How to Spend One Day in Zurich on a Budget

Traveling to Zurich on a budget? Yes, it’s possible. Find out how you can do it in this quick one-day itinerary and guide to Zurich for budget travelers.

Last updated: June 5, 2024

Places in Old Town Zurich you can’t Miss. - Roads and Destinations
A complete one day guide and itinerary to Zurich for budget travelers

Is Zurich a Budget-Friendly City?

Fame of the city of Zurich, Switzerland, far exceeds its size. A global center for finance and banking, it’s been alluring travelers in expensive suites for years. However, despite its strong position in the business world, Zurich is not a city that caters for only one kind of visitors. As the biggest city in Switzerland, it welcomes all kinds of travelers including those that prefer to visit Zurich on a shoestring.

Although the city asks for a thicker wallet even for budget travelers, it’s all worth it and pays off tremendously. Once seeing and experiencing Zurich, you want to come back again and again. If you are ready for this adventure, here is a quick guide and a one-day Zurich itinerary for budget travelers.


Arriving in Zurich

Zurich Airport (ZRH) is by far the most convenient way to arrive in the city from overseas. However, if you travel across Europe on a budget, jumping on a bus heading to Zurich will save you enough money to explore the city on less than a shoestring. On top of that, crossing borders this way is far faster than going through regular security at the airport.

The majority of buses and trains arrive at Zurich Hauptbahnhof (Zurich’s main station or often shortened to Zurich HB). Located in the center of the city, Zurich HP offers a perfect start of your journey. Some of the main attractions of the city are within a walking distance from here.

Switzerland - Roads and Destinations
Arrived in Zurich by bus

Getting Around Zurich on a Budget

Zurich is a walkable city. Those travelers that can tolerate long walks are better off by exploring the city on foot. Apart from saving some money, this way of traveling ensures that you can discover some hidden gems known only to locals.

For those who succumb to Zurich public transportation, ticket prices vary based on different zones and time periods. If you plan to use trams or buses to get around the city a lot, Zurich Card and all-inclusive Swiss Travel Pass are the best friends of budget travelers.

READ MORE: How Do You Actually Learn a New Language?


The beauty of Zurich unveils itself literally on every corner. You can simply take a walk and admire the splendid architecture of the city. If there are any places in the world where you want to throw away your travel itinerary and simply go with a flow, Zurich is the best place to do so. However if you need a little help, here are some of the budget-friendly places to visit in Zurich in one day.

A Quick Guide to Zurich- Roads and Destinations
A Quick Guide to Zurich: Taking a leisurely walk along Limmatquai

1. Wander through the Old Town (the Altstadt)

One thing you notice right away is how relatively old Zurich is compared to other Central European cities. Yet this is by no means a disadvantage. On the contrary, the old style of Zurich further attracts and mesmerizes you.

The best place to completely surrender to the pre-medieval charm of Zurich is the Old Town. Stretching along both sides of the Limmat River, the place boasts narrow, old-fashioned streets with ample authentic eateries, trendy shops, and striking city views. Furthermore, some of the best views of Zurich open from narrow alleys and elevated squares of the old section of the city.

2. Take a Leisurely Walk at Limmatquai

Right after that take a leisurely walk at Limmatquai. Running along the eastern (right-hand) bank of the Limmat River, Limmatquai is best to explore at sunset. With the glorious light softly embracing the city, there is no better time to take the last glance at the Old Town before retiring for the night.

Switzerland - Roads and Destinations
Burkliplatz | A budget-friendly guide to Zurich

3. Get a Boat at Burkliplatz

Continue your walk along Limmatquai until you hit Burkliplatz, a boat dock on the north end of Lake Zurich. Here you can stretch your budget further by walking around and taking in the views of the beautiful surroundings.

If you give yourself permission to splurge a bit, take a 90-minute boat tour around the lake. In addition to enjoying Swiss landscapes from the deck of the boat, you are welcome to get off at Kilchberg and visit Lindt Chocolate Shop of the Lindt Chocolate Factory nearby.

4. See a Different Side of Zurich on Langstrasse (Longstreet)

While the above-mentioned destinations suit single budget travelers and families alike, Langstrasse risks getting your grandma’s disapproval. Once known as a red-light district, Langstrasse is famous for its nightlife, strip clubs, bars, and dance clubs. During the day, the street entices with vintage shops, burger joints, and food from different corners of the world.

5. Take a Trip to Uetliberg

Last but not least, take the Zurich S-Bahn to Uetliberg, a mountain in the Swiss plateau with the panoramic views of Zurich and Lake Zurich. The place offers numerous hiking trails to experience the rolling hills of Switzerland up close and personal.

Old Town - Roads and Destinations
Old Town Zurich

Guide to Zurich’s Accommodation for Budget Travelers

When you travel to Zurich on a shoestring, hostels and budget hotels offer the best rooms for your money. You can find the best deals on Langstrasse, such as Swiss Star Longstreet (we stayed here one night). Other options include Hotel Gregory, Hotel Olympia and Hotel Ibis Budget Zurich City West.

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