Situated along the banks of the northern stretch of the River Limmat in Zurich, the area known as Letten is currently flourishing after years of rampant crime, drug use, homelessness, and destitution. Once a virtual open market for drugs sales and use (as well as a semi-permanent dwelling) for addicts and criminals from all over Switzerland and indeed the rest of Europe, Letten has been the beneficiary of public works projects and spirited efforts at drug intervention and treatment. The results have been so successful that you likely wouldn’t guess at its troubled past.
Today, the area is perfectly safe and particularly vibrant. The main attractions during the summer are the two 400-meter long swimming channels (or pools) along the Limat in Upper and Lower Letten (complete with six-foot high diving boards). Weather permitting, these locations are very popular with locals seeking a place to congregate and beat the heat. Music abounds, as well as barbecues, food kiosks, break-dancing, busking, shops, stalls and bars. The vibe is trendy, and the area is a virtual magnet for visiting and resident hipsters, musicians and the socially inclined.
If you find yourself in Zurich during the summer, one of the most rewarding and affordable activities you can plan is a picnic lunch spread on the grassy lawns along the river. Outdated travel guides will warn you away from Letten, but pay no mind. The neighborhood is safe for children and adults alike. Sports enthusiasts will appreciate the volleyball courts and other facilities erected to attract recreation seekers.