Zurich is the favorite starting point of most travelers visiting Switzerland. With almost all the destinations in Switzerland easily reachable by train from Zurich and Zurich’s flight and train connections to other countries, it’s no wonder.
Whether it’s a tourist wanting to relax for 1 to 3 days in Lucerne or an adventurer desiring to have an ultimate 7-day trip to the Jungfrau Region, they’re almost always choosing Zurich as the place where they kick off their Switzerland trip. However, Zurich is known to be one of the most expensive cities in the world; therefore, travelers often don’t spend much time here during their trip to Switzerland.
Most importantly, it goes without saying that the Swiss Alps are the main attraction of any Swiss vacation and should take up most of your time there. So, after travelers arrive at Zurich they immediately ride the train to the tourist attractions in the Swiss Alps.
But Zurich isn’t just a transportation hub, and if you’re traveling to Switzerland, there are reasons why you might like to give Zurich a try – perhaps for a day or two! Personally, I find Zurich worth considering, especially for a Switzerland trip that lasts longer than a week. Let me tell you more about it in this post.
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As a traveler always in pursuit of indescribable beauty, I have to be candid — Zurich is just a bit better than average. Yet, Zurich is far from dull, boasting intriguing museums, a vibrant shopping district, and an electrifying nightlife!
The city is also sprinkled with hidden treasures. From stunning churches to scenic spots along Lake Zurich’s shores, there’s a wealth of discoveries to be made. And let’s not forget the gastronomic delights served up by the city’s numerous Michelin-starred restaurants.
With all that Zurich has to offer, consider it a unique twist on the typical Swiss journey, which usually involves quaint countryside villages and awe-inspiring mountain vistas. Spending time in Zurich allows you to experience both facets of this stunning country—the natural beauty and the urban charm. Moreover, the city’s museums, especially the Swiss National Museum, serve as a perfect introduction to Switzerland.
When else might we consider staying in Zurich and spending some time in it?
Well, apart from a lengthy Swiss holiday (example, a 14-day Switzerland trip) where you have extra time to uncover the less frequented parts of Switzerland, a brief Swiss trip could be another occasion. If you’re planning a brief trip to Switzerland, say a three-day weekend getaway, Zurich could be an ideal base.
From here, you can easily explore nearby attractions. For instance, Lucerne is just an hour’s train ride away. Interlaken is another viable day trip option from Zurich, albeit slightly further than Lucerne.
Your weekend can be spent soaking in Switzerland’s top sights, while your nights can be dedicated to experiencing Zurich’s renowned city life. Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it?
If you’re considering spending a few days in Zurich, here’s where you can scout for the best hotel deals in the city. If you’re traveling to Switzerland for a week or longer, SAVE MONEY by using the Swiss Travel Pass. Learn more about the Swiss Travel Pass here.
Still on the fence about visiting Zurich? Or perhaps you’ve already decided to go and are wondering what to do there? My list of 15 reasons to visit Zurich should answer all your questions.
1. Zurich’s Numerous and Interesting Museums
No other city in Switzerland boasts as many museums and galleries as Zurich does. With over 100 museums, it offers a comprehensive insight into the lives of the Swiss people. The wealth of knowledge and intriguing discoveries that these museums house make Zurich a must-visit.
The collections span a wide range of fields, from art to photography, design to architecture, and culture to history and science!
In Zurich’s old town alone, you can embark on a museum-hopping adventure with its 20 museums, seemingly nestled on every other street! The modern city houses 69 museums in total, making Zurich a paradise for museum enthusiasts. The remaining museums are scattered throughout the Zurich region, just 10 to 30 minutes from the city center.
Among them, I highly recommend the Swiss National Museum, the Wow Museum, and Kunsthaus Zürich.
If you’re keen on immersing yourself in Swiss history and culture, the Swiss National Museum is a must-visit. Here, you’ll find artifacts that trace back to the earliest Swiss civilizations, as well as collections that showcase the creativity and craftsmanship of the Swiss people.
For a more playful experience, especially if you’re with kids or simply young at heart, the Wow Museum is a great choice. This captivating space is filled with mind-bending illusions that are not only fun but also offer insights into virtuality and diversity.
Finally, for art lovers, there’s no place like the Kunsthaus Zürich. This art haven in Zurich houses over 100,000 artworks, from paintings to sculptures and prints to drawings. While it primarily features Classical Modernism, the Kunsthaus Zürich also boasts artworks from various eras, with some dating back to the 13th century.
If you’re someone who appreciates the depth and detail of museums, and loves to dive into the art and history of your travel destinations, then Paris and Florence are must-visit cities for you. They are famous for their significant landmarks and attractions, boasting artworks and exhibits that have received worldwide acclaim.
