A quick guide to one of our favorite destinations!

Located in mountainous North Central Switzerland, the city of Zurich is a study in variety. This relatively small city (by global standards), affords tourists and business people alike the opportunity to experience very different activities. The city itself has a population of over 425,000, but the entire metropolitan area has a population of 1.3 million: roughly ⅙ the of the entire country! Side trips from Zurich, particularly along the beautiful Lake Zurich gives outdoor enthusiasts and museum lovers alike a long list of things to do. Join BusinessTravel365 as we explore this global financial capital and happy city with one of the highest quality of life anywhere in the world! Given the current airline business situation, it is possible to get some great deals for business or first class flights. For the best deals, contact us!

This information is accurate as of 7/2021.

Zurich

Why visit Zurich?

This cosmopolitan city affords the visitor an excellent set of “must sees”, it’s all a matter of properly directing your search! The real attraction here is that over half of the country of Switzerland and at least four other countries (Germany, Liechtenstein, and Austria, and France) are reachable on a day trip from here. Staying close to home, any of the following activities make for an interesting introduction to this vibrant city: the center of Zurich, strolling along Lake Zurich, walking the famous shopping street the Bahnhofstrasse, or just people watching along the Limmat River, in the shadow of St. Peter’s Church (with the largest clock tower face in Europe). 

Delving deeper into the city, one finds interesting water fountains,  intense “techno” nightclubs, and more than a dozen museums to visit. You can follow that city exploration with some day trips to popular destinations like the Eastern Swiss Alps (including lunch in Liechtenstein and dinner in Austria), the capital of Bern, or the three mountain peaks of Jungfrau (and about 100 others in this mountainous area). One day in Zurich should allow for exploration of the city center from your centrally located hotel; the more time you can stay, the more of the region is yours to explore.

Unique Things We have Discovered about Zurich!

  • If you want to come to Zurich for an annual experience like no other, come in August: the Street Parade is Europe’s largest techno music street party and parade! Literally millions of people are in Zurich to enjoy the festivities.  There is a local joke that even in bad weather, 800,000 people will show up! The best international DJs perform in free shows here, riding on one of the “Love Mobiles”: trucks outfitted with a loud music system!
  • For the more sedate tourists, over a dozen world-class museums are on offer in Zurich. These include the Zurich Museum of Art or Kunsthaus Zurich, with one of the world’s largest collections of classic modern art; the Museum of Design, which highlights architecture and industrial design; the Swiss National Museum highlighting the history and culture of Switzerland, and even a museum dedicated to the historic Zurich Tram System!
  • The approximately 35 square mile Lake Zurich, on which Zurich sits at one end, can actually freeze solid in the winter! When it happens, people walk on the lake and participate in winter fairs. This does not often happen as the temperatures must be below freezing for about a month for the lake to freeze solid.
  • Zurich was already inhabited in the times of the Roman Empire. It was known as Turicum, and this name was found on a tombstone that dates back to the second century. There are houses constructed on stilts near Zurich that could date back to 5000 BC.
  • Muesli, or more specifically Bircher Muesli, was invented here by Max Bircher-Benner – a doctor specializing in nutrition, in 1904.
  • There are over 1200 public water fountains in the city. There was a requirement for a stonemason apprentice to create a statue to pass their exam and become a master. Many of these were turned into fountains to allow the residents of the city to fill their bottles and cups with some of the cleanest tap water in the world.
Photo of Zurich

Zurich: Getting there!

Flughafen Zurich (also known as Zurich Kloten Airport, or ZRH) is the largest airport in Switzerland and the main hub for Swiss International Air Lines. Thirty-one million passengers passed through the airport in 2019 on over 275,000 flights. The airport was opened April 9, 1953, with a passenger terminal, restaurant, office, and the ever so important viewing terrace! Terminals A and B are connected by a large shopping lounge and restaurant complex known as the Airside Center, however, Terminal A is due for renovations. Terminal E is where most intercontinental flights depart. Access is provided via an underground subway train. Every gate in Terminal B has a second floor designated Terminal D for non-Schengen zone flights. Planes from both Schengen and Non-Schengen flights can use the same physical setup. 

