Zurich may just be one of Europe's best-kept secrets.
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.
Zurich is compact enough for you to explore on foot, but also boasts first-rate public transport links for when you're in a hurry or heading further afield. You can expect class, comfort and punctuality.
Trams have formed an integral part of Zurich's transport structure since the 1880s, and most neighbourhoods are served by the extensive, 15-route network. Tram stops are located at regular intervals. Simply buy your ticket or day-pass from the platform machines before boarding.
Bus travel is similarly straightforward in well-connected Zurich. The city's trolleybus and motorbus networks complement the tramway system and S-Bahn rail grid, ensuring all areas are easily accessible. Buy tickets at payment machines or online; one-way, multi-journey, whole-day and group passes are all available.
Zurich's roads are busy at times, but still navigable. Take note of the regulations if you're hiring a car, or brace yourself for a fine. Remember to drive on the right, keep your headlights on at all times, park in marked bays only and respect pedestrians' and cyclists' right of way. If you take a taxi, expect a wait of five to 10 minutes for phone orders, or hail a cab from Lake Zurich, Bürkliplatz or the main railway station.
Zurich's reputation is built on its many banks and businesses, and the city centre is where the action takes place. The CBD is a bustling metropolis, nowhere more so than on exclusive Bahnhofstrasse, which is famed for its high-end retail outlets. A working city this may be, but you're never more than a twist or turn away from a quaint cobbled lane, imposing church steeple, or charming eatery. The Old Town is worthy of exploration, with excellent views from Lindenhofplatz, the former site of Roman fort.
The old industrial centre of western Zurich sets the benchmark for urban renewal, its abandoned plots and derelict warehouses having given way to arty cafes, bars and clubs. Bohemia is alive and well in this trendy part of town, which has no shortage of design boutiques, market halls and second-hand shops under its old railway arches. Zurich West comes alive when the sun goes down – this is a nightlife hub of the city. It's also the ideal place for a leisurely lunch or laidback dinner.
For an invigorating few hours in the great outdoors, you can take a stroll along Seefeld's historic promenade. The two-mile (3km) walkway runs along the eastern shore of Lake Zurich, offering superb views of the yachts moored on the water and of the imposing Uetliberg mountain. In warm weather you can take a swim in the Strandbad Tiefenbrunnen or Seebad Utoquai – Zurich's two lakeside baths – or explore the leafy Blatterwiese Park.
Time Zone: Central European Time (GMT +1) and Central European Summer Time (GMT +2)
Population:City approximately 400,000; metropolitan area 1.83 million
Language: Official language is German; English is widely understood
Currency: Swiss franc (CHF)
Voltage:230V; Europlug adapter required