2. Parks and The Beautiful Views of Lake Zurich
One of the charms of a city lies in its green and blue spaces, offering locals and travelers alike a place to unwind. Zurich is no exception. The city’s open spaces are not just inviting, but they’re also one of its most appealing features.
While Zurich is often seen as an expensive destination, it’s worth noting that you can enjoy these parks and gardens free of charge. So why not swap a meal at a pricey restaurant for a delightful picnic amidst the scenic backdrop of trees, rivers, and a lake?
Zurich is home to several parks that are conveniently located near the city’s main attractions. For instance, Platzspitz Park is nestled right next to the Swiss National Museum. After spending hours exploring the museum, you can easily unwind in the park’s charming spots with some snacks from your bag.
Another park worth visiting is Rechberg, which is situated adjacent to a major tourist attraction, the Kunsthaus. With its elegant Baroque garden design, Rechberg offers a more refined setting for a picnic compared to Platzspitz.
However, if I were to pick my favorite park in Zurich’s city center, it would undoubtedly be Lake Promenade. This park boasts a beautiful beach, vibrant flowers in the summer, and a stunning view of the Alps.
Whether you’re strolling alongside wild swans or sitting on the grass watching the shimmering Zurich Lake, it’s an incredibly refreshing experience. Plus, you might even stumble upon street artists performing or inline skaters whizzing by on the paved path – talk about free entertainment!
3. Scenic Views from Uetliberg (Zurich’s Mountain)
If you only have a day to explore Switzerland, Zurich is undoubtedly the city to visit! This city offers a blend of cultural experiences and stunning natural beauty. Zurich is not only home to a beautiful lake, but it also boasts its own mountain. Mount Uetliberg, standing tall at 870 meters (or 2,850 feet), provides a panoramic view of Zurich.
From this vantage point, you can take in the sights of Lake Zurich and even the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps in the distance.
The view from Uetliberg is indeed a highlight of any visit to Zurich, especially if you’re short on time in Switzerland. This mountain gives Zurich an edge over other cities when it comes to tourism. Along with Lake Zurich, Uetliberg offers visitors an easy way to experience the tranquility of nature.
Reaching the peak of Mount Uetliberg is straightforward. While there are hiking trails for those who prefer a more active journey, a train from the city center is a convenient option for those pressed for time.
Although it’s rare to see a sea of clouds from lower-elevation peaks, you might be lucky enough to witness this breathtaking spectacle from Uetliberg. The view above the clouds is truly awe-inspiring, making you feel as if you’re in heaven.
The captivating scenery from the top of Uetliberg is equally enchanting in the afternoon and at sunset, adding a romantic touch to the experience. So, when planning your Zurich itinerary, make sure not to miss out on Uetliberg!
4. Lindenhof & The Old Town Zurich
You don’t need to venture out of Zurich’s city center to Uetliberg for panoramic views. The heart of Zurich, particularly the old town area known as Lindenhof, offers its own picturesque sights that are sure to captivate any shutterbug.
Lindenhof Park, nestled on a hill west of the Limmat River, serves as a prime vantage point overlooking Zurich’s old town, or “Altstadt”. This charming park, adorned with trees and benches, provides a tranquil spot to unwind after exploring Altstadt and its array of museums.
Lindenhof Park can get quite busy, particularly during the peak tourist season. If you’re a photographer aiming to capture the best views of Altstadt, or a traveler seeking some quiet moments, I’d recommend visiting at sunrise. Depending on the weather, the city may still be shrouded in mist at this time, creating a magical atmosphere.
One of the lovely scenes of Lindenhof Park is the locals playing chess. But it’s not an average chess game — the pieces are life-sized, requiring you to physically move around to play. Whether you join in or simply watch, it’s these kinds of encounters that often make city travel so nice.
By the way, Lindenhof Park is just a 5-minute walk from the WOW Museum. After having fun at the museum, Lindenhof Park is an ideal next stop for some rest and relaxation.
5. Zurich’s 11-to-12-Centuries Old Churches
While Europe is indeed home to a multitude of stunning churches, when it comes to Switzerland, Zurich certainly stands out. The city is known for its 15 churches, but there are four in particular that are noteworthy and could be a compelling reason to visit Zurich.
The “Great Minster,” or Grossmünster, is a standout landmark in Zurich. This 12th-century reformed church graces the banks of the Limmat River and is steeped in history. Legend has it that the Grossmünster was built over the graves of Saint Felix and Saint Regula, Zurich’s patron saints. Its twin towers, with their distinctive design, can be seen from afar.
While the Grossmünster’s iconic twin towers are its most recognizable feature, you can also climb one of them for a breathtaking view of Zurich.
