15 Free Things To Do In Zurich 2020 (Updated List)
15 Activities
10 Tours

Free Activities to Do in Zurich

Lake Zurich, Uetliberg Mountain, Old Town (Altstadt), Bahnhofstrasse, Lindenhof, Great Minster (Grossmunster), Botanical Garden, Focus Terra, Belvoir Park and Aviary & Bird Sanctuary.

Visiting one of the world’s most expensive cities on a budget? As impossible as that sounds, you will be amazed by the sheer choice of free things to do in Zurich. Normally one doesn’t associate anything free or even economical with this Swiss city but dig deeper and you have endless things to do that are free and full of surprises here. 

The top 10 free things to do in Zurich include world-famous attractions and experiences that cost nothing to visit. Right from experiencing the romantic old-world charm of its ‘straight from the storybook-like’ Old Town area, to taking a troll in the gardens and parks landscaped amidst meadows housing thousands of exotic plants & flowers, and wildlife parks housing near-extinct animal species, the choices are endless. 

Where else can you educate yourself on the history of the planet and its inhabitants, see fossils dating back to millions of years, and even experience a simulated grade-8 earthquake, without shelling a single penny? Take a respite from the crowds and head over to one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland.

Follow the fascinating ‘Path of the Planets’ at Zurich’s own mountain as you hike, bike, and soak in surreal views of the majestic Alps and the city skyline- all for free! Read on to plan your Zurich trip without worrying about breaking your wallet!

Here are some of the best free things to do in Zurich:

01

Lake Zurich

Lake Zurich
Counted amongst the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland, Lake Zurich not only has an unsurpassed natural beauty but is also a haven for those looking to escape into the quietude of nature. You can spend hours under the sun surrounded by a balmy breeze as you relax and soak in the beauty of the place away from the noise and crowds.

In summers, the lake has plenty of sailing boats, which are interesting to watch too. The lake’s promenades are great to take long walks and if you are a runner, to take a jog around. Round off the day by visiting shopping places like Deer Park Town Centre and Ice House Mall and Village Shops to indulge in window-shopping. 

Location: The Lake is located in the southeastern part of Zurich.

Timings: The Lake can be visited anytime.
02

Bahnhofstrasse

Bahnhofstrasse
You can’t leave Zurich without visiting the most glamorous, expensive, and exclusive shopping street in the world, even if it's for window shopping! This is where high-end brands like Dior, Armani, Chanel, Cartier, etc. display their best. It’s quite a sight looking at these glitzy outlets standing on medieval cobbled streets amidst centuries-old architecture.

Don’t miss to visit Confiserie Sprungli that’s a 180-year-old chocolatier located here. This street houses some of the most iconic Swiss watch and jewellery brands like Victorinox, Charriol, Baume & Mercier, Bucherer, etc. This is a place where you can spend hours surrounded by classy glamour and glitter like nowhere else in the world. 

Location: The Street starts at Bahnhofplatz and stretches till Bürkliplatz.

Timings: Every day from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm.
03

Uetliberg Mountain

Uetliberg Mountain
Known as Zurich's own mountain, Mount Uetliberg stands at a height of around 2,800 ft. above sea level. One of the best free things to do in Zurich is to spend a day exploring this amazing natural attraction. One of the most interesting things to do here, without shelling a penny, is to follow the ‘Path of the Planets’.

This is a 2- hour trail that mimics the distances between the planets where each kilometre represents 1 million kilometres. You can also spend time hiking and mountain biking here at the numerous rugged trails surrounding the mountain.

The summit of the mountain offers stunning views of the city framed by the majestic Alps and soaking in these views surrounded by silence and wisps of clear & crisp breeze is a great way to spend time here.

Location: The Mountain is located on Zurich’s western side. 

Timings: The Mountain can be visited anytime.
04

Old Town (Altstadt)

Old Town (Altstadt)
Wandering in this remarkable place is one of the most amazing free things to do in Zurich as you understand the culture, history, and the pulse that makes Switzerland what it is. Its cobbled roads, medieval houses & cellars, and the ancient town hall coexist with clubs, high-end boutiques, and of course the most exclusive shopping destination in the world, Bahnhofstrasse.

Other interesting things to explore here are Peter’s Church, that houses Europe’s largest clock face, the world-famous Chagall and Giacometti stained glass paintings at the Fraumunster, and the majestic Grossmunster (Great Minster).

The Old Town area, edging around both sides of the River Limmat, has many river-facing vantage points and promenades that are great for soaking in the vibrant buzz of the place, views of the setting sun, and the glimmering skyline of the city. 

