If you’ve decided to take a trip to Switzerland, visiting Zurich should be a must on your list. You may also be wondering where to stay in Zurich, and what your options for accommodation are.
Switzerland is one country that, without fail, ranks highly on many “best-of” travel lists. Why? Just crack open a travel book or do a quick Google search and you’ll be amazed by the beauty and splendor that this small nation has to offer.
With the idyllic, grand Alps standing in the background, Switzerland is your quintessential European country. From its small, medieval-style towns, expansive blue lakes, green fields and incredible food and drink, there’s something for everyone to love.
Switzerland is also a country for adventurers, backpackers and thrill-seekers who want to take in breath-taking views.
It’s no surprise that thousands of tourists flock to Switzerland’s charming, cozy cities every year to get a taste of unique European living. And, Zurich is one such city. Zurich, located in north-central Switzerland, is Switzerland’s largest city, sitting at the northwestern-tip of Lake Zurich.
Zurich is a hub of cosmopolitan activity, with art galleries, museums and fun activities galore to discover. Its traditions of fine chocolates, cheeses and craft watch-making have endured for thousands of years.
It’s no wonder that, in 2019, Zurich was ranked among the top ten most livable cities by Mercer. The city has an extremely high “quality of life” rating and more and more people are flocking to live there every year. Zurich is also fairly close to other major Swiss cities, like Bern, so traveling between places isn’t difficult.
Where to stay in Zurich: Best Areas & Neighborhoods
It should be noted early on that Switzerland is not a cheap place to visit, and Zurich is no exception. Zurich’s cost of basic living expenses are higher than many other European cities and these costs are incurred by tourists as well.
You should expect a stay in Zurich to take a hit on your bank account, but there are great, small ways to mitigate costs as you explore this incredible city. Check out our guide on the top 7 best areas to stay in Zurich.
1. City Centre, best area to stay in Zurich
Zurich’s City Centre is at the heart of the city itself and is an incredibly lively and atmospheric area.
Standing proudly on both sides of the Limmat River, City Centre is a mere 6 miles from Zurich Airport. So if you’re fresh off a plane and ready to take in the sights, finding accommodation here is a great bet.
Filled to the brim with rich, historic architecture, quaint coffee shops and superb shopping, City Centre offers tourists a lot of options for fun. And, as the financial center of Switzerland, Zurich also has a hustling professional scene.
There’s no telling what you may find while strolling along the historic streets and cobblestoned pathways.
Start off your day by touring Zurich’s Old Town, or as the Swiss call it, Altstadt. The main promenade is called Niederdorf and here you’ll find pedestrians popping in and out of shops off the narrow alleyways.
If you’re visiting during the summer, you may even catch an outdoor market with fresh produce and local products. At night, the scene bustles with bars and street performers.
For a bit more culture, check out the Fraumünster, a 9th century church with beautiful stained-glass windows and one of Zurich’s most famous landmarks. Grossmünster is another world-renown church completed in 1230 and an ode to Swiss history.
For those with a sweet tooth, taking a visit to the famous Lindt chocolate factory is an incredible, sensory experience. You can book a tour with an included chocolate tasting, or just browse rows and rows of gooey, delectable candies.
To end your day, take a river cruise and see Old Town up-close as you make your way down to lake Zurich. With twinkling stars above and stunning views on either side, you’ll see why City Centre is so beloved by its residents.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Zurich, City Centre is a great option. The area is extremely safe while still having an eclectic nightlife scene great for partying adults.
The cost of accommodation, however, is fairly steep, even for hostels and budget hotels. For a “cheap” hotel, you may be spending anywhere between 80-120€ a night.
If you’re looking for a more inexpensive option, you’ll be better off looking for options outside of City Centre.
2. Enge (District 2), where to stay in Zurich with family
A nature-lovers dream, leafy and lush Enge is popular with the active crowd. On any given day, you’ll catch swimmers and sunbathers playing in the water near Lake Zurich or strolling along the waterfront promenade taking in the sights.
If you’re in need of relaxation or just a day away from the hustle and bustle of Zurich’s City Centre, Enge is your place.
If you’re a fan of history, Enge is home to several long-standing mansions, many that still have their gardens and parks attached.
Rieterpark is one such place. As the largest landscaped park in all of Zurich, Rieterpark sits stately on a hilltop, giving stunning views of Lake Zurich and the far-away Glarner Alps.
As you stroll, you’ll see looming beech trees, a fountain and you may even run into Villa Schönberg, a regal home incorporated by the Rietberg Museum.