Across the Limmat River from the Grossmünster, you’ll find another notable church: Fraumünster. This church contributes to Zurich’s picturesque cityscape along the river. On a sunny day, when the river is calm, you can see the reflection of this church and its pointed spire on the water.
A short distance north of Fraumünster is Saint Peter’s Church. With foundations dating back to the 9th century, it’s Zurich’s oldest church and is renowned for its massive clock face tower. In fact, with a diameter of 8.7 meters, Saint Peter Church’s clock face is the largest in Europe!
When embarking on a church-hunting adventure in Zurich, make sure to include Enge Church on your list. Perched atop a moraine hill, this church is an architectural gem that embodies Zurich’s 19th-century liberal Protestantism. From its intricate mosaic and wooden floors to the majestic dome overhead, the church’s stunning elegance is a sight to behold.
In my view, it’s as if a church and a castle were beautifully merged into one. It’s no wonder it’s considered the most significant Neo-Renaissance church in Switzerland.
If, like me, you’re a fan of uncovering historical treasures and marveling at medieval architecture, then the churches in Zurich are a must-see! However, some of the most stunning churches I’ve encountered are in Venice, Rome, Milan, Reims, Strasbourg, Munich, and Lyon.
6. The Fun Festivals in Zurich
Despite the march of globalization and the rise of modern technology, culture remains one of Europe’s most captivating features. Zurich, a city with over 2,000 years of history, has cultivated its own unique culture that extends beyond its architectural structures.
Throughout the year, from February to December, you can immerse yourself in Zurich’s culture through more than 30 events. These include lively festivals, parades, and exhibitions that add to the city’s charm. While some traditions have been preserved over time, newer cultural events have brought a fresh wave of excitement.
If you’re planning a trip to Switzerland and considering starting in Zurich, aligning your visit with these festivals could enhance your experience. You can find all the details about these events, including dates and other information, on the city’s official website.
There are three events in Zurich that I believe are particularly worth attending: ZüriCarneval, Street Parade, and Sechseläuten. These events offer a unique insight into the city’s vibrant culture and are sure to leave you with lasting memories.
First up is ZüriCarneval (Zurich Carnival), a high-spirited, colorful, and musical event that showcases different cultures, often European, in a carnival style. It’s an excellent event for families, as kids will undoubtedly enjoy the lively parade of costumed participants accompanied by bands playing musical instruments.
ZüriCarneval usually takes place in late winter or early spring, although the exact dates can vary depending on local and global circumstances. For instance, the event was scheduled to take place from March 4 – 6, 2022, but was postponed due to the pandemic. For more information, you can check out the ZuriCarneval’s webpage.
Another event that takes place in Zurich during spring is Sechseläuten, which translates to “The six o’clock ringing of the bells” in English. This festival is a celebration of an authentic Swiss tradition that occurs on the third Monday of April. The city has been observing this festival since the early 20th century, making it a longstanding part of Zurich’s cultural heritage.
Of all the events in Zurich, the Street Parade stands out as the most exhilarating. Known as the world’s largest techno party, this event is a whirlwind of fun and excitement!
During the Street Parade, the streets of Zurich and the basin of Lake Zurich come alive with people dancing and celebrating. Organizers typically set up more than seven party stages where hundreds of DJs spin and play electrifying electronic music. This epic celebration takes place every summer. For announcements and detailed information, be sure to check out the official Street Parade website.
Have you heard about the exciting and vibrant festivals in the cities of the French Alps? Annecy boasts a different festival for each season, while Chamonix hosts a unique festival amidst its mountains!
7. Ecstatic Nightlife in Zurich
Contrary to what you might think, Zurich isn’t just about the Street Parade – the city comes alive every night! If you’re looking to unleash your inner party animal, Zurich is the place to be.
It might be hard to imagine, especially when you see the city’s charming medieval attractions during the day. But did you know that Zurich boasts more bars per capita than any other city in Europe? Zurich Tourism lists over 230 bars and nightclubs for you to explore. Whether you’re looking for something traditional or trendy, cozy or lively, cultural or LGBTQ+ friendly, there’s a place that’s just right for you!
Feeling the urge to dance and party the night away?
Zurich’s clubs and discos cater to all generations, playing everything from Jazz, Latin, house, and hip-hop, to rock and party beats. Immerse yourself in an exhilarating night of live music at various venues across the city. Known for its vibrant concert culture, Zurich is a must-visit for music lovers!
If you’re into a chill, open, and laid-back atmosphere with alternative music, Helsinki Club might be your vibe.
If you’re unsure about which club or bar to visit, or if you’re up for some bar hopping, consider exploring Niederdorf, Langstrasse, and Zurich West. These areas offer a modern city vibe that contrasts with Zurich’s District 1 (Old Town).
