Zurich – the largest and richest Switzerland’s city and is known as one of the financial centers of the world. The Swiss city of Zurich is worldwide famous for its vibrant, modern but equally quaint and artistic beauty. Zurich is charming with its old town and ancient architectural houses, snow-capped peaks. The ancient, gentle peace and rich culture and long history are the tourist attractions of this place. So, what to do and how to plan a perfect budget trip to Zurich for the first-time? Let’s check out our Zurich blog (Zurich travel blog) with the fullest Zurich travel guide (Zurich guide, Zurich tourist guide, Zurich visitor guide) from how to get there, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit and top things to do to find out the answer!
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Zurich has more than 2000 years of history and is the oldest city in Europe. Perhaps that’s why the beauty of Zurich blends the vibrant and lively features of a modern city with the ancient and peaceful nature of an old city, which brings a very distinctive color that no city in the world has it.
Zurich blog: Overview of Zurich
This city has a very long history, but is really known since the 1st century when the Romans came here to station and collect taxes. The city was then located on the south bank of the Limmat River. Then during the Middle Ages, the city developed on the north bank of the river until the 19th century. Now the city has extended to all directions, around Lake Zurich (German: Zürichsee). This is a very large, Loofah fruit-shaped lake, its water is originated from the surrounding mountains and hills, flowing through Zurich, it narrows down to form Limmat River, then merges into Rhine River, flowing through several European countries before empties into the sea in the Netherlands.
Besides the political capital of Bern, Zurich is known as the financial capital, the commercial center as well as the Switzerland cultural hub city. The population of Zurich metro area of over 1.4 million people, covering an area of 87.88 km², and is one of the safest cities with a top quality of life that many people dream of.
An interesting thing is that this city is surrounded by the Limmat river, so come to Zurich you will see water everywhere with countless canals, fountains throughout the city. Especially, lakes and water are extremely clean, even some fountains can provide potable water.
Some interesting things about this city:
- Many people think that Zurich is the capital of Switzerland, but in fact, Bern is the capital.
- Being one of the happiest cities in the world because the quality of life here is extremely high.
- The city’s urban population is over 400 thousand people and about 30% are foreigners.
Switzerland has 4 official languages, so the city of Zurich is also called in 6 different ways such as: Zurich – French and English; Zurigo – Italian; Turitg – Roman; Zürich – German; Zurich – German; Züri – the city’s nickname in the German language of the Swiss
Zurich blog: When to visit?
Zurich has a temperate climate and has 4 distinct seasons, so choosing the right time to visit Zurich is not too difficult. You can visit here year-round.
If you like to see flowers, you can go in spring, the weather is sunny and rainy, brings good conditions for flowers to bloom. If you come to Zurich in summer, you should be aware of storms that often come in evening, which is also very opposite to Asian countries. Therefore, summer is not the suitable time to make a trip to Zurich.
Autumn (October) is the most beautiful time to visit Zurich. During this time, the weather is cool, not too cold and not too hot while winter is cold, foggy and snowy. June, July and August are the wettest months of year.
Zurich travel blog: Getting to Zurich
If you depart from other European cities you can take a bus, train or flight to get to Zurich. Zurich in particular and Switzerland in general has a very developed transport system that well-connected to neighboring countries both by road, railway as well as by air.
Zurich International Airport (German: Flughafen Zürich) is the largest airport of Switzerland. The airport is located about 13 kilometers from the city center and is home to the Swiss national flag carrier of Swiss International Air Lines. There are many airlines operating non-stop or connecting flights to this airport such as: Emirates, Qatar Airways, United Airlines, American Airlines… One of the best ways to find cheap airfares as well as most suitable flight routes, you can go to Google Flights, SkyScanner or Momondo to seek.
Getting from airport to central city
There are three ways to getting from the airport to city center.
Train: You can take Train or S-Bahn with 10 – 15 minutes of traveling time that’s quick and efficient. The fare for single trip is CHF 6.80 (Children: CHF 3.40) / Day travel pass 24h: CHF 13.60 (Children: CHF 6.80). But if you have Zürich Card, the ride is free of charge.
Tram: Take the tram line 10 with 35 minutes of riding, it’s like a sightseeing tour immediately on arrival. The fare for single trip is CHF 6.80 (Children: CHF 3.40) / Day travel pass 24h: CHF 13.60 (Children: CHF 6.80). But if you have Zürich Card, the ride is free of charge.
Taxi: Which takes 10 – 20 minutes with the fare of CHF 45 – 70. The advantages are convenient and fast; personal collection, fast and efficient.
To getting Zurich by bus or train you can refer to transport companies, routes, timetables and fares on OMIO.com.
