15 Best Day Trips from Zurich

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Best known at the epicentre of the world’s banking and financing industry Zurich is a versatile and vibrant city to visit.

A truly buzzing metropolitan, big things happen in Zurich but away from the corporate hustle and bustle there is a lot to explore in the world’s financial capital.

No trip to Zurich would be complete without a paddle on Lake Zurich, a browse around Grossmünster and Fraumünster and a saunter through modern, trendy Kreis 5. Then it’s time to escape the city limits and explore wider Switzerland.

From mountains, to villages from waterfalls to cathedrals there is so much to enjoy.

Let’s take a look at the best day trips from Zurich:

1. Mount Titlis

Mount TitlisSource: KeongDaGreat / shutterstock
Mount Titlis

Mount Titlis is one of the most popular ski fields in Switzerland, in the Uri Alps.

Whether you’re a snow sports enthusiast or not, Mount Titlis makes for a wonderful day trip from Zurich.

The TITLIS Rotair is the world’s first revolving cable car and offers spectacular panoramic views of the mountain landscape.

It is possible to try tobogganing, cross country skiing and mountain biking at Mount Titlis.

A fun and active day out for all the family, Mount Titlis is one of Switzerland’s best kept secrets.

2. Jungfraujoch

JungfraujochSource: Shutterstock

Also known as the Top of Europe, Jungfraujoch is a mountainous saddle that connects Jungfrau and Mönch in the Bernese Alps.

During a day trip to Jungfraujoch you can visit the Sphinx Observation Terrace and Plateau and take a moment or two to take in the incredible views of the vast Aletsch Glacier.

From Jungfraujoch you can look out from the cogwheel train and be able to observe three peaks of the Bernese Alps, Jungfrau and Mönch, as you would expect, but Eiger too.

Jungfraujoch is an unforgettable day trip from Zurich that should be high on the bucket list of any budding adventurer.

3. Grindelwald

GrindelwaldSource: Simon Dannhauer / shutterstock

The village of Grindelwald lies at the foothills of the Bernese Alps and is considered to be the gateway to the Jungfrau region.

This popular little ski town can be found 138 km from Zurich city centre.

Popular day trip activities in Grindelwald include zip-lining at First, sledding at Faulhorn and hiking at Bachalpsee.

The village is surrounded by rolling green pastures crisscrossed with footpaths, countless waterfalls and beautiful trickling streams.

If you want to experience authentic Swiss countryside then a trip to Grindelwald is just the ticket.

4. Interlaken

 Interlaken, SwitzerlandSource: Boris-B / shutterstock
Interlaken, Switzerland

Interlake is a picturesque lakeside resort town that lies in the Bernese Oberland in central Switzerland.

As its name would suggest Interlaken has lakes to the east and to the west of its township.

Interlaken is sandwiched between the glistening, azure Lake Thun and the deeper, Saffire Lake Brienz which even has its own waterfall.

Known for its great shopping arcades Interlaken has something for everyone.

The old timber houses that straddle the Aare River are quintessential Swiss and very photogenic.

Interlaken is the starting point for a number of fabulous day hikes that suit every fitness level.

5. Lucerne

Lucerne, SwiterzerlandSource: gevision / shutterstock

The city of Lucerne is best known for its medieval architecture and snow-capped mountain backdrop.

Lake Lucerne is the main draw for many travellers and is the perfect place to relax and unwind.

It is possible to jump aboard a paddle steamer and explore the city from the water.

The most iconic landmark in Lucerne has to be Kapellbrücke, the long, winding bridge that is lined on both sides with art.

Lucerne is an incredibly picturesque city and one could easy spend a day sauntering from one street to another capturing every last enchanting element of this city.

Those interested in art should incorporate a visit to the Museum Sammlung Rosengart during their day trip.

6. Mount Pilatus

Mount PilatusSource: pongpinun traisrisilp / shutterstock
Mount Pilatus

Mount Pilatus is a mountain steeped in folklore and superstition, from being home to giants and dragons, there is a wealth of mystery to explore.

The best way to enjoy Mount Pilatus is to jump aboard the cogwheel train at Kriens and be whisked up to Krienseregg.

On this aerial gondola ride you will be greeted with breathtaking views of the mountain landscape that surrounds you.

After a brief stop at Krienseregg you can jump back aboard the gondola to be transported a step closer up to the peak of Mount Pilatus to Fräkmüntegg.

The final gondola ride sees you scale the Dragon’s Ride all the way to the Pilatus peak, 2,132 m above sea level.

The views from the top are worth every penny.

Make sure to have charged your camera.

7. Engelberg

Engelberg, SwitzerlandSource: VICTOR TORRES / shutterstock

Engelberg is home to one of the most impressive monasteries in all of Europe.

The Engelberg Baroque monastery was constructed by Benedictine monks in 1120. To this day the monastery is home to over 3 devoted monks.

Engelberg is a quaint, sleepy village known for its homemade cheeses.

The village itself is very photogenic and there are lots of locally run handicraft shops to peruse.

The Engelberg Ironworks are a UNESCO World Heritage Site that may be of interest for many.

It is possible to couple a visit to Engelberg with a flying visit to Lucerne if you are short on time.

8. Rigi

Rigi, SwitzerlandSource: Kreangkrai Pat / shutterstock

Rigi is a mountain massif that lies nestled away in the Alps of central Switzerland.

Almost wholly encompassed by lakes, Rigi is a geographical wonder.

