Destination Guide | A perfect day in Zürich, Switzerland

From those that haven’t been to Zürich, I often hear that it’s expensive, boring and dull, or not worth visiting on a European trip.
I’m not going to lie, it isn’t one of the cheaper cities to visit in Europe. Zürich certainly isn’t the kind of place that wears its charms out in the open – no must see bucket-list landmarks, no super famous museums, no well known cultural activities, nor is it an obvious backpacker destination.

Yes, the Swiss are known for cheese and chocolate, and for being polite and punctual. However, these stereotypes are not flaws, as the traditional food is delicious, locals are lovely to interact with, and the convenient public transport is easy and runs like clockwork.

Instagram by @bottci01

Instagram by @bottci01

With my close family being locals, I have spent a lot of time in Zürich over the years, and always look forward to returning. Usually my time there is in winter, where Zürich’s proximity to the Alps make it a perfect base for snowboarding side trips to Davos, St. Moritz, Laax and Verbier. We highly recommend you visit over the holiday season in winter, it truly is post card perfect. This year my visit was in late Summer for my birthday, and I experienced Zürich in an entirely new and lovely way.

My fabulous sister Sarah planned a wonderful day for us on my birthday.

Alex, me and Sarah at my birthday brunch in Sprüngli

It started at the famed Confiserie Sprüngli on Bahnhofstrasse for Kaffee Crème, Brioche Schokolade (brioche filled with dark chocolate ganache) and seasonal berry Bircher muesli. After we ordered, aproned waitresses brought out dishes to our table. For the uninitiated, Sprüngli are the bakeries and restaurants owned by Lindt Chocolate, and the home of the local delicacy, luxemburgerli. These are like tiny fresh french-style macarons, but filled with fresh flavoured cream. Controversially, I think they are superior to macarons. Yes, I ate macarons in Paris. From Ladurée. I can’t be swayed. Regardless, the food was incredible and service was proper, as only Swiss silver service brunch could be. Zürich is also the home of Birchermuesli, and there is no better place to eat it.

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We continued our day with a visit to Museum Bellerive on Lake Zürich to see a fantastic exhibition “Coming into Fashion – A Century of Photography at Condé Nast”. Although it has now finished, there are many other wonderful galleries and museums in Zurich to spend time in. Museum für Gestaltung (Museum for Design) and Kunsthaus Zürich are two of my favourites that are worth visiting. Though in a cultural city filled with art lovers, there are many more museums and art galleries to explore.

Following a brief espresso pit stop at the compact and cool Caffè Bellavista in Bellevue, we made our way via the efficient and easy tram system to the new Thermalbad & Spa. As a frequent traveller, I have now finally made a startling discovery – thermal baths are an excellent cure for jet lag!

Photo courtesy of Thermalbad & Spa Zürich

There isn’t anything better than floating around in warm mineral spring water on a rooftop looking out over the city of Zürich to make you feel better about changing 12 time zones over 30 hours.

Photo courtesy of Thermalbad & Spa Zürich

Our afternoon consisted of the two hour Irish-Roman Circuit of different warm baths and sauna, a light spa lunch of fresh caprese salad, local mineral water and another double espresso followed by an incredible oil massage and relaxation.

Photo courtesy of Thermalbad & Spa Zürich

The Spa also has a boutique hotel attached, B2 Boutique Hotel, if you wanted to stay really close.

For those of you wanting to splurge, The Dolder Grand Spa is very luxurious, and is part of the fabulous and exclusive 5 star The Dolder Grand Hotel. Sarah and I are already planning a visit there next time I’m in town!

Photo courtesy of The Dolder Grand

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If you have never been to Zürich, a visit to Üetliberg is a must do, as this local mountain looks over the city to the mountains and gives you a gorgeous view and wonderful perspective any time of year.

The beautifully lit streets at night

The beautifully lit Bahnhofstrasse at night

However as I have been there a number of times, we decided a luxury shopping pitstop on Bahnhofstrasse was needed instead. The shopping area is compact with all of the big name clothing and accessory designers and mainstream stores represented. If you are in the market for the perfect Swiss souvenir, all of the Swiss watch brands can also be found there. Other shopping areas to explore are Niederdorf in the historic old part of the city, and the newest area in hip Zurich West.

We had an amazing family birthday dinner at home, but for the rest of you, I highly recommend a visit to Clouds on the 35th floor of Prime Tower, Zürich’s tallest building, in Zürich West. The view is spectacular and the modern swiss/international food is wonderful. A cocktail at Hotel Rivington & Sons on the ground floor of the same building before or after dinner is also a great idea. Zürich is well known for its nightlife, and you have many options if you plan to stay out late. Plaza is fun and has different styles of music each night, though you are best to ask the locals what is happening on any particular night.

For more information on what to do in Zürich, visit MySwitzerland.com.

Where to stay

Instagram photo by @imagiiiina

Instagram photo by @imagiiiina

We loved staying in the stunning Hotel Greulich. You can read our review of our last visit here. Our family also recently stayed there on our recommendation, and reported the hotel to still be excellent. It is in a quiet location, but is easy to access Bellevue, Niederdorf (the old part of town), Bahnhofstrasse and Zürich West from there. Our Garden suite room was perfect for the two of us. The split level room has a sofa and TV area on the top with bed and bathroom on the lower floor. There was plenty of storage space to keep bags out of sight. The bathroom and shower is separated from the room by opaque frosted glass, so its best to share this suite with someone you are close to, if privacy is an issue.

Instagram photo by @jackyeriksen

Instagram photo by @jackyeriksen

The best way to get feel for this hotel is to take a look at the gallery of photos taken by guests who have already stayed here.

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If you want to stay right in the buzzy part of town, the new Hotel 25hours Zurich West, a member of Design Hotels, is perfect for you. The hotel is located in a prime position near the cool restaurants, bars and design stores in this new exciting new neighbourhood.

Photo courtesy of 25hours Hotels

Photo courtesy of 25hours Hotels

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For more Instagram photos of your favourite hotels, visit the RoomCritic website. For the best travel stories, tips and info on the places to stay around the world, follow the blog by email or ‘like’ our RoomCritic Facebook page.

Find us on TwitterInstagram and Pinterest, and we have hotel lists on Foursquare. Share your hotel stories or reviews with us: info (at) roomcritic (dot) com. If we post it on the blog, we’ll make sure you get the glory.

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