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Overnight Layover in Switzerland - Lucerne or Zurich?

Hi all,

Heading to Greece in September and have an overnight layover in Switzerland. We arrive in Zurich around 3:40PM on September 8th and depart the following day approx 9:00AM. I was thinking of staying in Lucerne instead of Zurich, but honestly I don't know much about either location so am looking for some insight or suggestions.

Thank you for any info!

Posted by
8889 posts

Luzern is much more preferable to Zürich. Zürich is a big city, Luzern has a lake, an old town and you can see the mountains.
There are direct trains from Zürich airport, two trains per hour, journey time just over 1 hour, cost CHF 29 per person each way.

But, is it even worth leaving the airport? Land 15:40, exit airport 16:40 to 17:40. Whether you choose Zürich city or Luzern, you will just have enough time to check in to your hotel, have a meal and then it is time to go to bed. And in the morning you need to get up and go straight to the airport.
What is the latest check-in time fro your morning flight? The first train of the day is:

Depart Luzern 04:55, arrive Zürich Flughafen 06:13.

Check on for more times and prices.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you, Chris. I was kind of leaning towards Luzern also. I don't mind that we wouldn't have a ton of time in Luzern, but would still like to make the most of the time we DO have. Our departing flight is 9am, so I imagine we should be at the airport by 7am. Thank you for the link, I will be sure to check that out. Appreciate your response


Posted by
20300 posts

Seeing how it is 29 chf per person each way between Zurich airport and Luzern, I'd say just get a room at one of the airport hotels. You can buy tageskarte and bob into central Zurich for the evening if you like.

Posted by
16894 posts

If you had more time, I would say Lucerne, but I've also enjoyed a day in Zurich just fine before catching a flight there. Right next to the central train station, I visited the Swiss National Museum, slept across the river at and walked along the river to the lakefront. Given the frequency of airport train service (direct trains until 11 p.m.), you could just as easily sleep at an airport hotel.

Posted by
153 posts

With the time you have, going to Luzern for such a short visit the idea of going there sounds very hectic especially considering you are coming off a flight with some jet lag and have another long flight in a little over 19 hours. Considering the time lost in arrival, getting to and from Luzern, checking into and out of a hotel, messing with luggage and things all the while, and then checking into your Greece flight, you really don’t have much time to relax and enjoy Luzern. I suggest checking into an airport hotel and then taking the train from the airport into Zurich for a brief visit and dinner and then resting at a hotel to your departure. There is a lot to see and do in central Zurich, and there is truth to the advice of not trying to cram in too much and but take the time to enjoy the moments. Last year we visited both Zurich and Luzern, and we enjoyed both having the time to do so. We traveled from Lauterbrunnen to Zurich for our last night before departure the next day and stopped at Luzern for the day. That worked out great for us as we had time to enjoy Luzern and while spending the night at an airport hotel for a hassle free departure. We choose not to train in from Luzern the morning of the flight to decrease the stress and reduce the variables of missing our flight. We got a good advanced rate at the airport Radisson Blu hotel which made it very convenient for arrival and departure. In retrospect, we tried to save a few dollars at the front end of our trip to Switzerland by staying in downtown Zurich and visiting Zurich sites by cab. We would have been better served by staying at the advanced Radisson rate and going into the center of Zurich via the train that comes into the airport.

Posted by
32231 posts


While Lucerne is an incredible city, under the circumstances I'd suggest skipping it this time. Given the fact that you won't arrive until late afternoon, by the time you get to Lucerne and checked into a hotel it's going to be about supper time so you won't have a lot of time to see anything.

While Zürich doesn't have the same character as other places in Switzerland, there are still some sights worth seeing. You might consider staying at the Walhalla Hotel, which is right beside the main rail station. Many of the city tour buses depart from the lot right across from the hotel, so you could book a short tour of the highlights or perhaps a short cruise on the lake. If you don't want to tour, just do a walkabout in the neighborhood or perhaps some window shopping. There's a huge Rail City mall under the station, and some nice stores nearby (including an Apple store, if that's of interest).

Following that have a nice hot meal and by that time you'll probably be ready for a good sleep. In the morning, walk back to the station and get a train to the airport for your flight to Greece. The trip from the Hbf to the airport is only about 10 minutes. It doesn't get any easier than that!

Posted by
3941 posts

We spent a morning in Zurich before a flight (had about 5 hrs or so), and while maybe not my first choice, we did enjoy taking the ferry (?) around the lake and wandering along the river thru the city and window could easily kill an evening there...