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Best time to visit Zurich

Zurich is an exciting holiday destination that combines the sophistication of a luxurious lifestyle and luxury watches with the simplicity of its stunning natural beauty. Whether you just want to shop for fancy chocolates or enjoy the picture-postcard beauty of its mountains, Zurich will not disappoint you. Here, extravagance and simplicity go hand in hand. The city has a long and colourful history that is lovingly preserved in its many museums and monuments.

But culture here is not confined to museums. It is amply apparent in its everyday life, in its festivals and in its food. In a horizon dominated by the Alps, the city’s activity hub is Lake Zurich. Come winter or summer, Lake Zurich is a prominent inclusion in all the fun activities. It is perfect for a quick dip during the summers or a relaxing pedal boat ride. If you’d rather lounge around and take it easy, the lake’s shore is lined with gardens, restaurants and cafes.

Zurich Old Town is a treasure trove of old culture and traditions. Winding streets, houses from the medieval times, old-style eating houses and quirky cafes, you’ll find it all here. Zurich’s Old Town is said to have the largest concentration of clubs in all of Switzerland. You can spend the day exploring the history and end it with a pulsating evening of fun and revelry.

After you’ve had your share of fun out in the streets, head indoors into the city’s museums and art galleries. With over 50 museums and 100 art galleries, you will be spoilt for choice and short on time. The Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum) houses art collection that dates to the prehistoric era. Visit Cabaret Voltaire to explore the birthplace of Dadaism, an avant-garde art movement. Switzerland has fourteen museums that are specially designed for kids. Let them experience 600 years of evolution at Kulturama and let their imagination wander at Technorama. The toy museum takes you through a 300-year-old nostalgic journey and the FIFA World Football Museum is a delight of interactive experiences.

You cannot visit Zurich and not taste the traditional Swiss cuisine. You can savour it as a Michelin-star gourmet creation or enjoy it as an honest representation of a flavourful cuisine. The city is also a thriving destination for global cuisine where the food presents a slice of its local culture on a plate. And that’s not all. Zurich also has an eclectic collection of arts and cultural festivals that happen all year round, all over the city.

If you’re excited about visiting Zurich on your next holiday, here’s a close look at the seasons that will help you to decide your best time to visit this wonderful city.

Peak Season:
Summer, between June and August, is the peak season in Zurich. It is the perfect season to explore the outdoors in and around Zurich. Nature is in full bloom and all the tourist attractions around the city are open. Lake Zurich becomes the hub of all outdoor entertainment in the city. This is also the wettest season of the year. But the rains keep things cool on days filled with outdoor activities and adventures. It’s also vacation time in Zurich. Between the locals and the tourists, expect all tourist attractions in and around the city to be crowded.

Shoulder Season:
The shoulder seasons of spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are not so busy. These are the in-between seasons when the city of Zurich is free of most of its summer guests and the weather is pleasant. The spring is warm, promising a pleasant summer, while autumn is cold, a precursor to the approaching winter. Generally, spring is the more preferred season. But autumn holds its own charm. Your explorations will be free from crowds and you may even find some good deals on your travel and hotel stays.

Low Season:
Like most of Europe, winter (December to February) is a snowy affair in Zurich. Temperatures dip below zero as snow gradually takes over the city. But instead of shutting down, the city keeps on moving. Christmas markets spread the warmth of the season’s cheer. The city comes alive as skiers and snow-boarders throng in for their share of adventure. You will experience crowds, though not as much as summer. The hotel prices go up again. But there’s something magical about a snowy winter, especially in Switzerland, that must be experienced to be believed. Create memories for a lifetime as you enjoy Zurich in winter.

Season Temperature Weather
Spring 4 to 20°C Cool, with rainfall
Summer 14 to 24°C Warm, with persistent rainfall
Autumn 2 to 22°C Cool, with rainfall
Winter -5 to 8 °C Cold, with heavy snowfall

Zurich in Spring (March to May):

Temperature - Spring is a cooler time in Zurich with temperatures ranging between 4 and 20°C. In March the days are still short, getting an average of 4 hours of daily sunlight.

Weather - The winter chill lingers until mid of April as spring starts warming up the city for the approaching summer. The intensity of the rains increases as the season marches towards the wettest season of the year. This is the season to enjoy a cool Zurich without being too cold.

