Zurich is the largest Swiss city with the busiest train station and the main airport in Switzerland. Zurich is a starting point of Switzerland travel itinerary for most international visitors. Thanks to the central location, you can easily do day trips from Zurich to almost everywhere in Switzerland. Moreover, you can even go to Germany, France or Liechtenstein from Zurich. Here are my favorite ideas for a day trip from Zurich.
Day trips from Zurich to other Swiss cities
Swiss Alps are definitely a highlight of a trip to Switzerland. But going to the top of the mountain is not that fun on a rainy cloudy day. Why not explore some beautiful Swiss cities instead?
Lucerne makes a perfect day trip from Zurich. It is fast to reach by train or car and there are lots of things to do in the city.
Lucerne-Zurich by train: less than 1 hour.
Things to do in Lucerne:
- see the famous Chapel Bridge
- walk in the pretty Old Town
- take a boat tour on Lake Lucerne
Basel is Switzerland’s third largest city located on the border with Germany. It is known for its internationally famous museums and is often called the “culture capital of Switzerland”. Also, Basel hosts the biggest carnival party in Switzerland at the end of February – beginning of March. The party lasts for 3 days and attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Basel-Zurich by train: around one hour.
Things to do in Basel:
- visit some famous museums
- explore the Old Town
- climb up the cathedral for the view of the city
Ben is famous for a beautiful medieval Old Town that is a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site.
Zurich-Bern by train: around one hour.
Things to do in Bern:
- walk in the Old Town
- visit the Einstein House
- more things to do on the day trip in Bern
Lugano is the largest city in the region of Ticino in Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. Temperatures here are often higher than in the rest of Switzerland and people say there are more sunny days than anywhere else in Switzerland.
Zurich-Lugano by train: a bit more than 2 hours.
Things to do in Lugano:
- walk along the lake
- hike in the nearby mountains
- just relax and enjoy the sun
Lausanne is my favorite city in Switzerland and I can’t recommend it enough. It is often overlooked by tourists that prefer to go to Geneva, but the views are actually better in Lausanne.
Zurich-Lausanne by train: a bit more than 2 hours.
Things to do in Lausanne:
- explore the Old Town
- take a boat ride on Lake Geneva
- visit Olympic museum
Geneva is located on the opposite side of Switzerland but it is still possible to visit it on a day trip from Zurich.
Zurich-Geneva by train: 2 h 40 min.
Things to do in Geneva:
- take a guided tour in the United Nations Office
- see the famous water fountain in Lake Geneva
- go up the cathedral towers for the view of Geneva and Alps
The city of Thun is my recent discovery. Thi pretty city on the Lake Thun a perfect day trip from Zurich.
Zurich-Thun by train:1 h 20 min.
Things to do in Thun:
- walk around the Old Town
- visit Thun castle
- take the boat ride on the Lake Thun
Montreux and Chateau de Chillon
Montreux is famous for the Jazz festival and some of the prettiest views in Switzerland.
Things to do in Montreux:
- walk on the promenade
- visit Chateau de Chillon
- ride a boat on Lake Geneva
Zurich to Montreux by train: 2 h 40 min
Day trips from Zurich for nature lovers
Swiss cities are pretty, but Swiss Alps are even prettier. If you like nature, there many interesting day trips you can take from Zurich. Here are only a few suggestions:
Mount Pilatus and Mount Rigi
Mount Pilatus and Mount Rigi are popular things to do near Lucerne. If you want to a day trip from Zurich, you can easily combine a trip to Lucerne with visiting one of the mountains.
Appenzellerland, Seealpsee and Aescher-Wildkirchrli Berggasthaus
Visit the most famous guesthouse in the world on a day trip from Zurich. You can either hike up and down or just one way to see Seealpsee on the way. Or just take a gondola for the relaxed trip.
On the way back to Zurich you can explore the Appenzell village.
Titlis is another fun day trip from Zurich. It is a nice idea for warmer months if you miss snow. First, you need to take a train from Zurich to Engelberg (around 2 hours) and then the gondola all the way up.
You can reach Lauterbrunnen by train in two and half hours from Zurich. Lauterbrunnen with its waterfalls offers some unique views. In Lauterbrunnen, you can visit Trümmelbach Falls (UNESCO World heritage site) and hike to the car-free village Mürren.
UNESCO-listed Lavaux vineyard terraces are located between Lausanne and Montreux. Getting there from Zurich by train takes almost 3 hours, so its a bit long but still doable day trip.
Schaffhausen and Rhine Falls
The Rhine Falls and Schaffhausen are located near the German border and together make a perfect day trip from Zurich.
Zurich-Schaffhausen by train: between 40 min-1 hour.
I always see Jungfraujoch in suggested day trips from Zurich. However, I wouldn’t recommend it as a day trip from Zurich. You will spend at least 4 hours in train getting to the Jungfraujoch. The train ride is picturesque, but this might be too long for many people. It is much easier and enjoyable to do a day trip to Jungfraujoch from closer places like Interlaken.
Day trips from Zurich to Germany
Don’t confuse German city Freiburg (in Breisgau) with Fribourg/Freiburg in Switzerland (Swiss Freiburg is also worth visiting). Freiburg was my home for 1 year, so I might be a bit biased, but I believe it is a pretty city to visit.
Zurich-Freiburg by train: around 2 hours.
Zurich-Freiburg by bus: around 2,5 hours.
Things to do in Freiburg:
- walk in the Old Town
- visit the Freiburg Münster
- do shopping (everything is cheaper than in Switzerland)
Constance is popular for shopping but there is more to do there than shopping.
Zurich-Constance by train: around 1,5 h
Zurich-Constance by bus: 1 hour
Things to do in Constance:
You can visit the most famous amusement park in Germany on a day trip from Zurich. Getting there by train and bus takes almost 3 hours so this is one of the trips that are better to do by car.
The Black Forest in Germany is interesting to visit, but it is also better to go there by car from Zurich.
Day trips from Zurich to France
Colmar is a fairytale city in the French region of Alsace. The city is especially charming but also the most crowded in December because of famous Christmas markets.
Zurich-Colmar by train: 2 hours.
Things to do in Colmar:
- take a boat tour in little Venice
- get lost in Old Town
- try the Alsatian food.
Strasbourg is the official seat of the European Parliament and one of the best cities to visit in France.
Zurich- Strasbourg by train: around 2,5 hours.
Things to do in Strasbourg:
- see Strasbourg Cathedral and European Parliament,
- explore the Old Town and Petite France
- take a boat tour
Day trip from Zurich to Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein is one of the smallest countries in Europe and you can easily go there on a day trip from Zurich.
Zurich-Vaduz by train+bus:1 h 35 min.
Where would you go for a day trip from Zurich?