How To Spend One Day In Zürich: An Itinerary For First-Time Visitors

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Got One Day in Zürich? Here’s What To Eat, See, and Do!

Travelling through Switzerland and only got a few hours in Zürich? Then you’ve come to the right place! Lots of people ask “Is one day enough for Zürich?” and we think the answer is “It depends on what you want to see”. With the right tourist information, you can certainly make the most of your day!

We really, really enjoy Zürich. It’s easy to see why the city is so popular. Even though it can be expensive, there are so many Zürich attractions to check out and places to eat (Swiss fondue!) that the experiences you have are worth the time and money spent.

So, whether you are looking to explore the city on your own or you’re looking for a Zürich city tour, our guide includes a full Zürich one day itinerary from morning to evening and ideas for all meals, too!

If you’re looking for other articles about Zürich, have a look at the following articles:

Breakfast: Babu’s

breakfast food on table with coffees in babus cafe one day in zurich
Breakfast at Babu’s was amazing!

Alright so it’s the morning – maybe you’ve got a stopover flight or you’re just passing through to Basel? Whatever the reason, you will need to fuel up before you head out for the day. For breakfast, we suggest Babu’s Bakery & Coffeehouse. Located in the city centre close to the heart of the Old Town, Babu’s did NOT disappoint.

Inside, you’ll find a pretty big place that is very popular so be sure to go early if you can. There is a takeaway counter for those wanting to grab a baked good and a coffee but we opted for a sit-down meal. The menu has a really good variety of dishes – from pancakes to avocado toast to Rösti (a potato pancake).

Go inside and grab a table, read the menu, then go order at the counter. They will bring you your food and drinks. The food we had – blueberry pancakes and Rösti shown above – was very good and very filling. The coffee was also great. Overall, the prices were actually reasonable (for Switzerland) and they have loads of options for different diets/allergies. So, we’d highly suggest Babu’s!

P.S.: They do take reservations for brunch if you pre-order their “Etagère” but if you are ordering off the menu then you just show up and grab a table on the fly.

Address: Löwenstrasse 1, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland

Morning Activities: Explore the Old Town

So breakfast is done and you’re in the city centre ready to explore. For the morning, we’d suggest a good wander of the Old Town. This area is spread out but has lots of great points of interest all crammed closely together.

This is what we did since we wanted to get our bearings and see lots of the city on foot. You could also take the tram between place, too! It’s also important to note that officially the “Altstadt” includes areas on both sides of the Limmat River which sort of splits the city centre in two.

Below we’ve outlined a handful of top attractions, churches, etc that you can see in the city centre. You can also feel free to shop since you’ll be in the area if that’s your preference!

— If you want to experience the attractions below but learn all about them from a knowledgeable guide, definitely consider a Zürich Old Town walking tour!

Getting Around Zürich/Zürich Day Tours

You should know that Zürich is very easy to walk around – but to save your feet (and for those with limited mobility) the city has a really great public transportation system.

Public transit is made up mostly of trams but it also includes some trains, the metro, and even cable cars. You can learn all about tickets and zones at the ZVV website.

If you’re looking for a 24-hour transit pass that comes with discounts on attractions, have a look at the Zürich Card.

Another great way to get around Zürich is on a tour. There are many tours you can choose from – some show great sights while others focus on memorable views and even Swiss food while you are guided around!

A Sightseeing Bus Tour of Zürich
A Private Electric TukTuk Tour (with cheese fondue & wine!)
The Ultimate Zürich City Tour – Bus, Boat, & Cable Car

Grossmünster

man in front of cathedral in old town zurich
Here’s Eric posing with the Grossmünster!

If you only have a day in Zürich, one of the top attractions you literally cannot miss is the Grossmünster. Finished in the 1200s, this massive church sits on the east side of the river. We went inside to check it out and it’s very beautiful. One of the cool parts is that for a small fee you can climb one of the towers for views of the city!

To get to the Grossmünster from where you ate breakfast, you will have to cross a bridge to the other side of the Limmat. We’d suggest the Münsterbrücke (shown above) since you can get great photos from there. Realistically, you also can get great photos from any of the various river crossings like the Rathausbrücke!

