Zurich Airport is a great airport for a layover. If you're on a short stop over and don't want to go into the city, the airport's first class facilities are more than enough to keep you occupied for a few hours. If you're on a long layover then the better–than–excellent public transport services which operate like clockwork between the airport and Zurich center will provide you with a stress-free way of getting to see Switzerland's largest city.
Using the efficient tram, bus or train services is the key to making the most of your Zurich Airport layover no matter how long it is. The best and quickest by far is the train which departs from the station below the Airport Center. There are more than a dozen services per hour running to Zurich Hauptbahnhof Station in the center and they take about ten minutes to travel between the two points.
6 hour layover in Zurich
On a short layover in Zurich of six hours you will have time to stow your bags in a luggage storage facility and catch the train into the city. You'll have a couple of hours to explore the area around Hauptbahnhof Station which is in the historic Old Town and close to the confluence of the city's two rivers. If you're wanting to buy gifts for friends and didn't find what you wanted in the airport's duty free, you're guaranteed to find something in the huge mall called ShopVille that is part of the station concourse.
- If you don't want to risk going into the city on your layover you can still do a bit of sightseeing by catching the Glattalbahn. It's a tram service running from outside of the Airport Center to the Glatt Valley to the north of Zurich. The round trip takes around an hour and you'll get to see some of Switzerland's stunning scenery.
- Train, tram and bus tickets can be purchased from ticket machines located in the arrival zones of Terminals 1 and 2 or from the SBB Travel Center which is located in Check-in area 3.
8 hour layover in Zurich
Finding things to do to make an eight-hour layover in Zurich interesting won't be hard. If you're in need of some exercise and a bit of an adrenaline thrill, grab a cab and go to the Seilpark Zurich. You can let off steam there in the rope park, let arrows fly in the archery section, or just putter around the mini golf course until it's time to head back to the airport for your Zurich connection. If you'd rather do something cultural, you'll have time to go into the center for a self-guided walking tour of the Old Town and down to Lake Zurich.
- There are official downloadable maps of easy to moderate walking tours of the Old Town. The walks take just under two hours and you won't need to over exert yourself as you'll have more than enough time to sit down for a lunch or coffee.
- If you want to learn about what you're seeing, go on a two hour walking tour with a guide. There are several free tours available and all you need to do is tip the guide when it’s finished.
10 hour layover in Zurich
One place that will be on any football fan's list of places to visit on a Zurich layover will be the FIFA World Football Museum. The interactive museum is dedicated to soccer and has three floors of exhibits. If you're not into soccer or are on a layover with kids, try the WOW Museum. It's all about light shows, illusions and artful trickery, so is entertaining as well as educational. If you want to see Lake Zurich, head down to the Burkliplatz Square where you can take a wander along the promenade.
- There's a market three times a week in the Burkliplatz Square. It's busy, so avoid the days it's on if you want peace and quiet.
- Catch the lake ferry from the dock on Burkliplatz Square. It's a regular sailing that goes from Zurich to Thalwil on the other side of the lake and takes just under an hour.
12 hour layover in Zurich
When you have twelve hours on your layover in Zurich you can plan on seeing a little more of this amazing Swiss city. Take a ride on the Polybahn, a funicular railway which takes you up to a super view point from where you'll get fantastic photos. Switzerland is famous for its chocolate so don't miss out on tasting it and learning about one of its more well-known brands by visiting the Lindt Museum which is a workshop and exhibition center.
- A visit to the Lindt Museum on your layover will save you buying chocolate gifts for your friends as they give away lots of free samples.
- If you enjoy the macabre and want to boast about going to the world's weirdest museum, visit the Moulagen which exhibits nothing more than wax replicas of diseased body parts. Fascinating. Don’t forget to leave your bags behind at a Zürich luggage locker before visiting this intriguing museum.
24 hour layover in Zurich
Get up early on the morning of your Zurich layover and join a tour heading for the alps. These magnificent mountains form a scenic backdrop to the city and are covered in snow even in the summertime. The best mountain tour to aim for is one going to Mount Pilatus as you'll get to ride on the world's steepest railway, a cable car, and get a cruise across Lake Lucerne too. It's a great way to spend your layover day and basically three things for the price of one.
- Take a trip to Bernese Oberland where you can have a two and a half hour skiing lesson at the Grindelwald resort. It's for complete novices but by the end of it you'll be able to say you skied down a piste in the Alps, even if it was only a slope for beginners.
- Go to the Sternen Grill to try their famous grilled sausage with extra hot mustard. It's a place frequented by the famous so you never know who you'll get to take a selfie with on your Zurich layover.