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8 free things you can do in Zurich this summer

Sandra Sparrowhawk
Sandra Sparrowhawk - [email protected]
8 free things you can do in Zurich this summer
Swimming in the Unterer Lettern in Zurich. Photo by Bö Benkö on Unsplash

Quite a few studies in recent years have placed Zurich at the top of 'cost of living' rankings – but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Zurich on the cheap – or better, without spending a single franc.


Here are eight ways to enjoy Zurich in the summer for free.

Take a dip in a river pool

Zurich has a rich outdoor bathing culture and though a fair chunk of outdoor swimming pool facilities – locally referred to as Badis – will require you to pay entry, four river pools in the city won’t charge you a dime.

Only a few minutes’ walk from Zurich main station is the Oberer Letten river pool where bathers can enjoy a swim in the Limmat for free.

At the nearby Unterer Lette – or "Underi Lätte" if you fancy trying your hand at the Zurich dialect – swimmers can float down the river without worrying about paying admission. The facilities also include a non-swimmer pool, a children’s paddling pool, and a three-metre diving board.

Men also have the option to bathe ‘gratis’ in the serene Männerbad Schanzengraben, which is strictly reserved for men. If you’re hoping to find a similar arrangement for women, then you’re out of luck. The female equivalent, the Frauenbad am Stadthausquai, costs 8 francs per day/adult.

Swimmers in Zurich of either sex can also head to the Flussbad Au-Höngg, which is open until 9pm in the summer (in nice weather) and completely free of charge. Note that swimming in the river is for good swimmers only.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Switzerland's outdoor pool culture

Join a tour at ETH Zurich

Every Tuesday, Zurich’s esteemed public research university invites visitors to peak behind its curtains in (free) one-hour guided tours.

During your visit you will gain an insight into the past and present of ETH Zurich while having a look at its collections and archives.

The tour is also open to people with physical, cognitive, and mental disabilities and covers a different topic each week.


You can enjoy many things for free in Zurich. Image by Hebi B. from Pixabay

Enjoy scenic views at the Uetliberg

If you’re brave (and prepared) enough to attempt a hike in Zurich’s hot weather, then you can reach the Uetliberg mountain on foot in just an hour from several places in the city.

Alternatively, hop on the S-Bahn train which takes you from the city centre to the mountain. Once up there, you can still enjoy many hikes or bike rides in the area and grab a snack at one of the mountain restaurants.


In good weather, you can enjoy mesmerising panoramic views over Zurich, the lake and even the Alps.

Check out Zurich’s city model

The city model in Amtshaus IV shows Zurich on a scale of 1:1000 and depicts over 50,000 of the city’s buildings on plywood panels. The model illustrates how Zurich is continuously changing and predicts how it will change in the future.

Visitors can also get an idea of planned major projects in Zurich on the mini "city walk". The room is accessible to visitors for free from 8am to 5pm every Monday to Friday, provided it is not occupied for internal meetings or events.

Explore the central library

You will find several libraries that are open to the public in every Swiss city, but the central library in downtown Zurich is among the largest – and certainly most beautiful – libraries in Switzerland.


Whether you’re looking for an exciting book, free WiFi, or simply aim to find something interesting to do on the odd rainy day, the Zentralbibliothek with over six million media and more than half a million visitors a year has something for everyone.

Hop on a bike

Those who are looking to see more of Zurich can also do so for free by bike at one of Züri rollt's bike stations. You can rent a bicycle year-round against a deposit of 20 francs (which you'll get back) and don’t need to book in advance.

Simply roll up at one of the bike stations scattered around the city from 8am and return your rented bike by 9.30pm.

Cycling in Zurich.

Cycling in Zurich. Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Immerse yourself in Zurich’s history

Ever fancied peaking behind the curtain of Zurich’s past? Situated in several inconspicuous locations across in the Old Town, the Department of City Planning allow history buffs a travel back in time and explore the city in so-called Archaeological Windows, many of which are require no prior booking or payment.


The Parkhaus Opéra underground garage at Sechseläutenplatz – a UNESCO World Heritage Site - and the small exhibition in the Thermengasse are both completely free of charge and can be visited all week.

Party it up at the Stolze Openair Festival

Whether you’ve missed out on snagging a three-day pass to a sold-out musical event or simply lack the funds to attend one of Switzerland’s popular summer festivals, we have good news.

Every June, Zurich plays host to the Stolze Openair – the city’s largest free Openair event – on the Stolzewiese in District 6. The festival evolved from a small-scale neighbourhood festival into a celebrated two-day event that spans the entire city.

This year, the festival takes place between June 15th and June 17th and features mostly local talent.


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