Check out some of the coolest places to dine, drink and relax this summer in Switzerland. Whether you prefer a light bite with lake views, sipping sundowners on a stylish rooftop or a secluded courtyard in the old part of town, these eateries are ideal during the summer months.
Best summer restaurants in Geneva
There can be fewer better spots in Geneva for getting the measure of the city than here. A bit of an institution, everyone knows Brasserie Lipp, a pocket of Paris tucked incongruously in a commercial centre on Geneva’s main shopping drag, and every kind of Genevois comes here.
Right in the middle of the Old Town next to the Town Hall, this café-restaurant seems to have a rather mythical status in Geneva thanks to its long history (it opened in 1808) and its status as the café of choice for Swiss politicians throughout the ages. Book ahead to get a seat outside in summer.
The main reason to visit this rather slick bar is, as you might guess, its rooftop. Above a commercial building on Geneva’s posh Rue du Rhône (taking the lift up from the lobby feels like you’re going to a business meeting rather than embarking on a night out), this bar’s outdoor terrace sports a fantastic view over the city, lake and jet d’eau.
There’s something a bit fairytale about this place. Tucked on a grassy patch near the Brunswick monument on the right bank of Lake Geneva, it’s a cosy cabin designed as a home from home. Inside there are old wooden dressers containing books and magazines, paintings on the walls, mismatched lamps and trinkets. Outside, the leafy terrace looking onto the monument and the lake is a peaceful spot to sit and have a quiet breakfast or lunch – the large salads are particularly tasty. Or come after 6pm to take advantage of its menu of tapas – cheeses, dips, smoke fish, marinated vegetables – and local wines. And as befits a gingerbread house, the cakes and puddings are to die for.
Every city needs a bit of quirky individuality, and it’s easy to feel that Geneva is somewhat lacking in that department. But it is there – if you squint a bit. One example is this bar-café built to resemble a 19th century ‘washing boat’, where women would gather to scrub their smalls in the river Rhône.
Who said burgers were bad for diets? At L’Atelier, the calorie count, just like the level of refinement, reaches new peaks. With carefully selected local products, the talented chef of this classy restaurant has concocted a foie gras burger (goose liver) that must be tasted at least once in a lifetime. The melt-in-your-mouth effect is instant with this burger fit for a French king.
Created by an Italian family of ice-cream makers in 1921, Remor hasn’t changed much since then – at least in decor. But its charming pre-war feel is part of the reason why people flock here in droves – that and its prominent people-watching position in Plainpalais, its relaxed, artsy feel, its outdoor terrace and its free wi-fi.
Best summer restaurants in Zurich
This is an ideal summer oasis located near one of Zurich's most famous local attractions, the Chinagarten. It's the perfect place for drinks after work or lounging around on a sunny Saturday afternoon on sofas set on a wooden decked terrace which sits right out on the waters edge.
Not only has fashion store Modissa on Bahnhofstrasse been fully revamped, its recent re-opening also saw the arrival of its very own restaurant on the top floor, including a stunning terrace with great views of the hustle and bustle on the shopping streets of Zurich’s city centre. Open even after shopping hours and equipped with comfy chairs and a spacious bar, the rooftop restaurant serves Asian snacks from the trolley and cocktails with a touch of sake or yuzu.
George opened in 2014 in a chic attic apartment on Sihlstrasse. Thanks to its location on the 5th floor of Haus Ober, above the casino, the restaurant-cum-bar enjoys enviable views over Zurich’s rooftops. It has the feel of a modern penthouse, but elegantly incorporates traditional bar culture.
This gentrified brassiere restaurant, awarded 15 points by the Gault-Millau gourmet guide, attracts a bohemian and lively crowd of local literati and financial wheeler-dealers. This is partly due to the cooking skills of the charismatic Swiss star chef Françoise Wicki and her menu which is built on a fusion of gourmet cuisine with down-to-earth Swiss fare. The restaurant's appeal is also due to it having one of the best service teams in the city, sometimes a weakness in many top restaurants in Zurich, who are friendly, fun and professional. In the summer months the romantic terrace overlooking the river is a must do at least once in the season.
On the third floor of the PKZ Women clothing store you'll find the latest edition of popular vegetarian restaurant Hiltl. A charming location, incredible views of busy Bahnhofstrasse and across Zurich to the lake, plus the restaurant's signature delicious vegetarian buffet - sounds like the perfect shopping pitstop to us!
The 'kitchen by the water', part of culture and youth centre Dynamo. It is best enjoyed outside. Daily changing lunch menus (including at least one vegetarian option and a vegan menu on Wednesdays) using local ingredients, light snacks and cakes are served on its terrace right next to the river.
Hato serves up beautiful Asian cuisine in this elegant Zurich restaurant. The a la carte menu comprises dim sum, sushi, sashimi and a range of grills with vegetarians and meat-eaters well catered for. The summer terrace offers a new seasonal menu and a cool dining spot that is a place to be seen for stylish work meetings and indulgent evenings out.
Best summer restaurants in Lausanne
It’s usually thronging with tourists, the staff can be surly and it’s overpriced, but there’s still something about this place that keeps us coming back. It could be the crêpes – buckwheat pancakes served both sweet and savoury, ranging from simple ham and cheese to multi-ingredient gourmet affairs and pudding varieties involving ice cream and liqueurs. It could also be the Breton cider, served in a ceramic bowl like you’re in a little bistro in northern France. The holiday-vibe outdoor seating must have something to do with it too, plus there’s a prime view of the moneyed poseurs that cruise along the lakeside road in their posh cars. Altogether, it adds up to a pleasant and sometimes amusing way to spend an afternoon.
France’s first female chef to be awarded three Michelin stars, Anne-Sophie Pic grew up in the family restaurant Maison Pic in the south of France before taking the helm herself after the death of her father. After regaining the restaurant’s three stars and becoming France’s most famous female French chef, in 2009 Pic decided to step her culinary toe out of French waters by establishing a second restaurant in Lausanne’s Beau Rivage Palace. Drawing on the flavours and seasonal ingredients of her childhood home as well as local Swiss produce, Pic creates imaginative, beautifully presented dishes that have earned the restaurant two Michelin stars and 18 Gault Millau points. Among the dishes on Pic’s signature Emotions menu are wild langoustines in a broth of green apple, cinnamon leaf, anise and celery, followed by venison marinated in Oolong Rou Gui China tea, chervil with liquorice infused venison jus. Or for the ultimate dinner, the six course Pic Collection menu (at CHF350) features classic dishes honed at Maison Pic such as seabass with Aquitaine caviar. The food is in good company – the Beau Rivage Palace has one of the largest wine collections in Europe.
Serving classic French food, Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville, one of the most famous restaurants in the world, has a long reputation for superb dining after holding onto three Michelin stars since 1998. So it's no wonder the cost of dining there ranges from an eye-watering CHF 172 to CHF 375, but it's still far cheaper than eating in the Parisian equivilent and the setting is serene and charming. The menu changes each season and there is an extensive selection of Swiss and French wine on the menu too.
Best summer restaurants in Bern
Best summer restaurants in Basel
Best summer restaurants across Switzerland
The Aescher guesthouse and restaurant is located high up in the Appenzeller mountains. It's both unique and stunning as it is built right into the cliff, with the rockface forming the building's fourth wall. Open from May to November, you can only get here via arial cable car, followed by a 15-minute walk across across the Wildkirchli caves.