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One of the best short trips out of the city is to the hill of Uetliberg, a twenty-minute train ride away and a favoured getaway for the locals to do a spot of sledding (winter) or picnicking (summer). Uetliberg is also one end of a popular hiking route, running about two hours south along a forested ridge overlooking the lake to Felsenegg, from where a cable-car can deliver you 300m down to Adliswil village to catch a train back to Zürich. If you’re doing the whole circular journey, press *131 on the ticket machine; otherwise press 8138 for Uetliberg only.
From Zürich HB, S-Bahn trains depart at least every half-hour to Uetliberg. At the tiny end station, where an information hut can give you a free hiking map of the area identifying plenty of short and long trails, you’ll find the Gmüetliberg restaurant (Mon–Sat 8am–midnight, Sun 8am–10pm; www.gmuetliberg.ch), a basic affair offering a self-service buffet for an above-average Fr.16 (daily 8am–6pm only). The trail which begins at Uetliberg station is tagged the Planetenweg (Planet Path), and features models of the planets on a scale of 1:1 billion, with the distances between them also to scale. From the station, it’s about a ten-minute walk uphill to the summit, passing the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars on the way – Pluto is about 5km away at Felsenegg.
From the top of the summit’s 30m viewing tower, which boosts your altitude to 900m, there are terrific 360-degree views over Zürich, the whole curve of the lake and, on a clear day, east into Austria and as far southwest as the Jungfrau. Also on the summit is the Uto Kulmhotel and restaurant (01/457 66 66, fax 457 66 99, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.uetliberg.ch; d), a handy place for refreshment. Its clean, modern rooms offer considerably better value for money than similar city-centre hotels, especially when you throw in the tranquillity, the alpine vistas and free 4WD pickups to and from the station (also ask about their Fr.222 lovers’ package, which comprises dinner, an en-suite room and breakfast for two). The panoramic walking route from Uto Kulm to Felsenegg and beyond passes another couple of restaurants. The cable-car runs every fifteen minutes between Felsenegg and Adliswil (daily: May–Sept 8am–10pm; Oct–April 9am–8pm), from where it’s less than ten minutes’ walk to Adliswil S-Bahn station.
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