Gateway cities from the USA to ZRH

Since COVID has reduced flights to and from Europe, the number of destinations has dropped, currently numbering 8, with two Airlines serving ZRH. United is the only US carrier currently serving ZRH. A majority of the approximately 50 round-trip flights are operated by SWISS (over 35 roundtrips fly to 7 cities).

Flights serve the following cities: Boston, 3760 miles, served by SWISS 4 times per week, flight time 7:30 westbound, 6:45 eastbound (approx); Chicago, 4460 miles, served by SWISS daily, flight time 9:00 westbound, 8:15 eastbound (approx); Los Angeles, 5965 miles, served by SWISS 4 times per week, flight time 11:30 westbound, 10:30 eastbound (approx); Miam, 4880 miles, served by SWISS 5 times per week, flight time 9:30 westbound, 8:30 eastbound (approx); New York Newark, 3960 miles, served by SWISS 5 times per week and United daily, flight time 8:00 westbound, 7:15 eastbound (approx); New York JFK, 3950 miles, served by SWISS daily, flight time 8:00 westbound, 7:15 eastbound (approx); San Francisco, 5830 miles, served by SWISS 4 times per week, flight time 11:30 westbound, 10:15 eastbound (approx); Washington Dulles, 4175 miles, served by United daily, travel time 8:30 westbound, 7:30 eastbound (approx). Business Travel 365 can help you book your business class flights to Zurich, round trip one way or multi-city.

Airport Lounges at Zurich Airport

Currently, there are only limited options for lounges in ZRH Airport:

  • SWISS Air Lines First Class Lounge – Terminal A (in the Airside Center) (open daily 6:00am – 7:00pm) Exclusive service in this modern lounge for First Class airfare and HON Circle passengers only.
  • SWISS Air Lines Alpine Lounge – Airside Center (temporarily closed) The charm of a rustic Alpine lounge combined with a new and visionary culinary approach. 
  • SWISS Air Lines Business Lounge – Terminal D (temporarily closed) For passengers not entering the Schengen area, it has the usual SWISS lounge amenities.
  • SWISS Air Lines Senator Lounge – Terminal D (temporarily closed) Another non-Schengen lounge, with a viewing terrace and sumptuous buffet.
  • SWISS Air Lines Senator Lounge – Terminal E (temporarily closed) This lounge has a whisky bar, an in-house restaurant, and a view of the Alpine and airport panoramas from the terrace!
  • SWISS Air Lines Business Lounge – Terminal E (open daily from 8:00am – 2:00pm) Comfort and relaxation with a fine dining buffet and assorted snacks, as well as showers, productivity suites, and high-speed internet.
  • SWISS Air Lines First Class Lounge – Terminal E (temporarily closed) Enjoy stunning airport views from a private hotel room suite with a $100,000 handmade bed and amazing amenities. A destination in and of itself! 
  • SWISS Air Lines Business and Senator Lounge – Terminal A (open with varying hours depending on flights) One lounge with two separate entrances, the only lounge with access for all categories of eligible premium class travelers. 
  • Aspire Lounge – Airside Center (Terminal A) (open daily from 6:00am – 6:00pm) AND Terminal E (open daily from 9:00am – 4:00pm) Paid access lounge (for those who travel in economy class) provides access to the passengers who fly with airlines not affiliated with SWISS. Food and art to please the palate!
  • Primeclass Lounge – Terminal E (open daily 6:00am – 10:30pm) Another paid access lounge like Aspire with a buffet and included drinks. It is now possible to find cheap deals to purchase access to this lounge, as there are limited food and drink options. 
  • Emirates Lounge (Terminal E) and Marhaba Lounge (Airside Center, Terminal A) – both currently closed. They should reopen in the fall of 2021 to serve their passengers booking business class tickets to Zurich.

Getting There and Then Getting Away

It is a 12-minute train ride from the airport to central Zurich Hauptbahnhof. Trains operate 24 hours a day, with very limited service overnight. During the day, the trains depart every 5 to 12 minutes. A one-way ticket to the center costs 6.60 CHF ($7.25), a 24 hour round trip ticket including transportation within the city costs 13.20 CHF ($14.50). There is also a tram and buses that run to the center, operating from Level 1 when exiting the arrivals hall. The train is faster and more frequent than other alternatives that take much longer (35-60 minutes) but cost about the same as the train. Taxis charge 6.00 CHF ($7) for the fixed start fee and 3.80 CHF ($4.25) per kilometer. A trip to the city center will cost somewhere between 50-70 CHF ($54-75).

