blue tram going down the road in zurich

2 Days in Zurich: Itinerary for Enjoying Switzerland’s Largest City

Home to the largest international airport in Switzerland, Zurich is a city that is frequented by many but explored by few.

Many people look at Zurich as simply a stepping stone to their next stop on their Swiss itinerary and don’t actually take the time to explore what the city has to offer… including me!

In fact, the only reason that I wound up with so much time on my hands to explore Zurich was because my flight home got delayed! 

At first, I was annoyed. What was I supposed to do in Zurich?! 

View of Zurich on Fraumunster Church and Church of St. Peter with bicycle in Zurich, Switzerland.
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But I quickly realized there are a ton of things to do, and got to work exploring. I mean, it’s not Switzerland’s largest city for nothing!

So do yourself a favor and spend at least two days in Zurich.

It’s just enough time to see the main sights, discover a few hidden gems, and leave eager to plan your next visit! 

Here’s a quick Zurich itinerary — I hope it convinces you to give this Swiss city its due credit when visiting!

Day One of Your Zurich Itinerary: Getting a Feel for the City

Fuel up on breakfast.

a coffee to go with latte art

One thing that I noticed about Europe is that it’s not uncommon to eat a pastry for breakfast and get on with your day.

Personally, I sometimes need a little something more to get me to lunch time without getting hangry, especially on big walking days. 

That’s why I love Babu’s Bakery & Coffeehouse

Here you can choose to stand at the cafe bar for a cappuccino and a chocolate croissant…

… or you can opt for a table where you can enjoy a classic breakfast of eggs and pancakes! 

As great as it is, there are two things that I should mention ahead of time.

One, this place serves one of the best cups of coffee in Zurich and everyone knows it so this place is always busy and loud. 

Secondly, it’s expensive. But then again, so is everything in Switzerland, so you may as well get used to it or else you will find yourself extremely disappointed. 

That being said, I went to Babu’s almost every morning during my visit. It’s just that good. 

Pro tip: Get there when it first opens at 7 AM! 

Go for a morning stroll.

zurich lake and town, view from lindenhof, with morning light falling on the city and body of water

While the morning light is still working its magic, it’s time to head over to Lindenhof Hill.

Many people will come here for sunset and the crowds tend to distract from the incredible view, in my humble opinion. 

Besides, I think the views are better in the morning anyways! 

Lindenhof sits atop an ancient glacier (technically a moraine, for my geology nerd friends) and offers an incredible view of the medieval old town, Altstadt.

In the early morning, you can sit atop the hill or climb over the remains of the city wall (so cool!) and watch the warm light glisten as it hits the river. 

Sounds pretty exciting, right? And I haven’t even mentioned the joy of overlooking the old town as it begins to wake up!

Zig zag your way to an architectural masterpiece. 

Grossmunster church on the banks of the water with some awnings in red and blue stripes on the ground level and old buildings around it on a sunny day

Feel free to use your GPS to help guide you, but do yourself a favor and skip the straightforward route.

Wandering through the cobblestone streets filled with shops, restaurants, and historic plazas is an experience you can’t pass up! 

Eventually you will cross the bridge and arrive at your next destination: Grossmunster!

Grossmunster is not only one of the most beautiful churches in Zurich but it’s also one of the most historically significant.

It was built way back in 1100 and it was the site where the Swiss-German Reformation in Switzerland was first initiated back in 1520. 

interior of the grossmunster with arched and vaulted ceilings

Legend has it that the church was even established by the famous Charlemagne! 

Even setting history aside, the incredible Romanesque architecture alone is more than enough reason to visit.

You can explore the main floor to admire the details or pay a small fee to climb to the top for one of the best views in Zurich!

Explore the Old Town.

Famous Muensterhof square with fountain in Zurich, Switzerland with blue, yellow, white buildings

You may not have realized this but you’re already in the Old Town!

