When You Have 12 Hours In Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich is such a beautiful city rain or shine. While you won't be able to truly be able to experience everything that Zurich has to offer, you can get a pretty plentiful taste in just 12 hours. So whether you have a layover or want to make a day trip from another city, here are my top suggestions to make the most of your day.
Arrive by train to HB station (Hauptbahnhof) which is close to the middle of Zurich. Head outside, no matter which way you come out (North, South, East, or West), you'll be ready to head south toward the "middle" of Zurich. I made the center of town the bridge between Grossmünster and Fraumünster churches.
8:00 am - Arrival (Start walking south along the river toward the east which is the Fraumünster church side)
8:30 am - Breakfast/Coffee at Sprungli near Fraumünster (This is a great place to people watch, grab a heavenly coffee/hot chocolate/expresso and a light breakfast such as rolled oats ( a bargain at 6.5 francs), croissant, or other pastry.
9:30 am - Walk toward Fraumünster church and go inside. It costs 5 francs which will include either a brochure or an audio device that will tell you the story of what you are going to see. You can not take photos inside, and shouldn't. Be respectful, this may not be your house of worship, but it is someones, and you need to respect that.
10:30 am - Head out for a walk going south from the church. Don't be afraid to get lost a little bit; you will always end up by the water if you keep going south. There are small shops and great architecture on the way. When you make it to what I like to call the horseshoe (you have to go one way or another, you can't keep going straight) decide which side of the river you'd like to walk along (continuing south), I like the east aspect of the river. Walk for thirty minutes (seriously, just walk) and find some benches and take it all in. It's something out of a dream -- don't let it pass you by.
11:30 pm - Start heading back toward town (walk north) toward Grossmünster church.
12:30 pm - Grab some lunch at Raclette Factory near Grossmünster in the Niederdorf area. Considering the cost of things in Zurich, this is an incredible bargain with some dishes coming in at just 8 francs.
1:30 pm - Wandering the Niederdorf area will lead you to fun shops, coffee houses for an afternoon pick up, and fantastic photo opportunities.
3:00 pm - Take a tour of Grossmünster church. It doesn't cost to get in, but leaving a donation is always good karma. Same stipulations as the other church, no photos, this is someone's house of worship, and you are a guest. This is my favorite church, and the stain windows are breathtaking.
4:00 pm - Head back to the west side of the river and stroll down the streets of Bahnhofstrasse. This is deemed one of the most expensive streets in the world. You can find some fun gems around the area to look at and admire.
6:00 pm - While wrapping up your evening, head to Hilti, the world's longest running vegetarian restaurant. The food is in a buffet setup, and you only pay for what you dish. If you put your food in a takeaway container, you will save $1 franc. The egg rolls are amazing, the mousse is to die for, and the atmosphere is chic and inviting.
7:00 pm - Head back to the train station which about a thirty-minute walk, or a quick five minute Uber (your choice). Spend an hour going to the three chocolate shops in the train station and picking up treats for yourself or family and friends. You have to visit Sprungli, Laderach, and Teuscher.
Tips - Check the times all of these places are open (winter and summer hours vary)
Don't be afraid to get lost
Traveling solo in Zurich is safe
Don't wear heals
Layers, Layers, Layers
Hold off buying things until the end, so you don't have to carry anything