Updated: Oct 27, 2020
Academic life at the University of Zurich largely consists of lectures, practical exercises, and learning, but the fun is just as important. After all, what is studying without friends, exciting experiences, and new acquaintances? Studies have shown that the immediate benefits from leisure activities increase the perseverance for long-term goals and optimize our performance. What matters is a good study and life balance. That's why there are no excuses to save the fun for later or to not immediately start enjoying student life to the fullest. This article offers a few suggestions for leisure activities in Zurich.
If you are an international student or if you are new at the University of Zurich, it makes sense to choose activities where you can meet new people. The Academic Sports Association Zurich (ASVZ) is ideal for this. It offers more than 120 sports, and it is free of charge for enrolled students of the ETHZ, UZH, ZHAW, PHZH, and ZHdK, or more specifically the access is automatically paid with the semester fee. It is easy to find people with similar interests in the group courses, and afterward you could go for a coffee or a beer together.
Coffee, Drinks, and Snacks
When it comes to coffee, drinks, snacks, and fun with fellow students, the café-bar bQm on the university campus is a must. The name speaks for itself as it stands for bequem, which means “comfortable" in English. The bQm is great for a cozy and spontaneous drink with nice people after a long day of classes. The prices at the bQm are adapted to tight student budgets, which is an advantage compared to the countless cafés and bars in Zurich.
Another place that every student in Zurich should know is Frau Gerolds Garten. This is a city garden in Zurich's District 5, where the offer changes according to the season, but an exuberant get-together is always guaranteed. Small stores, studios and pop-up exhibitions are also found in the Gerold area.
City Tours and Sightseeing
The old town of Zurich with its small alleys and unique charm is well worth seeing. The old town district of Niederdorf is especially popular with tourists.
In contrast, but equally recommended, the Europaallee behind Zurich's main train station is more representative of modernity. Here you will find many bars, restaurants, and shops.
If you are looking for large department stores, boutiques, or exclusive brands such as PRADA, LOUIS VUITTON, and CHANEL, you should stroll along the famous Bahnhofstrasse. The Bahnhofstrasse eventually leads to the lake in Zurich where street musicians often play to put you in a good mood, and on a clear day you can enjoy a wonderful view of the Alps.
If you don't want to miss any of Zurich's sights, such as the Grossmünster that is depicted on the University of Zurich’s logo, it is recommended to take a guided city tour or to rent a bike or a boat (e.g., on zuerich.com).
From the end of November, Zurich transforms into a winter wonderland. The Christmas illumination "Lucy" gives you the feeling of being under a sea of stars. The various Christmas markets throughout Zurich's inner city will also make you feel the spirit of the season. The highlight is the enormous Swarovski Christmas tree in the main station.
Summer Swimming Fun
In the summer, you can sunbathe in one of the public parks along Lake Zurich and be in the middle of the action. Alternatively, you can rent a pedalo and make yourself comfortable on the lake. There are also various outdoor swimming options, such as the lake, the Limmat, or pools in the middle of the city, depending on your preference or what is closest.
Culture and Cinema
Art lovers should pay a visit to the Kunsthaus or take a trip to the gallery district on the Löwenbräukunst site. If you are more in the mood for opera, ballet, or concerts, you will find something to suit all ages at the Opernhaus Zurich. For drama enthusiasts, the Schauspielhaus is a good place to visit, or you can enjoy an evening at the cinema with your friends. At the cinema, all the films are shown in the original language (usually English), so you can understand every word even if your German is not yet perfect.
In Zurich, there are many possibilities to go to parties and clubs, such as Kaufleuten, Hiltl Club, Hive, or Mascotte. The party for students that probably everyone knows, is the Nachtseminar, which happens every Thursday evening at Plaza. Until 11 pm, the entry for students is free. Later in the evening, anyone with Legi can get in for CHF 5.
Any suggestions ?
Zurich provides an infinite number of leisure activities waiting to be experienced. There is something for everyone and it is worth it.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. It is simply a few suggestions of ways to spend your time in Zürich and to inspire you to live student life to the fullest, even if you are new in the city. The only thing you should be aware of are the Coronavirus protection measures and regulations. Otherwise, there are no limits to the fun. With this in mind, start your journey of discovery through Zurich today, and let us know in the forum what great places you have found that no student should miss.