Stadtbild der Innenstadt von Zürich in der Schweiz bei Sonnenuntergang.

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3 Days in Zurich for First Timers

Organisiert von Helen Shepherda travel writer who liked Switzerland so much that she moved there.

Zurich is one of my favorite places to bring family and friends when they visit me in my adopted home nation. From its famous financial district and historic Old Town to its namesake lake and mountain, the attractive capital has a lot to offer—and over the years I’ve grown to know the city and its offerings well. Whether my guests are after a bite of Swiss schoggi, insight into the confederation’s long history, or a glimpse of Alpine panoramas, I’ve honed this comprehensive itinerary to suit the tastes of any first-timer in Zurich.

The Swiss summer is seriously hot—do like the locals and bring your swimsuit so you can cool off in the lake at any opportunity.

If you only have time for one thing, make it a walk around Zurich’s incredible Old Town.

Day 1

Dedicate your first morning to getting the lay of the land while ticking off some of the city’s must-see sights, such as Lindenhof, Fraumünster Church, and Lake Zurich. A guided tour will help you cover all the highlights as well as enjoy a lake cruise and cable car ride up to the Felsenegg Alpine viewpoint.

Come afternoon, take your pick from Zurich’s many cultural and historical landmarks to get a more intimate glimpse into Swiss heritage. Grossmünster Church, Zurich Art Gallery (Kunsthaus), and the Swiss National Museum (Landesmuseum) are all top choices.

Day 2

Now that you’ve seen the hits, it’s time to go off the beaten track. A former industrial quarter, Zurich West is one of the city’s most up-and-coming neighborhoods, boasting impressive architecture, cultural spaces, and trendy cafés. Learn more about the area’s unique development on a walking tour.

After a tasty lunch of vegan fare or farm-fresh fondue in District 5, hop back on the tram at Hardbrücke and ride the few stops back to Paradeplatz. From here, you can enjoy an afternoon of shopping on the exclusive Bahnhofstrasse or uncover the secrets of Swiss banking on a walking tour of the financial district.

Day 3

No visit to Switzerland is complete without a little Alpine adventure, and fortunately Zurich is a major departure point for day trips. Popular options include the dramatic peaks and alpine wonderlands of either Mt. Titlis or Jungfraujoch or the scenic cascades and medieval charm of Rhine Falls.

But my personal pick has to be a picturesque and food-inspired tour of the countryside, with Swiss cheese and chocolate tastings included.

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