Zürich might top a lot of ‘best places to live’ charts but it’s not often a city that people consider for a holiday. Known predominantly for its banking community and its airport’s proximity to some of the fanciest ski resorts in Europe, it’s also a place that can make for a great few days away with children.
Rachel from The Ordinary Lovely shares her 5 things to do in Zürich with kids (from toddlers to teens):
1. Head for the lake.
Young or old, summer or winter, if you’re ever in Zürich, you must visit the lake. There’s green grass and parks for the little ones to race along and play in, and cafés and grills for teenagers who’d prefer to grab a latte and a snack and sit in awe as Zürich’s most glamorous saunter past.
You can take a boat trip on the lake if you have a couple of hours to spare. It’s a pleasant way to spend an afternoon but not a must. If you have time enough, and weather permitting, it would be better spent at one of Zürich’s outdoor pools. They’re dotted along the lake and are, quite frankly, amazing. You can find more information on Zürich.com.
2. Take a stroll along Niederdorf.
If you ever decide to spend some time in Zürich, you’ll want to amble along one of the most charming parts of the city, Niederdorf. With its cobblestone streets and quaint cafés and restaurants, not to mention gorgeous shops (one dedicated entirely to beautiful stationery), it’s one of the nicest parts of the city.
Head down there early for breakfast (before 11am is wonderful and there’s plenty of places to choose from to eat at) and sit outside (even in the winter … just wrap up) and watch the streets and shops come alive.
It’s also the perfect time for little ones to investigate their surroundings as there’s few people about yet so they can run up and down without bumping in to and getting lost amongst the throngs of shoppers and tourists that make their way there in the afternoon. There’s the added bonus of beautiful fountains at pretty much every turn. What child can resist a fountain (you may want to pack a spare t-shirt for them)?
Stroll a little further and you’ll be astounded by one of Zürich’s most recognised landmarks, the twin towers of the Grossmünster. It’s definitely worth stopping a while to take a few snaps. Just across the way is a cute little sweet shop called Lolipop. A visit will definitely rank you amongst the ‘best parents in the world’.
As you make your way further along Niederdorf and are almost at Bellevue where the Limmat meets the lake, you’re quite likely to pass the cute little café that is Cakefriends. While the service can sometimes be slow, take a seat (your choice of indoors or out) and enjoy a slice of cake served with its own pot of cream (a massive hit with my four year old) and quite possibly the best café latte in Zürich (a massive hit with me).
3. Im Viadukt.
Im Viadukt is a seriously cool shopping area and gourmet food court built under the railway arches in the more industrial area of Zürich. If you have teenagers that want to experience the edgier side of Zürich, this is the place to go. Far more design-focused than the normal high-street selection, the shops are definitely worth spending an hour or two wandering through.
If your children don’t want you cramping their shopping-style, leave them to window shop and head to the Markthalle (food court). It’s a gourmet’s dream. A covered market hall featuring some of the best cheeses, meats, breads, sweets and wines that I’ve seen. Not to mention a pie shop if being on foreign soil is making you long for a slice of home.
4. Head for the Freitag Tower.
Take your teens to the Freitag Flagship Store in Zürich and you will be in their good books for years. All Freitag bags and accessories are made from recycled tarps and their flagship store is housed in old freight containers. The messenger bags are hugely popular in Switzerland … you’ll no doubt spot one being worn before you’ve even left the airport. They make the perfect school bags!
5. Eat vegetarian at Hiltl and drink chocolat chaud at Sprüngli.
If you’re looking for a restaurant to eat in that’s on par with ones that you used to frequent before the kids arrived and yet still welcomes your little ones with open arms, you need to dine at Hiltl (just off Zürich’s main shopping street, Bahnhofstrasse). It’s a vegetarian, buffet-style restaurant but in a very chic setting. The food is diverse and delicious (brunch is particularly lovely) with something for even the pickiest taste buds. If you’re after a refreshing white to wash it down, try the Grüner Veltliner. Wine in Switzerland is served by the decilitre (100ml), and a glass is a perfectly acceptable accompaniment to a family lunch.
Frequented mainly by tourists or the very wealthy, Sprüngli is home to the best cakes, treats and hot chocolate that I have ever come across. And believe me, I have tried far too many than is good for my waistline. For those like myself whose greed knows no boundaries, the hot chocolate comes served in a small jug with enough molten sweetness for two whole cups. What’s not to love about that?! For extra indulgence, there are plenty of treats that you can choose from to take home with you too. It’s basically a modern-day Garden of Eden, temptation-wise. The main Sprüngli restaurant/shop is situated just around the corner from Hiltl so you could eat in one and have pudding in the other.