Zurich, one of the top financial cities in the world, is the largest city in Switzerland. It is conveniently located near the airport, making it the perfect place to start (or end) your trip. This 24 Hours in Zurich Itinerary covers how to spend 24 hours in Zurich in Switzerland and see as much as you can.
Zurich is a colourful city known for high-end shops, fantastic views of distant Alps from Lake Zurich, great transportation links, and museums. It is a massive city and 24 hours to see everything is not enough. However, if you have a handy itinerary, you will see more than you expect!
To save time and money, I suggest getting a Zurich Card which gives you free or discounted access to Zurich's museums. Also, you can travel on a train, bus, tram, cable car, or boat for free. You can purchase the card from the airport, train station, or online.
If you are travelling around Switzerland, you should consider purchasing a Swiss Travel Pass. It is available for 3, 4, and 8 days. This pass gives you free travel on trains, boats, buses, trams and cable cars (some cable cars are only available at a 50% discount) in all Switzerland. Also, you will get access to various museums and discounts in the shops.
Before purchasing the Zurich Card or Swiss Travel Pass, I suggest doing some quick calculations based on your itinerary. Getting both the Card and Pass might be more expensive if you are not visiting many cities and plan not to visit many attractions.
As for this itinerary, I have put together a list of my favourite places that can be easily visited in one day in Zurich, Switzerland. If you are looking for a jam-packed day with lots of exciting things to do and good places to eat, this 24 hour Zurich itinerary is perfect for you.
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Using the map of Zürich, you can explore all the days and stops.
For the first day of this itinerary, you are going to visit several museums and parks, try local food, and stroll around the historic old town. This 24 hours Zurich travel guide covers central locations relatively close to the main Zurich HB train station.
All locations can be easily reached by walking, so no need to worry about public transport. However, I suggest taking a tram or a bus to save some time, especially if you are travelling with kids or rushing to catch a flight.
If you have a Zurich Card or Swiss Travel Pass, jump on a tram to save walking time. Also, don't feel obligated to visit all the stops. Lots of the European landmarks can be viewed only from outside, so I suggest prioritising your interests. For example, if you aren't interested in touring the inside of a church, spend more time in a museum or by a lake.
Don't rush; just enjoy your time!
Your first stop of the day is Confiserie Sprüngli. It is a cafe located near the Zurich HB train station. It is an excellent location to grab a quick breakfast and to try the best quality Swiss chocolate.
The cafe belongs to the Sprüngli company, which is well-known for its chocolates and macaroons (Luxemburgerli). There is a wide selection of fresh baked goods and hot drinks for the perfect breakfast on the go. Though, it’s quite pricey, so know your budget before going in.
Also, make sure to order hot drinks if you wish to sit in the cafe. Sometimes it can be a very busy place, so staff don’t allow people to sit in without hot drinks.
Built-in 1898 by Gustav Gull, the Swiss National Museum is one of the best places to visit in Zurich. It is nestled between the Sihl and Limmat rivers, just next to the Zürich Hauptbahnhof, Zurich's central station.
The museum is known for its impressive architecture with dozens of towers and courtyards. It consists of several museums including the National Zurich Museum, Forum of Swiss History, Château de Prangins and The Collection Centre.
There are lots of things to see including Medieval and modern paintings, sculptures, wood carvings and more. I recommend spending about 1 hour to have a quick look.
The entrance is 10 CHF. However, you can enter for free with a Zurich Card or Swiss Travel Pass.
After the visit to the museum, head back towards the train station. Make sure you take the path leading along the Limmat river. Soon you will see gorgeous river park and a pedestrian bridge covered in love locks.
The Muhlesteg Bridge is Zurich’s version of Pont des Arts bridge (Paris). You can purchase a lock from a nearby shop and hang it on the bridge. Don’t hold on your key, throw it in the river as its old tradition!
Head towards the park that has spectacular views over Central Square and the bridge. Also, this place is usually less crowded so you will be able to take some great panoramic photos.
