Luxurious Financial Capital of Switzerland With A Cultural Flare

Zurich is a beautiful city that offers plenty of attractions and activities for solo travelers. It is a city filled with art, history, the amazing shopping, as well as close to nature. Everyone can find something to suit their taste in this Swiss metropolis. Here are some ideas on how to spend 24 hours in Zurich as a solo traveler.

The city has long been known as the financial capital of Europe, but it also has rich history since the Roman times. Zurich, like Geneva Switzerland, is two of the most expensive cities in the world. While Zurich may not be known as a cultural city with a decent nightlife scene, it actually is undercover really cool. It shouldn’t be missed even if you only have 24 hours to spare. 

One way to do this is to make this a one-night stopover on your trip. Arrive early, take a bus or free walking tour in the morning. Keep your schedule flexible, but you may want to make reservations for two hot items on the visit, namely a visit to the Lindt Chocolate Factory or a great food tour with some Swiss Fondue as well as some other foodie hot spots. Below are some suggestions for all budgets visiting Zurich for 24 hours.A day or two in Zurich can give you a great introduction to the German speaking area of Switzerland. 

A Brief History of Zurich 

Zurich dates back to 15 BC and was founded by the Romans. It was part of a route that permitted trade to travel over the Alps. While we know it has Zurich, the Romans called it Turicum. If you tour the city some ruins remain under parts of the city. The city prospered in the 11th and 12th centuries, helped by the Fraumunster, which as a convent attracted many rich European princesses. 

In 1351, Zurich joined the Swiss Federation and during the 14th and 15th centuries, its territory was exclusively established for trade and money lending. Until the end of the Old Zurich War (1436-1450), it swayed between remaining with the Swiss Federation and Austria. Switzerland became an independent country in 1815, with its 1848 constitution not permitting them to enter any wars. Zurich remains the country’s largest city, with the largest airport in the country (with fantastic shopping), and its financial capital. 

Zurich Itinerary For One Day In Zurich 

The city is well-located in Central Switzerland and they say, is the heart of Europe with its beautiful city. Notably, you can get to Zurich by car, bus, train, or airplane with many airlines offering services. I arrived by plane to allow both visiting times that day, with a night stay, to allow a full day to make a 24-hour trip, although some may want to add a day depending on your interests.

Next, I looked into my top choices to visit in case they required a reservation. Lindt Chocolate is so popular it was sold out for a few days, so make sure you make reservations if you are a chocolate lover like me! (Luckily I did make it on a tour to get my supply of chocolates for my trip.) Also, it may depend on your budget, but various things are free like walking through the old town or around the lake, It also ma    


How to Get to Zurich Switzerland and “Where is Zurich”? 

Zurich is in Central Europe and a hub for many modes of transportation, making it a great and easy place to visit.

  • Main Zurich Train Station: You may find yourself coming to Zurich Hauptbahnhof (also called Zurich HB); it is the largest train station in Switzerland. It is about 6 miles from the airport in Zurich. Most local trains come through this station. I chose to buy a 24-hour transportation card called the Zurich Card City Pass. Notably, it can be purchased for a 24 or 72-hour timeframe and entitles you to travel on an unlimited 2nd class basis on any public transportation. You can buy it via the Zurich City Guide app or at the station. The price is reasonable and it does cover you on the river/boat, public transportation on the lake, as well as the funiculars like the Polybahn. The Polybahn connects the central square with the Polyterrasse via its historic red funicular originally built in 1889. It is only a short ride of a few minutes but is free and you can get the best views of Zurich. Check online for train hours since it is closed on holidays and Sundays. 
  • Zurich Airport (ZRH) is the major international airport in Switzerland and home to Swiss International Airlines. This is how I made it to Zurich, I also loved the airport with all its upscale stores and some great places to eat. The airport is a short 15-minute train ride from the City Centre. Notably, the city is pretty compact, especially the historic old town, so it is easy to see, 
The Central train station in Zürich Switzerland.

Best Place To Stay In Zurich For All Budgets 

I arrived in Zurich and planned to stay overnight so I can see more of this historic city. Being one of the most expensive cities in Europe, I am showing a few options below, but there are also some large chains here. 

  • FIVE Zurich Hotel – Luxury city resort @fivezurich

Hotel Hirschen: This 4-star hotel has a quaint charming ambiance while offering helpful amenities. It dates back to the 14th century and is one of the oldest hotels in the city. It is also well-located within a ½ mile from the Swiss National Museum. 

  • Motel One Zurich – This 3-star hotel offers a breakfast buffet, etc.


