Visiting Switzerland is a great vacation option. When you visit Switzerland, you’re likely to stay in Zurich, as this is the largest city in the country. Located in the north-central part of Switzerland, Zurich has a metro-area population of just under two million people. This is a busy city and a hub for all sorts of transportation. According to a Quality of Life survey conducted by Monocle in 2012, Zurich was rated the top city to make a base within.

Early Morning

As you stretch out and wake up in Zurich, it’s time to contemplate exactly what you’re going to do for the day. Your day may start off slow, or you might jump right in. It all depends on your personality and your mood. First things first — make sure you start the day with an amazing breakfast.

Get a pick-me-up when you visit Babu’s Coffeehouse. Here you’ll get a great coffee or tea with your breakfast. The atmosphere is fun and laid-back, and this is one of the favorite places for locals to get together with their friends. Grab an avocado bagel or any of their delicious pastries for a breakfast to really get you going.

Whether you’re vegan or just want a healthy breakfast, head to Tibits. Here you can get outstanding juices, fresh fruit, and a variety of croissants and pastries. Breakfast is served at Tibits from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. One of their specialties here is birchermuesli, which features a variety of ingredients including rolled oats, fruit, honey, and nuts.

Head to Manora for a beautifully prepared full breakfast buffet. Here you’ll find just about anything you want, from eggs and sausage to rolls and pastries. You can get a gourmet coffee to go with your meal as well. They offer a huge variety of food options for breakfast, and everything is made fresh each day. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to try this buffet while you’re in Zurich.

opera house
The Opera House in Zurich.

Midmorning

After breakfast, your day of sightseeing begins. Head to Old Town for a look at history unlike anything you’ve seen before. Zurich is an old city, and Old Town represents this perfectly. While you’re in Old Town, make sure to bring along your shopping spirit, since you’ll find one of the most popular and famous shopping strips in the world. Consider a guided tour, such as Stories of the Old Town, which deeply explores the history of the city.

If you’re a soccer fan, check out the FIFA World Football Museum while you’re in town. The museum’s size is approximately 32,500 square feet, offering interactive and multimedia exhibits to inspire and illustrate the heroes of the sport. Have a little fun with their giant pinball machine, which allows you to test out some of your soccer skills. Admission to the museum is CHF 24 for adults, CHF 14 for children ages seven to 15, and children ages six and under are free.

Take a walk on the wild side by visiting the Zurich Zoo. This is one of the most widely visited attractions in the city. Learn more about endangered animals and what you can do to become more involved in wildlife preservation. Prices range from free for children under six to CHF 26 for adults. You can even get a family card if you’re traveling with your kids.

Noon

After walking around Zurich, you’re probably getting a little hungry. Luckily, there are food options throughout the city that offer just about any flavor you’re looking for.

Sometimes you simply want a burger, and there’s no better place to get that delicious sandwich than Burgermeister. You can get a classic hamburger or cheeseburger, or you can try something a little different. Try the chili cheeseburger with chili-sossa and jalapenos. If you’re in the mood for a little seafood, the Long Strassburger offers fish, cheese, jalapenos, and barbecue sauce. As a side, you can get fries, cheese fries, or even chili cheese fries. While the menu isn’t huge, the flavors are enormous.

Head to Sternen Grill for a larger variety of lunch options. They have several different salads to choose from, offering you a healthy lunch option. You can also choose barbecue options such as currywurst. For dessert, try their amazing sorbet. At Sternen Grill, you can choose from a variety of drink options, whether you’re looking for a beverage with or without alcohol.

If you’re in the mood for Indian food, check out Tamarind Hill Indian Restaurant. Start off with an appetizer, such as onion and potato fritters, tamarind lamb fry, or samosa. Chef specials here include lamb roganjosh, goa fish curry, tandoori butter chicken, and Nilgiri fish and prawn curry. On top of this, you can find a large selection of vegetarian options at Tamarind Hill Indian Restaurant, including Bhindi Masala, matter paneer, and tamarind mixed vegetables.

limmat river
The Limmat River.

Afternoon

After lunch, you may find that you simply want to sit back and relax. Or, you might want to kick it up a notch and burn a few extra calories. Either way, there are a huge variety of options for your afternoon in Zurich.

