PLANNING SOME AMAZING ZURICH DAY TRIPS
- 1 PLANNING SOME AMAZING ZURICH DAY TRIPS
- 2 BEST DAY TRIPS FROM ZURICH
- 3 Final Thoughts On The Best Day Trips From Zurich
Are you wondering about the best day trips from Zurich? Then this post is for you as I am sharing my favorite Zurich day tours with you.
If you’re heading on a Switzerland vacation anytime soon, the financial capital is the ideal place to base yourself. The city may have a reputation for being luxurious and rich. But the surrounding areas offer picturesque scenery and incredible adventures – which is why Zurich day trips are so popular. Many stunning places are within a quite short distance from Zurich. And here I am – listing my favorite Zurich excursions for you.
Before you book or plan your day trips, here are a few things to know.
Where to Stay in Zurich For Easy Day Trips
Zurich is not a cheap destination, but it is a great base to explore the north of Switzerland.
- Read my Zurich accommodation guide and find the perfect place to stay while you explore the surroundings.
- I highly recommend staying close to the main train station if you use public transportation. Most train connections for the day tours will start from the Zurich train station in the city center.
- Luxury: Zurich has some great luxury hotels which are amazing to get spoiled and enjoy life. Baur au Lac is one of the best-rated luxury hotels close to the city center.
- Mid-Range: Arlette am Hauptbahnhof is one of the best-rated mid-range hotels close to the city center.
- Budget: Warning, there are not many budget hotels in Zurich. This one is a good-rated hostel in Zurich. I stayed there on one of my recent trips without my dog, and I think it offers good value for money.
How to Get Around For Zurich Day Tours
- It is easy to do your day trips by train and bus. Public transportation in Switzerland, in general, is just superb. It is reliable, safe, on time, and let’s not forget the window views you will often have.
- Check out the Swiss Travel Pass if you plan to use public transportation. You can use buses and trains without any extra costs. It also includes almost all boat cruises in the country, and you will get a discount on cable cars/funiculars for mountain excursions.
- Otherwise, rent a car and drive to the places mentioned below because driving in Switzerland is also fun. The places mentioned here can easily be traveled to by car. It gives you more flexibility. But parking can be tricky in some places if they are very popular. Also, you should be fine with driving in the mountains. Streets can be narrow, and there will be a lot of uphill and downhill driving.
- Driving in Zurich can be more stressful than driving outside the city center – if you get around by car, choose a hotel outside the city center.
- If you are more than 2 people traveling, it might be more budget-friendly to get around by car. But if the budget is not important or you travel solo, use public transportation.
- There are also guided tours available for some of the Zurich day trips. This might be a good alternative for some of you.
P.s. In case you plan a road trip to Switzerland, check out my road trip itinerary.
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BEST DAY TRIPS FROM ZURICH
Ready to hear about my favorite day tours? Then here they are.
Rhine Falls and Schaffhausen / Stein am Rhein
- By car: ± 30 – 40 minutes
- By train: ±1 hour
The Rhine Falls near the German border make a great trip from Zurich. So far, I have visited these spectacular falls four or five times. And with every visit, I have enjoyed it more.
After all, the falls are impressive – it is the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Surprised to hear that? Yes, many people expect the biggest waterfalls to be in Iceland.
- The Rhine Falls are not very high, with a height of 23 meters, but over a width of 150 meters, up to 700’000 liters of water fall over the rocks every second!
- They are great to visit on both sunny and rainy days (the falls were crazy once when I visited a day after some really, really heavy rain).
There are two main ways to see the waterfalls: From the Southern bank (Schloss Laufen) or from the Northern bank (Schlossli Wörth).
- To visit the platform, you need to get to Schloss Laufen. There is no parking fee, but you’ll pay about five euros to get on the visitor’s platform and see the waterfalls from above.
- To do a boat tour and maybe even get to the rock in front of the waterfalls, you need to get to it via Schlössli Wörth. There are different prices for different tours – starting at about five euros.
- My tip is to see the Rhine Falls from both sides. If you travel by public transportation, it does not really matter which one you start. If you travel by car, start at Schloss Laufen. You can park your car for free and get to the platform. Then walk to the other side of Schossli Wörth and enjoy the boat trip. The walk is about 30-45 minutes, but it is a beautiful walk. There you can relax, have a snack or drink at the restaurant.
There are some restaurants and cafes on both sides, so if you visit, plan in at least 2-4 hours for the Rhine Falls, so you are not stressed. Click here to read more about the Rhine Falls – how to get there, how much to pay etc.
