One Day in Zurich – Itinerary, Map, Tips & Guide

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How to Spend A Day in Zurich

Located on the northwest tip of Lake Zurich with the River Limmat running through it, and set against a beautiful Alpine backdrop, is Zurich. A relatively small city by European standards, its quaint winding lanes show off its pre-medieval history, and the waterfront offers many open-air public baths, which are fantastic in the summer months. It’s a wonderful city and the perfect size for a one day itinerary.

In our Zurich Switzerland travel guide you’ll find information and tips for visiting all the most important must-see Zurich tourist attractions, with an interactive map, organised to make the best use of your time.

We also share recommendations for central places to stay, ideas about where to eat local food, and tips about how to make the most of Zurich in a day.

one day in Zurich

When to Visit Zurich

Zurich is worth a visit at any time of year, every season has a wonderful variety of things to see and experience.

Spring

Whilst it can be a bit cool in March, by early April the temperatures are rising and the city starts to come back to life after winter. March is a great time to visit many of Zurich’s fantastic museums, such as the National Museum Zurich or the Photobastei.

April is all about the Spring Festival or Sechseläuten. This centuries-old festival includes music, flowers and the Böögg. The Böögg is an 11ft snowman who sits on top of a pyre, and as the 6 o’clock bell from the Grossmunster rings, the pyre is set alight to proclaim the first day of spring.

An Image of a fake snowman set on top of a pyre which is on fire.

Summer

Like most cities, summer is the peak season for tourism, with costs at their highest, however you will get to see Zurich at its best. July is for swimming in one of the city’s many badis (outdoor swimming baths). They are actually open from May but are still quite cool until July when the weather really hots up. You’ll find them dotted along the river and around the lake.

Generally open until 8pm, some of the badis turn into lively open-air bars at night! You can also river float down the Limmat whilst escaping the crowds and the heat. It’s not unusual to see floats tied together with their occupants enjoying a cold beverage as they float the day away.

Autumn

September is still quite warm, so walks around the lake or a trip to the top of the Waid (a vantage point on Zurich’s Käferberg) to get an amazing view of the city and lake are a great way to spend your time.

October has the Zurich Film Festival and it is the unofficial start of the Cultural Season. It starts to get colder in November and the vibrant nightlife takes centre stage when live music and clubs offer great nighttime entertainment.

Winter

Zurich turns into a cold winter wonderland and you will often find snow on the ground, so you’ll need to bundle up to enjoy the many December Christmas markets, or enjoy some amazing fondue at one of the city’s Fondue Chalets. Zurich also hosts a huge New Year’s Eve party called Silvesterzauber, which is held near the lake. With music, food and fireworks, it’s a great way to see in the New Year.

Where to Stay in Zurich

For Road Trippers

Driving into Zurich can be challenging as it has lots of one way systems, and much of Zurich old town is blocked to personal motorised vehicles. As a hotel guest holding a valid reservation, you are permitted to drive up to your hotel to load and unload your luggage before parking.

Modern and stylish, The Marktgasse Hotel is in the heart of the old town and is only a minute’s walk from the river and a four minute walk to the Grossmunster, one of Zurich’s finest churches dating back to the year 700.

The Marktgasse is perfectly situated for visiting all the sights in Zurich, and you can relax in the wonderful IGNIV bar for a fabulous cocktail after a long day of sightseeing.

  • Park at Obergericht, a five minute walk from the hotel.

The Opera Hotel is in the Seefeld district, opposite the Opera House and only a few steps away from the lake, with easy access to all the other attractions in the city.

This elegant boutique hotel enjoys a neo-rococo style with modern minimalist touches, making it a tranquil and restful place to spend 24 hours in Zurich.

For Motorhomers

Motorhomers should stay at Camping Strandbad on Turlersee, 15km from Zurich city center. Catch the 236 bus from just outside to Bahnhof Weidikon, and then get a tram or taxi into the center.

What to See & Do in Zurich

Our one day Zurich itinerary is very walkable, and you’ll be able to complete the route without needing public transport. Many of the sights are located in the Altstadt (Old Town), which is situated on both sides of the River Limmat.

Zurich’s old town is full of cobbled streets with cozy bars, traditional Swiss restaurants, and art museums. It is also home to some of Zurich’s famous romanesque churches. You can indulge in fabulous shopping on the Bahnhofstrasse with its luxury boutiques and visit Lindenhof Hill with its fantastic views of the city.

