Free Things To Do in Zurich
- #1View all Photos#1 in Zurich1.2 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND1.2 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Backing lower Lake Zurich is a tangle of parks and gardens, collectively known as the lake promenade, that make for a picturesque place to spend an afternoon. And in warm weather, the lake is peppered with boats, while the banks are filled with picnickers and sunbathers. If you're a jogger, the area is also one of Zurchers' favorite places to pound the ground.
For some of the best views of Zurich and the nearby Alps, travelers suggest taking a boat ride on the lake. One-and-a-half-hour boat tours are available throughout the year and are free for Zurich Card holders.
- #2View all Photos#2 in Zurich3.4 miles to city centerNatural Wonders, Free, Hiking, RecreationTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND3.4 miles to city centerNatural Wonders, Free, Hiking, RecreationTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Standing an impressive 2,858 feet above sea level, Uetliberg Mountain offers some of the best views of Zurich and the surrounding Alps. Once at the top, travelers will find multiple trails for hiking, biking and sledding. Paragliding at the mountain's peak is another popular pastime here.
Though traveling to and from this local attraction will set you back about an hour, visitors rave about Uetliberg Mountain's stunning views and superb hiking paths. For an educational twist on your average hike, take the mountain's Path of the Planets, which is designed to mimic the sizes of and distances between the solar system's planets. The trail stretches between Uetliberg and Felsenegg mountains and takes about two hours to complete.
- #3View all Photos
Zurich's Old Town is the historic part of town – and by historic, we mean medieval. Winding cobblestone alleys run alongside quintessential Zurich attractions like the Great Minster. You'll also find several acclaimed museums – such as the Swiss National Museum and the Museum of Art – and hotels in and around the district.
Though all of the neighborhood's buildings are worth admiring, when visiting Old Town, be sure to check out Muhlesteg Footbridge. This bridge, which is famous for its array of love locks, comes highly recommended by past travelers. But those traveling with kids should consider visiting during the day. Old Town boasts the highest concentration of nightclubs in Switzerland, which come alive once the sun goes down.
- #4View all Photos
One of Zurich's must-dos is a stroll along the sleek storefronts of Bahnhofstrasse. Stretching across Old Town from Hauptbahnhof station to Lake Zurich, Bahnhofstrasse features a variety of high-end shops, including Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Chanel and Giorgio Armani. Swiss shops like the dessert-focused Confiserie Sprungli and the jewelry-centric Gubelin AG can also be found here.
According to recent travelers, if it's budget shopping you're after, head to the Niederdorf and Langstrasse areas instead of Bahnhofstrasse. Though Bahnhofstrasse is free to visit, this shopping area is better suited for window shopping, unless you're prepared to drop some serious cash during your visit.
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Whether you want to play a game of chess, relax after exploring Bahnhofstrasse or take in some superb views of Old Town, the Great Minster and the Limmat River, odds are you'll appreciate Lindenhof. What was once the location of a fourth-century fort is now an elevated park with Linden trees, benches and giant chess sets.
To truly make the most of your time at Lindenhof, visitors recommend packing a picnic lunch to enjoy beneath the park's Linden trees. And remember to bring your camera since the park offers stunning city and water vistas. Keep in mind, though, that the park's elevated position means a short uphill climb is required. Once you get to the park, you'll find flat, wheelchair-friendly terrain.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Zurich0.7 miles to city centerFree, Churches/Religious SitesTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND0.7 miles to city centerFree, Churches/Religious SitesTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Located in Kreis 1 in the Old Town, the Great Minster church was the starting place of the Protestant Reformation in Zurich. Preacher Huldrych Zwingli initiated the movement from this austere church's pulpit. But the history of the Grossmunster goes back even further. According to local legend, Charlemagne is said to have founded this magnificent church, which is believed to sit atop the graves of the city's patron saints of Felix and Regula.
Former visitors insist that a visit to the Great Minster would not be complete without a trip to the top. You'll have to pay 4 Swiss francs (about $4) to climb the historic cathedral's stairs, but past travelers said the panoramic city views more than justify the fee. Others also recommended checking out the church's stained-glass windows and ornate bronze doors.
- #10View all Photos#10 in Zurich0.8 miles to city centerFree, Churches/Religious SitesTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND0.8 miles to city centerFree, Churches/Religious SitesTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Known to Zurchers as the Fraumunster, the Minster of Our Lady church is popular to visit thanks to its graceful spire (which tops Zurich's skyline) and its Marc Chagall stained-glass windows. The church was founded in the ninth century by Emperor Ludwig, Charlemagne's grandson, though the property's iconic spire wasn't added until 1732. And in 1970, Chagall's famous stained-glass windows were added.
Some previous visitors said the church's exterior isn't much to look at. However, most agree the interior's stained-glass windows are well worth a visit. In addition to the newer Chagall windows, some featuring designs by Augusto Giacometti, who is famously linked to the stained-glass windows at the Great Minster, are also located inside.
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