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24 hours in Zurich, Switzerland

Visit Zurich Switzerland

If I am going to fly halfway around the world from New Zealand to Europe, I am always going to want to make the most of it. So on my way over to Finland in the beginning of March, I used the trip as an excuse to stop in beautiful Switzerland for a week to visit my oldest friend. And also to see Switzerland again obviously, one of my favorite countries in the world. Two birds, one stone.

And as I stepped out into the familiar Zurich airport, I place I had been many times over the years, I was more fresh faced than usual. Not only did I stop for 24 hours in Dubai to sleep on my way over to Switzerland, I also finally started collecting my miles this year (omg what took me so long?) and cashed in on a business class upgrade with Emirates to Zurich.

Wow, how do the other half live?

Visit Zurich Switzerland

But before I run away with myself and write a 2000 word essay on how sexy the upstairs is on an Emirates Airbus (the sexiest in case you’re wondering), I’ll return to the topic at hand and finally share some of my favorite spots from around Zurich.

Switzerland was one of the first places I ever wrote about as a blogger 6 years ago. Whenever I visited my friend in the past, she’d always pick me up from the airport and whisk me away back to Neuchâtel where she lives. This meant that by 2016 I had been inside the Zurich airport and motorway many times, but hadn’t actually seen the city. I wanted to change that.

And after being away from my beloved Europe for almost a year, I was ready for some beautiful old quarters with cobbled streets, terrible customer service and a general quaintness that eludes the rest of the world. Bring it, Switzerland.

Here are my favorite moments from 24 hours exploring Zurich. Enjoy!

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Looking for colorful Zurich

Before spending any time in Zurich, I had the impression that it would feel sterile and boring, which was my main impression from visiting Geneva back when I was 19. And while on the surface, Zurich seems to be a place that’s hard to read, the more hours I spent just wandering around and getting lost, the more I realized that wasn’t the case, and Zurich was much more vibrant than I expected.

Like all great cities, Zurich has layers.

And my favorite layer was the colors. I’m always drawn to colorful places, and amongst the dreary skies, Zurich popped with color everywhere. You just had to look.

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Waking up at the boutique Marktgasse Hotel 

It was late by the time I rocked up to the Marktgasse Hotel, a beautiful boutique hotel right in the old quarter of Zurich and I was wiped. And thanks to my jetlag and raging caffeine addiction (thank you 4am migraine), I was awake bright and early at an ungodly hour. Fabulous.

Lucky for me they have a delicious cafe downstairs called Delish that opens early so I could get my coffee fix a few hours later and begin my day exploring Zurich.

Tucked away in a 15th century building, the hotel was the perfect base to explore around. And man, have I missed medieval buildings. And radiators.

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Climbing the Grossmünster tower

Now that I am seriously into photography which I definitely wasn’t as much when I used to live in Europe, I was stoked to take some great photos of Zurich. Lucky for me the weather cooperated with solid white gray clouds and downpours mixed with snow all day.

Lovely.

But I decided to make the most of it and climb up to the top of the Grossmünster (Zurich’s cathedral) to take in the views. It’s only a few euros and it’s totally worth it.

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Visit Zurich Switzerland

A cozy lunch in the old town 

Zurich has no shortage of delicious spots to dine, and I really struggled to try and pick the best one for my only lunch in town. After scouring Tripadvisor and even asking for tips, I settled on Mère Catherine.

Tucked away down a little street near the cathedral, I headed over for a late lunch and had the place to myself. Listening to the rain outside, I spent a lovely time reading and tucking in to a great meal.

Cute on the outside, cute on the inside, tasty food and friendly staff, it ticked all my boxes.

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Shutters galore

There is one thing I love about Swiss villages and towns, and that is the colorful shutters. Everywhere. I froth on them, and one day I want to make sure whatever house I own has colorful shutters too that I can fling open in the morning a la Beauty and the Beast.

Just me?

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Falling in love with the most beautiful street in Zurich

Go on, I dare you to tell me that isn’t one of the cutest Euro streets you’ve ever laid eyes on?

