Zurich is notably the largest city in the entire country of Switzerland and can be found located in North-Central Switzerland. Known for being a very lively city, railway, road, and air traffic are pretty busy and the streets are always abuzz with people going about their various businesses. Apart from this urban life that Zurich clearly displays, it has spectacular sites where nature displays itself in all its glory.
For rest and relaxation, the Swiss mountains present a perfect spot and what’s more, they are very easily accessible. Similarly, Zurich plays host to a barrage of events such as food festivals and lively parties both in the day and at night. If you are after a more relaxed atmosphere, Zurich offers quiet spots as well as sightseeing locations too.
What to Do When Spending One Day In Zurich
There are a whole lot of places to visit in Zurich in 1 day. However, in order to make the most memorable memories, you would need to be pretty selective. Well, we have decided to help you out with the selection process and show you all the amazing places to visit in Zurich in 1 day.
This isn’t a site but it is one of the first things that you should know about. Purchasing a Zurich card helps you save a whole lot of expenses on admissions, transportation, souvenirs, dining and a whole lot more. It is valid for 24 or 72 hours and guarantees you discounts on a whole lot of activities including dining, shopping and visiting various sites.
Admire the Grossmünster
The Grossmünster Church is one of the major landmarks of Zurich. According to legend, this church was erected on the graves of the city’s patron saint, Regula, and Felix.
This church served as the birth spot of the Swiss-German reformation in the 16th century which was led by Huldrych Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger. Some of the highlights of this place include bronze doors by Otto Münch, the Romanesque crypt, stained glass windows by Sigmar Polke, choir windows by Augusto Giacometti among others.
Wander Around the Old Town
The Old Town which is ironically the heart of Zurich is home to a myriad of historic and modern buildings and architecture. Here are a number of places you should definitely check out while touring Old Town:
The Fraumünster is another landmark in Zurich and was established by King Louis the German in 853. It has a number of notable architectural features including the high vaulted transept, the Romanesque chancel as well as its stunning stained glass windows. It also has a number of other architectural features by notable artists of that time.
Bahnhofstrasse is a very popular shopping boulevard in Old Town that guarantees that you can find anything you want there. It contains boutiques, timepiece stores as well as department stores.
Paradeplatz is located at the heart of Bahnhofstrasse and used to be known as “Säumärt”(pig market) in the 17th century thanks to a livestock market that used to be held there. Its name was later changed to “Neumarkt”(New Market) before it finally got named “Paradeplatz”50 years later. It is known for being the largest financial transaction site in Switzerland.
To get the best of Zurich, here are a number of tours options you could explore:
Zurich Sightseeing Bus Tour
While cruising in a luxury bus, take in the sights of some of the most notable landmarks in the city such as the Swiss National Museum which imitates the style of a Renaissance chateau and the exciting Old Town. Next, take a short walk and take in the sights of the Münsterhof square alongside guild houses that are just adjacent to it.
Next, the St. Peter’s Church which is said to have the largest clock face in Europe would be in your sights. Another highlight of this tour is a visit to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich which was attended by Albert Einstein. Finally, ride on the Dolder Railway express and take in the wonderful visit of the valley from Zurichberg.
Old Town Walking Tour
Old Town in Zurich holds more than 2,000 years of history and is the perfect example of a journey back in time. While on your tour, listen to various legends about the city and check out the winding alleys. The remains of Roman baths, churches sporting monumental towers, alongside medieval guild houses are some of the sites you would check out on your 2-hour guided walk.
City Tour in a Tuk-Tuk
Explore the city of Zurich in a tuk-tuk and listen to the eTuk driver tell you the exciting stories of past and present life in Zurich. The tour begins at the main station and passes by the Landesmuseum, from here to where Albert Einstein studied in Zurich’s University Quarter. Go on to the old town; the Niederdorf and continue on past the Kunsthaus which houses an exclusive collection of works by artist Augusto Giacometti on to the Seefeldquartier with the Opernhaus and Sechseläutenplatz.
Next, check out Bahnhofstrasse which is Zurich’s main shopping district and Paradeplatz – Zurich’s main business district. Afterward, make sure that you check our the Langstraße with its myriad of restaurants and bars.
