While Zurich has a sizable international reputation (often predicated on it’s financial and banking industry) the actual city is fairly small (population approximately 400,000 people) and for visitor’s is easily approachable. From its favorable geographic position alongside the shores of Lake Zürich it boasts a diversity of activities and experiences for those of all ages. Take the old city with its charming walkways, squares, churches, boutique shops and cafes – one can wander these streets for much of a day at a leisurely pace. For those looking for a ‘nature’ experience without going far – a trip to the top of Üetliberg (Zürich’s closest mountain) delivers stunning views of the city, the lake and the alps or nearly as close, to the urban campground of Fischer Fritz for water activities, great food and socializing.
Even modern Zürich has plenty to offer visitors from shopping, restaurants and art scene. Zürich-West is the epicenter of this – formerly a region dominated by factories with many created to build ships. The city features 50 museums and more than 100 galleries – some of which are located in Zürich-West.
Note: Manifesta, a biennial European celebration of contemporary art runs from June 11th through September 18th, 2016 at select locations in Zurich. This has become a major display of contemporary art and is worth visiting if you are in Zurich this summer. Visit: www.m11.manifesta.org/en
25 Hours Zürich-West. The larger then life bright silver colored statue of a woman in front of the hotel should alert visitors to this hotels artsy feel. Vibrant, colorful, hip and friendly this hotel delivers a comfortable and affordable stay. As at their other hotels this one is also themed – with rooms titled Silver, Gold, and Platinum – a play on the city’s banking industry. Of particular interest to guests are the mini’s that can be rented for free with a stay here. Prefer a slower way to see the city? Bicycles are also available on site. 25 Hours also offers a sauna. A healthy breakfast with a good choice of items is served daily in the mornings – either indoor or outdoor seating is available (weather permitting). Don’t want to wander far for dinner after a long day sightseeing? The Internationally inspired cuisine of Neni Restaurant is on the ground floor.
A tram stop is located within a minute or two walk from the hotel lobby. 25 Hours is only about a 10 minute tram ride to the central train station. For more information visit: www.25hours-hotels.com/en/zurich-west/home/home.html
AYA, Drinx & Talx is located towards the top of the Prime Tower, Zurich’s tallest building. Great place for relaxing before dinner – complemented by the excellent views of Zurich and beyond. Visit: www.aya-bar.ch
Haus Hiltl Restaurant is Europe’s oldest confirmed vegetarian restaurant (dates from 1898) and is currently run by the 4th generation of the Hiltl family. This is not a small restaurant; over the years it has grown in it’s original location to now occupy several floors for diners as well as a cooking studio that offers cooking classes. Approximately 500 individual dishes are offered including their ever popular buffet. And this is a restaurant that operates 365 days a year – while not open in the evenings staff rotates in shifts all night to ensure food is ready by morning. They employ 250 staff from over 50 nations. For more information visit: www.hiltl.ch/en
Kantorei is located within the cozy confines of Zurich’s old town. You know you are in Europe when you are eating in a restaurant housed in a building that dates back to the 1300’s! Menus are seasonal and feature a diversity of soups, sales and specialty items. The house specialty is the Swiss Veal Schnitzel.
A recommended dish when in season is the artichoke salad including the artichoke hearts. The artichokes are liberally sprinkled with arugula leaves which are drizzled with a delicious olive oil and vinaigrette along with grains of salt. And a tasty mayonnaise dried-tomato dip for the artichoke leaves.
Restaurant Markthalle focuses on a unique type of dining – house specialties which cahnge daily and are prepared based on availability of seasonal prouducts and ingredients. These large trays are brought out and placed on the long tables so diners can share among themselves. Note their wine list, it is fairly extensive and features some delicious Swiss Pinot Noir. Best practice here: show up and request a variety of dishes be brought to your table! Visit: www.restaurant-maha.ch
Swiss Chuchi Hotel Adler. Looking for Fondue anytime of the year in Zurich? Stop by this restaurant in old town Zurich. This is a bustling part of old town and during nice weather guests can eat outside on the cobblestone overlooking the courtyard. Good people watching here. This restaurant is well known for their traditional recipes including the Adler House Fondue. Attentive staff will instruct you how to prepare your own fondue. Hint the best part is the cheese that cooks to a crisp.
Fischers Fritz is Zürich’s only urban campground. Located within a short drive or tram ride of the city, this campground features picturesque natural beauty combined with a number of elements of a more luxurious experience. Large canvas tents house comfortable beds, an excellent restaurant on site features tasty dishes including freshly caught fish from Lake Zürich, water activities and a chance to unwind from urban chaos. To reserve your stay here and for more information, visit: www.fischers-fritz.ch/en/home
Grossmünster Church offers a beautiful interior and a storied history dating back centuries but also a chance to climb high above the old town. For a small fee visitors can climb an extremely narrow spiral stone staircase – reaching an upper level in which you continue to the top platform. From here one has stellar views of old town and beyond in all directions.
Conveniently located within a short drive or train ride (about 20 minutes) from Zürich, Üetliberg is the city’s rural playground and destination for visitors. Offering panoramic views, a hotel, a restaurant hiking and mountain biking opportunities or sledding in the winter. Two towers easily seen from Zürich are located on the summit – one of which is the Uetliberg TV Tower (cannot be climbed). However for a small admission, one can climb up to the observation deck on the other lookout tower for 360 degree views in all directions.
Im Viadukt is a very creative use of space – boutique shops located beneath railway arches. Nearby and located next to the train tracks is Gerolds Garten a relaxing place to enjoy a drink or food among urban gardens (gets busy during important futbol matches!) Complementing the garden are boutique shops including art; events are also held on site. Open until midnight during the summer.
Next door is the not to be missed Freitag Flagship Store. And visually this store won’t be missed – it’s housed in old shipping containers neatly stacked on top of each other. Their focus is simple – convert old truck tarps into one of a kind pieces of luggage, bags, wallets and other miscellaneous items. Plenty of useful items for travelers.
With an extensive an easy-to-use public transportation across the country, The Swiss Travel System offers passes for both bus, boat and train travel. Public transportation inside Zürich is also easy to use. Bicycles are also available for renting at select locations in the city for free.
Lufthansa offers an extensive network of flights in Europe to Zürich and an easy nonstop flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Frankfurt (FRA). Not all business class seats are created equal. On a recent Lufthansa LAX – FRA flight we enjoyed Business Class in this Airbus A380-800 – with plenty of space even between the neighboring seats. And one of the perks of flying premium class from LAX is the use of the lounge in Tom Bradley International. Unlike many lounges this lounge has outdoor seating – presumably to take advantage of Los Angeles’s mild weather year round.
Swiss Air (#FlySwiss) offers nonstop flights to and from it’s Zurich hub for a variety of destinations on five continents including Los Angeles (LAX). We recently flew Swiss Air from Zurich (ZHR) to Los Angeles (LAX) on Business Class. Business class flights include the use of their quiet lounges in the Zurich airport. And whenever I’m in a lounge, the shower is always the first priority – to try and stay refreshed before and during a flight. On the flight, the service was excellent the Business class seating in this Boeing 777-300ER seemed to be very new.