  • CitizenM Zurich: CitizenM is a hip boutique hotel located in the business district of Zurich. @citizenM
  • For a fun and hip hotel check out 25Hours Hotel Zurich Langstrasse is located close to the train station, and its’ decorations are inspired by the contrast between capitalism and the redlight district. The designer Werner Aisslinger created an artistic and fun hotel close to everything and perfect for a 24-hour stay in Zurich. If you aren’t staying there check out the NENI restaurant with an eclectic menu of Mediterranean cuisine. 
  • Old Town Otter Hostel: This former hotel is now a hostel. There are 45 beds in 9 dorms and 5 private rooms and it is well-located near the Old Town and Lake. It does have free coffee/tea and a small breakfast like toast and muesli.
  • By the Airport I also stayed at the Capsule Hotel. Check out the video below

Want to be a bougie backpacker Orr a solo traveler looking for a cool social experiment? Check out Swiss Capsule hotels they have one in Zurich, Basel, Luzurne and expanding so save this cool hotel for your next epic trip to @switzerlandtourism @visitzurich @baselswitzerland @vale.luzern #zurichairport #zurich_switzerland #zurichhotel #myswitzerland #switzerlandtravel #bougiebackpacker #budgettravel @travelsofsarahfay1

♬ original sound – kardashianshulu

Besides these options, there are the hotels including Marriott, Hilton, etc, as well as AirBnB, VRBO, etc.

Things to Do in Zurich Switzerland

Although it is known as an expensive city, there are various things to do in Zurich for all budget levels.

  • Swiss Food Tour: This was a fantastic food tour and this company offers lunchtime and evening tours. If you plan to take a tour, I would make a reservation, since some do sell out. If you want to experience an elevated foodie experience there are two options a private food tour like I took or an option for those looking to experience the food scene on a small group tour. My guide took me to places I would never have found on my own and also shared a range of both local cuisine and fun cocktail spots. The private tours can be catered to your interests and had a few special surprises. However, you will have to subscribe to my Youtube channel so you don’t miss the Swiss travel adventures. 
  • Archeological Windows Zurich- If you want to satisfy your inner Indiana Jones, check out the Archeological windows where you can get a key from the city in order to see the ancient roman ruins underground. I learned about this and got to try it out thanks to my amazing tour guide at Swiss Food Tours on the private tour. 

Take A Chocolate Tour

  • Lindt Home of Chocolate Tour: This self-guided tour takes about 2 hours. It was awesome, but I almost missed it so make sure you reserve in advance. I particularly loved the all-you-can-drink chocolate, learning about the history of chocolate in Switzerland, as well as getting to take home plenty of samples. They also have the world’s largest retail Lindt store. This is a must if you are a chocolate lover! If you go on the self guided tour it is about $16 USD plus the cost of taking public transit. However, there is also a sweet small group tour that includes a tour, boat trip on Lake Zurich, and transportation if you don’t feel like going solo.

Explore the History, Culture Art of Zurich, Switzerland

  • Walking Tours: There are both free tours (Free Walking Tours Zurich) and paid tours. It’s a great way to learn more about the area, especially the history and culture of the city. Also, this is the perfect activity if you are solo traveling to meet other travelers.
  • Kunsthaus Zürich: If you love art you won’t want to skip the Kunsthaus which is the largest art museum in Switzerland. It is also FREE on Wednesdays (except for special exhibits). Enjoy works and collections from the 13th century to the present and learn more about Dada art, the form of art that was born in Zurich at Cabaret Voltaire.
    • What is Dada? It is an art form that formed during the First world war, and its main purpose was to challenge social norms of society and make art that would shock, confuse or outrage people. Dadaism’s main purpose was to challenge the social norms of society, and purposefully make art that would shock, confuse, or outrage people. Here you can explore the largest collection of DADA art in the world.
Kunthaus in Zurich is the largest art museum in Switzerland.

Explore Old Town Zurich

  • Zurich’s Old Town known as Altstadt: Stroll the streets of historic Zurich and its lovely buildings, stores, and restaurants. It is along both sides of the Limmat River and it’s free to stroll the area. This area encompasses everything built in Zurich before 1893. 
  • Roman Ruins: In, under, and around Zurich are some old Roman ruins since it was once inhabited by the Romans. There is one free site called the Archeological Window in the Lindenhof cellar. While it is free through the Town Hall, you need to leave a credit card as a deposit so they get back the key to it. There are also other locations like the opera house. It just depends on your time and level of interest.
  • River Transport or Boat at Lake Zurich: If you have a Zurich Card pass, you can use public transport on the river or the lake. Zurich’s Old town hugs the Limmet river on both sides, and is something to witness by water. Luckily it is included in your day pass for public transit!
Lake Zurich is great to take a boat tour and you must at least see it if you have one day in Zurich.