Location: Niederdorfstrasse 19, 8001 Zurich

Timings: Every day from 7:00 am to midnight.
05

Lindenhof

Lindenhof
Visiting the historical Lindenhof is quite an experience! This is the site of a 4th-century Roman Fort and later the Charlemagne Fort in the 19th-century. This is where the Helvetic Constitution was solemnised in 1798. And now, this is where people gather to soak in the peace and solitude that comes naturally with lush green surroundings.

This thickly tree-lined place lets you switch off from the world and soak in stunning views of the Limmat River, the city, and the Alps in the background. Make new friends as you indulge in a game of chess at the giant chessboard. 

Location: The Park is located at the Lindenhof Hill.

Timings: The Park is accessible at all times.
06

Great Minster (Grossmunster)

Great Minster (Grossmunster)
One of the most popular landmarks of not only Zurich but also in the entire country, Great Minster is an ancient 11th-century Protestant Church. With its twin towers piercing the city’s skyline, it’s impossible to miss this building, even from miles away. Seeing the church’s interesting Romanesque and neo-Gothic architecture is one of the top free things to do in Zurich.

Its majestic building has bronze doors with Bible engravings built by Otto Munch, carved columns with figurines of angels on top, humongous arches, and stone walls. Don’t miss to see the fascinating stained glass windows by Augusto Giacometti.

When here, take a 180-stair flight to the roof to see panoramic views of the city and the mountains. It is interesting to note that the church is always in a state of architectural reconstruction as none of the structures here belong to the same year and still look like a beautiful singular structure. 

Location: Kreis 1, Old Town Area, Zurich.

Timings:
- March to October: Weekdays- 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
- November to February: Weekdays- 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
- Sundays: After the service ends.
07

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden
For people who find joy in nature, visiting the Botanical Gardens to see the sheer virgin beauty of nature in all its glory is one of the top free things to do in Zurich. Established in 1978, the garden has over 7,000 varieties of plants and flowers from almost all the continents of the world.

You will see a huge variety of palms, ferns, orchids, and cacti from climatic zones like the Mediterranean, Wadi, Savannah, etc. There are greenhouses that look straight out of a sci-fi movie here, which are a must-visit to see the futuristic technology used to maintain flora from around the world. 

In the midst of the green meadow-like expanses of the Garden, there is a beautiful pond full of singing frogs, a great spot to enjoy the luxuries of nature.

Location: University of Zurich, Zollikerstrasse 107, 8008 Zurich.

Timings: 

1. Garden:
March to September-
- Weekdays: 7:00 am to 7:00 pm
- Weekends & public holidays: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
October to February-
- Weekdays: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
- Weekends & public holidays: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm

2. Tropical greenhouses: 
March to September- Every day from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm
October to February:
- Weekdays- 9:30 am to 5:00 pm
- Weekends & public holidays- 9:30 am to 4:45 pm
08

Belvoir Park

Belvoir Park
Known as one of the most beautifully landscaped parks in Zurich, Belvoir Park is a must-visit. A visit here will let you soak in a slice of the magnificent natural beauty that Switzerland is famous for. Stroll amidst the lush emerald-green meadows, shimmering water pools, flower patches, and thickets of ancient trees.

It’s quite an experience breathing in air perfumed by thousands of irises and lilies and the only sounds that you will hear here are birdsong. Spend time soaking in the views of the Zurich Lake, the city’s skyline, and the snow-capped Alps in the background from the numerous viewpoints at the park. 

Location: Seestrasse 141, 8002 Zurich.

Timings: The Park is accessible at all times.
09

Langenberg Wildlife Park

Langenberg Wildlife Park
One of the most exciting free things to do in Zurich for wildlife & nature enthusiasts is to visit this wildlife park. This is where you can see native and exotic animals like lynx, wolves, wild boars, marmots, elks, Przewalski horses, roaming freely in a huge 80-hectare lush green space.

The most famous residents of the wildlife park are the wisents and forest horses that are now almost extinct in Switzerland. Since the animals are not caged, this is one of the best places to see them in their natural behaviour as they mate, play, and rear their young ones, making for fascinating encounters and experiences. 

Location: 8135 Langnau am Albis, Switzerland. 

Timings:
- 28th October to 20th March 2020- Every day from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
- 21st March to 25th October- Every day from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
10

Sukkulenten-Sammlung

Sukkulenten-Sammlung
Zurich has the most number of succulent plants in the world and this garden, which mimics this ecosystem, has been attracting visitors from all over the world since 1931. Strolling amongst hundreds of species of cacti, aloe vera, pennyworts, and agaves planted over acres of lush landscaped gardens is one of the best free things to do in Zurich.

There is a beautiful outdoor rockery and 7 greenhouses that are a must-see to know more about the cultivation of these fascinating plants.

