Zurich is an awesome city to spend a few days exploring. Between its historical sites, museums, charming old town, the Limmat river, Lake Zurich, and surrounding mountains, there is a lot to see and do.
But, Zurich is also a great place to base yourself to explore the rest of Switzerland from. Thanks to such efficient trains, you can take some incredible day trips from Zurich to the Swiss Alps, waterfalls, historic cities, and lots more.
So, what are the best day trips from Zurich that should be on your list? We run through them all below for you.
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One of my favorite day trips from Zurich is without a doubt a visit to Rhine Falls. I am a little obsessed with rivers and waterfalls, and since Rhine Falls is the largest waterfall in Europe (by volume, not height), it comes at the top of the list.
Sitting north of Zurich and right on the border with Germany, the Rhine Falls is formed by the Rhine River. Rhine Falls is 150 meters across and 23 meters high and it pumps out some 600,000 liters of water a second in the summer.
Experiencing the sheer power of the Rhine Falls is an incredible experience and you can view it from platforms on either side or go on a boat trip that takes you right up to the falls.
Getting to Rhine Falls is incredibly easy as it is a direct train ride from Zurich HB to Neuhausen Rheinfall, and then a short walk from the station. You will be at Rhine Falls in under an hour.
Mount Titlis is one of the most beautiful mountains in Switzerland and another of the great day trips from Zurich.
Whether you simply want to enjoy the breathtaking views from the top or be active by skiing in the winter or hiking/mountain biking in the summer, Mt Titlis is the place for you.
The peak sits at 3000 meters above sea level and to get to the top, you will experience great views from the TITLIS Rotair cable car which rotates as it takes you directly to the peak.
Once at the top, take in the views from the viewing platform in every direction, go on the Titlis Cliff Walk, and visit the 5000-year-old Glacier cave.
There are a plethora of hiking trails that bring you back down the mountain or you can stop for lunch at the mountain-top restaurant and take the cable car back down.
Getting to Mount Titlis from Zurich is easy. It takes just over 2 hours to get to the heart of central Switzerland. You will need to change trains in Luzern and get off at Engelberg before getting on the cable car.
One of the easiest day trips from Zurich is a trip to Winterthur, Switzerland’s sixth largest city just 30 minutes north of Zurich.
Winterthur’s appeal is culture. It is packed to the brim with stunning architectural styles, museums, and art galleries, and the Old Town is an absolute delight to stroll around.
Winterthur’s Old Town is actually the biggest pedestrianized old town in Switzerland and it is filled with great bars, cafes, and restaurants. Once you have found it, it is hard to leave, so perhaps taking in the other sites first is the best idea.
The Fotomuseum is one of the best photography museums in Europe, the Oskar Reinhart Collection museum is full of incredible pieces by artists such as Rembrandt. Plus, there is even the Swiss Science Centre Technorama which is awesome for kids.
There are trains to Winterthur every hour from Zurich HB and they take less than 30 minutes.
A visit to the charming alpine town of Grindelwald is another of the great day trips from Zurich, especially if you want to experience the mighty Alps.
Sitting just below the Bernese Alps, Grindelwald is a hub for awesome mountain activities in both summer and winter. In the winter, it is all about skiing, snowboarding, and most other winter sports.
Summer brings hiking, mountain biking, and a trip up Grindelwald First mountain offers countless activities from zip-lining to riding mountain karts, and lots more.
The incredible views of the surrounding Jungfrau Region from Grindelwald First have to be seen to be believed and there are some awesome hikes to beautiful Alpine lakes that should not be missed.
Getting to Grindelwald from Zurich takes about 2.75 hours via train. You will need to change trains in the picturesque town of Interlaken, and it is worth combining your Zurich day trip to Grindelwald with Interlaken.
One of my favorite towns in Switzerland and one of the top day trips from Zurich is Interlaken.
Surrounded by the alps with the bright blue Lake Thun on one side, the deep blue Lake Brienz on the other, and with the Aare running through it, you couldn’t ask for a more quintessential Swiss Alpine town.
Known as the adventure capital of the region, you can enjoy all kinds of activities from paragliding to white water rafting and canyoning. There are also some incredible hiking routes that take you up mountains, past waterfalls, and offer awesome views too.
