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Dubbed “The Beverly Hills of Switzerland,” the Swiss city of Zurich is so much more than a finance capital, despite the palpable banker presence. Located at the northern part of its namesake lake, with picturesque waterfront promenades and stunning alpine views—especially via the Glacier Express to nearby St. Moritz—Zurich is a seriously underrated European destination ready to have its moment. Whether you’re planning a vacation or are just in the mood for a healthy dose of winter wanderlust, here’s what to see, eat, drink, and where to stay.
Boasting one of the largest collections in the country, including pieces by Andy Warhol, Piet Mondrian, and Claude Monet, to name just a few, Kunsthaus is a must-visit for art enthusiasts and tourists alike. Fun fact: the flowers in the planters inside are replaced every day.
If you have some time to kill (approximately three and a half hours, give or take), hop the train to St. Moritz, a luxe ski resort in the Swiss Alps, and enjoy the incredibly scenic route, replete with (many) mountains, tunnels, and bridges.
Watch lovers (or those aspiring to be) should definitely make a stop at Audemars Piguet’s new store. The high-end manufacturer put down roots in the historic Art Nouveau-style Leuenhof building, once home to the Bank Leu headquarters, and it’s almost as special as the timepieces themselves.
You can’t go to Zurich without eating at Kronenhalle, by far one of the city’s most iconic restaurants. Dating back to 1924, the former beer hall-turned-fine dining establishment has hosted celebrities the likes of Sophia Loren and Yves Saint Laurent and doubles as an art gallery—original works by Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, and Joan Miró fill the walls.
Tucked away on the lowest floor inside the legendary Dolder Grand hotel, the very Instagrammable, Rolf Sachs-designed Saltz eatery features a fire engine red interior, six wine cabinets, and a menu of options made from locally-sourced ingredients. Don’t sleep on the black cod.
Even those who are mildly lactose intolerant might want to pack extra Lactaid for Raclette Factory, an oasis for Swiss cheese dishes and raclettes served every which way. Wash it down with a Heineken or Carlsberg, then walk it off.
Bar am Wasser
After sundown, this sleek cocktail bar with river views transforms into a dimly-lit nighttime spot, with tons of creative cocktails that are almost too pretty to drink. Almost.
*Stefon voice* The Widder Hotel’s eponymous watering hole in the Old Town neighborhood has everything: live piano music, over 200 malt whiskey offerings, and top-notch jazz performers.
For a proper night out, head to Tales Bar. Staffed with the friendliest bartenders, the cozy lounge serves up delicious drinks like the Atacama (pictured above), with Pisco, passion fruit, cardamom tincture, and smoked sea salt.
The Dolder Grand
One of the city’s most illustrious landmarks, the five-star Dolder Grand is the pinnacle of luxury, with a two chic restaurants, a world-class spa, indoor pool, gym, and 175 suites overlooking Zurich, the lake, the alps, and the woods from above. But what really sets the Dolder apart is the unparalleled level of privacy. It makes sense, then, why Leonardo DiCaprio, Oprah Winfrey, and Justin Bieber have all checked in.
FIVE Zurich Hotel
Part of FIVE Resorts and Hotels, FIVE Zurich caters to zillennials with its unique dining experiences, mountainside spa and pool, and DJ sets by names like Robin Shulz, Jax Jones, and Lost Frequencies at The Penthouse rooftop lounge, where you can see the skyline and pay a visit to the bathroom bar (yes, you read that right).
Where better to get some R&R after a long train ride than Badrutt’s Palace? The world-renowned property has been a popular getaway for the Swiss since it opened back in 1896. Offering 156 rooms, including a three-story penthouse facing Lake St. Moritz, two infinity pools, a fitness center, shopping on Via Serlas, and some of the best skiing in Europe, the hotel and surrounding area has been the Gucci family’s go-to winter retreat for generations, and it’s easy to see why.
Claire Stern is the Deputy Editor of ELLE.com. Previously, she served as Editor at Bergdorf Goodman. Her interests include fashion, food, travel, music, Peloton, and The Hills—not necessarily in that order. She used to have a Harriet the Spy notebook and isn’t ashamed to admit it.