With so many hot days this summer, I got to spend many lunches and evenings at what I think is one of the best things in Zürich: the badis. If you told me before I moved here, that this city, known for its prices and bankers, has amazing public swimming areas (some of them free) where locals come to cool off from 30+ temperatures, I wouldn’t believe you that a) it gets that hot in Switzerland and b) that this is part of the local lifestyle. Somehow it sounds more like Spain than a country known for skiing and Alps – but actually, it’s a very Swiss thing. Here is my guide to Zurich’s best-kept secret.*
*note: I haven’t been to all the badis in the city yet (there are 8 in total, and even more if you count outside the city center) but I’ll keep updating this list, so stay tuned.
What’s a badi?
Badis are essentially public “baths” or “swimming areas”, where you can come to swim in the lake or the river, and then cool off on the wooden docks or grass, grab something to eat or drink, socialize and pass the hours reading, sleeping, tanning or just enjoying the sun. Most badis in Zürich cost 8 Francs to enter, though some are free. You can pay per visit, get a card for 6 or 12 visits, or buy a season’s pass to enjoy them all summer long.
Badi Enge (women, men, mixed) is best for mornings: the sun rises across the lake, so you’ll have beautiful morning light and warmth AND they have delicious breakfast options – acai bowls, protein bowls, avocado toasts, pancakes, etc. It’s also an amazing spot for lunch because their kitchen cooks a tasty new menu every day: you can choose between a vegi, a meat, and a fish option (prices from 20-25CHF) and I love the buzzing lunchtime vibe, not to mention the sparkle of midday lake.
Frauenbad (women’s only) is amazing for lunch: at this hour the sun is right above so it gets plenty hot, but the water in the Limmat is always a bit cooler than in the lake and there is plenty of shade, plus tables to sit an enjoy your lunch. You can, by the way, bring your own food and drinks or purchase them from the bar. I haven’t tried the food (just the cheese plate and it was yummy) but the drinks are great. Because it’s in the city center, many women come here on their lunch break so it can be very crowded, but it always makes me feel like a local and I always find a spot 🙂
Badi Utoquai (men, women, mixed) is perfect for afternoons and afterwork: here you’ll catch the sunset over the lake and unlike Frauenbad and Enge that become bars in the evening (because at that point they are in the shade), Utoquai stays open as a place to eat, drink and swim. The best part is hanging out on the pier with a view of Zurich, while the sun sets on your left. I love to get there between 6-6:30pm, jump in the lake and sit on the pier chatting with a friend. They have a buffet salad/meze, snacks, burgers and a variety of drinks, but I’ve also seen many people bring their own. This is a great place to come with your girlfriends after work, order a bottle of bubbly and have some quality time (inspired by a local I know ;)).
Badi Tiefenbrunnen (mixed) is where you can spend a whole day: while the other badis are built as floating docks with limited space, here you have a large grassy area with plenty of sun and shade, a kid’s pool over the lake, jumping boards, loads of change rooms and a lot of water access. I also love getting food at their bistro because you can perch yourself all the way at the end tables and have a stunning view over the lake while you eat. I feel like Tiefenbrunnen is best to come with your family or a big group of friends, and it’s definitely a little paradise for kids. You can watch them jump off the springboards without getting tired for hours!
Badi Oberer Letten (mixed) – I haven’t been here yet, have only seen it from the other side of the Limmat but it’s free, has that chill Zurich vibe and I hear great reviews from others.
Badi Unterer Letten (mixed) – same as above, I still plan on making it there to give you the full review, but it looks fun and it’s also free.
Badi Schanzengraben (men’s only) – here I can’t put my detective powers to use because it’s men’s only 🙂 But if you’ve ever been to Rimini Bar, then you know what it’s like on the inside! During the day Rimini bar becomes a badi for men so you’d swim in the clear waters of Schanzengraben. Entrance is also free.
Badi Mythenquai – on my list to visit and I’ll update the post once I do 🙂
Disclaimer: this blog post was (fittingly) written during lunchtime at the Frauenbad 🙂