Address: Grossmünsterplatz, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland

Augustinergasse

colourful houses down alleyway in old town zurich
A wander down Augustinergasse is always a good idea!

Back on the side of the river closer to where you are breakfast and just off of Bahnhofstrasse (we’ll explain this below) you’ll find a street that leads into the heart of the historic old town: Augustinergasse.

This medieval-looking street is full of shops and historic buildings which honestly make you feel like you’ve gone back in time. If you’ve only got so much time in Zürich, it’s a street worth seeing!

long street with shops and tram on tracks in zurich
Here’s a shot of Bahnhofstrasse!

A visit to Augustinergasse is also great because you’ll access it just off of the central street of Bahnhofstrasse. This long street that runs from the central station to the lakefront – hence the name – is the city’s main shopping street with trams running along it. There are normal shops closer to the station with the high-end shopping closer to the lake.

Fraumünster Church

church with pointy green clock tower and clouds behind in zurich
Fraumünster Church is easy to spot from all over the Old Town!

If you wander through the Old Town and head for the river, you’ll very likely end up passing a tall green church spire. This is Fraumünster Church at Münsterhof (the largest square in the Old Town).

These days, you can visit and gain access to an audio guide for a fee. Built in the 9th century, this church houses the largest pipe organ in Zürich and is known for its famous stained glass windows!

Address: Münsterhof 2, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland

Lindenhof Hill

man walking through park with fountain lindenhof hill zurich
We left out the view over the edge so you have to go see for yourself!

One of the must-see places is to make the short hike up Lindenhof Hill. This hill is located in the Old Town close to the river on the same side as the Central Station. This small park space atop the hill is filled with trees, fountains, and other monuments to check out.

That said, people come up here for the views. From the one edge facing east, visitors are treated to sweeping views of the city across the Limmat River.

Rain or shine it’s a really peaceful spot and a very popular area for photos! It’s also a good place to drink a coffee or eat a snack (like a bakery pastry) if you’re looking for a short break during the morning wander!

Church of St. Peter

church with large clock tower with trees and old town buildings around
Can’t miss that clocktower up on the hill!

Lastly, one of the other unmistakable clock towers in the city belongs to the Church of St. Peter. This church is located on the same side of the river as Bahnhofstrasse and up on a hill (close to Lindenhof) atop the oldest part of the Old Town.

The current church was built around the year 1000 so it’s one of the oldest churches in the whole city. The massive clock tower makes for amazing photos through the old buildings of the area. Fun Fact: the clocks on the tower are the largest tower clock-faces in Europe. They measure almost 9 metres across!

Address: St. Peterhofstatt 2, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland

Lunch: Coop

For lunch, we’re going to leave the option to find your own – but we do have a suggestion. Since Zürich can be really expensive, we’d honestly suggest being like a local and going to Coop.

Coop is a grocery store chain that you see everywhere BUT they have a fresh baked good section (cold and hot) as well as fresh salads, etc. You can also grab a drink – and the best part is that you can sometimes eat in or choose to take it with you and find a spot in the city.

We found that on the way to work and at lunch, the places are just bustling with people grabbing their breakfast or lunch – so that’s exactly what we did too. The freshly baked pizza buns or croissants were great, as was the coffee to go.

When we visited, there was actually a Food Market with food trucks and stalls IN Zürich HBF. The central station is very big so it wasn’t surprising to find this kind of thing inside. There was food from all different cuisines/cultures – we had Chilean-style Empanadas! So, you might also luck out with finding something going on for lunchtime when you visit!

Afternoon Activities: Uetliberg Hike or Swiss National Museum

After you find lunch, you’ll head out to explore again. This time, we want to give you two options since there are a variety of things you can do to fill up a couple of hours and they differ by interests: go hiking along Uetilberg or check out the Swiss National Museum.

Uetilberg/Planetary Trail Hike

large mountain in distance with lake in front in zurich
You can see the whole hike from high point to high point!