Visit the Historic Rennweg Street
The Rennweg Street used to easily stand out from other streets in Zurich due to its characteristic straightness and wideness. It used to be the widest street in Zurich in the times of the middle ages as well. It is also one of the exclusive shopping areas in Zurich right after the Bahnhofstrasse and also pedestrian zones to linger and stroll.
St. Peter – the Oldest Parish Church
The St. Peter church in Zurich is the oldest parish church in the entirety of the city of Zurich and still has its original foundation walls from the 9th century which can be seen clearly beneath the chancel. Some notable pieces in the church include the graves of its founding fathers, five bells in the tower which date back from 1880 with the largest weighing over six tonnes without its clapper alongside a clock with a clock face that measures up to 8.7m in diameter.
Soak in the City & Lake views from Uetliberg
The view from Uetliberg covers a wide area including all the wonderful sights of the lake and city. You could sneak a leak of the Alps even. Located 2,850 feet above sea level, Uetilberg dwarfs the tallest rooftops in Zurich. This site can be visited all year round and it offers different activities irrespective of weather.
Go shopping on Bahnhofstrasse
Bahnhofstrasse offers a range of options to shop including art, fashion and local specialties which are popular among both visitors and residents. It sports a large number of department stores, boutiques and timepiece stores. In the summertime, you can always stroll along the lake and enjoy a glass of hot chocolate or wine.
A boat ride of Lake Zurich
When listing the five biggest lakes in Switzerland, Lake Zurich definitely makes it into that list. For boating, having a picnic or swimming, this lake is all for it. In order to get from one side to the other, you would have to cross the dam at Rapperswil or take the ferry across. There are four islands in Lake Zurich all of which are noteworthy spots to visit. Similarly, you can take a refreshing dip in the lake at any time.
Zurich and Surroundings Extended City Tour
On this 4-hour extended tour, you get to see the unique combination of nature and culture in Zurich. Begin by visiting the major attractions including the St. Peter’s Church which is popular for having the largest clock face of all the European churches as well as the Guild houses, the Limmatquai, and the well-known Bahnhofstrasse.
Stop at the harbor for some amazing pictures and take in the picturesque view of the Lake of Zurich as well as the city and hills around it. Next, drove to Meilen via the “Gold Coast”from where you can board a ferry boat to cross the lake. From here, you would continue on to Adliswil from where you get to Felsenegg by riding an aerial cable car.
This guarantees an amazing aerial view of the Alps.
The Most Instagrammable Buildings
Zurich has some of the most instagrammable buildings that you can find anywhere. Some of them include:
Europaallee is located just parallel to the track of the Zurich Main Train Station and the concept of this building is to provide more spaces for various activities including leisure, living, education and working. It covers more than 80,000 square meters and is being constructed by architects from other different parts of the world including Amsterdam and London. This wondrous beauty is one that you should definitely check out.
Student Village Science City ETH
This residence for students is a stunner and remains the first residential complex built on campus in Zurich. The three six-story buildings make up the Student village and compose a total of 490 living units which are divided into individual studios as well as shared accommodation. The spectacular design of this building makes it into a sweeping outline with spatial sequences which are diverse and form a rhythmic, varied open space.
Law Library, University of Zurich
This library keeps on attracting visitors even though it was opened in 2004. The building was designed by ace architect Santiago Calatrava is very mind-blowing. From outdoors, you might not notice anything spectacular, however, upon stepping into the library, the library is bathed in radiant light from the skylight coming from above. Materials used for the library construction including the desk balustrades of the galleries and the light wood for other floors literally leave the library gleaming.
Explore the National Museum
The National Museum Zurich can be found behind Main Station and holds the largest collection of Swiss cultural history. It can easily be compared to a fairytale castle, however, beyond the inner courtyard is a modern-styled building. The collection includes sculptures, paintings, handicrafts alongside everyday objects that all tell stories of different parts of Swiss history.
