Switzerland is definitely a must-visit country in Europe. From adventurous winter activities in Zermatt to amazing chocolate and cheese from small towns, it’s one country you have to put on your travel list! Zürich is a great city to explore in this country since it’s one of the best places to visit in Switzerland!
How to Get to Zürich, Switzerland
There’s quite a few ways to get to Zürich, so you’re in luck!
Get to Zürich by Plane
If you plan on flying into Zürich, you can fly right into Zurich Airport. From there, you can plan on catching either a train, bus, tram, or taxi to get downtown. Each of these will cost differently, so think wisely!
If you choose to take a train, you can take one right to Zürich’s main station downtown in about 15 minutes for CHF 6.80. This is the option that I suggest since it doesn’t take that long and is the most affordable! Plus, the train system in Switzerland is super easy to understand.
A shuttle bus is another option, which takes about 40 minutes and costs about CHF 25. The shuttle bus runs once an hour and tickets can be purchased online. If you’re lucky, your hotel may even offer a complimentary shuttle bus and you won’t have to pay a thing!
If you want, you could also take a tram, just make sure it’s line 10! This will cost you about CHF 13.60 and will take about 35 – 40 minutes. If you have a Zürich card, then this would actually be free for you!
The last option is to take a taxi. This may be your quickest option if you don’t want to walk from a train stop or tram stop, which adds extra travel time. However, it can be a hefty price. In fact, it can cost around CHF 70 which is about $72 USD. Sometimes this might even take just as long as the train, so really go through your options! If you’re not a fan of public transport, this might be the option for you.
Get to Zürich by Train
Traveling by train is actually fairly comfortable in Europe! There are usually charging ports and even semi-okay food available on these trains. Plus, the views from your window will be much more enjoyable by train than by bus. Train tickets to Zürich, depending on where you’re from, seem to average CHF 20 – 90, depending on what class travel you choose. Most trains will bring you right to Zurich HB which is Zürich’s main train station.
Get to Zürich by Car
If you’re doing a European train trip or you’re already in a neighboring country, driving a car into Zürich is definitely an option! If you’re renting a car, just make sure that you’re allowed to bring your car into other countries. A plus to driving in by car is that you can stop anywhere you want for photo opportunities. Trust me, there’s a lot of insta-worthy places to take photos in Switzerland! Here’s how to spend 4 days in Switzerland on a road trip!
Get to Zürich by Bus
If you’re on a budget, then this is definitely the option for you, though it might take longest. Usually tickets will cost anywhere from CHF 10 – 30. I do suggest booking in advance though! Flixbus and Eurolines are two more popular European bus lines that service Zürich. However, be wary! Sometimes buses can be canceled at the last minute or can take much longer than the intended travel time.
How to Get Around Zürich, Switzerland
Out of the 13 countries I’ve visited, Switzerland has some of the most reliable public transportation. Everything was always on time and running smoothly – I never had any complaints.
If you’re planning on getting a Zürich card, then all of your public transport will be free. A 24 hour card is CHF 27 and a 72 hour card is CHF 53. If you don’t want to splurge on one of the Zürich cards or don’t think you’ll use it enough for it to be worth it, you could purchase just a 24 hour travel pass, which is what I did. This only costs around CHF 8.80 for 1 – 2 zones because Zürich is split into zones. I found this to be a lot more worth it because I didn’t think I would use the Zürich card enough to get my money’s worth. For me, since I was staying fairly downtown, my 2 zone ticket worked perfect.
As for modes of transportation, there’s buses, trains, and trams. I mostly stuck with the trams because they were fairly quick and very easy to use! They are also extremely clean. Everything is pretty connected in Zürich.
Tickets can be purchased at the machines that are located at almost every tram and train stop. If you want to learn more about how many zones you might be using, try out the ZVV app, the Switzerland transport app.
One thing to note is that you ride on the honor code, at least with the trams. Like I said, I never actually rode the buses or trains so I’m not sure about those! If you are caught without a ticket on the train then you could pay a hefty fine!
Is the Zürich card worth it?
