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3 hour Zurich layover - enough time for a quick breakfast?

Hello- We're flying to Malaga, Spain via Dulles and Zurich, scheduled to arrive at 6:55 in Zurich, departing at 9:50am. The Zurich airport website says a four hour layover is enough time to take the train downtown. Any thoughts on if we could make it for a quick breakfast and look around in three hours? We're fast walkers and will only have carry on luggage. Any recommendations are appreciated. Thanks and happy travels!

Posted by
6 posts

The Zurich airport is quite large, and it's a fairly long walk from many of the gates to the airport train station. There are trains to the main Zurich HB train station every few minutes, and it's only a 10-15 minute ride, taking you right to the head of the main shopping street. Therefore, it's theoretically doable, but you'd have VERY little if any time there. There is decent shopping and places to eat in the airport itself. Therefore, personally I wouldn't bother leaving the airport this time.

Posted by
813 posts

Leaving the airport means going through customs completely then reentering the airport and going through a whole other set of security screenings, etc. This could easily be 3 hours in itself if there's a backup. Last summer it took us 2 hours just to get from one terminal to another in Frankfurt because of backups in security.

Posted by
15764 posts

No, I wouldn't chance it. by the time you buy tickets, wait for the next train, go into zurich, and find you rway out of the Hauptbahnhof, it will be time to turn around and head back to the airport. There are lots of shops (including a bakery) inside the airport, so you won't have trouble finding breakfast. (It woun't be cheap, however).

Posted by
359 posts

The good thing, Elizabeth, is that Zurich Airport has got to be one of the most civilized small airports in western Europe. Lots of sit-down spots to watch the airside activities, no shortage of airport shopping (for what that's worth) and, if you indulge, they have spotlessly clean/air scrubbed smoking lounges in which to partake. Plenty of decent (it's all relative!!) spots to get some breakfast and I for one wouldn't chance a trip downtown. My work used to take me through Zurich at least once a week enroute Schiphol to Sarajevo and the only time I went downtown was when I was fogbound and Swiss put us up for the night. Grab some ZZZZ's, pick up a Swatch, wander the mall and wait for your Malaga flight.

Posted by
2 posts

I'd agree that 3 hours is too short a time. We had something similar traveling to Greece two years ago and found some very nice places in the airport. The only problem we had was trying to find a place to get the little money we needed to pay for stuff in Swiss Francs. We didn't have Euros and the part of the airport we were in didn't seem to have an ATM. Maybe it was there, but we couldn't find it. They did have a cambio there, but the exchange rate wasn't in our favor for a three hour stay in Switzerland. Guess that's why they have a reputation as bankers! 8-)

Posted by
272 posts

It would be tight but i think it's doable. My friend and I were there in September...had a layover coming from Istanbul en route to Los Angeles. We decided we would not regret a quick Zurich jaunt. Our bags had been checked through to LA so we got off our flight, easily found the train (found Zurich airport user friendly and easy to navigate), were in Zurich city centre within less than 15 minutes. We had about 5 hours to wander around though. Our timing was about the same as yours though b/c we arrived in Zurich around 7am. We did find a lot of things were closed when we got into town including some cafes. It was a really pretty and peaceful time in the city though. Yes, it would be easier to remain at the airport. But if you don't mind the mad dash then I think you can do it but realize you really won't have all that much time in town before getting the train back.
and in reply to another post....we didn't have to re-enter security, customs, etc. the return to the airport was quick and easy. we even had enough time to wander around the airport and look at the shops there.