Zurich Gay Travel
wolfyy’s Zurich gay guide to hotels & where to stay, things to do, gay bars, clubs, parties & saunas.
The Gay Travel Experience: Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich is a lovely LGBT-friendly destination, perfect for those who love the outdoors. It’s a place you can visit any time of year. During summer, the city comes to life and everyone swims the river. In winter, you can relax at a sauna, hike snowy trails and enjoy holiday markets.
Gay life in Zurich is busy year-round. The city has a sizeable population of gay locals, many of whom have moved here for work. Everyone enjoys socializing at gay bars and clubs, which are always hosting fun events.
Zurich Pride is another fantastic reason to visit in the summertime. Gay locals will tell you that the warmer months in Zurich are magical and relaxing. There are tons of outdoor activities to enjoy, making the city a great gay summer destination idea.
I love Zurich for all its picturesque vantage points. Hillside neighborhoods look out over the city center and Lake Zurich, and nearby mountains are always in view.
I experienced Zurich with the help of a gay local, my amazing friend Martin! In this Zurich gay guide, I’ll share the best hotels, things to do, gay bars, saunas & more.
Gay Zurich: Hotels & Where to Stay
If you prefer quick access to gay nightlife, it’s best to stay somewhere between the Altstadt and Langstrasse neighborhoods.
Most of the city’s gay bars, clubs, and saunas are here. Altstadt is generally considered to be Zurich’s gay area. But truthfully, gay life is spread out all over the city’s central district.
I equally recommend both hotels and local apartment rentals for gay travelers visiting Zurich. With such fantastic public transport, the city feels smaller than it is, and getting around is easy.
Ruby Mimi Hotel
Ruby Mimi is a brand-new hotel in Zurich’s city center, just a block away from the main train station (which is a great area of town).
The finishes are stunningly modern, yet the hotel still has a traditional feel. Their rooms get so much light and everything throughout the hotel just sparkles.
Widder Hotel is lavish boutique property also in the center of Zurich. The hotel was actually created by combining various townhouses.
No two rooms are the same here and guests love the detailed interior design, which beautifully mixes traditional and modern elements.
With a fantastic location, two amazing restaurants, a popular cocktail bar, and a modern 24-hour fitness facility, Widder Hotel is a solid option.
25hours Hotel Zürich Langstrasse
25hours Hotel is a super popular Zurich gay-friendly hotel in the Langstrasse neighborhood. Staying here, you’ll have the most convenient access to a large part of Zurich’s gay bars and nightlife venues.
The hotel has a clean, industrial vibe with modern finishes and a fun lobby restaurant. It’s super affordable too.
Perfect for traveling on a budget with friends, some rooms that 25hours Hotel offers come with three single twin beds. Other room types include large and extra-large guest rooms, as well as suites that contain multiple rooms.
They also have a second location in Zurich, called 25hours Hotel Zurich West. It’s a bit further from the city center but is still a highly-rated hotel with friendly vibes and a fun cheerful design.
Baur au Lac
Baur au Lac is one of the best hotels in Zurich, and it certainly comes at a hefty price point! With the unbeatable service, rooms, and amenities, you’ll feel like royalty here. If you’ve got the budget, check this place out.
Each room inside Baur au Lac is unique, with its own design and custom furniture. They describe their style as timelessly elegant. Room types include single, double, junior suites, and impressive exclusive suites.
The hotel is located directly adjacent to Lake Zurich, along the popular thoroughfare of Bahnhofstrasse in the city center.
The Dolder Grand Hotel
The Dolder Grand Hotel is truly grand in every sense. One of Zurich’s most well-known hotels, this 175-room property has a golf course, ice skating rink, full-service spa, two massive pools, and epic views of Zurich from the outdoor terrace restaurants.
Located up in the Hottingen neighborhood, The Dolder Hotel is about a 15-minute drive from the main train station. You can also take the funicular down to central Zurich!
The hotel’s style is quite traditional, with many modern design updates. If you’re a fan of hotels with a historic feel and are willing to pay for luxury, The Dolder Grand will definitely be an unforgettable experience.