While Switzerland is considered one of the safest countries and Zurich is generally safe, it’s always important to look after yourself and your belongings when exploring these nightlife districts.
8. The Cuisine and Restaurants in Zurich
Another compelling reason to visit Zurich is the city’s vast array of dining options. With hundreds of restaurants, takeaways, and delivery services at your fingertips, food-loving travelers are sure to be delighted.
Moreover, Zurich is a welcoming destination for those with dietary restrictions, such as vegetarians, thanks to its wide variety of food choices. So, whether you’re a foodie or simply enjoy trying new cuisines, Zurich’s culinary scene is sure to satisfy your palate!
Zurich is a food lover’s paradise, with over 350 restaurants recommended by the tourism office, ensuring a quality dining experience. As of 2022, the city boasts 11 restaurants that have been awarded one to two Michelin stars, reflecting their exceptional culinary standards.
A third of the restaurants recommended by Zurich Tourism serve Swiss specialties like Raclette and Fondue. Additionally, over 50 establishments offer Italian dishes, and another 50 serve Mediterranean cuisine. The city also has a significant number of Asian restaurants.
For vegetarians and vegans, Zurich offers a selection of over 20 restaurants catering to your dietary preferences.
Remember, don’t limit your culinary exploration to just Zurich’s old town. The city’s other districts also offer a plethora of dining options that won’t disappoint.
9. Best Shopping Experiences in Switzerland
Fashion enthusiasts, luxury seekers, and souvenir hunters will find Zurich just as delightful as food lovers do. The city offers a shopping experience that caters to all tastes, from high-end boutiques to bustling flea markets.
It might sound cliché, but Zurich truly is a shopper’s paradise and that alone could be a compelling reason to visit.
While Zurich is renowned for its high-end shopping, it doesn’t mean that travelers on a budget can’t enjoy the city’s upscale shopping districts. You can always indulge in some window shopping or simply soak up the city’s glamorous atmosphere.
You might feel the need to dress to the nines before venturing into the city’s posh districts, but according to Switzerland Insider, most people aren’t concerned about whether you’re wearing designer clothes. The key is to be yourself and present yourself decently.
One district that embodies Zurich’s luxury is Bahnhofstrasse. This avenue isn’t just Switzerland’s most exclusive and expensive shopping street, but it’s also considered one of the most luxurious in all of Europe! Here, you’ll find sophisticated shops and high-end brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Rolex, Versace, and more.
Alongside these boutiques, jewelry shops, and art galleries are cozy cafes where you can take a break from your shopping or sightseeing adventures.
Bahnhofstrasse, which begins at Bahnhofplatz or “Station Square,” extends all the way to Burkliplatz on Lake Zurich. This avenue spans 1.4 kilometers, and a leisurely stroll from one end to the other typically takes between 20 to 30 minutes.
Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can find affordable souvenirs at the Burkliplatz flea market located at the end of Bahnhofstrasse. The market offers a wide range of items, from antiques and electronics to clothing and accessories for both men and women. However, keep in mind that the flea market is only open on Saturdays from May through November.
Zurich boasts 11 additional department stores and shopping malls where you can shop to your heart’s content. Whether you’re preparing to head home or continue your journey through Switzerland, you’re sure to find everything you need in this city.
10. Zurich’s Charm and the Little Things You Can Discover
While I personally have a preference for nature travel, I’ve found that cities can often be full of unexpected delights. This is what makes urban travel so thrilling.
Zurich, being the largest city in Switzerland, is no exception. It’s filled with hidden gems that you won’t find in most guidebooks. From my perspective, these unique discoveries are what make a visit to Zurich so worthwhile.
One of the surprises awaiting you in Zurich is Fraumunster. From the outside, Fraumunster may appear to be just another historical attraction in Zurich. However, once you step inside, you’ll quickly realize that it’s anything but ordinary.
Take a moment to appreciate the mini-courtyard nestled between Fraumunster and Stadthaus Zürich. The architecture is simply superb and charming! Inside Fraumunster, you’ll be captivated by the honeycomb glass windows, elegant arcades, and ornate window frames, which together create a castle-like ambiance.
Venture into Fraumunster’s cloister and you’ll be greeted by impressive murals that narrate the history of early Christians in Zurich. And let’s not forget the church’s organ, considered the largest in the canton of Zurich.
With nearly 7000 pipes, it’s designed to leave anyone who sees and hears it in amazement. Zurich’s lovely and picturesque narrow lanes, like Augustinergasse near Lindenhof, are sure to bring a smile to your face, too. This vibrant street, adorned with the flags of Switzerland, is a must-see for any shutterbug! It offers a glimpse into Zurich’s rich history.
