City Guide & Travel Diary: Visiting Switzerland for the First Time
Having the Best Time in Zürich
Welcome back everyone and happy June! It has been two weeks since my last blog post and I am way too excited to write about my amazing journey traveling through Switzerland and Northern Italy.
This past trip was truly a dream come true. I had always wanted to travel to Switzerland to visit the storybook cities and villages as well as explore the gorgeous mountains. In addition, it has always been on my bucket list to see Northern Italy – the area where most of my ancestors came from! Thanks to SitInMySeats Travel, I was able to make this dream trip a reality and to top it all off, I got to experience it all with my family.
Today, enjoy reading about my two wonderful days in Zürich, Switzerland and discover an insider’s guide to the city!
We began our trip of a lifetime on Thursday, May 24. My family and I boarded our overnight flight from Newark to Oslo, Norway. As much as I wanted to explore Norway (maybe some day), we were only there for a two-hour layover. We then hopped on our flight to Zürich, our final destination!
When we finally arrived in Zürich, there was a train that took us from the airport to the area that our hotel was located in. Thankfully, Zürich is a major railway hub with services to and from major cities in Switzerland as well as neighboring countries such as Germany, Italy, France and Austria. The trains are very easy to use and not too pricey. Located in the heart of the city, Zürich Hauptbahnhof is the largest railway station in the country. It is here where you could travel to other cities and countries. In fact, we traveled from Zürich to Como, Italy from this train station.
During our time in Zürich, we stayed at Small Luxury Hotel Ambassador Zürich. It is a beautiful 4.5 Star hotel located across the street from the world famous Opernhaus Zurich (Opera House) as well as the scenic Lake Zürich.
When we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted with a complimentary glass of champagne. It was the perfect way to begin the trip!
I absolutely adored the rooms at Small Luxury Hotel Ambassador Zürich. Since I had to share a room with my two brothers (I know, sigh), we were given the Superior Plus room that included three beds and a lovely balcony. It was so nice to wake up to such a gorgeous view of the city. We even got a view of the largest clock tower in Europe, St. Peterskirche!
To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when it came to food in Switzerland. I knew the country was famous for its chocolate and cheese, so that was definitely on the bucket list during my time there. Prior to going on a trip, I usually ask a friend who has been there to provide food recommendations for me. Unfortunately, I didn’t know anyone who has previously been to Zürich before, so I was on my own to do the research. Luckily, I found some great recommendations from Pinterest and other travel blogs! Below is a list of places that we ate at during our time in Zürich:
- Razzia: Just short of a 10 minute walk from our hotel is Razzia, a swanky bar and restaurant widely known for their cheese. Since I am partially lactose intolerant, I stuck to what I am used to eating, which was pizza! Even though I knew I was going to indulge in a lot of pizza and carbs during my time in Italy, I totally did not regret ordering a personal pie with bufala mozzarella, prosciutto di Parma and mixed greens. It was amazing!
- Conditorei Schober: Located in District 1, which is considered the Old Town, is an adorable Swiss café that serves amazing chocolates, cakes, pastries, tarts and breads. We decided to eat here for breakfast during our second day in Zürich. It was recommended that we get the hot chocolate and boy it was amazing! In fact, it was one of the best hot chocolates I’ve ever had! For my meal, I enjoyed smoked salmon with fresh rye bread. I also enjoyed a chocolate croissant; I had to savor it all. It was so good!
- Restaurant Brasserie Johanniter: There was no way we were going to leave Switzerland without enjoying a traditional dish from there. During our second day, we participated in a city tour where the guide recommended his favorite restaurant. (I’m telling you, asking the locals for food recommendations is like using Yelp, but ten times better!) Our guide (named Urs) recommended Johanniter. It is here where we all enjoyed the best Swiss/German dinner we ever had! I savored spätzle with a mushroom cream sauce dish with an amazing Swiss beer. I am still dreaming about this meal to say the least!
- Confiserie Sprüngli: Known as the best chocolate shop in Zürich, it is at Sprüngli where you could taste amazing truffles, macaroons, gelato, cakes and so much more! There are a few locations in the city of Zürich, but the one we visited was in the Hauptbahnhof (train station). My family and I had a field day picking out different chocolates and treats to eat. It was perfect for our train rides as well during the trip!
