diverse range of themes and programs that appeal to all ages, all across the city.
The Salt Cinema is another unique event that takes place in the idyllic backdrops of Lake Zurich. Established 27 years ago, it is the first open-air cinema in Switzerland. Today, Salt Cinema delights more than 160,000 film enthusiasts across Basel, Berne, Geneva and Zurich every summer and features an excellent array of films – from exclusive previews to blockbusters and iconic reprises.
Best restaurant for a celebration: Hiltl
Hiltl, more popularly known as the world’s first vegetarian restaurant, opened in 1898 by Ambrosius Hiltl, celebrates healthy living. The restaurant offers around 500 dishes and includes, in addition to the à la carte restaurant and Hiltl buffet, self-service and takeaway, a bar-lounge, a club, a cooking studio and a shop. Hiltl specialties include fresh salads, sandwiches, freshly squeezed juices, a fine vegetarian and vegan deli, a great wine selection and of course, the first veggie butcher of Switzerland.