And if you’ve never seen a police station that doubles as a work of art, Zurich is the place to be! The entry hall, known as Giacometti-Halle, of the police station near the WOW museum features stunning frescoes painted by Giacometti. The ornately designed ceiling is a delightful spectacle waiting to be discovered in Zurich.
11. Lindt Home of Chocolate in Zurich
Shopping, nightlife, and what else puts Zurich on the map? Chocolates! Indeed, chocolates are a significant reason to visit Zurich.
Why, you ask? It’s because chocolates are deeply intertwined with the city’s history. Did you know that Zurich has been crafting chocolates and spreading sweetness around the world for nearly 200 years? The city’s first chocolate factory was established by Rudolf Sprüngli-Amman back in 1845.
While Zurich may not have been the first place in Switzerland to establish a chocolate factory, it has certainly earned its reputation as one of the country’s top destinations for chocolate lovers.
Leading the way are chocolate makers Lindt & Sprüngli.
In Zurich, you can do more than just shop for chocolates — you can truly immerse yourself in the world of chocolate. In 2020, Switzerland’s newest and most state-of-the-art chocolate museum, Lindt Home of Chocolate, opened its doors in Zurich.
At the Lindt Home of Chocolate museum, you’ll find the largest Lindt Chocolate Shop, spanning a floor area of 500 square meters, and a host of exciting and spectacular chocolate exhibits. The tour offers a wealth of knowledge about the Swiss cultural heritage of chocolate, covering not only Lindt but also other Swiss chocolate makers.
As you enter the venue, you’ll be greeted by a giant Lindt chocolate fountain — a chocolatey sight to behold!
The entry fee is 15 EUR, but with all the free chocolates you can sample and the wealth of knowledge you’ll gain, it’s well worth it! The tour covers everything from the ingredients used in chocolate to its history and manufacturing process. Learn more about Lindt Chocolate Factory from their official website.
12. Family Fun at Zurich’s Zoo
Earlier, we touched on the topic of chocolates, which are sure to delight children visiting Zurich. Another attraction that will captivate your little ones is the Zurich Zoo. This is a must-visit destination, especially if you’re traveling with kids!
Zurich Zoo is a haven for over 4000 animals, representing 380 species from all corners of the globe. Here, you can watch wildlife in their natural habitat, whether they’re grazing, crawling, or soaring in environments that mirror the savannah or the rainforest.
And it’s not just land animals; the zoo boasts an impressive aquarium as well! From penguins and alpacas to flamingoes, there’s a world of creatures waiting to be discovered. In fact, after a visit to Zurich Zoo, you might feel like you’ve embarked on a global expedition. The atmosphere is particularly immersive in the summer, transporting you to the heart of Africa, South America, or Asia.
What sets Zurich Zoo apart is its commitment to animal welfare. Rather than confining animals in cages, which can be disheartening, the zoo provides enclosures that closely resemble their natural habitats. This approach not only enhances the animals’ well-being but also makes them livelier and engaging for visitors.
Spread across a sprawling 10 hectares (or 25 acres), Zurich Zoo is a vast space to explore.
To make your journey more convenient, there’s a mini train that quickly shuttles you between different enclosures.
The zoo is also continually evolving. Future plans include an aerial cableway and a coastal ecosystem for sea birds and otters among other enhancements. So, every visit promises something new and exciting!
If you’re planning a trip to Zurich Zoo, I recommend visiting their [official website]. You’ll find all the information you need, including opening hours and visitor details. Don’t forget to check for any recent announcements!
Here’s a video introduction to Zurich Zoo for you to enjoy.
If you’re in search of a unique zoo adventure, Stuttgart is the place to be. It houses Wilhelma, a unique attraction that beautifully merges a zoo with a botanical garden.
13. More things to Do in Lake Zurich
As you’ve likely gathered from our previous discussions, Zurich is a city brimming with activities and attractions. But the appeal of Zurich doesn’t stop at destinations that require a train or car ride. There’s so much more to explore!
Consider taking a boat ride from the Limmat River to Lake Zurich, where you can discover the stunning locales that make Zurich so special. One such place is the Monastery Island of Ufenau. Here, you can interact with monks, marvel at medieval churches, and get a taste of the Swiss countryside.
Surrounded by the turquoise waters of Lake Zurich, this idyllic island is a must-visit destination.
Just a stone’s throw away from Ufenau Island, you’ll find the charming town of Rapperswil, affectionately known as the “City of Roses.” Rapperswil is home to a stunning castle, which, along with the quaint houses lining the shore, often casts a beautiful reflection on the surface of Lake Zurich.
The town truly comes alive in the summer, with vibrant flowers adding a splash of color to its medieval charm.
