How to Spend 2 Days in Zurich on a Budget
Planning to travel 2 days in Zurich on a budget and wondering about the best things to do in Zurich? Well, you have landed at the right place. Find out how to explore the best of Zurich in two days with popular Zurich tourist attractions, Zurich travel budget and helpful pro travel tips for the first-timers.
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2 Days in Zurich Itinerary
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland located in the northern part of the country at the north end of Lake Zurich. Being the important transportation hub of Switzerland, most of the travelers prefer to start their Switzerland trip from Zurich.
Now the question may arise whether we can explore Zurich in one day or need 2 days in Zurich. It depends on what you want to see in Zurich, your holiday duration and obviously your budget.
If you are on a short holiday trip with a low budget, choose 1 day Zurich itinerary. But if you want to discover each corner of Zurich in an efficient way, follow this 2 day Zurich itinerary.
How to Reach Zurich
By Air: Zurich International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in Switzerland. It is well connected with most of the European countries and USA, Canada. You can get a train from the airport to the central railway station of Zurich(Hauptbahnhof). It takes around 12 minutes to reach Hauptbahnhof.
By Train: Zurich is well integrated with the Swiss railway network and is connected with almost all the major cities in Switzerland. If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, traveling by train could be extremely efficient and comfortable.
By Road: Traveling by road could be the cheapest way to get to Zurich if you come from any other parts of the country or from any neighboring countries. Most highways in Switzerland are very scenic and leads to Zurich.
Best Time to Visit Zurich
June to August is the summer months in Zurich. It is the peak season when maximum tourists come to visit Zurich for its pleasant weather. Finding a cheap hotel is quite difficult during the high season.
December to February is also the peak time in Zurich for its proximity to the Swiss Alps’ ski slopes. Winter months are perfect for adventure enthusiasts and winter sports lovers. And the best thing is that you can explore the pretty Swiss Christmas markets in winter.
If you are a budget travel buff or a backpacker you can visit Zurich from March to May or from September to November. During this time period, the temperatures hover around 4-12°C but you can find some reasonable hotel rate.
Getting Around Zurich
The best way to get around Zurich is on foot or by bike. The public transport system is very good in Zurich and way cheaper than using the Swiss Travel Pass. I will highly recommend you renting a car instead of buying a Swiss Travel Pass if you plan for a solo trip to Switzerland on a budget.
You may also find this article helpful – Swiss Travel Pass or Rent a Car-Cheapest way to Travel in Switzerland.
Foot and Bike: Either you can walk or can rent a bike (with valid id proof and 20 CHF deposit) to explore the cobblestone streets and weaving alleys in the Old Town area. Biking around the promenade along Lake Zurich and the Limmat riverfront can be a very pleasant experience.
Buses and Trams: Zurich has several bus routes but the most convenient way is to travel by tram. Trams have the widest network in Zurich and a good way to get around the city.
Rent a Car: If you visit Zurich along with other Swiss cities, you can rent a car to save money. Don’t miss this necessary road trip packing list before starting your road trip. But driving around Zurich is not recommended for its high traffic and limited parking options.
Day Passes: If you buy the Swiss Travel Pass, you will have access to any kind of public transport in Zurich, but it is very expensive. Another option is having a Zurich Card which offers similar facilities but restricted to Zurich city at a cheaper price.
Should You Buy a Zurich Card?
Zurich Card offers many benefits like unlimited travel by bus, tram, train, boat, cable car in Zurich and the surrounding region. It also offers a free 90-minute boat trip in Lake Zurich and a cruise on the Limmat River.
With Zurich Card, you will get a free or discounted admission to more than 40 museums in Zurich city. The Zurich Card costs around 27 CHF which is valid for 24 hours and for 72 hours you need to pay around 53 CHF.
Where to Stay 2 Days in Zurich at Cheap
As already mentioned, Zurich is an expensive city to travel. There is no shortage of high-end luxury hotels in Zurich.
However, if you are looking for cheap accommodation, I will recommend you book your hotel near the airport. You will find hotels a little bit cheaper than downtown.
You can also book an Airbnb apartment to save your budget. Hostels are ideal for solo travelers and backpackers.
Budget Accommodation in Zurich
If you are a budget travel buff, Zurich Youth Hostel will be the perfect option for your 2 day Zurich itinerary. It is just a stone’s throw from Lake Zurich. The rooms are spacious, clean and the hostel location is perfect with good public transport facilities.
Mid Range to Luxury Hotels in Zurich
Hotel Adler is a fantastic mid-range hotel located in the heart of the old town. The location is awesome, the staffs are very polite and welcoming. They also run a Swiss restaurant. You must try their Cheese Fondue.
