Zurich is usually at the top of any itinerary in Switzerland. As the financial capital of the small Alpine country, its largest city and one of the highest points in Europe, the invitation is to immerse yourself in its winter wonderland.
Whether you are a nature lover, a fan of scenic trains, interested in Swiss history or an adventurous globetrotter, in this post you will find a 3-day itinerary with the best things to see and do in and around Zurich for all tastes.
Day 1: Old Town Tour
During the first day in Zurich it is a good idea to see the area around Lake Zurich and the Limmat River. There are many attractions to see, but I recommend that you start with the monuments, museums and historical sites in the old town.
The tour of Zurich that I propose can be done by public transport, Tuk-tuk, tourist bus or walking, either on your own or with an organized tour of Zurich.
I recommend that you do it on foot, because in just 4 kilometers you will find a large number of interesting places to visit. If you go with a guide, he will explain what you are seeing. If you choose to go on your own, I advise you to inform yourself beforehand to get more out of the tour.
It was founded in 853 by King Ludwig the Germanic and after gaining economic control of Zurich in 1045, it became an emblem for the city.
Nowadays, the abbey is not so much talked about for its economic impact, but it is the stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall and Auguste Giacometti that steal the spotlight from visitors to Fraumünster.
- Address: Münsterhof 2, 8001 Zürich.
St. Peter's Church
This church marks the official time in Switzerland. It was a Romanesque church chapel around the year 1000 and was renovated years later, when the tower and clock of the largest church in Europe were included.
In 1522, when priests close to Ulrich Zwingli ruled St. Peter's Church, it became another must-see in the city thanks to its role during the Swiss Protestant Reformation.
- Address: St.-Peter-Hofstatt 1, 8001 Zürich.
WOW Museum Hall of Illusion
This is the perfect stop for families traveling to Zurich with children. For a couple of hours you can escape the traditional Alpine metropolis to immerse yourself in impossible patterns, crazy reflections, optical illusions everywhere, incredible scenery and interactive games in every corner (literally even going to the bathroom is an illusion). It's simply WOW!
Carry a high dose of curiosity and ingenuity in your backpack, a charged cell phone, light clothing and you're ready for fun.
- Address: Werdmühlestrasse 10, 8001 Zurich.
National Museum Zurich
Next to the train station Zürich HB you will find this historic museum whose origin dates back to 1898. This is one of the essential enclaves of the small Alpine country, because in its slender building the history of Switzerland is shown among art collections, sculptures, paintings and manuscripts. And to get there, you can opt for the guided tour of Zurich by bus.
Leaving the National Museum of Zurich you can have lunch at the Spitz restaurant, which is just across the street, or if you prefer, wait to cross the Walchebrücke bridge and have lunch at any of the bistros around your next stop.
- Address: Museumstrasse 2, 8001 Zurich.
An ideal place for art lovers. It exhibits works from the Middle Ages to exponents of contemporary art.
Kunsthaus was opened in 1910 and since then Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh to Niki de Saint Phalle and hundreds of other renowned artists have left their mark in this museum.
- Address: Heimplatz, 8001 Zürich.
Legend has it that when the king of the Franks, Charlemagne, discovered the tombs of the city's patrons, he built a church on top of them and the Grossmünster Cathedral, the cradle of the Church Reformation in Zurich, was founded on these foundations.
Be sure to climb to the top of the Grossmünster tower to enjoy one of the best views of the city.
- Address: Grossmünsterplatz, 8001 Zurich.
The Münsterbrücke bridge
To return to your point of origin, enjoy a postcard sunset crossing the Münsterbrücke bridge over the Limmat River. This bridge, also known as Helmhausbrücke, was built of natural stone between 1836 and 1838. Thanks to its original preservation, it is a cultural property of national importance.
Needless to say, there are many other beautiful places to visit in the city. All those mentioned belong to district 1, the busiest and any itinerary through the city should include, if not all, most of these cultural spaces.
Day 2: To the biggest waterfalls in Europe!
Once you've left the museums and churches behind, it's time to move on to another kind of sightseeing: Europe's largest waterfalls, the Rhine Falls.
Then you will hike through the plateaus of the Swiss Albis and, to close the day, you will tour the city by tuk tuk.
After breakfast at your hotel or at one of the nearby restaurants, it's time to start your excursion to the Rhine Falls. For this, you will find a couple of alternatives.
- The first is to do it on your own. To do this you must go to Sihlquai station in Zurich HB and take a bus to Schaffhausen. At that point you take a scenic train to Neuhausen Rheinfall, which is 200 m from the falls. The total trip should take between 55-70 minutes.
- The second alternative is to join an excursion to the Rhine Falls from Zurich. In my article on how tovisit the Rhine Falls from Zurich I tell you about all the destinations you can combine with the largest waterfalls in Europe.
If you choose the organized tour, keep in mind that these usually offer a half-day tour passing through places like Titisee-Neustadt -where you will find the authentic makers of cuckoo clocks and black forest cake-, the picturesque village of Schaffhausen and Lenzkirch.
Whichever option you choose, if you have traveled to Zurich in summer, you can't miss a boat ride on the falls, or climbing the platforms, especially the rock, the central red point from where you have a 360° view. Afterwards, you can walk up the circular path along the Laufen Castle or stroll through the medieval village in the area.
