Zurich's transit system is typically Swiss—that is, streamlined, efficient and probably cleaner than your kitchen counter. Public transportation is certainly a cheaper option than cabbing it or, worse yet, driving. But there's also a completely free way to get around. Read on for all the specifics.
Getting Around Zurich
Bus, Tram, Cable Car, Train
The Zurich Transportation Network (ZVV) is a web of trams, buses, cable cars and trains that connect every square inch of the city and the surrounding canton. Buy your ticket from a machine and remember to validate the ticket before boarding.
ZVV ticket prices start at CHF 2.60 (CHF 2.20 reduced) and go up by number of zones traveled. The entire city of Zurich is located within Zone 10, so and even getting to the airport takes traveling in only two zones, at a cost of CHF 4.10. For a detailed map in English, visit the ZVV Web site.
A day pass, good for 24 hours of travel, costs CHF 5.20 (CHF 4.40 reduced) for one zone, and a six-day pass costs CHF 25.60 (CHF 22.40 reduced) for one zone.You can also purchase a multi-journey pass, good for six journeys. These cost between CHF 12.80 and CHF 15.60 (CHF 11.20 - CHF 13.20 reduced). For more information or to plan your route, visit ZVV's Web site.
The ZurichCARD gives you unlimited travel on all public transportation, plus admission to several attractions. At a starting rate of CHF 20, it may not seem like a bargain, but if you're arriving from the airport and visiting several museums, the card easily pays for itself. Read more about the ZurichCARD in our Budget tips guide to Zurich.
Finally, the Swiss Pass, a Switzerland-specific rail pass, provides unlimited access to the Swiss Rail System, including public transit in Zurich. The Swiss Pass is good for four, eight, 15, 22 or 30 days and costs between CHF 266 and CHF 590. Visit the Swiss Pass site for more information.
The Lake Zürich Navigation Company, Zürichsee Schifffahrtgesellschaft (or ZSG), has been operating boats on the lake since the late 19th century. Round-trip services offer several stops for commuters and a convenient and scenic way for travelers to get around the city. The long round-trip journey lasts four hours total and costs CHF 24 (CHF 12 reduced) and the short round-tip journey lasts an hour and a half and costs CHF 8.20 (CHF 4.10 reduced).
The company also offers Limmat River cruises for CHF 4.10 (CHF 2.90 reduced). Tickets can be purchased on the boat, at the Bürkliplatz ticket office or at any ZVV ticket office. ZVV zone tickets can also be used for travel by boat a (long round-trip journey requires an all-zone pass). Note that the service is limited in winter. Check with the ZSG Web site for more information.
Bike and Foot
Few things will cost nothing in Zurich, so you might as well take advantage of the city's free public bike scheme. With your ID and a CHF 20 deposit, you get a good road bike that will have you rolling on the cobblestone streets in no time.
You can't make reservations ahead of time, although we never had trouble getting a bike—and unlike many bike share programs, Zurich’s allows you to take out a bike for the entire day. During winter, you can only rent from the train station, but a score of bike stands pop up from spring to fall. You can see the rental sites on the Zurich's Web site.
And of course you can always get around on foot. For a city with its international reputation, Zurich is surprisingly compact. You can cover a lot of the areas walking, but bring comfortable shoes—some of these streets are older than many countries.
Taxis are painfully expensive in Switzerland, and Zurich is no exception. Unless you're rolling in it, you should steer away from them—especially since the public transit is superb.
Related posts from our blog
All hotel reviews
From our Zurich blog
Who are we? EuroCheapo is a guide to cheap hotels in Zurich and throughout Europe. Our editors have visited, inspected and reviewed budget-friendly hotels in the city, from the train station to the far side of Grossmünster. If it is even moderately affordable, we’ve visited it!
Zurich does not give a hearty Swiss welcome to budget travelers. The city’s “high season,” ironically, is during peak business times—so hotel prices can drop a bit over weekends and during holidays when business travelers go home. Regardless of your dates, the hotels we’ve recommended should offer affordable rates year-round.
Getting started: First do an availability search in the box above or read through our list of recommended hotels. If you need help choosing the right neighborhood to sleep in, read through our neighborhood descriptions. And for additional money-saving tips for visiting Zurich, be sure to read through the articles listed below.
German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) may be the obvious choice for many international train journeys to and from Germany, but that is certainly not the case when it comes to traveling between Germany and the Czech Rep ... read
With summer slipping slowly into fall, our thoughts turn to night trains. For many journeys across Europe, night trains make perfect sense — and as the evenings draw in, there is more good cause to hop aboard a train a ... read
“Do you mean Grindelwald?” This is the common response I receive when telling people about my favorite Swiss destination of Gimmelwald. While not many people have heard of it, it’s more because of its remote locati ... read
The latest issue of the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable is published today. Just for the record it is the 1,519th edition of the book. Can you imagine that? Surely no other volume in the history of publishing has gon ... read