Zurich is a small city with a lot of character. The architecture reminds me of ski chalets and, with the mountains just a train ride away, you can even go skiing for a day just outside the city as part of your weekend away.
There is also a wealth of museums and galleries within the city. The Kunsthaus is one of the biggest galleries featuring modern art, classical modernism and an impressive collection on illusionism. I visited the exhibition on Abraham Cruzvillegas, the Mexican artist, which ran until the 25th of March 2017. You’ll have to pay 18 CHF (£13.50) to enter the main collection and extra for the exhibitions. The main collection areas are mostly wide-open spaces apart from the classical art which is made up of small conjoined rooms. The Kunsthaus is highly recommended for art lovers because of the quality of the collections and exhibitions.
Walking around the city centre is very serene. The streets are clean and quiet but the restaurants and bars are often quite busy due to a healthy spending culture. The city is actually so clean that you can swim in the river which flows with fresh mountain water. There’s also a lake in the centre which is a great swimming spot in the summer. The interwoven natural aspects and quaint architecture makes Zurich a calming escape compared to many other crowded and bustling European cities.
The cuisine is a big attraction. With a variety of Swiss and international restaurants, you are spoiled for choice on dining. The Swiss classic raclette is easy to find in restaurants around the city. Raclette involves melting cheese on to different pieces of vegetable, bread or olives. Unlike a fondue you don’t need to dip the food in as a slab of cheese is melted on the top using a small grill which you can slide your selected vegetables and cheese into. With good Swiss cheese, raclette is irresistible and a fun, sociable meal out. In general, Swiss restaurants prefer local food to imported so you can expect high quality and high prices at an average of 30 CHF (£22.40) for a main.
One restaurant we tried was The Artisan which serves a lot of great vegetarian food as well as pizza and burgers fresh from the grill. The Urban Garden features a large outdoor dining area, which is great in the summer, and within the restaurant plants climb from the tables to the ceiling to give the indoor seating area the garden feel. It’s recommended to book ahead as its very popular. The restaurant is in Wipkingen which is within walking distance from the centre.
As Zurich is a small city, you can pretty much see everything on foot or take the tram which is around 8 CHF (£6) for a day ticket which allows for unlimited travel for 24 hours. You can take the train to and from the airport for just 6.80 CHF (£5.10) one way to or from the main station. When you arrive from the airport just go down the stairs to the train station and ask for a ticket to the main station at the information counter or use the machines and select Zurich main station.
My final recommendation is the Thermal Bad. This spa has a rooftop heated pool with jacuzzi jets which you can relax in while looking at the view of the city or the snow on the surrounding mountains in winter. There are also indoor baths and a steam room which you have access to for just 36 CHF (£26.20). If you pay 60 CHF (£44.80) you’ll get access to more baths and a towel and robe included.
Overall, Zurich is small enough to see in a few days and makes for a very relaxing city break. Visit in the winter for skiing and snow and the summer for swimming and live screenings of the opera outside the Opera House for free.