Zürich’s Hidden Treasures

Coordinates: 47°22′43″N 8°32′24″E

When compared to other main European cities, Zürich is small and does have an iconic structure people have on their bucket list to visit, as for example Paris’ Eiffel Tower Eiffel or Florence’s Ponte Vecchio. But this city has many hidden treasures; beyond those already on the bank vaults for which this city is so famous.

Vaults included on the exhibition about the Banking industry at the Swiss National Museum. Photo: Gabriela Berríos

Vaults included on the exhibition about the Banking industry at the Swiss National Museum. Photo: Gabriela Berríos

Water Resources

Besides the lake and namesake that defines its scenery, two rivers flow through the city: the Sihl and the Limmat. This is not a big surprise in a country where water is the most important natural resource. What is interesting, is to explore the city from the perspective of its water bodies.

View of the Limmat River and to the right side, the Grossmünster Church’s towers, a city landmark. Photo: Bernardo Fiol

View of the Limmat River and to the right side, the Grossmünster Church’s towers, a city landmark. Photo: Bernardo Fiol

River and Forest

Today the Limatt is used for leisure strolls and hydroelectric power generation, but in medieval times it served as entrance for merchants bringing gold and provisions into the city. In the XVI century, this river played a key role in the silk industry’s growth. On the other hand, if you follow the Sihl River you find a section where the train runs below it and arrive at a beautiful natural forest located in the outskirts of Zürich.

The Sihl Forest was declared a natural reserve in 1986. Photo: Bruny Nieves

The Sihl Forest was declared a natural reserve in 1986. Photo: Bruny Nieves

Get Lost to Explore

It is possible to walk through the city’s old town, with its medieval architecture, in one morning. But my recommendation is to spare some time and get lost, with enthusiasm, among its streets, do some shopping and visit points of interest. The most well-known streets are Niederdorfstrasse, pedestrian walk that runs parallel to the Limmat River; Bahnhofstrasse, shopping street by the main railway station and home to Switzerland’s banking industry; and Rennweg, commercial district with easy access to Lindenhof Park, an ancient Roman military fortress with panoramic views.

In Medieval times, Rennweg was the city’s widest street. Photo: Marco Dettling

Religious Art

In Zürich, most churches are of Reformed denomination. Although less decorated than Catholic ones, they also use art as complementary education. My favorite church is the Fraumünster with its stained glass windows by artists Marc Chagall and Augusto Giacometti. Sublime!

View from Grossmünster’s Square, with the Fraumünster’s towers and Saint Peter’s Church (with the biggest sphere clock in Europe) on the background, from the left to the right. Photo: Marco Dettling

View from Grossmünster’s Square, with the Fraumünster’s towers and Saint Peter’s Church (with the biggest sphere clock in Europe) on the background, from the left to the right. Photo: Marco Dettling

A Renewed Viaduct

I love the Bohemian and multicultural air in this area, plus its history: To preserve the ancient Viaduct (the government wanted to tear it down and build a new train tunnel) the community joined forces and gathered the necessary signatures to propose an alternate conservation initiative to be voted upon. A perfect example of Switzerland’s direct democracy political system!

At the extensive Josefswiese Park, you find the renewed Viaduct and the mixed languages of parents, from different parts of the world, who visit with their children. Photo: Pamy Rojas

At the extensive Josefswiese Park, you find the renewed Viaduct and the mixed languages of parents, from different parts of the world, who visit with their children. Photo: Pamy Rojas

Urban Redevelopment

Even the commercial outposts in the area are part of this redevelopment spirit; what the design industry refers to as upcycling: Freitag, bags made of recycled canvas; Frau Gerolds Garten, an urban garden in an old industrial lot decorated with car tires and shopping carts; Fernwärme Zürich AG, waste to energy plant; and Caritas Secondhand, with secondhand articles for sale.

Behind the Josefswiese Park and several restaurants is a waste to energy plant. Photo: Pamy Rojas

Behind the Josefswiese Park and several restaurants is a waste to energy plant. Photo: Pamy Rojas

On-going Events Calendar

Whether in summer or winter, the city offers a variety of events. I love that there is always something happening. Among the yearly activities are: the Sechseläuten parade that dates from the XVI century with all labor unions participating; the most popular festival in Europe, the Street parade, a celebration of tolerance, freedom and love to the rhythm of techno music; and Expovina where it is possible to taste 500 wines visiting twelve boats anchored at the Zürich Lake by the Bürkli Square.

Performance art at Zürich’s Theaterspektakel, an annual international theater festival. Photo: Bruny Nieves

Its Own Mountain - Uetliberg

One can discern the impressive Swiss Alps from the city center in a clear day; but visiting the Uetliberg is the alternative locals prefer in a cloudy day. This way they leave the fog behind, enjoy panoramic views of the lake and the city and visit the restaurant at the top. One can reach the Uetliberg by train or walking its planetary thematic trail.

View from the Uetliberg located one thousand eight hundred fifty feet at sea level. Photo: Bruny Nieves

View from the Uetliberg located one thousand eight hundred fifty feet at sea level. Photo: Bruny Nieves

Museums to Choose from

Zürich has plenty of museums, even the FIFA is about to open one dedicated to soccer. I always recommend and return to the National Museum. Besides perfectly summarizing Switzerland’s essence, from the historical and political point of views even in furniture design, it has a varied itinerant exhibitions calendar, all translated to English, plus it is located next to the main railway station and has a reasonable entry price.

This wheel with images of Heidi, William Tell, cowbells and cheeses is an installation in the Swiss history area at the National Museum. Photo: Bruny Nieves

This wheel with images of Heidi, William Tell, cowbells and cheeses is an installation in the Swiss history area at the National Museum. Photo: Bruny Nieves

More of Zürich

I tried to summarize and I know details I love of Zürich have been omitted. My recommendation is that on your visit, you choose a Tram (tramcar) and step down in every corner that captures your attention and do not forget to walk until you get lost in this interesting city.

Flower shop with Edelweiss for sale; this mountain flower, symbol of the Alps, is very difficult to find. Photo: Bernardo Fiol

Flower shop with Edelweiss for sale; this mountain flower, symbol of the Alps, is very difficult to find. Photo: Bernardo Fiol


Conscious Travel Practices:

1. Cooperate with local recycling efforts.

2. Choose places where one can listen to nature.

3. Support local hotels and commerce.

4. Travel with an open mind.


Street art at Viaduct in the Zürich West area. Photo: Bernardo Fiol

Street art at Viaduct in the Zürich West area. Photo: Bernardo Fiol


Interior view of the last structure designed by the famous Swiss architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, better known as Le Corbusier. Photo: Bernardo Fiol

Interior view of the last structure designed by the famous Swiss architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, better known as Le Corbusier. Photo: Bernardo Fiol


Markthalle Restaurant is located by the Viaduct. Photo: Pamy Rojas

Markthalle Restaurant is located by the Viaduct. Photo: Pamy Rojas