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.

Arriving at Zurich Airport

Zurich Airport (ZRH), with its three runways and three terminals, is Switzerland's busiest transport hub. Also known as Kloten airport, it lies just over six miles (10km) north of the city centre, spread across the municipalities of Kloten, Rumlang, Oberglatt, Winkel and Opfikon. Terminals A, B and E connect to the Airport Centre building, home to the check-in areas, shopping areas and onward connections.

Trains depart from Zurich Airport railway station for Zurich Hauptbahnhof – the city's main station – every few minutes. The journey takes between 10 and 15 minutes. The Stadtbahn Glattal light rail system also services the airport, offering a useful alternative for visitors staying in the north of the city.

Zurich Airport has excellent road transport links. If you're hiring a car from the main terminal complex, expect a 20-minute drive into the city centre along the A51 motorway. You'll take the same road for ski resorts to the south of Zurich, including Engelberg, Titlis and Andermatt.

Taxis are available 24/7 from in front of the arrivals areas, and more than a dozen bus routes service the airport.

Essential sights

Religious landmarks

Zurich is known for its grand churches, and they're worth a look for their remarkable architecture. The two-towered Grossmünster rewards a steep, lengthy climb with one of the best views in the city, while Fraumünster is notable for its beautiful stained-glass windows. You won't struggle to locate the church of St Peter – its tower proudly houses the largest church clock face in Europe.

Zurich Zoo

The spacious Zurich Zoologischer Garten is home to more than 300 species, with the animals housed in modern, carefully designed enclosures. The most famous residents are the Asian elephants, who live in a large dome, and king penguins, who parade each day at noon.

Kunsthaus

With collections spanning from the Middle Ages to present day, the Kunsthaus Zurich is a must-see gallery for art lovers. There is a strong focus on Swiss painters, but you'll also find impressive works by masters including Van Gogh, Cezanne, Monet, Manet and Picasso.

Chinese Garden

What Zurich's Chinese Garden lacks in size it makes up for in beauty. Located on the lake shore at the Zurichhorn, this delicate floral creation was a gift from twin town Kunming, opened in 1994. Centred around a small pond island, it features pavilions, an artificial mountain and a water palace.

Landesmuseum Zurich

The Swiss National Museum houses one of Europe's premier cultural history collections and is well worth a visit. Incorporating the National Museum Zurich, the Castle of Prangins and Forum of Swiss History Schwyz, its French Renaissance-style château architecture is an architectural attraction in itself.