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Planet Appetite: A Taste of Zürich, Switzerland

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25 hours in Zurich, Switzerland, is the appetiser which ensures you'll be back to explore more of this funky city.

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Arrival is always important and Zurich, Switzerland's largest city, makes it so easy. You catch a train from the airport right into the city centre, then an extraordinary network of trams and buses gets you all over the city. It's also easy to walk around, with the river Limmat always giving you a sense of direction and many pedestrianized streets adding to the experience.

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I can heartily recommend a stroll on the East bank through the medieval old town, Nieidersdorf, with its steep cobbled alleys, down to the Zürichsee, the huge lake where you can take your lunch on board one of the many boats before retracing your steps on the other side.

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The main street here is Bahnhofstrasse, following the old city wall, lined with upmarket shops and leafy squares on each side.

Food

Zurich takes eating very seriously and whether you want traditional Swiss dishes, such as fondue, or seriously high level gastronomy, you'll find it here.

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The first vegetarian restaurant in Europe, Hiltl, opened here in 1898, and it's still going strong. One of my favourites is a tiny establishment with a terrace overlooking the river, Restaurant Schipfe16.

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The kitchens provide training to unemployed people and the set lunches are excellent value.

Art

The city has an active cultural scene with over 50 museums and more than 100 galleries and the star attraction is the Kunsthaus, the art museum, with a stunning overview of the work of the Surrealists like Miro, Dali and De Chirico. Major works by Picasso, Van Gogh and Kandinsky are on display as well as two of Monet's most famous water lily paintings .

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At the moment there is an unmissable exhibition of early Chagall, and you can easily spend a whole day here.

Churches

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Chagall also features in the Fraumünster church - he was commissioned in 1967 to create five distinctive stained glass windows in the choir, all paid for by an anonymous benefactor, and. strangely enough, the mix of the old and the new is a great success.

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On the other side of the river is the twinned towered Grossmünster, dominating the town. It was here in the 16th century that the Swiss reformation started with the preacher Huldrych Zwingli laying out the reforms he wanted, over a period of 12 years. Its sparse gigantic interior is just how he would have wanted it.

Zürich West
Now, so far the city could be almost any other in Europe but it's the area to the West of the railway station which is distinctive.

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This was the industrial district but today is the focal point for gastronomy, art, design, dance, culture, shopping and architecture. Although most of the factories have moved away, they've left behind extensive industrial sites that still bear their names and vast expanses of space that are now home to theatres, concert venues, galleries and any number of night clubs.

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On Friday and Saturday nights, this is where the young come to party, and it removes any vestige of fustiness that you may associate with Switzerland.

It's still very much work in progress, however, and there are many modern buildings going up amongst the old. This schizophrenia is exciting and a good example of this mix is the old Löwenbräu Areal which has two new high rises rising above the old brewery. It's just reopened with the Kunsthalle and also the Migros Museum for Modern Art moving back in. It's still not quite finished but is well worth a visit and is the jumping off point for touring the rest of the area.

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Things are changing all the time in the district and there are worrying signs that the developers may be getting the upper hand, although it's still early days. At the moment this area is really going places and it's a great place to hang out.

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The Sorell Hotel Rütli makes a good base in the old town.

The ZürichCARD offers unlimited travel and free entry to most museums and other discounts.
Zurich Tourism has more information about the city.
My Switzerland has tourist information.

SWISS offers up to 19 daily flights from London Heathrow, London City, Birmingham and Manchester to Zurich.

All pictures copyright Zurich Tourism.