Long Weekend in Zürich

3,500 years of history lie within the alleys of Zürich – noticeable at every turn.

© Shutterstock

Historical jewel: 3,500-years of history lie within in the alleys of Zürich – it is noticeable at every turn.

3,500 years of history lie within the alleys of Zürich – noticeable at every turn.

© Shutterstock

We arrive in Zürich and are spoilt for choice when looking for accommodation. Many of the traditional houses are located in the centre of the city, but if you prefer something more unusual, you can rent a luxury tent or a cottage at Fischers Fritz campsite. Either way everyone should eat here once. Adrian Gerny, the only professional fisherman in the city, provides fresh fish every day, on the terrace overlooking the lake – it tastes delicious. 

Thursday

Zürich is the cultural centre of Switzerland. We see this for ourselves during a walk through the old town. For dinner, we meet a culinary artist.

On our first day we purchase a Zürich Card, which allows us to use the public transport and gives free or reduced admission to 43 museums. Then we explore the old town of Zürich. It is home to some of Switzerland's most important cultural institutions, such as the Kunsthaus, whose collection comprises 4,000 paintings and sculptures, including the largest Munch collection outside Norway.

Such artistry makes you hungry. It's a good thing that the Wirtschaft Neumarkt is just a few metres away; here, the inner courtyard provides a calm retreat from the hubub of the city. On the menu are refined Swiss dishes. In the evening we go to a performance at the Schauspielhaus, one of the most important German-speaking theatres.

The day ends on a culinary high note; in The Restaurant at the Hotel Dolder Grand where Heiko Nieder cooks at world-class level. But it’s not just his dishes that are works of art, paintings by renowned artists decorate the hotel and the hotel offers an iPad to guide you through their art collection. 

Friday

First we go shopping in the trendy Kreis 5, then we marvel at design icons. Wild gourmet cuisine is on the menu in the evening.

We start the day at the Rietberg Museum which is worth seeing for two reasons; on the one hand, it houses an exceptional collection of non-European art, on the other, it is located in a beautiful, spacious park. Currently a photographic exhibition entitled 'An Eye for Art' is running until 10 April 2022.

Afterwards we go to the uber-cool Kreis 5 (District 5) for a shopping spree. Im Viadukt is the name of the trendy shopping area, where one nice little shop follows another. Small fashion labels, interior design shops and cultural institutions can be found here. And from 11am to 7pm, traders sell their regional specialities in the market hall. Just a kilometre away is the café of the top restaurant Gustav. The latter was awarded a Michelin star in 2019.

The café serves fabulously good tartines, sourdough rolls with beef tartare, egg yolk cream and crispy capers. Well fortified we go to the Museum of Design on Ausstellungsstrasse. Founded in 1875, this is one of the world’s leading design and visual communication museums. The building itself is worth seeing for the architecture alone.

For our dinner we visit Maison Manesse, chef Fabian Spiquel provides one of the most exciting kitchens in town. Six months after opening, he received a Michelin star for his imaginative, if occasionally wild creations.

Saturday

We turn our backs on Zürich for the day and travel to the beautiful mediaeval district of Rapperswil and the island of Ufenau.

Of course, there is still be much to discover in the main city: We could, for example, visit one of the hundred art galleries or the ZAZ Bellerive, which is currently running an exhibition entitled, ‘Urban spaces: 4 Perspectives’ (until 13th March 2022). But Rapperswil lures us out of the city.

From Bürkliplatz we take the 1:30pm boat to picturesque Rapperswil. The train is more flexible, it leaves from Stadelhofen station. Rapperswil is affectionately known as the "little rose town”, because between June and October about 15,000 roses flower in and around the old town including in its three rose gardens; truly an experience for all the senses!

The 13th century castle which lies on a rocky spur, is well worth a visit. Also impressive is the Enea Tree Museum a 75,000m² park which, as the name suggests, is full of trees, 25 different species in all, some over 100 years old, as well as sculptures by international artists. An exciting combination of art and nature. A detour to the island of Ufenau is worthwhile with its ancient church of St Peter & Paul built in 1141.

A ferry operates several times a day. A stop is recommended at the Haus zu den zwei Raben, which offers authentic Swiss home cooking. Afterwards we enjoy a walk, visit the mediaeval churches and soak up the idyllic view of the lake. 

Sunday

Chocolate for breakfast, relaxing in the spa and playful gourmet cooking: one last day of indulgence before our departure.

Our last day in Zürich: We must not miss a visit to the legendary chocolate house Sprüngli. We treat ourselves to brunch in the café on Paradeplatz and as a souvenir we purchase delicious chocolates and feather-light Luxemburgerli, mini-macaroons in a wide range of flavours which were invented over seventy years ago.

Should the weather close in, flee to the Thermalbad & Spa, which is located in the former Hürlimann brewery. We bathe between hundred-year-old stone vaults and on the top of the roof under the open sky. Total relaxation is guaranteed. After the spa, a boat tour on the River Limmat – the journey is included in our Zürich Card.

From the water we enjoy the city and its sights from a new perspective. The route from Landesmuseum to Zürichhorn takes about 25 minutes. We stopover at Storchen station, this is where the eponymous hotel with a popular bistro is located. On the terrace we enjoy the wonderful view of the Limmat.

A must-see is still on our list: on the towers of the Grossmünster (Great Minster) are the famous line figurines by the Swiss artist Harald Naegeli. He began to spray his graffiti figures on Zürich's walls at night about forty years ago. After much legal wrangling, the 81-year-old received permission to immortalise his figures on the walls of this important Protestant church. However, in a few years time, the work of art may disappear, as per the agreement between artist and theologians.

Still time for dinner? Then you should choose the two star Pavillon restaurant designed by architect Pierre-Yves Rochon, a rotunda with almost 360° of glazing and stunning country views. The exquisite classic French dishes prepared by head chef Laurent Eperon, focus on fresh, regional and seasonal produce, they were the crowning glory of our weekend.

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