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How to Spend 24 Hours in Zurich

(Last Updated On: November 22, 2021)

Switzerland is definitely a must-visit country in Europe. Zürich is a great city to explore in this country since it’s one of the best places to visit in Switzerland! Plus, if you’re visiting on a time crunch, it’s very easy to visit with just 24 hours in Zurich.

Throughout this post, you’ll learn everything there is to know about spending such a short time in Zurich. By the end, you’ll know exactly how to spend one day in Zurich.

Let’s get started!

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How to Get to Zürich, Switzerland

There are quite a few ways to get to Zürich, so you’re in luck!

Get to Zürich by Plane

If you plan on flying in for your 24 hours in Zurich, 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.

Did you know that Switzerland is home to some of the most beautiful train journeys in Europe? You might catch some epic views by taking the train to Zurich.

train station in zurich

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 to other countries. A plus to driving in 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 the 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. So, it’s easy to rely on it for 24 hours in Zurich.

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 perfectly.

As for modes of transportation, there are 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. As 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 this for my 24 hours in Zurich!

Where to Stay in Zürich, Switzerland

If you’re just spending 24 hours in Zurich, you’ll most likely still need a place to spend the night. Below are a few hotels, hostels, and Airbnbs in Zurich for you to consider.

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.
giant fountain in a town square

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.
  • Zurich Youth Hostel is another great option. Prices range depending on which type of room you book and it’s located in an old school from the 1930s!

AirBnBs in Zürich

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!

No matter when you visit, you’ll have a great 24 hours in Zurich.

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 with 24 Hours in Zurich

Now, of course, there’s a lot to see in Zürich. Below are some of the top places to visit with just 24 hours in Zurich. If you have the time, definitely try taking a day trip on your extra days 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 and it’s one of the best things to do with 24 hours in Zurich. 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 ’70s. The church costs CHF 5 to go inside, though you could also admire its beauty from the outside for free.

church with a clock tower

Get panoramic views of Zürich from Uetilburg

Now, there are two ways to get to the top of this mountain. You can do a hike or you can take the S10 train. There are 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!

lake in switzerland with the alps in the back

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 the 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!

colorful street in zurich

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

Raclette

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.

Cheese Fondue

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!

Chocolate

When you’re in Switzerland, you absolutely must try Swiss chocolate! There are so many amazing chocolate shops, but some great ones are Max Chocolatier, Läderach, and Confiserie Sprüngli.

If you’re still looking for great places to eat, try checking out some of the Indian restaurants in Zurich!

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112 Comments

    1. It definitely does! I found the city to be very walkable, and whatever I couldn’t walk to, the tram was really easy and quick. If you wake up with a game plan, you definitely can visit almost all of these, if not all of them! 🙂

    1. I hope you make it there one day! I definitely think if you are a little more picky with your money then you will find that it doesn’t have to be as expensive as everyone makes it out to be. 🙂

  1. Zurich sounds like a charming town! I have never been, so saved it for later! Thanks for such a detailed post

  2. I want to go there just for the chocolate jaja. It really seems beautiful, I’m living in Spain and still haven’t tried the Europe train. I think it would be a fun journey from Spain to Zurich.

    1. Their chocolate in Zurich is amazing… anywhere in Switzerland it’s awesome, honestly. The trains in Europe are pretty reliable and timely, so you should definitely try them out, even if it’s just for a short day/weekend trip somewhere in Spain. I hope you make it to Zurich one day! Thank you for stopping by. 🙂

  3. I didn’t know that you can do so much in Zurich with such a little time! That is awesome, although I’m a bit slow traveler, so I think I would take an extra day to be able to rest too :))

    1. If you go into your day with a game plan, you definitely can visit all/almost all of the things on this list. 🙂 It could also be spaced out over two days if you’d rather take your time! I only had a short amount of time in Zurich (only one day) so I tried to see as much as I could. Thank you so much for stopping by! 🙂

  4. Lake Zürich is incredibly beautiful, isn´t it?! I visited for a weekend in December and it was so cold, otherwise a boat ride would be my first thing to do!

    1. I absolutely love Lake Zurich! The color is this amazing teal colored blue that I’ve never seen before in my life. If I ever make it back, I am definitely doing a boat ride too. I visited in February so it was also pretty cold… I only people-watched and stared at the lake for a while. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  5. I have explored Zurich several times during long layovers and was there recently. You can see a lot! What I would do to eat at Swiss Chuchi again. What a memorable experience eating the truffle fondue. Definitely would go back just to eat it agian.