The town itself is lovely to stroll around. The Swiss architecture is a delight, the shopping is awesome, and you can hang out on the lake beaches in the summer, swim, go on cruises, and lots more!
You can be in Interlaken via a direct train from Zurich in just under 2 hours.
The city of Fribourg lies to the west of Bern and it is one of the more cultural day trip destinations within easy reach of Zurich.
Known as one of the best preserved medieval towns in the country, strolling around the medieval old town is a must, as you take in the stunning medieval architecture and views across the Sarine River.
One of the highlights is the city’s impressive gothic cathedral with its stunning bell tower and art nouveau stained glass windows. The city is also full of art museums that showcase modern and contemporary art.
Once you are done sightseeing, a stroll around the narrow pedestrian streets will have you finding lots of riverside cafes, wonderful shops, restaurants, and more.
Getting to Fribourg takes just 1.5 hours via train from Zurich, changing at Bern on your way.
Stein am Rhein
Stein am Rhein is probably the best example of medieval Switzerland you can find in the country. Sitting downstream from Lake Constance on the Rhine River, it was once a fishing village but blossomed with art and architecture between the 12th and 15th centuries.
If you love a bit of culture then this is the perfect day trip from Zurich for you.
Stein am Rhein is one of the best-preserved medieval villages in all of Europe. The old houses lining the river banks and old town are stunning with their half-timbered design and painted facades.
Taking a look at the town hall (Rathaus) and square (Rathausplatz) is a must. The town hall is probably the most beautiful building in Stein am Rhein and the square is decorated with paintings that depict the history of the town.
St George’s Abbey, once a benedictine monastery and today a museum on the banks of the Rhine is also a must-see, as is the medieval castle Hohenklingen that sits on a hill about the town.
To get to Stein am Rhein from Zurich take the train to Schaffhausen and change to Stein am Rhein. It takes less than one hour.
If cities are your thing, a lovely day trip from Zurich is a visit to the Swiss capital, Bern. It is a wonderful city that is packed full of history and sitting on the banks of the Aare river, it is beautiful too!
The Old Town of Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and this is a great place to start your day trip. The cobbled streets, old architecture, many fountains, shops, cafes, and restaurants make the Old Town a delight to stroll around.
You can also stroll along the river to the Bear Pit where you will find bears roaming around as well as an aquarium, and petting zoo.
Getting to Bern is quick and easy from Zurich via a direct train which takes 56 minutes.
Appenzell is one of the lesser thought of day trips from Zurich but it is a great one nonetheless.
Appenzell is a quintessential Swiss village in Eastern Switzerland that sits below the stunning Alpstein mountains. Imagine Swiss homes in rolling hills and pastures, with mountain views and you get the idea.
The center of town is car-free and home to beautiful houses with decorated facades. A visit to the Museum of Appenzell will teach you all about the culture, and sampling some traditional food is a must too.
There are lots of great hiking trails around the area and you can take the cable car up to Ebenalp to see awesome views as well as a 17th-century chapel cut into the cliffs.
The trip to Appenzell from Zurich HB takes 1.75 hours on the train. Change at Gossau SG and get off at Urnäsch.
Sitting just down Lake Zurich from the city of Zurich is the town of roses, Rapperswil-Jona. Chances are you will have spent some time on Lake Zurich already while visiting the city, but Lake Zurich is huge and there is a lot more to explore than the shores around Zurich.
Rapperswil-Jona lies close to the other end of Lake Zurich and it is filled with roses. All the houses in the center of the town have window boxes with roses and there are numerous rose gardens to visit around the city.
You can also visit the lovely Rapperswil Castle which sits above the town. Home to stunning views over Lake Zurich, a deer park, and rose gardens it is a lovely place to hang out.
A stroll along the shores of Lake Zurich is also delightful and in the summer, a swim and some bathing on the beaches are also a must.
You can get to Rapperswil-Jona in 40 mins by train from Zurich or you can get a boat across Lake Zurich.
