Only a few hours to spare in Zurich? This December I became the perfect travel guide for my sister and brother in law who were visiting us from India and wanted to do a day trip in the beautiful city. Despite the freezing temperatures, it was one of our nicest days outdoors (well almost!)
Without further ado, here is my 9 step itinerary to make the most out of your day trip in Zurich.
#1 Arrival on Zurich Main Station
If you’re arriving by train and would like to stop over for breakfast, lunch, or even just a coffee – I can highly recommend Hitl. While there are a lot of restaurants and eateries in main Zurich, Hitl works for almost all palettes (tried and tested). Just a small note, Hitl is a vegetarian restaurant so if you’re craving meat, then this might not be the best choice.
Depends on where you’re coming from, but the Zurich station is very well connected with all the cantons in Switzerland and has a high frequency of connections. Getting to the city by train is your best bet!
#2 Riding the Polybahn
Whether making a stop at Hitl or not; the red cogwheel train PolyBahn up to the Poly terrace ETH (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) is a must-do! Here you can enjoy amazing views over the city, Lake Zurich, and the majestic Alps.
#3 Making your way to the Old Town (Altstadt)
Take the path called Schienhutgasse from the terrace, leading down many steps to Hirschengraben. After descending more stairs to Seilergraben and continuing straight on Mühlegasse; you’re in the beautiful old town (Altstadt).
Do spend some time here, the cobbled streets, the wonderful boutiques, and the cozy cafes are an absolute treat for all of your senses.
#4 Visiting the Grossmünster
Its twin towers are a characteristic of the city – If you would like some great views I can definitely recommend climbing the winding stairs in Karlsturm (one of the two towers). (Entrance Fee [adult: CHF5 / children (6 – 16 years): CHF2])
Just a few steps down from Grossmünster is Limmatquai. Cross the river on Münster bridge towards another of Zurich’s landmarks: The Fraumünster church is well known for its stained glass windows by Marc Chagall and Giacometti. Then there’s the St. Peter church with the biggest dial in Europe.
A historic site that again provides great views of the Old Town, Grossmünster Church, City Hall, the Limmat river, the university, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Despite being in the middle of the city, it has a feeling of peace and tranquility and is a meeting point for chess players.
#7 Eat.Shop. Repeat
In all honesty, I can probably spend the whole day on Bahnoffstrasse and Paradeplatz, sometimes window shopping and sometimes really shopping 😉 You can find all upmarket designer brands, high street fashion, cafes, restaurants, shopping centers and more on this one street that can send you home bankrupt.
Also, while Sprungli is everywhere in Switzerland but the one in Zurich is my absolute favorite – Traditional, French pastries and macaroons, light bites, and amazing coffee!
#8 Limmat River
Take a stroll down the river, during the warm season you could even sit along the bench and NOT feed the aggressive ducks and swans. 😉 But otherwise you could just take a stroll around the river and absorb the beauty of the city. A cruise is absolutely possible and usually available between the months of April and October; it can offer some spectacular views and makes up for a must-do if you’re visiting during the warmer months.
#9 Are you a museum lover?
And finally, if you’re a museum lover – I can highly recommend the national museum of Zurich, the Kunsthaus which is an art museum, and the Helmhaus which is a gallery with contemporary works mainly by Swiss artists, or artists who have lived in Switzerland. There are so many museums in Zurich, but your choice would completely depend upon your taste in art, culture, and history.
Of course, I might have packed in a lot more than can be covered in 1 day; pick and choose your favorites. Or hey, do them all in a span of 2-3 days with ease – staying over in Zurich is never a bad idea. 😉
I would love to hear your experiences and recommendations on Zurich and surrounding areas in the comments section.
Have you downloaded our free ebook – 21 Hidden Gems of Switzerland? If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to download it while planning your next Swiss Getaway.
To read posts from December, click here