Explore Switzerland

Trend setter David Gillson and Joburg Style’s Eric Bornman offer two very different sides to Zurich. We’ve put their ideas together to create the perfect two-day adventure in Switzerland’s capital

A complete dichotomy, Zurich may be home to one of the largest stock exchanges in the world, and the country’s financial hub, but it’s also full of cultural treasures. The city’s theatre, opera and classical music are legendary. Art abounds, from stained glass windows by Chagall and Giacometti in the churches, to the awe-inspiring more modern 19th and 20th Century pieces found in the revered Kunsthaus, the city’s most important fine art gallery, which is home to sculptures and paintings by some of the world’s masters.

DAY 1

Start your adventure by exploring the main street, Bahnhoffstrasse, which is lined with shops and restaurants. Before you get some retail therapy, stop off at the Lindt store and enjoy a hot chocolate. Then head for Trois Pommes, which offers a great selection of Swiss high fashion for men and women, as well as jewellery and artworks.

Another great store is upmarket Jelmoli, one of Zurich’s oldest department stores, known around the world for its quality international men’s and women’s fashion. It offers extremely high end brands itself as a shop-within-a-shop gallery under the slogan “The House of Brands”. The store has an excellent food hall and a restaurant where you can enjoy lunch.

You can’t visit Zurich without exploring the famous Kuntshaus, one of Europe’s top art museums, with an exceptional collection of modern art. Name a modern 20th century artist and you’ll find them here, from Matisse and Manet to Dali, Chagall and Van Gogh.

This evening, visit the medieval Old Town, a great place to go clubbing and shopping. There are also some excellent restaurants here, including Restaurant Chuchi at the Hotel Adler, where Eric stayed. This traditional establishment the first fondue restaurant in the city – try the Adler Special fondue, or the Raclette, which comes highly recommended.

DAY 2

This morning, see Zurich from a completely different perspective, on a cruise on Lake Zurich. There are several tours available of various duration. So relax and enjoy the scenery. The shore is lined with promenades and parks where you can relax or have refreshment.

After the cruise, it’s time for another adventure – a funicular train ride. The Polybahn has been in operation since 1889, and transports a maximum of 50 passengers every two minutes on the very same route it has used since inception. Refurbished in 1996, the train is fitted with state-of-the-art technology.

Take the funicular to the magnificent 125-acre park high above the city and visit the extraordinary Dolder Grand Hotel, originally built in 1899 and then refurbished in 2008. The hotel’s famous restaurant is ideal for lunch, but even if you just explore, the remarkable city views will take your breath away. Enjoy typical steak or sausage and rosti potatoes, before exploring this amazing property that includes a nine-hole golf course and pool complete with wave-making machine.

Then head back down to explore the city’s trendy western neighbourhood, whose former factories and old train viaduct have been transformed into trendy bars, edgy art galleries and quirky boutiques. There is so much to discover here, including the contemporary art museum, the Kunsthalle.

Spend your last evening at Bierhalle Wolf in the Old Town, where you can savour good classic Swiss food washed down with an abundance of beer in a typical party atmosphere. Try the schnitzel, spätzle egg pasta or bratwurst sausages, and plenty of great-tasting beer served in large beer mugs.

STAY

Hotel Adler

This charming hotel started off as an inn in the 11th Century. Refurbished in 2014, it’s located in the heart of the Niederdorf area in the Old City, just five minutes from the Bahnhofstrasse. It’s a very stylish place, with comfortable rooms offering scenic city views.

Baur Au Lac

For almost two centuries, this historic establishment has hosted celebrities, royalty, actors and musicians. Located in a private park on the lakeshore, it is ideally located right next to the Bahnhoffstrasse. The hotel is one of the Leading Hotels of the World, so accommodation and dining is superlative. Have a light meal or drink at the al fresco Terrace restaurant, the city’s hot spot in summer.

Basel

Located just an hour from Zurich, Basel is a world-class city on the banks of the River Rhine. It’s a cultural treasure house, with over 30 impressive museums including the Kuntsmuseum, displaying the works of more than 2,500 artists. Famous for its successful annual Art Basel fair, the world’s leading international art show for modern and contemporary pieces, and equally renowned for the important international watch and jewellery exhibition, Baselworld, Basel’s lifestyle revolves around the river. In the summer, locals flock to the riverside to relax, soak up the sun or take a stroll along the banks.

MUST-VISIT

Der Teufelhof Basel

Set in the heart of Basel’s Old Town, extraordinary guesthouse and cultural centre offers two excellent restaurants – Bel Etage and Atelier, theatres and art installations all under one roof. Comprising two 18th Century townhouses, there’s also a bar, coffee lounge and wine cellar.

