How To Spend One Day in Zurich

Oh Zurich. We met for only a day but I was instantly attracted to you. Like Oslo in Norway you’re expensive, but I loved your elegant watches, tailored clothes, private banks and beautiful men. I’d love to get to know you better, but alas I only had one day! I hope we meet again to discover more of the best places to visit in Zurich. ~ Pommie

After a 10-day rail trip exploring the Baden-Wurttenburg area of Germany, I decided to hop across the border from Konstanz to Zurich and visit a whole new country- Switzerland.

I’m so glad I did because I found Zurich to be an incredibly scenic place with lots of fantastic places to eat for a foodie like myself.

I arrived at 12pm and had just one afternoon to see as much of Zurich as possible.  Thankfully it’s a very walkable city, which made it possible to cover a fair bit of ground.

If you only 24 hours, here’s how to spend one day in Zurich:

Go Window Shopping on Bahnhoffstrasse

Bahnhoffstrasse Zurich

Money, money, money, it’s a rich man’s world. Zurich’s expensive shopping street is lined with designer shops and private banks. If you stroll along the sidewalk in the afternoon you’ll see lots of tall, good looking Swiss bankers grabbing a bite to eat in their lunch hour. Gaze into the shop windows of Chanel, Cartier, Louis Vuitton and dream of what watch you would buy if you came into a small fortune.

Buy Some Chocolate at Sprungli

Sprungli chocolates Zurich

Sprungli has been around for over 170 years and is well-known for its excellent Swiss chocolate and confectionery. You’ll see several branches throughout the city, but you must visit the big store at 21 Bahnhofftrasse. Grab a window seat in their first-floor café and enjoy a coffee along with something sweet. On your way out, pop in their ground-floor shop to buy some of their famous luxembergerli macaroons to take home as a present.

Visit the Beyer Watch Museum (Uhrenmuseum )

Beyer Watch Museum

Switzerland is famed for its watches and timepieces, so make sure you pay a visit to the Watch Museum, which is located in the basement of the Beyer watch shop halfway along Bahnhofstrasse. Inside you’ll find a collection of instruments used for measuring time from the Egyptians to the present day. There are lots of beautiful clocks and watches to see and the staff are very helpful if there’s anything you would like to know. Admission costs 8 Swiss Francs.

Admire the view from Lindenhof

View from Lindenhof Zurich

Next it’s time to walk up to Lindenhof, which is a pretty little square on a hill in the city centre. Sit on one of the benches and admire the gorgeous views over the Limmat and the Old Town. It’s definitely a romantic, peaceful spot and the best place for taking photos of the city.

Have lunch at Juice Market

Juice Market Zurich

The guidebooks will tell you about all sorts of tourist restaurants and fondue places, but my personal favourite for lunch is a cute café just off Bahnhofstrsasse called Juice Market. If you’re into healthy food this place serves fresh juices, salads, jacket potatoes and coffee. Pull up a seat outside and watch people walk by!

Visit the Grand Church (Grossmunster)

Grossmunster Zurich

With its unmistakable two towers, Grossmunster church is a major landmark in Zurich. Pay the fee of 4 Swiss Francs and climb up the 187 steps to the tower for views over the city.

Sip on a cup of a coffee at Café Schober

Cafe Schober Zurich

Situated just off Niederdorfstrasse, Café Schober is one of Zurich’s oldest coffee houses. Order a coffee or a hot chocolate and choose one of the gorgeous sweet treats from the display cabinets!

Go To the Opera House

Zurich Opera House

The Zurich Opera House is a grand building right next to Lake Zurich, which was built in 1891 by Austrian architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer. You can just take photos from the outside or you can purchase tickets to the opera online, over the phone or at the ticket booth.

Walk by the Lake

Lake Zurich

From the Opera House, take a stroll alongside picturesque Lake Zurich, where you’ll see swans floating gracefully on top of the water.

Enjoy a beer at Zeughauskeller

Zeughauskeller Zurich

Zurich has several beer halls should you wish to try a Swiss pint. Zeughauskeller is a big beer hall in a medieval arsenal just off Bahnhofstrasse, serving hearty Swiss food and of course plenty of beer. You share the tables with other people, so it’s fairly easy to make some new friends!

Finish the day with cheese fondue

Swiss Chuchi Fondue

OK if this is your first time in Switzerland you can’t leave Zurich without trying the Swiss speciality- cheese fondue, which basically involves dipping cubes of bread into a big pot of bubbling cheese. I enjoyed an incredible fondue at Swiss Chuchi, which is in the heart of Niederdorf in the Old City. Order Adler’s special blend with a mix of four aged-cheeses and wash it down with a glass of their Pinot Noir. They also have meat fondue and an extensive dessert menu should you have room for more! It is extremely popular and there was a 20-minute wait when I got there at 7pm, but there is a little waiting room where you can enjoy a drink and some peanuts.