Head to Lake Zurich, which is one of the most popular attractions in the city. Around the lake area, you’ll discover a variety of parks and gardens, as well as walking trails. Bring along your sunscreen and go sunbathing by the lake. While you’re here you’ll see some amazing views, so don’t forget to pull out your camera. If you’re interested in a tour, there are boat tours offered on the lake throughout the year.

Another great place to sit and relax is Lindenhof. Here you’ll find what once was home to a fourth-century fort, and is now one of the most beautiful parks in the city. From the park, you’ll see the Limmat River, Great Minster church, and more. There are park benches, allowing you to sit and relax while you people-watch. Or, if you’re interested in a fun, competitive game, check out the giant chess sets throughout the park.

Get in a little culture and history together when you visit Great Minster Church. This was where the Protestant Reformation started in the city, but the church has a much longer history than just this. It is said that Charlemagne founded the church, and legend states that the building itself sits on top of patron saints of the city. Mass is still held here every Sunday, and you can take tours throughout the rest of the week.

zurich university
The Zurich University.

Late Afternoon

You can’t visit Zurich without doing some major shopping. This is one of the biggest and most popular shopping cities in the world. You’ll find exclusive shops, local boutiques, and much more as you explore Zurich.

Check out one of the most popular shopping spots in the city when you head to Glatt. This is a shopping mall that offers local, national, and international brands. Whether you’re looking for a department store or a specialty shop for gifts, you’ll find everything you want. In fact, there are over 100 shops located in this mall. Some of the brands that you’ll find at Glatt include Pandora, Migros, Apple, Marc O’Polo, and Schild.

Head to the Bahnhofstrasse area to find a variety of shops that give you a fun shopping experience. You’ll find brands such as Chanel and Dior, as well as department stores like Grieder. No matter what you’re shopping for, you’re sure to find it here.

Another popular area for shopping is Surch West. While it used to be full of abandoned warehouses that were falling apart, today it is one of the hottest places to buy to your heart’s content. Find unique and interesting shops here, such as Edition Populaire. Souvenir shops are littered throughout the area, allowing you to get exactly what you want.

Dinnertime

When it’s time to seek out food once more, you’ll love the variety of options. One of the great things about Zurich is, since it is a cultural hub, you’ll find foods of all different ethnicities and types to please your taste buds.

For a fancy dinner, visit Didi’s Frieden. Here you’ll find cuisine that you’re less likely to find at home. Entrée options include wild pigeon breast over butternut pumpkin tartar, as well as organic veal on Mediterranean potato salad. Make sure to ask your server to help you pair a wine with your meal if you’re unsure what to order. Didi’s Frieden offers sparking, white, red, rose, and sweet wines, allowing you to find the perfect wine to complement your meal. Don’t pass up desserts such as the verjuice panna cotta with fresh berries or the Maracaibo chocolate gateau.

If you’re in the mood for pizza, Italian, or Mediterranean food, check out La Fonte. Pizza options are extensive, allowing you to choose your favorite ingredients. Try a classic pizza such as a Margherita or Hawaiian pizza. The 4 Stagioni pizza is a popular option and features tomatoes, mozzarella, mushrooms, artichoke, pepperoni, black olives, and ham. Pasta dishes include gnocchi, penne, spaghetti, and more, all with your choice of sauce.

Make your night something to remember with a meal at Kindli. Here you’ll have delicious options, starting with the appetizers. Choose from starts such as buffalo mozzarella with tomatoes and basil or lemongrass soup with giant shrimp. One of the best fish dishes here is the Royal Zander with horseradish mashed potatoes. If you’ve never tried it before, consider the sliced calf’s liver with sage and Rosti, or for something a little more familiar go with the beef sirloin with arugula and roasted potatoes.

city center
The City Center in Zurich.

Late Night

When the sun goes down, the party isn’t over. In fact, it’s just beginning. From yummy food and tasty drinks to parties and clubs, late night in Zurich is not an experience anyone should miss.