The Zurich Card can be purchased for 24 or 48 hour intervals. These can be purchased online at the SBB Ticketshop or on the ZVV Ticket App. They can also be purchased at Zürich HB or Zürich Airport upon arrival.
Prices vary depending on which card option you choose. The 24 hour card costs CHF 27 for adults and CHF 19 for children. The 72 hour card costs CHF 53 for adults and CHF 37 for children.
With the Zürich Card, you get free public transportation, free/reduced admission to certain museums, 50% off the Zürich Old Town Walking Tour, free access to the Adliswil-Felsenegg Aerial Cableway, 20% off the Zürich city bus tour, and many other discounts at museums, shopping stores, restaurants, and more. The card could be worth it if you plan on visiting a lot of the places that the Zürich card gives you discounts at. I personally did not use a Zürich card for my one day in the city!
Where to Stay in Zürich, Switzerland
Hotels in Zürich
- Looking for a budget-friendly hotel? I recommend the Hotel ibis Budget Zurich City West. I stayed here and found that it perfectly suited my needs. There’s a lounge area downstairs and each room was just the right size for me and the two other people I was traveling with. There are double- and triple-room options. A tram station is conveniently located right out in front of the hotel! Therefore it’s super easy to get downtown from here. Each room is about CHF 90 – 115 depending on when you go and how far in advance you book your stay.
- Looking for a mid-range hotel? I’ve heard great things about citizenM. There’s a location right in Zürich. CitizenM doesn’t do different room sizes – every room is the exact same and features an XL King-size bed. A buffet breakfast is available each morning. Depending on when you book and whether you book an early bird or flexible rate, price ranges from CHF 160 – 190.
- Looking for a luxury hotel? Try checking out The Dolder Grand. This hotel is near the cog railway station and features amazing views of the nearby Alps. There’s even a spa, Michelin-Star restaurant, and a pool with panoramic views. Prices start at around CHF 500 and can go up to CHF 1500.
Affordable Hostels in Zürich
- Oldtown Hostel Otter is a 17 minute walk from the Zürich main station and offers free breakfast in the mornings. Prices range from CHF 48 to CHF 200 depending on what kind of room you choose. Options range between all-female dorms, all-male dorms, single privates, double privates, 3 bed privates, and 4 bed apartments.
- City Backpacker – Hostel Biber is very centrally-located. It’s only 5 minutes from Zürich HB by public transportation and is a 5 minute walk from Grossmünster. Prices are between CHF 37 – 210 depending on what kind of room you choose. Options include twin privates, 4 bed privates, 6 bed all-male, 6 bed all-female, and 6 bed mixed dorms.
AirBnBs in Zürich
- The Gorgeous Modern Sunny Old-Town Apartment is located just minutes from Zurich’s main train station and is CHF 156 a night, though you have to stay here at least two nights!
- You could also try out an entire cozy apartment for only CHF 95 a night. This airbnb is located downtown within ten minutes of the main train station.
- There’s also a studio in Zürich’s Old Town for CHF 119 a night. This location is about a 15 minute walk from downtown according to the host!
What’s the conversion rate in Zürich?
CHF 1 is equivalent to $1.03 USD, 0.79 GBP, and 0.92 Euros. This is at the time of writing this article (January 2020).
When is the best time to visit Zürich?
I’d say that there really is no right answer to this question! It really depends on what you want to see in Switzerland. If you want to see Switzerland covered in snow and maybe do more snow-related activities, then definitely come in the winter months. If you want to do more outdoor activities like hikes, then come during the warmer summer months!
How expensive is Switzerland really?
I personally did not find Switzerland to be terribly expensive compared to other countries that I visited for the most part. However, I did stay at a fairly affordable hotel – I stayed at the ibis Budget hotel I mentioned earlier and I was in a triple so I didn’t pay that much a night for my hotel. I found transportation to be fairly reasonable, and mostly only did free/cheap activities in the city. The one thing that I did find to be kind of expensive was food. Just keep that in mind!
What to See in Zürich
Now, of course theres a lot to see in Zürich. I’ve listed many of the things that you can do here, and I’ve put an asterisk (*) next to the things that I managed to see in my one day in Zürich. If you have the time, definitely try taking a day trip like I did and spend one amazing day in Lucerne, or to Mount Titlis!