- Brezelkönig: Another staple in Switzerland are pretzels! I absolutely love snacking on pretzels and they are even better when they are warm and fluffy. I also love pretzel buns too! It is at Brezelkönig where you can find different types of pretzels as well as pretzel dogs and sandwiches. It was awesome that this adorable pretzel shop was located right around the corner from our hotel. It was the perfect late night snack!
Things to Do:
Enjoy Lake Zürich: During our first day in Zürich, we were so tired from hours of traveling that we relaxed around the beautiful lake. Thankfully, our hotel was situated in a fun location on the lake! There were several outdoor bars, live music, boats and happy Swiss people having a great time. We took this time to drink some wine and enjoy the views!
Shop on the Bahnhofstrasse: Known as Zürich’s main downtown street, the Bahnhofstrasse is one of the world’s most expensive shopping avenues. This exclusive shopping avenue connects Lake Zürich to Zürich Hauptbahnhof.
Watch the Sunset from The View Hidden Bar: Located on the rooftop of our hotel is a quaint bar that overlooks the city, lake and nearby mountains. It is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the sunset. One thing you should know before heading to the rooftop is that it gets very crowded since it is a small space, but once you are able to get seated, it is so beautiful! This bar is only open during the warmer months, so if you decide to travel to Zürich during the winter, you will not be able to go up to the rooftop.
Car Watch: Known to many as the land of luxury, it is in Zürich where you will spot the most expensive cars in the world. From Bugatti to Rolls Royce and McLaren to Lamborghini, it is not hard to find locals driving these babies throughout the city. (The countless amount of Swiss banks located in Zürich explains it all.)
Participate in a Zürich City Tour or Tour Yourself: On our second day in Zürich, we participated in a Zürich City Highlights tour that took us on a half-day sightseeing excursion around the city as well as the outside areas. I personally think that doing this tour was the best way to see Zürich, as we wouldn’t have known to visit all of the places we saw. Check out a list of activities we participated in during our tour in Zürich:
- Stroll through Old Town (Altstadt): The Old Town of Zürich is colorful, charming and full of history! Wandering the streets of Zürich was like being in a storybook. Between the cobblestone streets, quaint alleyways, adorable cafés and restaurants, lovely churches and peaceful neighborhoods, everything felt like it came from a fairytale.
Learn About the History from Zürich’s Iconic Landmarks:
- Peterskirche (St. Peter): The famous Protestant church is one of the four main churches within the Old Town. What is cool to know is that St. Peter features the largest church clock of Europe! You can catch views of this beautiful clock tower in several locations throughout the city.
- Grossmünster: As one of the most famous landmarks in Zürich, legend has it that Grossmünster was built on the graves of the city’s patron saints, Felix and Regula. During the first half of the 16th century, Grossmünster was the starting point of the Swiss-German Reformation. The theological college then annexed to a monastery, which is now the University of Zürich.
- Fraumünster: Founded in 853 by King Louis the German, Fraumünster was inhabited by the female members of the aristocracy of Europe. The most stunning features of this church are the stained glass windows.
- Enjoy the Mountains: One of the highlights during my time in Zürich was riding through the beautiful town of Adliswil that features beautiful Alpine vistas and chalets. When we finally arrived at the Felsenegg vantage point, we took a cable car all the way to the top of a mountain. At the top of Felsenegg, you had the opportunity to enjoy the gorgeous views of Zürich, the lake as well as the stunning Swiss Alps from afar. There were also hiking trails, which we took a stroll through, as well as a bar called Panorama. It is at this great bar where we enjoyed amazing Swiss beer with a view!
- Take a Ferry Ride on Lake Zürich: Another amazing memory from our time in Zürich was taking a ferry ride on the beautiful blue lake. It is here where you could admire the Swiss Alps, catch stunning views of mansions and just relax in the sun!
Needless to say, I totally fell in love with Switzerland! Even though I am grateful to have added Zürich onto my Northern Italy adventure, I definitely feel that two days wasn’t enough time to truly take in all that this beautiful European country has to offer. I will definitely be making my way back to Switzerland soon!
In the meantime, I truly hope you enjoyed reading my blog post on my time in Zürich and that it gave you the inspiration to book your next grand adventure there! If you have any questions about my trip or would like to book this package, please contact SitInMySeats Travel and mention my name.
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