Afterward, it’s time to visit either Schaffhausen or Stein am Rhine. Both are charming towns close by. You can take the train to get to either town. Stein am Rhein takes less than 1 hour by train, and Schaffhausen takes less than 15 minutes.
Schaffhausen is an extremely colorful town in very close proximity to the Rhine Falls. You can combine a city trip (or better town trip) with the Rhine Falls.
- I recommend visiting Munot, a hilltop fortress in Schaffhausen
- Explore the colorful old town and the buildings with their very interesting facades.
- Stroll the Rhine River and have dinner here at one of the restaurants or in the old town before heading back to Zurich.
- Click here for tips on what to do in Schaffhausen.
STEIN AM RHEIN
Stein am Rhein impresses with the most stunning facades that I have probably ever seen.
Despite its small size, it is stuffed with gorgeous houses which have unbelievable architecture.
- The facades are fascinating, and you do not have to search for long to find them.
- However, even if you do take your time, the town will not take more than a few hours.
- After strolling in the town center, you could spend some time walking along the Rhine River or even do a boat tour.
- Or you can check out Hohenklingen Castle – the views are amazing (as you can see in the picture above),
- You can also visit one of the many vineyards in the area and do some wine tasting.
- After dinner in the old town, you can head back to Zurich.
- Check out my quick Stein am Rhine guide for more information.
- By car: ± 2 hours
- By Train: ±1 hour
Switzerland’s capital, Bern (Zurich might be the financial capital, but it is not the official one), is a beautiful city southwest of Zurich.
I once read that Bern is one of the most beautiful capitals in the world. I definitely agree that it is a gorgeous place to visit and it should be on every Switzerland itinerary.
- The Old Town of Bern – all declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is quite big, so visit all the interesting buildings there.
- For the best views in Bern, visit the Rosengarten.
- Oh, and do not forget to say hi to the bears. Bears? Yes, a small bear family of three live in Bern next to the Aare river. Do not worry; the area is fenced off, so you stay at a safe distance.
- And stroll along the Aare River – which is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful rivers here in Europe.
- Click here to read more about my tips for Bern.
Kleine Scheidegg and Jungfraujoch
- By car: ± 3 hours
- By train: ± 4.5 hours
Getting up Jungfraujoch is probably the most recommended tour in Switzerland. What makes a trip to Jungfraujoch so special? The Jungfraujoch is a saddle connecting two major 4000ers of the Bernese Alps: the Jungfrau and the Mönch. It lies at an elevation of 3,463 meters above sea level and is directly overlooked by the rocky prominence of the Sphinx. Here you will also find the highest train station in Europe.
A day trip to the one and only Jungfraujoch, the place where snow is guaranteed throughout the year, is one of the best trips from Zurich. So far, I have been up to the Jungfraujoch three times. Yep.
Each time, I did the trips while I stayed in the region of Interlaken, but it is also doable also as a day trip from Zurich. It will definitely take a full day, and you’ll be sitting a lot on the train/trams/gondolas. But, believe me, train riding in Switzerland is a highlight, and so you’ll have amazing views.
There are a few more things to see up Jungfraujoch.
- These include an Alpine museum, an Ice Palace, and you can even do a few more winter sporty activities once up there.
- There are also tons of different restaurants to suit every taste (even Indian food is available)!
- Also, the train stops several times along the way. Often the five-minute break gives you enough time to hop off and have a quick look around.
- You might like to stay longer at the Kleine Scheidegg. It is a mountain pass at an elevation of 2,061 m, situated below and between the Eiger and Lauberhorn peaks. It is a popular stop for a break as it is really beautiful. Actually, many actually hike up here and then take the train up to Jungfraujoch. If you do a day trip from Zurich, then hiking here might take too much of your time. After a stop here, take the train up to Jungfraujoch.
Jungfraujoch Tour Packages: Here are different tour packages – click on the links to find out more about the prices.
- Interlaken to Jungfraujoch — you can get to Interlaken individually and then use this ticket to get up to Jungfraujoch. Click here to find out about the prices.
- Traveling from Zurich to Jungfraujoch? Click here to find out about prices.
- With a Swiss Travel Pass, you get a discount. Click here to find out about the tour with a Swiss Travel Pass.
Mount Pilatus and Lucerne
- By car: ± 40 minutes (to Lucerne)
- By train: ± 5 hours (to the mountain)
Though Lucerne is beautiful, please do not skip the mountains close by and visit at least one of them, e.g., Mount Pilatus.