Belvoirpark, Zurich’s first landscaped gardens, is another great place to take in some fresh air and natural sights.
But, there may be no more a popular spot in Enge than Seebad Enge, a two-part outdoor bath with an attached bar and wood decking.
You can book time in the sauna, get some light bites to eat and even take a dip in Lake Zurich with Seebad’s waterfront access, all while experiencing panoramic views.
If you enjoy shopping and dining, Enge has some spectacular spots that have become even more popular in recent years.
Enge is great for small kids who like to run around and for adults who appreciate the stunning views.
Enge is an extremely safe area and you’ll most likely be around other tourists visiting as well. There are also great options for nightlife and entertainment.
Accommodation may be slightly less expensive than in Zurich’s immediate City Centre, but you should still expect to spend around 80€ a night, even at a 3-star hotel.
3. Langstrasse (District 4), best neighbourhood in Zurich for nightlife
Langstrasse wasn’t always the lively, creative haven it is today. Historically, Langstrasse was the red-light district of Kries (District 4), and it wasn’t common to see the average tourist there after dark.
Now, the area oozes with fun, entertainment and heart-pounding thrill at the many forms of nightlife to explore. From clubs hosting world-renown DJs to upscale cocktail lounges to rough-and-tumble sports pubs, there’s a little something for every adult looking for a fun time.
Though its called the “district that never sleeps,” Langstrasse isn’t all drinking and partying. Nestled between the upscale Bahnhofstrasse and the cobbled streets of Altstadt, Langstrasse is a rare gem to explore.
As the epicenter of cultural revolution, Langstrasse has also seen an influx of culinary experimentation and vintage shops in the past decade, mainly due to young designers and chefs making the area a prime destination.
Check out Gamper for vegetable-forward food and delicious meats or Schwarzes Schaf – Bistrolino & Bar for hearty pub food. Great international options abound for adventurous eaters as well.
To get in a little walking, check out Kasernenareal, the town’s square. Here, you’ll catch annual circuses, concerts and live music performances for crowds to enjoy at any given time of the year.
As this area is known for its party scene, there aren’t as many kid-friendly activities as other areas on this list. And, if you’re looking for peace and quiet, Langstrasse may not be your best bet.
Because Langstrasse has become a tourist hotspot in recent years, accommodation (and transportation to get here) can cost a pretty penny. Luckily, there are several budget hotels and hostels around and you’ll often see tourists of all ages.
4. Riesbach (District 8), beautiful views and historical sights
Leafy, livable and lively, Riesbach, or District 8, is a scenic residential area close to Lake Zurich. Here, you’ll find families with kids of all ages, young professionals and expats exploring Riesbach’s sunny streets.
Best known for its outdoor activities, Riesbach can be spent exploring for just a couple hours or even a full day, with no shortage of fun things to see and do. Where fishermen used to spend days on end shucking seafood is now a bustling city scene.
Start off a day in Riesbach by visiting its best-known site, the Seefeld lakeshore parks. As you stroll along the water and take in the incredible dining options, you’ll also come upon Zurich’s Chinese Garden, a stunning green space with an open pond, pavilions and ornamental design.
The Zurichorn park, casino and outdoor cinema will be your next stop, where you can take in more lake-front views and even try your hand at a card game.
To take in a little bit of culture, make sure to stop by Pavillon Le Corbusier, an art museum housing modern works, architecture and sculptures.
The Mühlebach quarter, a bit farther south, is similarly worth exploring. Here, you’ll find Heimatschutzzentrum, an incorporated Swiss heritage center in the beautiful Villa Patumbah.
Riesbach also has great dining options that appeal to all.
As Riesbach is primarily a residential area, you may be able to find more AirBnBs and other shared home accommodation here versus in Zurich’s City Centre.
Still, there are some great hotels and hostels at every price point, making Riesbach an optimal area on this list.
5. Zurich West, where to stay in Zurich on a budget
Historically an industrial quarter used for ship-building and engineering, Zurich West is now (perhaps surprisingly) one of Europe’s trendiest neighborhoods and an amazing place to stay in Zurich.
Architecture aficionados will love the steel high-rises and looming railway arches while fashionphiles will enjoy popping into upscale boutiques and finding curated international pieces.
Zurich West is Zurich’s certified cultural district and in between old warehouses you’ll find a vibrant art and culinary scene. Speaking of art, take a visual tour of some of Zuirch’s best work at the reformed Löwenbräu Complex.
Kunsthalle Zurich is one of Switzerland’s most renown art museums and hosts a rotation of exhibitions and performances all year-round.
