Free and Cheap Things To Do
in Summer in Zurich
Please check prices and opening hours before visiting
as someplace may be temporarily closed due to Corona
We all know that Zurich is up there as one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in – but there are some reasonably priced activities and believe it or not many free ones too! If you’re spending the Summer in Zurich and if you have the kids with you too, here are some ideas which will hopefully save you from breaking the bank.
Bike Around Zurich for Free
In town there are free Bikes from “Züri Rollt” bike hire. Don’t forget to bring your Ausweis and CHF 20 deposit – and it’s a good idea to take along your own helmet! There are 2 pick up points close to the main station. Other pickup locations in Enge, Bellevue, Viadukt, outside Globus in Bahnhofstrasse and in Altstetten. For full details of the locations see here.
There are also a number of other providers offering bike and even electric scooter hire via the Lime App.
Swim in the Lake For a Small Fee in a Badi
The Badis are relatively cheap and make a great way to spend a sunny Summer’s day. For a list of the Zurich Badis please see here.
Free Swimming in the Lake and Free Badis
In addition to the list of Badis above – there are also a number of green areas all round the lake where you can just rock up and take a swim in the lake. There are even free Badis on both sides of the lake such as just off China Gardens, the shoreline near Küsnacht and Rüschlikon.There are no showers and changing rooms – but when it’s hot in the city it’s refreshing and FREE. There are also some free Badis around the lake too.
Visit the Kunsthaus for Free
If you like art make sure you visit the Kunsthaus on a Wednesday as entrance is free that day (though special collections are nearly always extra). A great way to see some fabulous art. More information the Kunsthaus here.
Visit the Chagall Fensters in the Fraumünster Church
Admire the beautiful colours and craftsmanship of these fabulous stained glass windows by Marc Chagall. Until recently entry used to be free but now costs CHF 5 per person. However, if you live in Zurich you can get a “permanent visitor” pass for a small fee which allows you to visit regularly at no further cost. Contact the Fraumunster directly or take a look here (in German) for more information.
Grossmunster Views over Zurich
Or why not pay CHF 4 for an adult ticket to climb the 187 steps to the top of the Grossmunster and enjoy panoramic views across the whole of the city. Don’t forget to take your camera. Other good places for views include the Freitag Tower and Prime Tower.
Take the Planet Trail and Hike in Zurich
Why not take the S10 train from Zurich Hauptbahnhof up the Üetliberg and take the Planetweg walk? Üetliberg is 2850 feet above sea level and offers fabulous views over Zurich. It’s a great activity for a fine day and children love spotting the planets and looking for the next one. Also from Uetliberg to Adliswil you can walk along the ridge and take the gondola down and then ride the train back to Zurich Hauptbahnhof. Why not take a picnic and stop and admire the views along the way? To save on the cost of the train and if you’re feeling fit you could hike up and down the Ueltiberg. See map here.
Buy a Bratwurst and Grill it on an Open Grill
Instead of taking a normal picnic with you when you go up the Uetliberg why not purchase a few bratwurst from a local butcher or supermarket and grill them on one of the open grills you can find up the Uetliberg and in various other locations just out of town.
Free Transport for Kids with a Junior Karte
If you’ve got children between 6 and 16 and haven’t done so already, it most probably makes sense to buy Junior Karten for them to get free rides on public transport when travelling with their parents (please note they need to be with a parent not a grandparent). If you’re taking train journeys out of Zurich then the Junior Karten will definitely come in handy. Costing around CHF 30 (or less when on Special offer) the Junior Karte is valid for a whole year. More information here.
Botanical Garden Zurich
Another great free thing to do is a visit to the Botanical Gardens in Zurich. As well as lots of plants and shrubs (over 9,000 plant species on offer) there is a meadow and a pond and it’s a beautiful place to relax. There is also a cafe on site too. For more information please see here.
Sihlwald Wildnis Park
This park was established in 2009 and offers a contrast to city life in Zurich with a step back into nature. There are lots of trails to explore and you can even take guided tours. Entrance to the park itself is free. If you come by car you will have to pay for parking but these fees all go to support the running of the park and feeding the animals. There is a Nature Museum on site with a small entrance fee. To learn more please see here.
Hydrate for Free – Free Drinking Water at the Fountains
Don’t buy expensive bottled water in the shops – carry round an empty bottle and fill up as you need to from one of the 1200 fresh water fountains in Zurich. You can find them all over the city – and the water is fresh, clear and cold – and FREE!
Visit the Market at Zurich Railway Station
It’s open every Wednesday from 10am till 8pm and it’s a great place to browse and maybe pick up a local speciality for a picnic lunch. (Check availability due to the Corona situation).
Visit the Bürkliplatz Flea Market
Chat with the locals as you browse the curios and interesting objects for sale at Bürkliplatz flea market. Centrally located it’s a great place to visit on a Saturday when it’s open 7am till 5pm. It begins early Many and continues until the end of October. (It is closed for Street Parade and some other city festivals).(Check availability due to the Corona situation). Located at Bürkliplatz.
Sommerferien Pass for School Children
If you live here it’s worth getting a Sommerferien pass for your children aged 6 to 16 as it allows them up to 5 weeks of free travel on all the trams, trains, buses etc as well as free entrance to swimming pools and lots of museums as well as other deals too. It costs around CHF 25. Find out more here.
China Gardens occupies a beautiful spot by the lake and even if you don’t want to see the Chinese Padoga itself (which in fact is great little place to visit) you can always relax or go for a picnic in the lakeside park and maybe have an ice cream or swim in the lake.
A Boat Trip on Lake Zurich
The regular boat trips on Lake Zurich are included in your daily tram or train ticket. Going by boat is a great way to travel and see the city from a different perspective. There is a ticket and information office at Burkliplatz. More information here.
Tour of the Sites in the Niederdorf and Altstadt
A great afternoon or morning can be spent exploring the sites of the Old Town and the Niederdorf and as well as seeing the well known landmarks it’s great to explore the little lanes and backstreets too and to discover hidden squares and beautiful fountains. Why not check out some of recommendations for great cafés in Zurich, wonderful cakes and desserts or scrumptious ice creams while you’re at it!
Visit the Greifensee
A short trip outside Zurich and not far from Uster, you can visit the beautiful Lake Greifensee. It’s a wonderful place to walk, run, skate or cycle around – or you could even go stand up paddle boarding or canoeing there instead. There are some cafés and small restaurants dotted around the lake, but you could also take a picnic, or maybe a few Bratwurst and search out one of the grill stands to have your own little BBQ. Take a look here to see some suggested walking routes by the Greifensee.
Explore Beyond Zurich by Bike
Why not get on your bike and discover the surrounding area? In this article about top cycle routes around Zurich there are 5 options for different tours, each of varying lengths and difficulty. Take a look at the best cycle routes here.
Please also take a look at this information on where to take your e-Bike too. Take a look here.
Sleeping in Straw
Instead of a hotel! Check out the Sleeping in Straw website for some fun ideas on where to go for an overnight stay with a difference. It’s a great experience and also an inexpensive idea – very Swiss and very different!
The Museum of Ballenberg
This a great outdoor museum not far from Zurich and makes for a great day out for everyone whatever their age. It does have an admission fee of CHF 24 for adult but children between 6 and 12 are just CHF 12 and there is so much to see and do there that you can spend the whole day here and still want to go back for more. For more information see here.