Zurich in Switzerland is a busy, bustling city with green spaces, historical monuments, a charming old town, and a bustling financial center. There’s even a river, a lake, and an island in Zurich. Tourists here can visit museums like the Art Museum or the Swiss National Museum, get a panoramic view of the city from the Polyterasse or Lindenhof, or see the Grossmünster church. Everyone can find something they like.
Major tourist attractions in and around Zurich are open year-round, so you can visit them anytime. Nonetheless, you still might want to make an informed decision about when to travel to Zurich.
If you were wondering when to visit Zurich, this is the article for you. Here’s what to expect in Zurich during the different seasons of the year.
When do tourists visit Zurich?
Zurich is a great place to go with your friends and family at any time of the year. It’s a destination that’ll keep you occupied all year round, regardless of the weather. As opposed to mountain resorts where the cable cars stop between summer and winter, Zurich doesn’t have that and can be visited all year round.
The climate in Zurich can be described as continental, with warm summers and cold winters.
During spring and autumn, when the temperatures are mild and the hiking season and bathing season aren’t quite in full swing, Zurich is a favorite destination for travelers. That’s also because Zurich has a whole host of indoor activities, from museums to cinemas to shopping. When it comes to outdoor activities in and around Zurich, then summer is the best time.
Summers in Zurich are busy, but it’s not surprising since it’s the best and hottest time to visit. Go in May or early September if you want it to be less busy than the summer months. Expect a bit of fog in autumn, but don’t let it bother you. There are more than enough things to do in the city otherwise.
Best Time to Visit Zurich
The best time to visit Zurich really depends on your plans and preferences. I would recommend May, June, July, August, and September. December is also particularly magical in this city as it celebrates Christmas with its numerous markets and shopping opportunities.
I would recommend May or September for those who prefer cultural and indoor activities. It will be easier to enjoy these activities without the summer crowds.
If you want to enjoy water sports activities in the summer or simply prefer it to be warm, then you should visit between June and August. The bathing season is in full swing at this time of year, so you might be able to dip into the lake. Additionally, you might enjoy a cruise along the Limmat River or Lake Zurich.
There’s a caveat: it’s going to be crowded, and it might rain. Avoiding the main summer school holiday of July may be more comfortable if you go in early June or late August.
Zurich in Summer
- Summer lasts from June until September.
- You will get the most sunshine during the summer months, particularly in July and August.
- Heavy rainfall is expected during this period, but rain typically comes late in the afternoon.
- Peak summer temperatures reach almost 25 degrees Celsius in mid-July. The temperatures rarely fall below 13 degrees at night during summer.
- Summer is a popular tourist season in Zurich, so accommodation and other living conditions can cost a little more.
- For swimming, the best time of year to visit Zurich would be from July to August.
- Every summer, there’s a big party called Zurich Street Parade, which is the biggest street parade in the world since Love Parade ended in 2010. With about a million people in attendance, it’s the biggest annual event in Zurich.
- A great day to visit Switzerland is August 1, Swiss National Day. Once the sky gets dark, fireworks will begin. It does not matter where you are in the country. This day is celebrated across Switzerland.
Zurich in Autumn
- Autumn lasts from September to November.
- In Autumn, the temperature starts dropping and so does the amount of precipitation received.
- Temperatures slowly go down from 20 degrees Celsius in September to 9 degrees in November.
- Expect low visibility when Zurich is under a sheet of fog. This tends to happen during autumn in lower-lying areas of Switzerland. You will have to visit one of the closest mountains to visit from Zurich if you want to be above the sheet of fog.
- Knabenschiessen is an annual shooting competition for young men and women between 13 and 17 years old. Founded in the 17th century, it’s one of the oldest traditions in Zurich.
Zurich in Winter
- Winter lasts from December to March.
- The temperatures average around 4 to 6 degrees Celsius, and snowfall is expected sometimes.
- The weather at this time of year in Zurich is too cold to be pleasant for warm-weather travelers.
- Winter is typically a dreary and gray season in Zurich, but the appearance of Christmas markets is a delight. Winter in Zurich means holiday shopping, Christmas markets, parties, and celebrations.
Zurich in Spring
- Spring lasts from March to June.
- On a beautiful spring day, it’s a nice time to visit Zurich because of the pleasant weather. However, the bathing lakes will still be closed and the water too chilly.
- Zurich City celebrates the Zurich spring festival, usually on the third Monday of April. Come to Sechseläutenplatz during the Zurich spring festival (Sechseläuten) and witness the burning of the Böögg, a snowman that symbolizes the burning of winter. An effigy of a Böögg, a word for bogey, is burned after the guild parade.
- Flowers will start blooming in Spring. Check out one of the beautiful parks like Belvoir Park, Rechberggarten, or Rieter Park. Pretty pink cherry trees also start blooming in April.
- After ski season ends, cable cars and cog trains get serviced. If you’re planning on heading to the mountains from Zurich, make sure they’re running before you go. Higher hiking trails could still have snow at the start of the season. Even so, there are a lot of great hiking spots around Zurich and beyond.
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- 14 Popular Attractions Near Zurich Train Station
- 10 Beautiful Towns near Zurich for Day Trips
- Limmat River Cruise: The Most Relaxing Way to Discover Zurich
- Grossmünster Church: All You Need to Know in a Nutshell
Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.