Zurich is also home to over 1,200 fountains, some dating as far back as 1430. They are dotted every few meters all over the city and offer fresh drinking water, so make sure you have a drinking bottle with you when you start exploring. There is an old town walking tour called the Water in Zurich which will teach you all about the importance of these fountains to Zurich.

Or, if you prefer to have your day organised for you, check out this popular and highly rated private tour with a local guide. Get to know the beautiful city of Zurich with a professional guide who will show you the city’s hidden gems and also help you experience this popular destination like a real local.

Zurich One Day Itinerary Interactive Map

How to use this map – Use your fingers (or computer mouse) to zoom in and out. Click or touch the icons to get more info about a place, and click the arrow in the box top left to open the index. To add to your own Google Maps account, click the star next to the title of the map.

Morning

Pavillion Le Corbusier

A fantastic way to start your one day in Zurich is at the Pavillion Le Corbusier, the famed architect Le Corbusier’s final building. This steel and glass colour-block box is a fantastic work of art. Completed in 1967, it is Le Corbusier’s only building made completely of steel and glass. The exhibition pavilion follows the modular system developed by Le Corbusier and is open from May to November.

Sechseläutenplatz

One of the largest city centre squares in Switzerland, Sechseläutenplatz is right by Lake Zurich, and its trees and fountains make it a wonderful place to sit and relax.

It is also home to the Sechseläuten Spring Festival, as well as the annual performances of the National Circus Knie and a Christmas market. The Zurich Opera House is also located here.

Kunsthaus Art Museum

The Kunsthaus is the biggest art museum in Switzerland and houses one of the most significant art collections in the country with works from the middle ages through to the present day. The museum was formed around the collections of the Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft, a local society of artists and collectors who exhibited work by the pioneering Swiss symbolist painters Arnold Böcklin and Ferdinand Holder.

In 1920 the museum acquired a new collection including works by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Vincent van Gogh. Because of the museum’s location and origins, special emphasis is given to Swiss art and in particular the sculpture of Alberto Giacometti and art of the Dada movement, which originated in Zurich’s Cabaret Voltaire.

As well as housing stunning artworks, the building itself is beautifully architectural and has four buildings from different eras; the Moser building (1910), the Pfister building (1958), the Müller building (1976) and the new Chipperfield extension (2020).

Grossmünster Church

The Grossmunster is an imposing Romanesque-style church, built in 1100. According to legend, the church was founded by Charlemagne, whose horse fell to its knees over the tombs of Felix and Regula, Zurich’s patron saints. In the first half of the 16th century, the church was where the Swiss-German Reformation of Switzerland was instigated.

The theological college, which was part of the monastery, eventually became the University of Zurich. The stained glass windows and the Romanesque crypt, choir windows and the cloister Reformation Museum are just some of the highlights to see here.

An image of the two Spires of the Grossmunster Church, set against a blue sky

Fraumünster Church

Just across the Munster Bridge is the Fraumunster church, also known as the Church of Our Lady. It was founded in 853 by King Louis the German.

It is easily recognisable due to its vibrant green spire. It has six beautiful stained glass windows by Marc Chagall, installed in the 1960s, and the wonderful The Heavenly Paradise by Augusto Giacometti. The cloister also includes a series of frescos by Paul Bodmer.

An image of the Fraumunster church with its green spire, with a calm river in front.

Church of St Peter

The unique Baroque church of St Peter is the oldest church in Zürich, with the original 9th century foundation walls still visible today. The steeple, which towers over the surrounding buildings, was mainly used as a fire lookout point from the middle ages until 1911. The church is also known for having the largest clock face in Europe, with a diameter of 8.7 meters.

An image of St Peter Church clearly showing its clock face against a blue sky.

Lindenhof Hill & Hedwig Fountain

Lindenhof Hill is a small park in the centre of the old town which offers unrivalled views of the altstadt and the Limmat river. It is also home to the Hedwig Fountain, built in 1912, which is famous for its statue of a helmeted woman.

The statue was built in honour of the Zürich women who defended the city by duping the army of Duke Albert I of Germany during the siege of Zürich in 1292. They dressed in full battle gear in order to trick the Habsburg army into thinking that the city was well protected, while their men were actually busy campaigning at Winterthur.

An image of the Hedwig Founatin and Lindenhof Hill with snow on the ground

Bahnhofstrasse

If you’re looking for a break from the historic sights of Zurich, take a wander down the Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich’s main shopping street. It was created after the completion of construction on the Zurich main station, known as Zurich HB, and runs all the way from the station to the lake, for around 1.4km.