You’ll also find several art galleries, including Galerie Francesca Pia and Bob van Orsouw, as well as a quaint bookstore on the ground floor.
When you’re ready to get some eats in, check out Frau Gerold’s Garden. Established in 2012 and within close proximity to Prime Tower (one of Zuirch’s tallest sky-scrapers), this hip spot is a must-visit all year-round when the weather is nice.
Peruse through the distinct stalls and food trucks and you may even find a vintage gem or two.
For more shopping (albeit a bit on the pricier side!), stop over at Viadukt, the strip of upscale boutiques under the railway arches.
As night approaches, the place to be is Zurich West, and locals would agree. This area boasts bars and clubs to rival other major European cities, so be prepared to dance the night away.
Zurich West is home to a lot of young adults and new residents. The area is very up-and-coming and is expected to grow even more in the coming years.
So, finding accommodation for a lower budget shouldn’t be difficult, but still expect higher-than-normal prices, especially depending on the season you visit.
Because there isn’t as much dedicated green space as some of the other options on this list, Zurich West may not be as entertaining for kids.
6. Wiedikon – Sihlfeld, hiking, biking and dining
Just like Riesbach, Wiedikon, or District 3, is a residential area on the quieter side. But, like Zurich West, there is no shortage of fun, entertainment and culture to take in if you’re planning a stay here.
Wiedikon also incorporates the neighborhood of Sihlfeld, which is a gem to be explored in its own right. The Sihl river is a main feature here and flows directly through Sihlfeld Quarter.
Here you’ll see many families with kids strolling along the river walkways, bikers enjoying the sunshine and passerbys sitting on benches to take in the view.
With many hotels and apartments up for availability, you should have no trouble finding a great place to stay here.
If you like to shop, Wiedikon is your place. Built on the ground of a former paper mill is Sihlcity, an integrated shopping mall with 75 shops, 14 restaurants, a cultural and fitness centre and even a nightclub.
If you go farther north, Sihlfeld has more urban boutiques and vintage shops to explore. But, Wiedikon is primarily known for its outdoor and indoor activities that will get your heart rate up.
Wiedekon is located at the base of the Uetliberg mountain, at 2,850 above sea level, where tourists can take in incredible views of the city and Lake Zurich.
You can embark on well-marked hiking trails and take mountain biking routes, but the real trek here is on the popular Planet Trail. This two-hour, 6k hike from Uetliberg to Felsenegg is an easy walk on an elevated trail, suitable for those of all ages.
You can try your hand at skating, a quintessential Swiss sport, at the Sportzentrum Heuried ice arena, or swim when the weather’s nice at Freibad Heuried.
There is a Four Points hotel located in Sihlcity and other hotels and hostels scattered within close proximity. As Wiedikon has great dining and nightlife options, you may find young adults, groups of friends and couples staying close by.
Apartment living is very popular in Wiedikon, so you may see a lot of shared or solo apartments up for short-term stays as you search.
Accommodation does tend to be a bit cheaper here as it is farther from Zurich City Centre.
7. Zurich Airport, a great place to stay in Zurich when you’re short on time
If you’re only staying in Zurich for a short time or are on a long layover and still want to get in some sights, staying near Zurich Airport is a great option.
This area has tons of hotels catered specifically towards weary travelers and many offer bus and shuttle services straight from the airport.
If you have enough time to see the city (and you should budget for about 5 hours) the Zurich Airport railway station has 350 rail connections. You can even leave your luggage in the Service Center to return to later if you haven’t checked it through.
The Bahnofstrasse, a mile-long street with some of the world’s most-expensive shops is a great option for finding gifts to take back home. Or, if the price tags are just too expensive, window shopping is also a fun pastime.
If you have time, you can take a ferry ride on Lake Zurich and see Zurich’s quaint neighborhoods or a cable-car ride up to the Felsenegg lookout.
You can also take in some culture at the Swiss National Museum, just across the street from the Hauptbahnhof railway station.
But, if you’re simply looking to sit and relax, grabbing a coffee is any one of Aldstat’s cozy cafes is a great way to sit back and watch Zurich’s busy residents go by.
Many hotels near Zurich Airport offer spa, fitness and career services, so if you don’t feel like venturing out, you’ll still have things to keep you occupied.
As Zurich Airport is the main service here, you’re more likely to find hotels than hostels, budget hotels and AirBnBs. But, there are still great price points for every budget and duration of stay.
No matter where you decide to stay in Zurich, you can’t go wrong with an option on this list. Each area has a unique history and flair and you’re bound to find great accommodation at every price point and for every desire. Come visit Zurich today!