Where I stayed

I like to enjoy nice food and drink, but Zurich is an expensive city. So I saved on my accommodation by staying at City Backpacker Hostel (Hotel Biber) which is right in the heart of the Old Town. You can’t beat the location as it is in the heart of Niederdorf, although you do have to walk up several spiral staircases to get to it because there is no elevator! There are 6-person dorms, and some private rooms, along with a common area, communal showers, a shared kitchen and rooftop terrace.

If you’re looking for hotels, here are some suggestions…

Mid-range: Located in the upcoming area of Zurich West, the 25 Hours hotel is a trendy Design Hotel designed by award-winning interior designer Alfredo Häberli. Throughout the hotel you’ll find the designer’s favourite city hotspots scribbled down on various surfaces and objects. 

Luxury: The Widder Hotel is a 5-star luxury hotel situated within 9 protected historic houses in the heart of the old town. Each of the rooms is unique and completely unique in atmosphere.

For more hotel ideas, see a full list of hotels on

If you have more time…

Decided to stay another day or two?  Here are some more things you can do…

Visit Uetliberg

Take the S10 train outside of the city to Uetliberg- a mountain that towers 869 metres above sea level. From the station it’s a 10-minute walk to the peak where you’ll also find a lookout tower and a restaurant. The mountain offers beautiful views over the city, the lake and the Alps.

Take a cruise on the Lake:

If it’s nice weather, take a boat trip on the lake with Lake Zurich Navigation Company. The shortest lake cruise lasts 90 minutes and the longest lasts 4 hours. 

20 thoughts on “How To Spend One Day in Zurich”

  1. Interesting, great tips and quite a lot for a day, but rewarding. I had to look back at an old journal (i was in Zurich 11 years ago) to remind myself what I saw and did during my couple days in Zurich. Thanks for the memories and sharing some great tips and photos.

      1. Great ideas. I’ll be there on a 20 hour layover on Nov 30th and wanted to find some cool stuff to do. I might want to rent a car and drive to 3-4 different countries in a day!

  2. I absolutely love your blog. I was thinking to take a day trip to Zurich myself and was confused about where exactly to go. I will definitely be going to the places you suggested, also thinking about taking a cruise ride around the lake.. Thanks so much! x

  3. Thanks for the tips Victoria. I too am almost a graduating Journalism student and you have inspired me to do the same! Like you I have a passion for travel and believe there is more to life then ur mundane 9-5. I am about to embark on a 5weeks vacation in Europe and hope to be able to start my travel blog

  4. Truely inspired as I have travelled all the way from India to take a trip of europe yes i too believe the best thing anyone can do is to travel i am leaving for zuri h tomorrow and have 1 and half day and iam going to make most of it.

  5. Have you travelled to Bern and other places in Switzerland? Just wondering if you had some tips to share.

    Thank you so much for this blog. We are headed to Zurich this weekend.

  6. Great article, thanks for sharing it with us. I have few questions one of which is that does Euro work in Zurich and if not then are there places you can easily exchange the currency, also how much can we spend in one day in Zurich not including hotel ( mostly on food and beverages), thanks again.

  7. Just wanted to know how much does it cost for one day in Zurich, excluding Hotel stay. I’m going to Zurich for a one day trip and wanted to know how much is enough for one day on food and other essentials, also does Euro currency work and if not can the currency be exchanged easily. Thanks for a great post again.

  8. mithilesh singh

    Hi Victoria, I am visiting Zurich for 24 hours with my wife and kids. I like your blog very helpful .
    do you have any tips for Zurich Pass, I m staying hotel near Airport.

  9. I followed this blog just to take some pointers as I was just spending a day in Zurich. To my surprise I covered most of the places. It was like I followed the same route which you took :).
    Loved Juice market and Zeughauskeller. Lindenhof gave wonderful view of the city. Thanks much for sharing your day.

  10. We did almost everything you recommended for our 1 day in Zurich. These were excellent recommendations!! Thank you for the great tips.

  11. This an awesome post! A complete package for my 12 hour Zurich layover.
    I’ve been searching and searching for a one-day trip planner and found this one to be perfect.
    Thanks a lot, i made my itinerary based off of this.

  12. Michelle Choate

    Thank you for the guidance — we were in Zurich for about a day this week and used your guide, enjoying many of your recommendations. We started with the walk up to the Lindenhof (great history), lunch at Zeughauskeller, dinner at Adler’s Swiss Kuchi (the best dinner we had in France and Switzerland), the Watch Museum, and a stroll on Banhoffstrasse. Overheard a tour guide talk about the roman baths walk, would add that to your list, it is a fascinating historical site (in a cool covered alley-way)

    We saw many of the historical sites but were hampered by the heat — record breaking 97 degrees, so our enjoyment of the old town streets was limited by sheer discomfort Even with lots of water it was a tough day, and sorry we couldn’t really enjoy all of Zurich at its best. All servers were incredibly apologetic about it — i was more worried for their health and safety in the heat! We did get Sprungli chocolate at the airport as we were concerned about it making it through the day and night with no A/C.

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