Interesting information about ZRH

  • Since the day the airport opened, there was significance placed on “plane spotting” with a 650-foot long terrace built with unobstructed views of the tarmac and runways. Even now, if you have a longer layover, you can enjoy viewing terraces on all of the terminals. If you are traveling Swiss or Star Alliance from the midfield Terminal E and book business class, there are terraces accessible from the Lounges! Recently, they have been locked for regular access, but if you ask the lounge staff to let you visit, they might let you!
  • The redesigned Terminal A will be completed by 2030, when it is anticipated, even after COVID, that there will be 50 million passengers annually at Zurich Airport by the opening date.
  • With 14 nonstop destinations from ZRH, the United States (in January 2020 – before COVID) was tied with the United Kingdom for the country with the third most destinations, beaten only by Germany and Spain.
  • The only domestic flight destination in Switzerland is Geneva Cointrin Airport. The fun fact is that that airport is actually built predominantly in France! There are other airports but without domestic flight possibilities. 

Want to Visit Switzerland beyond Zurich? Other Destinations in Switzerland!

The Swiss have a smooth-running train system. The SBB CFF FFS system provides connections all over Switzerland – you can even purchase your tickets at the Airport train station. Most likely, you will have to transit at the Hauptbahnhof. From there, the choices are endless – visit Lake Geneva, the Matterhorn, the charming small town of Chur, or sample some Gruyere cheese in the farming region of the country! Here it is possible to get the best of both the big city and the rural communities in just one day!

Zurich: A Primer

City of Zurich

A Concise History of Zurich

The first reference to the name Zurich was in the second century A.D. Some consider the true birth of Zurich to be when Louis the German (grandson of Charlemagne) is first mentioned in 835. His daughter Hildegard led the Fraumunster abbey from 853 – they had the authority to collect tolls and taxes and establish a currency, and the abbess ruled the city. Over the next few centuries, the story continued until Emperor Frederick II made the abbess a Duchess in 1234. The first independent mayor was elected in 1336.

Zurich became part of the Swiss Confederation in 1351 as its fifth member. They were, however, an isolationist entity, even creating defensive barriers. Ultimately they parted ways with the Confederation several times. The city enlarged significantly in the latter years of the 19th century, and by 1934 the city (in terms of area) was relatively the same as it is today, with a productive working-class population that helped it grow over the last 150 years. 

Geography of Zurich

Nature in Zurich

Zurich is located at 1300 feet above sea level on the northern end of Lake Zurich. Interestingly enough, the municipality and the lake are almost equally sized at 35 square miles. While there are wooded hills around Zurich, the city is located about 20 miles north of the Alps Mountains. There are several rivers that have also served as the natural boundaries for the city over the centuries. The original city is located in Glatt and Limmat Valley. However, as the city grew in population, there are now districts that are located in the nearby hills.

The Best Time To Visit Zurich

If money is no object, then the ideal weather is in the summer, between June and August. It is the most expensive time to be in Switzerland and is crowded with tourists. However, many people prefer to visit in the Spring and Fall – there is good weather, moderate temperatures, and fewer tourists, making it less expensive. If you are a fan of winter sports, Zurich is a great jumping-off point for a visit to St. Moritz, Zermatt, or other Swiss Alps ski resorts! 

Money Matters in Zurich

There are many banks in Zurich since it is an international financial capital. As with most international destinations, it is best to ask your bank about the foreign transaction fees – if those are not significant, then the ideal option is to head to one of the many banks and withdraw the Swiss Francs at an ATM. If you need to exchange paper money or travelers’ checks, it would be best to avoid the Airport and Train Stations, as that is where the exchanges are oriented to tourists, which means they are more expensive. 

Currency

The Swiss have their own currency, the Swiss Franc (CHF).  1 Franc is approximately $1.10. Paper currency is issued in 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 1000 CHF denominations. Below 10 CHF, there are all coins (5, 2, and 1 CHF and 50, 20, 10, and 5 centimes). 

Tipping

There is no reason to think about tipping in Switzerland.  It is included in the bill as a “service charge.”  However, if the service was particularly good, it is acceptable and appreciated to round up for the service provider.

