Although I’ve been to Zurich several times—for both work and pleasure—I’ve never really had the chance to let the city truly show me what it was all about. A quick layover here or a passing through lunch there was all I had ever experienced of this Swiss city that deserved a lot more attention than I was giving it.
So, on my last trip to Switzerland, I decided to slow down and factor in three days to savour Zurich and all it had to offer me. Veering away from the typically touristy clichés, my itinerary was all about seeing the city from a fresh perspective. One where food, wine and living the good life trumped the rest.
Lunch at Haus Hiltl According to the Guinness World Records, Haus Hiltl was the first vegetarian restaurant in the world. The restaurant—which is named for its founder, Ambrosius Hiltl—has been serving vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike with meat-free culinary specialties from all over the world since 1898.
When here, make sure to try the cumin-dusted roasted cauliflower soup and the aromatic saffron gnocchi…and thank me later! (www.hiltl.ch)
Go on a walking tourTake a private, guided walking tour of Zurich’s old quarter and come face to face with the city’s past and present through a selection of buildings, stories and anecdotes.
You too will be fascinated by the rich testimonies to bygone days which document the early international significance of the city, as I was. And after your tour, why not stop by the Kunsthaus Zürich which houses the most important collection of Classical Modernism in Zurich? (www.zuerich.com)
Bathe above Zurich’s rooftops!Confused? Well, I’m talking about the experience of bathing on the rooftop at the Thermalbad & Spa Zurich amid the century-old stone vaults of the former brewery.
Fresh thermal water bubbling straight from Zurich’s hot springs helps you catch up with some much-needed R&R. Here you have the choice of a thermal bathing world or the Irish-Roman spa ritual—both of which invite you to sink into a world of wellness inside the unique architecture and matchless building structure of a very special place in the city. (www.thermalbad-zuerich.ch)
Wine tasting at Zweifel WineLocated in the Höngg area of Zurich, this family-run winery can trace its roots as far back as the 14th century. Today it produces spectacular wines from its own vineyards in the city, the Limmat Valley, and the “Gold Coast” region along Lake Zurich. (www.zweifel1898.ch)
Go chocolate crazyChase all that wine with another icon of Switzerland—chocolate…but with a little twist! The one man show that is Taucherli Chocolate is a super innovative place to see how Swiss chocolate making has evolved.
Take a bite off founder and sole employee (yes, you read right!) Kay Keusen’s deliciously dark 77% chocolate bar made from Colombian cocoa nibs or his truly unique ruby chocolate and roasted rapeseed milk chocolate bars. Pure, undiluted bliss.
Shop at FreitagIn a building in Zurich-West, namely that of the former Maag cogwheel factory, the Freitag brothers produce over 120,000 bags and accessories every year from recycled materials taken from the streets.
Read: used, exhaust-stained truck tarpaulins, the inner tubes of bicycle tires, old safety belts and air-bags. All this is transformed into unique items—trendy, functional, waterproof and robust.
In fact, it was Zurich-West itself that inspired the Freitag brothers to make bags out of truck tarpaulins in the first place, thanks to the colourful trucks that trundle through the district on the transit route every day. (www.freitag.ch)
Have dinner at CloudsEnd your Zurich trip in style and up in the clouds, well almost! A few yards away from the Freitag store, Restaurant Clouds is located 120 meters above the city as it sits atop Prime Tower, Switzerland’s tallest building.
Here the dining experience extends far beyond that of a fine dining restaurant, with a bistro and a bar promising spectacular views of the city, Lake Zürich, and the Alps at sunset. The scrumptious cuisine here is primarily Mediterranean, inspired by Catalonia. (www.clouds.ch)
There are daily direct flights from India to Zurich, Switzerland on a world-class airline such as Swiss International Airlines. From Zurich, the extensive network of Swiss Railways gets you just about anywhere in luxury and comfort. Visit www.swiss.com for more information.
When to Visit
A great all-year-round destination, Switzerland is equally wonderful in the spring and summer months from May to September—when one can enjoy hiking in the lush hills and mountains—as it is in winter from December to March when the ski season transforms the country into a snow-covered winter wonderland. Visit www.swissinfo.ch for more information.
Zurich has an excellent selection of hotels to choose from to suit all budgets and tastes.
Two such recommended accommodation options are:
* Marktgasse Hotel Zürich
* The Dolder Grand Hotel (www.thedoldergrand.com)