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The Best Day Trips From Zürich, Switzerland

Updated: Aug 2, 2022

What’s your perfect day out? A thermal spa? Cute villages and a country hike? Shopping in Euros and lunch in the sun? Zürich can feel like heaven on earth most of the time, but now and then everyone needs to ‘change the wallpaper’ as they say auf Deutsch.


Bad Ragaz: Steamy and Sweet

When your shoulders are knotted and your trigger points are tender, you should could reach for that foam roller, but a spa day’s a lot more fun. Immerse yourself in naturally heated pools at the Tamina Therme in Bad Ragaz, just a 75-minute direct train ride from Zürich main station.

Fed by a hot spring in the gorge behind the resort, this elegant complex lets you soak, steam and soothe your way to total body wellness. Book a massage, get your nails done or just take in the space. Even the building is beautiful. Want more from the day? Spend the morning browsing at the Landquart shopping outlet and update your workout wardrobe with bargains from Nike, Adidas and more than 150 other brands. And if you’re in the car not on the train, pop into the Läderach chocolate factory shop on the way home: looks like an industrial estate, tastes like heaven.


Appenzell: Natural Reflexology

Craving some more green space? The neatly trimmed, emerald-hued hills of the Appenzell are what you need. This is one of the country’s most traditional regions, reflected in the postcard-perfect villages (and the fact that women couldn’t vote in local elections here till 1991, but we’ll let that one pass). The drive from Zürich to Appenzell village takes 60 to 90 minutes, and while there are no major sights as such, it’s hard not to be charmed by the painted houses, gilded signs and total timelessness of the place.

You can take a hike in pretty much any direction from here, but for something different, stop en route from Zürich and walk the 5km Barfuss (barefoot) path from Jakobsbad to Gontenbad. Squelchy, slippery, slimy and occasionally spikey, this is a treat for feet loosely based on the naturopathy philosophy of Sebastian Kneipp. It’s fun to try in all but the very coldest weather; just remember to bring a towel.


Konstanz: Blooms and Bargains

If you’re suffering from Swiss price shock, you’re not alone. Thankfully, there’s a temporary cure. The city of Konstanz just over the border in Germany offers pretty medieval streets, a lovely lakeside setting and, crucially, the chance to shop in Euros. The Swiss come here not just to shop, but also to get a haircut, prescription glasses or simply to enjoy a meal that doesn’t need a mortgage to fund it.

There are other attractions too of course. Insel Mainau is a giant botanical garden, in full technicolour bloom from spring till autumn, or there’s the Sealife centre for kids. The lake is vast, with a cycle path running all the way around it, so pack your runners or sling the bike in the boot and you can rack up some German Strava stats while you’re there. Bargain hunters beware: there are strict controls over how much you can bring back over the border, with long queues at the weekends, so make it a midweek visit if you can.


Ticino: The Sunny Side of Switzerland

What do Zürich locals do in winter when the sun’s been hiding for days and the fog is pressing up against the window? Catch the 07.05 from HB, and emerge two hours later into the sunshine at Lugano. It’s a high-speed hit of vitamin D, and a blast of semi-tropical colour to carry you through the grey days of a Zürich winter. The language, food and architecture are unmistakably Italian, as is the rather more relaxed attitude to, well, everything. Cliché or not, life does feel a little sweeter here, with the only bitterness coming from your Aperol spritz or that moment when you have to get back on the train.


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