There’s no doubt about it: Switzerland may arguably be one of Europe’s most beautiful countries. But with so much beauty to take in, a trip to Switzerland fills up quickly! Zurich is a beautiful city, but it’s admittedly hard on the travel budget. Luckily, the city is so walkable, you really only need one full day to take in the main highlights. If you’re planning out your Switzerland trip and trying to pack everything in, these are the best things to do when you visit Zurich in one day.
Zurich in One Day: What to Do
Explore Old Town
Possibly the best and prettiest part of Zurich is its Old Town. Also called Altstadt, there’s a good chance that your one day in Zurich will be spent mostly in the Old Town, as it composes pretty much all of the city center. It’s really fun to just follow a street and see where it leads you. You’re likely to discover some cute cafes or some beautiful colorful buildings along the way!
Rent Bikes for FREE
In order to save time (and money!) on your Zurich trip, you may want to consider picking up one of these free bikes. The city is easily walkable, but renting a bike will get you from place to place much faster than your two feet! And bonus, when you rent your bike through Züri Rollt, all you need is an ID and a refundable 20 Swiss Francs as a deposit. The bright white and green rental stations are hard to miss, but the main ones are at the southern exit of the main train station, and in the southern part of the city, near Bellvue station.
One of the most iconic structures in Zurich is the Grossmünster Cathedral. It is believed that the two towers of the church were built over the graves of the city’s Patron saints. This is one of the reasons that the church is so special to the city of Zurich. For gorgeous views over the city, you can climb the towers of the cathedral. The cost is 5 Swiss Francs, and it takes 187 steps to get to the top!
Zurich Opera House
The Opera House in Zurich is a beautiful building located in the south part of the Old Town, by the lake shore. It was built in 1891, and currently hosts around 250 performances every year. Odds are you won’t have time during your one day in Zurich to stop in for a ballet or opera, but the building itself is beautiful enough on the outside to warrant a visit.
The Swiss tradition of eating cheese fondue originated in the French-speaking parts of the country. This fondue (also called käsefondue) is a mixture of melted cheeses and white wine. Dip your bread into the cheese and enjoy yourself a Swiss experience! We ordered vegetables too to try and be healthy, but to be honest, it would have been better with a second basket of bread instead. There are dozens of places in Zurich to get fondue, so definitely make sure to add one to your Zurich in One Day itinerary!
Enjoy Lake Zurich and Limmat River
While exploring Zurich in one day, you can’t miss out on the beautiful bodies of water hugged by the city. The Limmat flows through the center of the old town, making it a great place to see the city from a boat. At the south end of the city center lies Lake Zurich. Here, you can often find flocks of graceful swans, colorful sailboats, and lovely views of the surrounding city. You can even find several swimming areas along Lake Zurich, to enjoy when the weather is right!
Go Window Shopping
Zurich is home to some fabulous window shopping opportunities. On the east side of the Limmat River, you can find the pedestrian street, Niederdorfstrasse. This area has lots of small souvenir shops to browse through. If you are wanting to browse some bigger ticket items, head to Bahnhofstrasse. This is where you can find shops that sell expensive Swiss watches, and other high-class designer brands.
See Adorable Swiss Architecture
There’s just something about that old Swiss architecture found in the Old Town that captures the spirit of Switzerland. The varying colors of both the buildings and the cute window shutters will make you want to absorb every last detail. During your day in Zurich, you are sure to fall in love with the Swiss architecture as well.
Rehydrate at a Public Fountain
In Zurich, there are lots of public fountains with free, drinkable water! No need to buy drinks while you’re out and about for the day. Just stop at one of these fountains and sip away!
Take In Views From Lindenhof Park
On the West side of the river is a small park on a hill that looks over the Limmat River. Here is where you can get one of the best views of the city. The park itself is rather small and unimpressive, but when you visit Zurich in one day, you cannot miss the views from this park. Even in the pouring rain, I had to stand there and take it all in!
Drink Swiss Chocolate
You can’t visit Zurich and not indulge in some of the famous Swiss chocolate! I highly recommend getting that chocolate in warm, drinking form. If your day in Zurich turns out to be cool and rainy, like mine was, a Swiss Hot Chocolate is the perfect treat. There are lots of great cafes and places to find good hot chocolate. I definitely recommend checking out Cafe Schober, not only for their delicious hot chocolate, but also for its gorgeous decor. The upstairs dining area makes you feel like royalty! You can also check out Sprüngli for good hot chocolate, but I hear it’s pretty expensive.
Staying longer than one day? Check out this guide for where to stay in Zurich!