There are wonderfully enticing boutiques and department stores, as well as fabulous places to stop for coffee or lunch on many of the side streets. Make sure to check out Confiserie Sprüngli at 21 Bahnhofstrasse, a charming cafe known for its chocolates and speciality macarons called Luxemburgerli

An image of a cable car on a busy shopping street , with trees and a Swiss flag in the forefront.

Afternoon

Swiss National Museum

After lunch, wander up the Bahnhofstrasse to the Swiss National Museum. The museum showcases the history of Switzerland from its beginnings to the present day, giving an insight into the Swiss identity and the country’s history and culture, with temporary exhibitions covering issues of current interest.

The museum, which stands next to the Zurich main train station, is reminiscent of a fairytale castle. However, once you pass through the arches into the inner courtyard you will also find a modern new building, which beautifully counterbalances the original building constructed in the historicism style.

An image of a v shaped concrete building, through the bottom of the v you see parts of an oder building bathed in sunlight.

The Old Botanical Gardens

The Old Botanical Gardens are a restful oasis at the heart of downtown Zurich. The garden’s history dates back to the year 1837. Home to an ancient medieval herb garden and a glass palm house from the 19th century, it’s the perfect spot for the concerts, theatres and exhibitions held here. It’s a lovely stopping place for a quick breather before continuing on your tour.

There are actually two botanic gardens in the city, both managed by the Univerisity of Zurich. Other than the Old Botanical Garden at Schanzengraben, the new Garden in Seefeld is known for its futuristic dome-like tropical greenhouses.

Fifa Football Museum

The Fifa Football Museum houses three levels of exhibits over a huge 3,000 square metres. In addition to showcasing the history of Fifa and the World Cup, an interactive experience shows how football inspires people all across the world.

The Fifa world football museum also has the original World Cup trophy on display as well as 1,000 other exhibits and an oversized pinball machine for fun, especially if you’re not that into football.

In order to beat the queues and have more time in Zurich, buy your skip the line ticket to the Fifa Football Museum online here so you’re all set for your visit.

Museum Rietberg

The Museum Rietberg houses artworks from all over the world, including pieces from Asia, Africa and the Americas. The museum also stages special exhibitions, which are renowned internationally.

It is also architecturally interesting, with its latest addition, known as the Emerald, running mainly underground. The museum is made up of three villas and is surrounded by wonderful parkland. In the summer the museum café offers picnics for relaxing in the park.

An image of the Museum front with its pillars and arched windows with a beautiful grass lawn in front.

Lindt Home Of Chocolate

A visit to Zurich would not be complete without a visit to Lindt Home of Chocolate! Entering this amazing building you will find seven different chocolate worlds which will have all the senses singing. You can also learn how to handle chocolate and make your own chocolate masterpiece.

To make the most of your time in Zurich, get this skip-the-line ticket for quick and easy entry to the Lindt Home of Chocolate.

An image of a giant chocolate fountain with a whisk on top

Evening

Grab a Drink & Snack at Seebad Enge Bar

During the day Seebad Enge is one of Zurich’s lakeside swimming pools, at night it turns into a lively bar. Stop here for a lovely refreshing drink and a homemade grilled snack to start your evening off the right way.

Swiss Cheese Fondue and Wine Tuk-Tuk Tour

Discover Zurich on a culinary Swiss cheese fondue and wine tuk-tuk tour, a fun way to spend the evening and sample one of Switzerland’s most delicious and famous foods.

Catch your personal electric tuk-tuk at the central HB train station and experience a journey through the unique city of Zurich. The ride leads you through the old town and to the most beautiful parts of the city, where you can discover life in Zurich through the eyes of a local.

Bar Hop in Langstrasse

Once the red light district of Zurich, this area is now the undisputed party boulevard of the city. There are bars galore here, such as Bar63, with their signature Punch 63 drink made with their own rum.

Or try The Gonzo Club for a wonderfully loud yet laid-back vibe, regular live music and Disco Biscuit evenings. If you want to get your groove on, this is the place.

Finish the night off at Fat Tony for a final drink and a fantastic slice of pizza.

Where to Eat in Zurich

Oepfelchammer

Oepfelchammer is a mainstay of Zurich dining since 1801. People have been carving their names into the wooden tables for decades. If you want traditional Swiss food (think delicious rosti, raclette and tartiflette) made with regional and seasonal produce, then you should definitely head here.

A close up images of an old wooden table and bench, and wooden panelled back walls with sepia images and hundreds of names carved into the wood.

