While in Zurich, Switzerland it’s hard to not feel like you’re in a fairytale. Set on the banks of a river and lake with the Swiss Alps behind it, the natural beauty of the city can’t be missed. While Zurich has become known for being the center of old-school international banking and delicious chocolate, there’s so much more to it. Between the world-class shopping and medieval architecture to the cuisine and ski slopes, the city has just about everything. Here’s what you need to know for planning your Zurich vacation.
Best Time to Visit
Between June and August is the best time to visit because the temperatures stay around the low 70s, which makes it possible to swim in the lake. Summer’s also the most expensive time to visit. December, January, and February, which are winter offseason, are also expensive due to the proximity to the Swiss Alps’ ski slopes. March to May or between September and November are cheaper times to visit, but it’s a lot cooler.
How to Get Around
The best way to get around the city is by foot or by bike. There’s also the city’s tram system, taxis, and Uber. Avoid driving because of the traffic and limited parking.
Where to Stay
Baur au Lac
Located within its own park that overlooks the Alps and Lake Zurich, this 5-star hotel couldn’t be more scenic and the luxuries don’t stop there—the rooms have designer furnishings and heated bathroom floors. The rooms also have large windows that give views of Zurich, the Schanzengraben canal, or the property’s courtyard. The hotel also has its own line of chocolate and has a garage and car repair shop, an on-site florist, a wine boutique, a rooftop fitness center, and a Michelin-starred restaurant.
This hotel in the center of the city is a mix of antique and modern. Widder Hotel, a 5-star hotel, has tons of restaurants on the property and daily breakfast is included! The hotel also has a fitness center, a library, meeting facilities, and a business center.
The Dolder Grand
Grand isn’t in this hotel’s name for no reason—The Dodger Grand is in fact grand. The 5-star hotel is located atop a hill and features 19th-century architecture. But nothing about the hotel is old-fashioned—inside there are modern elements like flat-screen TVs and Nespresso coffee machines. Take advantage of the wellness facilities which include a spa with a pool, a gym with personal training and fitness classes, and four running tours. There’s also a Michelin-starred restaurant on-site.
What to Do
Lake Zurich (Zurichsee)
The lake promenade is made up of parks and gardens and when the weather is nice, it’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon. You can take a boat out on the lake, sunbathe, or picnic. There’s also a great running path.
Uetliberg Mountain is 2,858 feet above sea level and unsurprisingly, it has some of the best views of Zurich and the Alps. At the top, there are hiking, biking, and sledding trails. You can also paraglide at the mountain’s peak.
Old Town (Altstadt)
This historic, medieval part of town has cobblestone alleys that are alongside some of the best attractions like Great Minister, the Swiss National Museum, and the Museum of Art. Don’t miss the Muhlesteg Footbridge, which has love locks. Old Town also has tons of nightclubs.
What to Eat
One of the most famous dishes in Zurich, zürcher geschnetzeltes, translates to meat cut Zurich-style. It’s veal cooked with mushrooms, cream, onions, and wine and it’s often served with rosti (shredded fried potatoes), rice, or noodles.
This national dish is grated potatoes that have been shaped into thin pancakes and then fried in oil. Sometimes bacon or apples are mixed into the mixture. They’re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Cheese fondue may not sound super exciting, but it’s a must when in Switzerland. It’s a lot of melted cheese served with bread, usually gruyère or emmental, mixed with different ingredients like herbs, mushrooms, and tomatoes.