Don’t miss a walk around Augustinergasse street when you’re in Zurich.

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Water water everywhere

Zurich has over 1200 public fountains where you can fill up your water bottle. Random but awesome.

As someone who drinks a ton of water throughout the day but hates paying for it, especially at Swiss prices, I was in heaven!

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Just wandering and getting lost 

Holy crap is Zurich a cute city, especially around the old quarter and downtown. And as always my best tip for exploring a city is to just wander and get lost amongst it all.

That means having a bit of time and not being in a rush, but luckily Zurich is a good sized decent with exceptional Swiss public transport so you’ll always have the time.

Have you been to Zurich or Switzerland? What’s your favorite place there? Have you ever finally stopped to see a place you’ve only passed through before? Spill!

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Visit Zurich Switzerland

Many thanks to My Switzerland for hosting me in Zurich, like always I’m keeping it real, all opinions are my own, like you could expect less from me.

86 Responses to 24 hours in Zurich, Switzerland

  1. Rachel Jones April 16, 2016 at 6:13 pm #

    I want to start collection miles too… how it took so long IDK! it all seems too complicated but I fly in and out of India LONG haul so much I kick myself for not doing it.. I just did Etihad to Jordan, but the thought of figuring out who they partner with and blah blah is daunting. How do you keep it organized?

    • Liz April 16, 2016 at 8:56 pm #

      I just have two, Emirates and Air New Zealand and collect on both of those because they are the two I fly the most. I’d pick one that has a lot of alliances, like Star Alliance and figure out which ones has the easiest requirement to get status.

  2. Emily April 16, 2016 at 6:33 pm #

    Zurich looks so cute! I went to Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland a few years ago and fell in love with it, I was so gutted I was only there for a day!
    Omg I love Emirates! I’m slowly trying to gather miles with them – one day I will be on the upper level of an airbus!!

    • Liz April 16, 2016 at 8:57 pm #

      Lauterbrunned is just amazing. You have to go back!

  3. Kate April 16, 2016 at 8:19 pm #

    Great post! Zurich sounds so cute! My family visited some 20 years ago, so I have very little memories of it. Hopefully we can make a trip over there before our year in Spain comes to an end.

    • Liz April 16, 2016 at 8:57 pm #

      Definitely try!

  4. Claudia April 16, 2016 at 9:32 pm #

    I have heard marvelous things about Zurich. Shame on me I didn’t visit when I lived in Geneva. I hope this can change soon!

    • Liz April 17, 2016 at 7:29 am #

      Woah it’s right there!!

  5. Liz Peterson April 16, 2016 at 10:22 pm #

    Those views from the cathedral are gorgeous and that street is pretty adorable too – and I’ve seen some pretty cute streets along canals and such throughout Europe :). I’m currently sitting in the Frankfurt airport for the billionth time and have never been outside of it. Now Frankfurt is no Zurich, but maybe next time I’ll plan a longer layover to see what there is to offer ;).

    • Liz April 17, 2016 at 7:29 am #

      I’ve done the same with Frankfurt haha

  6. Claire April 16, 2016 at 11:34 pm #

    I wish I could travel more because it’s one of my favourite things to do. When I went to Nice in March we had a layover in Geneva, only for a few hours though. But in those few hours stuck at the airport, I knew I wanted to go back to Switzerland someday. Flying over the Alps and seeing turquoise rivers and lake was truly something special. Plus the airport was right next to the Alps ^.^ I just love mountains haha.

    • Liz April 17, 2016 at 7:30 am #

      Then you definitely have to go back to Switzerland!

  7. S April 17, 2016 at 6:15 am #

    I’ve never given Zurich a second thought, so it was never on my list of cities to visit. But it looks really lovely on your photos!

    • Liz April 17, 2016 at 7:32 am #

      It is a nice surprise!

  8. Kayla April 17, 2016 at 8:29 am #

    I just think you’re great Liz, I love your writing style and your humor. Plus, your photographs are beautiful.. Keep on keepin’ on guuurl!

    • Liz April 19, 2016 at 5:40 am #

      Thanks!

