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The Best & Worst Times to Visit Zurich in 2024

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Zurich in 2024

What's the best time to visit Zurich?

Summer offers warm weather and a rich cultural scene, with highlights including Zurich Pride and opportunities for lake swims and vibrant nightlife. For those enchanted by winter’s charm, December brings picturesque Christmas markets and easy access to ski resorts. Whether you prefer the lively summer festivals or the cozy winter atmosphere, Zurich has something special in store.

The Swiss city of Zurich is a must-visit destination for lovers of history and orderly cities, and it’s a great jumping-off point for exploring the mountainous landscapes of Switzerland.

There is so much to see in the beautiful city of Zurich. You can visit historic areas such as the Niederdorf old town or take in the thriving modern art culture at galleries and museums such as the Kuntshaus. Undermining the stereotype of the laced-up Swiss, Zurich is also a great city for hipster flea markets and bar crawls.

There are also plenty of opportunities to get into nature in the city itself, such as a boat ride on Lake Zurich with panoramic views. In order to get the most out of your trip, you need to know the best time to go. Here’s our take.

The Overall Best Time to Visit Zurich

Photo of the middle of town with historical buildings and people surrounding a tram pictured under a blue sky during the best time to visit Zurich

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – AUG 23, 2018: A tram drives down the center of Bahnhofstrasse while people walk on the sidewalks in Zurich City, Switzerland/Gowithstock/Shutterstock

The overall best time to visit Zurich is during the summer, when the city has the best weather, and its cultural calendar is packed with outdoor festivals. Visitors searching for perfect ski slopes and Christmas markets should visit in December instead.

During the summer, Zurich has the best weather for hiking, swimming, and wandering around the cities. Summer can get downright balmy, with temperatures reaching the high 80s Fahrenheit (about 30 degrees Celsius) in July and August.

This is perfect weather for getting out on the water, and Zurich has plenty of opportunities to do so. Take a boat tour along Lake Zurich or the Limmat River and see the beautiful skyline from the water.

You can also go swimming in the lake or river at one of the official swimming points. After a long winter, summer is the time when Zurich locals really let loose and head outdoors.

There’s something to do on every street corner as people take advantage of the nearly 18 hours of daylight. Enjoy outdoor movie screenings, free concerts, and flea markets, plus a busy bar and restaurant scene that spills into the streets.

Some of the biggest festivals that happen in the summer include:

However, if you were hoping for the quintessential Swiss winter experience, just like you’d find on the postcards, then the best time to visit is between December and February. Although the weather gets chilly, around freezing, it isn’t as bitterly cold as higher up in the mountains.

Many lovers of winter sports use Zurich as a base before heading to the Swiss Alps ski resorts, which are quite close. Even if you’re not an active skier, Zurich in the winter is magical, with soft dusks and often snow dusting the rooftops.

If you visit in December, you can catch the world-famous Christmas markets with stalls selling mulled wine, artisanal presents, and quirky attractions such as the singing Christmas tree. This is the quintessential Central European holiday experience.

Cheapest Time to Visit Zurich

Wonderful mid-autumn day with fall foliage on the trees pictured under a gloomy sky with covered boats on stands in the lake during the fall, the cheapest time to visit Zurich

Andrew Mayovskyy/Shutterstock

The cheapest time to visit Zurich is in the autumn or late spring. These are Zurich’s shoulder seasons, which means there is usually less demand and prices can be slightly lower.

Spring is tricky to navigate as the beginning of spring still sees a lot of ski-related visitors heading higher up to the Alps, and Easter weekend also is a popular time to travel.

Between the end of Easter and the beginning of summer in June, there is a small window where you can find deals. Visit in May and some seasonal businesses, such as boat tours, may slowly be opening up to visitors, but still offer early bird deals.

Autumn has no major holidays or seasonal attractions, so you won’t have to be as precise when it comes to timing your trip. You can get 20-30% discounts on some hotels, even those in the city center.

Getting to Zurich usually costs the least in the spring or late fall. Flight prices are lower in March or May (as long as you avoid Easter), and you can also find deals in September-November, especially if you fly on a weekday.

If you are traveling by train, when you visit doesn’t matter as much since the Swiss train system charges the same amount for fares all year round.

Least Busy Time to Visit Zurich

Walkway near Old Town Zurich pictured during the least busy time to visit under a blue sky with people all around

Sabine Klein/Shutterstock

The least busy times to visit Zurich are in autumn and spring, outside of major holiday weekends. Spring sees an increase in visitors around Easter, but you can avoid the crowds by visiting later in the season.

The weather is better the later in spring you visit as temperatures begin to warm up, although there is still a chance of showers. You can walk around Zurich’s many parks and see the gardens all in bloom. Autumn also has rainy weather, although warmer than the winter.

September is the best month to visit if you want to avoid the high season crowds but still enjoy high season weather.

In September, the timetables for attractions such as boat tours are still as frequent as they are in the summer, but you won’t have to scramble to buy tickets before they sell out. Fall is also a beautiful time to go hiking around Zurich if you get lucky with the weather.

The mountains are covered in the changing leaves, so this is the best time to visit for fall foliage. The season is also perfect for day trips to nearby small towns, which are regaining some of their authentic charm after being overrun with tourists in the summer.

Many people don’t know that Switzerland actually has great wines, and fall is the harvest season. You can visit a nearby grape-growing town to catch the festivities, or just enjoy the best of the new vintages at a Zurich wine bar near you.

Worst Time to Visit Zurich

Zurich pictured in winter along the lake walkway near the Fraumunster Church


The worst time to visit Zurich (if such a thing exists) is in the fall. This time tends to be chilly and gray, with lots of rain. Zurich is in a low-lying area in front of the Alps, and in the damper autumn weather, it gets very foggy.

In October, there can be as many as ten days a month with very heavy fog according to Swiss government statistics. The dreary atmosphere makes it harder to feel motivated to explore, and the fog gets in the way of good photos.

The transitional period of autumn also means it’s not the best time to get outdoors. It’s too cold and rainy to go hiking or camping, but not cold enough for skiing yet and the slopes are mostly mud. However, Zurich has so many indoor attractions that you won’t even notice the weather.

This is a great season to visit the city’s many museums, especially in September during the Long Night of the Museums, when museums are open until 2 AM. Autumn is also great for high-end cultural events such as the Zurich Film Festival.

Frequently Asked Questions

People mulling about between old buildings in Zurich during the city's best time to visit

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – APRIL 12, 2017: Augustinergasse pedestrian Street with colorful buildings with cafe and restaurants in the old city center of Zurich in Switzerland/Marina Datsenko/Shutterstock

These questions are also helpful when picking the best time to visit Zurich:

Which month is best to visit Zurich?

May is the best time to visit Zurich as the weather is gorgeous, the flowers are in full bloom, and most seasonal attractions begin to open, but the crowds aren’t here yet.

Which month is best to visit Switzerland?

May is also the best time to visit the rest of Switzerland, as the mountains look beautiful in the spring. For skiing, the best month to visit is January.

When is the rainy season in Switzerland?

Switzerland doesn’t have a specific rainy season because it’s not a tropical country, but it receives the most rain in spring.

Which months are the low season in Switzerland?

September, October, and November are the low season months in Switzerland as the summer visitors go home but Christmas hasn’t started yet.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Zurich?

The best time to visit Zurich depends a lot on what you want to do. If you want to go hiking or take in some outdoor festivals, summer is the best time to visit, while December is the best time to visit for the quintessential Swiss winter experience.