I have enormous love for Switzerland - it's clean and beautiful, and I love how the people I've met are funny while still being sort of buttoned up.
I flew Swiss Airlines to Barcelona and had a five-hour layover in Zurich on my way back to New York. The greatest achievement of Switzerland has to be its rail system, which is effortless. It makes me want to stamp my foot and demand that America follow suit. The train from Zurich's airport to the center of town is just ten minutes. So of course I went into town for a couple of hours! Switzerland's best landscapes are beyond the main cities, but I've been to Zurich a few times and always enjoy it when I go.
One thing I hadn't noticed on previous trips is all these fuzzy chairs, so you can still sit outside if it's cold out! Cozy and still stylish. Very Swiss.
Zurich's historic center is very walkable - none of these places is more than 10 minutes apart.
1. Hot chocolate at Cafe Schober and wandering the Old Town: Their hot chocolate is SO good. When you walk in, there's a little shop to buy (what else?) chocolate but keep going to the second or third floor. Those are where the best seats are. The cafe, a Zurich institution since 1836, was renovated a few years ago, but still retains its old-world style.
2. Photo stop at the Grossmünster, Zurich's famous two-towered church. If you have more time, you can walk to the top. Great views of the city and Lake Zurich.
3. Bahnhofstrasse & Chocolate at Sprungli: There are smaller Sprungli shops but keep going to the huge main one, in Paradeplatz. Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich's main street, is impressive, if just to look at all the bank names lining it. I just wanted to go in them all and get the dirt on rich Swiss businessmen. The street has all the usual luxury stores, like Prada, Gucci, and Chanel.
4. Lindenhof Gardens: A small garden on a little hill in the center of Zurich that gives a great overview of the city.
5. Coop City: I LOVE Coops! Or is it Co-Op? When I was traveling in Switzerland a lot back in 2008, I can't tell you how often I stopped here for a great salad, soup, or sandwich. This Coop is huge (hence it's a "city") and has a great cafe on the top floor.
6. Hiltl: If you have time for a longer meal, Hiltl is Europe's oldest vegetarian restaurant and seriously delicious.
A few more snapshots of Zurich's streets: