Are you wondering about the best day trips from Zurich? Then this post is for you as I am sharing my favorite day tours with you.
Things to Know Before Planning Trips From Zurich
- 1 Things to Know Before Planning Trips From Zurich
- 2 Best Zurich Day Trips
- 3 More Information On What To See Near Zurich
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. Still, the surrounding areas offer picturesque scenery and incredible adventures – which is why day trips from Zurich are so popular.
Many places near Zurich are within a quite short distance. And here I am – listing my favorite day tours for you because there are amazing places close you should not miss out on.
Before you book or plan your trips, here are a few things to know.
Where to Stay in Zurich
The city is not a cheap destination but a great base for getting to all the best things to see near Zurich. Read my 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 or staying in an area that allows you to be at the airport quickly. Most train connections for the day tours will start from Zurich train station in the city center.
How to Get Around For Zurich Day Tours
It is easy to do your day trips by train and buses. Public transportation in Switzerland, in general, is just superb. It is reliable and because it is safe, on time, and let’s not forget the window views you will often have.
Or you can rent a car and drive to the places mentioned below because driving in Switzerland is also fun.
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 travel solo, use public transportation as driving in Zurich can be quite stressful.
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 Zurich Day Trips
Ready to hear about my favorite day tours? Then here they are.
Rhine Falls and Schaffhausen / Stein am Rhein
Travel time by car: ± 30 – 40 minutes
By Train: ±1 hour
The Rhine Falls near the German border makes a great trip from Zurich, and so far, I have visited these spectacular falls three times – and with every visit, I have enjoyed it more.
The Rhine Falls 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). The falls are impressive (after all, it is the biggest waterfall in Europe) and make a perfect day trip from Zurich.
There are two main ways to see the waterfalls: From the visitor’s platform (which comes with a small entrance fee but no parking fees) or Schloss Wörth (no entrance fee but parking fees).
You’ll pay about five euros to get on the visitor’s platform and see the waterfalls from above. To visit the platform, you need to get to Schloss Laufen.
I suggest you do a boat tour on the Rhine River to get close to the waterfalls (there are different prices for different tours – starting at about five euros). A tour on the Rhine is a great way to get really close to the falls and do a boat trip. You need to get to it via Schlössli Wörth.
Some restaurants and cafes on both sides, so if you visit, plan in at least three to four hours, 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. Stein am Rhine impresses with the most stunning facades, while Schaffhausen is extremely colorful and has a few more sights to see. Click here for tips on what to do in Schaffhausen.
Travel time 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 about a one-and-a-half-hour drive from 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. I agree that it’s a great day trip from Zurich and that it should be on every Switzerland itinerary.
The Old Town of Bern is quite big and charming and for Bern’s best views visit the Rosengarten.
Oh, and do not forget to say hi to the bears (yes, bears live in Bern next to the Aare river, but do not worry, the area is fenced off, so you stay at a safe distance). And stroll along the Aare – which is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful rivers here in Europe (let’s face it, rivers are not normally that pretty).
Kleine Scheidegg and Jungfraujoch
Travel time by car: ± 3 hours
By Train: ± 4.5 hours
Getting up Jungfraujoch is probably one of the most recommended tours in Switzerland. I did the trip while I stayed in the region of Interlaken for a couple of days, but it is not much more expensive if you do it as a day trip from Zurich.
A day trip to the one and only Jungfraujoch, the place where snow is guaranteed throughout the year, is one of the best trips you can take from Zurich.
It will definitely take a full day, and you’ll be sitting a lot on the train/trams. But, believe me, train riding in Switzerland is a highlight and so you’ll have amazing views and will see the highest train station in Europe.
Things to See in Jungfraujoch
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 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, but you might like to stay longer at the Kleine Scheidegg (and then take the next train).
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 Jungfraujoch Click here to find out about prices
- 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
Travel time by car: ± 40 minutes (to Lucerne)
By Train: ± 5 hours (to the mountain)
Lucerne is a beautiful city just 45 kilometers from Zurich and is considered to be one of the most gorgeous places in Switzerland. Though Lucerne is beautiful, please do not skip the mountains close by and visit at least one of them.
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? I visited, and at the ticket shop I found out that the waiting line was two hours and there was no free Wi-Fi anywhere.
BUT I am happy that I still went up because my trip to Mount Pilatus was one of the highlights, and I am sure that you´ll enjoy it as much as I did (at least on a sunny day).
The views from there were beyond amazing, and on a sunny day, you can spend all day there doing all kinds of things – including some great activities, people watching, eating, and so on.
I went on a very busy day, and I do not think the lines are always that long – additionally, 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.
If you have some time left, you could either do a short trip to Lucerne – there, pass the famous Chapel Bridge and stroll along Lake Lucerne. You´ll find plenty of cafes and restaurants to take a break from!
Trip Packages to Lucerne and Mt Pilatus
You can either get to Lucerne and book the Mount Pilatus ticket individually or buy packages from Zurich.
Mount Rigi and Lucerne
Travel time by car: ± 1 hour (to Mount Rigi)
By Train: ± 2 hours (to Mount Rigi)
If you have less time or want to enjoy the great views from Mount Rigi, you can get to Lucerne and then either take a bus or hop on a boat. This will get you to Vitznau station to enjoy majestic views from Mount Rigi.
Afterward, you can head to Lucerne and enjoy several hours there before going back to Zurich.
Mount Rigi offers great views of Lake Lucerne and, if you ask me, it is one of the best places to see near Zurich. The view is great, the ride up is great, it feels like everything is great.
There is not so much to do up Mount Rigi as on Mount Pilatus, but since it takes less time getting up, there is a great place to visit near Zurich. Especially if you want to spend more time in Zurich.
It is free to visit with a Swiss Travel Pass.
- 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
Travel time by car: ± 1.5 hours
By Train: ± 2 hours
While I am writing this, my heart is shattering into a thousand pieces because I actually recommend spending at least a few days in Interlaken.
The region of Interlaken, located in the Bernese Oberland, is magnificent and I definitely recommend staying there for a few days. The Bernese Oberland is the most beautiful region in the world. Yes, it is (take my opinion as fact :)).
However, I know this is not possible, so if you have limited time and your base is in Zurich, you have to do a day trip to Interlaken. Doing a day trip to Jungfraujoch is one option (which takes a full day). Another option would be to visit many places within one day.
Things To Do In Interlaken
Visit St. Beatus Caves, do a trip to Brienzer Rothorn, get on Schynigge Platte, 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.
Travel time by car: ± 1.5 hours
By Train: ± 2 hours
When I visited Flims for the first time, I was astonished…. This place is often overlooked, even though it indeed makes a great day trip from Zurich.
You should plan a full day to experience this calm place that is not full of tourists.
I heard about several of the lakes in Flims, but it seems they are not that famous and so I did not get to see many foreigners, and I mostly stumbled upon Swiss people who were enjoying this beautiful place.
Flims was so beautiful, and though the weather was not perfect, I fell head over heels in love with it.The best thing about Flims is that there are three gorgeous sights that you can visit with only one hike. Yes, it’s true! So, for lazy people who like efficiency, this is a pretty important aspect and comes in quite handy.
There is an entry fee to spend time at Lake Cauma and Lake Cresta (read more about it here), a few Euros. But it’s worth it if you like to spend time directly at the lakes or even swim in them.
Appenzellerland (The Aescher and Appenzell)
Travel time by car: ± 1.5 hours
By Train: ± 2 hours (± 3 hours to 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.
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. Getting there from Zurich does not take too long (by car it’s about one hour, by public transportation about one and a half hours).
Standing at the summit, you will also have great views of the beautiful Lake Seealpsee – I recommend getting a single ticket for the cable car. You can either get up via cable car (about 15 euros one way) and then hike down and stop by beautiful Seealp and rest by the lake.
Or, 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.
Afterward, if you’re not hiking, head to Appenzell to end your day.
I definitely recommend a short stop at Appenzell, the canton Appenzellerland, and discover one of the cutest towns in Switzerland. Though the town itself is really tiny (seriously, it is small), it is a nice place for a short stroll and to finish your day.
Travel time by car: ± 2 hours
Travel time 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.
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 Metropol in the country. There are so many museums that you will not be able to visit a fraction of them in a 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.
While the above-mentioned day trips are often, though not solely, a lot about spending time outdoors and be awestruck by nature, this Base is more about culture, spending time indoors, and explore another side of the country.
My tip: 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.
More Information On What To See Near Zurich
As you can now see, there are many things to do outside Zurich, including incredible mountain-top scenery and exploring quaint villages and towns.
Many places can be reached 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.
However long you plan your vacations, be sure to add at least one of the best day trips from Zurich to your Switzerland trip.
Visiting Zurich in the winter? Then check out my Zurich winter travel guide.