Significance - As the snow melts and the temperature increases, Zurich gets ready for the spring tourists who start streaming in by the end of April. But it won’t be as crowded as the summer. Most of the hotels, closed for the winter, will start opening their doors, ready to welcome their first guests of the year. Though most trekking trails and outdoor attractions will be closed, some of them open early.

Why you should visit now - There are two big reasons to visit Zurich in spring. No tourist rush and the pleasant weather. Though still cold, the crisp spring air has a rejuvenating effect that spurs you on to explore the city and to be out and about. Though the hiking trails are not fully opened yet, the city presents you with an excellent walking trail that takes you around on an urban exploration.

In April, participate in Zurich's Spring Festival which is celebrated with a parade and the burning of Boogg, Switzerland’s most famous snowman. Spring officially arrives in Zurich when Boogg's head ‘explodes’. The Sechselauten Parade starts at the lower end of the Bahnhofstrasse and ends up at the Sechselautenplatz, where Boogg is waiting. But the best part of the festival starts after the burning when people gather around the bonfire and have a barbecue party!

Be a part of the Zurich Marathon in April. The marathon attracts participants from all over the world. It is a full marathon with a 42-km long main race. After the marathon it is time for Food Zurich which takes place in May. This food festival will tickle your taste buds with over 100 food-related events. The festival is full of energy as amateur and home cooks show off their cooking skills.

Things to know before the visit - The weather stays cool until April, when the temperatures start to rise. The rains intensify as the season progresses and May is one of the wettest months of the year. All the tourist attractions may not be open at this time, but you can get discounts on your stay and travel.

Tips - Pack a heavy jacket if you’re travelling during March or April. You’ll be okay with a light jacket in May, but do not forget to carry a sturdy umbrella. Also, do not forget to carry cold cream to protect your skin against dryness.


Zurich in Summer (June to August):

Temperature - Zurich warms up during its summer season. The temperatures range between 14 to 24°C, but it doesn’t get uncomfortably hot.

Weather - The summer warmth is accompanied by persistent rains. In fact, summer is the wettest season in Zurich. The warm weather is perfect for outdoor activities which gets a cooling boost from the seasonal rains.

Significance - Summer is a busy time in Zurich. In addition to some great hiking trails, the city also witnesses some of the most colourful festivals. Ranging from Zurich Pride, to IRONMAN Zurich, these festivals have varying themes but are celebrated with great enthusiasm.

Why you should visit now - This is the season to experience Zurich in its full glory. With nature in full bloom, the trails around Zurich come alive with adventurers. The summit of Uetliberg is a great place to catch some breathtaking views of the city. Go mountain biking along its slopes or hike the popular Path of Planets. Trek along the city’s highest trail, the Schauenberg Nordic Trail for the ultimate rush. For a more serene activity, head to the nearest ‘Badi’ at Lake Zurich or the river Limmat.

These badis are designated bathing areas around lakes and rivers and are safe for swimming. One such badi, the Upper Letten River Pool is just a short walk away from the Landesmuseum. Step out of the museum into the warm and inviting water of river Limmat. If you do not want to be confined to museums, step out and explore the city’s beautiful architecture. You can spend some quality time at Zurich’s Old City marvelling at the old buildings.

Summer is also the time for festivals like Zurich Pride Parade, Swiss National Day, Zurich Openair and Street Parade. Join any one of these and be a part of the celebrations that involve dance, food and drinks. The summer party seems to go on and on until autumn calls at the end of August.

Things to know before the visit - All the trails in and around Zurich will be open, so you will have company on all your treks. Do not stray off the marked trails. Do not start a fire other than in designated barbecue pit areas.  Keep an umbrella handy as it may rain at any time of the day.

Tips - Pack light cotton clothes and sturdy hiking shoes which will keep you comfortable on the trails. It gets colder as you climb higher, so take a jacket along on your hikes. Remember to stay hydrated during outdoor activities. Book your tickets and accommodation well in advance for better deals and availability.


Zurich in Autumn (September to November):

Temperature - Autumn is colder than spring and the temperatures average between 2 to 22°C. Though the mercury may dip below freezing occasionally, it happens more towards the end.

