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The business travel guide to Zurich from London

Zurich: Need-to-know

You probably have a decent handle on the city if you're heading to Zurich on business, but a little background doesn't hurt. In the north of Switzerland, it's the country's largest city and is primarily known as a major hub for business and winter sports, with many major financial services, insurance and other firms headquartered here, and ski resorts including Engelberg and Davos under two hours away.

The city's official language is German but, international business hub that Zurich is, English is widely spoken here, along with other languages. That said, it's worth having a go at speaking German – even if you're not fluent, as in most places, locals will appreciate any attempts you make at speaking their language and (usually) swiftly reply in English. Although

Getting from London to Zurich

Choose from 10 departures a day during the week from London City Airport to Zurich, with two on Saturday and six on Sunday. The first flight of the day Monday to Friday takes off at 0700, with a final departure at 2015, so you're covered whether you need to arrive for a morning meeting or leave the City after work (it's just 20 minutes from Bank to London City Airport on the DLR). Check the timetable for full flight times between LCY and Zurich or search for flights to check times and fares.

Getting to and from Zurich airport

Zurich airport is just over six miles north of the city centre, making for an easy journey, however you decide to travel. Take the train direct to Zurich's main station for the shortest journey (about 10 minutes) or take a taxi from the ranks outside Arrivals 1 and 2 (expect to pay 10 times the cost of a train ticket). With the large number of business visitors to the city, many hotels also offer a free shuttle service – browse for hotels along with your flight to find one. Public transport is typically excellent in and around Zurich, but if you're planning to travel beyond the city during your stay then it could be worth hiring a car.

In keeping with the 'biggest city' title, Zurich airport is Switzerland's main international transport hub, and the country's biggest and busiest airport. In other words, be prepared for the standard major-airport experience.

Getting around Zurich

Is remarkably easy. Supposedly you're never more than 300m from a bus or tram stop, and the Swiss reputation for impeccably efficient public transport is well-deserved in Zurich. Stops and stations usually come with clear timetables and ticket machines that make it easy to figure out where to go and how to get there, but you can work your journeys out in advance on the website of VBZ (Zurich Public Transport) too. If you have several trips to make in a day or more then it can be worth getting a ZurichCARD, which gives you unlimited travel around the city for a fixed period of 24 or 72 hours, as well as discounted and free entry to some attractions (handy if you're tacking some leisure time onto your trip).

Travelling for the day

It's a flight of just over 1 hour 30 minutes between London and Zurich, so although you're heading to heart of Europe, it is very much a viable day trip. Take the 0700 departure from London City Airport and you can realistically be in Zurich city centre by 1100; return flights at 1900 and 1910 mean you can get a good few hours in the city before you need to head back to the airport.

Longer stays in Zurich

Flying in for more than a few days? Even if it is all work, you can still expect a pleasant stay here any time of year – Zurich often figures in 'most liveable city' lists. That's in no small part because of the city's wealth, but it's also a genuinely lovely place to spend some time, with a less hectic pace of life than London and a more manageable scale, along with a sophisticated, international atmosphere. With plenty of life in the city, if you are staying for a few days or more, it's worth finding a hotel in the city centre so you can easily make the most of it.

Make the most of your trip to Zurich

If you're not going to be stuck in meeting rooms for your whole trip, then you're in luck; there's a huge amount to take up your spare time in and around Zurich. It's almost a cliché now that 'there's more to Zurich than business' – take your pick from nightlife, cultural attractions or a trip to the mountains.

Explore the old town

Zurich's old town is remarkably pretty – all the more so, given the city's thoroughly modern, business-first outlook. Even if you only get a few minutes between meetings, it's worth a wander – and ideally a drink – here. In the summer, boat trips on the River Limmat give you a different perspective on the old town.

Make the most of the snow

The Alps are on your doorstep – if you have the remotest interest in skiing or snowboarding then a business trip to Zurich I nwinter is the perfect excuse to stay on a couple of extra days and head up the mountain. Hire a car and you're under 90 minutes' drive from Engelberg and Andermatt – both favourite weekend jaunts for Zurich locals

Visit Zurich's neighbours

If you've done Zurich to death and you'd like something to do beyond the mass of outdoor activities here, you can find some more urban and cultural attractions within easy distance of the city.

Neighbouring Winterthur is an easy train journey of about 20 minutes from Zurich's main station and other S-Bahn stations. It's worth a visit for its own pretty old town, which is fully pedestrianised and is great for a relaxing afternoon of café-hopping, but there are also some outstanding museums and art galleries here, including the Fotomuseum, dedicated to photography, and the Museum Oskar Reinhart, with its impressive collection of art from the 18th to 20th centuries.

A little further north, and still under 40 minutes by train from Zurich is Schaffhausen, a pretty, historic town on the banks of the River Rhine. An essential stop just outside the town is the Rhine Falls – one of Europe's biggest and most spectacular waterfalls.

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