  6. I’ve been dying to visit Switzerland but know that it’s a pricey place to travel in. Glad to see you offered some budget options, super helpful!! 🙂

  7. I *dream* about raclette on the regular lol! Looking forward to using this guide when I make it to Switzerland this August!

  8. Thanks for including information on where to stay and how non-expensive you found Zurich. I often think of the nordic countries as being out of my reach because of cost, so maybe I need to rethink my misconceptions!

  9. The lake looks beautiful! I’ve only been “through” Zurich on a train. The clock tower and the colorful buildings look like it’s worth a visit someday!

  10. I can’t remember why, but for some reason I didn’t go to the top of the church & now I’m totally regretting it! What great views of the city 🙂 Loved all of your suggestions, thanks for sharing!

  11. Zurich looks like such a pretty city to visit! I’ve been to Switzerland years ago but never made it to Zurich. Would love to go back especially for the chocolate and raclette! ?

  12. I visited Zurich after a train mishap during study abroad, and I really wish I could’ve seen more of the area. I’ll have to go again and use your guide!

  13. Zurich looks like an amazing place to visit, so beautiful! Augustinergasse Street looks awesome, great place to snap a photo. I would love to try some cheese and chocolate…I’ve heard its fantastic. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I really wish I had caught Augustinergasse Street with all the Swiss flags out! I’ve seen some gorgeous photos during that time. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  14. Wow, Reading all this about Zuruich makes wish we had chosen to go to Switzerland when we were in Europe – as long as it was summertime. While I am sure it is lovely covered in snow, I prefer the warmer weather.

  15. We visited Zurich by train and found it easy to do. We too passed on a Zurich Card but it would have been good for the transportation. Although the trams were much more fun. I am glad you got to go to the top of Grossmunster Church for the views. It was so cloudy when we visited that we did not think it was worth the trip up. We did love strolling along the colourful Augustinergasse Street. We were always in search of great chocolate! Thanks for the trip back to Zurich.

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who passed on the Zurich Card. I think I would’ve found it more worth it if I was already planning on doing a lot of the activities that the card gives you discounts for. I hope you get to go back one day and go to the top of the Grossmunster – the views are definitely insane. Glad you liked the post! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  16. Thank you for sharing! Zurich is actually on my plans for this year as my friend just move there and I’m dying to visit. I’ll be using this article as a reference!

  17. Zurich looks like a lovely city with so much to see and do! Also, that cheese fondue looks amazing!! We’re sold! Thanks for the great guide!

  18. A mistake which is often made, so you are not alone :). Great article about Zurich though. Glad you enjoyed your visit.

  19. This is such an awesome post! Definitely saving for when I go to Zurich! Glad to know there are affordable options as I’ve heard it’s expensive.

  20. I’d love to visit Zurich someday and am happy to hear that they have excellent reliable public transportation. The Zürich card sounds like it would be a great deal especially if you plan on also visiting museums.

    1. I think it all depends on where you go in Switzerland. If you eat at more popular restaurants, it’ll definitely be more money. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any drinks while in Switzerland so I don’t have a number for that!

  21. I traveled to Zurich decades ago for work, but had little time to really visit then. I wouldn’t mind going back as we love these types of old European cities, walking Augustinergasse Street and of course, raclette and cheese fondue!

  22. Zurich in only 24 hours? Travesty, though if that is all the time you have. Cheese (including raclette) yes of course. Chocolate? A must. One small correction for you, the St Peter clock face is no longer the largest in Europe. It is still the largest “tower” clock face, but it has been supplanted as the largest by the Aarau Railway Station Clock In Aarau, Switzerland — with a diameter of 9 meters.

    1. Unfortunately I only had 24 hours there because I was visiting while studying abroad for one day during the weekend. I wish I had more time! Thank you for the correction.

  23. I love wandering in European cities and Zurich would be no different. The lake looks beautiful so I think I would like to do a cruise. Wow -the largest clockface in Europe! Thanks for this guide. Can’t wait to get to Zurich!

  24. I’ve always been interested in visiting Zurich, but didn’t really know what was there to see. Thanks for putting this post together. It’s very informative. Augustinergasse Street looks like a fun street to explore.

  25. Zurich looks so pretty! Of course, I’d love to stay longer than a day, but this post is perfect for anyone who might have an extended layover. It sounds like things are pretty expensive, although it’s good to know that food is a primary reason for that. I just love the look of the city and would be sure not to miss the clock at St. Peter!

    1. I wish I had more time than just 24 hours! It’s on my list of places I’d love to go back to. I was only there for a day because I was studying abroad in Ireland and had limited time during the weekend!
      I definitely think food is the culprit for the price, because I didn’t find many other things that expensive. However, it does really come down to what you choose to do while you’re there! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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