Layover in Zurich: The Best Itineraries from 6 to 24 Hours

Do you have a layover in Zurich and want to explore the city? You might be wondering how to best spend your time so you can visit as many of Zurich’s must-see attractions as possible. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!

Whether you’re looking for cultural attractions, outdoor activities, or delicious food and drinks, Zurich offers something for everyone! With its efficient public transport system, Zurich is an ideal city for a stress-free layover.

I’ve been living in Zurich for 5 years and know the city inside and out. I know exactly how you should spend your time, so you can see as much of the city as possible, whether you have a 6 hour layer in Zurich or longer.

In this guide you’ll find:

  • How to get from Zurich Airport to the city center
  • Where to store your luggage
  • Detailed itineraries for 6 hour, 8 hour, 10 hour, 12 hour, and 24 hour layovers in Zurich
  • A handy map listing all the spots mentioned in this guide

Here are some of the best ways to make the most of your layover in Switzerland’s largest city. So let’s start exploring!

Getting from the Zurich Airport to the City Center 

Getting from Zurich Airport to the city center is a breeze. The fastest ways to get to the city center is by train. By train, you’ll be at Zürich HB (Main Station) in just 10 minutes.

Direct trains depart from the airport station to Zurich HB almost every 5 minutes. You can check the exact train times on the SBB mobile app or on the departure board at the train station.

To buy your train ticket into the city, you can use an automatic ticket machine. There are automatic ticket machines on the -1 level on the Zurich Airport Shopping Center. The best ticket to buy is from Zurich Airport to Zurich HB 24 hour ticket for 13.60 CHF.

Map of the Zurich Airport of the -1 level. Shows where to buy train tickets and SBB stoage lockers.
Where to buy train tickets and store your luggage at an SBB locker in Zurich Airport

This will allow you to travel to and from the airport and within the city center of Zurich on all trams and trains for 24 hours. Even if your layover is only 6 hours this ticket is the best value for your money.

Where to Store Your Luggage Storage

Carrying around your luggage while exploring the city isn’t ideal. Fortunately, there are many luggage storage options that can help make your layover stress-free.

SBB Storage Lockers (Unattended)

Zurich Airport: Right near the automatic ticket machines on the -1 level of the Airport Shopping Center there are SBB storage lockers. You can access the lockers with an automatic machine.

Zurich HB: There are SBB lockers located on the mezzanine in the train station.

Pricing Table for SBB Lockers (updated July 2023)

SizeInternal dimensions W x H x D (cm)Prices in CHF
S35.1 x 45.7 x 55.55.00
M35.1 x 62.0 x 55.57.00
L35.1 x 94.5 x 55.59.00
XL52.5 x 45.7 x 85.510.00
XXL52.5 x 94.5 x 85.512.00
Note: Prices valid for the first 6 hours. Prices subject to change for regional events and during the holiday season. Check the SBB website for up to date pricing. Payment methods: Coins CHF, Mastercard, Visa, American-Express, myOne, Diners, JCB, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, SBB Gift card, Twint

Zurich Airport Lockers (Unattended)

Where to find the Aiport Lockers in the Zurich Airport Shopping Center

On level 1 (top level) of the Airport Shopping Center there are two areas with storage lockers.

Pricing Table for Zurich Airport Lockers (updated July 2023)

SizeCost Up to 12 Hours (CHF)Cost for 12 to 24 Hours (CHF)
Note: Payment in advance, CHF and Euro coins only

What To Do With A Layover in Zurich

There are plenty of things to in Zurich during your layover. From taking in the stunning views of Lake Zurich and exploring the old town, to visiting some of Zurich’s many museums and galleries, there is something for everyone. No matter what you choose to do, you’ll have time to soak up the cities culture and history during your layover in Zurich.

We’ve created a Zurich Layover Map to help guide you through the city.

Map of Zurich with landmarks you can visit during a layover in Zurich
Zurich Layover Map

6 Hour Layover in Zurich

If you have a 6 hour layover then you have about 3 hours to spend in Zurich. Start off at walking up the Banhofstrasse, one of Zurich’s main shopping streets. From here you can make your way up to Lindenhof for breathtaking views of the city.

City line of Zurich from the Lindenhof viewpoint. Grossmuster and old building with a blue sky.
View of Zurich Old Town from Lindenhof

Once you’ve taken a few pictures and enjoyed the views, take a short walk to Fraumunster Church to admire the Chagall windows. If you’re interested you can go inside the church to see these magnificent stained glass windows up close. Entrance is 5 CHF per adult.

While you’re there you can admire the medieval buildings that surround Musterhof Sqaure. If you need a coffee, there is a great cafe located right on the square called Vi Cafe.

From Munsterhof you can cross over the Munsterbruke Bridge to Grossmünster. There’s another viewing platform here that makes for a great spot to take some pictures. Plus you can also go up the Karlsturm tower to catch some astounding views of Zurich (the entrance fee per adult is 5 CHF).

Zurich skyline from Musterbruke with the Limmat river and a bridge and Grossmuster Church
View from Munsterbruke

You’ve already seen some of the top places to visit in Zurich. If you have time you can walk through Zurich’s Old Town towards Sechseläutenplatz. Along the way you can pop into the many shops that line the cobbled streets. Once you reach Sechseläutenplatz, you’re greeted by the famous Zurich Opera House. I love this area! It’s a perfect blend of modern and traditional architecture.

Zurich Opera House with a pink sky
Zurich Opera House

If you’re hungry, we suggest one of two places to eat. Since you’re on a tight timeline, don’t waste any time at a formal restaurant. Instead grab a traditional Swiss bratwurst at Sternen Grill. This place is super popular with locals and you’ll always find a queue on weekends.

