Zurich is a surprising city.
Before I’d been there, I had this preconception of it being quite old and stuffy – a banker’s paradise.
It really is so much more than that – definitely worth a visit.
This is a small and compact city, so stay somewhere central and you will be able to walk everywhere.
If you are here in the summer, make sure you bring some bathers – the swimming in Zurich is fantastic. They have one of the highest densities of swimming facilities in the world – mostly in the lake or rivers that define the city.
In the heart of Zurich’s old town is the Frauenbadi on the Limmat River. By day this facility is restricted to women only – it’s a closed wooden construction that enables swimming and sunbathing. At night this turns into Barfussbar which welcomes both men and women for drinks around the swimming pool in the river.
The men only version is the Flussbad on the Schanzengraben – another great swimming facility on the river. At night this turns into Riminibar – attracting a young, mixed crowd.
Another option is to head to the Seebad Enge which is out on the lake. This has a mixed pool, a women’s only pool, access to the lake, panoramic views, and lake-side saunas.
However my most recent visit was in the depths of winter, so swimming wasn’t really an option, but the old city looked postcard perfect with a light dusting of snow.
I spent days sitting in Cabaret Voltaire, drinking pastis and trying to look intellectual. Cabaret Voltaire was the bar in which the Dada movement was born (in 1916) – rejecting reason and logic, prizing nonsense, irrationality and intuition, definitely my kind of politics.
This history of this city is overwhelming and it does feel as if in some ways you are stepping back in time, becoming part of history, and walking in the footsteps of so many of the world’s great thinkers that made their home here.
I love having a long lunch at Swiss Churchi – the Zürcher Kalbsgeschnetzeltes mit Nierliveal (veal and kidneys in a creamy mushroom sauce), is a speciality of Zürich, it is really delicious.
For something a bit more casual, Louis’ Take-away is the take-away counter of a posh restaurant – they do amazing fried beef steak served in a crusty roll.
If you’re not on a diet, head to Conditorei – it?s a chaotic and quirky multi-level cafe, I’m happiest when I’m relaxing here with a big pot of milchkaffee and a slice of cake. On my last visit the helpful waiter recommended the vanilla and apricot cake – amazing.
Henrici is a busy bar – good for coffee or drinks. I love the bar Cranberry – very good cocktails. I also really like Pigalle – a tiny square room dominated by its large central bar, it is an older crowd that are squeezed around the edges, singing along to the schlager style of music that is popular in this part of the world.
Zürich-West is the newer part of town and has seen some redevelopment. It’s a bit more artsy and alternative than the old town. Restaurant Volkshaus is worth checking out – I’ve only been there for coffee but it seemed to be packed with locals and the food looked good.
Of course, you could just hang out in Cabaret Voltair, drinking pastis, and trying to look intellectual.