Zurich Gay Travel Experiences
In Uetliberg you’ll find the best views in all of Zurich. Up at the Top of Zurich observation point, you can see the stunning Swiss Alps in the distance beyond Lake Zurich, as well as the entire city.
Getting to Uetliberg is easy, too. Take the S10 tram, which departs from the main train station. This heavy-duty tram climbs all the way up the mountain. At the Uetliberg stop, continue walking uphill for 10 to 15 minutes toward the Top of Zurich!
Grab lunch at one of the local restaurants while you’re at the peak. Uto Kulm is a higher-end option inside the local hotel. The Top of Zurich Restaurant has an outdoor panorama terrace right next to the lookout point.
Alternatively, Uto-Staffel serves authentic Swiss food. They’re just a short walk down the mountain.
If you’re visiting in winter, double-check the hours of these two restaurants, as they may close for a few hours in the afternoon!
Swim in the Limmat River
Swimming through Zurich’s beautifully clean Limmat River is one of the most popular things to do during the summer. People jump right into the water in the heart of the city. There are plenty of public bathhouses and places along the riverside to go for a dip.
Floating down the Limmat River in an inner tube is a popular activity as well. Let the river take you away and then grab a train to take you back to the city’s center!
Locals frequent the tranquil saunas on Lake Zurich all year round. No matter whether it’s a hot summer day or a during a winter snowstorm, you can unwind in a sauna.
Enge Swimming Area Bar is the most popular sauna in Zurich. They have three sauna rooms, two indoor relaxation rooms, an outdoor sun deck, a cold pool, and steps to swim right into the lake.
The facility also has a café, showers, lockers and they provide towels and flip-flops. Gay travelers and gay locals both love saunas in Zurich since the norm is for everyone to be completely naked. All times of the year, it’s common to see gay men relaxing here.
Keep in mind that on Mondays, Enge Swimming Area Bar is open to women only. The rest of the week is mixed, usually with one of the three sauna rooms reserved for women
For specifically gay saunas, skip to the saunas and cruising section of this guide!
Swiss National Museum (Landesmuseum)
An afternoon at Landesmuseum, the Swiss National Museum, is a great idea for something to do on a rainy or cold day. Explore the country’s history and culture through a range of exhibits.
This place has so many interesting relics, including one of the largest globes surviving from the 16th century, the largest reference collection of Swiss traditional costumes, and beautiful pieces of commemorative stained glass tablets.
Christmas Markets & Festivals
Starting in late October, Christmas markets and nightly festival areas are open all over Zurich. You’ll see the Traditional Christmas Markets in places like Zurich’s main train station. Here you can browse shops for holiday gifts, specialty products, and delicious food.
Christmas festivals are my personal favorite thing to do during winter in Zurich. Food stands are set up around beautifully decorated plazas. The best part is definitely drinking some Glüwein, or hot mulled wine! Glüwein is quite popular in Germany and parts of France.
One of the best nightly Christmas festivals in Zurich is in the courtyard of the Swiss National Museum. Each year they set up an enormous, beautifully decorated wooden structure that houses a bar, dance floor with a DJ booth, and cozy seating.
If you’re visiting Zurich during the winter, consider attending one of the popular gay ski weeks in Switzerland as part of your trip!
Zurich Gay Bars
Gay bars in Zurich are popular all times of the year. They’re spread out in two main areas of the city center. Some clustered in the Alstadt neighborhood and quite a few others are in Langstrasse.
This modern bar is tucked away in a cute street right off the main drag. Some of Cranberry’s events include drag race viewings, karaoke nights, drag-themed evenings, and other special gay party events.
Petra’s Tip Top Bar
Petra’s Tip Top Bar is another perfect gay bar for dancing in Zurich. They’re also located in Altstadt. Here you’ll find mostly Schlager music playing, which is basically catchy Europop songs. I find this kind of vibe to always be a fun and energetic time!
Helden is the go-to Zurich gay bar on Wednesdays, which is actually the only night they’re open! This bar is popular for drag shows and dancing.
They have a spacious interior as well as a rear outdoor patio area overlooking the river. I had a great time here, meeting some local gay guys and laughing with a funny drag queen who was hanging out by the entrance.
