If you and the girls are planning a trip to Europe this summer and want to go someplace fantastic to eat, play, and shop till you drop, then may I suggest Zurich. Don’t bug your eyes at me. That’s right, I said Zurich. The city that was once famous for their banking, watches, and cleanliness has morphed into a hip, happening and a helluva lot of fun. For example, did you know that Zurich has more clubs per captia than any other city in Europe?
Here’s my cheatsheet of Zurich’s top-ten girly picks for a fun-filled weekend “wisit” (as many of the Swiss pronounce it):
1. Absolutely invest in a 72-hour ZurichCARD, which allows you free travel throughout the city on all their user-friendly trains, trams and scenic boat rides. Bonus points for free admission to 39 museums, a free drink in many restaurants and reduced prices on city tours.
2. Pick a well-situated hotel and you’ll be just steps away from world-class shopping ( many of you will find it hard to stray from Bahnhofstrasses-Zurich’s Fifth Avenue) dining and the city’s lively club scene. I particularly like the Widder Hotel, a cluster of townhouses combined into one gorgeous boutique hotel filled with classy Eames furniture and some fantastic frescoes.
* Nice touch is the free jazz offered nightly in the Whiskey Bar.
3. If it’s rainy (or even if it isn’t) plan one afternoon museum-hopping. You’ll never be able to hit them all, so do a little research first and see what you’re in the mood for. If you just have time for one, I suggest the Kunsthaus which was showing “Van Gogh, Cézanne, Monet -the Bührle Collection”. Save some time to check out the world’s biggest collection of Giacometti’s, featuring over 150 of his anorexic sculptures.
4. Do dinner at Restaurant Rüsterei, a former paper factory turned into a hipster, cement and exposed pipe, industrial-chic restaurant accented with fun rosey-pink girly touches and gorgeous chandeliers all topped off by a huge disco ball for the nights it morphs into a dance club. The creative food was beautifully prepared and presented. I loved both my choices from the special asparagus menu: tender Rack of Lamb with white asparagus and cilantro pancakes, and tart Yuzu Mousse over Ginger Cake topped with asparagus ice-cream.
5. ANY place in the edgy, new Zürich West nabe. Reminiscent of NYC’s meatpacking district
Zürich West, the area used to be filled with abandoned factories and a useless viaduct that is currently being turned into Zurich’s first covered marketplace, filled with unique galleries, shops, and food stalls. We loved the “wear an attitude” clothes at Musis, by the very talented owner/designer, Christina Tsouras. She explained she designs pieces “for women who are aware of their sensuality, appreciate the exclusive and set store by superior comfort.” Great mix and match pieces that would be perfect for travel.
6. Before you leave the nabe, be sure and buy a bag (or just gawk) at the Freitag store, where you can purchase a one-of-a-kind messenger bag made from recycled truck tarps and seat belts at their crazy-cool store, which is made out of rusty old freight containers stacked one on top of each other, both masterminded by the wildly creative Freitag brothers.
7. For dinner with a view ( if you’re lucky- we were completely enveloped in a deep fog which was kind of neat in its own way) head waaay up to Restaurant Uto Kulm perched 871 meters above sea level at the tippy top of Uetliberg Mountain ( you can use your rail pass) for panoramic views of the city, lake and Alps. Great place to try Zürigschnätzlets, Zurich’s classic fave, veal in cream sauce. The food was surprisingly good and didn’t rest on the laurels of the view.
8. Perfect for a break, if your mission is to shop till you drop, is the eclectic Péclard coffee/chocolate cafe. Meander through a myriad of stunningly gorgeous rooms (all different) for just the right decor to fit your mood for nibbling on some pastries. Don’ miss trying a cup of their famously rich hot chocolate. The server was spot-on when he described it as “very expensive but made with a lot of love, so well worth the price.”
9. Even if you and your girlfriend aren’t wanna-be chefs you’ll still have a blast if you sign up for a class at Hiltl Cooking Atelier held upstairs in the cooking studio at Restaurant Hiltl, Europe’s oldest vegetarian restaurant, opened in 1898.After a recent rennovation, the place is drop-dead beautiful, designed with inpeccable taste, with one of the most glam kitchens I’ve ever seen. If you don’t have time for a class, join the queue ( they serve a 2,000 meals daily!) at the downstairs international veggie buffet with the city’s largest salad station.
10. Time to think of someone other than yourself,so if bringing gifts home to the loved ones, everyone will be thrilled when they open their box of Sprüngli Luxemburgerli, French style macarons cookies that come in dozens of flavors and colors. My faves were any of the champagne macarons and the caramel ones topped with fleur de Sel. Warning: they only last a few days so best to buy right before leaving town and make sure they tape the box so you can’t break into them in a moment of weakness. There is an outlet at the airport but the main branch at Paradeplatz is a lovely place for a civilized bite of lunch before the long flight home.
For more information on Zurich’s hippest happenings go to My Switzerland.