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4 hour stop over in Zurich?

Hello! Do you recommend anything worth leaving the Zurich airport for having a total of 4 hours? Thanks!

Posted by
5554 posts

No! A version of this question is raised almost every day for some European airport.

It will take you 45 to 60 minutes to get off your inbound flight and through passport control, assuming you are arriving from outside Europe. Time to drop your luggage and retrieve it later. You will need to go back in through passport control and security, which could take 30 minutes plus then you will need to be at the airport 60 to 90 minutes before your flight.

If you are returning to the US from a Schengen country, it will take you 30 minutes to deplane then you need to be checked back at the airport 3 hours in advance.

Sorry, but either way, you don’t have enough time.

Posted by
8889 posts

You could easily go into Zürich city centre. Frequent trains and it only takes 10 minutes.
But, do you really have 4 hours? Have you allowed for taxiing, disembarking, walking through terminal, immigration, and ~5-10 minutes to walk to the station, plus check-in time when you return.
You also need to leave your bags somewhere.

Posted by
138 posts

Thanks to both replies. We are coming from Athens but still 4 hours total.
Does anybody have insight into this airport for good food/shopping? Flying UA.

Posted by
5697 posts

Do you have a Priority Pass to get into Swiss Air lounges ? We spent several hours eating and drinking there -- very comfortable chairs, tasty soup, lots of Swiss chocolate. Views of the mountains in the distance. Wouldn't chance missing a flight or the stress of worrying about it.

Posted by
7205 posts

There's an outdoor pedestrian observation area on the roof at Zurich Airport. That might be fun for a few minutes. Shame you only have 4 hours. Switzerland is a WONDERFUL place to visit!

Posted by
16834 posts

Like all big European airports, there is extensive duty-free shopping area. At least in the inter-Schengen gate area, plenty of restaurants with beer, wine.

If you are flying back to the States, you will go from the remote building using the underground tram with the sounds of cowbells, yodeling, mooing on the PA. There, once you check in, you may be randomly selected for "Security, Highly Intrusive Type" (I leave it to you to come up with the acronym). You will be take to a curtained cubicle and your carry-ons will be searched, your boarding passed taken from you for close inspection, then brought back. I had to do this once, the inspector's attitude seemed to be, "I know this is a huge waste of your time and mine, but we have to keep your TSA happy."

Posted by
533 posts

A version of this question is raised almost every day for some European airport.

And every European airport is different, so it's reasonable for people to keep asking.

ZRH is not LHR or CDG (or JFK or IAD or ATL...). It's close to the city center, it's not impossibly huge to navigate, and (based on my limited experience, which may not be representative) it seems to be run pretty efficiently, so you're unlikely to randomly encounter hours-long lines at any point.

Still, I think that four hours isn't quite enough time to make a trip into the city worthwhile. But if you had five hours, I'd be tempted to say go for it. So it's not a stupid question.

(ETA: whoever wrote this page for Zurich airport thinks that four hours is the minimum layover time to make a trip into Zurich worthwhile.)

Does anybody have insight into this airport for good food/shopping?

The airport is immediately connected to a large shopping mall. You need to exit security to get to it. But if your inbound flight is on time and security doesn't seem to be a complete disaster, you have plenty of time to do that.