Rapperswil and Ufenau Island are nestled at the southern tip of Lake Zurich. While it’s about a two-hour boat ride to reach this picturesque corner of the lake, the journey is well worth it for the enchanting sights that await.
14. Zurich is Irresistibly Instagrammable
You’ve already seen how Zurich offers a wealth of attractions and activities for all kinds of travelers.
But did you also know that Zurich boasts some of the nicest architecture in Europe? Yes, Zurich is home to many buildings that are so exquisite and elegant that you’ll want to snap a photo of them.
Whether you’re a hobbyist photographer or just a curious explorer, these buildings in Zurich will give you plenty of reasons to visit the city. Especially since Zurich has a mix of medieval and modern architecture, you’ll have more options to admire and capture. For the beautiful medieval structures, you can check the previous sections of this blog post where I mention the churches and other landmarks of the city.
By the way, the Swiss National Museum has an amazing architecture too! For modern architecture, you may check the buildings listed in the post from ArchDaily.
Here are some you can use as inspiration:
Are you in search of picturesque destinations that are perfect for your Instagram feed? Look no further than the enchanting locales of Colmar in France, the mystical Black Forest in Germany, and the charming towns of Franconia, such as Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Bamberg. And let’s not forget the idyllic villages nestled in the south of France. These places are so breathtakingly beautiful, they seem to have leapt straight out of a fairy tale.
15. Zurich Has Easy Access to The Best Destinations in Switzerland
Finally, one reason to visit or even stay in Zurich is its strategic location. While accommodations in Zurich might be a bit on the pricier side, the convenience it offers, especially in terms of transportation, is a significant advantage.
Zurich’s proximity and train connections to some of Switzerland’s top destinations make it an ideal base for exploration. Navigating from Zurich to other attractions via public transportation is a breeze.
However, if you prefer guided tours to avoid any hiccups, or if you’re keen on meeting new people on group tours, consider checking out the offers by GetYourGuide. They also provide skip-the-line passes and free public transport rides among other perks.
Best Time to Visit Zurich
Zurich is a destination for all seasons, with each one offering something unique to match your interests. But if you ask me, there’s something special about being in Zurich during a festival. It’s an opportunity to experience the city in an extraordinary way and create unforgettable memories.
Spring in Zurich is a season of start of outdoor adventures, and cultural festivities.
During this season, the trees and shrubs along the streets and lakeside promenade are adorned with fresh blooms, painting the cityscape with a palette of colors. The weather is pleasantly mild, with temperatures ranging from a cool 45°F (7.22°C) to a warm 69°F (20.56°C).
Spring can be a perfect time to explore the city and its surroundings. Spring is also when Zurich’s outdoor life comes alive. The garden terraces and weekly markets are bustling with activity. And if you’re up for some adventure, the hiking paths around Lake Zurich are just waiting to be explored.
However, spring weather can be a bit of a tease. One moment it’s sunny, the next it could be raining. So, pack your suitcase with layers to be ready for all eventualities. When it comes to day trips, spring is a fantastic season to explore beyond the borders of Zurich.
But do keep in mind the weather and lingering snow. If you’re planning a day trip, I’d recommend visiting smaller towns and charming villages first. These places are perfect if you’re into sightseeing or just want to take it easy. Save the mountain excursions for later when the weather is more favorable.
While spring is not as crowded as summer, there can still be a fair number of tourists. Especially during events like Sechseläuten, Zurich’s traditional spring festival held in April.
In summary, summer in Zurich offers a mix of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and lively events. The weather is usually pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 22°C to 24°C, perfect for enjoying the outdoors. You can take a dip in Lake Zurich or the River Limmat, hike in the nearby hills and mountains, or simply relax at an outdoor cafe.
There are also plenty of events to keep you entertained.
From open-air concerts and movies to theater evenings, there’s something for everyone. Not to mention, the Street Parade and Zürcher Theater Spektakel are two major festivals that take place during the summer.
Summer is also the perfect time to venture out from Zurich and discover the wonders of Switzerland. Imagine yourself ascending Mount Titlis, strolling through the quaint streets of Lucerne, or standing in awe of the mighty Rheinfall, Europe’s largest waterfall. And if you’re up for an adventure, you can even take a day trip from Zermatt to Jungfraujoch, known as the Top of Europe!
However, do keep in mind that Zurich can get quite crowded in July and August. This could mean higher prices for hotels and flights, and reservations might be harder to come by.
You can easily immerse yourself in this spectacle by taking a leisurely hike up to Uetliberg or by enjoying a peaceful walk along the shores of Lake Zurich. And yes, it’s a great time for outdoor activities like hiking, and you can also enjoy the culinary specialties and wines that are unique to this season.
However, do keep in mind that the weather can be a bit unpredictable. It starts to get chilly and there can be more rain, and occasionally snow at high elevations. Fog often appears during this season.
