2 Days in Zurich: The Ultimate Zurich Itinerary

by Jan 21, 2021Stopovers & Layovers, Switzerland, Weekend Getaways0 comments

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, and its the country’s financial capital, often associated with luxury and opulence. However, as I’ve been living here for over 15 years, I’ve come to love the perfect combination of history, modernity, and the Swiss Alps’ distinct beauty right on my doorstep. Thus, creating the ideal Zurich Itinerary for 2 days in Zurich was not just easy; it was a lot of fun !!

Despite Zurich being smaller than most capital cities worldwide, it’s home to many world-class museums, restaurants and experiences fit for just about any kind of traveller. It’s also an excellent starting point if you’re planning to explore the rest of Switzerland during your trip.

There are many reasons why this city is consistently ranked to offer the best quality of life in the world. Here is how you can take advantage of them in two days.

Zurich History

  • The first settlers in Zurich can be traced over 5,000 years ago, but “Zurich” was coined by Roman settlers when they established a customs station on Lindenhof in 15BC.
  • Zurich joined the Old Swiss Confederacy in 1351 and fought for territorial expansion all around Lake Zurich to the Rhine River. The arrival of Napoleon turned Zurich and its territories into a Helvetic Confederation.
  • Huldrych Zwingli, a priest at the Grossmünster, opposed the mercenary service and initiated the Reformation in 1520. When the Peace Treaty of Westphalia was signed in 1648, Zurich was granted independence from the German Nation’s Holy Roman Empire.
  • Zurich transformed into a capital city of machinery during the age of industrialization in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Then, after World War II, most of the workforce thrived in the service sector. Restaurants, bars, galleries and shops overtook former factory sites.
  • Today, Zurich’s amassed wealth, territories, and trendy districts consistently keep it ranked as one of the world’s cities with the best quality of life.
zurich history

Image by Hebi B. from Pixabay 

Getting to Zurich

Zurich is centrally located in Europe and can easily be reached from surrounding countries such as Germany, Austria, France, and Italy.

Plane

Zurich Airport is the largest international airport in Switzerland. It’s 13 kilometres north of central Zurich, and its ground transportation links to pretty much everywhere in the country. For European countries farther away, it might be cheaper and faster to catch a flight than a train. Internationally, Zurich’s busiest routes come from Dubai, New York, Tel Aviv, and Singapore.

Bus

If you’re on a budget, FlixBus is the best option. There are relatively affordable tickets to Zurich from any major European city, but this will eat up at least a day of your itinerary.

Getting Around Zurich

Zurich is an easy city to walk around in, or you can also use city bikes for free called Züri Rollt (Zurich Rolls in English). Otherwise, you can take the tram on a full-day pass or a 2-hour ticket.

getting to zurich - Places to visit in zurich in 2 days
getting to zurich - Places to visit in zurich in 2 days

Best Places To Stay In Zurich 

Green Marmot Capsule Hotel

Zurich’s hostels and motels can still be relatively costly. However, the Green Marmot Capsule Hotel takes inspiration from Japan’s capsule hotels and offers nightly stays for as low as USD 65 per night, and it’s located right in Old Town.

Altstadt Hotel

The Altstadt Hotel in historic Old Town is a favourite among visitors. It’s a minute’s walk from many of Old Town’s landmarks and sits adjacent to a tram stop.

The Dolder Grand Hotel

There’s nothing more iconic when talking about accommodations in Zurich than The Dolder Grand Hotel. It sits on a hill above Zurich, granting guests majestic city views. It also houses The Restaurant, awarded two Michelin stars and 19 GaultMillau points, and the more trendy Saltz Restaurant awarded 14 GaultMillau points.

2 Days In Zurich Itinerary

Day 1

Limmat River Cruise

River cruises are a great and relaxing way to find your bearings in a new city. The Limmat River Cruise starts from the Swiss National Museum, up the river to Lake Zurich, then back again. It operates from April to October and passes through the Old Town for a unique perspective of the guild houses, Town Hall, the Lindenhof, and the Grossmunster.

limmat river cruise

Photo: Anna Timbrook

Café Elena

One of the best cafe’s in Zurich is Cafe Elena, a classic breakfast & brunch restaurant spot for both the young and old. They offer everything from classic breakfasts to unusual dishes with the goal of making brunch a real experience. The food not only tastes delicious but looks exceptionally beautiful.

They are open 365 days a year and serve up delicious brunch dishes every day from 9 to 5. A 2-minute walk from Zurich’s main train station and just a few meters from the Old Town.

They also offer a variety of vegetarian and vegan alternatives and all of our meat products are Halal.

https://www.cafeelena.ch/

Swiss National Museum

After the cruise, enter the Swiss National Museum and see an extensive collection of cultural history, artwork and craftsmanship. Considered one of the best museums in Zurich, the architecture alone is worth the visit. The original building was constructed in the historicism style but reminiscent of a fairytale castle. However, in the inner courtyard, you will find a modern new building. 

