The Swiss city of Zurich is the largest and one of the most popular cities to visit in Switzerland on your trip to this fairytale land. The major Zurich point of interest is its Old Town with medieval buildings, pretty squares, fountains and magnificent churches all set in a picturesque location surrounding the Limmat River. The riverside promenade is lined with quaint cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating where you can sit and take in the views of the historic center of Zurich set along the river.
For some of the best views of the city of Zurich do visit the Lindenhof hill which offers a wonderful panorama of the city. There are plenty of things to do in Zurich like zoo, botanical garden and Tram museum which is perfect when traveling with kids. With all these amazing Zurich attractions, the city also is an ideal choice for the tourists and travelers as a base to explore the surreal locations of Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland. Here are some top day trips from Zurich which you should definitely not miss if you plan to spend more days in Zurich.
The resort town of Interlaken is one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland couple of hours train ride from Zurich. The town is located at the intersection of the two stunning lakes of Switzerland – the Thun and the Brienz Lakes. The lakeshores have some great places of interest which can be visited from Interlaken by bus or by boat trips. Interlaken is also a perfect base to explore some of the breathtaking locations of the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland. There is a plenitude of things to do in Interlaken like its Old Town which is a charming neighborhood with pretty chalets on either side of Aare River. There are plenty of shopping opportunities with high-end boutique shops lining the main street of the town. Adventure lovers have plenty of options too to explore the region by hiking, biking or paragliding. One of the top things to do in Switzerland the Jungfrau region and several other mountain summits accessed by cable cars can also be visited from the town of Interlaken.
One of the best ways to explore the scenic vistas of the region around Interlaken and the lakes of Thun and Brienz is on cruises. The Golden Pass train route which runs from Montreux to Lucerne passes through the town of Interlaken so you can also plan a visit to Interlaken combined with your Golden Pass train ride.
The Rhein Falls or The Rhine Falls is the largest waterfalls in Switzerland and in Europe. The waterfalls one of the popular landmarks in Switzerland is located on the Swiss-German border between the cantons of Schaffhausen and Zurich. The 150 m wide waterfalls and the churning azure waters joining the Rhine river is a magnificent sight to behold. One can experience these cascades from close on a boat trip. One can also take a boat trip to the large rock Rheinfallfelsen a limestone cliff that stands amidst the powerful cascades of Rhine Falls. A climb up the rock offers wonderful panoramic views of the falls and the surrounding. You can also experience the might of the wondrous falls up close from numerous viewing platforms on side of the Schloss Laufen castle which can be reached by boat. The panoramic glass lift is another option to enjoy the incredible views of the waterfalls.
The medieval castle of Schloss Laufen is also a popular tourist attraction with a plenty of things to do here. Recently opened Historama Museum holds an exhibition spanning 11 rooms of 2 floors on the history of the Schloss Laufen Castle and the Rhine Falls. There are also several guided tours organized by the regional tourism on the history of the castle and the Falls.
Do not miss to stay until sunset to enjoy the spectacular illumination of the Rhine Falls. Read more on our Visit to Rhine Falls from Switzerland.
Less than an hour train ride from Zurich is Lucerne, one of the charming cities in Switzerland with a beautiful Old Town center. The city of Lucerne is popular for the stunning Chapel bridge and the historic Lion Monument. The Chapel Bridge is located at walkable distance from the main train station of Lucerne. The Chapel Bridge spans the River Reuss and is surrounded by well-preserved medieval buildings of the Old Town and the Alps in the backdrop in a picturesque setting. The Old Town set along the shores of River Reuss and the Lake Lucerne has some of the beautiful buildings and fountains dating from the medieval times, most of these buildings have their facades decorated with interesting frescoes.
Visit on weekends for the huge weekly flea market set up along the banks of the River Reuss at end of the Chapel Bridge. You can find a great choice of fresh flowers, vegetables, fruits and spices in the market. The other major landmark of Lucerne City is the Lion Monument which is about 10 minutes walk from the chapel bridge. The monument is dedicated to the soldiers who lost their lives during the French Revolution.
One of the must do things in Lucerne is a visit to the Swiss Transport Museum which has a wonderful collection of models of trains, cars, planes, and other automobiles. Read here for Top Things to do in the Enchanting City of Lucerne
Rigi – The Queen of the Mountains
Other than the city sightseeing there are numerous amazing day trips which you can take from Lucerne. The most popular one is a day trip to the summit of Rigi also known as the ‘Queen of the mountains’ which can be reached by a combination of a ferry from Lucerne and a cable car or cogwheel to the summit. While the ferry ride to these stations offers wonderful views of the city of Lucerne the summit of these mountains offers great views of the city, lakes and the alpine mountains surrounding the summit.
Mount Pilatus is yet another popular day trip from Lucerne and one of the most breathtaking mountain rides in Switzerland. A ferry from Lucerne to either of the stations of Kriens and Alpnachstad and then a cogwheel train from Alpnachstad or a gondola from Kriens will transport to the summit of Mount Pilatus at 2,120 m. The summit has several restaurants and offers panoramic vistas of the city of Lucerne and the surrounding peaks.
Titlis is a mountain and a popular snow resort in Central Switzerland. The presence of snow all through the year makes it a perfect family destination with loads of snow activities. The summit of Titlis can be reached by cable car starting from the small village of Engelberg 45 minutes train ride from Lucerne. From Engelberg to the summit there are a couple of gondola change stations. Each of these stations also has plenty of adventure activities for enthusiasts. The last leg of the gondola journey is the most spectacular which is a revolving rotary cableway which offers breathtaking panoramic views.
The Titlis mountain station has several restaurants, and chocolate shops and an interesting Titlis attraction is the illuminated glacier caves which have some of the gorgeous ice sculptures. One of the thrilling ways to enjoy the stunning views of Alps is to take a walk on Europe’s highest suspension bridge at Titlis cliff walk or take a ride on the ice flyer to the glacier park for some fun snow activities. Read More on Our Visit to Titlis – The Perfect Family Snow Resort in Switzerland.
The traditional village of Appenzell is a couple of hours train ride from Zurich. The most popular attraction of the village is the main street Hauptgasse which is lined with houses with facades decorated with beautiful paintings. The painted houses have shops and restaurants. The shops are perfect if you are looking to go on a shopping spree. The shops sell clothes, handicrafts, cheese, and chocolates.
There are several restaurants and cafes in the village with open-air seatings where you can try some Swiss culinary specialities. The Museum Appenzell in Hauptgasse exhibits paintings, traditional costumes and folk art where you can learn more about the culture and history of the region of Appenzell.
Wildkirchli is a popular tourist destination in Switzerland which is easily accessible from Appenzell. Wildkirchli is known for prehistoric caves and the famous Aescher guesthouse which is built in the cliffside. About 10 minutes train ride away from Appenzell is Wasserauen the terminal stop on the Appenzell Railway. Wasserauen to Ebenalp is a 7-minute cable car ride offering wonderful views of the valley below and the surrounding mountains.
To reach the caves of Wildkirchli one has to hike down for about 15 minutes from the Ebenalp cable car station through a well-marked hiking path. The Aescher guesthouse has a restaurant where you can try some Swiss local specialties and enjoy the magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and the valleys.
Liechtenstein is a small alpine country bordered by Switzerland and Austria. Zurich to Schaan in Liechtenstein is about 90 minutes train plus bus ride. From Schaan to the Liechtenstein capital city Vaduz is another 10 minutes bus ride. Ruggell is a village at the northernmost part of Liechtenstein with lush countryside and snow-capped mountains. Vaduz the capital city has numerous important government buildings including parliament building in Peter-Kaiser-Platz. The Vaduz Castle is one of the top things to do in Vaduz. The 700 years old historic castle perched high above the town of Vaduz serves as a residence of the royal family of Liechtenstein and is not open to the public for visit.
Triesenberg is a beautiful mountain in Liechtenstein set in a breathtaking natural landscape popular for hiking and adventure activities. There is a good connectivity of buses to move around in Liechtenstein and also a good frequency of buses from Zurich to reach Liechtenstein.
Zurich to Bern the capital city of Switzerland is about an hours train ride. The major Bern attraction is its historic Old Town which has some of the well-preserved historical buildings and churches. The Cobblestone alleys of the Old Town dotted with colorful fountains are lined with branded showrooms which are great if you are looking to go on a shopping spree. The prominent landmark in the Old Town of Bern is the historic clock tower Zytglogge and the magnificent 15th-century Gothic cathedral. The climb up to the tower of the cathedral offers a remarkable panorama of the city of Bern.
Another fun cum educational attraction would be to the Einstein House which provides information on life and work of the great scientist Einstein. Presence of numerous parks and gardens puts Bern on the list of places to visit with kids. Do not miss a visit to the Bear’s park where you can catch the bears playing around along the Aare riverside.
Lauterbrunnen is a beautiful village set in a picturesque location in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. The village of Lauterbrunnen is about 2.5 hours train ride from Zurich and only a 20 minutes train ride from Interlaken Ost train station. The village is surrounded by rocky cliffs in lush alpine meadows dotted with waterfalls, in fact, Lauterbrunnen Valley is known as ‘Valley of 72 Waterfalls’. The most popular falls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley is the 300 meter-high Staubbach Falls which is located close to the Lauterbrunnen train station and the other is the Trummelbach Waterfalls. The Trummelbach Waterfalls can be reached by a 7-minute bus ride. A lift and a series of walkways and platform let you experience the might of the falls formed by a series of 10 glacier-fed waterfalls inside the mountain. A visit to the village of Lauterbrunnen can be combined with yet another beautiful alpine village Wengen which is some 15 minutes ride by train from Lauterbrunnen. Wengen is a quaint village with wooden chalets decorated with colorful flowers at the foot of the mountains of the Jungfrau region.
The journey from Zurich to Jungfraujoch is more than 4 hours with breathtaking scenic vistas of valleys and mountains all along the route. A visit to Switzerland is incomplete without a visit to Jungfraujoch known as the ‘Top of Europe’. A train from Zurich to Interlaken, then to Lauterbrunnen and from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg from where one has to take a cogwheel train to the top. Jungfraujoch at an elevation of 3,454 m is located on a pass in between the famous mountains Jungfrau and Monch. One can enjoy amazing views of the Aletsch glacier and the colossal peaks of Jungfrau, Monch, and Eiger from Jungfraujoch. One can also take a lift to the Sphinx observatory for wonderful panoramic views from the terrace as well as from the panoramic windows of the building.
The ‘Top of Europe’ building has several souvenir shops, a chocolate shop, restaurants and a permanent exhibition on the history of the Alps and the Jungfrau region. Also must visit here is the Ice Palace which is decorated with interesting ice sculptures. The snow Fun Park hosts a variety of snow activities like Snowtubing, sledging, skiing, Flying Fox, and snowboarding.
Winterthur is a Swiss city about 20 minutes train ride from Zurich. The city of Winterthur is a museum lovers haven with over 17 museums. The most popular museums are the Fotomuseum with its photography exhibits and the science museum Technorama. Museum Oskar Reinhart and Kunstmuseum are two museums must visit for the art lovers. Wander along the cobblestone alleys of the Old Town of Winterthur for some remarkable medieval architecture buildings like the Stadkirche and the town hall and fountains.
The city of Winterthur similar to the Swiss city Geneva and the Swiss capital Bern has a plenty of green area for parks and gardens. The most popular is the Rosengarten which sits on a hill and offers wonderful views of the old town. One can also plan a visit to the magnificent Rhine fall from Winterthur. Winterthur to Rhine Fall is about 40 minutes train ride. There are a lot of activities around the Rhine Falls like a boat trip, hiking, and several other adventure activities.
Basel is a Swiss city bordered by France and Germany set on either side of the Rhine River. Exploring the Old Town is one of the top things to do in Basel. The Old Town has some of the well-preserved architectural buildings like the 12th-century Romanesque-Gothic cathedral, the ornate 16th-century Town Hall and the 13th-century Mittlere Brucke (Mittlere Bridge).
Like Winterthur, Basel City is also a museum lovers haven with over 40 museums dedicated to art, culture, and history. One of the best ways to explore the major sights of the city of Basel is a boat tour, there is a wide range of tours to choose from. If you are visiting with kids do not miss a visit to the Basel zoo, one of the largest zoos in Switzerland, the Basel Toy Museum with the largest collection stuffed teddy bears, the interactive Tinguely Museum which exhibits interesting kinetic sculpture works and the History Museum.
Colmar is a small village located in the Alsatian region of France close to the French-German border couple of hours train ride from Zurich. Colmar with colorful half-timbered medieval houses with their windows and balcony overflowing with flowers is one of the most beautiful villages in France. The major sights in Colmar are the ‘Little Venice’ and the ‘Tanner’s District’.
Little Venice is the most beautiful part of Colmar with colorful half-timbered houses and several pretty bridges spanning the canals of the Launch River which can be best explored on a boat tour which would more like a mini Venice Gondola experience. You can find more traditional half-timbered houses in Tanner’s district. The houses dating back to the 17th century were used by tanners who worked and lived in the region. Colmar is home to numerous Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings, churches, and museums.