Switzerland’s largest city is the birthplace of Dada, the antiwar, pro-creativity art movement that sprung up in 1916 and whose offbeat – and often satirical – output largely inspired Paris’ subsequent Surrealism. So far, so fascinating. But that was 100 years ago: since then, the lakeside metropolis has become better known as the home of francs, finance and fondues.
Today, Zürich is undoubtedly finding its feet as a contemporary, creative capital. What started with a handful of independent coffee shops cropping up in the Old Town (see super-cool French joint Franzos and Miro’s mobile coffee truck) has grown into a grassroots emergence of culture, encompassing art, food, and film. Here’s our pick of the city’s best hotspots – and how to explore them in style. Stay In the heart of the Old Town at Marktgasse Hotel – the city’s first proper ‘design hotel’ (above), which recently opened in a listed 15th-century building that served for 600 years as an inn. The original stucco and wall panelling has been perfectly preserved, and is complemented by pared-back Nordic designs, parquet flooring, mid-century furniture and a beautiful, well-stocked library (doubles from £184; marktgassehotel.ch). Visit Enea, a sublime open air ‘tree museum’ near Lake Zürich. Its exhibits range from new saplings to 100-year-old rare pines among fragments of Brutalist concrete architecture and figurative sculptures (enea.ch). The Dada scene’s famous former haunt, Cabaret Voltaire, is also experiencing a renaissance. Housed in a medieval building, the gallery’s Art Deco-style bar is the perfect spot to sip a glass of house absinthe while listening to the smooth sounds of a live jazz band (cabaretvoltaire.ch). Eat A technicolour salad at Haus Hiltl (right), the world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant – painted grass green on the outside, but with an unexpectedly modern interior (hiltl.ch). Or enjoy a schnitzel at Kronenhall, the brasserie frequented by Giacometti and Coco Chanel, which doubles as a free-admission art gallery, featuring paintings by Miró and Marc Chagall ( kronenhalle.ch). See Films. Check out Kino Stüssihof – a former erotic picturehouse showing indie movies (arena.ch) – and the annual cinematic festival, at which films are accompanied by live music (stattkino.com).