  9. Sally April 17, 2016 at 10:57 am #

    Glad to see I am not the only one who brings the rain when I travel! Will hopefully get to Switzerland next year, and after your photos I can’t wait to get lost and take some of my own 🙂

    • Liz April 19, 2016 at 5:40 am #

      It’s epic, you’ll have an awesome time!

  10. Rob Conroy April 17, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

    Zurich has been on my radar for a while. This post has made my mind up about wanting to go.

    Everything looks so photogenic! Can’t wait to write my own post about the city.

    • Liz April 19, 2016 at 6:24 am #

      It’s very photogenic!

  11. S.Pesto April 18, 2016 at 12:53 am #

    Super!

    • Liz April 19, 2016 at 6:24 am #

      Cheers

  12. Raju Gurung April 18, 2016 at 3:47 am #

    Wow, I have been to Zurich/Switzerland in 2004/2005 (celebrated Christmas and New Year), visited Thun, GENEVA, Zermatt… beautiful country…

    • Liz April 19, 2016 at 6:25 am #

      It’s beautiful, I still haven’t been to Zermatt!

  13. Carmen April 18, 2016 at 4:33 am #

    And as soon as I mention I’m from Zurich – tadaaa – post about Zurich! I love my city, but when you live there every day of your 26 years of life on this earth you sometimes don’t see the beauty in it or you get so used to it, which is a total shame – so thanks for opening my eyes a little bit again for the beauty of my hometown! 🙂 I have one question for you though: “And man, have I missed medieval buildings. And radiators.” Please explain the meaning of the second sentence? I can’t follow – what the?

    • Liz April 19, 2016 at 6:26 am #

      I know what you mean, sometimes it takes either moving away from home for a while or an outsider to appreciate a place. haha it means that where I live in New Zealand (and most of New Zealand) it’s cold and we don’t have radiators – we heat our houses with fires!! I’m not kidding, I miss radiators or even better, central heating haha

  14. Sarah April 18, 2016 at 5:24 am #

    Zurich looks so beautiful and colorful, even in the winter. I visited Switzerland in the summer years ago but would love to go back !

    • Liz April 19, 2016 at 6:27 am #

      funny I’d love to see it in summer!

  15. Franco April 18, 2016 at 7:15 am #

    Zurich looks pretty! And so are you, Liz! 😀 Wanna go to Europe, it’s on top of my bucketlist!

    • Liz April 19, 2016 at 6:28 am #

      LOL thanks!

  16. Ron April 18, 2016 at 7:38 am #

    The Swiss are big on chocolates hope you had time to try some.

    • Liz April 19, 2016 at 6:28 am #

      haha only with every meal!!

  17. Madi | The Restless Worker April 19, 2016 at 12:38 am #

    Ah! Switzerland is so high on my list I can’t believe I haven’t made it there yet. Everything about the small country seems amazing. I have heard wonderful things. Your 24 hour recap proves that as well. The place looks so beautiful!

    • Liz April 19, 2016 at 6:28 am #

      Thanks!

  18. Our Wanders April 19, 2016 at 2:30 am #

    Haha, it’s funny to read a post about Zurich right after we got back from there. 😀 We’ve spent a bit more than a week in Switzerland which was our first visit to this country – oh but how long ago we have planned to visit it… 🙂
    We enjoyed every moment and Zurich was much more charming than we expected – oh and we had nice sunny days, too, I think that adds a lot to its charming atmosphere. But honestly, after seeing Zurich, Basel and Lucerne in the past two weeks, our very favorite is Lucerne. 🙂

    • Liz April 19, 2016 at 6:28 am #

      Haven’t been there yet!

  19. Kate Storm April 19, 2016 at 3:16 am #

    Zurich looks so beautiful! Switzerland has never been on the short list for me, partially because of the prices, but this makes me excited about the destination.

    I agree, the colors are wonderful and unexpected. How fun!

    • Liz April 19, 2016 at 6:29 am #

      it’s so colorful!

