Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland. There is a lot to see and do, including plenty of museums, luxury shopping in the Bahnhofstrasse and a lively town center with a wide choice of restaurants.
Our hotel suggestions, and tips to find the best hotel for your plans.
Rent an apartment or holiday home in or around Zurich.
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What to expect from Zurich?
Zurich is situated in the hills of Northern Switzerland, not in the Alps. Apart from sightseeing in town, it's a good base for day trips to Basel, Lucerne, the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen and many other destinations in the north of Switzerland.
If you like city trips, Zurich offers enough to keep you busy for many days. The historic old town center is well worth a visit and can easily be explored on foot from the main rail station. Exclusive shopping can be done in the Bahnhofstrasse. There are a lot of art galleries and museums, several theaters and the Opera House.
Fine dining is easy to find: there are hundreds of restaurants, including the world's first vegetarian restaurant, Haus Hiltl, opened in 1898.
Reasons to stay in Zurich
If you are planning a long vacation in Switzerland (e.g. two weeks or more), you can start with a day or two in Zurich if you're interested in culture, museums and city visits in general. Then proceed to the Alps to see the mountains.
If you have booked a late flight to Zurich or an early flight from Zurich, it makes sense to stay the night and explore the city for a couple of hours. You can find airport hotels here.
Reasons to skip Zurich
Zurich is not in or near the Alps. It takes traveling time to reach the mountains. For example: a visit to Pilatus takes 2h00, a visit to Schilthorn takes 3h30. If the Swiss Alps are your main focus, a resort closer to the Alps is a better choice. Examples are Lucerne and towns in the Bernese Oberland, Graubünden or the Valais.
Zurich can be busy. You may prefer peace and quiet during your holidays. Look for a smaller destination in that case.
Zurich during winter season
Zurich is a great in late November and December. You can visit Christmas markets, shop in the illuminated old town or make a ride in the fairytale tram. Day trips to other towns with Christmas markets can be made too. Examples are Lucerne, Bern and Basel.
Zurich is not the best resort for a snow holiday. It’s at low altitude and snowfall isn’t likely. You’ll have to travel at least 1 hour by train to reach ski areas. The ones closest to Zurich are Flumserberg (along Lake Walen) and Sattel-Hochstückli (between Arth-Goldau and Einsiedeln).
The best months for a snow holiday near Zurich are January and February.
What not to miss during your stay
The number of attractions and activities in Zurich is huge. Below are some suggestions to make your stay in Zurich a memorable one.
- Boat trip on Lake Zurich.
- Luxury shopping in the Bahnhofstrasse.
- Strolling in the old town center. Start from the main rail station and work your way south to the lakeside promenade. Be sure to include the pretty Augustinergasse, a side street of the Bahnhofstrasse. The nearby Lindenhof offers a beautiful view of the town center. Try this city walk for example.
- Pay a visit to the Swiss National Museum, very close to the railway station.
- Explore the highlights of the city on foot.
- Take a train up to the Uetliberg for a wide view across town, or to enjoy a scenic walk.
More is here.