For Big Design Thrills in Zurich, Think Small

by  Laura Motta | Aug 15, 2019
Le Pavillion Corbusier, Zurich, Switzerland
Le Pavillion Corbusier, Zurich, Switzerland / Switzerland Tourism/Christoph Schuerpf

The Swiss commitment to elegant design isn’t exactly a secret. Whether you’re gliding through Zurich’s Calatrava-designed train station or sliding into a business class seat on a Swissair 777, the nation’s appreciation for everything clean-lined, well-made, and functional is on prominent display. 

Some of our favorite sites in the nation’s hardworking capital, though, require that you look closer to appreciate them. 

Yes, your lie-flat seat on that 777 is designed to deliver you to Zurich rested and in style, but your amenity kit, too, embodies a similarly hard-working ethos — in miniature. Victorinox, the company that pioneered the Swiss army knife, has created a reusable metal snap-case that holds a neatly arranged list of items including socks (in red, naturally), and lip balm — handy for when you’re racing down the slopes in Zermatt. The kit, which is available in business class, comes in black and silver, so you may need to negotiate a trade with your seatmate if you have a preference. Swissair flies to Zurich from cities across the United States including New York, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Flights from Washington, D.C. (Dulles), will begin in 2020. 

On the ground in Zurich, the city has a host of sites that inspire, but they fly lower on the tourism radar than the city’s formidable Museum of Art or opera house. Start at the pint-sized Pavillon Le Corbusier, the final structure built by the architect, and the only one created entirely from glass and steel. Tour the building’s interior from May to November, or stop by to view the exterior — with its dramatic canopied roof — at any time of year. 

Chinese Garden, Zurich / Switzerland Tourism/Max Schmid 

Switch gears from Le Corbusier’s minimalism to complete maximalism nearby, at the Chinese Garden, which was a gift to Zurich from its sister city, Kunming, China. Walk under brilliantly painted pagodas, follow the stepping stones across the pond, and walk under the eaves of a small-scale palace, all contained within the garden walls. 

Sukkulenten-Sammlung, Zurich / Laura Motta

If you love gardening and plants, there are few more fun — or fully tucked-away — sites in Zurich than the Sukkulenten-Sammlung, a series of modest-from-the-outside greenhouses that shelter one of the largest succulent collections on earth. Organized by geographic region and ranging in size from a few inches to a few stories tall, this quiet spot is great for wiling away an hour or two — and collecting snapshots for your social media feed.  

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