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 don’t underestimate Swiss cities. There many cute cities and towns that you can visit on a day trip from Zurich. When the weather is not the best to go to the mountains, take a day trip to one of those charming 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. Basel is known for its 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 the 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 this is why you should visit 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 the 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. This pretty city on the Lake Thun is a perfect day trip from Zurich when you want to escape the crowd in bigger cities.
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
8-9. Montreux and/or Chateau de Chillon
Montreux is famous for the Jazz festival and some of the prettiest views in Switzerland. Chateau de Chillon is a popular tourist attraction located close to Montreux, so you can easily combine them in one trip.
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 to mountains
Swiss cities are pretty, but Swiss Alps are even prettier. If you like nature, there many interesting day trips you can do from Zurich. Here are only a few suggestions:
10-11.Mount Pilatus or Mount Rigi
Mount Pilatus and Mount Rigi are popular mountains to visit near Lucerne. If you want to a day trip from Zurich, you can also combine a trip to Lucerne with a visit to Mount Pilatus or Mount Rigi.
12-13. Appenzellerland, Seealpsee and Aescher-Wildkirchrli Berggasthaus
You can visit the most famous guesthouse in the world on a day trip from Zurich. People like to the Aesher-Wildkirchli Berggasthaus because you can see beautiful Seealpsee on the way. But it is also possible to take a gondola ride for the relaxed trip.
On the way back to Zurich you can explore the Appenzell village or just make it an extra day trip from Zurich.
Titlis is another fun day trip from Zurich. It is a nice idea for warmer months if you miss snow because snow stays there all year round. 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 a half hours from Zurich and enjoy unique views in Lauterbrunnen valley. You can visit Trümmelbach Falls (UNESCO World heritage site) and hike to the car-free village Mürren.
16. Lauvax vineyards
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 as a day trip if you are willing to wake up early.
17. 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’ve seen lots of advertisements for day trips from Zurich to Jungfraujoch. While it is possible to do, if you go by train, 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 some people. It is much easier and enjoyable to do a day trip to Jungfraujoch from closer places like Interlaken. But of cours,e if you really want to see Jungfrau and don’t have another choice, a day trip from Zurich is still an option.
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 nice city to visit on a day trip from Zurich.
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 because German prices are lower 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 day trips from Zurich that are better to do by car.
22. Black Forest
The Black Forest in Germany is a nice place to visit, but it is also easier to go there by car than by train 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 in Petite Venice
25. 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?