Le Dézaley

You can’t go to Zurich and not eat the delicious melted cheese called fondue. Le Dezaley at the foot of the Grossmunster is a French-Swiss restaurant which has been serving fondue and other fantastic local dishes for over 100 years. They also have a wonderful wine selection from the French-speaking region of Switzerland.

Rüsterei Grill Bar Canteen

With relaxed snacks from the food truck and classic street food served throughout the day in the canteen, you can get something for everyone here. In the Rusteria restaurant everything is grilled and served by candlelight, and they also have an impressive wine list.

Head to The Nest for Dinner

This wonderful rooftop terrace restaurant with its amazing views of the Limmat and Lake Zurich offers amazing Mediterranean food, perfectly prepared for sharing. The Nest is part of the Hotel Storchen, the only hotel in Zurich to sit right on the river.

Top Five Zurich Travel Tips

  1. On a Sunday in Zurich, pretty much everything is closed. You maybe be able to find a few restaurants in the old town, otherwise, it’s a bit like a ghost town.
  1. Whilst Switzerland is located in the EU, it is not a member, so you will need Swiss Francs, CHf, not euros to spend here.
  1. Switzerland uses a slightly different plug than most other European countries. Their sockets accept three round prongs instead of two, known as a type J adapter. You can buy one here before you travel.
  1. Before travelling to Zurich invest in a Zurich Card and enjoy the city to the fullest, saving money at the same time. With a Zürich Card, valid for 24 hours, you get free travel on public transport, free admission to museums, delicious surprises at restaurants, and discounts on selected souvenirs and tours. This Zurich one day pass is worth the cost if you’re following our Zurich itinerary.
  1. Tipping in restaurants and cafes is not expected in Zurich. Service is always included in the bill. However, if you receive exceptional service then a tip is always appreciated. Round up the bill to the nearest five Swiss Francs.

More Than One Day in Zurich

Take the Adliswil-Felsenegg Cable Car

You can easily get to the cable car either by train, which takes around 20 minutes, or by bus, which takes about 35 minutes but is slightly cheaper. Once there, the ticket for a ride is 4.50 CHf, and lasts an hour.

The amazing ride takes you up to the Felsenegg vantage point at 800 meters (2,625ft) above sea level, where you will have spectacular views over the city, mountains and lake. There’s a restaurant at the top if you feel like a relax before you head back down.

Visit the Awesome Rhine Falls

Just under an hour away from Zurich are the Rhine Falls, the largest waterfall in Europe with a width measuring 150m (492ft) and a height of 23m (75ft). Over 600’000 litres of water per second plunge over the falls in the summer.

There is an elevator to take you up from Laufen Castle to the viewing platforms for a breathtaking view of the falls. A boat ride to the falls basin is also on offer, and well worth the time. Across the river is a huge rope park, so you can glide from tree to tree and admire the falls from every angle.

There are lots of day trips to the Rhine Falls from Zurich, but we think this highly recommended Rhine Falls day trip from Zurich is the best. Your driver will take you through a scenic landscape of charming villages to visit the Rhine Falls, you’ll cross the river to the Belvedere Trail viewing platform for incredible views, and learn about the medieval history of Stein am Rhein.

A close up image of the Rhine falls with houses and a swiss flag in the background

Relax at the Mineral Bath & Spa Rigi Kaltbad

The Mineral Bath and Spa at Rigi Kaltbad has been known as a place of pilgrimage for 600 years, and the first bath chapel was built in 1545. The three sisters’ spring has its source directly next to the chapel in Rigi Kaltbad. The baths offer a warm water pool, with panoramic views of the Alps, a whirlpool, a crystal spa and sauna area.

Spend one day here and you will well and truly relax in this breathtaking location. You can also book beauty treatments, and the spa regularly holds candlelight night bathing.

Mount Titlis Day Tour

If you take one day trip from Zurich, make it this highly recommended and well-organised tour.

Enjoy a day trip from Zurich to the beautiful Mount Titlis with a guide. Discover the beauty of Lake Lucerne, enjoy a scenic drive to Engelberg, take a ride in the Rotair revolving cable car, experience an unforgettable adventure on the Ice Flyer chairlift and cross the Titlis cliff walk bridge suspended high over the Swiss Alps.

Departing from Zurich, take a bus ride over the Albis Pass and along the shores of Lake Lucerne on the way to the city of Lucerne. Once there, take a short tour of the city’s most important sights, including a photo stop at the Lion Monument or Vierwaldstätter Lake, depending on traffic.

With a professional guide to offer insights, an organised tour is the perfect opportunity to see more of Switzerland in less time!

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places to visit in Zurich in one day
Zurich places to visit in one day