A visit to Zurich's police headquarters can't be omitted from any guide that covers what to see in Zurich. You ask me why? The answer is simple: because of its extraordinary entrance hall decorated with flower ornaments.
Interesting fact, Augusto Giacometti won a competition to design the police station's hall. Locals refer to the hall as Blüemlihalle (hall of little flowers), and it was chosen as the world's most beautiful police station entrance.
Make sure to visit before 11 am as the hall closes for lunch and opens again later on. The entrance is free of charge; you just need to have your ID with you.
Located in downtown Zurich, Bahnhofstrasse is one of the most famous shopping boulevards in Europe. A 1.4 km long street has everything that you desire: from department stores to high-class boutiques and restaurants.
While you stroll around Bahnhofstrasse, don’t forget to visit one of the many Swiss chocolate shops in the area. As for lunch, I suggest popping into The Lion Pub (traditional British pub with Swiss feeling) or The Rooftop Restaurant located at the top of Modissa fashion store.
Be aware that eating at any of Bahnhofstrasse restaurants can be quite expensive, so check menus before you go in.
Rennweg street is another popular shopping street in the city. It is the oldest part of Zurich which attracts thousands of tourists. Also, Rennweg used to be the straightest and widest street in the Middle Ages.
Today, it is filled with numerous high-end shops attracting tourists to become "window shoppers". Between the shops, you will find medieval alleys which are perfect for stunning photos.
Enjoy Rennwegg but don't wander for too long, we have many more sights ahead of us, and it will soon be time head to the next stop.
Toy Museum (Zürcher Spielzeugmuseum) is a tiny museum near Rennweg street. It is home to various traditional Swiss toys, including dolls, teddy bears, steam trains, dollhouses, and more. The exhibition takes you through the history of toys.
The museum is quite small, so you will be able to see everything within 30 minutes. Also, it is a great place to spend your spare time if the weather isn't great and you were not able to stroll around our previous stops of Rennweg or Bahnhofstrasse.
The admission is 7 CHF for adults, but free for kids. If you have a Zurich Card, you can enter for free. Be aware, the museum has short opening hours, so check their website before your visit.
Lindenhof is a historically significant place in Switzerland. At the top of the hill, you will find remains of Celtic and Roman buildings. If you are interested in the historic sites within the park, you can book a tour guide.
To me, Lindenhof is a perfect place if you want to take a break from the buzzing streets and shops. On a beautiful day, you can play a match of chess (at a huge chessboard), have a picnic, play in a playground, and enjoy glorious views of Zurich from above.
If you are looking for more things to see in Zurich, you can't miss St. Peter from your 24 hours in Zurich itinerary. It is one of four main churches of Zurich.
Built in the 9th century, St. Peter is known for its large clock face - the largest one in the whole of Europe. The outer clock's diameter measures 8.64 meters (28.3 ft), the minute hand is 5.73 metres (18.8 ft) long and the hour hand is 5.07 metres (16.6 ft) long. The clock is massive!
If you are interested, head inside the church. Inside, you will see a glorious pipe organ, beautiful frescos and a fascinating nave (the central part of the church).
Paradeplatz (also known as the heart of Bahnhofstrasse or the financial centre of Zurich) is a tram junction connecting Lake Zurich, the Zurich old town, and Bahnhofstrasse. It is mainly known for having the highest concentration of offices for the various Swiss banks’ based in Zurich.
Before Swiss banks opened their main offices in the Paradeplatz, the area was known as ‘pig market’ (Saumart) and ‘new market’ (Neumarkt). It used to be the city’s main market square, full of various businesses.
Now, Paradeplatz is full of Swiss banks, luxury restaurants, and shops. If you are feeling hungry, I recommend popping in Puro. Puro offers a tasty all-day brunch and has a relaxing interior to take a break from the noisy streets.
