Hello! I hope you all had a relaxing long weekend. I’m struggling to feel normal the last few days of this week, so reliving some of my time in Switzerland seems like the perfect distraction. I spent one long weekend in Zurich with my parents and my husband. This trip came immediately after my teaching ended and at the beginning of my parent’s/husband’s Euro trip, so we tried to balance relaxation with our sightseeing.
One major tip if you head to Zurich – bring lots of $$$. Zurich, like several other Swiss cities, is very expensive (Starbucks is more than double the cost in the US) even though the Swiss Franc is almost a 1:1 exchange.
Our first night together we had a great dinner at Barengasse which is located on Banhofstrasse but inside a bank pavilion, which is pretty unique. We dined outside and the food, service, and atmosphere was perfect. I started with a warm goat cheese salad that was incredible, and then kept it classic with beef tenderloin and a chocolate mousse dessert.
Another great restaurant we enjoyed for dinner was Kronenhalle. This is in a different area of town, old town, to be exact, and it was fun to be over there. This is also one of the oldest restaurants in Zurich and is very traditional. Our server wasn’t good at all, but the food made up for it. My dad and husband had beef stroganoff that they raved about and was a specialty of the restaurant. I had duck and I can’t remember what my mom had (oops!) but I know she enjoyed it, too.
If you’re looking for a little pick-me-up during the day, definitely stop at Sprungli. They are located throughout the city but the one off of Banhofstrasse on Paradeplatz is the best because they serve brunch and lunch as well as all of their sweet treats. I had an amazing risotto there for lunch, and followed it up with some macarons. Beware though, this place gets packed and all seating is first-come, first-serve. But they are dog friendly 🙂
Our hotel is home to the Onyx Bar, which was such a great spot for an afternoon spritz or after dinner drink. They make tons of craft cocktails and also have a lot of non-alcoholic specialty drinks too. The bar is literally onyx that is lit from underneath so it’s especially pretty at night. Say hi to Peter the bartender for us, if you stop in!
Zurich also has a Jules Verne bar but we never made it there, sadly. If I ever go back, this will be one of my first stops. It’s conveniently located just off Banhofstrasse and boasts some of the best views of Zurich. I’m sure they serve a perfect aperol spritz, too.
I spent 4 nights and my parents/husband spent 3 nights together at the Park Hyatt in Zurich. It’s a great location if you’re looking for a more quiet spot in the city. It’s only about one block from the lake and within walking distance to Banhofstrasse and Old Town.
Although it is more business-centric than other hotels, and also quite large, it was still ideal for us. Breakfast at their amazing buffet was included and all of the staff was happy to answer our questions anytime.
The rooms were wonderful and recently remodeled. I feel SO bad for not taking a picture of our room, so I’m borrowing from their website #badblogger. The robes were also very plush, which is always a bonus for me.
Besides just strolling around and admiring all of the gorgeous places and cars in Zurich, there’s a lot to do! On Saturday (my parent’s first day) we kept it relaxed and walked along Banhofstrasse, the main shopping promenade. Here’s where you’ll find Chanel, Hermes, Tod’s, Longchamp, H&M, Prada, Burberry, and Rolex, among others.
This is also where there’s a huge Zara Home store (give me everything!!) and the flagship Victorinox (swiss army knife) store. Here you can pick out you own knife and have it personalized, which makes for a great keepsake.
On Sunday my husband had a few travel difficulties, so we started our day a little later than originally planned, but we went to Lucerne to go to Mt. Pilatus. This is a MUST DO. Although it isn’t the cheapest activity around Zurich, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Try to arrive early, though!
We took a train from Zurich to Lucerne (~40 mins) and then took a short bus ride to the base of the alps before we boarded a gondola. The open-air gondola ride was about 20 minutes uphill and SO beautiful. We saw little homes, cows, hikers, and the lake during our ride. Then, we got onto the Dragon gondola (pictured above) which was even more exciting, but a faster and shorter ride. This one takes you straight up to Mt. Pilatus, one of the highest peaks in the Alps, but not the highest.
When you arrive at the top the views are incredible and there’s a small snack bar that serves beer and wine (yes!). At the top you can hike around and take in the sights before making your trek back down.
On the way down, we took the world’s steepest cog-wheel train. It was pretty cool but also a little slow and my dad and I both fell asleep for a few minutes. Then, you board a boat for a 90 minute ride back to Lucerne. Doing this excursion is tiring but fulfilling. You get to see the alps and Switzerland from so many perspectives and although we all loved being at the top, the boat ride was perfection.
Since our day was so busy going to Mt. Pilatus and we had dinner reservations, we weren’t able to explore much of Lucerne. However, it seems beautiful and everyone raves about it so if you ever get over there, be sure to save time to check it out!
Another great activity is to take a boat (or train) ride over to Rapperswil. My students actually told me about this and they weren’t kidding, it’s gorgeous! Rapperswil is a very small, old town that is a 2 hour boat ride away from Zurich. You can take the train in about 30 mins though. There’s an old fortress, restaurants, shops, and a church you can explore.
That’s it on our trip to Zurich! Have you been there? Tell me what I missed so I have an excuse to go back! 🙂