Getting around Zurich is made easy by the comprehensive public transport network that covers this compact city. The best way to get around Zurich’s neighborhoods is on foot or by bike. Whether by car, with trams or on foot, here are some useful tips for you.
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Public Transport in Zurich
Public transport in Zurich is run by the Zürcher Verkehrsverbund (ZVV), which covers the entire Zurich canton and consists of buses, trams, ferry services and suburban trains (S-Bahn). The trams, in particular, are a good way to get around. Before you hop aboard, make sure you buy your ticket at a VBZ ticket office or an automatic ticket machine.
You can purchase tickets for 1 hour or Day Cards for various zones. Zurich City is part of Zone 110, the Airport part of Zone 121. You should always carry tickets with you as tickets are regularly controlled.
To save money on transportation and attractions, consider purchasing a Zurich Card. In addition to offering discounted or free admission to most of Zurich’s museums, Zurich Cards cover all public transit fees for 24 or 72 hours (Zones 110, 111, 112, 121, 140, 150 and 154). Select stores and restaurants also offer discounts and freebies to Zurich Card holders. Area of validity, Zürich Card (PDF)
For night owls on Fridays and Saturdays late-night trains and S-Bahn train routes travel from 1am until 9am on the night network (Nachtnetze). Two tickets are required for use of the ZVV Nachnetze: A valid transport ticket together with night-surcharge ticket at the cost of CHF 5. These are available at ticket machines (touchscreen) under the word “Nachtzuschlag”.
Where To Buy Zurich Card
You can buy Zurich Card at Zurich Main Train Station or directly after landing at Zurich Airport. This way, you will not have to pay for the trip from the airport to downtown Zurich. Zurich Card can also be purchased with just a few clicks from all ticket machines of the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) and the Zurich Transport Network (ZVV).
You can also buy Zurich Card online through the SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) Ticketshop. The ticket is personal and non-transferable.
Zurich Transport Network (ZVV)
The Zurich Transport Network (ZVV) is the tariff and transportation network for local public transport in the canton of Zürich and certain neighboring regions.
- Online Timetable for Tram, Bus, Boat and Train
- Route network for the city of Zurich
- Route network for S-Bahn trains, buses and boats
- ZVV Information page for passengers with reduced mobility
Swiss Federal Railways (SBB)
With more than 327 million passengers a year, the SBB is Switzerland’s biggest travel and transport company. Zurich Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, has a continuous train service connecting destinations throughout Switzerland and Europe, as well as suburban S-Bahn trains covering the Zurich region.
Swiss Travel Pass
Are you coming to Switzerland for just a few days or for as long as a whole month? With the Swiss Travel Pass, you can plan your very own individual tour on a network of more than 12,000 miles covered by trains, buses and boats.
Information and Booking
Zurich on Foot
Many Zurich attractions are located close to one another in Kreis 1 (District 1), so walking is a great way to get around. The Old Town of Zurich, the Grossmünster and Fraumünster churches, Lake Zurich, the Lindenhof and the famous Bahnhofstrasse are all within a 1 or 2 kilometer radius and easy to reach on foot in just 20 to 30 minutes. To explore beyond, Zurich offers a very efficient public transit system.
Boat-based public transport in Zurich consists of smaller river cruisers and lake steamers that are managed by Zurichsee. River boats only operate in the warmer months, while lake steamers run throughout the year.
River buses run from the Landesmuseum which is close to Hauptbahnhof, along the Limmat River, out onto Lake Zurich and onwards to Tiefenbrunnen. Passengers can board and disembark at stops along the way, but they’re mostly aimed at tourists.
Lake steamers leave from Burkliplatz and serve various destinations. ZVV tickets and passes are valid on all commuter boat services.
The city of Zurich offers free bike rentals daily for getting around. To borrow a bike, travelers will need to show a passport (or another form of ID) and provide a refundable deposit of 20 Swiss francs. Loaner bikes can be found year-round outside Hauptbahnhof (Zurich’s main train station). Additional bike stations are available by Bellevue station and along Bahnhofstrasse from May to October.
In Zurich there are a number of taxi companies for which you can order a taxi by phone. This usually requires a waiting time of 5 – 10 minutes until the taxi arrives. In the city there are also several taxi stands – at which you can simply seat yourself in the taxi up front. At Zurich’s Main Railway Station as well as at Bürkliplatz and Lake Zurich it’s generally easy to spot and hail a taxi without much difficulty.
Taxi rates start at 6 francs, and an additional 3.80 francs are tacked on per kilometer traveled. You can also opt to get around via the Uber ride-hailing service.
Parking in Zurich
Parking regulations in Zurich are very strict. Whoever doesn’t stick to the rules can expect a parking fine of CHF 40 or more. Parking is generally permitted only on marked parking places.
Parking cards for inhabitants and parking in blue zones, as well as special parking permissions are obtainable at www.parkkarten.ch. Parking times are generally coordinated with business opening hours and displayed on the parking meter.
Driving in Zurich
Driving around Zurich is not recommended: Downtown’s streets get very congested, and parking is scant and expensive. And if you think you can just park at your hotel, think again. Some hotels don’t offer parking at all, and if they do, they’ll charge you a premium price for it.
Car Rental at Zurich Airport
Various car rental firms are based at Zurich Airport. You are best advised to reserve your car in advance of your trip and then pick it up directly at Zurich Airport on arrival.