Climb to the top of Grossmünster Church*
Grossmünster Church was founded by Charlemagne and was built between 1100 AD – 1220. The Swiss-German Reformation began here and the church itself is built upon the city’s patron saints according to legend.
Climbing to the top of the Grossmünster actually gives you one of the best views of the entire city. If you’re up for the 200 step challenge, you will surely be rewarded. It costs about CHF 5. The views are ones that you will never forget, trust me! Looking down below at the lake and the cityscape with the Swiss Alps in the background is truly breathtaking.
Visit Fraumünster Church*
Fraumünster Church was founded in 853 by Louis the German and it is now one of Zürich’s most popular churches. Today, it is visited often for Marc Chagall’s stained-glass windows which were added in the ’70’s. The church costs CHF 5 to go inside, though you could also admire it’s beauty from the outside for free.
Get panoramic views of Zürich from Uetilburg
Now, there’s two ways to get to the top of this mountain. You can do a hike or you can take the S10 train. There’s about two trains that leave Zürich HB every hour and you can take it almost up to the top. Once you reach the end of the train line, it’s about a ten minute walk and you’ll be at the observation deck where you are greeted with panoramic views of Zürich!
People-watch or shop until you drop at Bahnhofstrasse*
Bahnhofstrasse is the shopping street downtown and it is one of the world’s most expensive shopping areas! Even if you can’t afford anything there, it’s fun to just walk around and people-watch.
Gawk at the beauty of Lake Zürich*
Lake Zürich is incredibly gorgeous – the color is unlike any other lake I’ve ever seen before. It’s near a lot of downtown attractions and it’s fun to just sit near the lake and people watch! If you’re feeling up to it, you can even do a Lake Zurich cruise ride. If you’re using the Zurich Pass, this is free!
Take a short walk up to Lindenhof for more Zürich views*
Lindenhof is a park up on a hill in Zürich that offers more great views of the city down below. As you can see, there’s definitely a lot of options to see the city from above! Lindenhof is pretty centrally-located and it’s even just a 5 minute walk from Fraumünster church.
See the largest clock face in Europe at St. Peter*
That’s right – the largest clock face in Europe is right in Zürich! Plus, just seeing the clock face is absolutely free. It’s fun to even just go and take a photo of it and be amazed that you’re looking at the largest clock face in an entire continent. St. Peter is also the oldest parish church in the city. From my research, it seems as if entrance to the church is free, but I’m not 100% sure!
Ride the polybahn (furnicular)
The polybahn connects old town Zürich to the university campuses. It was created to assist students and professors who had to get up to the campus by climbing hills in the 19th century and it’s still running now. Tickets can be purchased at the top or bottom of the hill and it’s only a 90 second ride! This is yet another great viewpoint of Zürich that might be more affordable than riding to Uetliberg.
Take an insta-worthy picture on Augustinergasse Street*
Augustinergasse Street is a pedestrian-only street in Zürich. It’s filled with so many bright colored houses and can make for an amazing Instagram picture. Usually, the street is lined with a whole bunch of Swiss flags coming out from the buildings, but I visited in February so unfortunately all the flags were not out. I’m guessing they must be out during warmer months!
Are you spending more than a few days in the area? Consider taking a trip to France. This guide to the Tour du Mont Blanc is sure to convince you!
What to Eat in Zürich
Think of raclette like all those amazing cheese videos you keep seeing all over social media. It’s basically a piece of cheese that is melted and heated and then it’s scraped off onto whatever you want – though usually it’s onto foods like potatoes and pickled onions. I had raclette from The Raclette Factory and I really enjoyed it. I’d definitely suggest trying the truffle cheese! It was unlike anything I’d ever had before.
Switzerland is known for its cheese fondue. Swiss Chuchi Restaurant is the oldest fondue restaurant in Zürich’s old town and is definitely most well-known for fondue. You might want to make reservations ahead of time if you plan on eating here though!
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Have you been to Zürich? What was your favorite thing you did there? Let me know in the comments below!