Location: Mythenquai 88, 8002 Zurich.

Timings: Every day from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.
11

Paleontological Museum

Paleontological Museum
Priding itself as an important interface between biology and earth sciences, a visit to the University of Zurich’s Paleontological Museum is one of the most fun things to do while in Zurich. Here you will see well-preserved fossil collections of marine reptile animals dating back to around 245 million years from the Triassic era when Switzerland was still submerged under the oceans.

The museum also has great photographs, books, films, and documents that trace the history of the evolution of native Swiss trees, birds, and animals. You will see how the birds used to look like millions of years ago, what caused their evolution and why did they get extinct.

There are life-size skeletal remains and stuffed figures of marine and land dinosaurs, woolly mammoths, etc. There are sandpits for children to do mini excavations and solve giant animal puzzles. 

Location: University of Zurich, Karl Schmid Strasse 4, 8006, Zurich.

Timings: Tuesday to Sunday (Monday closed): 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
12

Focus Terra

Ranked amongst the top 10 free things to do in Zurich, a visit to this museum will introduce you to the fascinating dynamics, history, and the state of constant evolution that our planet is always in. This is a great place to get to know interesting phenomena like what triggers earthquakes, why volcanoes erupt, and how did the planet evolve.

There are impressive and interactive exhibits that detail the origin of precious stones, fossils, mountains, etc. One of the most fascinating things here is a 3-tonne earthquake simulator that can mimic an earthquake of level-8, which one can experience.

Other museum highlights include The Omniglobe (installation of the earth that showcases processes like tectonic shifts & climatic changes) and The Indergand Crystal (a 160 kg lump of quartz crystal transported from the Uri Glacier in the Alps). 

Location: Sonneggstrasse 5, 8006 Zurich.

Timings: Every day from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
13

Aviary & Bird Sanctuary

Ranked among the top 10 free things to do in Zurich, especially for bird watching enthusiasts, is a visit to the Zurich Aviary and Bird Sanctuary. This lush green oasis-like place, located on the banks of Lake Zurich, is the home to hundreds of varieties of bird species- both native and exotic to Switzerland.

You will not only see parakeets, parrots, toucan, owls, etc. but can also have close encounters with them including feeding sessions. There is even a bird guesthouse here that serves as a shelter and hospital for injured and abandoned birds. 

Location: Mythenquai 1, 8002 Zurich.

Timings:
- Monday to Saturday: 8:30 am to 7:00 pm
- Sunday: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
14

Zoological Museum of the Zurich University

This museum is one of the best places to see the enthusiasm and love that the Swiss have towards their nature and wildlife. A visit to the museum means stepping into the world of over 1500 native and exotic animals, birds, insects, and mammals displayed through lifelike figurines, films, photographs, and archives.

You will see displays of extinct animals like dinosaurs, mammoths, sloths, Large Frogmouth, wombats, Minke whales, etc. It’s a sheer joy to put on your headphones here and hear the whales singing, dolphins whistling, and insects buzzing. You can also use the powerful magnifying glass to see ants and tiny insects multiply many times their size. 

Location: University of Zurich, Karl Schmid Strasse 4, 8006, Zurich.

Timings: Tuesday to Sunday (Monday closed): 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
15

My Climate Audio Adventure Zurich

A cutting-edge acoustic and walking experience, this is an innovative way to educate and inform visitors about the importance of climate preservation and the need for innovation in environmental sustainability. As you walk across the city, you will hear interesting stories, anecdotes, and fun facts about the climate and the local Swiss history.

The narration is quite fun too! Hearing a polar bear recounting his journey all the way to Switzerland from the North Pole is one of the most fun free things to do in Zurich. What’s more, you can participate in the inbuilt quiz and win prizes. This can be downloaded from izi.-travel application. 

Location: The starting point is Hauptbahnhof, 8001 Zurich.

Timings: The walking tour takes around 2.5 hours and the listening time is 60 minutes.
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Zurich Top Attractions

