is a captivating destination for a stylish city break, with eclectic shopping, boundary-pushing restaurants and vibrant nightlife – not to mention the largest street party on the continent in the form of its raucous annual Street Parade.
Visitors to Zurich will find no shortage of delicious cakes and coffee. Local favourites include Cakefriends (Torgasse 3, 044 252 2211), as well as the beautiful array of carefully crafted bakery goodies at Babu’s Bakery & Coffeehouse (Löwenstrasse 1, 044 212 8745). If the sun is riding high, cool down with scrumptious handmade Italian ice cream at Caffè Caredda Napoli (Münstergasse 30, 044 261 2002).
For an early morning fix, kick off the day perfectly with a bowl of Zurich’s world-famous Bircher muesli. There are countless places serving up the renowned oaty breakfast; a great place to try the Zurich classic is Confiserie Sprüngli (Bahnhofstrasse 21, 044 224 4646) – which also serves wonderful macarons. For a luxury breakfast, Rüsterei (Kalanderplatz 6, 044 317 1919) lays on a fabulous spread, with everything from continental cold meats and cheeses to exotic fruits and fully cooked breakfasts.
Zurich shopping has been transformed over recent years, not least by the renovation of former industrial area Zurich West into a style hotspot offering a flourishing creative population. The city’s most fashionable new shopping area is Im Viadukt, a chic network of shops set in railway arches in Zurich West. The focus here is on cutting-edge fashion and emerging labels, rather than global brands. As well as designer outlets and furniture boutiques, there’s a lively market hall filled with locals picking up everything from fresh fruit to dried meats and international cheeses, making for a truly eclectic shopping experience.
Zurich is also home to one of the most expensive luxury shopping streets in the world. Bahnhofstrasse running through downtown Zurich is an eye-popping display of the high-end and glamorous, with its well-heeled shoppers laden with the likes of Prada, Dior, Gucci and Chanel.
Zurich restaurants are a decadently diverse and intriguing bunch. Find a chattering lunch spot serving much loved moules frites at Les Halles (Pfingstweidstrasse 6, 044 273 1125), and for something a bit more special there’s Lade (Nietengasse 1, 043 317 1434). For an entirely unique dining experience, feast in total darkness at Blindekuh (Mühlebachstrasse 148, 044 421 5050), run by people with visual impairments. This popular restaurant gets very booked up, so nab a table well in advance.
Tucked down a street close to Bahnhofstrasse, Kaiser’s Reblaube (Glockengasse 7, 044 221 2120) is an atmospheric restaurant serving a bounty of fresh Swiss flavours. It’s quite a pricey option, but to be expected considering the location.
Those after a lavish feast head in their droves to the famous Kronenhalle (Rämistrasse 4, 044 262 9900) and enjoy fine wines, pristine white tablecloths, a rich and inventive menu and artistic masterpieces lining the walls. If the price tag for dining blows the budget, pop to the bar instead and enjoy a glass in its classically sumptuous surrounds.
Zurich hotels range from giant establishments with all the trimmings to simple city centre hotels offering a reliable base from which to head off and explore. A grand classic is Storchen (Weinplatz 2, 8001 Zurich, 044 227 2727) with decadent suites and delicious dining options. Relax by an open fire and enjoy fine dining at the Rôtisserie, sip cocktails in the Storchen Bar, and soak up some café culture at Barchetta or the leafy Boulevard Café on a sunny day.
A boutique hotel with unique character is the B2 Boutique Hotel + Spa (Brandschenkestrasse 152, 044 567 6767). This former beer factory has been transformed into a five-star modern hotel and a simply wonderful spa. Find large stylish rooms and a rooftop pool with spectacular views. For something less ostentatious but still fun and colourful, there’s 25Hours Hotel Zurich West (Pfingstweidstrasse 102, 044 577 2255).
Females looking for a spot of relaxation can find tranquil refuge in hip Seefeld at the Lady’s First design hotel (Mainaustrasse 24, 01 380 8010), and relax in the spa that includes saunas, a steam bath, light therapy and a roof terrace with lake and mountain views.
Party-hard Zurich is a hotbed of hip and happening nightlife. As evening draws in, leisurely cafés and relaxed bars transform into buzzing gatherings of cool young things looking to party the night away to the latest musical offerings. One such place is 0815 (Kreuzstrasse 26, 044 242 0815), where DJs play the night away amid its sophisticated monochrome interior. A fun night out is a dead cert at Acapulco (Neugasse 56, 044 272 6688), a kitsch 1970s-themed cocktail bar kitted out in vibrant retro décor.
For a mix of DJs, there’s also Mascotte (Theaterstrasse 10, 044 260 1580) on a Friday, where clubbers of all ages let their hair down after a busy week. On Tuesday, those with the courage take part in the ‘Karaoke from Hell Show’, where a live band accompanies aspiring singers rocking out on stage.
Stylish Zurich club offerings include Club Indochine (Limmatstrasse 275, 044 448 1111), with a South Asian feel, and it’s an impeccably stylish crowd who frequent Kaufleuten (Pelikanstrasse 18, 044 225 3300), which has welcomed the likes of Madonna and Prince.
A programme of home-grown live music and a great jukebox can be enjoyed at the alternative and no-frills Helsinki (Geroldstrasse 35), a former garage beside Hardbrücke train station in Zurich West whose setting is decidedly industrial and gloss-free.
And then, of course, there’s Street Parade, Europe’s biggest annual street party. This larger-than-life, hedonistic extravaganza erupts every August, offering a fabulous stage for all that is eccentric, colourful, festive and fun. It ranks as one of the largest techno parties in the world, and takes place beside the glittering expanse of Lake Zurich.