Unfolding from the banks of the superbly clear Limmat River sits Switzerland’s financial hub, but there’s so much more to this intriguing metropolis than pressed suits and banking. There’s an atmospheric old town, for starters, but innovative restaurants and hip cafes are also constantly springing up, attracting a more relaxed crowd.

And on clear days, when the majestic Alps provide a near-magical backdrop, this supremely walkable city comes into its own. With an abundance of leafy parks, flawlessly manicured gardens, creative architecture and thought-provoking museums, it’s become the ideal unexpected destination for a short break. Here’s how to make the most of 24 hours in Zurich, from morning through to night.

8am: Felsenegg

8am: Felsenegg
Epic views at Felsenegg vantage point / Image: ©Zürich Tourism

Work up an appetite by heading to this acclaimed vantage point, known as the place to get an uncrowded panoramic overview of Zurich and its surroundings. There’s a cable car that whisks visitors pretty much all the way up to the highest point at 2,624 feet, but it’s worth hiking back down to really absorb the stunning views, skyline and joy-inducing birdsong.

10am: Café Zähringer

Secure a table at Café Zähringer for a late breakfast of potato rosti served with Swiss mountain cheese, Bloody Marys, good coffee and – on Sundays – the cafe’s trademark plaited bread served with local honey and jam. This much-loved hotspot has weekly changing dishes made with seasonal ingredients and pretty much everything on the menu is homemade and delicious. If you do have more than 24 hours in Zurich, it’s worth noting that breakfast is served until 2.30pm each day – perfect for travellers who adore lazy mornings. Closed on Mondays.

zaehringer.ch

11.15am: Kunsthaus Zurich

11.15am: Kunsthaus Zurich
Kunsthaus Zürich, Old Masters / Image: ©Franca Candrian, Kunsthaus Zürich

Ideal for a post-breakfast amble, Switzerland’s largest art museum showcases changing bodies of work as well as pieces by some of the Swiss art scene’s central figures, including paintings by Ferdinand Hodler and Félix Vallotton. You’ll also find works by masters like Picasso, Matisse and Munch, plus contributions from modern icons such as Andy Warhol. Free entry on Wednesdays, closed on Mondays.

www.kunsthaus.ch/en

 

12.15pm: Pavillon Le Corbusier

12.15pm: Pavillon Le Corbusier
The colourful exterior of Pavillon Le Corbusier / Image: © Museum für Gestaltung Zürich/ZHdK

Take in the city’s sights with a slow stroll along the cerulean-coloured Lake Zurich, making time to stop and admire the architectural gem that is Pavillon Le Corbusier. As the last building designed by the renowned French-Swiss architect known as Le Corbusier, it’s one of the city’s most interesting structures. From the outside, the steel and glass form evokes a sense of childlike wonder thanks to its primary-coloured enamel plates, while inside, visitors can view some of Le Corbusier’s sculptures, writing and painting. It’s possible to view Pavillon Le Corbusier from the exterior all year round, but the museum only opens its doors from May to November. Closed on Mondays.

pavillon-le-corbusier.ch/en

2.15pm: Bäckerei John Baker

2.15pm: Bäckerei John Baker
Looking for bread? Bäckerei John Baker can probably help you with that

Stop by a branch of this popular bakery for a light lunch done well. With five bakeries spread throughout the city – each serving wholesome sandwiches, moreish cakes and organic bakes – you’ll want to order one of everything. Closed on Sundays.

johnbaker.ch

3pm: Lake Zurich

3pm: Lake Zurich
Calming vibes on Lake Zurich / Image: ©Zürich Tourism

Especially pleasant during spring and summer months, a dip in the translucent waters of Lake Zurich is a must when in town. There are 11 official swimming areas around the lake and river where you can easily stash belongings in lockers for a worry-free swim. We like Seebad Utoquai for its sunbathing terraces, historic wooden platform and diving boards.

6pm: Moon

6pm: Moon
Plant-based indulgence at Moon / Image: Andrea Monica Hug

Recharge with a snack and specialty coffee at Moon. This plant-based bakery wows whether you’re vegan or not thanks to an impressive selection of delicacies, including cardamom buns, apricot tarte Tatin and – definitely not to be missed – lemon rye cookies. Closed Mondays.

www.moonshop.ch

8pm: Silex

8pm: Silex
Smoked pike perch, Jerusalem artichoke crumpet and preserved citrus at Silex / Image: Julia von Meiss/Silex

After a shower and a refresh at your lodgings of choice, head to hip dining spot Silex, where small plates (with a focus on sustainably farmed ingredients), global wines and inventive dishes await. Those lucky enough to snag a table can expect dishes like grilled pigeon with spinach purée and smoked bone marrow, and Zürisee felchen (local fish) pickled in cucumber and coriander with green chilli oil and Japanese spices. Booking is essential, closed on Sundays.

silexrestaurant.ch

10.15pm: Barrfussbar

10.15pm: Barrfussbar
Things starting to kick off at Barrfussbar / Image: © allink AG

Kick off your shoes, literally, and round off the perfect 24 hours at Barfussbar, one of the Zurich’s most intriguing and buzzing venues. This Art Nouveau-style open-air swimming pool by day transforms into a music venue and bar three nights a week during summer (Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from May until late September). The only stipulation? Since it’s poolside, you have to go barefoot, which simply adds to the carefree vibe.

barfussbar.ch/de

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