I was determined to write a bad review about my trip to Mount Pilatus, but now I recommend that you go and visit this gorgeous place. Why did I want to write something negative? I visited, and at the ticket shop I found out that the waiting line was two hours (!). So, that was quite a disappointment.
BUT I am happy that I still went up because my trip to Mount Pilatus was one of the highlights. I am sure that you will enjoy it as much as I did. I went on a very busy day, and I do not think the lines are always that long. It was so great, I visited again in the winter months – luckily, the lines are not always that long.
I would like to emphasize the beautiful surroundings and the option to have a snack in one of the several restaurants or just the option to chill at Lake Lucerne while waiting for the cogwheel.
- Up on Mount Pilatus, the views from there of Lake Lucerne and the Alps were beyond amazing.
- On a sunny day, you can spend all day there doing all kinds of things – including some great activities like paragliding, hiking, people watching, eating, and so on.
Lucerne is a beautiful city and is considered to be one of the most gorgeous places in Switzerland. Depending on how much time you spend on Mount Pilatus, you could do a short trip to Lucerne. It takes less than 30 minutes by train or (much longer by boat) to get from the valley station of Mount Pilatus to Lucerne.
- Pass the famous wooden Chapel Bridge with amazing views of the area.
- Stroll along Lake Lucerne (Lake Zurich is pretty, but Lake Lucerne is even more stunning).
- Explore the old town of Lucerne and see all the beautiful, beautiful buildings.
- You´ll find plenty of cafes and restaurants to dine in before you end your day trip and head back to Zurich!
You can either get to Lucerne and book the Mount Pilatus ticket individually or buy packages from Zurich.
Lucerne and Mount Rigi
- By car: ± 1 hour (to Lucerne)
- By Train: ± 1 hour (to Lucerne)
Mount Pilatus is great, but alternatively, you can visit Mount Rigi and Lucerne as a day trip from Zurich. If you opt for these two places, I suggest starting in Lucerne. Why? You will find out later.
As mentioned above, Lucerne is a stunning town. It is easily accessible from Zurich, and I cannot name another town nestled in more stunning scenery than Lucerne.
- See the famous wooden Chapel Bridge and enjoy the amazing views of the area.
- Stroll along Lake Lucerne (if you think Lake Zurich is charming, you will love Lake Lucerne is even more).
- Visit the old town and see the beautiful buildings before you visit the Lion Monument.
- More on all the attractions are in my Lucerne travel guide.
- Have lunch at one of the cafes and restaurants lined up at Lake Lucerne before you continue your trip.
- Hop on a boat and cruise Lake Lucerne. The Swiss Travel Pass covers your boat cruise. Get off at Vitznau boat station and get up Mount Rigi. If you do not enjoy boat cruises, take a train to Vitznau station.
At Vitznau station, you can get up via the cogwheel train to enjoy majestic views from Mount Rigi. The ride takes about 30 minutes, and it could take even longer if you ask me. These window views are top-notch.
Mount Rigi is one of the best places to see near Zurich.
- The view is great, the ride up is great, and it feels like everything is great.
- There is not as much to do up Mount Rigi as on Mount Pilatus, but you can do a few longer or shorter hikes around the area.
- There is also a restaurant and a spa area.
- I hope you bring some snacks with you because I suggest having dinner here at Mount Rigi. One of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen in Switzerland was from Mount Rigi.
- It takes less time getting up compared to Mount Pilatus and given its beauty, it is an amazing day trip!
- Good news: It is free to visit with a Swiss Travel Pass in 2021.
- Click here to find out about prices for a 4-day Swiss Travel Pass.
- Click here to find out about prices for an 8-day Swiss Travel Pass.
- By car: ± 1.5 hours
- By Train: ± 2 hours
While I am writing this, my heart is shattering into a thousand pieces. I recommend visiting Interlaken for days, weeks, and months. I am obsessed! And now, all I do is a recommendation for a day trip from Zurich.
The region of Interlaken, located in the Bernese Oberland, is magnificent. I might even say that the Interlaken region is the most beautiful region in the world. Yes, it is if you take my personal opinion as fact. However, if your base is in Zurich and you cannot spend weeks here, you have to do at least a day trip to Interlaken. Doing a day trip to Jungfraujoch is one option (which takes a full day), but another option would be to visit many places within one day in Interlaken.
What to do in Interlaken? Here are some of my ideas:
- Visit St. Beatus Caves and the Sirgriswil panorama bridge and do a Lake Thun boat cruise.
- Do a mountain excursion to Brienzer Rothorn and do a boat cruise on Lake Brienz.
- Get on Schynigge Platte – another phenomenal excursion.
