When I first arrived to Zürich, I clicked the ticket dispenser at the bus stop. One ticket was 4.30 CHF (around 4€). I had a 5-km walk to the place where a friend of mine hosted me.
Talking with one of his awesome flatmate, Daniele, the scenario got worse: 750€ of monthly rent for a single room (that’s double I’ve been living with in Trieste, Italy ALL inclusive), super-expensive supermarkets, 700€ the annual transport ticket. I was complaining when in Turin the annual ticket raised up from 175 to 200€…
I really started thinking there was no way to hack Zürich. But when you are on a budget, you are on a budget. So I checked for deals, free admissions, discounts around the city, and well, I found enough things to fill in my 4-days stay in this town!
Start with a free tour of Zürich!
Free tours are now available in a lot of towns. Zürich is one of these. ‘Free’ does mean that they are tip-based: if you like the tour, you decide how much to give the guide. Many agencies adopted this concept in the last years. This ensures (usually) a high quality tour as the guides know that if the tour isn’t good, they won’t get any cash. For travelers on a budget, this is quite nice! Check Freewalk Zürich. Thumb up for them! They offer a downtown tour, a tour of Zürich West, the Langstrasse tour (where the nightlife is concentrated) and an expat tour all for free. Plus, they have a number of private and paid tours.
On the west side of the Lake Zürich there’s the Langenberg Wildlife park. Nature lovers, birdwatchers and children as well will enjoy it! I went during fall and colors were just amazing. Even though I didn’t see any, you might see wolves, bears and mooses, which are part of a zoo. At the top there’s a watchtower from where you can observe and (bring your binoculars!) catch some animals.
You can get to the Wildlife Park easily from the central railway station (Hauptbahnof) jumping off at Sihlwald, or…
Rent a bike for free
Beside the water, the city of Zürich offers another free service: bike rental! upon 20 CHF | 20 € deposit. There are 6 points all over the town where you can get a bike, but the largest ones are close to the main railway station. The bike has to be returned by 9.30 p.m. or you’ll have to pay a fine. The town is very bike-friendly being plenty of bycicle pathways. Also, don’t forget it’s a good exercise for your body! 🙂
Wander around the Lake Zürich
Join the bike rental for free and wander around the Lake Zürich to craft the perfect budget traveler day. We bought sandwiches at the supermarkets (cost: 10€ for sliced bread, ham and cheese) and we didn’t have to spend anything the whole day. The feasibility of course depends on the weather. If rainy, switch to free museums!
The zoological museum is the perfect activity if you are with the family and you don’t want to splurge. It is tailored for children and you can spend a couple of hours inside.
You might want to consider to buy a Zürich card if you plan to spend one or three full days, dedicating your time mainly to museums and other attractions. It gives you full access to public transport and free admission to many museums, plus a number of discounts and, as they claim, a ‘culinary surprise in selected restaurants’. It costs 24 CHF | 24 € for 24 hours and 48 CHF | 44 € for 48 hours. Given that a daily transport ticket costs 8,60 CHF | 8 € it can be pretty convenient.
If you have found this information useful or if you have some suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment below!