Also, while most tourists are gone by late September, Swiss schools have fall breaks for 1-2 weeks between end of September and mid-October, so some mountain resorts can get busy during this time.
When it comes to day trips from Zurich in the autumn, you’re in for a real treat! There are several destinations that become even more photogenic with the lovely hues of autumn leaves. While popular attractions in the Swiss Alps are always a hit, visiting less crowded villages could offer you some uniquely stunning photo opportunities.
In terms of temperature, autumn in Switzerland is from September to November. Temperatures slowly go down from 20 degrees Celsius in September to 9 degrees in November. October is the driest month in Zurich, and chilly fall air—the average high is 56 degrees F (13 degrees C)—lends a crispness to the scene.
And don’t forget about the cultural events! Here are several events in Zurich during the autumn season such as the Zurich Film Festival, DAZ – Digital Art Zurich, and Expovina Wine Fair.
If you don’t mind the cold and love a festive atmosphere, Zurich in winter could be a great choice for you! Zurich is a winter wonderland during the colder months, and it’s a great time to visit if you enjoy a festive atmosphere.
The city is beautifully decorated and there are Christmas markets all over the place. You can also attend special events like Advent for Children and light festivals. If you’re into sports, you can try out winter activities like skating, skiing, and tobogganing.
However, do keep in mind that the weather can get quite cold. The average temperature in January is around 1.1°C (33.9°F), so make sure to pack warm clothes! Of course, one of the best things about visiting Zurich in winter is that it’s not as crowded. You’ll find it easy to get a table at a restaurant or use public transportation.
How Long to Stay in Zurich
The duration of your visit to Zurich largely hinges on your plans for exploring Switzerland.
If you’re considering using Zurich as your main base, as I suggested earlier, a three-day stay would be ideal. This would allow you ample time to discover Zurich and venture out to one or two other Swiss locations.
Now, if you’re looking to just skim the surface, get a feel for the city, and visit the main attractions like the historic Old Town, Lake Zurich, and Swiss National Museum, then 1 to 2 days should do the trick. You should stay at least 2 days in Zurich to experience what it is like at night.
But if you’re someone who likes to dive deep and experience all that a city has to offer — from museums to churches, from nightlife to shopping districts — then I’d recommend a 3-day stay in Zurich. This gives you enough time to not just visit but truly experience these places.
Where to Stay in Zurich
When you’re visiting Zurich, deciding where to stay can really shape your experience. Here are some areas you might want to consider:
- Old Town (Altstadt): It’s right in the heart of Zurich, so you’ll be close to major attractions like Fraumünster Church and Bahnhofstrasse. But keep in mind, it can get a bit crowded and might be a bit pricier due to its central location.
- Langstrasse: If you’re someone who enjoys a vibrant nightlife, Langstrasse is the place for you. Once known as Zurich’s red-light district, it’s now a bustling neighborhood with lots of affordable hotels. Just remember, it can get a bit noisy at night.
- Enge: If you’re traveling with family or just love being close to nature, consider staying in Enge. It’s a lush neighborhood located along the western shores of Lake Zurich. However, it might not have as many nightlife options as other areas.
- Riesbach: For those who appreciate stunning views and a peaceful atmosphere, Riesbach is a great choice.
- Zurich West: This former industrial area is now a trendy district filled with creativity. It’s also quite budget-friendly, making it a good choice for travelers on a budget.
Speaking of budget-friendly areas, both Langstrasse and Zurich West offer affordable accommodations.
Discover the best hotel deals in Zurich with my recommended hotel finder. It comes with a map feature, making it a breeze to locate hotels in the areas I’ve mentioned.
How to Get to Zurich
Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city, is a breeze to get to, thanks to its excellent connections. Here’s how you can reach Zurich.
If you’re flying in, you’ll likely land at Zurich Airport, which is a quick 10km (6 miles) hop from the city center. From there, you have a few options:
- Train: The quickest way into the city. Trains leave the airport every 5-10 minutes and will get you to the main station in about 15 minutes.
- Tram: A slower but scenic option is tram line number 10. It takes about 35 minutes.
- Taxi or Private Transfers: If you prefer a door-to-door service, taxis or private transfers are available, though prices and waiting times can vary.
If you’re already in Switzerland and want to visit Zurich, hopping on a train is your best bet. The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) connects Zurich with all major Swiss cities.
Zurich isn’t just well-connected within Switzerland — it’s a major hub for trains throughout Europe. You can catch a direct train from several cities outside Switzerland, including:
- Germany: Cities like Mannheim, Stuttgart, Munich, Hamburg, Berlin
- Austria: Cities like Innsbruck, Salzburg, Vienna
- France: Cities like Paris, Dijon
- Italy: Cities like Milan, Verona, Genoa, Bologna
Getting Around Zurich
Zurich is compact, so walking or biking is a great way to explore. But, of course, there are the public transportation and driving options.
