Solo Travel Zurich: An Independent Guide to a Beautiful Swiss City

solo travel zurich: these views are the best

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If you’re planning a trip to Switzerland, you will likely add Zurich as a stop in your itinerary. Switzerland’s largest city is often included in travel plans, since the majority of people are already familiar with the city’s abundant wealth, ritzy shops, adorable Old Town, and overall high quality of life. 

Yes, without a doubt, Zurich is a strikingly beautiful city. This is the image of Zurich that immediately pops into our heads: a perfectly preserved Old Town that hugs both sides of Limmat river. Glistening church spires punch the open skies, as well-dressed people carry Rolex and Hermes shopping bags as they mindless stroll cobblestone streets.  

Ultimately, a city break in Zurich is elegant and sophisticated, but what about solo travel to Zurich? Are there any challenges if you want to visit by yourself? Is it even a good idea to go?

After all, we also know Zurich, uh, isn’t the cheapest destination on the planet. Far from it. (More on the price tag later, haha). 

solo travel zurich and stopping at a bar
Solo Travel Zurich Tip: Treat Yourself to a Nice Cocktail.

My Experience in Zurich

Okay, so, I actually really loved Zurich despite the city’s perceived shortcomings. Zurich is known for being rich and boring, because unless money stuffs your wallet, you need to carefully, carefully track your budget here.

I think the main reasons that I liked Zurich so much was because I had also spent plenty of time to explore Switzerland’s other regions. For instance, I wandered through small towns in Appenzell, climbed mountains in the Bernese Oberland, and sampled cheese in Gruyeres. 

Not to mention, I already knew what to expect in Zurich. I arrived at the end of my trip with one major goal: to relax in classy cafes and shop for souvenirs. 

A lot of people find Zurich “disappointing,” because to be honest, there isn’t a ton for visitors to “do” other than savor the city’s vibes.  I already knew this ahead of time. 

enjoying a summer meal in zurich
Solo Travel Zurich Tip: Dine Outdoors at a Cafe,

Why Visit Zurich Alone

Should you visit Zurich alone? Yes, but with some caveats.

Honestly, as much as I loved Zurich, you want to make sure you experience other parts of Switzerland. Solo travel in Switzerland is amazing for all types of travelers.

For example, solo travel in Lake Geneva absolutely blew my mind in the best possible way. The scenery stole my heart. If you spend an excessive amount of time in Zurich, you’ll probably run out of things to do.

To tell you the truth, I think a single day in Zurich is plenty of time to get a taste of the city. You can certainly base yourself here if you don’t want to pack and change hotels a million times, but try not to spend most of your trip in Zurich. 

At the end of the day, Zurich is a classy city that’s perfect for travelers who want to see Switzerland’s “urban side,” as well as the country’s majestic scenery in the form of well-planned day trips. 

Let’s dive into specifics. Keep in mind that if you need more help, I also provide solo travel planning services to Europe. 

solo travel zurich tip: take walks whenever possible

Reasons to Travel Alone to Zurich

Fantastic Tourist Infrastructure 

You don’t have to worry about public transportation in Zurich (or anywhere in Switzerland).

In Zurich, the infrastructure is great for solo travelers, because the trains and trams eliminate any hassle and anxiety of a rental car.

Speaking from personal experience, I hate driving around alone even in my home state, and the thought of renting a car in a foreign country makes me want to go running for the hills. 

If you’re staying in Zurich for more than 24 hours, I suggest investing in the Zurich City Card, which gives you unlimited access to Zurich’s trains, trams, and busses. 

solo travel zurich: wander for lovely views like these

Few Safety Concerns

You won’t need to worry about your safety as a solo traveler in Zurich. Seriously, for a city of its size, I felt remarkably safe exploring Zurich’s streets. I am far more on “alert” at home. 

Tourists are very rarely – if ever – targets of violent crime. A solo female traveler is welcome to explore the city without attracting much attention.

