Zurich has grown exponentially over the last fifteen years and is now a city with a lot to do. With a hopping nightlife filled with endless bars and restaurants, and wonderful sightseeing complete with rivers and lakes, this cosmopolitan city is bustling with activity. There’s plenty to keep you busy and drain your wallet. You need to be careful here. This city is expensive.
- Hostel Prices: Expect to spend an average of $55 USD per night for a bed in a dorm room. You can find a few rooms as low as $44 USD.
- Budget Hotel Prices: Most budget hotels will charge $88 USD a night.
- Average Cost of Food: Bars and café’s are the cheapest way to eat in Zurich. If you’re dining out, you’ll spend an average of 60-$77 USD per day. For self-catering with the occasional meal out, expect to spend around $44 USD.
- Transportation Costs: Taxis are expensive and unnecessary. Instead, take the bus, train or tram and save yourself a ton of money. A one-day pass to get around the entire city costs $20. You can also save money by riding a bicycle.
Top Things to Do
- Taste Swiss Chocolate – With several chocolate shops throughout the city, visit a Sprungli store and see for yourself what makes their chocolate so good. If you’re lucky, you can catch them passing out samples and snack for free.
- Visit the National museum - If you’re a history buff, this National Museum of Switzerland offers a detailed look into the history of the country. The exhibits are very detailed.
- Walk the Old Town. Stop to eat at one of many restaurants to choose from and of every ethnicity; have a drink at a variety of pubs, and taste their unique cheese and chocolates. This unique shopping district is like stepping back in time.
- Explore its Vibrant Nightlife - Zurich may be a relaxing city during the day, but at night it comes alive with over 500 nightlife venues: pubs, restaurants, music halls. With no open-containers laws in Zurich, start your night with cheap drinks on the Limmat riverfront before moving to the bars and clubs. When you are ready to hit the town, head to Neiderdorf in the Old Town or Langstrasse just nearby.
- Street Parade – Currently the biggest open air techno rave in Europe. It happens on the second Saturday of August, during which trucks which function as mobile sound systems start driving along the lake side. Every year this event attracts nearly a million visitors who dance in the streets to music that can hear from anywhere in the city.
- Go Skiing – Flumserberg is the closest large ski-resort, popular with people from Zurich, with a good range of runs for beginners and experts. Retreat to the right side of the resort if the rest gets busy.
- Lake Promenade – Especially during summer, the lake is a beautiful place to spend the evening or the weekend. Starting from Bellevue, the boardwalk goes for about three kilometers along the lake towards Tiefenbrunnen. About halfway from Bellevue there is a meadow that’s nice to relax on during a sunny day.
- Swiss National Day – Celebrated on August 1st, celebrations are carried out in the evenings and fireworks are launched at night. Watch them over the lake, or if you’re experienced with safely launching fireworks yourself, you can buy them in the days leading up to the national holiday and have fun. The display over the Rheinfall, one hour away by S-Bahn, is also extremely popular.
- Go hiking – With Zurichberg to the East of town and Uetliberg to the West, both offer good views and good hikes. While Zurichberg feels closer to town with its cemeteries and hotels, Uetliberg has has a more natural ambience with its hiking and mountain-biking trails.
- Buy a Zurich pass - The Zurich Pass can offer excellent value, with free airport transfers and local transport as well as free admission to forty Zurich museums. A 24-hour Zurich card costs $22 USD, while a 72-hour pass costs $4 USD. Tourist passes like this are always excellent value if you plan to spend a lot of time city seeing and always save you money.
- Self-Cater – Supermarkets like the Migros and Coop chains are scattered across Zurich and offer cheap groceries. Do avoid Globus supermarkets, which are by far the most expensive of the standard chains. With restaurants costing so much money in this city, you’ll want to cook most of your meals.
- Couchsurfing – Using Couchsurfing or any other hospitality exchange will be critical if you are on a tight budget. With accommodation costing so much money, if you hope to stay on a budget here, you will need to avoid paying for a room. You can find a lot of hosts in Switzerland.