Zürich and "free" do not exactly go hand in hand.
But if you look closely and are a bit flexible with your planning, there are plenty of free things to do in Zürich. is at its most magical during the winter months anyway, so it is worth calling up a few friends to spend an afternoon out on the town. And please don't forget to share your favorite free things to do in Zürich with your fellow Newly Swissed readers.
Learn about the Canton of Zürich at Einfach Zürich
Inside the permanent exhibit of the Swiss National Museum, there are three rooms about the history of Zürich. Think short films by local filmmakers, an archive of sixty significant artifacts and a video installation featuring virtual tours...
Enter the Swiss National Museum any day and ask for a free ticket to Einfach Zürich at the welcome desk. The museum is open daily except for Mondays.
(Photograph copyright Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum)
Phone +41 44 218 65 11
Visit the Kunsthaus Museum
The Kunsthaus Zürich is Switzerland's largest art museum. It hosts a collection of world renowned art, including pieces by Chagall, Giacometti, Monet, Munch, Picasso, van Gogh, and Warhol. The recent extension building by David Chipperfield Architects houses even more contemporary art.
Children below 16 years of age are free, and adults enjoy free admission to the permanent collection all day Wednesdays.
(Photographs copyright Kunsthaus Zürich)
Get inspired at the Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich
Here is the perfect admission free museum for those into design and photography. The Graphische Sammlung of ETH Zürich is a collection of 160'000 artworks on paper, including many maps. Important Swiss and international artists spanning from the 15th century to modern times include Albrecht Dürer, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol or Silvia Bächli.
The museum is generally open daily from 10 AM to 4:45 PM, except for Mondays and for Zürich holidays. Consult the exhibit page before your visit, however, as the museum is only open during the three or four temporary exhibits every year.
(Photographs copyright ETH-Bibliothek Zürich Bildarchiv/Frank Blaser)
ETH Zurich Graphische Sammlung
Phone +41 44 632 40 46
Work at Bahnhofstrasse at the free Büro Züri co-working space
This tip applies to any season of the year, but it is especially cozy to work for a day from the free Büro Züri co-working space. Located inside the Zürcher Kantonalbank on the prestigious Bahnhofstrasse, this hip office offers everything a digital nomad requires: free WiFi, free coffee and an online booking engine.
Visit the Migros Museum of Contemporary Art
An changing exhibit showing often eclectic contemporary art awaits in the brick buildings housing the Migros Museum of Contemporary Art. The art is often being displayed in large installations which leave you feeling stunned and refreshed at the same time.
Every Thursday night from 5 to 8 PM, the Migros Museum of Contemporary Art offers free entries to their current exhibit.
(Photograph copyright Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst)
Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst
Phone +41 44 277 20 50
Join a free Zürich street art walking tour
From illegal graffiti to wall murals and art works: this regular walking tour will show you a different side of Zürich. The Zürich Street Art Tour is held during afternoons, giving you enough light to take some impressive photographs for your Instagram feed.
The meeting point is under the blue angel inside Zürich's main station. The tour takes two hours and is free of charge, but tips are encouraged.
(Photograph copyright OneTruth)
Learn about climate change by going on an interactive listening tour of Zürich
The organization myclimate has compiled three audio guides with story lines for various age groups, each highlighting climate change.
Tours are available in German or English, with audio equipment being available for free at the tourist information desk inside the main station. Or you could opt to download the tours to your smartphone instead. This self-guided walking tour will take about 2 to 2.5 hours, starting from the main station and ending in the old town.
How about ice-skating at the rinks in Heuried and Oerlikon?
Practice your spins or participate in a pick-up match with the locals. During those cold months, ice-skating in Zürich is a great way to staying fit. While there is no regular "free" day, keep an eye out for special events at two of Zürich's public rinks. The best way to do this is by Googling "after work on ice zürich" or "gratis aufs glatteis zürich" and you will find the latest offers.
- Sportamt Heuried (trams 9/14 to "Heuried")
- Sportamt Oerlikon (trams 10/14 to "Sternen Oerlikon", tram 11 to "Messe/Hallenstadion" or bus 63/94 to "Hallenbad Oerlikon")
Active Sundays at ETH Hönggerberg
On select Sundays during winter, the ETH is opening their sports facilities to the public. On designated Active Sundays and under the supervision of their parents, children up to eight years of age may burn some excess energy through play and exercise.
The sports center is open from 10 AM to 5 PM on the following Sundays in 2020: Jan 26, Feb 23, Mar 29. Admission is free of charge.
(Photograph copyright Renate Zekveld/Google)
Sport Center Hönggerberg
Phone +41 44 633 33 88
Learn about currency at the MoneyMuseum in Zürich
Every Friday, the MoneyMuseum opens its vaults to those who are eager to learn about currency. From Romain coins to cryptocurrencies, this museum covers it every aspect of money from the past to the future. Call the number below to make an appointment for a free tour by Mr. Stephan Koncz.
The museum also offers a digital vault containing no less than 2095 coins. Try searching for your country and you will likely find an ancient coin in this vast database.
(Photograph copyright MoneyMuseum)
Phone +41 44 242 76 80
Zoological Museum of the Zurich University
It is hard to fathom that this museum is actually free of charge. The Zoological Museum of the Zurich University showcases more than 1500 animals from around the world. This is your chance to get up close and personal with everything from hyenas to whales. Thanks to the interactive exhibits, this is very much a hands-on museum suited for all ages, although the information is largely in German.
The museum is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM, except for Mondays and Zürich City holidays. Families should look out for the free workshops held Sundays at 2 PM and 3 PM.
(Photograph copyright Tze Horng Tan/Google)
Zoological Museum, University Of Zurich
Karl Schmied-Gasse 4
Check into the cactus nursery (Sukkulenten-Sammlung)
If art exhibits and ice-skating have left you breathless, Zürich's Succulent Plant Collection featuring more than 4400 kinds of cacti and other succulent plants is sure to provide a calming experience.
Open daily from 9 AM to 4:30 PM, this special kind of museum charges no admission. Take buses 161/165 from Bürkliplatz to "Sukkulenten-Sammlung" or tram 7 to "Brunaustrasse".
(Photograph copyright Sukkulenten-Sammlung Zürich)
Phone +41 44 412 12 80
Feel the heat at the botanical garden of the Zurich University
The three iconic domes of this botanical garden are open daily from 9:30 AM to 4:45 PM. Whether you forget the flow of time inside the tropical mountain forest, the low-land rain forest or the drylands, this is the ultimate escape from the winter's cold!
Imagine a tropical rain forest complete with ferns and lush greens... All of this, as well as weekly public tours on various topics (held in German), comes at a zero price tag.
(Photograph copyright University of Zurich)
Botanischer Garten Universität Zürich
Phone +41 44 634 84 61
How about these things to do in Zurich in winter?
While some of these will require admission tickets, others are also gratis.