Laura Kaczmarek’s Guide to 24 Hours in Zurich and Innsbruck

Whether you're into art books, schnitzel or scenic views, the German photographer and skater's got you covered.

Photo by Tina Willim

German photographer and skater Laura Kaczmarek just spent a hot minute zipping through Switzerland and Austria on a photography trip with her crew. You can read about what went down here, but why not do like Laura end make your next week a trip through Zurich and Innsbruck?

Although Zurich’s gained a rather stuffy reputation as a global banking centre, the reality is that the Swiss capital has a lot more to offer than expensive champagne and tax evasion. Zurich has a thriving artistic presence, a blooming culinary scene and hidden pockets of architectural and design wonders that’ll keep your curiosity piqued the whole time you’re there. As for Innsbruck, it’s a touristy mountain city in the heart of the Austrian alps—but it’s also a town stuffed with young people innovating entertainment and food against a backdrop of some of the most gorgeous nature you’ll ever encounter. Don’t take our word on it, though: instead, read Laura’s guide to 24 hours in Zurich and Innsbruck below.

Zurich

Start the day with a massive cappuccino and the fluffiest crêpes ever at Chez Marion

Switzerland is a hybrid of cultural influences, the most dominant of which are German and French. While Zurich is the ‘German’ part of Switzerland, French culture still stands strong in the city—which is exemplified by Chez Marion, a relaxed and typically French bistro and cafe situated in the middle of trendy Zähringerplatz. The bistro is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner but we particularly like their breakfast crêpes: fluffed to perfection and available with a range of toppings you’ll love – nutella for breakfast? yes please! – they’re a delicious accompaniment to grabbing a seat a the window, watching the people of Zurich wake up and drinking a very foamy indeed cappuccino.

please bury me in this showroom 🌿💡😍

A post shared by Polina Bachlakova (@polinabachlakova) on

Lose yourself in an all-things-design heaven at Neumarkt 17

The Swiss are world-famous for their design prowess, and nowhere is this more evident than in the almost-hidden design showroom, Neumarkt 17. The multi-story store just a few steps away from Chez Marion is full of industrial design items that’ll make your jaw drop, like its elevated brass floor hovering above an indoor pool or its collection of iconic chairs. But the best part is, neumarkt 17 doesn’t make you feel like a pleb who’ll get yelled at if you so much as breathe on an Eames chair: the interior is laid out like a comfy and lovingly-decorated home, guaranteeing you a leisurely stroll as you ogle at some of the most gorgeously designed items money can buy.

Go for a long, romantic stroll at the… cemetery? Yep, that’s right.

Contrary to popular belief, cemeteries don’t have to be geometrically organized, morbid grids of cookie-cutter graves located in sprawling fields you’d definitely avoid if you could. In certain European capitals, like Copenhagen and Zurich, cemeteries have gained hang out-certified status thanks to particularly romantic architecture, lush greenery and intricately designed tombstones. Zurich has tons of cemeteries that fit into this category, but our favourite is Friedhof Sihlfeld: with long walking promenades, majestic classical buildings and tombstones overgrown with flowers, it’s a calm and somehow totally not weird oasis of history and nature in one.

Get to know Zurich’s zine culture at Nieves Books

Since its foundation in 2001, publishing house Nieves Books has maintained its position as Zurich’s authority on all things zine and art book-related. The little shop is small and humble, but don’t be fooled: Nieves Books have collaborated with global galleries and book stores, like Tokyo’s No. 12 Gallery and Berlin’s art book store PRO QM. Founder and owner Benjamin Sommerhalder publishes zines made by local Swiss artists, but also sells art books from across generations and decades. While the diversity of books is evident, a red thread runs through them in terms of style: Sommerhalder is partial to naive and child-like graphics alongside his fascination with all things foreign. Whether you’re into weird little zines or massive coffee table art books, Nieves Books is for you.

Destroy a platter of meat for dinner at Brisket

Y’all thought you’d be eating cheese fondue and steak frites in Switzerland, did you? Well, you might wanna ditch those plans once you check out the menu at Brisket: a meaty, loud, casual and fascinated-with-all-things-American restaurant in the heart of Zurich. Admittedly, it’s a bit tricky for vegetarians, but if you’re partial to slathering yourself in pulled pork drippings, this is the joint for you. Oh, and the cocktails are tasty AF.

Sip on some laid-back vibes and lovely libations at Vagabundo

Just a teensy walk down the road from Brisket in the hip Kreis 4 district is Vagabundo: a chilled-out yet decked-out bar with relaxed bartenders and a pretty decent playlist, blasting everything from Pink Floyd to Helmet to NOFX. They’ve got DJs spinning chill stuff from Thursdays to Sundays, so this is a reliable pre party location to re-energize yourself and get going for the rest of the night.