Public Transportation in Zurich
If you’re going a bit further, the public transportation system is top-notch. It includes trams, buses, trains, and even boats! You can grab tickets from machines or use transport passes.
And hey, if you’re up for a little adventure to explore the city, why not rent an electric scooter or bike? And don’t forget about the boat tours on Lake Zurich.
What I like so much about Zurich’s public transportation? It’s super punctual. If the display says the tram will arrive at 11:05, you can bet it will be there on the dot!
Now, if you’re planning to explore, consider getting a Zürich Card.
It not only gives you unlimited 2nd class travel on all forms of public transportation in the city, but also offers free or reduced admission to dozens of museums, a discounted walking tour, and even a cruise on the Limmat River.
If you’re comfortable with German (or have a handy translate option), the ZVV mobile app is great for searching routes.
And here’s a cool fact: all the transportation companies in Zurich are united under the Zurich Transport Association (ZVV). That means one ticket gets you access to all forms of transportation in the city network – including boats, funicular railways, and cable cars.
Driving in Zurich
If you’re thinking about driving, keep in mind that while it’s possible, traffic and parking can be a bit of a hassle.
If you’re planning to drive around Zurich, here are three parking spots you might want to consider:
- Parking Zürich AG: This one’s right in the city center, so it’s super convenient if you’re planning to explore the heart of Zurich. But keep in mind, its central location might make it a bit pricier.
- Parkhaus Urania: This parking garage is open 24/7 and has a nifty guidance system that’ll lead you straight to your parking space. It’s also smack dab in the middle of the city, so it’s perfect for sightseeing. Just remember, convenience comes with a cost – parking fees here can be a bit steep.
- SHELL HARDAU: This is a well-known brand and it’s open from 7:00 to 22:00 from Monday to Friday. But remember, it’s not open all the time, so you’ll need to plan your parking times accordingly.
Just a heads up – parking regulations in Zurich are pretty strict. It’s generally best to stick to marked parking places or park-houses in the city.
Learn more about traveling to Zurich by Car.
Outside of Zurich
Now, if you’re planning to visit places like Lucerne, Interlaken, St. Moritz, Winterthur, Rheinfall, Saint Gallen, or Chur from Zurich, here’s the scoop:
All these places are accessible by train or car.
Lucerne is about 52.6 kilometers away, Interlaken is around 119 kilometers away, St. Moritz is about 203 kilometers away, Winterthur is just 26 kilometers away, Rheinfall is approximately 48 kilometers away, Saint Gallen is around 85 kilometers away, and Chur is about 119 kilometers away.
Renting a car can give you the freedom to explore at your own pace and might be handy if you’re planning to visit multiple places in one day.
But remember to check the driving rules in Switzerland and make sure your driver’s license is valid there before you hit the road.
That said, Switzerland’s public transportation system is excellent. So, if you’d rather sit back and enjoy the ride, hopping on a train is a fantastic option.
Where To Next After Zurich?
After you’ve soaked in the sights of Zurich, here’s where you can head next:
- Lucerne is a charming city known for its preserved medieval architecture and it sits amid snowcapped mountains on Lake Lucerne.
- The Jungfrau Region which includes the Jungfrau massif, the Lauterbrunnen Valley, Schilthorn, Mürren, Gimmelwald, Grindelwald, and Interlaken is the ultimate destination in Switzerland, without a doubt!
- Interlaken, located between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, is a haven for outdoor sports enthusiasts.
- Lauterbrunnen, set in a valley featuring rocky cliffs and the roaring Staubbach Falls, is a sight to behold.
- Grindelwald, a village on the foot of Eiger, is a popular gateway for more outdoor fun in the Jungfrau Region.
- Also from the Alps: Kandersteg is the resort village closest to the awe-inspiring Oeschinensee.
- Along the pre-Alps: Gruyères is a medieval town known for its cheese.
- Another top destination in Switzerland: Zermatt, a mountain resort renowned for skiing, climbing and hiking is another great destination. It is the village which has the best views of the Matterhorn.
More in the Swiss Alps region, you have Sion, the capital of the canton of Valais, Thun, a city located where the Aare River flows out of Lake Thun, and Montreux, located on Lake Geneva at the foot of the Alps. Don’t miss out on Brig for its spectacular views of Pennine Alps.
Finally, round off your Swiss adventure with visits to other cities like Geneva, known for its Red Cross headquarters and United Nations office; Bern, the capital city of Switzerland known for its medieval city center; and Basel, known as a hub for art and history lovers.
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