However, you still want to remain aware of any personal valuables. Like other European cities, pickpocketing is still a possibility in Zurich. Don’t lose sleep over it, of course, and if you’re worrying excessively about a stolen passport or wallet, you can take additional steps to protect yourself.

For example, you might want to invest in a Pacsafe crossbody bag to enjoy an extra level of security in Zurich’s train station or crowded Old Town streets. 

As always, common sense applies in Zurich. Don’t drink a ton of alcohol and wander into a dark alley alone at three in the morning, for example.

zurich switzerland has lots of swans
You can also meet swans as a solo traveler to Zurich!

Easy to Meet Other Travelers

Do you want to meet other people on your trip to Switzerland? If so, then I recommend going to Zurich for at least one night.

Switzerland’s high prices scare off some budget-minded backpackers. However, Zurich is such a popular city that you’re bound to have a conversation with someone, especially if you decide to stay in a hostel (more suggestions on those later!).

Not to mention, Zurich is home to Switzerland’s largest airport. So, unsurprisingly, a ton of travelers come through this charming city either at the beginning or end of their Swiss itineraries. 

I also suggesting signing up for a Zurich walking tour or a group day trip to nearby locations. A group activity is a fantastic way to make new travel buddies! You’re all in the same boat. And even if your group has no other solo travelers, I promise someone will say “hello!” to you.

chapel bridge is a "must see" with one day in lucerne

Perfect Hub for Day Trips

Zurich’s abundant train connections make it a perfect base for day trips. Like I said, as a city, there are limited big attractions in Zurich. You ought to come to Zurich for the shops and restaurants. However, the true beauty of Switzerland can be discovered in the country’s impeccable lakes and mountains. 

Due to Zurich’s ideal location and size, the city is a fantastic base if you only have time to take a couple of day trips. 

For instance, it’s a piece of cake to visit Lucerne in one day from Zurich. Trains frequently run from both main stations with the entire journey taking 41 minutes. Actually trains go literally all over the country! You can go absolutely anywhere you want!

If you’re staying in Zurich longer than 24 hours, take advantage of those gorgeous and sleek Swiss trains, and go exploring until your heart is content.

zurich has lots of shopping

Plenty of Shopping

Do you love to shop? Then Zurich is perfect for you. Peeeeeerfect!

As a solo traveler, you have the ability to slip inside cute boutiques and speciality shops, and take all the time in the world to browse the shelves. Personally, I love shopping alone, because I don’t have to worry about whether I’m frustrating other people, as I examine each and every object in front of me.

Of course, I recommend patronizing small businesses in Zurich rather than the large luxury stores. You can find plenty of unique stores that you won’t see anywhere else in the world. However,

Regardless of my love for small businesses, though, I still recommend that you walk on Bahnhoffstrasse. You’re in for a delightful experience. Bahnhoffstrasse is also known as the most expensive shopping street in the whole world. The window shopping is the definition of “divine” and ogling at the displays won’t cost you a single bill.

All in all, Zurich is perfect for solo travelers who want to browse unique fashions, handmade journals, designer watches, and more without compromising on their time. 

relaxing in zurich's airport

Convenient Proximity to the Airport

Like I mentioned, Zurich Airport is the largest international hub in the country. You’re able to take flights all over Europe, as well as long-haul flights to North America and Asia. 

If you’re a solo traveler, you don’t want to feel overwhelmed going to and from big airports, which is why I recommend staying in Zurich on the first or last day of your trip. 

Trains constantly go to Zurich Airport. Seriously, you can show up to the train station without checking schedules once, and I guarantee that a train will be heading to the airport in five minutes or so. You won’t have to fear about epic delays causing you to miss your flight. 

zurich's windows are decorated with flowers in summer

Solo Travel Zurich: Practical Suggestions

As you can see, solo travel to Zurich is easy and relaxing. This Swiss city is the perfect place to sit at a cafe along the water and people-watch, as well as do a bit of fancy shopping. 