Munster Cathedral

The imposing Gothic church is an Old Town landmark with its twin towers, colourful roof tiles and red sandstone walls. Views from the Pfalz terrace are breathtaking.

Rathaus

The City Hall, or Rathaus, is a meticulously refurbished, striking 14th Century Renaissance palace. Visit the Council Chambers, the atmospheric interior courtyard and the imposing tower.

Kunstmuseum Basel

Home to an impressive collection of Renaissance and modern art including treasures from the likes of Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Warhol and Giacometti.

MUST-DO

Learn to make chocolate

Basel has more than its fair share of Swiss chocolatiers, including a number of fair-trade vendors. Chocolatier Beschle offers something extra to those with a predilection for this melt-in-the-mouth confectionary… an opportunity to learn the fine art of chocolate making and create their own chocolate.

STAY

Der Teufelhof Basel

This unique offering features two different hotels: The Art Hotel offers eight rooms and one suite where guests experience art in a new context. Each of the rooms has been redesigned by an artist as a three-dimensional work of art and guests literally live in this work of art. The Gallery Hotel is a stage for art displays; exhibitions are held all the time. It features 20 rooms and four junior suites.

 Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois

One of Europe’s oldest city hotels, this magnificent five-star hotel is situated in what was the city’s grandest residence. It’s hosted historic luminaries including Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles Dickens, Pablo Picasso and Queen Elizabeth II. It boasts a 3-Michelin Star restaurant, The Cheval Blanc, and offers every possible luxury.

WINING AND DINING

Restaurant Atelier

This lively Michelin-starred restaurant offers a selection of contemporary international and regional specialities.

Restaurant Schnabel

For traditional Swiss food, this charming restaurant in the historic part of town is ideal. Sit outside on the pavement or dine inside.

Cheese, chocolate… repeat

A few specialist tours for you to try to enjoy the very best of Zurich’s gourmet delights.

Chocolate walking tour

This is a chocolate addict’s delight – a glorious two and a half hour stroll exploring a selection of chocolate shops in Zurich’s Old Town with a food expert as a guide. Tasting the products is part of the fun, so indulge.

Mountain cheese and chocolate tour

Spend a day exploring the countryside just outside of the city. Visit the Lindt outlet store and sample fine cheeses at a traditional Swiss cheese factory. Ride an aerial cable car to Mount Hoher Kasten for scenic views over the Alps.

Cheese Fondue Tuk Tuk tour

Spend an exciting hour and a half in an electric Tuk Tuk exploring the city and enjoying a feast of Swiss cheese fondue washed down with wine. www.viator.com

Läderache Chocolatier Suisse

Nothing in the world beats FrischSchoggi (fresh chocolate), and this fine Swiss chocolatier is one of the finest you’ll ever taste. In fact, Joburg Style’s Eric Bornman refused to go for a day without his stash. Luckily, the stores are found throughout Switzerland, so he indulged himself in Zurich, Basel, Lucerne and at the airport! www.laederach.com

HOW TO GET THERE

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) flies to and from Johannesburg seven days a week. The flight time is 10 and a half hours.

The airline recently unveiled its new First, Business and Economy Class products on its new Boeing 777-300ER, a twin-engine aircraft that carries 340 passengers and uses 20 percent less fuel per seat, thus emitting less carbon dioxide than comparable aircrafts. It offers eight First Class seats, 62 in Business Class and 270 in Economy and the totally redesigned interior provides every comfort, including more legroom, larger screens for entertainment and touch screens instead of remote control devices. Passengers also enjoy authentic Swiss beer and chocolate on the flight. www.swiss.com

Switzerland Tourism | www.myswitzerland.com

Delicious cheese closer to home

Healey’s Slow Matured Cheddar has churned out SA Champion status at this year’s SA Dairy Championships by soaring above all other competitors in the Raw Milk Semi Hard or Hard Cheese Category. The cheese is made by hand in limited quantities at Waterkloof Estate on the outskirts of Somerset West.

The deli where the winning cheese and others are available was designed with a specific vision in mind: the creation of a natural and flowing space for aficionados to taste the finest slow-matured cheddars whilst getting a first-hand glimpse of the intricate process involved in making these award-winning wheels of deliciousness.

Healey’s Slow Matured Cheddar is incredibly versatile and can easily be enjoyed with sweet or savoury accompaniment. The one-stop cheese-shop therefore also features other scrumptious bites and artisanal products by some of their favourite local producers. This includes some of the best roasted coffee, olives, cured meats, fresh breads and delicious jams and preserves.

www.healeys.co.za