Here’s the skinny on swimming in Zurich. You might already have your favorite pool, but it’s nice to change it up once in awhile. There are tons of “badis” in Switzerland and this website shows all the swimming places in Kanton Zurich and beyond. I’m just going to highlight some of my favorites.
First let’s talk about lake swimming. There are lots of “Strandbads” along Zurich lake, which usually involve a roped off place to swim in the lake, a park with lots of grass, a small kiddie pool, a playground, a restaurant, bathrooms, changing rooms, etc. There are several free strandbads along the lake, some with services, many without.
The Zurich summer “badi” pass includes the Mythenquai and Tiefenbrunnen lake swimming, aka “Strandbad”. These swim areas open officially for summer middle of May through early September. Outside of this time they are open and free, so if the weather is good in early spring and late fall, you can use these areas for free, but the services will not be open.
My favorite is the Mythenquai because it has a sandy beach, while almost all other lake swimming areas have rocky shores. During summer, the kiddie pool in the back is great for small ones because it’s only knee-deep. This means you don’t always have to be in the water managing your child, which is particularly helpful when you’re juggling multiple children. There are lots of sprays, a waterfall, and a river for toys to float down. The lake is also child-friendly because it starts out quite shallow and has a beach, unlike most other lakeside swimming areas in Zurich.
The park has a small playground, plenty of grass for running and ball playing, a grilling area, and of course, a typical pool “restaurant” with plenty of ice cream options. There’s a large parking lot that costs only 50 rappen per hour. You can also take Tram 7 to Brunaustrasse, then a short walk through a park. Or you can catch bus 161 or 165 from Burkliplatz that drop off right outside the entrance.
Other non-Zurich city strandbads I like:
Kilchberg – I like this one because it has a waterslide going into the lake (but the lake bottom is rocky and seriously hurts your feet) and it has a proper pool set back from the lake if you want something less murky.
Ruschlikon – it’s free, but it has a wonderfully maintained grassy area, a kiddie splash pool, a sand pit with sand toys, ad a restaurant. I don’t know why they aren’t charging.
Now, outdoor pools. At almost any pool, you can expect a partially shaded kiddie splash pool, a shallow non-schwimmer pool, a deep lap pool, lots of grass, a playground, and a restaurant. If you have a Zurich summer badi pass, you can get into any Zurich city pool (indoor, outdoor, and strandbads) not just the one where you bought the pass. All of these pools have very limited metered parking, so it’s better to take public transport if you can. I’d recommend the following outdoor pools:
Heuried – big water slide in addition to the regular stuff
Allenmoos – big water slide in addition to the regular stuff
Letzigraben – The non-swimmer pool has a graduated entry, like a beach, ideal for little kids. It also has lots of sprays and fountains in the non-swimmer pool (not just the kiddie splash pool), so it’s fun for older kids too.
Here are my other nearby favorites not on the Zurich pass:
Fohrbach Zollikon – Everyone loves this pool. It has both indoor and outdoor pools, a big water slide, a big pirate ship with a slide, lots of sprays, etc. Parking is easy and free.
Schwimmendbad Geren, Birmensdorf – This is a new favorite. I love that it has a playground and sand pit right next to the kiddie pool. So as a mom, you can stay in one place and monitor your kids across the various entertainments. The big pool has a water slide and diving boards to entertain older kids. Parking is easy and free but on a busy weekend, you might have a park in the overflow lot and walk a bit.
Adliswil – They have an extra wide, bumpy water slide that the big kids do all sorts of crazy stuff on. But it’s fun for the little ones too. The kiddie pool and adjacent playground are quite nice.
Schwimmendbad Lättich, Baar – People _love_ this pool. It has indoor and outdoor. Outside, there is a big waterslide and an extra splashy kiddie pool. Inside, there’s a lazy river, diving area, an extra splashy kiddie pool, etc. Paid parking can get full on a busy weekend.
Terrassenbad Baden, wave pool – it’s a bit of a drive, but if you need something different, the wave pool definitely delivers. We went specifically for the wave pool and our 3 and 7yr old boys were in heaven. It helps if you have rafts to float on, so non-swimmers can really enjoy the wave action. There’s also a big outdoor waterslide, a no-frills kiddie pool, a sand pit, big playground, sand volleyball courts, etc.