I wanted to leave you with a couple of practical suggestions, so you can begin to plan your solo trip to Zurich. 

swiss flag flying in zurich

How to Get to Zurich

Transportation to Zurich is super easy to find and navigate. Switzerland’s bigger cities all have direct train lines that feed directly into Zurich’s impressive and modern main station.

Personally, I recommend the Swiss Pass for solo travelers coming to Switzerland for an extended period of time.

With the Swiss Pass, you can print a copy of your pass, and have an electronic copy stored in the “wallet” of your phone. As a Swiss Pass holder, you’re allowed to use all public transportation in Zurich and beyond for the dates printed on your pass.

If you choose to buy separate tickets, please ensure that you validate them prior to boarding any tram or train in Zurich. The Swiss don’t mess around with unvalidated tickets. You don’t want to owe a very, very, very steep fine. 

fall in love with chocolate in switzerland

Solo Travel Packing Essentials for Zurich

You don’t want to forget these items when taking a solo trip to Zurich. Even though Zurich is a shopper’s haven, you don’t want to pay Swiss prices for super basic travel essentials. 

I recommend brining the following: 

  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: I love Clarks. I think they make wonderful walking shoes for urban adventures. For example, I think these slip-on loafers are perfect for walking around Zurich’s cobblestone streets. 
  • Dressy (Yet Reasonable) Accessories: I liked looking a little dressier in Zurich! Bring pretty costume jewelry, for example, to add glitz to your outfit! 
  • EU Plug Adapter: Most hostels are installing USB plugs, but unfortunately, this isn’t guaranteed either. So be prepared. Bring a EU plug adapter so your electronic devices don’t die in Zurich. Stay charged!
  • Lonely Plant Switzerland: Want to know all about the attractions, hotels, and restaurants in Zurich, as well as the surrounding areas? Then don’t forget your Lonely Planet Switzerland guidebook! Lonely Planet makes the best guides. I own a ton of them!
  • Sony Mirrorless Camera: As always, you want to snap beautiful shots with devices that are even more incredible than your smartphone. I personally recommend the Sony a6400 mirrorless camera – which I own and love due to the great image quality and the camera’s compactness. 
  • Stylish Sunglasses: Sunglasses add a little “jazz” to any outfit! If you’re in Zurich on a bright day, you don’t want to forget a pretty pair of sunglasses to dress up your outfit. 
  • Travel Insurance: We all know Zurich is safe. However, you don’t want to forget to purchase travel insurance in case of unexpected injury or sickness. Your bank account will profusely thank you. I buy World Nomads insurance for all my trips and haven’t been disappointed yet! 

hotel savoy in zurich is gorgeous

Where to Stay in Zurich

Okay, I won’t lie to you. Switzerland is expensive. Zurich is even more expensive. As a solo traveler, you probably don’t want to spend the money for a hotel room unless you’re really treating yourself (which, hey, no judgement here).

Luckily, due to its popularity, Zurich has a couple of reasonable hostel options that will cut down costs a bit. Are these hostels as cheap as the ones in nearby Germany or France? Erm, no, but you need to take what you can get. 

Accommodation Ideas

  • Depot 195 – Hostel Winterthur: This vibrant hostel is actually located in nearby Winterthur, but is still within proximity to the train station, which makes visiting Zurich a breeze. The hostel is inside a renovated factory and offers a unique experience to solo travelers. See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
  • Oldtown Hostel Otter: This backpacker hostel is located on a lovely cobblestone street in the middle of Zurich’s Old Town. A perfect choice for solo travelers who want the convenience of location! See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
  • Zurich Youth Hostel: This reasonably priced hostel is on a tree lined street not too far from Zürich Brunau railway station. Has a charming courtyard for meeting other visitors. See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.

love lockets are amazing on bridges

I hope you had fun reading about solo travel in Zurich. Switzerland is absolutely lovely – even the cities – and I promise you will have a wonderful adventure if you do your research! Bon voyage! 

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