Evening lights on bridge over river in Zurich

Compare the best flights to Zurich

With its high-end shopping, historic churches and buzzing restaurant and nightlife scene, Switzerland's largest metropolis overthrows all the clichés of a boring bankers' city. Yet it's still small enough to retain a warm, villagey feel missing from bigger European centres.

Why go?

With its high-end shopping, historic churches and buzzing restaurant and nightlife scene, Switzerland's largest metropolis overthrows all the clichés of a boring bankers' city. Yet it's still small enough to retain a warm, villagey feel missing from bigger European centres...

Zürich has plenty to appeal to history buffs, shopping addicts and nightlife fiends alike. It's not just for business travellers - plenty of young people and families take cheap flights to Zürich to explore the city.

Head to the 'Züri-West' district for one of Zürich's liveliest districts. Sometimes compared to Berlin's hip Prenzlauerberg, this former industrial quarter's thriving nightlife draws a young and curious crowd. In a similar vein, the city's annual Street Parade, held every August, is a celebration of freedom and tolerance that's overtaken London's Notting Hill Carnival as Europe's largest street party.

Quieter pleasures are offered by the city's medieval Fraumünster church, with mesmerising stained glass windows by the modern artist Marc Chagall. Another church, the elegant, twin-towered Grossmünster, is the city's most recognised landmark. With its narrow, winding lanes and historic guild and town halls, Zürich's Old Town is also a compelling trip back in time.

The Beyer Museum, devoted to the history of timekeeping, is another memorable Zürich attraction. It includes early sundials and water clocks among its collection, along with the sophisticated and beautiful watches for which Switzerland has become famous. The Toy Museum has a fantastic collection of playthings from the 18th century to the present, and the impressive Kuntshaus art gallery specialises in Swiss artworks.

Often referred to as the “Swiss Milano”, Zürich is also a great place to pick up designer goods. Explore the city centre for fashionable boutiques and high-end stores. For culture fans, the Schiffbau Theatre, with its three stages, is a popular stop.

Vast Lake Zürich is fun to walk around and, in summer, you can swim at the public beaches and baths - the temperature reaches 20°C. Rarely for a city lake, and probably saying a lot about Zürich and its citizens, the water is also drinkable.

Switzerland is also famed for its chocolate, of course. With legendary chocs, cakes and coffee, venerable Café Sprüngli has been dishing out the sweet stuff since 1836. For a refined taste of old world Zürich, upscale Kronenhalle is all dark wood, starched white table cloths and fabulously smooth waiters.  

How to get there?

With Zürich only a short hop from the UK, there's a range of flight options you can consider to reach this destination...

Swiss is the major non-stop carrier to the city, with flights from London's Heathrow and City airports alongside Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh. British Airways also flies on the routes from the same two London airports. With flights taking around one hour and a half it's a quick journey. Additionally, easyJet operates from Luton and Gatwick.

If you need to reach Zürich from other regional departure points, consider connecting via London Heathrow or City or on flights with Air France via Paris, KLM via Amsterdam and Lufthansa via Munich or Frankfurt. Alternatively, consider flying into Geneva or Basle and travelling onwards by train or rental car.

Getting to and from the airport

Once your flight lands at Zürich you'll want to get into the city as quickly as possible. Here's how...

Flights to Zürich land at Zürich Kloten Airport, which is a short 10-minute car journey from the city centre. There are also regular train and bus services between Zürich and the airport.

Special taxis for disabled travellers can be ordered via Taxi for Disabled Persons Zurich (BTZ). The airport has three long-stay multi-storey car parks, as well as short-stay spaces and designated pick-up and drop-off zones near the arrivals and departures sections.

Where to stay?

Zürich might be known as a business centre but its accommodation ranges from lakeside chalets to cool hostels, as well as five-star hotels...

One thing to bear in mind before booking a room in Zürich: accommodation can be near impossible to find during the Street Parade and various trade fairs. You should consult your calendar and book far in advance around such events.

Another thing: because Zürich has so many business travellers, rates at many four- and five-star hotels drop temptingly over the weekend, when such visitors tend to be out of town.

Some of the most luxurious accommodation in the city dots Lake Zürich. The Old Town, one of the most atmospheric places to stay, is where you'll find cosy traditional and budget hotels.

Züri-West is edgier, with easier access to nightlife, and you'll find more upscale, business-friendly hotels in the city centre. There are also plenty of places to stay either side of the Limmat River. The right side is close to the historic centre, while the left is close to rail stations and dining and shopping clusters.

You could also look for hotels to the south of the city, particularly in the Affoltern, Oerlikon and Seebach neighbourhoods of District 11.