FOOD AND TRAVEL, JULY 2009
We head to Switzerland’s largest city, where a glistening lake and snow-capped mountains form the background to a hip cultural and gourmet scene
Why go? The banking capital loves to dazzle its visitors with big figures; its charming old town boasts one restaurant per 180 inhabitants, 1,200 fountains sparkling crystal-clear drinking water and hundreds of art galleries. It might look like a very quiet town at first sight but Zürich’s medieval streets are lined with atmospheric guildhouses and its old industrial buildings have been transformed into trendy bars and shops.
What to do Get your bearings by climbing on the Grossmünster Church’s Charles Tower. Take in the views over the Old Town and the lake before wandering through the pretty streets of Niederdorf, where medieval houses often boast picturesque oriel bay windows and have their original names painted on the pastel façades. Cross the bridge to Fraumünster church, where you can admire the beautiful stained glass windows by Marc Chagall, before heading to the quaint Schipfe neighbourhood and Lindenhof square. After wondering at the river views and the huge clock of St Peter’s church, stroll down to the main police station: its entrance is decorated with wonderful colourful murals. Shop for jewelry and watches on the Bahnhofstrasse, or look for trendy clothes and accessories in Zuri-West, a former industrial zone bustling with art galleries and hip boutiques. You could also visit the beautiful Kunsthaus (00 41 44 2538484; kunsthaus.ch), which houses a huge European art collection, or the Swiss National Museum (00 41 44 218 6511; landesmuseen.ch) on the country’s culture and history. Take a cruise to Zurichhorn, where you will find lakeside gardens and cafés, a striking Le Corbusier building and a walled Chinese garden; or test the waters in one of the city’s 18 open air bathing areas.
Where to stay If your pockets are as deep as the vaults of the local banks, then nothing will do but a suite at the exclusive Dolder Grand (00 41 44 456 6000; thedoldergrand.com), a hilltop spa palace with stunning panoramic views. Or else, stay at the elegant Hotel Ambassador (00 41 44 2589898; ambassadorhotel.ch). Located just behind the opera, this boutique hotel has charming, traditional rooms and a great fish restaurant. In the heart of the Old Town, Helmhaus (00 41 44 266 9595; helmhaus.ch) has a striking minimalist decor, while Scheuble (00 41 44 268 4800; scheuble.ch) offer chic and cosy rooms just next to the Bahnofstrasse.
Where to eat and drink Schwarzenbach (00 41 44 2611315; schwarzenbach.ch) is a beautiful old delicatessen and café with its own coffee roasting machine. Confiserie Teuscher (00 41 44 2115153; teuscher.com) on Storchenstrasse is renowned for its delicious champagne truffles and über-kitsch decor. Lunch on typical bratwurst sausages and potato salad at the Bauschänzli terrace (00 41 44 2124919; bauschaenzli.ch), just next to Bürkliplatz. Swiss Chuchi (00 41 44 2669696) serves fondues, raclettes and other favourites, but the real local speciality is Zürcher geschneteltes, thinly sliced veal in a mushroom and cream sauce. Try it in one of the atmospheric guildhouses, such as Zunfhaus zur Waag (00 41 44 2169966; zunfthaus-zur-waag.ch) or at the traditional Kronenhalle brasserie (00 41 44 2629900; kronenhalle.com). For delicious currys and salads, head to the famous Hiltl (00 41 44 2277000; hiltl.com), the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Europe. Restaurant Lake Side (00 41 44 3858600; lake-side.ch) is ideal for Sunday brunch and also serves great seafood. For dinner, hop on the funicular to Rigiblick, where the Restaurant Spice (00 41 44 2551570; hotelrigiblick.ch) offers delicate gourmet dishes such as venison on a nectarine tarte tatin. Other great options are Caduff’s Wine Loft (00 41 44 2402255; wineloft.ch), which serves gastronomic cuisine and thousands of wines, or the trendy LaSalle (00 41 44 2587071; lasalle-restaurant.ch) located in a glass cube in the former Shiffbau factory.
Time running out? Stop for a quick bite of macaroon and a sip creamy hot chocolate at the landmark confiserie Café Sprüngli on Paradeplatz (00 41 44 2244711; spruengli.ch).
Trip tip The Zurich card (zuerichcard.ch) costs £17 for 72 hours and gives you free travel on public transports (including boats), admission to over 40 museums and various other discounts.
Did you know…
In 2007, Zürich was named the city with the highest standard of living in the world (piping Vienna and Geneva to the post) for the seventh year running. The Mercer analysis was based on criteria such as safety, gastronomy, cultural activities and environment.