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"" Switzerland Things to Do Tip by CorvetteChic

Switzerland Things to Do: 774 reviews and 1,281 photos

Switzerland's most populous city is reputed to be the intellectual and cultural capital of the nation. It's most famous burst of creativity came in 1916 when the Dada art movement emerged from the Cabaret Voltaire - strangely enough at exactly the same time those playful dudes Lenin and Trotsky were also in residence. Today the city is more famous for its pinstriped gnomes and art galleries, and for the way it manages to balance finance and aesthetics better than anyone but Sothebys.

The city is situated some 400m above sea level, straddling the Limmat River as it leaves the northern end of Lake Zürich. The pedestrian streets of the old town contain most of the major sights, including winding alleyways, 16th- and 17th-century houses, guildhalls and courtyards, and rather a lot of fountains (1030 if you're taking notes).

The elegant Bahnhofstrasse was built on the site of the city walls, which were torn down 150 years ago. Underfoot are bank vaults crammed with gold and silver and other booty - unfortunately these are not open to the public (we can't figure out why). For the clock-watchers, the 13th-century tower of St Peter's Church has the largest clock face in Europe. The Fraumünster Church nearby is noted for the distinctive stained-glass windows in the choir, which were created by Marc Chagall in 1970 at the ripe old age of 83.

The Museum of Fine Arts has a large permanent collection ranging from 15th-century religious art to the 'modern' art of Monet, Manet and Man Ray. The Swiss National Museum, housed in a pseudo-castle north of the city centre, provides the ultimate rundown on the life and times of the Swiss nation and, just in case you forgot you were in Switzerland, has an interesting section on book-inscribing in the Middle Ages. When the culture vulture in you can't take any more, there are pleasant pathways along the shores of Lake Zürich that pass picnic, sunbathing and swimming spots.

Hostels are located on the perimeter of the city centre and there are a few budget hotels on the east bank of Limmat River. Accommodation can be a problem during the summer months, so book ahead if possible. Nightlife is centred on the streets around Niederdorfstrasse. This is also a red-light district. Don't be alarmed if you stumble bleary-eyed out of a club on Sunday morning to be met by devout parishioners parading through the sin-sodden streets singing hymns to anyone who will listen.

Address: Zürich

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  • Written Aug 24, 2002
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