Greater Zürich is home to almost 1.5 million people and more than 150 different nationalities, but it’s still one of the most human-friendly cities we know. From lakeside parks to inspiring art spaces, here are our favourite places to go for private mediation and the chance to be alone with your thoughts.
Rise and shine: Zürich Arboretum
Zürich wraps itself protectively around a lake so clean you can drink from it, with numerous parks and ‘badis’ (swimming areas) dotted all along its shores. At the northern end, perfectly positioned to catch the morning sun, you’ll find the green lawns and magnificent specimen trees of the city arboretum. It’s barely five minutes’ walk from the bustling tram intersection at Bellevue and the luxury stores of Bahnhofstrasse, but early in the morning, you can feel blissfully alone, with just a few runners and the birds in the aviary for company. Set your blanket beneath one of the 100-year-old trees, or park yourself on a lakeside bench and feel your breath steady as the water laps the shore.
The art of contemplation: Friedhof Sihlfeld
Whether you’re faithless or devoted, there’s something deeply spiritual about a cemetery that makes it the perfect place to meditate. Friedhof Sihlfeld is the largest single green space in Zürich, and the peace is palpable. Each name etched in stone is a life well-lived, much loved or cut tragically short, and each reminds us to relax and live in the moment. From ornate headstones charting many generations of the same family to simple white crosses with just a name and date, a visit here will help you feel calm and connected to the city and its people.
A City Oasis: Lindenhof Hill
People have chosen to live, work and play on this little hill for more than 2000 years, and lots of locals will tell you it’s hands-down their favourite Zürich viewpoint. A mere 20 metres above the soothing eddies of the Limmat, city life feels markedly slower here, measured in chess moves on the outdoor board and chats in the shade of the eponymous lime trees. It’s a cool spot on a hot day; close your eyes and let the muted sounds of everyday life anchor you in a true Zürich moment.
A Seat Of Learning: The Zentralbibliothek
You’d expect a peaceful atmosphere from a former church, and Zürich’s grand central library doesn’t disappoint. If you’re a Swiss resident you can register online for a free membership, and then use the reading rooms and study cubbies for a spell of mindfulness whenever you need it. If that feels a bit like going back to school, there are comfy armchairs in the open reading space, and, this being Switzerland, everyone respects the quiet rules! Bonus: there’s a large collection of English language books, and the surrounding streets are packed with cute coffee shops at (relatively) student-friendly prices.
Meditation Inspiration: The Kunsthaus Art Museum
The collections at Zürich’s most prestigious gallery are world-renowned, but if all you need is space to think then you can skip the entrance fee and take a seat in the airy foyer next to the cafeteria, with no obligation to buy anything. Inspired by your surroundings? Pop back on a Wednesday when most of the exhibitions are free to visit.
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