Zurich is a great city for a weekend or two. Firstly, its setting is absolutely stunning: on the banks of the lake with the river Limmat running through its center and the Alps in the background, as legendary as you have imagined them to be. Secondly, Zurich has the perfect city size for a short weekend. It offers restaurants that intrigue you with their creativity yet they manage to make you feel at home, coffee shops you wish you owned yourself and endless walks across the old town. I had so much fun organizing our weekend gateway in Zurich to celebrate my husband’s birthday and thought I should share my tips with you.
Are you coming?
14:00-15:00 Check in at a value-for-money hotel. A relaxing weekend without a decent place to stay is like trying to bake a cake without butter. 25hour West Zurich hotel was an excellent choice for us: playful and design savvy, it even offered us free bikes or a mini cooper to discover the city – we didn’t use any of the two but nevertheless, we could have had we wish to do so. It is situated at Kreis 5, the former industrial and currently hip area of the city. On the map, you might think it’s a bit further away from the centre but there is a tram station right outside of the hotel which takes you to the centre in 15 minutes only. Easy.
16:00 But first, coffee. Because sooner or later you will need it. Oftentimes a good coffee can make or break your day, so you’d better pick a place that won’t disappoint. I have located a few good places in various areas of the city and I admit it was easier to find quality coffee here than in other Swiss cities:
Babus Bakery & Coffeehouse, center: weekends tend to be very busy here but the hype is well worth it. I have had better cappuccinos but the atmosphere, the décor and the delicacies they offer made up for it. The famous Bahnhofstrasse shopping street is just minutes away. http://babus.ch
Café Lang, Kreis 5: such a cute little place, this would be definitely one of the go-to places if I lived in Zurich permanently. Wooden interior, lively atmosphere, good coffee and equally good food. Langstrasse, which is buzzing with nightlife is very close by. http://cafelang.ch
17.30: Get lost within the old town. It’s colourful, with a unique architectural style, labyrinthine. Within its short alleys, there is a ton of opportunities for photos and discovery of numerous interesting shops. Just stop and be present, leave your travel guide aside and take notice of the passersby.
19.30: return to the hotel for a rest and an outfit change. Have a shower, sleep, chill out by the lounge with a drink: this is the time to relax a bit, so do whatever you fancy.
21:00: Dinner at a nice restaurant. The choices are almost endless and you will find many interesting ones at Kreis 5. For a romantic atmosphere, Cinque restaurant is truly good. It has a pleasant buzz from all the people so this is no place for violin playing. The menu is audacious and delicious at the same time. Please, please, please try the tiramisu by all means. And if you want to organise a little surprise for your love as was the case for me, Cinque’s team will happily help you out. Just ask kindly!
There are a few more addresses on my list to try for the next time we visit Zurich: Times restaurant looks utterly inviting with its industrial décor and more elaborate-looking dishes. http://times-zurich.com As is Joseph’s, which is a bit more alternative offering gourmet dishes in small quantities, a bit of a gourmet tapas place. It’s a mixture of a restaurant and a trendy bar so the crowd here is pretty hip. http://www.josef.ch
There are many more possibilities when it comes to dining out but keep in mind that it’s wise to book in advance, wherever you decide to go.
23.00: for the night owls, Langstrasse in Kreis 5 comes alive at nighttime. You can organise a crazy bar-hoping if you wish. Personally, at this time I am dreaming of my bed!
09:00: breakfast, either at the hotel or at a coffee shop. Ideally next to the lake. Caffe Motta is just perfectly located and we loved sitting by the window and watching the people who come and go at Limmat’s banks. There is a certain Italian feeling here as well, a bit more sophisticated but not in an uncomfortable way.
11:00: There is a free walking tour in Zurich which lasts about 1.5-2 hours and although it’s not ground-breaking, it’s a good introduction to the city with interesting trivia. You should tip your guide in the end, depending on how much you value your experience, which is a great method in my opinion.
But if you are a chocolate addict, there is an amazing chocolate tour in Zurich run by the talented Kerrin Rousset during which you get to discover the city’s finest chocolates. At 85 CHF per person it’s not cheap, but definitely worth the money. I wrote an article about this experience for CNN Travel which you can read here http://edition.cnn.com/2014/08/26/travel/zurich-chocolate-tour/ .
13.30: you have now walked a lot (haven’t you?) so you deserve a sumptuous brunch or lunch, doesn’t matter how you call it. Maison Blunt is a real gem, taking you for a short trip to Marocco through its menu and its décor. Brunch time is very popular so book well in advance. The team here was super helpful and even offered to prepare a mini cake for my husband’s birthday! Yes, it was delicious.
15:30: if you are still around the city for a few more hours, you could visit a museum or a gallery for your cultural dose. There are numerous to select from but personally, I would pick the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum since watchmaking is one of the country’s trademarks. www.beyer-ch.com
Have you visited Zurich and any of the places mentioned above? Let me know your opinion and if you have more suggestions to share, please feel free to do so.