Zurich blog: Getting around Zurich
Although it is a large city, traveling in Zurich is quite convenient and easy. Most of the main tourist attractions are located in the center and around the old town, so most of them are within walking distance.
However, there will also be times when you need to travel by public transport such as getting to the hills or moving from the hotel to the center.
Currently, all public transport has the same fare for train, bus and even cable car. Single ticket for 30 minutes of riding is currently €2.7/way and €8.8/day.
You can update the ticket price list on the ZVV page.
Or if you want to both take public transport, cruising on the lake and have free admissions to more than 20 museums, other attractions you can buy a Zurich Card for €25/24 hours, €50/72 hours. You click here to receive the code to reduce €5 then go to this Zurich card link to buy tickets.
In addition, you also can rent a bicycle and car. However, you should not rent a car because gasoline prices are high and shortage of parking lots. You should only rent a bike or you can take a taxi if you need. Besides, to visit the lakes and streams, visitors can easily rent a boat.
Zurich blog: Where to stay?
Switzerland is a extremely expensive country to tourists, Zurich is no exception, that’s why hotels and guesthouses here are not cheap at all, budget room rates ranging from about 70-100 USD/night. The best place to stay in Zurich is probably the Old Town or District 4 which is close to the central station.
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Hotel Schweizerhof Zurich (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Hotel Adler Zurich (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Widder Hotel – Zurichs luxury hideaway (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Hilton Zurich Airport (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Storchen Zurich – Lifestyle Boutique Hotel (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Zurich Marriott Hotel (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
Zurich travel blog: Where to go?
Old Town (Altstadt)
The old town is probably the city’s most famous and popular tourist attraction. This place not only has the most important architectural works and buildings of Zurich such as Notre-Dame Cathedral, Swiss National Museum, Lindenhof castle but also shows the vibrant nightlife with many restaurants and bars, pubs and cafes.
Come here, don’t forget to visit famous landmarks such as Fraumünster church, St. Peter’s Church, Swiss national museum, Fine Arts museum, Lindenhof castle… to discover impressive Roman architecture.
One of Zurich’s most iconic tourist attractions, the Kunsthaus is home to impressive art collections. The Kunsthaus is also known as the Museum of Art. This is considered one of the most interesting and worth visiting museums in Switzerland. This museum is home to many impressive works of art by the masters, famous artists in the 20th century such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, Monet…
It’s located right in the center of the old town. You can take Tram line 3/5/9 or bus 31 and stop at Kunsthaus station.
Admissions: Adult: €25; 13-19 years old: €8 and students 20-30 years old: €13. Free admission on every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 5 pm and the first Sunday of every month.
Address: Heimplatz 1, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
Hours: 10AM–8PM/Monday: Closed
Mount Uetliberg is always in the top 4 places you should visit in Zurich. At an altitude of over 2,858 feet above sea level, this is great place to get a panoramic view of the city.
You can get here by train or hiking. Trains run from Zurich HB central station and take about 30 minutes.
To get back from Uetliberg to the center, you need to follow the signs on the mountain down to Felsenegg, then take a gondola ride down to Adliswil and walk about 5 minutes to reach the train station. From here it takes about 25 minutes by train to return to the center of Zurich.
Lake Zurich with a lakeside road is one of the ideal Zurich tourist destinations. Along the lakeside road are colorful houses and bustling shops and restaurants.
The lake stretching for more than 40 km from Zurich to the foot of the Glarner Alps, so every day there are quite a few yatchs and boats carrying tourists on day cruise tours to the villages and towns along the lake. The main pier in Zurich is Burkiplatz. If you want to take a cruise on the river Zurich, come here.
The water source of Lake Zurich is derived from the mountains, so the water of the lake is very clean. In the summer, the lake’s blue water is enchanting, walking along the banks, or taking a boat on the lake will bring extremely wonderful experiences.
You can spot the green bell tower of Fraumunster Church from miles away! One of Zurich’s most prominent landmarks, the glass windows by Marc Chagall and Augusto Giacometti are one of the reasons make it becomes so popular with visitors and locals alike. Hidden in the church’s basement is a monumental 9th-century stone chapel that all archeology lovers are sure to love. The entrance fee to the church is 5 francs (CHF) and allow you access to the Crypt Museum.
To get there, take tram 11, 13 or 17 from Zurich main station and get off at Paradeplatz, the church is a 2-minute walk away.
Address: Münsterhof 2, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
Hours: 11/1 – 29/2: 10:00am – 5:00pm | March 1 – October 31: 10:00am – 6:00pm
Architectural style: Gothic architecture
Opened: 853 AD
The Romanesque-style Protestant church with outstanding twin towers built in the 12th century (in 1100) is considered as a symbol and pride of the city of Zurich. Many people often compare these two towers to look like rockets, while in the roof behind the church there is a small bright red tower.
