Yes it is true, Zurich City is one of the most expensive places to live on earth. BUT… that shouldn’t stop you from discovering it’s beauty and the stuff it offers. Especially when it is FREE.
Here are 15 Free Things you can do when in Zurich…
Walk Around Old Zürich
The “Old” and “New” Zurich is divided by the Limmat River. The Old City is on the eastern side while the “New” City rests on the westside. The walk along the Niederdorfstrasse is one of my faves in the city, coming from Zurich HB starting from Central till I reach Grössmunster Church. Summer-dressed tourists, colorful old buildings, summer sales, al fresco cafés and warm sun. I wish sommer is here to stay.
James Joyce Foundation
James Joyce spent a number of years in Zurich and wrote the majority of Ulysses while living there. The foundation hosts weekly readings from his most famous works, Weekly reading groups engage in unhurried, close reading of Finnegans Wake every Monday from 3:00-4:30 and Ulysses every Tuesday from 5:30-7:00. On Thursday evenings from 7 to 8:30, a devoted band of readers from all walks of life subjects a small passage of Finnegans Wake to intense scrutiny and animated discussion. In addition, the early group on Thursday from 4:30 to 6:00, which has read through Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, Homer’s Odyssey, and Ovid’s Metamorphosis, is currently reading Ulysses. Everyone is welcome to join these reading groups at any time. Entry is free.
Address: Augustinergasse 9,8001 Zürich
Relax in the Grossmünster Kreuzgang
This quiet spot in the heart of busy Zurich is really something special. It is the historic cloister of Zurich’s Chorherrenstift (a kind of monastery), which is now the Theological seminar of Zurich University. It is attached to the Grossmünster church. There are some steps and a big wooden door right next to the main entrance of the church leading into the old monastery’s inner sanctum, the cloister with a cross-shaped garden. It’s open to the public and nice and quiet even on weekdays. As the heavy doors close behind you, all the noise and bustle of Zurich will fade into the background, while the gentle sound of water and hushed footsteps softly fill the cool air. Built in the style of the Roman atrium with its over 2000 year old cooling technology, it’s especially pleasant in those hot summer months.
Visit the University’s free museums/cinema
The Zoological Museum in the main building has an excellent permanent exhibition, perfect for a rainy day or if you’ve got time to kill at Uni. And even if you’re not a huge animal lover, who can resist dinosaurs, mammoths and giant sloths?! Besides being a good museum, it’s also got a cinema showing nature films twice a day for free. Take the red cable car (Polybahn) for a special experience.
Address: Karl Schmid-Strasse 4, CH-8006 Zurich
Our bicycles are available free of charge. Just show your I.D., leave a CHF 20.– deposit, and off you go!
The overnight fee is CHF 10.–. The cost for E-Bikes is CHF 20.– per day.
Züri Free walking tours
We are an independent non-profit association whose goal is to give the highest quality tours to a large number of visitors and locals. We think that a good city tour is priceless. It’s up to you to decide how much you enjoyed the tour. We work on a tip-basis, which incentives us to give you our best, and at the same time makes it possible for anyone to enjoy it, whatever their budget.
Old Botanical Garden
This is a botanical garden and arboretum in the Swiss city of Zürich. The garden is, among the neighbored Schanzengraben moat and the Bauschänzli bastion, one of the last remains of the Baroque fortifications of Zürich, that was begun in 1642.
Opening times are daily from April to September 7:00–19.00 (7 pm), October to March 8:00–18:00 (6 pm)
Address: Pelikanstrasse 40
Visit the Kunsthaus
If you like art make sure you visit the Kunsthaus. On Wednesday admission to the Collection is free of charge for all visitors.
Address: Karl Schmid-Strasse 4, CH-8006 Zurich http://www.kunsthaus.ch/en
Take a pic of the Freitag Flagship Store
Welcome to the first and only «FREITAG Individual Recycled Freeway Store». 1993 our living-room view onto the transit-bridge brought up the idea to make tarp-bags. 2006 we decide to sell our bags-made-from-tarps in a shop-made-from-containers.
19 CONTAINERS, 26 METERS
The FREITAG Flagship Store Zurich is completely built from rusty, recycled freight-containers. Lovingly they were gutted, reinforced, piled up and secured. Zurich’s first bonsai-skyscraper: Low enough not to violate the city’s restriction on high-rise buildings. High enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine.
4 SALES FLOORS, 1600 INDIVIDUAL BAGS
The FREITAG Store Zurich is home to the absolutely largest selection of Individual Recycled Freewaybags. And yes, there are really four sales floors. Bonsai ones, that is.
Address: Geroldstrasse 17, 8008 Zürich, Open at 10:30am – 5:00pm
Walk along the River Sihl
People love water. That makes it even more difficult to under- stand why cities tend to make their rivers inaccessible. In Zu- rich, too, this was also the case for a long time with few ex- ceptions. In recent years, though, we have been creating more and more access to the River Sihl and the River Lim- mat. In the past, the Sihl was very poorly treated, especially with the eyesore of the Sihl elevated roadway. Even so, you’ll see that it’s quite lovely to stroll along the River Sihl… and exciting, too!
Swim in the Lake/River for Free (or for a Small Fee in a Badi)
Swimming at Zurich Lake on a hot summer is one thing you must do. You can also lay your sarong or beach towel and just lounge around the expanse grass area especially on the Northern part of the lake. Clean and refreshing! Bring a beer and maybe have some grill too!
The City Gardens await you with thousands of flowers, a large display-garden with botanical rarities, two greenhouses overflowing with tropical and subtropical plants and animals, a pumpkin plantation growing upon a mountain of compost several meters high, a colourful meadow of flowers and much more. These attractions are nestled next to each other and located on the ground level—and therefore easy to access 365 days a year.
Address: Sackzelg 25-27/Gutstrasse, 8047 Zurich, Open daily 9-17.30pm, Free admission
focusTerra – ETH Zürich
In its spectacular exhibition tower, focus Terra shows that geology is much more than rock and illustrates how geology is part of your daily life. Come and join us on a fascinating journey from the centre of the Earth to the top of the Alpine mountains. Feel an earthquake, see life crystals grow, and discover the secrets that rocks reveal about our climate and ancient life.
Permanent and special exhibitions in English and German. Free admission Mon-Fri 9am-5pm Sun 10am-4pm
Address: Sonneggstrasse 5, 8006 Zurich Tram 6/9/10: ETH/Universitätsspital
Museum of Wax Moulages of the University Hospital of Zurich
Wax moulages are replicas of various body surfaces made with plaster casts. The three-dimensional wax moulages of skin diseases that have been made in Zurich since 1918 are among the best preserved in the world. With touching authenticity they recall the afflicted patients they depict.
These casts were originally made for teaching in university hospitals, and now, thanks to the moulages’ exceptionally high quality, they are being used again as an important addition to the theoretical component of medical study.
Free admission Wed 2-6pm, Sat 1-5pm
Address: Haldenbachstrasse 14, 8091 Zurich
Trek to Üetliberg, the highest point in Zurich City
The Üetliberg is a mountain in the Swiss plateau, part of the Albis chain, rising to 869 m. The Üetliberg offers a panoramic view of the entire city of Zurich and the Lake of Zurich. Give this hill about an hour or an hour and a half. Really nice to wait for the sunset. Then you can easily go down by train.
Thank you schatzee for doing the research and collating this list. Sibylle, meine schatzee, is a Zurich local.
All photos are mine unless otherwise noted.