24 hours in Zurich

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Zürich’s international fame is largely tied to its status as a banking and finance hub rather than its touristic virtues.  

Overshadowed by this austere reputation, it has so far been spared throngs of visitors and crowd-clogged streets, but in truth it has everything a traveller could want: an effortlessly beautiful medieval town with a glimmering river flowing through its heart; a long, elegant lake bordered by leafy promenades, set against a backdrop of snow-sprinkled mountains; an industrial outer district which has become the place where young and talented artists and designers set up workshops and open stores; and a generous expanse of forest atop its two flanking ridges, where locals enjoy refreshing walks and sweeping vistas.

But that is not all. Chocolate shops dot Zürich’s streets, scrumptious dishes are prepared in its restaurants, the city’s art and culture scene is varied and vibrant, and one of the most efficient transport systems in the world allows locals and visitors to enjoy it all. Given Zürich’s location at the heart of Europe, it is also the perfect gateway to an entire continent, to be explored via trains that depart from its 19th-century Hauptbahnhof (Main Station).

One of the few places open at this hour on weekdays,
the legendary café bar Odeon has the right sophisticated atmosphere for your first warm drink or cocktail in the city, staying open until almost dawn at 4.30.

Wake up to a ‘confectioner’s breakfast’ at Sprüngli Restaurant
, home of the famed Swiss chocolates; then visit its shop and stock up on Luxemburgerli, the local melt-in-your-mouth version of the macaroon.

Explore the western old town with a walk along Bahnhofquai
, take in unobstructed rooftop views from Lindenhof hill, and wander around intimate cobbled streets lined with immaculately decorated shop windows.

Cross Münsterbrücke to reach the Kunsthaus
, the finest gallery in Switzerland. Its 19th- and 20th-century collection includes both Swiss and international works by the likes of Giacometti, Dada, and Monet.

Housed in restored railway viaducts
, Markthalle is Zürich’s first covered food market, with 50 stalls run by local grocers and farmers, and a restaurant that creates dishes from the produce they supply (closed Sundays).

Catch a tram to Bürkliplatz and take a boat ride around Lake Zürich
, which was gouged out by the Linth glacier during the last ice age, for a closer look at its clear water and graceful swans.

Rietberg’s collection of ancient artefacts
is spread across two 19th-?century villas complete with an impressive modern extension. Linger here among golden sculptures, Indian paintings, and African masks.

Take a 20-minute train ride to Uetliberg
, then hike the short distance to the top in time to take in panoramic views of the city as it lights up. Savour a delicious meat fondue at nearby Uto Kulm.

Recharge your batteries with a couple of hours at Sauna Enge.
Perched on a wooden platform right on the lake, it offers views of the water and optional massages (reserved for women on Mondays).

Conclude your day with a live jazz performance at Trattoria and Soul
or Moods Jazz Club, and a taste of the evening vibe in Niederdorf (part of the Old Town) and Langstrasse (literally ‘long street’).

Zürich, Switzerland
Distance: 4,490 km
Flight Time: 6 hours, 25 minutes
Frequency: Daily

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