Zürich has long been respected as one of the leading banking and financial capitals in the world. For years, it has successfully cultivated a straight-laced reputation for being safe, clean-cut and admittedly predictable. Recently, the buttoned-up metropolis has been showing off another side of its personality that highlights just how hip the city actually is. Trendy hotels now inhabit centuries-old buildings, local makers are breathing new life into once-abandoned industrial zones, and innovative cultural programs are driving buzz like never before.
Take FOOD ZURICH as a prime example, which has just completed its third (and most successful) installment. The 11-day festival brings together the region’s top culinary talents in a dynamic series of tastings, tours and cooking demonstrations. Today, these types of cultural attractions are becoming an integral part of the city’s ever-evolving identity – one that international travelers are dying to experience for themselves. Here, your weekend guide to this Swiss hotspot.
Where to Stay:
When it comes to swoon-worthy hotels, Zürich teems with options, ranging from chic boutiques to ultra-luxe retreats. Marktgasse Hotel is nestled in the heart of Altstadt (the city’s historic Old Town), just steps from the Limmat River and Lake Zürich. The 39-room hotel features a classic minimalistic design, and their expertly crafted cocktails at Baltho Bar are not to be missed.
The Widder Hotel is a plush option for those in search of an elevated escape in an unforgettable setting. Housed in a beautifully renovated building dating back to the 12th century, the entire property marries medieval heritage with modern design, five-star amenities and stellar service.
To truly feel like royalty, venture to the illustrious Dolder Grand, perched on the edge of the Adlisberg forest overlooking Zürich below. This year marks the 10th anniversary of their comprehensive renovation led by famed British architect Lord Norman Foster, and their award-winning spa will introduce a new partnership with Dr. Burgener Switzerland in the fall, offering guests access to the luxurious Haute Couture line.
Where to Eat:
Each year, FOOD ZURICH highlights a selection of Switzerland’s most revered gastronomic masters while also providing a platform to showcase the country’s rising stars. For authentic Swiss favorites, plan a visit to Zunfthaus zur Waag, the beloved former guild house on the Münsterhof. Reserve a table inside the traditional, 19th-century-inspired dining room, or pull up a seat on their shaded patio for an afternoon of people watching.
In the mood to sample shared plates? Look no further than AuGust, the only restaurant on historic Rennweg. The unique eatery is a combination of boucherie, brasserie and bistro serving Leberkaese, housemade pâtés, terrines, pies and more. For lighter, less carnivorous fare, venture into Zürich’s Sihlstrasse neighborhood to experience Hiltl Restaurant, the world’s oldest (continuously-open) vegetarian restaurant. Satisfy your sweet tooth by paying a visit to Confiserie Sprüngli – an upscale Swiss confectionery company founded in 1836 that’s world renowned for its signature macarons known as “Luxemburgerli”.
What to Do:
Kick off the weekend with a Friday morning visit to Bürkliplatz, one of the city’s most popular outdoor markets. The sprawling “Bürklimäärt” (as locals call it) is brimming with gorgeous blooms, fresh herbs, seasonal vegetables and one-of-a-kind souvenirs that will be sure to impress your family and friends.
Zürich is home to plenty of green space, and one of the best ways to see the city is on bike. We recommend booking a three-hour tour with Toptrek, which traverses through the main attractions of the Old Town, public parks and along the city’s sparkling rivers and lakes. Hikers will also enjoy trekking along the Planet Trail spanning from Uetliberg to Felsenegg. The route is a scaled model of our solar system, with each meter of the path representing one million kilometers of the Milky Way. For even more fresh air, stroll through the colorful Botanical Garden at the University of Zürich, which is home to tropical greenhouses and more than 7,000 different plant species. There is an impressive bevy of museums to explore, including the Swiss National Museum housed in the magnificent Château de Prangins and the Museum of Design, a modern destination highlighting the best of Swiss industrial design, visual communication, and architecture. For the perfect nightcap, order cocktails at Kasheme, the vinyl store/recording studio/music venue hybrid that recently opened a swanky living room-themed bar.
Or, check out the brand new Pool Bar at Hotel Helvetia, which serves Miami-style cocktails along with unparalleled views of the river Sihl.