More Things To Do In One Day In Zurich

  • Ride on the Polybahn (Funclaire): For a great view of the city, go up the furnclair. It goes up to have a great view of the city. It is located near the universities and you can have a drink or food up there, or make your own picnic..
  • Swiss National Museum: This unique building was constructed in 1898 similar to a French Renaissance chateau. Check opening hours, but is generally open from 10 am-5 pm Tuesday through Sunday, although it is open until 7 pm on Thursday. It costs ten Swiss francs. Although it’s free for kids under 16 and Zurich Card holders.
  • Zurich Opera House: The opera house is a lovely building, housing the Zurich Opera since 1891 and It is also home to the Zurich Ballet. So you may enjoy a performance or just see this grand building.
  • Retail Therapy – walk the Bahnhofstrasse: This is the most exclusive avenue for luxury shopping. Stroll the avenue.

   The Four Churches of Zurich Old Town

Old Town Zurich is easy to explore even if you have one day in Zurich.
  • Grossmunster Church: This twin-tower romanesque protestant church is an icon in the city. It is free to go in but there is a cost to climb the tower, 
  • Fraumunster Church: Another iconic church with a copper-topped spire. The church does have a crypt museum and stained glass by Marc Chagall. 
  • St.Peter’s Church: This protestant church is one of the four main churches in the Old Town area of Zurich, This church was consecrated in 1706, the bells date back to the 1880s, and the church was restored in the 1970s. Oddly the church steeple is owned by Zurich, while the rest is owned by the parish. The church’s clock is very large, having the largest face in all of Europe.
  • Predigerkirche Church: Explore the 4th oldest church in Zurich’s Old Town. Predigerkirche is known for it’s high steeple and being the highest edifice in Zurich.

My advice is to plan out your route saving the locations on Google Maps so you maximize the use of your time. 

Food in Zurich, Switzerland – Restaurants, Cafes, and Cheap Eats In Zurich

Given I had a fantastic food tour that takes 3-4 hours of your day. I decided to eat some smaller meals in cafes too. The Swiss Food Tour I mentioned above was superb. There are also so many restaurants and cafes to try, including many with Michelin stars. You can’t forget to try the Cheese Fondue and Rosti (fried potato pancake), Here are some suggestions of places to try:  

  • Cafe & Conditorei 1842: This cafe offers great homemade chocolate and pastries, and is a cozy baroque setting. There is also a terrace depending on the weather, (Hint: I had the best hot chocolate here, it’s a bit more but I enjoyed it. Do yourself a favor and get the hot chocolate here!
Eat at Cafe and Conditorei if you only have one day in Zurich the hot chocolate and decor will be worth it.
  • Raphael’s: Raphael’s has great handmade chocolates, coffee, and ice cream. So many great options. I am a coffee fanatic, so I loved recharging my energy with a great latte here.
  • Le Dezeley for Fondue! I was lucky to find this place on the Swiss food tour and this place rivaled the fondue spot I found in Geneva. 
If you only have one day in Zurich or 24 hours this is the perfect guide for solo travelers and for travelers of all budgets.
  • Best View and cocktails (or mocktails): Jules Verne Panorama Bar is great for creative cocktails or cocktails and has the best view of the city all year round. It is located in an old observatory, which makes the experience extra special.
  • Best Bakery: Bäckerei Vohdin is the oldest bakery in Zurich selling traditional sweets and baked goods. It is cash only. I was lucky to try it thanks to the kindness of a stranger who bought me two sweets to try before I left on the plane. It is also really close to Old Town Otter Hostel so perfect for budget-friendly breakfast or lunch!


Zurich Switzerland is a culturally rich city, and not just the banking capital of Switzerland. Many tourists skip Zurich to see other picturesque Swiss towns or head to the Swiss Alps, but it is definitely worth at least 24 hours. Being one of the major hubs in Europe, it is very easy to reach and explore in a one or two-day stopover. Zurich maybe expensive, but there are still things to do in a day in Zurich for all budgets as well as solo travelers. While planning your trip, remember you may want to make reservations ahead of time, especially for the Lindt Chocolate Museum and food tours. 

If you are visiting for a short amount of time just use your card because Switzerland uses a different currency from the rest of Europe. Switzerland uses the Swiss franc.

In conclusion, there are many things to enjoy in Zurich from food and nightlife to cultural experiences and museums. It may be one of the most expensive cities in Europe, but there are plenty of things to do in Zurich for all budgets and it is a place you should not skip if it is close to your other European adventures. 

Fun Zurich Fact

There are over 1,200 fountains in Zurich. Bring a reusable water bottle because the water is drinkable.

Also, there are four official languages in Switzerland including Swiss German, French, and Italian, and about 60,000 people speak Romansch. Zurich is located in the Swiss German section of Switzerland so be sure to brush up on a few phrases although most people speak English in the city center. 

What would you not miss in Zurich if you only had 24 hours? Save this for later to help plan your trip!

Other Resources:

Check out some of my other blog posts on Switzerland:

Zermatt Winter Travel Guide

Skiing In Switzerland On A Budget For Digital Nomads

Geneva Winter Travel Guide

All Rights Reserved by Sarah Errafay

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If you only have one day in Zurich or 24 hours this is the perfect guide for solo travelers and for travelers of all budgets.

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