Gruyeres, as you have probably guessed from the name, is known for Gruyere cheese but it is also the home of the oldest chocolate factory in Switzerland too. If cheese and chocolate are your things, a day trip to Gruyeres is a must.
Sitting in western Switzerland, the charming village of Gruyeres is home to a cheese factory, chocolate factory, museums, and a beautiful castle as well as great traditional restaurants.
Enjoy a tour and tasting experience at La Maison du Gruyère (cheese) and La Maison Cailler (chocolate). Then visit the beautiful 13th-century Gruyeres Castle and take in some art at the HR Giger Museum.
It is hard to believe such a small Alpine town could be home to so much, but that is why it is one of the top-day trips from Zurich.
Getting to Gruyeres takes 2.5 hours changing at Bern and Bulle.
One of the top cultural day trips from Zurich is to the city of Basel which lies to the west of Zurich on both the French, German, and Swiss borders.
Basel is a beautiful multicultural city of note and well worth a visit. Sitting on the Rhine River, its Old Town is lovely to stroll around and something not to miss is the town hall which stands out since it is made from red sandstone.
The gothic cathedral is also a wonderful sight to see and so is the Gate of Spalen, an ancient gate of the city.
Basel is also home to some great museums including the Natural History Museum and the fine arts museum of the Beyeler Foundation.
Basel is less than an hour away from Zurich via a direct train making it very easy on a day trip.
Lucerne is one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland. Sitting on Lake Lucerne where the Reuss River flows out of it, Lucerne is as beautiful as it is full of culture.
Home to one of the best preserved Old Towns in Switzerland along with the beautiful Chapel Bridge, with views across Lake Lucerne and into the Alps, it is a hard day trip to beat.
Crossing Chapel Bridge, the oldest covered wooden bridge of its kind in Europe is a must. It is covered with window boxes full of flowers and the ceiling features a series of paintings depicting the town’s history.
Other great things to do include visiting the Swiss Museum of Transport, the Sammlung Rosengart art museum which has a lot of pieces by Picasso, the Lion Monument, and lots more.
There is a direct train to Lucerne that takes less than an hour from Zurich.
It is not often that a day trip includes going to a different country but you can be in the capital of Liechtenstein, Vaduz, in less than 1.5 hours from Zurich.
Liechtenstein is packed full of mountains and is a wonderful place if you want to enjoy the outdoors. Hiking is great in the summer and it is all about skiing in the winter.
Vaduz is home to some great architecture and interesting artwork. Be sure to check out the Vaduz Cathedral and the Vaduz Castle.
Saving one of the best until last, a day trip to Jungfraujoch is a pretty incredible experience.
Jungfraujoch is accessed from Grindelwald and is a saddle that connects the stunning peaks of Monch and Jungfrau. Riding the cable cars and cogwheel train to the top is an experience in itself with magic views.
At the top, you can see the Aletsch Glacier, dine at a mountain-top restaurant, ski all year round, hike, and see some of the most amazing views that feature the three main peaks of the religion, Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau.
Getting there takes a while from Zurich. The 3.75-hour journey includes a train to Interlaken, then to Grindelwald, and then cable cars.
Best Day Trips – Frequently Asked Questions
Where can you go from Zurich by train?
There honestly isn’t anywhere in Switzerland that isn’t a train ride away from Zurich, it just depends on how long you are willing to sit on a train.
You can be in Geneva to the west in under 3 hours, in Lugano in the south in under two hours, and in the hard-to-reach mountain resorts of eastern Switzerland in less than 4 hours.
But, by using the train, you will be missing the many scenic drives that Switzerland has to offer.
How many days should you spend in Zurich?
If you want to see the city of Zurich, about 2 days and 2 nights is the perfect amount of time. You will be able to see everything Zurich has to offer in a relaxed way. But, if you want to include some of the awesome day trips from Zurich, 4 or 5 days might be better.
Is Zurich a walkable city?
Yes, Zurich is a very walkable city. Central Zurich is mostly flat, has a lot of pedestrianized zones, and you can walk from one side of Zurich’s outer reaches to the other in just 2.5 hours.
Of course, Zurich is also home to excellent public transport too so you can always hop on a bus/tram/metro whenever you feel like taking a break from strolling around the city.