Arguably, one of the best museums in Zurich, the museum store sells high-quality souvenirs and products made and designed by Swiss artisans. Audio guides are available in various languages, either on a rental device or via the “National Museum” smartphone app.

swiss national museum - best museums in zurich

Old Town

Exploring the Altstadt or Zurich’s Old Town is a must as it’s one of the most beautiful places in Zurich. It’s excellently preserved, lined with medieval cobbled streets and facades. Head to the pedestrian-free Niederdorf, which is filled with stores during the day and transforms into a nightlife district in the evening.

old town - zurich itinerary

Grossmünster church and the Münsterbrücke

The Grossmünster church is a Romanesque-style Protestant church built in the 13th Century. It’s one of the city’s most iconic landmarks and one of the most popular attractions in Zurich.

One of the best places to visit in Zurich is the nearby is the Münsterbrücke bridge to soak in the views of the city on both sides of the Limmat River.

Grossmünster

Photo: Anna Timbrook

Fraumunster

The Fraumünster church, as well as the Grossmünster, are two of the greatest landmarks of Zurich who’s convent once held great power in Zurich. Its most striking treasures are the stained glass windows designed by Augusto Giacometti and Marc Chagall. The cloister has a series of frescos by Paul Bodmer.

Fraumunster - Zurich zurich

Photo: Anna Timbrook

Kirche St. Peter

The St. Peter church in Zurich has the biggest clock face in Europe measuring 8.7m in diameter. Interestingly, the church tower was used as a fire watch post in 1911. The church still has its original 9th-century foundation walls – still seen today beneath the chancel. also, there are five bells dating back to 1880 in the tower – the largest one weighing in at over six tons. 

Kirche St. Peter - Best places zurich

Lindenhof Hill

See where it all began. From being the center of the Roman Empire’s expansion, it is now a public square overlooking Old Town.

Lindenhof Hill - 	zurich 2 day itinerary

Bahnhofstrasse

Dubbed the most expensive real estate in Europe for the best shopping in Zurich, the Bahnhofstrasse is the high-end shopping district of Zurich. You may not be here for shopping, but the window displays and electric energy are quite the experience.

Zurich 2 day itinerary

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2 Days In Zurich Itinerary

Day 1

Uetliberg

The Uetliberg is just a 20-minute train ride from the city. It’s an easy hike to the top and grants panoramic views of all of Zurich.

Uetliberg - 48 hours in zurich

Badi

Cool down after a hike in a local “Badi” (aka swimming pool around Zurich. These are set up either in the lake or the river, decked out with wooden docks or use the nearby grass. At dusk, some of the badis turns into a cocktail bar for a nightcap.

Badi - Beautiful places in zurich

Photo: Anna Timbrook

Opernhaus

When the Aktientheater burnt down in 1890 a new Stadttheater Zürich (municipal theatre) was built by the Viennese architects Fellner & Helmer. It was used as one of the city’s main performance spaces for drama, opera, and musical events until 1925 when it then remained Opernhaus Zürich.

Best museums in zurich

Ganymed & Blumenuhr Bürkliplatz

The Ganymed sculpture, completed by Hermann Hubacher, has decorated the Bürkliterrasse since 1952. According to Greek mythology, Ganymede was abducted by Zeus and taken up to the top of Mount Olympus. The statue, with an outstretched hand, symbolizes man’s longing to ascend Mount Olympus. 

Ganymed, Blumenuhr Bürkliplatz
Ganymed, Blumenuhr Bürkliplatz - 48 hours in zurich

Lake Zurich

The banana-shaped Lake Zurich is surrounded by the Albis and Zimmerberg hills and the hills’ Pfannenstiel chain. The lake is bordered by the cantons of Zurich, St.Gallen and Schwyz. Back in the days, the lake was a route for traffic and transport, but today it’s a popular place for excursions, with the homes along its shores in high demand.

lake zurich

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Beautiful Places In Zurich: Outside The City Centre

Kirche Enge

The Enge church is considered one of Switzerland’s most important Neo-Renaissance church building. It was built 125 years ago, from 1892-94, according to the plans of the architect Alfred Friedrich Bluntschli. It stands prominently on moraine hill with views of the lake basin and the city of Zurich.

Museum Rietberg

The Museum Rietberg is one of the largest art museums in Switzerland. It focuses on the traditional and contemporary arts and cultures of Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Oceania. With about 23,000 objects and 37,000 ethnographic photographs on public display, either in the museum’s galleries or in its open storeroom.

Museum Rietberg

Best Day Trips From Zurich

Day Trip Option – Bern

Although there are numerous day trips, you could take from Zurich, the one-hour train ride to the Swiss Capital and explore its Old Town listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is more relaxed, but the sights and iconic landmarks are just as breathtaking.

For a two-day trip to Zurich, the possibilities are just endless. There’s so much to see around the city and in neighbouring towns. There are over 500 museums and galleries to explore and some of the world’s best restaurants to sample. However, a quick trip might be what you need to convince you to stay longer next time!

bern

Photo: Anna Timbrook

Anna Timbrook

Anna Timbrook

Author

Anna was born to travel the world having studied languages all her life. Although she has travelled the world, she now calls Switzerland home and spends her time writing about her experiences on Expert World Travel

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