Weather - As the temperatures begin to fall, the rain subsides, but doesn’t go away completely. While the days are bearably pleasant, the nights get substantially cooler. Snow doesn’t make an appearance until the very end. The mountains will be colder than the city and it may affect your hiking plans.

Significance - Autumn is mostly pleasant in Zurich, without getting too cold to bear. This is a good time to explore the city at your leisure without flocks of tourists milling about. Though you may not be able to do all the outdoor activities, you can still enjoy the outdoors within the city.

Why you should visit now - Free from the borders of summer tourists, Zurich begins to settle down and prepare for the cold winter that follows autumn. As trees lose their foliage, culture vultures and connoisseurs throng to the art galleries and theatres to indulge in evenings filled with art, culture and history. Shopping is another activity that holds a special allure during this season. So much so that brands roll out their Autumn Collections. You can probably match your outfits to Autumn’s golden palette.

But one of the biggest highlights of autumn is the Zurich Film Festival. It showcases cinema and actors from all over the world and will treat you to some rare gems. The Contemporary Art Fair Zurich is an international art fair that brings together some of the best contemporary art in all forms. Head to the Swiss Cup Zurich tournament for a day of graceful gymnastics performed by international teams from all over.

All-in-all, autumn in Zurich is a mixed bag. It has its own set of rules that will show you the best side of this vibrant city in a not-so-vibrant season. Old Town and Zurich West rock this season with their abundance of night clubs. While outdoor activities may be curtailed, there’re no restrictions on indoor activities.

Things to know before the visit - You need not pre-book your tickets during autumn season.  There are no crowds around and you can always search around for some good deals on your stay.

Tips - Carry heavy woolens and dress warmly. If possible, dress in layers to adjust better to the city’s weather.


Zurich in Winter (December to February):

Temperature - Winter is the time for sub-zero temperatures in Zurich. The temperatures hover between -5 to 8°C.

Weather - It snows all over in winter in Zurich. With regular sub-zero temperatures, the city and its surroundings can get very cold.

Significance - Snow in Switzerland is magical! Different destinations have their own special personas that make them bloom in certain seasons. Snow and Switzerland have a special relationship that makes Zurich an exciting winter destination.

Why you should visit now - If you think Zurich goes into hibernation during winter, you’d be sorely mistaken. The freshly powdered slopes of the mountains around Zurich turn them into a playground for adventure lovers and thrill seekers. The mountains come alive with hundreds of blurry streaks racing downhill to test their mettle. For a bit of equestrian thrill, head to the Mercedes-Benz CSI to marvel at the show jumpers as they canter effortlessly around an obstacle course. The Christkindlirkt is an enchanting Christmas market that makes the festival a special affair. The place is taken over by a huge Christmas tree and people enjoy the holiday cheer accompanied by dinner and shows.

This is also a good time to really explore Zurich’s museums. The Kunsthaus Zurich has a good collection of arts showcased through permanent and temporary exhibits. The FIFA World Football Museum is an interactive learning space that hold football memorabilia. The next best thing to do in Zurich is to enjoy a piping hot meal on a cold, snowy winter evening.

Things to know before the visit - With the city practically empty of tourists, you can find good deals in some places, but not all. You’ll see around 4 hours of daylight every day, while the rest of it remains overcast under a cloudy sky.

Tips - Carry your heaviest woolens and do not forget a thermal suit for it provides an extra layer of security against the cold. Wear sturdy, grippy shoes and protect your eyes from the snow’s glare.

Zurich is the largest city and the economic powerhouse of Switzerland. But the business side it is effortlessly complemented by its cultural and historical heritage. This megapolis is unbelievably green and it takes efforts to preserve its natural beauty. Zurich will welcome you in any season and offer you the type of experience you seek. If you’re ready to book your holiday, drop into your nearest Thomas Cook branch or book your holidays online.

SEP- NOV 2 to 22oC
DEC- FEB -5 to 8oC
MAR- MAY 4 to 20oC
JUN- AUG 14 to 24oC
Travel Season
April to July Summer Season
15 C to 30 C Min/Max temp
April to July Summer Season
15 C to 30 C Min/Max temp
April to July Summer Season
15 C to 30 C Min/Max temp

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