Shopping in Zurich

There are many things to take back to family, friends, and colleagues at home.  The top edible treats would have to be Swiss Chocolate, Fondue Sets, and various cheeses. Otherwise, the most common mementos in souvenir shops include Swiss army knives, watches, cowbells, music boxes, and cuckoo clocks. For children, there are many traditional wooden toys and books about Heidi. Finally, for a memento of the significant amount of time spent in the Swiss train stations, you could take home a Mondaine railway clock, which comes in various sizes. It is possible to get great deals on a variety of premium souvenirs from your international travel! 

Travel Tips

Getting Around Zurich

Zurich has a fantastic and precise tram system. These, together with buses, travel all over the city. Special tourist cards with unlimited travel over different numbers of days are available at any train station ticket window or tourist information center. The compact city center lends itself to a walking tour. Maps again are found in many places at the Hauptbahnhof. Taxis are expensive – costing about 4 CHF ($4.40) per kilometer (that is $7 per mile)

Staying Safe in Zurich

Switzerland, even in larger cities, is generally very safe. Tourists are not targeted. However, there are pickpockets, and it is best to be vigilant about your belongings. It is not necessary to carry your passport around as an identity document.

The U.S. Embassy is in Bern, the capital city of Switzerland. There is a Consulate in Zurich, located at Dufourstrasse 101. The phone number is +41 31 357 70 11. They have limited hours, but it is possible to call in case of an emergency. 

Electricity Considerations  

As with most of Europe, Switzerland has the standard European plugs ( two circular pins as opposed to two flat paddles in the United States.  Voltage is 220 volts as opposed to the USA where it is 110 volts. Many appliances change between 110 and 220 volts – and between 50 and 60 Hertz.  However, if your apparatus does not change Hertz and is standard US 60Hz, it will not work here on the 50 Hz electricity supply.

Top Sightseeing in Zurich

Sightseeing in Zurich
Nature in Zurich
In Zurich

Most of the key tourist spots are located on both sides of the Limmat River, between the shores of Lake Zurich and the Hauptbahnhof. Some of our best suggestions to pass the time in Zurich include the following:

  • Grossmunster (Zwingliplatz, 5 CHF) – an old Romanesque church built in the era of the Reformation.  The tower affords great views of the city, but the climb is steep.
  • Kunsthaus (Heimplatz 2, free on Wednesdays) – the modern art museum that has impressive collections of Swiss sculptor Giacometti and painter Fuseli.
  • Landesmuseum (Museumstrasse 2, 10 CHF) – the Swiss History Museum.
  • Fraumunster (Kambelgasse 2, free – no photos allowed) – The former convent that was once the seat of the region.  Window paintings by Chagall. The organ is played every Wednesday at 7:45 am.
  • Schanzengraben – this canal was part of the old city walls. It is possible to walk along this canal from Gessnerallee to Lake Zurich. Then perhaps walk along the lake, taking time to look back at the city!
  • There are a variety of other museums and publicly accessible churches, at one count about 50 in total.  There are museums dedicated to watches (Beyer Watch Museum), a Chinese Garden, and the Rietberg Museum (one of the largest collections of Asian art in Europe). There is even a Tram Museum!

Get Out on the Town in Zurich 

There is a very popular nightclub scene in town, open most nights of the week. The best is to ask at the tourist information office in the Hauptbahnhof for a list of interesting special events while in Zurich. The most famous nightclub zone is Niederdorf in the center. Newer nightlife zones are located in Langstrasse in District 4, Zurich West in district 5, and the area around the Hardbrucke train station. 

Sports to Watch and Play in Zurich

The International Federation of Football (Soccer) is headquartered in Zurich. There is much amateur soccer activity, and the top league professional team is FC Zurich (founded in 1896). Ice hockey is also popular, with the local team being the ZSC Lions.  

When it comes to sports tourists can participate in, cycling is very popular, and it is possible to rent bicycles and follow ride-along maps for interesting rides throughout the city.  There are yellow lanes marked exclusively for cyclists.

This article is authored by the Travel Experts at BusinessTravel365. We look forward to leveraging our knowledge and experience to help book great flight deals for your next business class travel around the world!

The information is current as of 7/2021.