- Visit Lauterbrunnen and do something adventurous (Interlaken is the most popular place for adrenaline junkies).
- Or explore the cute town of Thun with its gorgeous castles.
- There are so many activities to do in and around Interlaken. In one day, you cannot see that much, but better a little bit of Interlaken than nothing, right? Check out all my tips for Interlaken.
- By car: ± 1.5 hours
- By Train: ± 2 hours
When I visited Flims for the first time, I was astonished… Flims is often overlooked, even though it makes a great day trip from Zurich.
I had heard about several of the lakes in Flims and their beauty! So, when I visited I fell head over heels in love with the area. I have revisited it in the winter and it seems, the lake has become much more popular these days with foreign visitors.
- The best thing about Flims is that there are three gorgeous sights that you can visit with only one easy hike. Yes, it’s true! So, for lazy people who like efficiency, this is a pretty important aspect and comes in quite handy. If you start from the mountain top, you will see Lake Cauma, then the Rhine Gorge, and then Lake Cresta. This hike takes about an hour or so. Plan some time for breaks and time on the lakes.
- There is an entry fee to spend time at Lake Cauma and Lake Cresta (read more about it here). But it’s worth it if you like to spend time directly at the lakes or even swim in them.
Appenzellerland (The Aescher Mountain Hut and Appenzell)
- By car: ± 1.5 hours
- By train: ± 2 hours (± 3 hours to Wasserauen Station)
EBENALP MOUNTAIN AND THE AESCHER
Appenzellerland is a beautiful canton in the German-speaking part of Switzerland and is, in my opinion, often overlooked even though the Aescher has become world-famous. From Zurich, get to Wasserauen train station (there is also free parking) and from there, explore the mountain with its guest house.
Stars like Ashton Kutscher (and bloggers like me, haha) have promoted this guest house on the Ebenalp mountain, and so the Aescher has made it on the bucket list of many.
- I recommend getting a single ticket for the cable car (about 15 euros one way) to get to the summit of Ebenalp Mountain.
- Standing at the summit, you will also have great views of the beautiful Lake Seealpsee.
- Then hike down and stop at the mountain restaurant Aescher. You can have a drink or lunch there and continue to hike down towards Seealpsee. It is a short-ish hike (around one hour plus another hour to get back to the Wasserauen Station).
- Stop by the beautiful Seealpsee and rest by the lake.
- If you are sportier, you can hike up and down, which would make it a full-day trip and probably won’t leave much time for a short visit to Appenzell.
APPENZELL TOWN CENTER
Afterward, head to Appenzell to end your day. From Wasserauen Station, take a train to Appenzell train station, which takes about 45 minutes.
I definitely recommend a short stop at Appenzell, in the canton of Appenzellerland, and discovering one of the cutest towns in Switzerland.
- The town itself is really tiny (seriously, it is small), but there are nice colorful buildings.
- Appenzell is a nice place for a short stroll and dinner before heading back to Zurich.
- By car: ± 2 hours
- By train: ± 1,5 -2 hours
Basel is located further north near the German/French border, and while it cannot amaze you with stunning mountain views (sorry), it is world-famous for many other reasons.
While the above-mentioned day trips are often, though not solely, a lot about spending time outdoors and being awestruck by nature, visiting Basel is more about culture, spending time indoors, and exploring another side of the country.
- Basel has a beautiful old town, a stunning town hall, and great views are guaranteed from the Cathedral tower.
- However, it is extremely famous for being the art and museum capital in the country. There are so many museums that you will have to choose which ones to visit in one day.
- The Foundation Beyeler is actually the most visited art museum in all of Switzerland. It is known to be one of the best in the world.
- As an art enthusiast, you might be well aware of that, but there are so many more museums like the Kunstmuseum or the Papiermühle.
- If you come here for the museums, check the opening hours as some museums might not be open every day. Check out my detailed Basel guide for more tips.
Final Thoughts On The Best Day Trips From Zurich
As you can now see, there are many things to do outside Zurich, including admiring incredible mountain-top scenery and exploring quaint villages and towns. You can reach many places from Zurich within an hour or so, but even if the car/train rides take longer, it is normally worth it as the journey itself often is the reward in pretty Switzerland.
I hope this post has helped you find out about the best day trips from Zurich and you are inspired to explore the country and see what is beyond Zurich!
- However long you plan your vacations, be sure to add at least one of the best day trips from Zurich to your Switzerland trip.
- Check out my road trip itinerary for Switzerland – find out about how to plan an amazing road trip!
- Visiting Zurich in the winter? Then check out my Zurich winter travel guide.