Inside the church is built in Roman architecture with unique colorful glass windows and many sculptures of guardian gods for the city.
Address: Grossmünsterplatz, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
Bahnhofstrasse is Zürich’s main downtown street and one of the most famous and expensive retail shopping districts in the world. Stretching along more than 1.5km of boulevard is the presence of more than 90 luxury fashion stores with worldwide famous brands such as Cartier, Mont Blanc, Prada, Gucci, Chanel…
In addition to stores of fashion, accessories, perfumes… this place also focuses on high-class restaurants, cafes, bars specializing in serving the upper class and the headquarters of many Swiss banks.
Don’t forget to enjoy delicious chocolate in this place. In addition, in Bahnhofstrasse, you can also admire extremely unique architecture and art, with special works such as the magnificent Das Haus zur Trülle historic building, the Rebekka-Brunne fountain, the Parade square…
Zurich Zoo is rated as one of the top 10 tourist attractions in Zurich. It is considered one of the best zoos in Europe today.
Currently, this place is home to more than 4,500 animals of 360 different species. One of the interesting things of the zoo is that every afternoon, penguins often gather in large numbers. There are also several of restaurants and amusement parks within the zoo that are suitable for families with young children.
Address: Zürichbergstrasse 221, 8044 Zürich, Switzerland
Lindenhof is a hilltop park in the old town with views of the Limmat River, Lake Zurich and the city. This is the most important and strategic location in the history of the city from its founding in the 1st century BC.
Until the 9th century, this place still retains its importance with the Roman fortress and the Carolingian palace being built here. Today, although these buildings no longer exist, this place is still considered a famous place with a romantic view of the city.
Address: 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
Hours: Open 24 hours
Zurich Opera House
This neoclassical building may not be the iconic construction in Zurich, but it holds a very important place in the history of Swiss Opera. Although it has gone through many architectural styles, the opera in Zurich is now a place for visitors to visit and pay their respects to world-renowned musicians and composers such as Weber, Wagner and Mozart, among other famous writers like Schiller, Shakespeare and Goethe with his famous bust. The Opera House continues to be a world-class Zurich tourist destination for opera lovers.
Address: Sechseläutenpl. 1, 8008 Zürich, Switzerland
Opened: October 1, 1891
Architects: Ferdinand Fellner, Hermann Helmer
Church of St. Peter
Church of St. Peter in Zurich is home to the largest watch face in Europe! Formerly used as a fire monitoring post, the walls have foundations from the 9th century that are still standing today. It is the only baroque church in the city and the oldest one in Zurich.
Take tram line 4 from the main station, pass 3 stops and stop at Rathaus, the church is 2 minutes walk away.
Address: St. Peterhofstatt 1, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
Architectural style: Baroque architecture
Zurich blog: Day trips from Zurich
- Rhine Falls: 46km from Zurich and takes about 35 minutes by car or 45-60 minutes by train.
- Lucerne: 52 km from Zurich and takes about 50 minutes by train.
- Bern: 123km from Zurich and takes about 1 hour by express train.
- Mount Titlis: 92km from Zurich and takes about 2 hours 30 minutes by train.
- Stein Am Rhein village: 45km from Zurich and takes about 45 minutes by train.
- Grindelwald (Jungfraujoch mountain) & Interlaken: takes about 50 minutes by train.
- Mount Pilatus: From Lucerne, takes another 20-minute bus ride.
- Glarus: 76km from Zurich and takes about 1 hour by train.
- Basel: 87km from Zurich and takes about 1 hour by train.
- Liechtenstein country: 120 km from Zurich. The train ride from Zurich to Sargans takes about 50 minutes. From there take a bus to the capital of Liechtenstein (Vaduz) about 25 minutes more.
Of all the places above, most are famous day trip destinations and visitors often take these trips. However, the most popular are probably the Rhine waterfall, the beautiful city of Lucerne and the Bernese Oberland region (Jungfraujoch & Interlaken…).
If you do not have too much time in Switzerland, you can refer to a few tour packages organized by Klook with prices from €60 for each day trip here.
Zurich blog: Suggested travel itinerary for Zurich self-sufficient trip
As you have also seen in the map, most of the tourist attractions in Zurich are located right in the center. If you only plan to visit Zurich for 1 day, I think you only need to go to the above places except Uetliberg mountain and the zoo.
Itinerary for 1 day:
Lake Zurich – Old Town – Grossmunter Cathedral – Art Museum – Lindenhof Hill – Bahnhofstrasse Avenue – Fraumunster Church.
