Switzerland's largest city is often stereotyped as expensive, but there are plenty of free things to do in Zurich.
From exploring stunning natural landscapes to visiting world-class museums, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Zurich without spending a dime.
If you look closely and are flexible with your planning, you can experience much without spending a single franc. From outdoor parks to botanical gardens and free bicycle rentals to coworking places, there are free things to do in Zurich for all tastes.
Our favorite free activity is ice skating at one of the city's free skating rinks in winter. Please share your favorite free things to do in Zürich with your fellow Newly Swissed readers.
See the stained glass windows at Fraumünster
There is a proper entrance for tourists to see the five stained glass windows by Marc Chagall. The windows are a staggering 10 meters tall, and the best time to visit is during the morning hours when it is bright. The admission fee is 5 francs, but those who genuinely wish to enter the church for worship can skip the tourist entrance and get in for free.
Phone +41 44 221 20 63
Best Free Museums in Zurich - Ultimate Guide
From mammoth to money.
Read books and magazines at the Zurich Public Library
The central branch of the Zurich Public Library serves as a city, county, and university library. There is a collection of about six million books, e-books, maps, magazines, and movies, making this one of the largest libraries in Switzerland. Consider doing the free escape game Schnebelhorners Vermächtnis in the library's attic, although it is offered in German only.
The reading hall at Zähringerplatz in the old town is open daily. Residents and foreigners can register for a free library card that entitles them to borrow books and publications from the vast catalog.
Phone +41 44 204 96 90
Work at the free Büro Züri co-working space
The Büro Züri co-working space is 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 to reserve your free desk. (Thank you for the tip, Julien Vidal!)
Visit the Zukunft Club for free
Are you ready to travel to the future? Every Thursday, one of Zurich's hottest clubs waives the cover charge. That's a deal you cannot refuse, especially given that Zurich is one of the most expensive party towns. Check out the line-up at Club Zukunft.
Join a free Zurich walking tour
From illegal graffiti to murals and artworks: the Zurich Street Art Tour is a walking tour highlighting a different side of Zurich. It 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 Zurich's main station. The tour takes two hours and is free of charge, but tips are encouraged.
Join the free walking tour of downtown Zurich which starts at Paradeplatz at 11 AM. This tour is in English and gives a great overview of the main sights. Tip the tour guide at the end because walking off without paying a rappen is not cool.
(Photograph copyright OneTruth)
Pick up a free rental bicycle
During summer, bicycles and e-bikes can be picked up for free at Pestalozziwiese and Velostation Europaplatz. Bring an ID and a 20 franc refundable deposit, and off you go with Züri rollt...
Meet Samichlaus at the Samichlaus Einzug in Zurich
Every year in late November or early December, Swiss Santas from near and far will congregate in downtown Zürich. This tradition is called Samichlaus Einzug.
The best place for you and your family to meet St. Nikolaus and his sidekick, Schmutzli, is on Bahnhofstrasse. During the parade, they will hand out free gingerbreads and treats to the little ones.
Ice skating near you: try the free rinks in Heuried and Oerlikon
Practice your spins or participate in a pick-up match with the locals. During the cold months, ice skating in Zürich is a great way to stay fit.
While there is no such thing as a weekly "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.
Ice skating rinks in Zürich:
- 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 opens its 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 Sport Center Hönggerberg is open from 10 AM to 5 PM on select Sundays, and admission is free of charge.
(Photograph copyright Renate Zekveld/Google)
Sport Center Hönggerberg
Phone +41 44 633 33 88
How about these things to do in Zurich in winter?
While some of these will require admission tickets, others are also gratis.