Check out one of the hottest spots in town when you visit Club Indochine. This is on the west side of town and offers a club, bar, and even a separate smoking lounge. You can only get to the second floor if you are a member of the club (or the guest of a member). Here there are a variety of exclusive drinks and cigars. Keep an eye out, because this is a favorite spot for a number of celebrities when they’re in town. The décor is decadent and beautiful. You simply won’t find a better late-night spot.

If jazz is your style, visit Moods Im Schiffbau. The is the most well-known jazz club in Zurich and offers other types of music as well including soul, blues, and funk on specific nights. You may come across international sensations you’ve heard of or find a new local favorite. Grab a drink and dance the night away to some beautiful and soulful music.

Have a drink in an open-air bar and mingle with the locals when you head to Rimini Bar. Here you’ll feel welcomed and included while you explore the huge wood deck outside. The area is set up for conversation, so don’t feel too shy about talking to others. Keep in mind that because this is an open-air bar, if the weather is bad they close for the night. It’s always a good idea to check the forecast before making your plans for the night.

Where to Stay

It’s no surprise that such a visitor-friendly city as Zurich offers all different types of lodging. When you’re planning your trip, make sure to find a hotel or other lodging option that fits your needs and your budget. From luxury to affordable, there’s a spot for you.

If you’re looking for the best in luxury, check out Storchen. With only 66 rooms and suites in the hotel, you’ll feel like you’re top priority when you stay here. You may get views of Old Town or even the Limmat River, depending on where your room is located. Classic rooms are spacious and modern, while still making you feel like you’re staying somewhere classic and historic. Consider the beautiful suites with breathtaking river views.

For a more affordable option, consider Flemings Hotel Zurich. The hotel features an on-site restaurant as well as a health club and fitness center. For breakfast, check out the free buffet if you don’t feel like hitting the town yet. Other amenities include an airport shuttle, childcare services for a surcharge, and free wireless internet access.

If you’re traveling on a tight budget, consider the Ibis Budget hotel. You’ll still get great amenities such as free wireless internet, a terrace, and an on-site restaurant. Rooms feature air conditioning, a private bathroom, LCD TV, and daily housekeeping to help keep you comfortable during your stay.

saint peter and fraumanster church
The Saint Peter and Fraumunster Church in Zurich.

Airport Guide

The Zurich airport offers everything you would hope for in an international airport. You can relax in the transit hotel and dayrooms or any of the lounges throughout the facility.

When you’re at the airport, you’ll quickly find that it is huge. There is the airport center, check-in areas one through three, the airside center, and gates A through E. Luckily, there is an app that you can download for the airport that can help you find everything you’re looking for, from the best places to shop to your departure or arrival gate.

There are several banks and ATMs throughout the airport, including Credit Suisse, Travelex, and USB. If you need to exchange funds before you hit the town or even before boarding on your way home, these banks have you covered. They are available in all areas of the airport, from the checking stations to the airside center.

Getting to or from the Zurich airport is easy. You can take public transportation. In fact, the bus terminal at the airport is the largest in the country. You can get direct access to several areas of the city straight from the airport center. You can also take the Glattalbahn tram, which runs several times per hour. The tram will take you to Glattpark, Irchel, or Oerlikon. If you want to rent a car, you can rent from companies including Budget, Thrifty, Hertz, and Flughafen Zurich.

Score gifts or souvenirs right at the airport. Grab anything you forgot or even a small gift from Press and Books, which has locations around the airport. If you need something special for a loved one, consider Atelier or Grieder. There are several shopping areas inside the airport, including the passenger zone and the airport center. Many times, you’ll see locals shopping in the public shopping area, simply because of the variety of stores available.

If you find that you’re hungry while you’re in the airport, don’t worry. There’s food for everyone here. Try Angel’s Wine Tower Bar in the Radisson Blu Hotel if you have a little extra time. Grab some pizza at Intermezzo Pizzeria and Ristorante, or if you’re in the mood for some fast food there’s a McDonald’s in the airport center. For breakfast or just some coffee, check out Starbucks, The Deli, or Helvetia Café Bar. When you’re in the airside center, grab a nice meal at Walter to wind down and relax.

With great sites, luxury and budget hotels, and amazing eats, Zurich is sure to please any traveler and any budget.