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Zurich is known for being a financial powerhouse, but natural beauty, cultural offerings, and welcoming locals are the Swiss city's greatest assets. (Photograph by Zürich Tourism)

Ana Maria’s Zurich

Ana Maria Malpartida was born an ocean away from Zurich, but that hasn’t stopped her from calling Switzerland’s biggest city home. The Peruvian-born, Swiss-at-heart foodie has been living in Switzerland for the last seven years and spends most of her time—and a good portion of her salary—searching out the best eats in the city. Luckily for us, she shares her finds with the world on Spotted By Locals Zurich. Here’s a look at Ana Maria’s adopted hometown through her unique lens.

Zurich Is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them to is Bellevue Square for a bratwurst and a beer at Sternen Grill. Bellevue is the ideal place to start sightseeing in Zurich, providing easy access to iconic places like Bahnhofstrasse, Bürkliplatz, Niederdorf, and Limmatquai. The lovely views of Lake Zurich and the Swiss Alps aren’t too shabby either.

Summer is the best time to visit my city because Zurich comes to life to celebrate it. Join the locals for a dip in the lake or the Limmat River, a barbecue at one of the many green areas the city offers, or a drink at one of the badis, open-air bathing areas that become bars at night. Don’t miss sampling one of the many cultural events taking place in summer, like the Caliente Latin Music Festival.

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The Uetliberg, part of the Albis chain of hills around Zurich, is a popular cycling spot, offering panoramic views of the city and its famous lake. (Photograph by Zürich Tourism)

You can see my city best from Uetliberg Mountain. Take a train up or go by bike to enjoy the scenic panorama.

Locals know to skip Zurich’s main drag, Bahnofstrasse, home to internationally known big-brand stores and overpriced eateries, and check out the Viadukt, a group of newly renovated railway arches that now house small boutiques, open markets, and restaurants in the city’s hip Kreis 5 district instead. 

Victorinox is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs. It even has an interactive knife station where you can design your own customized Swiss Army knife.

In the past, notable people like theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, novelist James Joyce, and architectural pioneer Le Corbusier (aka Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris) have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is Kunsthaus. Not only is it beautifully maintained, the museum introduces visitors to paintings and sculptures by Swiss and international artists alike.

If there is one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that even though it’s known for being one of the best public transports in the world, it can get pricey. Therefore, go to the main station and get a city pass that includes tram rides, buses, and even boats for a fair price. If two wheels are more your style, ride a bike in Zürirollt. Bikes, e-bikes, and children’s bikes can be free at different locations with the presentation of a valid ID and a deposit of CHF 20.

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is Werdinsel,Werdinsel, an urban island just beyond the lake and river that’s great for nature walks, jogging, and cycling.

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Smell the roses in nearby Rapperswil. (Photograph by Gaetan Bally, Zürich Tourism)

My city really knows how to celebrate Christmas. The Bahnofstrasse is bedecked in festive lights and charming open-air markets offering mulled wine pop up all around town. Also, the Singing Christmas Tree, an enormous pine tree composed of tiers of children singing holiday carols, has become a must-see spectacle.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they are always on time. Swiss punctuality is not to be underestimated.

For a fancy night out, I would start by having a drink at Dante, a bar with an ample selection of gin and a New York City vibe. Afterward, have dinner in Restaurant Camino for a gourmet treat.

Just outside my city, you can visit Rapperswil, a medieval town on the edge of Lake Zurich that’s known for its roses.

My city is known for being the financial capital of the world but it’s really a creative and diverse place that welcomes all regardless of color, origin, or creed.

The best outdoor market in my city is Bürkliplatz near the lake. Not only can you find antiques and secondhand goods, there are also unique designer pieces on offer. Grab a bite or sip on a cool drink while you shop.

Babu’s Bakery and Coffeehouse is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Palestine Grill is the spot for late-night eats.

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The Bürkliplatz flea market takes place on Saturdays from May through October. (Photograph by Gaetan Bally, Zürich Tourism)

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Ron Orp.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I grab a bottle of wine and some olives and head to Landiwiese for a lakeside picnic.

To escape the crowds, I head to Moudis Lecker in non-touristy District 6 for a cozy Lebanese meal or to Zum Alten Löwen to experience tavolata (family-style) dining.

The dish that represents my city best is Zürcher geschnetzeltes, sautéed veal strips served in a creamy sauce. Sample it at Kronenhalle.

Rote Fabrik is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Plaza Club.

Dachterrassen Day, when everyone with a roof terrace opens their doors to strangers for drinks, could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should go for a picnic in a park.

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Lake Zurich and the Limmat River are focal points of Zurich social life. (Photograph by Bruno Macor, Zürich Tourism)

In the summer you should jump in the Limmat River for a refreshing swim.

In the fall you should head to the restaurant Drei Stuben to enjoy seasonal specialties like deer, wild boar, and the best pumpkin soup you have ever tasted.

In the winter you should try ice skating at the Dolder Grand hotel rink and then warm up with some fondue in their igloo fondue tent.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss sledding on Uetliberg Mountain or swimming in a badi.

The best book about my city is Swiss Watching, by Diccon Bewes, because it demystifies Swiss culture in a funny yet informative way.