There is an exhibition tagged “Simply Zurich”which can be accessed free of charge, presents the story I four different languages, and has a display case with 60 objects that all tell some sort of tale about the rich history of Zurich. A picturesque inner courtyard used for extended exhibitions and a museum store that specializes in sales of museum souvenir make up the other parts of the museum.
Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday 10.00am – 5.00pm and Thursday 10.00am – 7.00 pm.
Other museums include Kunsthaus Zurich which opens from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and Museum Rietberg, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm among others.
Admire Art in Public Places
There are over 1,300 unique artworks in different public places in Zurich. Some of these include Heureka by James Tinguely which can be found on the shore of Lake Zurich, Pavilion Sculpture by Max Bill, L’ange Protecteur by Niki de Saint Phalle, and Giacometti Hall by Augusto Giacometti among others.
Discover Zurich from a Hot Air Balloon
From a hot air balloon, drink in the sight of the city spread below you and feel like an Angel floating under the sure hands and guidance of a professional and highly experienced pilot.
Using your own personal Tuk-Tuk, go on a culinary tour of Zurich. A short stop to load the fondue “valaisanne”onto your eTuk and you are off on your adventure. This ride takes you through Old Town and other parts of this beautiful city while you feast on a local delicacy. For drinking purposes, wine would be offered.
Day Trips from Zurich
Embark on a trip from Zurich to Lucerne will the stunning view to keep your company. Upon arriving the amazing city of Lucerne, you would get to check out the mind-blowing Lion Monument after which the trip continues on to Engelberg. Upon arriving at Engelberg, check out the stunning Baroque monastery built by the Benedictine Monks in 1120. Next, make sure you pay a visit to the cheese factory to get a first-hand tour experience.
Climb aboard a coach in Zurich and embark on a trip to the center of the Alps. The relaxing trip also avails you the opportunity to take in the sight of the magnificent Jungfrau region and the picturesque view of the lakes and the surroundings.
Next, board the Cogwheel train up to Kleine Scheideeg upon arriving the Grindelwald mountain resort. The environment and the trail offer you a lot of activity options including homes such as the Jungfrau Eiger Walk.
Later on, you could find a restaurant that serves regional alpine dishes and then go down the mountain by train. By evening, you should be back in Zurich.
Ride in a luxury bus, from either Lucerne or Zurich along very scenic roads with the famous Emmental Valley and Entlebuch Valley which is Switzerland’s first UNESCO biosphere in view as well. Other highlights of this trip include checking out Alpine pastures and farms with pristine moors, visiting Switzerland’s best biscuit brand, an informative tour of Oldtown, a visit to an Emmental dairy farm and a range of other activities.
Where to Stay in Zurich
During your stay in Zurich, here are a number of places where you can stay:
The Hotel Rössli is located only about 100m from the banks of the Limmat River and is specifically located in the Old Town of Zurich. Each room has a minibar, flat-screen TV, bathrobes and slippers. There is a golf course within 3km, a safety deposit box, and free WiFi. For availability and rates click here
Marktgasse Hotel is located in Old Town and is only 200 m from the Grossmünster and 500 m from Lake Zurich. It boasts of free WiFi as well as 24-hour reception, a restaurant, and a wellness center. There is an airport shuttle available and pets are allowed as well. Similarly, the tram stop closest to this hotel is only 50m away. For availability and rates click here.
Small Luxury Hotel Ambassador
Small Luxury Hotel Ambassador is located next to Zurich’s Opera House smack in the center of town. It is only about a10-minute walk away from the Bahnhofstrasse; the famous Zurich shopping boulevard. The hotel offers free WiFi, parking space, food and drinks, and people are allowed as well. For availability and rates click here.
Helmhaus Swiss Quality Hotel
Helmhaus Swiss Quality Hotel which is notable for being a historic 14th-century building is located within very close proximity of the Lake Zurich and Grossmunster. All its luxurious rooms come with a flat-screen TV and free WiFi as well a 24-hour front desk reception. For availability and rates click here.
Motel One Zurich
Located only 600m from the Paradeplatz and Bahnhofstrasse, Motel One Zurich offers rooms with free WiFi and a flat-screen TV with access to satellite channels. Similarly, pets are allowed and there is a 24-hour reception as well. For availability and rates click here.