Even though it's Switzerland's largest city, Zurich is small enough that travelers can easily see much of what it has to offer -- more than 50 museums and 500 bars and nightclubs -- and large enough to satisfy everyone from ski bums to families to gay and lesbian travelers. In the immediate future, the city Christmas Market, located downtown, sets up on November 23 and is open through December 30; other markets are scattered throughout the city (www.zuerich.com/events/christmas_time/markets/index.html). A New Year's Eve run called Silvesterlauf is expected to attract thousands to the old city center this year, and fireworks will help ring in the New Year. And if skiing is your attraction, you're just a couple hours (or less) away from many ski resorts via rail.
American Airlines (tel. 800/222-2377; www.aa.com) just announced special fares to Zurich from the United States, valid for travel through February 14, 2007 with a booking deadline of December 4. Departure cities include Atlanta ($548), Chicago O'Hare ($581), Houston ($486), Los Angeles ($610), New York-JFK ($369), Miami ($561). Fares are valid for travel Monday through Thursday and require a seven-day advance purchase. Blackout dates apply around Christmas and New Year's, December 21, 2006-January 6, 2007. But tickets are nonrefundable and nontransferable -- so you better be sure about your plans.
Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) has a Zurich and Swiss Pass Escape available that includes four nights and airfare from $849 based on New York JFK or Newark NJ departures and available for travel through December 14. After that, the price jumps up to $1,039 through January 3, 2007, and drops back down to $869 for travel January 4-March 7. The package includes continental breakfast daily, hotel taxes and service charges, airline fuel surcharges, and a four-day, second-class Swiss Pass. Booking deadline is December 14.
Those seeking a long weekend in Switzerland might be interested in the Zurich Supersale, which includes three hotel nights at a tourist class hotel and roundtrip airfare from New York or Newark, starting from $569. Airline fuel surcharges and hotel taxes and service charges are included, airport taxes are not, and the package, at that price, is good for through December 14 with a booking deadline of the same day.
Picasso Travel, (tel. 800/995-7997; www.picassotravel.com) has a Zurich special, starting from $379 for a five-day, four-night trip, for November through March 31, 2007, with the exception of blackout dates December 17-January 4. The package includes accommodations at a three-star hotel, complimentary daily breakfast, and free admission to the Christmas Stroll (if you travel November 29-December 23). If you want to add airfare from New York-JFK, the price is $699 per person for double occupancy or $1,053 for single supplement. This price does not include air taxes and fuel surcharge, which can tack on close to an additional $300 per person. The prices reflect midweek departures.
Swiss Air (tel. 877/359-7947; www.swiss.com) also has a winter web fare sale running, and though for some departure cities it is not less expensive than American Airlines, there are fewer restrictions. For example, with the Swiss Air sale, you can fly from New York to Zurich for $482 now through December 15 or December 25 through March 31, 2007, with no blackout dates. All fares are roundtrip and include all taxes, fees and surcharges. You must stay a Saturday night, remain in Switzerland no more than three months and the sale only requires a one-day advance purchase. Travel is also valid any day of the week, which gives you much more flexibility.
The Switzerland Tourism web site (tel. 877/794-8037; www.myswitzerland.com) has an overview of some special offers for ski resort packages within 1-2 hours distance of the Zurich airport posted on its website, such as the three-star Hotel Derby in Grindewald from $943 for seven nights for March 30 departure, or spend seven nights at the three-star Hotel Terrace in Engelberg, priced from $997 per person, valid for travel January 12-February 2. Both prices reflect roundtrip airfare from New York-
JFK, roundtrip airport-resort rail transfers, and meals as specified -- see the fine print because it varies from resort to resort. The New Jersey-based company Holidaze Ski Tours operates these tours (tel. 800/526-2827; www.holidaze.com).
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