Unlike some cities where the old town is just a few streets, Zurich’s Old Town is massive and sprawls across both sides of the Limmat River

Here you’ll find endless cobblestone alleys, shops, restaurants, museums, squares like the lovely Muensterhof Square, and gardens… maybe even a cat or two!

So relax, and spend the afternoon exploring all that the old town has to offer and let your curiosity take the front seat on this adventure!

There are also free (but don’t forget to tip!) walking tours of the old town if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the vastness of it all.

We all like to travel in different ways, so do what makes sense for you!

Enjoy an Old Town lunch.

cheese fondue on a stick in a restaurant in switzerland for lunch

You’re going to come across an endless selection of places to eat, and from personal experience I can say that you probably won’t go wrong… most of the time.

But if you want to guarantee an amazing meal or you just don’t like the stress of having to pick a place, I recommend that you make your way over to the Swiss Chuchi Restaurant

With plenty of outdoor seating, you can continue to admire the medieval streets of the old town and enjoy a high quality people-watching session.

Best of all, you can do all of this while scarfing down one of the main things that people come all the way to Switzerland to try: fondue!

Along with a variety of other traditional Swiss dishes, you can’t go wrong with a meal here, especially when the customer service is top notch! 

After you’re fed and happy, continue your tour of the old town to walk off all that cheese! 

Grab a drink with meaning.

sign that says cabaret voltaire seit 1916 where the original site was

One of the most unique establishments in Zurich is Cabaret Voltaire

This is where the Dada movement was born, and ultimately the place that changed modern art forever!

The movement was a response to the end of World War I and it quickly spread across Europe, even reaching as far as New York City. 

Today, Cabaret Voltaire is a place where you can grab a drink at one of two one-of-a-kind bars and admire the work of artists past and present.

It’s a place to make new friends and challenge your perspective, but most importantly, it’s a place that continues to live on through history. 

Make your way over to Augustinergasse.

Augustinergasse street in Lindenhof quarter. Zurich. Switzerland, with colorful facades and swiss flags red with white plus signs on them

With an old town so big, you’re bound to miss a few side streets along the way.

The good news is that you have to start making your way back to where you started the day at some point.

Take your time and adventure through new nooks and crannies as you go. 

Eventually you’ll make your way over to Augustinergasse — and you’ll know when you get there because it is one of the most photographed places in Zurich!

flowers in front of a building on the famous street in zurich

The buildings seem to tower over the narrow street and while attached, every building has its own pattern of bright colors to tell it apart from the rest. 

Known as the most colorful street in Zurich, special additions like iron guild signs and wooden carved oriel windows make this place that much more picturesque. 

Eat Swiss pizza for dinner.

a pizza with cheese and pieces of bacon

Even after a day of walking, the fondue lunch has probably left you less than starving come dinner time.

But I assure you that the intoxicating smell coming from zur Schtund will help you make some room. 

Besides, this is the perfect opportunity to try some Swiss pizza!

Known as flammkuchen, it’s not technically pizza, but it is made up of thinly rolled bread dough, creme fraiche, cheese, a meat of some kind, and onions so…

And zur Schtund makes the best! Known for its flammkuchen and great evening atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to end your first day in Zurich. 

Day Two of Your Zurich Itinerary: A Day of Hidden Gems

Take a sunrise hike (or ride) up to Uetliberg Mountain.

Beautiful sunrise with a tree and a lake at the Zürich Uetliberg

You read that right. The city of Zurich actually has a mountain! 

Just a short streetcar ride from the center of Zurich, you can be hiking up Uetliberg Mountain in no time. 

Once you reach the top, you’ll be instantly rewarded with views of the city, Zurich Lake, and if you’re really lucky, the Swiss Alps out in the distance.

The only thing that could make this view better is the sunrise!

The trail is a little over a mile (2.1 km) to the top with an elevation gain of about 900 feet.

But if hiking on your city adventure isn’t what you signed up for, you’ll be happy to know that there is also a street car that takes you right to the top!