Surrounded by Lake Lucerne, Lake Zug and Lake Lauerz, the peak of Rigi offers wonderful views of the water filled land below.

Standing at a proud 1,798 m above sea level it is possible to reach the Rigi peak by hiking but the most popular option is to take a relaxing ride to the top on the mountain railway.

Rigi is affectionately known as the Queen of the Mountains and is one of Switzerland’s best kept secrets.

9. Appenzell

Appenzell, SwitzerlandSource: purwanto lim / shutterstock

The small village of Appenzell is a picture postcard of a Swiss village that is a real treat to visit.

Featuring classic Swiss mountain homes, rolling pastures and the Alpstein mountains in the distance Appenzell is what many would describe as perfection.

Naturally, hiking is the most popular activity in Appenzell and popular hills to hike include Hoher Kasten, Saxer Lüke and the Marwees.

Some would argue that these are not hills at all but mountains; these are hikes for true hiking enthusiasts.

For those who want to avoid the steep slopes then the Museum Appenzell is a wonderful place to visit and exhibits artefacts from this small town’s rich and varied history.

10. Kleine Scheidegg

Kleine ScheideggSource: Bob Pool / shutterstock
Kleine Scheidegg

Kleine Scheidegg is a mountain pass that sits between the peaks of Eiger and Lauberhorn in Bernese Oberland.

This is another of day trip from Zurich that involves Switzerland’s amazing cogwheel trains.

Once at the peak of the Kleine Scheidegg you can choose to relax and take in the view or get exploring.

From here you can make a start on the Jungfrau Eiger Walk which offers breathtaking views of the Eiger glacier.

If you don’t fancy a hike then you can get settled in one of the many restaurants that sit atop the mountain and spend a day reading, sipping coffee and taking in the awesome view.

11. Basel

Basel City HallSource: Shutterstock
Basel City Hall

Sitting on a bend of the Rhine River is the thriving city of Basel.

Bordering France and Germany this multicultural city is a treat to explore.

Firmly away from the mountains Basel offers a cultural day trip from Zurich that is not to be missed.

Featuring a medieval old town, Basel has a wealth of history to take in.

The Marktplatz is a great starting point where the main focus is the red sandstone Town Hall.

From here make your way to the Basel Minister, the city’s impressive Gothic cathedral that features not one but two towering spires.

The Beyeler Foundation is home to a wonderful collection of modern and contemporary art which provides an additional layer of culture to an exciting day trip to Basel.

12. Fribourg

Fribourg, SwitzerlandSource: Ycharton / shutterstock

Fribourg is a charming and enchanting city in Switzerland that lies 156 km from Zurich.

Fribourg is one of the best preserved medieval towns in all of Switzerland.

If you’re seeking a relaxed day trip from Zurich then Fribourg is a great starting point.

Lying on the River Sarine, Fribourg is home to countless cafes and boutiques that are just waiting to be explored.

The Cathedral of St Nicholas is the highlight of the day; the stained-glass windows are an example of master craftsmanship.

There are dozens of art galleries to explore including Musée d’art et d’histoire, Espace Jean Tinguely and Musee Gutenberg.

13. Gruyere

Gruyere, SwitzerlandSource: canadastock / shutterstock

Best known for its cheese, Gruyere has a wealth of culture to explore.

Gruyeres Castle is easily the highlight of the day.

This 13th-Century chateaux sits atop the hill and is fortified, even to this day.

No trip to Gruyere would be complete without a visit to la Maison du Gruyere, the home of the famous cheese.

A visit to the factory not only gives you the opportunity to stock up from the source but also to learn about the production process and how Gruyere gets its distinctive taste.

Chocolate lovers should substitute la Maison du Gruyere for a visit to La Maison Cailler, the oldest chocolate factory in Switzerland.

14. Mount Stanserhorn

Mount StanserhornSource: Denis Linine / shutterstock
Mount Stanserhorn

Mount Stanserhorn is home to the world’s first CabriO cable car.

Visitors can experience Mount Stanserhorn is so many ways.

You can wind through the meadows on the vintage funicular or scoot straight to the stop via the CabriO cable car.

At the top of Mount Stanserhorn is the marmot park home to, you’ve guessed it, dozens of super cute marmots.

Many travellers opt to have lunch at the rotating Rondorama restaurant.

A total novelty but lots of fun, they serve great food too.

If you are short on time you can couple a visit to the peaks of Mount Stanserhorn with a tour of Lucerne and Lake Lucerne too.

15. St Gallen

St. Gallen, SwitzerlandSource: LaMiaFotografia / shutterstock
St Gallen

St Gallen sits south of Lake Constance in the north east of Switzerland.

Home to the Abbey of St Gall there is an abundance of cultural significant to explore in St Gallen.

The Abbey’s library has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it survived a fire that broke out in 937 that destroyed the rest of the Abbey complex.

A visit to the Abbey library is the highlight of any day trip to St Gallen.

The Old Town is totally pedestrianised meaning you can wander and window shop to your heart’s content.

St Gallen is very close to Appenzell and as such the two can be visited in the space of one day should you be pressed for time.

15 Best Day Trips from Zurich:

  • Mount Titlis
  • Jungfraujoch
  • Grindelwald
  • Interlaken
  • Lucerne
  • Mount Pilatus
  • Engelberg
  • Rigi
  • Appenzell
  • Kleine Scheidegg
  • Basel
  • Fribourg
  • Gruyere
  • Mount Stanserhorn
  • St Gallen