  20. Leighton Wells April 19, 2016 at 7:58 am #

    Looks amazing! can’t wait until I get to go there myself. Hoping to hit the slopes most of the time though 🙂

    • Liz April 20, 2016 at 7:18 am #

      I tried for a bit of both 😀

  21. Jennifer Cooper April 19, 2016 at 12:03 pm #

    Zurich looks lovely. I dont think I have ever been to Switzerland – although I always wanted to go skiing there. I am hoping to explore a little more of Europe soon and hopefully I will make it to Zurich!

    • Liz April 20, 2016 at 7:18 am #

      Hope you get there soon!

  22. vinneve April 20, 2016 at 10:01 pm #

    I love Zurich my hubby’s birthplace. Will be there again soon for a vacay.
    My miles from NZ to ZRH will be a waste I think as I stop using Thai Airways now that I am in a different part of the World. 🙁 Will accumulate a different flyers from another airline. ETIHAD.

    • Liz April 23, 2016 at 11:46 am #

      Etihad is nice too

  23. Lauren April 21, 2016 at 9:15 am #

    You are definitely NOT the only person obsessed with shutters. I too dream of dramatically flinging mine open every morning in fairy tale fashion.

    • Liz April 23, 2016 at 11:47 am #

      yay not just me!

  24. Alisha Davis April 21, 2016 at 11:25 am #

    I’m contemplating going to Zurich this summer and this post definitely helped! Your photo’s are so pretty 🙂

    • Liz April 23, 2016 at 11:47 am #

      thanks!

  25. Jagabond April 21, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

    I love your optimism…you are able to find positives wherever you go, and that’s a good quality to have! Unfortunately I didn’t have the best time in Zurich…not the worst time, I just never ‘got’ the city or found my ‘curious traveler’ groove. I will say that it’s a good launching point to see Liechtenstein from…only a short train/bus ride away.

    • Liz April 23, 2016 at 11:48 am #

      Still haven’t been there yet!

  26. Maggie April 21, 2016 at 5:28 pm #

    wow!! I wish I would have been visiting these amazing places… all this amazing places and adventure!!! Btw thats a beautiful town…

    • Liz April 23, 2016 at 11:48 am #

      thanks!

  27. Andres April 22, 2016 at 5:58 am #

    I share your passion for Swiss. It’s so hard to fall in love with something so peaceful, isn’t it?

    • Liz April 23, 2016 at 11:51 am #

      it’s easy for me 😀

  28. Tatjana April 22, 2016 at 10:04 pm #

    Zürich doesn’t look half bad. I was in Basel once and there was nothing worth-seeing.
    Cheers,

    • Liz April 23, 2016 at 11:56 am #

      haven’t been to basel

  29. Beth April 24, 2016 at 9:19 am #

    Gorgeous city … can’t wait to see Zurich with my own eyes one day!

    • Liz April 26, 2016 at 11:04 am #

      Have fun!

  30. Jane April 26, 2016 at 10:29 am #

    OMG I got an upgrade on Emirates between Sydney & BKK, just by virtue of the people right behind us in line noticed that they had the exact same seats as us … so we all marched up to the desk and to our delight, they kept the seats and we got the upgrade. Well did we feel like the king and queen, it was such a beautiful way to go! We had 22 hours in Bangkok and I had it organized to a T for my husband who’d never been before, and that rest we got in our first class seats proved invaluable for our Bangkok marathon! But then came the BKK-Dubai leg, and as we passed through 1st & Business, and into cattle class, I almost cried!

    • Liz April 26, 2016 at 11:10 am #

      woah woah woah what a treat!

  31. Jane April 26, 2016 at 10:53 am #

    I too am usually surprised and delighted by cities I have never thought twice about. I always find something nice about everywhere I visit, even Reykjavik which has been described as the world’s ugliest city. Maybe it’s historic buildings didn’t look like what I’d expect but once you adjust your mind, you start seeing things in a different perspective.