So why even bother hiking the trail? Well, the second you hit the trail you’ll find an oasis of peace and calm as you leave the hustle and bustle of the city. 

In fact, I was shocked by just how peaceful this hike was!

Fully engulfed by nature, there are portions of this trail where all you can see are trees and the beautiful Lake Zurich out in the distance. 

There’s also a firetower at the top that you can pay to climb for an even more spectacular view!

Reward yourself with a Swiss breakfast.

Pastry, selection assortment variety of different bakery, with croissant, swiss rolls, cake, eclair and others in a basket or a plate, baked desserts, catering or cafe banquet bakery table

This part requires a bit of planning but I promise it’s worth it. 

You’re going to want to get a really early start if you want to catch the sunrise, so you probably won’t have time to hit up a bakery before you head out. 

Instead, plan ahead by scoping out the bakeries the day before and securing a pastry before the shops close.

This way you can enjoy your delicious Swiss breakfast from the mountaintop! 

Explore the ruins of Burg Friesenberg.

castle ruins with graffiti on them outside of zurich
Photo Credit: Roland Zh, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There isn’t much left of the Friesenberg Castle (Burg), but the ruins that remain make for an interesting stop on your way back to the city center. 

The ruins can be seen by taking a quick detour on your hike back down or by taking a streetcar from Uetilberg.

Either way, it’ll take about 30 minutes to get here. 

Once you arrive, you’ll be welcomed by the crumbling walls and remaining arches of the mysterious castle.

To this day, it’s still unclear what this castle was used for. Still, based on the style of its architecture, it’s assumed that it was established around 1100. 

Feel free to wander around as you enjoy this hidden ruin, protected by trees but still managing to provide spectacular views of the city down below. 

Take the railway up to Felsenegg for lunch.

Felsenegg is a vantage point in the canton of Zürich

You’ve spent your morning up in the mountains so why not go even further with a railway car up to Felsenegg!

From here you can get a different, equally impressive view of Zurich and its lake.

But there’s something here that Uetilberg lacks…an awesome restaurant! 

A plate of Swiss food with fried food and cheese-smothered potato or pasta with lemon and a berry sauce

Restaurant Felsenegg has a massive outdoor patio so you can enjoy your lunch with an unmatched view of the city!

Opt for something light like a Felseneggplättli (similar to a charcuterie board) or go all out with a Swiss classic (did someone say Rosti??). 

Splurge on the Secret Doors tour. 

Beautiful Architecture at Fraumunster Church in Zurich City, Switzerland

Switzerland is expensive enough as it is but once I heard about the Secret Doors tour, I just couldn’t help myself. 

This tour does cost a pretty penny but it is usually free for kids (6 and under) and the larger your group size, the bigger the discount. 

With the price disclaimer out of the way… this tour is amazing.

There are three hidden doors in Zurich that can only be accessed with a special key!

On the tour, you get to visit places that most of the locals haven’t even seen before. 

Travel down into a tunnel that dates back to the Middle Ages, discover the walls of a royal palace, and head down into the basement of a modern-day building for a 13th century surprise! 

Plus, the tours are private, so you won’t have to worry about sharing this experience with a bunch of other people! 

Book your Secret Doors tour here!

Eat dinner with the locals.

cheese spaetzle with crunchy bits

One of the coolest areas in Zurich is Frau Gerolds Garten and it’s not just because the area is made up of industrial shipping containers.

This trendy hangout spot has everything from an outdoor eatery to a sustainable urban garden. 

Have a seat at a table (or on a shipping crate) and enjoy a seasonal dish complimented with the fresh herbs and vegetables that grow in the garden.

Then make your way over to one of the many shipping container bars to grab a drink. 

Approaching sunset?

Head up to the second level and find the green shipping container bar to enjoy an epic view with a drink in hand.

Alternately, go to the rooftop bar at the nearby Prime Tower for an even cooler experience! 

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