Switzerland’s largest city has such good transport links that it’s an excellent hub from which to explore the rest of the country. Yet with a sizeable Old Town and many pedestrianised streets, it’s a great place to visit in its own right. If you have 24 hours in Zurich, read on for our tips on how to make the most of your time.
24 Hours in Zurich – What to See
If arriving by train, start at the train station with a visit to the helpful Tourist Office inside the train station to get your bearings. A few minutes away, you’ll find the Landesmuseum or Swiss National Museum. It has over 820,000 exhibits, presented in a really interesting way. One of my favourite exhibits was the giant rotating wheel displaying iconic Swiss items such as a watch, cow bells and cheese.
After the Landesmuseum, you may now be feeling hungry so head for a quick and hearty lunch at Zeughauskeller. This 15th century building was an arsenal where weapons were stored – according to legend, William Tell’s crossbow was issued here.
Admire the striking Art Nouveau architecture of Grieder Bongénie luxury department store on Bahnhofstrasse. It has a particularly lovely roof terrace with a great view of Paradeplatz.
There are also some very quaint streets in the surrounding area.
Whilst not far away, you can visit Grossmünster meaning Great Minster, an impressive Protestant church with beautiful cloisters dating from the 12th century AD.
During your walk, you’ll no doubt come across a few decorative water fountains – Zurich has over 3000 of them!
One of Zurich’s hidden gems is tucked away inside the Police Station. If you ask nicely, they may well let you have a peek at their lobby, also known as the “hall of tiny flowers”. It was created by Augusto Giacometti, a relation of renowned artist Alberto Giacometti in the early 1900s.
Close by, you’ll find the Urania Sternwarte or Observatory which stands 157 feet high and offers wonderful views. In addition to telescopes, it also houses the Jules Verne bar.
Walk up the pedestrianized cobbled streets to Lindenhof hill for equally panoramic views over Zurich’s river and to the university quarter in the background. The University of Zurich is the largest in Switzerland with over 26,000 students and some very illustrious alumni such as Albert Einstein. Lindenhof itself was an important prehistoric, Roman, and medieval site and is listed as a Swiss heritage site of national significance.
The Hedwig Fountain dates from 1688 and was designed to commemorate the brave Zurich women who defended Zurich during the siege by the Duke of Habsburg in 1292.
Once you’ve descended back to the centre, make time to visit some of Zurich’s best chocolate shops, including Läderach and Confiserie Sprüngli, renowned for their Luxemburgerli macaroons…
and not forgetting Teuscher, the first chocolatier to create champagne truffles.
Another hidden gem on Neumarkt is a model of Zurich dating from the 1800s.
24 Hours in Zurich – Where to Eat
For a pit stop in the Old Town, Café Schober on Napfgasse takes some beating. Spread over several floors and with a charming little terrace, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a slice of cake and coffee. On nearby Spiegelgasse stands the Cabaret Voltaire, an arts centre and café where the Dada art movement began in 1916.
For dinner, the historic Oepfelchammer restaurant nearby poses a unique challenge…diners are welcome to try their luck at sliding through the ceiling beams! Many have tried including acrobats and many have failed.
Getting to Zurich
Zurich airport has direct flights to 127 destinations in 60 countries. From the airport it’s just ten minutes by cab, train or tram into the centre. It’s well worth investing in the ZurichCARD, which gives you unlimited second-class travel on all public transportation in Zurich and the surrounding areas. It also gives you free or reduced admission to most of Zurich’s museums and 50% off public city tours organised by Zurich Tourism.
Where to Stay
For business travellers flying into Zurich airport, the Kameha Grand is an excellent choice. With a location less than 10 minutes from the airport and an impressive array of events spaces, it has a quite extraordinary interior design. From the rocking horses in the lobby, to the Moroccan shisha lounge and mouthwatering desserts, the attention to detail is fabulous.
Our “Gentleman’s Suite” has a James Bond theme and came complete with its own roulette wheel! Even the bathroom doors were designed to look like safe doors.
The spa on the top floor of the hotel has two saunas set at different heats, a steam room, chill out area with mesmerizing fire display and an outside area for when the weather is good. There’s also a very well equipped gym if you’re feeling energetic.
Breakfast was one of the best that I’ve come across, with a huge choice including healthy juices and an array of hot and cold dishes. Kameha’s motto is “Life is Grand” and staying here certainly gave us that impression!
Whether you’re in Zurich for business or pleasure or both, the city’s compact size makes it easy to explore and its many attractions will definitely make you want to return.
Have you ever visited and what would you recommend seeing for someone who has only 24 hours in Zurich?