No matter where you stay in Zurich, you’re likely to have a great time. When you travel to Switzerland, it’s hard to pass up the chance to visit this city. The Swiss mountains are just an hour away and the urban area offers endless attractions to keep you busy.
Zurich is a thriving modern city, known for its financial institutions, chocolate, and fondue. It’s also home to numerous museums, churches, and local festivals. If you visit during the summer, you’ll get to experience the vibrant Street Parade and other festivities.
Considered the hippest destination in Switzerland, Zurich is culturally diverse and is widely recognised as the most liveable city.
You can easily traverse the city in a day but staying in the right area may help cut down on your travelling time.
Not sure where to search? Start looking for accommodations with this guide to the best places to stay in Zurich.
Where to stay in Zurich: A complete guide to the best neighbourhoods & areas for travellers
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland but only covers about 87 square kilometres. It’s built around the tip of Lake Zurich, extending in all directions from the historic Old Town.
It’s a walkable city divided into twelve districts. Locals and tourists alike tend to either walk, cycle, or take public transport between destinations. In fact, over half the residents take the tram or bus for their daily commutes.
Most of the historic and cultural sites are found near the centre of the city. The outer urban areas contain a mixture of residential, commercial, and industrial zones. These districts are broken up by numerous public parks, adding “green lungs” to the city’s landscape.
The best areas to stay in Zurich for travellers include:
- Old Town
✔ Best area to stay for culture and historic sightseeing
As with dozens of other old cities across the globe, Old Town is the heart of the city. It’s in District 1, covering both sides of the river, but people typically refer to the area on the west bank as “Old Town.”
It’s home to some of the top attractions in Zurich, including the iconic Paradeplatz and the historic Lindenhof Hill.
The top of the hill offers views of the rest of the city, including most of Old Town. You’ll also find the ruins of a Roman fort and a lovely public square with many places to relax and rest your legs.
Staying in Old Town places you near the ancient churches that people tend to associate with Zurich. It’s a city with lots of medieval monasteries and cathedrals and most of them are found in or around Old Town.
Grossmunster, Fraumunster, and St. Peter are all within walking distance of each other. You’ll also have access to a few museums and the city’s town hall.
Overall, Old Town has the most historic buildings and landmarks. You’ll feel as if you’re in medieval times as you wander around the narrow alleyways and browse the little shops.
Recommended hotels in Old Town
If you want to compare the best hotels in Zurich, start your search in Old Town. It’s the most popular tourist destination in the city, requiring hotels to deliver world-class treatment and amenities. Of course, the prices are also a little higher.
- Hotel Schweizerhof Zurich: Located opposite the main station, this hotel is near all the action. Luckily, you won’t be kept up at night. The hotel has soundproofed rooms to keep the noise out. You’ll also get to doze off in an electronically adjustable bed.
- CitizenM Zurich: This four-star hotel is located in the centre of Zurich, a short walk from Grossmunster and Fraumunster. The modern décor is a complete contrast compared to the surrounding historic sites. The rooms are also surprisingly large for a hotel in Old Town.
- Hotel Adler: Built inside a historic sixteenth-century building, this is one of the oldest hotels in the city. The exterior and interior showcase the history and unique charm of Old Town. Each room features large wall murals depicting views of the city.
✔ Top area to stay for lakeside attractions and fine dining
To the east of Lake Zurich, you’ll discover the laid-back Seefeld neighbourhood. It’s known for its sprawling promenade by the lake.
If you enjoy fun in the sun or being close to the water, you’ll have a good time in Seefeld, but there isn’t much else to do. In fact, it’s easy to overlook this neighbourhood when planning a Zurich itinerary.
The lake is the main reason to choose Seefeld for your stay. All types of shops line the lakefront. While it doesn’t have lots of historic sites, it has many great restaurants. The fine dining options in Seefeld will leave you wanting to extend your stay.
It is also quieter compared to other areas of the city, making it a top choice for families and those wanting to escape the typical tourist traps.
While the area doesn’t have a lot of attractions besides the lake, it does have a few landmarks. The Zurich Opera House is found in the centre of Seefeld. Built in 1891, it’s still active. You can check out daily performances throughout the year.
If you get tired of the lake, walk to Old Town. Grossmunster and Fraumunster are just a little over a kilometre away.
Recommended hotels in Seefeld
The Seefeld area has lots of apartments and hotels to choose from. Most of the hotels fall into the mid-range category, featuring comfortable double rooms and locations near the lake. While it’s not the most visited neighbourhood, the hotels still fill up quickly.
- Opera Hotel Zurich: This classy hotel is located a short walk from the lake and opposite the Opera House. The décor and furnishings in the rooms and lobby are stately and elegant, matching the atmosphere of the Opera. It’s also close to the Bahnhofstrasse shopping area.
