Long Layover In Zurich: Tips For Leaving The Airport To Explore The City

I’ve written before about my travel anxiety, and one of my best tips for solo trips is avoiding unnecessary stress. In a complete contradiction of this rule, I decided to leave the airport during a long layover in Zurich. Switzerland is a country I don’t have any plan to visit, and the airport is right by the city center. Additionally, sitting at my gate for hours didn’t sound like fun.

I’m not qualified to give you recommendations on food or things to do — I was only there for about an hour. This guide is mostly for people who want to say they’ve visited another country while on a layover. Without further ado, here’s how to make the most of a long layover in Zurich and leave Zurich International Airport.

1. Go Through Border Control

Once you get off your flight, follow the hordes of people heading toward border control. I was able to move through in 10 minutes, which is way less time than I would’ve spent in line at any U.S. airport. I simply told the agent I was visiting Zurich during a layover and they waved me through.

2. Follow Signs For The Train

The Zurich airport has its own train station, which is tremendously convenient. After you clear customs, look for the signs pointing toward the train in Terminal B. I got a bit confused about how to actually buy tickets but figured out that they have self-serve stations on the platforms.

3. Determine Where You Want To Go

Zurich HB is the main station in the city, and it’s also only mere minutes from the airport train station. I bought an all-day ticket for about 15 CHF, although no one ever asked to see my ticket, which was unexpected. I chose Zurich HB because it seemed best for a short trip. Even though I don’t speak German, I had no problem finding my train or navigating the airport. You should know that the airport train stop name is Flughafen Zurich on directional signs.

4. Walk The City

The city was a bit sleepy when I arrived early on a Monday, but I still had fun wandering around. If I’d had more time, I would’ve looked for a great breakfast or coffee spot, but I was adamant about giving myself ample time to get back through security. If nothing else, it’s truly wonderful visiting walkable cities. Here are a couple of my favorite pictures.

I returned to the train station with two hours until my flight. My mobile boarding pass wasn’t working, which was a brief scare because the Swissair line had hundreds of people. Thankfully, I got it sorted out, and the Zurich airport security line moved very quickly. I even had time to get an extremely overpriced Starbucks drink before heading to my gate.

Seeing Zurich was a fun mini-adventure before my flight to France. This city is the exception to the “never leave the airport” rule. If you’re considering an escape from the Zurich airport during a layover, I can’t recommend it enough!

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