Established in 853 AD by King Louis the German, Fraumunster (known as Women's Minster or Our Lady Minster) is another well-known church, nestled in Zurich's city centre. The church was built for the king's daughter Hildegard and dedicated to women.
Today, the church has been rebuilt and has become one of the main attractions in Zurich. It is well-known for its stained glass windows. The five smaller stained glass windows were designed by Marc Chagall, while the nince meter tall stained glass window was designed by famous Augusto Giacometti.
If you have a chance, try to visit Fraumunster's crypt museum which is the oldest part of the church and has an exhibition on its architecture and history.
I highly recommend booking a tour guide; you will be able to learn lots of interesting facts about the abbey's convent.
Just a minute walk from Fraumunster, you will find a Stadthaus Zurich (Zurich Cultural Hall). It was founded at the end of the 19th century when Zurich's population started to increase.
The Cultural Hall was built in neo-Gothic architectural style and became the place where people made critical city-wide decisions.
These days it is known for temporary exhibitions held under the archway galleries. The exhibits focus on social and political issues.
The entrance to the exhibitions is free of charge, and they are open daily, except Sundays. Also, bear in mind that on Saturdays the Cultural Hall closes early. If you follow this itinerary and travel on Sunday, you won't be able to get inside.
If you can't make it, don't worry. It is still worth seeing this fascinating building from outside. Also, the area near the Town Hall is a perfect place for taking photos.
Lake Zurich (Zurichsee) is 40 kilometres (25 miles) long and 3 kilometres (2 miles) wide. It stretches from Zurich to Schmerikon, making Zurich the biggest city on the lake's shore.
There are plenty of activities to do near the lake. The most popular activity is to stroll along the lake and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Regular tour boat services are operating on the lake. The Zurich Card allows you to take a boat free of charge. If you have the time in your day, I highly suggest taking a boat around the lake.
There are plenty of natural outdoor pools in the river during summer where you can swim and enjoy the heat. So consider bringing a swimsuit and a towel!
After a relaxing walk or boat ride on Lake Zurich, take a tram or walk across the Quaibrucke Bridge.
The bridge was opened in the 19th century, and it connects Lake Zurich's western shore to eastern shore. Quaibrucke Bridge has two tram tracks, pedestrian sideways, a bicycle lane, and two lanes for traffic.
Quaibrucke Bridge is most well-known for two machine-gun bunkers which were built in the 1940s. The bunkers are preserved at their original locations. at each end of the bridge, and are accessible to the public.
If you are walking instead of taking a tram, make sure you have your camera ready. From the bridge, you can catch amazing views of the city's buildings and Lake Zurich. However, be prepared for crowds as it is a popular location to take photos.
After so much walking while visiting Zurich's most popular attractions, you deserve a good break at a lovely cafe. Cafe Felix is an ideal place for that.
Located at Bellevue, Cafe Felix is a popular place among locals and tourists. It serves homemade delights from Confiserie Teuscher including pastries, chocolates, and freshly baked cakes. The cafe has plenty of selection for all types of taste buds. I can guarantee that you will find something suitable for you!
If you are on a tight budget, I suggest getting just a black coffee or tea with the cheapest pastry or piece of chocolate. Also, don't miss a chance to take photos for your Instagram feed. Cafe Felix has a gorgeous interior!
During your travel to Zurich Switzerland, you can't skip Grossmunster - the most famous landmark in the city.
According to the legend, Grossmunster was built on the graves of the city's patrons Felix and Regula. At first, it was just a monastery. However, in the 16th century, Grossmunster became a starting point of the Swiss Reformation led by Huldrych Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger.
This reformation made Grossmunster an important religious building, and soon it was named as Zurich's cathedral.
Today, it is the most visited church in the city. Grossmunster fascinates visitors with its twin towers, stained glass windows, bronze doors, Romanesque crypt and Reformation museum.
The cathedral is open daily. However, on Sundays, you can only enter after the church service.
