People in Switzerland’s economic centre are said to be constantly busy, but there is in fact abundant choice for spending leisure time in or around town.
Zürich is very walkable. While you’ll find worthwhile gastronomy and cultural offerings to all over the city, many of the most interesting places are within some 20 minutes walking around main station (we call it «HB», pronounced probably something like «huh-baeh», which stands for «Hauptbahnhof»).
Even though we’re somehow trying, Zürich is far from be a bicycle friendly city. But if you are used to cycling cities and feel safe, the «Velo» is your friend that can bring you everywhere quickly and elegantly. In the last two years, several options to get to a bike have popped up; Publibike bike rental «Züri Velo» and fast e-bike sharing service Smide can be recommended.
More than everything else though, Zürich’s public transport is second to none. There are 14 tram lines, numerous bus lines, plus the S-Bahn regional railway network with 14 stations in the city itself. They all use the same tickets. For the city itself you get to choose Zone (area) 110.
Should you travel to Switzerland by airplane, absolutely forget taking a Taxi from the airport to the city. Trains run every couple of minutes, take an unbeatable 8 to 12 mins and cost you 6.80 Swiss Francs. Of course, travelling by train (night train!) will bring you to HB right away.
Summer is a busy time in Zürich with all sorts of open air events adding to the rich cultural offerings. Theater Spekatakel (Aug 16 – Sep 2), for example, is a beautiful and atmospheric street art, theater and dance festival. Its situated right on the shores of Zürichsee (lake Zürich). Of course there are plenty of bars and restaurants as well and food is usually delicious. Get your tickets in time if you want to see a show, or just go there for the street art, food and drinks, and the atmosphere.
Do you like it louder and even more crowded? Electronica rock’n’roll? Zürich Openair might be for you (August 22–25). There’s an overlap with ALE of course, but tickets for Friday and Saturday are still on sale.
the Zoo Zürich is a very modern zoo that goes out of its way to offer ideal conditions for their animals – for instance allowing them to hide somewhere in their generously-sized enclousures.
Famous Swiss sculptor Bruno Weber has created, as his lifework, an enchanted garden park for his magic animal sculptures. Bruno Weber Park (no english-speaking web site) is now open to the public and lends itself to spending a few hours in amazement.
Wildnispark Zürich is a primeval forest right at Zürich’s front door that offers a «combination of woodland, wilderness and wildlife.» Perfect for an extensive walk in the woods to the left and right of river Sihl and all the way up Albishorn if you like. The view is beautiful.
Granted, Zürich doesn’t have a real football stadium, but that won’t make for a great excuse for not practising your sport.
(Or just hanging out at the pool, for that matter …) All river baths are free of charge, including women-only Frauenbadi, men-only Männerbadi, Oberer Letten and unterer Letten. Here’s an overview of all open-air baths. Most of them usually serve as open-air clubs after six pm or so.
Swimming in the lake is also great and is allowed basically everywhere. There are four public baths along the shore – Tiefenbrunnen, Uto-Quai, Enge and Wollishofen. Pretty decent food offerings are part of the game. The water is usually fairly warm in August. Zürich Tourism has information on them, too.
For indoor swimmers, there are several options as well, including olympic-size pool Hallenbad City which is right next door to Kraftwerk. It’s open 6–22 every day. So much for swimming.
Fur runners, strollers and hikers, following river Sihl upward from Kraftwerk is a good idea. It will bring you past the Google offices to recreational area Allmend. From there continue following the river or lose yourself in the woods of Üetliberg (whatever it is called in English … Mount Uto?) The view from its top is amazing, and you can take a train back to Zürich main station if you want to avoid running downhill. There are other options including parks and several woodchip trails, too. More information on running in Zürich.
I don’t think many of you will bring their street or mountain bikes. If you do: There are several trails and routes around Zürich. There are several options to rent bikes now in Zürich, including public bike rental stations and fast e-bike sharing service Smide. Beach volleybal, slack lining, other? See here or ask us directly.
Gastronomy has a lot to offer here. Local terroir to the tastes of the world, canteen to fancy, slow food, fast food, and slow food, fast. We like Europe’s oldest veggie restaurant Haus Hiltl for their delicious and extensive invitation to eat vegetarian without missing a thing; Cooperativo for their unpretentious Italian cooking; Bei Babette for a little bit of French flair; Lily’s Eatery for their Yellow Thai Curry and teas; Za’atar for the freshest Libanese dishes we had, and so understated; Volkshaus or Restaurant Kantorei, when we like it slightly less understated.
As was mentioned above, some of the public baths double as bars at night. Frau Gerolds Garten has a unique atmosphere. Xenix bar was named Zürich’s best bar to hang out by the New York Times recently, and it is a nice place (although it is the Xenix cinema that is really great.) Zürich is full of bars.
Wanna start your day with a breakfast that is fresh, home made, local, complete? Bebek, Babu’s or Kafi Dihei and many others will have you covered. Zürich has a culture of sitting in cafés, sometimes even boulevard cafés, for coffee and cake. Café Schober, Sprüngli am Paradeplatz or Honold, who are still producing on Rennweg, are long-time classics.