    As for Zurich, I’ve spent much time in Switzerland, even living there a few months, but Zurich was always the transport change-over point, and nothing more … until one snowy night when we I deliberately scheduled a few hours between trains. What I saw of that city on that cold snowy night was nothing short of charming, and I look forward to the day I go back for a real visit. In the absence of attaching a couple of photos, take a look at my little website, under Travel, (although don’t judge on the Zurich shots, I only had the tiny camera and no tripod with me that cold windy snowy night!) – Fellow Photog Jane

    • Liz April 26, 2016 at 11:10 am #

      beautiful!!

  32. Jennifer @ This Off Script Life April 28, 2016 at 8:19 am #

    I’ve lived in Zurich for 3.5 years now and still haven’t been to the top of the Grossmunster (terrible, I know). But I’ll be adding it to my list of things to do the next time family/friends come to town. And, yes, I’ve also found Zurich to be a rather layered (and sometimes paradoxical) city, small though it is.

    • Liz April 29, 2016 at 1:45 pm #

      what’s your feeling living there?

  33. suraj vishwakarma May 7, 2016 at 12:30 am #

    Hi Liz, you know Switzerland is my dream destination. when i’ll go to somewhere i’ll definitely come to Switzerland. and Zurich looks so beautiful and colorful,even in the winter.

  34. Adriana May 16, 2016 at 3:46 am #

    Great post! I’ve never been to Zurich, but I’ve been to some swiss cities, and absolutely loved it! I really wish to go to Zurich soon!

    • Liz May 16, 2016 at 7:13 pm #

      Don’t miss it!

  35. Sole May 17, 2016 at 2:53 am #

    Hi Liz! A question here out of curiosity.
    How is it that if you are “keeping it real, all opinions are your own, like we could expect less from you”, you dont have ever anything bad to say? Didnt you like something ever? Sth you pay an entrance for and didnt worth it, or a side B of the city, coutry or whatever?.. While traveling shit happends too, it is nice to hear that not everything is always perfect and nice, because otherwise happends that we idealize this places, when they are as real as anywhere else: with good and bad stuff..
    Cheers..!

    • Liz May 17, 2016 at 3:43 pm #

      I always say whatever I think, there are heaps of negative things on here you just haven’t looked far enough. But you’re right with this post, I guess I didn’t really spend enough time in Zurich to notice negative. Noted.

  36. Mark @TravelnPleasure May 18, 2016 at 8:46 am #

    Zurich is such a wonderful destination with so many beautiful attractions all around. Loved reading about your experiences…..a really very resourceful post 🙂

    • Liz May 18, 2016 at 5:20 pm #

      It’s great!

  37. Victoria@ The British Berliner May 20, 2016 at 8:24 am #

    ‘Looks lovely Liz! The houses are just so chocolate-covered sweet!

    I haven’t yet been to Switzerland although I live in Germany. I know! ‘Hoping to spend a weekend there either in the summer or in the autumn.

    • Liz May 20, 2016 at 11:06 am #

      girl it’s right there!!!

  38. Xplorato May 31, 2016 at 9:38 pm #

    Gorgeous pictures, why not make it a week in zurich lol it looks too stunning to just stay for 24 hours. Great read

    • Liz June 3, 2016 at 5:25 am #

      Next time, I was just stopping through

  39. Rohan Maheshwari June 19, 2016 at 4:51 am #

    About to go to Zurich as my first entry into Europe ever. Thanks for the blog! I leave knowing a lot more about the city. Safe travels.

  40. viotur July 2, 2016 at 10:38 pm #

    Zurich is an awesome city with very nice ppl.

    Next year I will go there!

    Thanks for those tips Liz

  41. Konstantinos October 19, 2016 at 12:59 am #

    wow very nice pictures! i like zurich city And thanks for share this amazing post.

  42. Emma October 19, 2016 at 10:01 pm #

    I am from Geneva and a little ashamed to say I’ve been to Zurich for events but never really visited the city itself ! If I can advise you next time you come to Switzerland to stop by Interlaken in Bern. Or the region of Interlaken. It’s amazing and I am in love with it and I don’t understand how one could not love it as much as I do ! Ahah. But it is really beautiful and there are so many things to do 🙂

  43. george valley December 29, 2016 at 12:27 am #

    wow amazing pics of zurich Switzerland such a nice place thanks for share this pics.

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