The current Rathaus (Zurich City Hall) was built in the 17th century and replaced the first wooden city hall building. It is considered as one of the main landmarks of Zurich.
The Rathaus is a place where the city and canton (district/region) parliaments meet to discuss important matters. Also, it is a symbol of power.
Zurich City hall has a mix of the Baroque and the Renaissance architectural style; making it grand yet simple. Inside you will find an exhibition of various historical objects which depict the story of the city's political life.
If you have a Zurich Card, the admission is free of charge. I highly recommend checking opening times before your visit. Sometimes Rathaus doesn't accept any visitors due to conferences and political meetings.
If you are visiting in winter (before Christmas), make sure to visit the Rathaus and the Rathausbrucke Christmas markets.
Rathausbrucke (Rathaus Bridge) is a pedestrian bridge which connects Lindenhof and Rathaus quarters. Also, it is a popular pedestrian square that showcases breathtaking views of Lindenhof Hill and Grossmunster.
The bridge is known as Gmüesbrugg (Vegetable Bridge in Swiss German). It got its name from the medieval market that used to operate on the bridge. When Rathaus (Zurich City Hall) was built, the bridge got its current name.
Rathausbrucke is the central spot for local festivals and other public events. I suggest checking The Official Zurich City Guide to see if any festivals are happening on the bridge.
As the bridge is well-known for fantastic views of some Zurich's landmarks, expect lots of people. I suggest visiting just before or after sunset to avoid crowds.
If you are still wondering what to do in Zurich, you have to check out Niederdorft street. Located in Zurich's old town, Niederdorft (Dorfli as locals call it) is filled with endless alleys.
During the day, the area is a popular pedestrian shopping street. In the evening, Niederdorft changes into a nightlife district crowded with pubs and local street artists. It is an ideal place if you want to experience Zurich's nightlife.
In the summer, alleys are filled with market booths, street performances, and delicious food from all around the world. If you can't visit during the summer, don't be disappointed. You will still be able to taste good food and enjoy local artists' performances.
Oliver Twist pub is the last stop of this one day in Zurich itinerary. This stop is completely optional, so don't feel obligated to go to the pub.
Oliver Twist is a traditional Irish/British pub serving heartwarming homemade food and traditional drinks including original Guinness. It is one of the best pubs in Zurich and caters for a wide range of customers: tourists, ex-pats, and locals.
Come to the pub to enjoy tasty burgers, sandwiches, or fish & chips. Also, beer and cider prices are quite affordable, so you won't need to worry too much about the budget.
Oliver Twist is an ideal place to relax after a tiring day and get social with locals. However, be aware that it might be very noisy and busy on Friday and Saturday nights.
There are plenty of things to do in Zurich and to do everything in one day can be a challenging task. Due to this reason, the itinerary only focuses on the main sights that can't be missed during a short visit to Zurich.
I hope that you have enjoyed these Zurich travel tips. This 24 hours in Zurich itinerary is jam-packed with various landmarks. It might look full and impossible for one day. However, I've followed this itinerary myself, and it is possible to visit everything as long as you take the tram.
As I mentioned before, feel free to adjust the itinerary regarding your interests. Skip the stops if you don't want to eat or are not interested in the landmark.
If you are travelling around Switzerland, I highly suggest spending another day to Zurich. There are plenty of excellent day trips from Zurich, including a visit to Rhine Falls. Also, if you have another day in the city, you will be able to visit more attractions, museums, and nice places to eat.
Zurich changes during the season, so you might need to adjust the itinerary for the weather. In the summertime, try to skip eating in, take food out and eat sitting on a bench or while strolling along Lake Zurich.
During winter, skip outdoor activities and visit more museums. If your travel is close to Christmas time, don't forget to visit various Christmas markets around Zurich. Enjoy mulled wine and heartwarming apple pie.
Enjoy your trip to Zurich, Switzerland!
This article was edited by Loredana Elena.
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