Do a bit of club kid-watching at Longstreet Bar

Zurich’s pretty neat and tidy, you know? Like, it’s a city of well-monitored streets and always emptied garbage cans and people in suits. However, make a bit of an effort to look past the pristine facade and you’ll find places like Longstreet: a dingy club that’s actually quite reminiscent of something you’d find in Berlin. Located in the heart of Zurich’s historic red light district, it boasts some glitzy gold decor, DJs playing late and reasonably priced cocktails. Not bad, eh?

Photo by Tina Willim

“Ooh!” and “Aah!” on the absurdly scenic train ride from Zurich to Innsbruck 

The train ride from Zurich to Innsbruck basically looks like every picturesque stereotype about idyllic pastures, happy and hearty farmers and rolling hills you’ve ever heard. Which, in this case, is a good thing: it’s so pretty you may feel like your eyes are gonna pop out of their sockets and hop over to join the happily grazing cows for a little lunch. The alpine journey passes lakes, goes up mountain sides and rolls through Lech. St. Anton, Landeck and into Innsbruck. Oh, and don’t forget to have an overpriced Swiss beer on the train, it makes things way more fun.

Innsbruck

Channel your inner Austrian mountaineer with a lunch of Schnitzel, Spätzle and beer at Ottoburg

Chances are you’ll be more than a little peckish after that train ride, so fill your belly at Ottoburg: an ultra-traditional restaurant situated in one of Innsbruck’s most ancient buildings. The menu boasts meaty classics like schintzel and tafelspitz, and you can bet these guys don’t go easy on the butter or cream. The decor is about as full-on mountainy as it gets –  the carved wood chairs look like they’ve popped straight out of a storybook – and the service is lovely.

Photo by Tina Willim

Embrace the tourist within and take the Nordkette Cable Car up the mountains

There’s no “off the beaten path” in Innsbruck – it’s an adorable mountain city pretty much made for tourists tourists – so might as well go all in and take a cable car up to Seegrube. It’s about a ten minute, squiggly ride full of breathtaking views—and when you get to the top, there’s a mountain top panorama view of the alps at the lookout point Hafelekar. FYI: try to resist taking that mountaintop selfie all you want, but you’re gonna cave pretty soon, trust us.

Don’t neglect cocktail hour and hit up Moustache

A roomy bar with a large outdoor plaza, Domplatz, which overlooks a big-ass church, this trendy local haunt serves no-fuss drinks and some rather robust long drinks. If you get here in the afternoon, it might feel like all of Innsbruck is gathered at the plaza. People watching? Yes please!

Soak up some final rays of sun for the day on a leisurely hike to Ampass

Innsbruck and its surrounding villages are essentially a hiker’s paradise. Whether you’re into full-day, challenging hikes or short little promenades which are much more relaxing than challenging, there’s tons and tons of options for hikers of all levels. Since you’ve got a pretty packed day in Innsbruck, you’re probably best off with the Aldrans to Ampass hike: an easy-breezy, 45 minute stroll through fields and shy mountains. You’ll start about 100 m away from Innsbruck’s village square, take the path into Pfarr Valley and end up at Ampass: a suburb of Innsbruck’s which meets you with a view of a cute church and plenty of mountains. Get start and end point details here.

Get your final taste of Austrian fare with a hearty dinner at Stiftskeller

Head back to the heart of Innsbruck’s old town and take a seat at Stiftskeller—a restaurant and beer locale serving up traditional Austrian fare like big stews, fried things, potato everything and tasty creamy sauces. Best thing is about this spot is the massive beer garden outside, which is perfect for knocking back more than a few beers and settling into the traditional and adorable vibe of a mountain city in Austria.

Feel a little swanky while staring at jaw-dropping views at the Penz Hotel Rooftop Bar

The Penz hotel is what happens when you take the best of American culture and mix it with Austrian culture. The cocktails are strong and finessed to perfection, like the Americans make ’em… but the service is bulletproof, like the Austrians do. The rooftop bar features cheesy palm trees and plushy cushions to lie back on… but the view you get is nothing you’d ever find in the States. Sip on a gin & tonic as you watch the sun set behind the mountains, the stars begin to twinkle over the valley and the picturesque little houses beneath you start to flicker with light. Admittedly, it’s pricy—but for us, it’s worth the bragging rights you’ll get after checking out this rooftop marvel.