First up is a lovely hike to get out of the city for some fresh air and amazing views. For this, head up one of the local high points along Uetilberg. You can get to the Uetliberg Train Station at the top from the Central station.

Once there, you can find various restaurants and even a hotel as you begin the trail along. You can admire the views from the trail OR head up the Uetliberg Lookout Tower (Uetliberg Aussichtsturm) for even more height. Eric did this and it was worth the climb!

After that, you can continue along the wooded path that follows the ridgeline. At various points, you get amazing views of the city and of the lake. The whole hike is about 2 hours long – and you pass the sun and all the planets to represent the distances in our solar system!

Since you hike in one direction, you will find a different way to get down: an aerial gondola ride! At Felsenegg (another vantage point) there is a gondola that takes you back down from Felsenegg to a train station (Adliswil). From there, you can ride back into the city centre easily!

Address: Search for “Uetliberg Train Station” to begin

Swiss National Museum

museum entrance with archway and tower in zurich
The Swiss National is right behind the Central Station!

One of the most popular things to do in Zürich is to visit the Swiss National Museum (Landesmuseum). Inside this massive beautiful building, you’ll find a number of permanent and temporary exhibits. These exhibits largely allow you to engage with the history of Switzerland and the history of the city, too.

Eric actually visited the last time he was in Zürich and it was definitely worth checking out. The exhibits walk you through centuries of history through different storylines and artifacts. You can even do a guided tour if you catch it at the right time. You can learn all about visiting at the Swiss National Museum website.

Address: Museumstrasse 2, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland

Afternoon Break: Coffee at Grande Café & Bar

coffees in blue mugs on wooden cafe table with flowers
The vibe at Grande was social and really nice!

For the afternoon break, you might want to sit down. How does a coffee by the river sound? We headed for Grande Café & Bar and were not disappointed.

This small cafe has a cozy vibe with only a handful of tables inside. We got two coffees and they were excellent – it’s the kind of place where you can choose where the beans are from for your coffee. They also have loads of drinks behind the bar if you want something a little stronger!

That said, there’s lots of outdoor patio seating facing the river to take in the hustle and bustle of the city. It was a popular meetup place for business people, travellers, etc and there were all different languages being spoken which made it feel really international.

Overall, we’d recommend a visit. It’s located right in the city centre so it’s easy to walk, tram, or boat to the next stop on this one day itinerary! If you want to learn more about Grande, check out the website here.

Address: Limmatquai 118, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland

Early Evening Activity: Cruise Lake Zürich

ferry boats parked in a row by pier on lake zurich
The boats all ready to go at the lakefront…

Once you’re done relaxing, it’s time to end off the afternoon right. For this, you should head to the north end of the lake and hop on a Lake Zürich boat cruise! Eric has been on a boat cruise down the lake and back and it was very worth it!

Officially, some of these boats are used as water taxis as different routes make different stops along the lakeshore. Other boats focus on sightseeing, while some even offer dinner cruise experiences.

There are a number of boats to choose from leaving at different times and taking different routes. The thing that they have in common is that you get to explore the lake with views of the city and mountains around. It’s definitely something you should do!

Depending on the time of year, you can also cruise the Limmat River on a smaller, flatter boat. Sightseeing boats leave from the National Museum and you can do a round trip (or use it as a water taxi) for a fairly small price. Check out the ZSG (Zürichsee Schifffahrtsgesellschaft) website for all the boat/lake cruise information!

— You can also head out on a Zürich boat and chocolate tour that includes a stop at the famous Lindt Chocolate Shop!

Address: Boats Leave from Bürkliplatz

Dinner: Fribourger Fonduestübli

red fondue pot on table with wine and food baskets in zurich switzerland
The fondue with wine, bread, and potatoes: amazing!

Now that it’s dinner time, you’re probably hungry considering all the exploring you’ve done! For this dinner in Switzerland, there is likely no better option than going for real Swiss fondue. After reading numerous reviews online, we ended up going to Fribourger Fonduestübli – and had a great outcome!

This cozy and classic feeling fondue restaurant is tucked away just a short walk from the Old Town. It should be noted that the moment you walk inside you get hit with this intense massive smell of cheese (makes sense).

