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Zurich in 8 hours.

We are a couple flying to Asia in late January from Florida via Zurich. We are scheduled to layover in Zurich arriving at 11:00 am departing at 11:00pm. That gives us maybe 8 free hours for Zurich, approx. 12:30 to 8:30 pm. If the weather is clear and not super freezing we would like to do or see something. Any suggestions?

Is Uetliberg Mountain accessible from the airport? City tour guide? Walk Old Town? Lake will be frozen? Train or taxi from airport to Old Town?
Really don't want to book a guide in case the weather is crummy.

If the weather is not good we can just get a hotel near the airport and sleep but would prefer to visit something. Thanks.

Posted by
4528 posts

Good for you wanting to do some sightseeing, but I think you're being overoptimistic. If your plane is supposed to land at 11A let's assume it does, and you get your bags in 30 mins and get through customs in 30 mins. Now you cross the road and catch a train which is about 30 mins (see a pattern here?), rent locker for your bags at the Zurich station and ... well well, it's midafternoon already.

My advice would be to take the suggested big loop walk, where you walk down the west side of the river, look at the lake, and walk up the east side. Have a meal, retrieve your bags, train back to the airport, back through baggage checkin and customs and you can say you've seen Zurich.

Posted by
8586 posts

Agree with phred. Not enough time to go too far, especially jet-lagged.

Posted by
255 posts

Thanks. We are flying Business class so I think we will get some sleep on the plane and not be too jetlagged. I hadn't thought about the checked baggage being an issue. Won't they be checked through to our final stop Singapore? We are on Swiss Air all the way.

Posted by
4528 posts

Good question about the bags, you need to ask Swiss. Since you are "landing" in Switzerland and "entering" Switzerland, you may need to collect your bags and go through the procedure. And there may or may not be left luggage storage at the airport, and Swiss may or may not check your bags right back in. So many questions, in fact, you might want to call 2 or 3 times and see if the answer is always the same. And try to email to HQ in CH to confirm.

I recently flew to Zurich changing planes in Heathrow, and I was surprised that I had to collect my bags and be searched again there. And I wasn't even changing terminals! All they had to do was take me off the plane down a secured hallway and pop me back into the departure part of the terminal, but NOOOOOOOOOOO.

And then on my return, we were flying from CDG to LAX through O'Hare. Once again we had to get our bags and clear customs, and then 20 feet away was a very busy counter where people were rechecking their bags to their final destination. Who am I to question the wisdom of customs authorities?

Posted by
4148 posts

In general I agree with phred . This is , however , Zurich and with the amount of time you have , quick trip up to Uetliberg is possible . Direct rail from the airport to the Hauptbahnhof is fast and easy , from the central station the S10 commuter train goes up to Uetliberg . Of course . check track location , schedules , weather , etc , but it's doable . If there is any question , I would stick with phred's initial answer .

Posted by
4528 posts

Think I need to amend my previous post .... yes we did have to (unnecessarily) go through customs on our connection through Heathrow, but I think United transferred our checked bags for us and we only had to have our carryons searched.

I just remember how stressed out my wife was about having to go through British customs. all out of proportion to what is involved. She just kept saying What do we do, what do we do? And no, it's not like we are mules for a cartel. I just gritted my teeth and said Do what the signs say, follow directions. Which means over-cooperating to me - if it says put all liquids more than X in baggies, just put ALL your liquids in baggies. They're smart, they'll figure out what concerns them. And sure enough it was a breeze.

Wow, I was blocking that lovely memory until just now.

Posted by
1 posts

I'm in Brian's situation but haven't booked yet. Considering Tampa to Krakow flight with a 7 hour layover in Zurich Airport in July. With bags checked through and only a backpack for carry on, has anyone ever reserved a guide and either met at a train station in town or gotten picked up at the airport? I would eliminate the "warning items" from my carry on to hopefully lessen the stress of re-entry into the airport.

Posted by
32244 posts

Brian,

It sounds like you're flying on one ticket (the same as code share flights), so your checked luggage should go to your final destination and you won't have to deal with it in Zürich. Check with the airline to confirm. That's always been my experience when travelling TO other locations (unfortunately it's not the same coming home, as I always have to retrieve my checked luggage at the first airport I land at, and then re-check it for the final flight - rather a waste of time and unnecessary IMHO).

If you're only travelling with small and light carry-on items, they may not be too much trouble to carry around while you're seeing Zürich. That will save some time and effort in terms of having to drop them off at a luggage storage and then retrieve them.

Posted by
255 posts

I checked with Swiss Air and another good source at AMEX and our bags are checked all the way to Singapore so we can leave for the day with backpacks and just go through security when we return. So we have about 8 to 9 full hours to enjoy Zurich. I won't plan for a guide in case the weather is crummy plus we won't need one for what we want to do. Looks like we will head to Uetliberg Mountain via train for the great views and lunch if the weather is nice. Someone mentioned a train from the airport to the main Zurich station and then transfer to the Uetliberg Mountain train. That sounds great. I also read a lot of reports that people took boat rides on Lake Zurich in Jan and Feb so we can do that after we come down. That leaves some time for walking the promenade and Old Town. Looks like we can have a nice day there. Thanks to all for your helpful suggestions and expertise.

Posted by
145 posts

We - my son and I - had 23 hours in Zurich enroute to India from Florida last winter, so I can help :-) As we had to spend overnight by ourselves, we did not really have an option but to book a hotel. That said, we had finished our sightseeing whatever we could really do by about 6:30 pm (it started raining at about 4:45 pm - our worst case scenario, as there is only so much you can sightsee even with ponchos), so you could do everything we did. Just remember to have a plan B if the weather does not cooperate.

Our flight landed in Zurich about 10 am or so. Even though we were booked through to India, our bags were offloaded to us at Zurich as our halt was an overnight one. Never mind, I enquired around and though the first person we spoke with said that we could check the bags back in only the next day, I sought out another opinion, and a nice lady said that if we were on Swiss and leaving within 24 hours, we could check the bags right back which, needless to say, we did.

After purchasing the Zurich canton ZVV (after 9 am) pass from the SBB office in the same big airport terminal area, we were out of the airport by about noon. We then went to our hotel in Rumlang and left our carryon items there, then got to Uetliburg about 1:30pm or so. From there, we went to Rhine Falls reaching there at about 4:00 pm. Note that for your return, the last Winterthur-bound train stops at 4:15 pm or so in winter, so plan to walk back to Dachsen (we did - that was our plan B as I had not realized that the train does not stop that late in the afternoon!). It was dark by about 5 pm the day we were there - Christmas Day 2013. You should get at least 30-60 minutes more of daylight.

The next morning, it took us about 30 minutes from the time we were dropped off by the hotel's airport shuttle to get to our gate. Just to be on the safe side, I would plan on being there at least 2 hours before flight time.

For us, temps were in the high 30s low 40s. It snowed the day we were leaving ... but only after we reached our gate, so we could not spend time out in the snow.

PM me if you need more details. Of course, YMMV!!!

Porcupyn

PS: We had packed fingerfood so we did not spend any time for lunch/dinner.