Don and I traveled to Israel recently. On the way from Newark to Tel Aviv, we worked in a 14 hour layover in Zurich, Switzerland. Over the past many years, we have toured a number of cities in Europe this way. We have found that this is an excellent way to tour a city without the expense and hassle of booking an overnight stay in a hotel.
We did some cursory research before traveling and discovered that Zurich would be a very easy city to navigate using public transportation. We checked the weather forecast in advance only to find that it would be raining the whole day, so we packed umbrellas and rain slickers. We discovered that there are lockers in the Zurich airport and museums for luggage. Our airline allowed us to check our bags all the way through to Israel so that we had only to deal with hand luggage on our layover.
We arrived in the early hours of the morning and easily took the train directly from/to the airport. In the span of our layover, we managed to walk Zurich’s City Center and Old Town, tour two museums, take a boat ride around Lake Zurich, enjoy a kosher meat dinner and return in plenty of time for our short flight from Zurich to Tel Aviv.
Although Zurich is one of the most expensive cities in Europe, we found that the transportation and entertainment costs were very affordable. The Swiss locals that we encountered were friendly and helpful. We discovered that we were able to easily communicate in Zurich using English.
Here are some tips and highlights from our day in Zurich:
1. Buy the ZurichCARD in the airport for savings on transportation and museums
We bought the ZurichCARD in the airport. The ZurichCARD cost around $20 per person for 24 hours of unlimited transportation by train, trolley and boat in and around Zurich. We activated the card right in the airport train station and took a train straight to the City Center, a mere 10-minute ride. From there, we walked to two excellent museums and used the ZurichCARD as museum admission. Public transportation in Zurich runs like clockwork, just as one would expect in Switzerland.