- Hotel Seehof: This hotel features relaxing décor, with rooms decked out in white and blue furnishings. It has a slightly nautical vibe. It’s a mid-range hotel located near the Opera House and Bellevue Square. The hotel is also small, with a limited number of rooms being available at any given time.
- Small Luxury Hotel Ambassador Zurich: Located inside an old building, this hotel is also located next to the Opera House and lake. It has its own on-site restaurant and bar for a late-night meal or a nightcap after a busy day touring Zurich.
✔ Top-rated neighbourhood to stay for shopping and bar-hopping
Niederdorf is one of the most pedestrianised parts of the city. It covers part of Old Town, being located east of the river between the Central Square and Bellevue Square. It’s also within District 1.
As with Old Town, this neighbourhood takes you back in time. The winding streets are lined with old buildings and open up to small public squares surrounded by little cafes and shops.
It’s another walkable neighbourhood with lots of opportunities for shopping and dining.
At night, this area becomes incredibly lively. Niederdorf combines the history of Old Town with adult entertainment. You’ll likely see a few sex workers as you check out the trendy bars and clubs near the river.
During the day, it’s a little more family-friendly. Spend your time browsing the pedestrian shopping streets with a wide variety of goods. On some streets, you’ll find high-end shops. On other streets, you’ll discover rows of thrift shops and art galleries.
Niederdorf also sits between Old Town and Seefeld. You can walk a few blocks south to reach the lakeside attractions or cross the river to reach the historic churches in the city centre.
Recommended hotels in Niederdorf
Niederdorf offers an assortment of hotels. You’ll find accommodations inside historic buildings and modern rooms in newly-built hotels, all within walking distance of the main attractions in Old Town and Seefeld. Due to the popularity of this neighbourhood, you should try to book your stay a few months in advance.
- Hotel Old Town: This hotel aims to please by offering a wide assortment of amenities. You’ll have access to an on-site restaurant, bar, and views of Old Town. It’s an eight-minute walk from Lindenhof and the Swiss National Museum. You’ll also get a free buffet breakfast.
- Boutique Hotel Wellenberg: This small hotel is situated across from the Town Hall and a short distance from Lindenhof. While most people choose this hotel for its location, it also offers modern décor and friendly staff.
- Hotel Alexander Zurich Old Town: Located in the centre of Niederdorf, this boutique-style hotel has elegant décor and furnishings, helping you to feel at home. It’s also located near many of the best restaurants, shops, and bars in the city. It’s a three-star hotel with one of the best locations, just a short walk from Lindenhof.
✔ Best area to stay for nightlife and entertainment
While Niederdorf has earned a reputation for its clubs and lively atmosphere, Langstrasse (Long Street) remains the centre of nightlife in Zurich. It has a reputation for having numerous brothels, drug dealers, and above-average crime.
It’s the main red-light district, but it’s become less raunchy over the past decade. It’s now the main district for international cuisine and luxury shopping.
Langstrasse is a melting pot, with one of the most diverse populations in the city. You’ll still find strip clubs and sex workers, but the variety of shops and bars has increased in recent years.
This district is hip, vibrant, and loud. It’s not the best area for families, but people seeking entertainment can have a good time.
The colourful Langstrasse neighbourhood has lots of urban charm. Besides the nightlife, it offers international cuisine, and 42% of the residents in this area are foreigners. Catering to the multicultural population, you’ll find a wide variety of restaurants.
The only drawback is the distance from the other neighbourhoods. If you stay in Langstrasse, you’ll likely need to take the bus or tram into the city to go sightseeing.
Recommended hotels in Langstrasse
The city has cleaned up Langstrasse in the past couple of decades, adding several high-end hotels to the area. You’ll also find a few budget options, along with apartments and hostels. In fact, some of the best rates are found in the Langstrasse neighbourhood.
- 25hours Hotel Langstrasse: This bohemian-style hotel perfectly matches the atmosphere of Langstrasse. It’s eclectic and vibrant. The first floor features an outdoor café and an indoor bar while the rooms give you views of the surrounding area. The hotel even has its own gift shop if you forget to buy souvenirs.
- The Yard Zurich: The interior of this hotel resembles a bar. It’s dark and comfortable, as are many of the bars and clubs in the area. It’s the perfect spot for those who want to explore the nightlife in the city, as it’s a short walk from a few of the top clubs.
- easyHotel Zurich: This hotel stands out for offering the lowest rates for a mid-range hotel in Zurich. It’s affordable and located a few minutes from the bus and tram stops. You can stay in one of the relatively small rooms at night and explore the city during the day.