How to Spend 1 Day in Zurich

Zurich is an absolutely beautiful city with a lot of different things you can do. If you only have 24 hours there, here's how I would make the most of it. 

Start your day off at the Lindt Home of Chocolate. There's a café attached to the factory where you can enjoy a coffee and/or grab a bite to eat. Then head inside and take a tour. You can book a personally guided tour if you would like, but I thought that the tour with an audioguide was excellent. You can choose English or another language of your choice, grab your audioguide, and stroll through the factory at your own pace, tapping the whisk icon at the different displays to learn about cultivating cocoa plants, the history of chocolate, and famous Chocolatiers in Switzerland. After learning how chocolate has been developed, it only makes sense to taste a bunch of it. You can taste as much chocolate as you want in production and tasting areas! The tour and tastings take about 90 minutes total, maybe longer if you linger in the tasting area for a while.

Then, no trip would be complete for me without a bunch of chocolate souvenirs, and there are flavors sold at the factory gift shop that I've never found anywhere else. My personal favorite is the crème brûlée bars. 

Once you've had your fill of chocolate for the morning, take the bus to downtown Zurich. The bus will drop you off at Burkliplatz, where the Limmat River meets Lake Zurich. From there, you can do your own walking tour of the Old Town, and check out whichever landmarks interest you most.


On the west side of the river, as you make your way north from Burkliplatz, you'll see the impressive city hall building (Stadthaus Zurich), a church called Fraumunster, and then the Church of St. Peter, which has the largest tower clock face in Europe. 

A short walk from St. Peter, is a restaurant called Hiltl Pflanzbar. Hiltl is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world and very worth visiting in my opinion. It's buffet style and you pay-by-weight at checkout, so I intended to try a little bit of everything but quickly ran out of room on my plate! Everything I had was delicious though; so much so that I bought one of the Hiltl cookbooks before I left. 

From Hiltl, you can walk back towards the river to Bahnhofstrasse, which is a street famous for the high-end shopping you can find there. Even if you don't intend to pay designer prices, it's fun to window shop the fancy stores. If you follow Bahnhofstrasse North, it will take you straight to the Zurich HB railway station. Walk through the station to see if there are any events being hosted. When I was there at the end of September, there were booths and tents already being set up for Octoberfest.  

On the other side of Zurich HB is the Landesmuseum (the National Museum of Zurich), a nice park, and a bridge to get to the East side of the Limmat River. Around this bridge you'll find locals swimming or bungee surfing in the river if the weather is nice. The water is clear and clean, and you can take a quick dip if you're hot or want to take a quick break from walking. 

On the East side of the river, walk down the promenade for a while and then make your way to the Polybahn. It will take you up to a plaza in front of ETH Zurich, which will give you amazing views of the city. 

If you prefer a view from within the city itself, you can go to Grossmunster, where you can go up in one of the towers to a viewing platform. Further south you'll find the Zurich Opera House (Opernhaus). There are also events hosted in the plaza in front of the Opera House sometimes - while I was visiting the Zurich film festival was going on. 

The full walking tour outlined here, including stopping to eat at Hiltl, took me around 3 hours. From there I took the Lake Zurich boat back to where I was staying. The view from the boat is especially pretty as the city starts to light up around dusk. If you're not staying somewhere on the lake, you can still take a trip on the lake Zurich boat and just let it bring you all the way around the lake and back to Burkliplatz. 

If you have more time to spend in Zurich, you could also visit the FIFA museum, the renowned Kunsthaus Zurich (art museum), or the Zurich Zoo. With all that Zurich has to offer, you can't really go wrong with whatever you choose to see!


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