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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.
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 20C. 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.
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