There are so many places to visit in Zurich and it's possible to cover a lot of ground in one day with a Zurich day pass covering public transportation in various zones around the city. On my most recent business trip to Switzerland, I combined a ZVV day pass with Google Maps to explore some off-the-beaten track locations in Zurich. Read on to learn more about how to spend a day in Zurich using the well-connected system of trains and buses that cover the city.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Did you know that Zurich offers a ton of things to do in the winter? Resist the urge to hiberate and get out there and explore!
Purchase a ZVV Day Pass from the SBB Mobile App
Get started by downloading the SBB Mobile App. From the transit app, you can buy and store a ZVV day pass on your smartphone. Make sure you select a day pass to cover the zones you intend to travel through. Beware that zones 110 (Zurich city center) and 120 (Winterthur) count double when calculating prices. For example, if you intended to visit Effretikon from Zurich Hauptbahnhof, you'd need a 4 zone ticket (2x zone 111 + zone 121 + zone 122 = 4 zones). ZVV transit zones are demystified here. A one day pass cost 13.60 CHF for 3 zones and 17.60 CHF for 4 zones at the time of writing. You can even use the ZVV day pass for a tour around Lake Zurich or the Limmat River if you pay the 5 CHF boat surcharge.
Selecting a Well-Connected Home Base in Zurich
On my trip to Zurich in June 2017, Fleming's Hotel served as my home base. Fleming's Hotel had a few advantages:
- The nightly rates at Fleming's Hotel are really affordable compared to others places in Zurich (e.g., I paid less than 200 CHF per night).
- Fleming's Hotel is air-conditioned (many hotels in Zurich do not have A/C so make sure to ask before you book or you may be in for an uncomfortable surprise if you visit Zurich in the summer).
- Fleming's Hotel sits at the nexus of several transit lines making it easy to get around with a ZVV Day Pass.
Take the Tram Above Zurich's ETH
Zurich's Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule or ETH is one of the top research universities in the world and is well connected to Zurich City Center by tram. Tram numbers 6, 7, and 9 travel from the vicinity of Fleming's Hotel to the ETH. Once I arrived at the university, I walked uphill through the campus to the residential neighborhood above campus. Beautiful homes and scenic views of Zurich below make this a great spot for a walk in Zurich.
Seeking Joyce at Friedhof Fluntern via Public Transit
After exploring the area around the ETH, I consulted Google Maps and noticed a large patch of green on the map at Friedhof Fluntern. Reading various reviews in Google Maps, I discovered that James Joyce, the famous Irish writer was buried here. I've lived in Dublin for the past seven years and never realized that there was a Joyce connection to Zurich. I just had to check out the cemetery. I used my trusty ZVV day pass on Tram number 6 and headed in the direction of Zoo Zurich.
Ten minutes later, I was at the cemetery gate. Friedhof Fluntern was incredibly peaceful; a great spot for quiet reflection.
Irish Central provides a fascinating account of why James Joyce is buried in Zurich. It essentially boiled down to the outbreak of World War II necessitating an evacuation from France and the Irish Catholic writer being mistaken as a Jew (due to Leopold Bloom, the protagonist in Ulysses, being a Dublin Jew).
I love how easy it was to discover this cool place to visit in Zurich with Google Maps and then not have to think twice about visiting due to my unlimited ZVV day pass.
A Walk in the Wheat Above Zurich
Outside of Friedhof Fluntern, I was enamored by a golden field of wheat. Consulting Google Maps, it looked like a trail extended along the field and past a community garden.
Reconnect with Public Transit Near Theater Rigiblick
I could see the century old landmark, Theater Rigiblick on Google Maps and knew that I'd be able to connect back up with public transportation there. The theatre sits right at the edge of the forest; an idyllic setting. I was planning to take the bus using my ZVV day pass but then I noticed a cable car station nearby. At first I wasn't sure if my transit pass would cover the cable car and the station was entirely unmanned. A friendly family assured me that the ride was covered and I hopped onboard.
Descent from Rigiblick by Cable Car
I love special modes of transportation, especially when they don't come at an extra cost. The ride on the cable car from Rigiblick to Seilbahn Rigiblick dropped me off on busy Universitätstrasse.
Bakery Conditorei Stocker
I was exploring Zurich on a Sunday when many attractions and restaurants are closed. I was pleased to find Bakery Conditorei Stocker, a great little spot for a slice of quiche and a coffee. What a great way to end a day exploring interesting and free places to see in Zurich using a combination of a ZVV day pass and Google Maps.
Have you explored Zurich using public transportation? What are your recommendations for what to do in Zurich for a day?
Looking for more ideas for things to do in Zurich for a day or a weekend, check out:
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other places to visit around Zurich using the extensive network of trains? Why not consider a half-day trip to Rapperswil. Nestled on the lake, Rapperswil is great for a hike. Stand in the shadow of Rapperswil Castle and enjoy the fantastic atmosphere.
1-Day Zurich Itinerary Maps Using a ZVV Day Pass
See below for a series of Google Maps detailing the combination walking/public transit itinerary that I used on my day of exploration in Zurich.
- Zurich, It's for the Birds (explore places to go birdwatching around Zurich City)