In the afternoon, it's a good time to get your body active. After lunch, head to Uetliberg Mountain, one of **Zurich'**s most famous hiking trails.
This is a perfect place to walk or cycle, as well as enjoy splendid panoramic views, Lake Zurich and the Alps.
How to get to Uetliberg Mountain? From Zurich HB - where your train or tour drops you off - you can take the S 10 train to Uetliberg. It is a 30-minute ride. The mountain is 500 meters from the stop.
Once there, don't miss the opportunity to see the city from the observation deck of the Uetliberg Tower, which offers the best views of the countryside.
To end the day, indulge yourself by touring Zurich aboard a Tuk Tuk while dining on wine and Swiss cheese fondue.
Typically, these types of rides last between 90-120 minutes and take you to the heart of the city passing through the streets of Grossmünsterplatz, Schauspielhaus, Sechseläuten, Bellevue, Wasserkirche, Grossmünster, Münsterhof, among others. Around Europaallee 8 you will find some of the companies that offer this kind of tours.
Day 3: Europe from above: Swiss Alps, Grindelwald, Jungfraujoch and Lauterbrunnen
On the third day, after enjoying the best things to see and do in Zurich, I recommend that you ascend to the heights of the Swiss Alps. The tour will take you through the charming village of Interlaken, followed by the Bernese Oberland, the Eiger Express cable car, up to the Jungfrau Peak, one of the highest in Switzerland.
You can do the tour on your own by taking a bus from Sihlquai Central Station to Interlaken Station, where you have to get on one of the best scenic trains from Zurich.
Depending on what you want to see, you will have to take different buses to see the Grindelwald countryside and the Eiger glacier station.
Also, for convenience, you can take a day trip to the Swiss Alps from Zurich.
In both cases, the starting point will be the same, the difference is that in the second one you forget to keep an eye on train, bus and connection schedules. In addition, you will be able to listen to the comments and anecdotes of the guides.
Interlaken is a very beautiful city located between two emerald lakes, the Thun and Brienz. When you make your excursion to Interlaken from Zurich you are going to find yourself amidst panoramic views of snow-capped mountains and chalet villages.
Once you arrive in Interlaken, explore the surrounding area. You can:
- Board a cruise on the two lakes. Departure is in Thun, Interlaken West, Interlaken East or Brienz, and the ride takes you to see the Caves of St. Beatus, theGiessbach Falls the Oberhofen Castle -the most photographed on Instagram-, the Hunegg Castle, -a French signature construction that does not go unnoticed-, the fabulous Thun Castle and many others.
- Crossing the Sigriswil Panoramic Bridge. It is one of the three suspension bridges of the popular panoramic circular path of Lake Thun that connects the mountain and lakeshore trails. If the views from the valley are magnificent, imagine what the town looks like from 182 m above sea level (take a look at thePanoramabrücke Sigriswil video).
- Walk along the Brienz lake. Walking in the Bernese Oberland mountain and the alpine surroundings manage to relax visitors.
- Enjoy the best panoramic views of the valley from the Harder Kulm funicular.
- Stroll through theHarder Alpine Wildlife Park to see marmots and the Alpine ibex or Alpine wild goat.
There are a lot of interesting things to do in Interlaken and you can easily spend a whole day. Also, compared to other cities in Switzerland, you don't have to spend a lot of money here.
This is another village that enchants with its typical wooden houses, but this is not the only attraction of the place. On your excursion to Grindelwald you can take the Eiger Express cable car of the V-Cableway and reach Mount First (2,200 m) or Männlichen (2,100 m) in record time.
You also have at your disposal the adventure packages, with four activities to choose from:
- First Flyer. Travelers who want to experience the alpine breeze firsthand have the option of moving on an 800 m long zip line at 84 km/h, sitting in a chair surrounded only by a landscape of 10. This activity is available during summer and winter. All people weighing between 35 - 125 kg and adrenaline lovers are welcome.
- First Glider. This activity deserves to be renamed as the eagle's flight, as you climb a zip line to fly in a glider at 83 km/h with 3 other daring people. You need to be 10 years old or older to join this activity, a minimum height of 1.3 m and a maximum weight of 125 kg.
- Mountain Cart. The Alpine Mountain Go-kart, one of the best things to do in Zurich during the winter. All you need is a passion on wheels and a height of 1.3 m.
- Trottibike Scooter. A combination of scooter and bicycle has arrived in the Swiss Alps and is called Trottibike. The ride is pleasant even on bumpy surfaces, thanks to its cushioning and tires. The Trottibike has an adult version and a children's version, perfect for family rides. All people taller than 1.25 m are welcome to enjoy this activity.
Among lush landscapes with glaciers, rivers, valleys and waterfalls, you will reach the Jungfraujoch one of the highest peaks in Europe thanks to its 3,454 m high.
You can reach this place with the same cable car that you took in Grindelwald or by train if you decide to go directly from Interlaken.
In the Jungfrau mountain region, snowfall is guaranteed 365 days a year. At this point is the famous Sphinx Observatory where the views of the Alps leave you speechless. To close your trip you have reserved the best, the Ice Palace, a fascinating museum where art is carved with frozen water. Book an excursion to Jungfraujoch and enjoy in style.