Places To Visit In Zurich
21 February 2020
Excellent
The Black Forest and the Rhine Falls were in my bucket list for so long. I was excited to visit these places and I loved the place. Not only did I enjoyed my visit but also loved learning the craft of Titisee. This was a new experience that I had in my life and I cannot forget learning this craft. The best part of the trip was having a black forest cake in the black forest. I would totally recommend you to plan your trip to the Black forest.
06 January 2020
Excellent
Had never heard of this hidden gem of a place before! The trip, despite being short, covered the best of the features in that region- Laufen castle, Rhine falls, and even the famed Bahnhofstrasse street, which is said to be the Swiss counterpart of Avenue 5! Also, The view of the Rhine falls will remain etched in my memory as a wonderful souvenir from Switzerland!
I really wanted to visit Lucerne on my Switzerland trip, and Thrillophilia just made it really affordable! For a small city like Lucerne, this day trip is just the best! The train ride with a stunning view of the Alps was the highlight of this day trip! And Lucerne is even more beautiful than I imagined!
08 February 2020
Excellent
This was the best tour of my life. Everything was well planned and informed except the pickup time as we had to wait a bit for the tour operator. But as the trip began, everything became very smooth, and we were able to enjoy the magnificent views of Grindelwald in the best manner. Here are a few pros and cons of this trip. Pros: · Excellent support from the team. · Great discount on the package. · Got optimum time to enjoy the tour · The guide was very friendly · Convenient transportation Cons: · Had to wait for our tour operator · We were not informed before that it would be so cold here
14 January 2020
Excellent
One of the best decisions I made on my journey to Zurich was booking a Private Zurich Airport Transfers to the city via Thrillophilia. Exceeding my expectations, the ride was extremely comfortable and I would really like to thank the driver who despite my little one's constant nags throughout the journey was calm and understanding.
18 January 2020
Excellent
Comfort, beauty and pleasure; three words that describe my E Tuk Tuk Experience. Totally worth the price. This awesome experience took us to some of the best places in Zurich like Sechseläutenplatz, Niederdorf, the National museum and many other places. Enjoyed the picturesque steers of Zunich and loved capturing the beautiful buildings.
15 November 2019
Superb
Started the journey early in the day so that I can enjoy the beauty of the Black mountains. I was thrilled to visit the largest waterfall in Europe. The best part about this trip was when we learnt the craft of Titisee. An experience to remember for life.
12 December 2019
Excellent
It was an enjoyable trip from start to finish! Right from pick up to drop off, we did not have to worry about a single thing! Everything was arranged, and the train journey over the Albis pass took my breath away! We also had a short stop at the Lion Monument, and we got a good lot of time to explore Lucerne properly! The train journey offers glimpses of the Alps throughout, and you wouldn’t feel bored for a minute.
13 November 2019
Excellent
I had planned the tour of Grindelwald and Interlaken with my family. The tour operator took care of all the essentials, Thanks for all the support.
23 December 2019
Excellent
I booked this tour for me and my 4 friends and we had a blast of a time. We did not even saw the time once as we were enjoying the amazing and its places. We took a lot of pictures of the various places and especially the beautiful old buildings.

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People Also Ask About Zurich

  1. What can you do in Zurich for half a day?

    If you have only half a day to spare in Zurich, start your day by visiting one of the most important landmarks in the country i.e. the Great Minster known for its magnificent architecture and views of the city. Next, head over to the Old Town area near the Limmat River to see this medieval area that is said to go back to the 5th-century Celtic-era.

    Soak in the amazing sights, centuries-old architecture, riverside cafes, high-end brand outlets, and the most expensive and glamorous shopping street in the world i.e. Bahnhofstrasse.
  2. Are trams in Zurich free?

    Trams in Zurich are free with a Swiss Travel Pass or a Zurich Card. The Swiss Travel Pass is available for 3-15 days and the cost ranges between CHF 369, INR 27, 140 to CHF 810, INR 59, 576. The cost of Zurich Card, valid for 24-72 hours, starts at around CHF 20, INR 1,524.
  3. Is one day in Zurich enough?

    You need at least 2-3 days to explore Zurich. One day would not suffice for this magnificent city and its amazing attractions. Zurich, though a compact city, is strewn with ancient churches, gardens, museums, and wildlife parks.

    Zurich is a world-famous shopping destination housing the world’s most expensive and exclusive shopping street along with charming farmers markets and kitschy boutiques, which need time to explore. Not only this, but it also has some of the best restaurants in the country that one needs to visit to sample authentic Swiss delicacies. All in all, Zurich demands more than a day to reveal its splendour, popular culture, and history.
  4. What is Zurich best known for?

    Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland, is best known for its world-famous historic architecture, art and culture (evident by more than 100 museums and art galleries located in the city), and high-end couture shopping. Not to mention the fancy and decadent Swiss cheese and chocolates, centuries-old watchmakers and perfumeries that coexist with the new-age brands form some of the greatest attractions of the city.
  5. How many days in Zurich is enough?

    2-3 days in Zurich are enough to explore the architectural treasures, museums, art galleries, wildlife parks, and gardens. In this time, you can also explore numerous shopping options, right from farmers markets, weekend pop-up markets, to high-end shopping streets. This time will also allow you to sample a variety of Swiss cuisine including options of both street food and fine dining.

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