If you’d prefer a plant-based meal, then you can go to Tibits Seefeld, which is part of the famous Hiltl chain. Hiltl was the world’s first vegetarian restaurant and they now have several locations across Switzerland. You’ll be treated to a delicious self-service buffet, so you can quickly fuel up and continue exploring.

Next up you can explore the shores of Zurich Lake. Burkliplatz is a great place to snap some photos. If the sky is clear, you’ll have a fantastic view of snow covered Swiss Alps.

To get back to HB you can hop of a number 11 tram that departs from Burkliplatz. From there you can get back to the Zurich Airport.

So there you have it! With just a six-hour layover you can get a taste of Zurich and see some of the top destinations. And your phone will have amazing pictures to remember your layover by!  

8 Hour Layover in Zurich

If you have an 8 hour layover in Zurich you have even more time to tick a few of Zurich’s top things to do off your list.

Follow the six hour itinerary but instead of heading directly to the Sechseläutenplatz, you can add in Polyterrasse and the Polybahn into your itinerary. The Polybahn is a little red funicular that take you from Central to Polyterrasse.

Polystrasse is right in front of the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), one of Zurich’s oldest universities. Here you’ll have amazing views of Zurich’s Old Town. The red polybahn funicular may be small, but it works hard! It transports nearly 2 million passengers a year! The trip only takes 11 seconds and it seats just 50 people. You won’t need to worry about buying a ticket, the cost is included in the 24 ticket you bought to get into Zurich from the airport.

You can also visit the Landesmuseum located right behind Zurich HB. This museum offers a unique glimpse at Swiss history and culture. Here you can explore nearly four centuries worth of art, history, and artifacts.

Old yellow brick building Swiss museum
Swiss National Museum

After your 8 hours in Zurich you’ll have experienced some of its most famous attractions and enjoyed some stunning scenery. Enjoy your flight!

10 hour layover in Zurich

If you’re lucky enough to have a 10 hour layover in Zurich, why not add an e-bike tour into your itinerary? An e-bike tour is a great way to see the city while getting some exercise in between flights.

You’ll be able to stop off at all of Zurich’s main attractions from the medieval charm of Zurich’s Old Town, to the more modern City West. Plus, you’ll be able to take plenty of pictures along the way!

Your e-bike tour will also take you past small shops and cafes where you can sample some local cuisine. Make sure you bring your camera with you so that you don’t miss any stunning scenery or moments worth capturing. E-bike tours are a great way to explore Zurich in a short amount of time and they are a fun way to break up your flight layover!

12 hour Layover in Zurich

If you have a 12 hour layover in Zurich, you’ll have enough time to explore Uetliberg. This is Zurich’s “mountain” that stands at 871 meter above sea level. While it’s not a large mountain by any means, it’s still a great spot to get a unique view of Zurich. We suggest doing this first and it’s a bit of an excursion and you won’t get stressed for time if you spend a little longer there than planned.

View of zurich lake from uetliberg mountain, blue sky and clouds
View from Uetliberg Mountain in Zurich

To get to Uetliberg from Zurich HB, simply take the S10 express train to terminal station Uetliberg mountain. At the automatic ticket machine on the platform, make sure you purchase an extension for travel in both directions. The train takes 27 minutes to reach Uetliberg.

When you arrive, you can walk to the summit of the Uetliberg on foot. Here you’re treated to stunning views of Zurich and the Swiss Alps that surround the city. You could easily spend 2 to 3 hours here exploring everything Uetliberg has to offer. With so much beauty to see, it’s an ideal way to make the most of your layover in Zurich.

In the afternoon try the 6 hour itinerary, but keep an eye on your watch to make sure you have enough time at Zurich airport.

24 Hour Layover in Zurich

If you have a 24 hour layover in Zurich, why not make the most of it and explore some of Switzerland’s beautiful landscape? There are several day tours available from Zurich that will take you to stunning places like Mount Titlis or Grindelwald and Interlaken.

The Mount Titlis Day Tour is a great way to experience some of Switzerland’s majestic mountains. This tour will take you to Mount Titlis, the highest mountain in central Switzerland and the home of some truly breathtaking views. You’ll also have time to explore the area, so make sure you bring your camera!

A “Day Trip to Grindelwald & Interlaken” is a great way to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and explore some of Switzerland’s beautiful countryside. This tour will take you to Grindelwald, where you can experience its stunning views of snow-capped mountains and emerald green valleys. You’ll also have time to explore Interlaken and the surrounding area for a truly memorable day trip.

So if you’re looking to make the most of your 24 hour layover in Zurich, why not explore one of the many day tours available. You’re sure to have a truly unforgettable experience!

Practical Things to Know About Zurich

When visiting Zurich during a layover, there are a few practical things to know. To begin with, the local currency is the Swiss Franc and shops and restaurants do not accept Euros. You can use your credit card to make payments so don’t worry about getting Swiss Francs just for your layover.

Additionally, the official language of Zurich is Swiss German, but most people speak English so you will get along fine without knowledge of the local language.

Zurich Airport Layover Rules

You can leave Zurich airport during your layover if you have a valid visa for the Schengen Area. Depending on your passport, you might be able to enter Switzerland visa free. Usually the border security officer will just ask you why you’re coming to Switzerland. In this case just tell them you’re exploring the city during a layover. If in doubt, speak with your consulate or embassy about visa rules and requirements for Switzerland.

We hope you enjoy your layover in Zurich! If you’re travelling with family, you might like our post on best things to do in Zurich with kids.

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