A beautiful city, set astride a river and turned towards a crystal-clear lake and distant snowy peaks, Zürich has plenty to recommend it. Niederdorf’s steep cobbled alleys are great to wander around, with an engaging café culture and a wealth of nightlife, whereas to the northwest of the centre the city’s former industrial quarter, known as “Züri-West”, has become home to many of the city’s trendiest clubs. Whether wandering the streets of the Old Town, window shopping in Bahnhofstrasse or day-tripping to the Rhine Falls, you may end up spending longer here than originally planned.
Across the River Limmat from the station, the narrow lanes of the medieval Niederdorf district stretch south, quiet during the day and bustling after dark. The waterfront is lined with fine Baroque Zunfthäuser (guildhalls), arcaded lower storeys fronting the quayside, now mostly upmarket restaurants. One block in is Niederdorfstrasse, initially tacky, but offering plenty of opportunities to explore atmospheric cobbled side alleys and secluded courtyards: Lenin lived at Spiegelgasse 14 in 1917 (pre-Revolution). Just south is Zürich’s trademark Grossmünster, where Huldrych Zwingli, father of Swiss Protestantism, began preaching the Reformation in 1519. Its exterior is largely fifteenth-century, while its twin towers were topped with distinctive octagonal domes in the seventeenth century. The interior is austere apart from the intensely coloured choir windows (1933) by Augusto Giacometti and the Romanesque crypt which contains an oversized fifteenth-century statue of Charlemagne.