While there are indeed 200 banks located in Zurich, one would be remiss to overlook the romantic sides of Switzerland’s largest city. And since most Swiss vacations will start and end at Zurich Airport or at its train station, why not spend a day or two exploring?
Among the not-to-be-missed romantic experiences in Zurich:
Walk hand in hand around the Lake Zurich shoreline at the city’s edge. Swans float up to bask, you can rent a paddle boat for two to see the city from the water, or board a boat for a two-hour exploration deeper into the lake.
On board, you can take in romantic vistas of the quaint-looking surrounding villages.
If you’re shopping for a diamond, you’ll find plenty on Zurich’s Bahnofstrasse, which is often dubbed the Fifth Avenue of Switzerland. Here luxe watch makers and jewelers, such as Gubelin and Bucherer, as well as brand-name department stores Globus and Jelmoni, tempt shoppers with glittering window displays.
Across the Limmat, the river that bisects most of the city, is Zurich's old town area, where tempting patisseries dot cobblestone streets dating to the middle ages. Bridges provide pedestrians access from one side to the other.
Work up an appetite by climbing the 184 stairs in the Grossmunster, the towering church founded by Charlemagne: The views of the city will take your breath away. Snack on soft and creamy macarons from Sprüngli—which claims to have invented them and calls them Luxemburgerli. Its headquarters occupies a prominent corner on Paradeplatz.
Do save room for dinner with the posh and elegant at Rive Gauche. End the night by taking a cue from the city’s hipsters: bar hop through Zurich West, the former industrial area that’s being reimagined as a nightlife and artistic center.
Where to Stay in Zurich
Make your visit to Zurich memorable by staying in one of these romantic hotels:
Located on a hilltop ten minutes outside of the city by car, the Dolder Grand is a haven of placid luxury for couples seeking privacy and calm away from bustling Zurich proper. It contains an impressive art collection, with works by well-known artists including Andy Warhol and Niki de Saint Phalle.
Originally built in 1899 as a health spa, the expensively renovated property continues to boast the kind of a drool-inducing spa that its competitors in the historically coded downtown area are prohibited from building.
The Japanese-influenced spa features two private suites and its menu includes medical treatments (i.e. lasers, peels and injections).
Guests can also hike the grounds, play nine holes of golf, and hit balls on one of five tennis courts.
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Baur au Lac
Although the 124-room neoclassical hotel is now in the heart of Zurich, in 1844 it was built as an out-of-town villa on the lake (au lac) for aristocrats seeking discreet lodgings.
Due to multiple renovations, the Baur au Lac—still run by the Baur family—maintains the luxurious standards sought by the heads of state and celebrities who have frequented it over the years.
The design of the well-appointed rooms and suites is old-world luxury (and each is unique), but the amenities are all modern.
The hotel’s biggest assets are a garden and terrace with views of Lake Zurich and the snow-capped Alps on the other side.
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Several tradesmen guilds ruled Zurich from when they took power from the merchant class in the 12th century until the French revolution. Many of the guild halls still exist, mostly as clubs or restaurants.
The eight townhouses owned by the Guild of Butchers were recently converted into a 49-room boutique hotel, making the Widder one of the most unique properties in the city.
No two rooms are alike and some have roof terraces. While the existing framework is historic (detailed-wood ceilings, ornate window casings), the decor is decidedly modern (the hotel includes works by Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, among other famous designers and architects).
The Widder Hotel is in heart of downtown Zurich, near plenty of restaurants and bars. Before exploring, though, make a point to pop into the hotel’s happening jazz-themed Widder Bar, which also hosts live concerts throughout the fall and spring.
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As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary meals and accommodations for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, we believe in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.