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HOLIDAYS: Zurich; One city on 3 budgets.

BARGAIN BASEMENT

WHERE TO STAY The three-star Rex Swiss Quality Hotel is a great bet. It's just nor th of the city centre and has big rooms with huge windows and friendly staff. The building dates from 1896 but feels like new, thanks to a 2003 renovation. Book through www.swiss qualityhotels.com or 0041 44 360 25 25 (international). Cost: pounds 48 per person in a double room.

SIGHTSEEING Just walk - the city centre is small and great fun to wander around. Bahnhofstrasse runs from the train station all the way down to the lake and has designer boutiques for trendy locals and lots of souvenir shops selling cuckoo clocks, chocolate and cheese. Zurich's famous twin churches - one either side of the pretty Limmat River - are a cobbled-street stroll away. Fraumunster church is on the city-centre bank and Grossmunster is the cathedral over the river on the east. The famous Kunsthaus ar t galler y is also close by. If you get tired, jump on a tram, bus or train (pounds 2.40 for an hour's travel, pounds 7.35 for 24 hours). Cost: Free.

FOR KIDS Children and big kids will love the Zoological Garden. More than 2,000 animals live in this zoo, which is one of the best in Europe. Elephants, apes, red pandas, leopards and lions will ensure a fun af ternoon out. Jump on Tram 6 from the main station to Zurichberg in the east of the city. Cost: pounds 13.80 adults, pounds 6.90 children, undersixes free.

EATING OUT Grab a tasty pastry at one of the station bakeries, pick up a cappuccino from a cafA and munch through your lunch on a Bahnhofstrasse bench, watching Zurich workers scuttle by. Cost: pounds 6.30.

NIGHTLIFE If you like trying a couple of local brews on your hols, you'll be spoilt for choice at Brasserie Federal, by the train station at Bahnhofstrasse 1. More than 100 Swiss beers are lined up ready to be knocked back.

Cost: pounds 3.75 each.

COST PER DAY: AROUND pounds 71 per person

ON A BUDGET

WHERE TO STAY Hotel Rigihof is a super-cool place to bed down just seven minutes by tram from the train station in the fun university district. This friendly four-star hotel looks like a giant blue cube and its modern rooms are adorned with the work of Zurich artists. Reserve through www.hotel-rigihof.ch or call 0041 44 360 12 00. Cost: pounds 70 per person in a double. Cool...Hotel Rigihof

SIGHTSEEING The Classic Trolley Bus Tour takes the strain off your feet, whisking you round the sights while offering history lessons in English via audiohead-sets. As well as Bahnhofstrasse and the churches, the two-hour trip trundles through the old town and up to a mountainside forest with lovely views. It departs from Sihlquai bus station. Booking is recommended on 0041 44 215 40 00 - extension 2 then extension 3. Cost: pounds 20 adults, pounds 10 under-17s.

FOR KIDS The Swiss National Centre for Science and Technology has a great hands-on Youth Laboratory for children to get stuck into experiments. More than 100 different activities are on offer, covering science, biology and even good old-fashioned maths. Catch a train down the line to Winterthur and then get bus 5 to Technorama. Cost: pounds 13.25 adults, pounds 7.50 children, under-sixes free.

EATING OUT If you've always wished your sausages were a little longer, check out the Zeughauskeller restaurant at Bahnhofstrasse 28a (www.zeughauskeller. ch). Try the sensational 100cm-long Kanonenputzer sausage. If anyone tries to steal a bite,

you can fight them off with the ar- "" our on the walls. Cost: pounds 19 for a hearty meal or pounds 50 for a metre of meat.

NIGHTLIFE Put on your cool gear and grab a couple of drinks in the industrial quarter bars, north-west of Langstrasse. Enjoy the leather couches if it's a week night or get up

COST PER DAY: AROUND pounds 135pp

BREAK THE BANK

WHERE TO STAY The four-star Central Plaza Hotel overlooks the pretty Limmat River, of fering class and the convenience of a great location. Getting a good night's sleep is a pr iorit y - each funk y rooms is sound-proofed and airconditioned. There's wireless internet too. Book through www.central.ch or call 0041 (0)44 256 56 56. Cost: pounds 75 per person in a superior double room with river views.

SIGHTSEEING Lake Zurich is gorgeous and the best way to see its deep blue waters and surrounding mountains is on a steamer boat. ZSG runs a range of tours, such as an hour-long lunch trip or a two-hour cruise along the lake to the quaint town of Rapperswil, where you can get back to Zurich by either boat or train. Boats depar t from Burkliplatz Pier. See www.zsg.ch or call 0041 44 487 13 33 for information. Cost: pounds 23 adult, pounds 11.50 child in first class.

FOR KIDS Your local swimming pool will seem tame after taking the family to the awesome Alpamare. Europe's biggest indoor waterpark has nine thrilling slides, an outdoor river and a pool full of waves. To get there, take Train 2 or 8 along the lake to Pfaf fikon and then a shuttle-bus. Cost: pounds 23 adul ts (four hours), pounds 18 under-17s, under- 6s free.

EATING OUT Switzerland might not be the place you'd normally expect to go for a Mexican - but the fajitas and burritos at Desperado (Birmensdor ferstrasse 129), take some beating. Cool your mouth down with a couple of the 80 cocktails on of fer. Cost: pounds 23.

NIGHTLIFE Zurich has lots of ultra-cool nightclubs but the Q Club (Forrlibuckstrasse 151) (check out their website at www.club-q.ch) is arguably the coolest. DJs spin house music and fashionable but fun punters sip cocktails and wine then dance until dawn. Cost: pounds 43.

COST PER DAY: AROUND pounds 188pp

HOW TO GET THERE

BRITISH Airways have 1-way flights to Zurich from pounds 34 - including ski transport. Ch e ck out www.ba.com for more info

IT'S clean, it's green, and most surprisingly of all, it's affordable - so why not blow away your winter cobwebs before or after Christmas with a relaxing break beside the lake in the Swiss city of Zurich. ALISTAIR GRANT shows you how...

CAPTION(S):

Picturesque... Zurich perches on the edge of its own blue lake' Lively... Bahnh of strass' Cool...Hotel Rigihof' Roomy...Hotel Rex' Historic... town's ancient bridge' Tranquil... take a boat tour of the lake' Class..Hotel Centra' Pictures: CORBIS/ALAMY/PICTURES COLOUR LIBRARY
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 3, 2006
Words:1100
Previous Article:HOLIDAYS: DUNKIRK SPIRIT; Stock up on cheap booze for Xmas.
Next Article:MOTORING: CHRYSLER.


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