The place is popular since they do fondue right and have lots of options for dipping. We went for classic fondue with wine and dipped unlimited bread and potatoes but you can also get pickles and even pears. We also drank a little white wine on the side which was awesome!

In the end, we would highly recommend it. The all-women staff were very friendly. It’s also recommended that you call to make a reservation. We didn’t and got a table but we took a chance by going early in the evening and we were only two people. You can find their website/menu and number to call for a reservation here.

If you were interested in combining a sightseeing tour and some classic cheese fondue with city views, you can check out this popular Fondue and City Tour.

Address: Rotwandstrasse 38, 8004 Zürich, Switzerland

Evening Activity: Nightlife, Drinks + Views, or Opera

Well, it’s the evening now and it’s time to enjoy your last bit of time in Zürich. Since travellers have all different energy levels and interests, we thought we offer up three different options for a night out in Zürich: wild nightlife, fancy drinks with views, or the opera!

Nightlife in Niederdorf or Langstrasse

shop fronts in busy old town street in zurich
Looking towards Niederdorf from the south…

If you’re looking for lively nightlife, Zürich is the place to be. It’s no secret that despite being a business city, there’s a vibrant nightlife scene in the city. So, if you want to go out to the bar/club for drinks, there are two neighbourhoods/streets to check out.

On the east side of the river in the Old Town you’ll find the area called Niederdorf. This short stretch of cobblestone is loaded with bars, pubs, and clubs – as well as a number of spots for a late-night bit to eat. We’ve wandered through in the evening and it was certainly lively!

The other area to check out is Langstrasse (the actual street). This “long street” has a bit of a rougher past as the city’s former red-light district but it had changed quite a bit in recent years.

These days, it’s still a hot spot for lots of clubs and bars – but you’ll also find cafes and restaurants. It’s quite close to Central Station, too. We had a wander through and can see how some people might love it while others may not be too keen on the area. To each their own!

Jules Verne Panoramabar Zürich

observation tower above skyline with trees and bridge below
The bar is located in those top blue windows for great views!

If you’re looking to go out for drinks but want to stay a bit more upscale and classy, there’s an incredible experience you should look into: drinks above the city lights! For this, head to Jules Verne Panoramabar which is located right in the Old Town up in the Urania Observatory (seen above).

Named after the legendary author, this bar has received numerous votes over the years for things like “most romantic in Zürich”. Of course, it’s popular because of the stellar service and the views. Because of this, the bar is a popular place for brunch but also popular to check out in the evenings!

The extensive drinks menu is loaded with cocktails to try out as well as wine, other spirits, beer, and non-alcoholic drinks. You can learn more about visiting Jules Verne Bar here.

Address: Uraniastrasse 9, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland

Zürich Opera House

grand opera house with flags and open square in front in zurich
The Opera House is at the end of a grand square – can’t miss it!

Lastly, if you’re feeling cultured and want to check out the arts while in Zürich, then stop by the Zürich Opera House. Opened in 1891, this opera house is home to the Zürich Opera and Ballet. It’s also the smallest of the “large” opera houses in the world with only 1,100 seats!

The Opera House is located in a big open square which has become a public gathering place. The House also has lots of different performances going on throughout the year so it’s not just about the opera. You can check out what the Opera House has going on in advance at the official website.

Address: Falkenstrasse 1, 8008 Zürich, Switzerland

And there you have it – our sample itinerary for one day in Zürich. Of course, this is just one version of a day in Zürich. There are loads of museums, parks, and attractions that we didn’t mention that you could definitely visit as well. That said, we think this is a great way to get to know the city and country you’re visiting through food and things to do!

As always, Happy Zürich Day Waddlin’,
– L&E

Booking Your Trip Soon? This Is How We Do It:
  • Compare flights on Skyscanner
  • Check for Hotel Deals or Book A Hostel
  • Get A Rental Car (depending on the destination)
  • Look Into Travel Insurance
  • Research plug types and possibly get a travel adapter
  • Go over our packing list
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