My husband and I recently returned from Switzerland and it was everything we imagined and more. I’m still processing our magical trip. Although I fall in love with all of the places I visit, there’s one place I loved a little bit more, and that is… Zurich.
Zurich is a giant stage set for discovery, cultural awakenings, inspiration, and historical observation. Most travelers will fly into Zurich before embarking on adventures around the country, especially to the Swiss Alps. For us, it was the last leg of our Switzerland trip, and I couldn’t have been more excited to see it for myself.
I’m sharing my Ultimate 2-Day Guide to Zurich with all of my suggestions and recommendations to help you make the most of your stay!
Where to Stay: Marktgasse Hotel Zurich
Located in the heart of the Old Town, the historic Hotel Marktgasse was the perfect stop for our short, but sweet stay in Zurich. From the moment we arrived at Hotel Marktgasse, Eric and I were treated with 5-star service. The hotel truly felt like our home away from home right from the start.
There’s beauty in simplicity and that’s exactly what you’ll get at Hotel Marktgasse. We stayed in a contemporary suite and were wowed by the views out our window that opened up to the cobbled streets of Old Town. It felt like a relaxing and quiet retreat from the city, which we appreciated. The spacious suite was luxurious and ultra-modern, with elegant high-quality furnishings and comfortable spaces to unwind and relax.
The hotel consists of 39 rooms, that all have different advantages and layouts – from the small and cozy single room to the spacious Marktgasse Suite. Hotel Marktgasse has a historic facade with a modern interior, featuring any amenity you could ever dream about for a comfortable stay. I gravitate towards hotels with historic charm and Hotel Marktgasse is no exception. The hotel is housed in a 15th-century building and looks back on more than 600 years of hospitality in Zurich.
Overall, our stay with Hotel Marktgasse was nothing short of spectacular. Very friendly and accommodating staff, spacious modern suite and amenities, savory dinner and breakfast, and easy walking distance to anywhere in the center of the city were among some of the highlights.
Where to Eat: Baltho Kitchen & Bar
We dined at Baltho Kitchen & Bar which is conveniently located next to Hotel Marktgasse. Baltho Kitchen & Bar offers a dining experience highly acclaimed for its unique take on traditional Swiss cuisine. When I say this was one of the best meals of our entire Swiss trip, I mean it!
We started with pre-drinks at Baltho Bar before dinner, located just above the restaurant and adjacent to the hotel. Inside, we were impressed with how relaxed the vibe was; still very classy and upscale of course, but in a tranquil way that made us feel comfortable. We were pleased with the dim lighting, spacious floor plan, and beautiful modern decor that created a private, intimate atmosphere.
After delicious cocktails, we made our way down into the restaurant for dinner. We started with the saffron noodles with octopus which was recommended by our server. For the main course, I went with the panfried salmon trout served with salmon roe and jasmine rice and Eric ordered the slow cooked beef cheeks in Pinot Noir served with a potato and celery mousseline, kale and barberries. The food was so decadent. On top of that, the presentation of every dish was like a piece of culinary art. We learned that the small, carefully selected menu is predominantly seasonal, as the offerings change several times a year.
Our dinner was terrific, served with the highest quality ingredients. Our waitress was extremely attentive and knowledgeable when helping with our selections, providing us with recommendations which made for an excellent dining experience. All-in-all it was an unforgettable dining experience that will be hard to top on any of our future travels.
What to Do:
Considered one of the most expensive shopping avenues in the world, the famous Bahnhofstrasse is definitely among the top things to see in Zurich!
For a self-proclaimed fashionista like me, you can imagine that Bahnhofstrasse or as I call it, “The Rodeo Drive of Swiss” was on the top of my list. The boulevard is lined with cafes and luxurious fashion designers, watches and jewelry from around the world such as Cartier, Dior, Armani, Chanel, Prada, Rolex, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc. A girl can dream, right?!
Altstadt or Zurich Old Town
If you have only one day in the city, Old Town Zurich should be considered a must-see. The Old Town exudes its own charm with the colorful Renaissance buildings, narrow cobblestone alleys winding through buildings with pretty windows overflowing with flower beds and churches. The streets are filled with history as well as modern shops and cafes that are best to explore by foot. Many streets aren’t suitable for cars or public transport so if you don’t want to miss anything you need to take a walk anyway.
Be adventurous and dive into the little side streets on either side because there are lots of fun bars, coffee shops and shopping along the way. At night, its pedestrianized streets become a great boulevard and nightlife area to explore. After dinner, we had a nightcap at one of the cute little bars steps from our hotel.
In between exploring the cobbled streets of Old Town and sampling Swiss chocolate, we managed to get ourselves up to Lindenhof Hill – it’s not far from the Old Town and is the best way to view the city. We went up during the day and the views were spectacular, so I can only imagine how beautiful it would have been in the early evening.
lt will leave you with some of the most picturesque photos of your trip. Being the highest point in Zurich, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the entire city including Old Town, Grossmünster Church, and the Limmat river. If time allows, I would highly recommend heading up there to watch the sunset.
What You Can’t Miss:
Stroll Lake Zurich
If there’s one thing you can’t pass up, it’s taking a stroll alongside Lake Zurich. Located right in the heart of the city, it can be found at the end of both Bahnhofstrasse and Niederdorfstrasse streets. Take a stroll on either side of the lake, soaking up the picturesque views of the distant Alps and surrounding forests.
Indulge in Sweets
Try some chocolate of course! When you think of Swiss food, what comes to mind? For me, chocolate and fondue are pretty high up on the list. Eric and I both have a known sweet tooth so we were ready to indulge as the locals do. There are many opportunities for one to go chocolate tasting around the city. Chocolate is certainly big business in Zurich, with plenty of boutiques selling handmade bars in beautiful boxes. There’s no shortage of places to sample authentic Swiss chocolate!
How To Get Around:
Eric and I purchased a Swiss Pass prior to our visit which made it easy to get around while in Switzerland. Public transportation in Zurich consists mainly of tram, buses and the S-Bahn (light trains). In the city center, you can find a tram or bus stop every few hundred meters so it’s very accessible. We stayed in the heart of Old Town which made everything essentially walking distance from our hotel.
As we found out, there’s definitely never a dull moment in Zurich. There’s so much to explore, so our short stay meant that we only just scratched the surface of what beautiful Zurich has to offer.
Whether you’re a fan of the great outdoors, spectacular scenery and landscapes, food, art, science or nature, or all of the above, this cosmopolitan city will excite and bring so much happiness to you, as it did for us.
If you get the chance to go, I truly hope you enjoy your time in the stunning city of Zürich. If you have any more suggestions for things to do in Zurich, I’d love to hear from you!