Best Things to do in Zurich in 2 Days
Zurich is one of the wealthiest cities in Europe and also an expensive one which is filled with amazing sites that attract visitors from all over the globe. There is no shortage of spots to check out inside and outside of the city.
From beautiful churches to gorgeous medieval streets and the cutest cafés, Zurich has a lot to offer its visitors. If you are looking for the best places to visit in Zurich in two days, keep reading.
Day 1 of 2 Days in Zurich Itinerary
I have split the list ‘top things to do in Zurich’ in 2 parts so that you can plan your itinerary accordingly.
Old Town in Zurich(Altstadt)
Start your Zurich travel with exploring Old Town, the heart of the city that has not changed much in the centuries. It is also known as Altstadt which is the home of museums, beautiful little alleyways, cozy restaurants and cafés.
Explore the medieval cobbled streets of the old town on foot. Visit the Limmat waterfront that adds more beauty to this picturesque old town.
You can also take a 2 hour guided walking tour that offers fascinating insights into the city’s colorful history.
This is a Romanesque Protestant church that was built at the beginning of the 12th century. According to legend, the church was built by Charlemagne on the graves of the city’s patron saints, Felix and Regula.
The twin towers are one of the main highlights in Zurich attractions. You can climb up its tower to enjoy the best view of Zurich paying only 5 Franks. From its rooftop, it offers a great panoramic birds-eye view of the historic old town.
Opening Hours: 10 am to 5 pm (Mon to Sat)
Admission Fee: Free(Have to pay 5 CHF if you want to climb the tower)
Walk Along Bahnhofstrasse
It is the most popular and most expensive shopping street in the world. This posh street connects Zurich central railway station and Zurich Lake. You will get to see most of the luxury designer brand stores and boutiques here.
You can stroll along Bahnhofstrasse street, do window shopping(if you are a budget traveler). Just keep in mind that the street is only used by the tram network of Zurich.
You will also find here the largest Swiss banks such as UBS, Credit Swiss and Paradeplatz, the most expensive square of Zurich. It is the perfect place to see the busy city life of Zurich.
It is one of the most iconic landmarks in Zurich located on the other side of the river from Grossmunster. It was founded by Charlemagne’s grandson Louis the German in the 9th century.
Visit the converted church building and admire the five stunning stained glass windows. The beautiful frescoes, the organ all create a very special and unique atmosphere inside the church.
Promenade Along Zurich Lake
Your 2 day Zurich itinerary is incomplete without visiting Lake Zurich.
Lake Zurich promenade is one of the most romantic places in Switzerland for couples. It is the place perfect for a morning walk or a romantic evening stroll.
Visitors can enjoy discovering everything that the lake offers from a different type of boat tours to plenty of swimming areas. Take a free boat ride with your daily pass(Zurich card or Swiss Travel Pass) and get off at the first stop, Zurichhorn Park
To explore this beautiful lake and nearby parks, you at least need a day. You can join 4 hour Zurich City Tour that includes a cruise on Lake Zurich and a cable car ride to Felsenegg.
Day 2 of 2 Days in Zurich Itinerary
University of Zurich – Botanical Garden
People who are looking for free things to do in Zurich must visit the University of Zurich Botanical Garden. If you have a daily pass, take a joy ride on Polybahn. This funicular ride takes you straight to the university campus. Enjoy the beautiful city view from here.
This botanical garden is the home of more than 8000 different kinds of plants. Its main motive is to provide a systematic representation of the world’s flora.
The new botanical garden was built in 1976 with a group of three dome-shaped greenhouses. If you love plants and flowers, don’t forget to check popular botanical gardens in California.
Hike on the Uetliberg
If you love hiking, you must explore Uetliberg mountain, the main mountain of Zurich. It is just 20 minutes train ride away from the central station of Zurich.
It is a beginner’s level hike and the hikers who go to the top will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Zurich, its rivers, Zurich lake and the snow-capped Alps in the background.
Limmat River Cruise
Want to see Zurich from a different angle? Hop on a Limmat River cruise and get a chance to see the views of the National Museum, the old town, the Zurichhorn and other historical sites that can’t be seen from the land.
The cruises operate only from April to October at any time between 9 am to 9 pm and each tour lasts around an hour.
The cruise offers a great opportunity to take stunning pictures of Zurich’s town hall, the Lindenhof, and Grossmünster Church and many other sites of Zurich. Click here to book Limmat River Cruise.
There are numerous swimming spots in Lake Zurich and Limmat River. If you travel Zurich in the summer months you must carry a swimsuit with you. You can swim to any of these swimming spots without having to worry about the quality of the water and changing room.
You can just chill or take a sunbathe by the Lake Zurich or Limmat River. This is another free thing that you can do in Zurich.
