Zurich

Zurich may just be one of Europe's best-kept secrets.

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The Swiss city's long association with financial order and good timekeeping disguises an increasingly progressive cultural hub, where historic landmarks sit alongside arty pop-ups and night spots. With its windy streets, stunning lakeside backdrop and scope for Alpine adventure, Zurich is a medieval gem reborn for the 21st century.

Itineraries

If you're flying to Zurich from London City Airport, here's how you can make the most of your half-day, weekend or full week.

Half-day

Start an afternoon (or morning) in Zurich by exploring the city centre and main cultural landmarks on foot. Begin your tour by heading north along the stylish Bahnhofstrasse – one of the world's most famous shopping streets – to explore the luxury retail outlets. From here, weave your way through to Bahnhofbrucke Bridge to cross the Limmat river, and take a short ride up the historic Polybahn funicular. Sit back and enjoy views of the Zurich skyline from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

On your return to Central Square, head south along Niederdorfstrasse into the Old Town to discover iconic sights including Zurich Rathaus (Town Hall) and the twin-towered Grossmünster church. When you arrive at the tip of Lake Zurich make the most of the the photo opportunities across the water. If you're feeling energetic you can extend your walk by strolling along the lakeside promenade. Otherwise, turn north away from the Opera House and head inland towards the church St Peter, which has Europe's largest clock face.

Having worked up a thirst, enjoy a well-earned rest at one of the many cafés or trendy bars lining the cobbled streets of the Old Town. Watch the minutes tick by as Zurich's professional workforce heads home at rush hour. For dinner, choose between traditional and world cuisine at a city centre restaurant.

To continue your night, take a short taxi or tram ride out to the West End to sample Zurich's colourful bohemian nightlife. Enjoy a glass of Swiss pinot noir in a wine bar before taking in some live music or dancing at one of Zurich West's late-night spots.

Weekend

Begin your weekend in Zurich with a leisurely stroll through the Old Town, taking in key landmarks including Grossmünster church, Fraumünster and the Town Hall. Spend an hour browsing the shops on fashionable Bahnhofstrasse before stopping for a light lunch on the cobbles. After lunch, pay a visit to the Landesmuseum to browse one of Europe's most significant cultural history collections. Enjoy the permanent and temporary exhibitions before enjoying scenic views from the adjoining Platzspitz park on the river meander. In the evening, book into one of the many high-end restaurants in the city centre before heading out to sample the nightlife in rejuvenated Langstrasse.

Rise early on day two to enjoy a traditional Swiss breakfast in the Old Town, before taking a stroll along the shoreline of Lake Zurich to the pretty Chinese Garden. If the weather allows, pay a visit to the nearby Strandbad Tiefenbrunnen for a casual swim. After lunch in the Old Town, put on your hiking boots for the hour-long climb up Uetliberg, the mountain overlooking Zurich. Work your way back down the mountain at your leisure via an alternative route. At night, take the opportunity to experience performing arts in this city of culture. If you haven't got tickets for the theatre or opera, head out west for a few casual drinks under the railway arches, or take a wander through the quaint streets of the Old Town.

Full week

Day one

Begin your week in Zurich by exploring the city centre, taking in the historic Old Town straddling the banks of the Limmat river. Take in your first views of beautiful Lake Zurich. Enjoy a light lunch before spending the afternoon in Zurich's city centre and take a look around the shops. Relax at your hotel before heading out to laidback Niederdorf for casual drinks and dinner. Marvel at dusk views of the city, as major landmarks become illuminated.

Day two

Start your second day by visiting the animals at the well-regarded Zoologischer Garten. Afterwards, if you're a football fan, check out the nearby FIFA headquarters on Zurichberg hill. Spend the afternoon browsing the modern art collections at Kunsthaus Zurich, which is home to more than 4,000 paintings. Alternatively, visit the Beyer Zurich Clock and Watch Museum. Change the pace with an evening out on the bustling Langstrasse, with a wide variety of food, drink and entertainment options to choose from.

Day three

If your third day is a Wednesday, visit the weekly Bahnhofmarkt, which sees local fresh produce sold from market stalls at the main railway station. After lunch on the go, ride the train out to the spectacular Rhine Falls north of Zurich. After changing at your hotel, take a tram out to the West End for dinner and drinks.

Day four

Venture beyond the city boundaries by heading into the Swiss Alps for a day-trip. Book onto one of the many full-day coach excursions, or hire a car to plan your own adventure. As part of your day trip, visit one of the many towns and villages in the mountains within range of Zurich, such as medieval Schaffhausen or Lucerne. After a busy day in the mountains, rest your feet in a quiet café or bistro in the Old Town, then relax with some live music.

Day five

If you're here in summer, go for a morning of watersports on Lake Zurich, with windsurfing, kayaking and paddle boarding among the many options. Once you've dried off, spend some time exploring the back streets of the Old Town. Get a closer look at the historic churches of Grossmünster, St Peter and Fraumünster. Continue the cultural theme with an evening trip to the Zurich Opera House, Tonhalle Orchestra concert hall or the Schauspielhaus Zurich municipal theatre.

Day six

Book you train tickets for the short ride out to Baden, a delightful spa town just to the northwest of Zurich. Explore the pretty streets on foot and relax with a coffee at an outdoor café. Relax with a spa treatment, soaking up Baden's famous therapeutic waters, and enjoy a late lunch in your dressing gown. Conclude your day of luxury with fine dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant back in Zurich.

Day seven

Begin your final day in Zurich with a late breakfast in the Old Town followed by a morning's shopping to gather souvenirs. Take a few hours to climb the imposing mountain Uetliberg and enjoy unrivalled views of the city, lake and surrounding scenery from the peak. Enjoy a bottle of wine and dinner on the cobbles to mark the end of your week in style.

Regular flights to Zurich are available from London City Airport. Check our flight timetables to plan your trip to northern Switzerland.