Itinerary for 2 days:
Day 1 you go the same itinerary above. On the second day, you add more the Uetliberg mountain and the zoo to day 2 itinerary.
In addition, a day trip from Zurich is definitely indispensable. You can go to one of the places I have listed above. For famous tourist destinations such as Lucerne, Bernese Oberland, it is better to go for many days than take a day trip.
Zurich travel blog: What to eat?
Swiss cuisine in general or Zurich in particular is famous in the world with breads and dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, and most especially chocolate…
Below are traditional and must-eat foods in Switzerland as well as in Zurich.
Cheese fondue (cheese hotpot) is an ideal dish to share with friends, made from melted cheese with other ingredients, like garlic, white wine, a little cornstarch or corn flour, and Kirsch. The dish is then served at the table in a special ceramic pot called a caquelon, and always cooked over a small stove to keep the cheese from clumping. The way to eat is also very simple, you just need to use a long fork to skewer the small pre-cut bread pieces, then dip them into the cheese pot on the stove and enjoy.
Rösti (Classic Swiss Potato Pancake)
Rosti is a dish made from potato chips that are fried or baked to create a crispy crust but melt inside. Sometimes Swiss people add a bit of bacon, onions, cheese and even chopped apples to the mix.
Bircherműesli (Fruit cereal)
This is a great combination of rolled oats, fruit, nuts, lime juice and condensed milk (or yogurt).
Raclette (Warm Melted Swiss Cheese with Egg and Potatoes)
Raclette is the name of a very popular Swiss cheese made from cow’s milk. This dish is melted by a specialized machine and then topped with a mixture of baked potato chips (with the skin on), vegetables, charcuterie (fermented meat), pickled baby cucumbers and pickled onions.
Bűndnernusstorte (Traditional Pie)
Bűndnernusstorte or engadinernusstorte is a type of pastry that originated from Graubünden. The basic recipe of this cake includes flour, sugar, eggs, butter, salt, a little caramel sugar, cream and small nuts, usually walnuts.
Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (Zurich-style Veal)
Veal, sometimes veal liver, is cooked with mushrooms, onions, wine, and cream, then often served with rosti, noodles or rice. You can replace veal with chicken or pork if desired. This will be an attractive dish when traveling to Zurich.
Zopf (Swiss Braided Bread)
There are many types of bread in Switzerland but the most popular and delicious is still a soft and white bread, called zopf. The dough is made from white flour, milk, eggs, butter and yeast, then braided into a braid and spread with egg yolks before baking.
Berner platte (Mixed meat platter)
This is a mixed plate of meats and sausages, which may include beef, ham, bacon, smoked beef, pork tongue, ribs, pork leg, pork loin, shoulder, bone marrow… In addition, on the plate, there are picked sauerkraut cabbage, potatoes and dried beans.
Älplermagronen (Swiss Alpine Macaroni Pasta)
This dish uses all the ingredients available on a livestock farm such as: cheese, potatoes, onions, pasta, milk or cream, and apples. The classic version is made by cooking potatoes and pasta with cream and cheese, baking in the oven, and then served with fried onions and stewed apple sauce. You can sometimes use extra bacon.
It’s very famous food in Zurich. Made with premium milk and delicious cream, Zurich’s milk chocolate ranks among the best in the world. So please enjoy Swiss chocolate and buy it as a gift for your loved ones, this will surely be a great gift after your Zurich trip.
Zurich blog: What to buy?
- If you want to buy jewelry, you can go to the Bucherer and Beyer store on the main street of Zurich, which is Bahnhofstrasse.
- The Schweizer Heimatwerk and Confiserie Sprüngli stores sell unique items that can be bought as gifts for tourists such as watches, paintings, linen, chocolates, etc.
- The area specializing in selling Swiss souvenirs is the Zurich Hauptbahnhof and Shopville shopping malls.
- The Niederdorf district, where you can find everything from trendy clothes, to interesting books and unique antiques.
- The Kanzlei flea market in Helvetiaplatz opens on Saturday mornings.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Zurich you can refer to
- Zürich Card
- Zurich Airport (ZRH) to Zurich City 1-day pass
- Jungfraujoch Day Tour from Zurich
- The Best of Zurich City Half Day Tour
- Swiss Travel Pass
- Zurich City and Surroundings Half-Day Tour with Ferry and Cable Car Ride
- Lucerne City Tour and Yacht Cruise from Zürich
- Zurich Sightseeing Bus Tour
- Heidiland & Liechtenstein Day Tour from Zurich
- Lucerne Day Trip from Zurich
Are you looking for more top things to do in Zurich: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here. And full guides for Switzerland, Bern, Lucerne, Jungfraujoch, Interlaken, Zermatt and here.