Day Trips from Zurich
Beyond this 2 day Zurich itinerary, if you can manage more days to spend in Zurich, you can try these day-trip ideas from Zurich.
Lucerne and Mt. Pilatus
Lucerne is one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland which is just a 50-minute train ride away from Zurich. Explore the Old Town, medieval lane, City Center and Lake Lucerne. Thereafter, ride the cable car up to Mt. Pilatus.
Check out this detail Lucerne travel guide: How to Spend 2 Days in Lucerne on a Budget.
It is the home of some of the best hikes in Switzerland. Admire the stunning landscapes and explore the Bernese Oberland on a day trip from Zurich. The small Swiss villages, jagged mountains peaks, and numerous waterfalls are the main highlights of Interlaken. Book a guided day trip to Grindelwald and Interlaken.
Check out this detail Interlaken travel guide: Must-See Places in Interlaken in 2 Days.
Lugano is an off the beaten path in Switzerland. It doesn’t get much attention from travelers, but if you want to get the pure Swiss essence in a less crowded place, visit Lugano. You can take a full-day tour to explore the city and its lovely old town.
Where to Eat in Zurich on a Budget
Restaurants in Zurich are also expensive, but you will surely enjoy the taste of the foods here. From traditional Swiss to Italian, Indian, and Continental, Zurich has varieties of cuisines. Budget travelers and backpackers can save some bucks by cooking their own food in the hostel kitchen or can buy ready to eat food from the supermarket like Migros or Coop. Eating cheap in Switzerland is hard but not impossible.
Tips: Don’t miss the signature Swiss dish ‘Cheese Fondue’ which is made with famous Swiss cheese. If you are a chocolate lover don’t miss Max Chocolatier, one of the best chocolate shops in Switzerland.
You can check in any of these restaurants in Zurich:
- Zum Kropf (Traditional)
- Le Dezaley (Swiss)
- La Pasta (Italian)
- Neela (Indian)
If you are looking for some spicy authentic Indian food, check out the best Indian restaurants in Zurich.
2 Days in Zurich Travel Cost
Budget travelers may think that traveling in Zurich is challenging with a low budget. Actually, it isn’t. If you research properly and plan your trip in advance in an efficient way(finding the cheap hostel, cheap restaurants, and free tourist attractions), I can assure you that 2 Days Zurich travel won’t break your bank.
- Hotels: $80-$150/Night
- Hostels: $40-$60/Night
- Food: $20/Day
- Local Transport(Zurich Card): $27
Total Suggested Zurich Travel Cost: Approx. $175 for 2 Days
Zurich Travel Tips
- Book your hotels, hostels, or Airbnb 3-4 months before to get a cheap hotel deal.
- Accommodations near the airport are cheaper than the hotels in downtown.
- Hostels are also good to save money on food. You can cook and share your food with others. Check how to eat cheap while traveling.
- Avoid taxis, use the bike and Zurich Card to get around the city.
- Use some helpful free travel apps such as Guides by Lonely Planet, Moovit which can make your trip flawless.
- Don’t waste your money on packaged drinking water. Refill your water filter bottles from any of the fountains of Switzerland that comes straight from the Swiss Alps.
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Great info very detailed. Was planning to visit this summer but got postponed. Will definately refer back.
Zurich has always been on my bucket list and you’ve given me some great ideas on how to enjoy it even more once the travel ban is lifted. Super informative! Loved it. Great pics, by the way.
Also was heading there this summer, but it got scrapped. Thank you for the ideas for when a trip to Zurich is again a possibility.
Finally I got some greatly detailed information about Zurich. I was planning to visit Zurich last year but postponed. Now I have better resources for planning. Thanks!
What great tips to travel Zurich in a couple of days. I am such a fan of Switzerland! Yet, I have still to travel via the Swiss railway network, it’s on my things to do list. I imagine it’s a fantastic way to see a lot.
$175 for 2 days in this beautiful town. Wow. That Zürich card option is awesome, more cities should offer that all over. The botanical gardens look so relaxing and I’m sure it smells good.
You are so lucky. I would love to visit Zurich! Yet, your review and pics make me feel like I’m already there plus great tips!
I love the botanical garden. These suggestions are amazing. Thank you for sharing.
Definitely giving me wanderlust lol. Good itinerary.
Those are such useful and awesome tips. Thanks a lot for these useful ideas!!
Nice detailed itinerary. Zürich is an awesome place, I would want to visit it again.
Visiting this wonderful place is on of my dreams!! Hope to visit Zurich soon. Thank you for sharing your experience! You seemed to enjoy it!
Those botanical gardens are really amazing. I wish to explore whole of switzerland once again.
This looks amazing!! We haven’t been to Zurich yet, but it is definitely on our list! Thanks!