How to do Zurich on a budget

I'm faced with the same quandary every time we have visitors in Zurich: what can we do that won't break the bank? It's an expensive place - fine if you work here and earn a Swiss salary; not fine if you are visiting from the UK. Train travel is the biggest drain on cash: when Dad and Will visited earlier this month, I looked for 'Sparbillette' tickets on the SBB website, which give a discount on train fares. Sadly none were available, so we limited the amount we travelled. Luckily, there are plenty of options in the city itself that won't break the bank.
1. UETLIBERG: One sunny day, we took the train to the top of Zurich's local mountain Uetliberg and walked along the ridge, enjoying panoramas of the lake. It was a little icy underfoot, but thankfully the path is not very steep. We kept high, navigating woodland and agricultural land, until we descended through sun-drenched pastures to Leimbach (this is in zone 10, so don't buy a return ticket to Uetliberg - the single will set you back enough).
2. CLIMB THE GROSSMUNSTER: For CHF 4 each, we climbed the 187 steps and 62 metres to the top of one of the Grossmünster's elegant twin towers. The minster was central to the Swiss-German Reformation, and its ornately adorned exterior belies a suitably stark interior. Views from the south tower are awe-inspiring: during our visit, we enjoyed clear skies and panoramas that stretched down the lake, up to the Dolder Grand hotel on Zürichberg, and all the way across the industrial quarter around Hardbrücke.
3. VISIT THE ZOO: It's not exactly a pinch at CHF 26 for adult entry, but it offers value for money. Zurich Zoo boasts an impressive array of animals in respectable-looking enclosures. We chuckled at an orang-utan putting a small cardboard box on its head before trying to climb into said box - obviously a size issue there; watched snow leopards delving into parcels of food dotted around their enclosure; and wanted to gaze endlessly at the playful seals bobbing their heads above the surface. Perhaps most impressive, however, was the new elephant park: the 6,800 square metre roof, which looks like a giant convex pretzel, conceals a leafy space for the six elephants. They even have their own swimming pool.
4. TAKE A BOAT TRIP: Pick the right day, and a boat trip with the ZSG on Lake Zurich can make you think you are on the Med. We enjoyed a short round trip (less than CHF 9 per person for 1.5 hours) on a delightfully sunny day. There was scarcely a breeze on the water; we enjoyed the sun on our faces as the ferry glided along past the enviable lakeside villas.
Other small treats to enjoy include freshly squeezed orange juice from Coop on Bahnhofstrasse (CHF 3 for a small bottle) and a light lunch at the traditional Zeughauskeller, where you can have homemade broth for around CHF 10.
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