Zurich Gay Clubs & Parties
Heaven Club is a hugely popular Zurich gay and queer club venue right in the center of the city. They’re popular for high-energy drag-themed parties and events. Heaven always has awesome live performers and DJs. I highly recommend a visit.
Boyahkasha gay parties are always epic and they’ve been continuously hosted in Zurich since 2004. You’ll find LGBT people of all types at these parties, from circuit queens to queer hipster types.
King Kong Party
Music at the King Kong parties is typically electro house or disco. It’s best to get to the party earlier than later so you don’t end up waiting in a long line!
Explicit parties are sexy, sweaty, and full of LGBT men and women who want to let their sexual desires loose.
These are definitely the most intense, lustful Zurich gay parties. Explicit is all about providing a sex-positive dance space for queer individuals in an effort to combat queer censorship. And they do a fantastic job at it!
Bring cash for the clothing check, get a sticker to cover your phone’s camera, and enjoy the fun.
Zurich Gay Saunas & Cruising
Moustache Sauna is undeniably the best Zurich gay sauna. Inside you’ll find a cozy bar area, jacuzzi, rooms with floor pad beds, as well as plenty of couches and areas to meet other guys.
The sauna is open until midnight during the week and stays open late into the early morning hours on weekends. Prices vary based on your age and the time you arrive.
Renos Relax Sauna
Renos Relax is another one of Zurich’s most popular gay sauna and cruising spots. The space is relatively modern, inviting, well-maintained, and has everything you’ll need for a good time.
Facilities include a jacuzzi tub, dry sauna, private cabins, lounge area, open shower, and air-conditioned playrooms with all sorts of slings and chairs. Don’t forget a sexy jockstrap!
Sauna Mylord is the smallest gay sauna in Zurich, described by the establishment itself to be “intimate and cozy.” But just because it’s small doesn’t mean you should skip it! Mylord still has all the typical facilities of a regular gay sauna, it’s just a miniature version.
Paragonya Wellness Club
Paragonya is a bit more of a seedy gay sauna. Some gay travelers have good experiences here, while others have mentioned that this sauna is a bit too expensive and has a few too many sex workers inside.
I can’t personally recommend Paragonya, but if you’re visiting during a popular weekend or event like Zurich gay pride, you’ll likely have a good experience no matter which sauna you choose.
Zurich Travel Tips
The easiest way to get around Zurich is by tram. The city has an enormous network of tram lines and buses that make going anywhere quite convenient.
Download Zurich’s ZVV Tram Application to buy tickets on your phone. If you plan on taking more than a few rides per day, buying a day pass is most economical.
If you don’t have the app, traditional tickets are available at main stations and those that are near the city center. Many stops, especially those in residential areas, do not have ticket machines.
If you’re taking a multi-city trip, getting to or from Zurich is super easy by bus. I traveled from Germany to Zurich using FlixBus and their buses are honestly super comfortable, have wi-fi on board, and exactly on time.
Is Zurich Expensive?
Zurich is an expensive city for most travelers to visit. The cost of living in Switzerland is high overall, so be prepared to spend a decent chunk of cash.
Even as someone who lives in an expensive city, I still found Zurich to take a toll on my wallet! Personally, the high prices for lower-cost items like food were the most noticeable. For example, a vending machine soda costs nearly 4 Swiss Francs!
The people here in Switzerland tend to be fluent in many languages, with many speaking four or more! German, English, Italian, and French are the primary languages.
The German spoken in Switzerland is the dialect of Swiss German, which is quite different from the “High German” you’ll hear in central and northern Germany.
Switzerland Gay Rights
The LGBT community in Switzerland has just about all the same legal rights as non-LGBT individuals. LGBT individuals are protected by all types of discrimination against them, are allowed to serve openly in the military, and are allowed to adopt children.
Lots of progress on gay rights has been made in recent years. For example, protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity were only passed in 2020.
Also, Switzerland only recently voted to legalize gay marriage in September 2021. Ability for MSMs to donate blood is one of the remaining disparities.
Switzerland is largely gay-friendly, especially in places like Zurich. A majority of 65.7% of the country’s population is accepting of homosexuality.
Zurich isn’t far from some of the world’s most popular gay ski weeks! If you’ll be visiting Switzerland during the winter, consider joining the one in Arosa.