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The Best & Worst Times to Visit Zurich in 2023

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Zurich in 2023

With its well-known Swiss charm, impressive architecture, attractive food scene, and engaging events, Zurich is a delight to visit.

Being one of the most vibrant Swiss cities, Zurich is filled with fancy bars, expensive experiences, and sophisticated stores. At the same time, it’s a city that’s casual, fun, and cool to explore.

Whether it’s the city’s laid-back or posh side that attracts you to it, chances are, you’re wondering what the best time to visit Zurich is. Although a year-round destination, it’s simply better at certain times of the year — ultimately, it all depends on what you hope to get out of your stay.

In any case, a little assistance and valid insights go a long way in planning a visit to this Swiss jewel. So without any ado, let’s get stuck in!

The Best Time to Visit Zurich

People walking around the city center of Zurich with little shops on either side of the cobblestone street during the best time to visit Zurich

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

The best time to visit Zurich is arguably during the summer months (June–August). With pleasant temperatures between 75.2°F and 53.4°F, visitors flock to Zurich to attend local summer festivals and explore the outdoors.

From sailing in Lake Zurich to activities such as biking, picnicking, or simply wandering the city, Zurich has plenty in store, even though it’s not a classic summer destination.

With that said, note that summer crowds bring about high hotel rates, so booking your room ahead of time is a must. Also, evening showers occur from time to time, but they shouldn’t disrupt your Zurich itinerary in any significant way.

Notable summer events include the Zurich Pride Festival (June), drawing in both local and guest supporters honoring the LGBT community.

The July IRONMAN Zurich is yet another popular event, but trust us — if you want to participate, it’s not for the faint of heart. If you’re in a festive mood and happen to be visiting Zurich during the Züri Fäscht, you simply can’t miss it — it’s only hosted every three years!

Referred to as the “festival of festivals,” it features majestic fireworks, plenty of food stalls, and music performances.

Celebrated every year with bonfires, paper lanterns, fireworks, and a myriad of hanging Swiss flags, Swiss National Day is everyone’s favorite August day. Yet another event worth being on the lookout for, Zurich Openair’s lineup is getting better and better each year.

Then, August’s Street Parade abounds with cool artists and an even cooler program. Known for the weekend party, food, and beer, there’s never a dull moment at Dörflifäscht in August.

Finally, theater enthusiasts should remember Theater Spektakel — an open-air festival taking place on the shores of Lake Zurich.

Cheapest Time to Visit Zurich

Zurich, or any other Swiss city for that matter, can never classify as a budget destination. That said, if you’re trying to make your trip as affordable as possible, heading in November may do the trick.

Being the last fall month, November welcomes visitors with average temperatures (between 45°F and 35.6°F).

With winter dread slowly creeping in, the foggy month of November isn’t the ideal time to be in Zurich. With that said, it’s the perfect month for travelers wanting to go easy on their wallets.

Plus, if the weather turns out bad (which is more than likely), you can always rely on the numerous indoor activities — the theatre, the opera, local museums, or shopping.

That said, November is not without its events, and one worth being on the lookout for is the Swiss Cup Zurich — a world-class gymnastics spectacle.

Finally, November sees the opening of Christmas markets and holiday-related events, so if you wish to get in the Christmas mood way before others get the chance to do so, visit in late November and enjoy some of the many festivities.

Least Busy Time to Visit Zurich

For a guide to the least busy time to visit Zurich, a trolley and cars make their way down the most expensive shopping street at night

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND, OCTOBER 25, 2015: Night view of illuminated bahnhofstrasse street in zurich which is considered to be the moset expensive shopping street in the world/Trabantos/Shutterstock

The least busy time to head to Zurich is either in spring (March–May) or in the fall (September and October).

From plum trees to unheard-of greenery, Zurich springs seduce visitors with their charming blossoms. These months have temperatures between 65°F and 35°F.

Fall draws in visitors with its changing foliage. If you plan to visit during any of these two shoulder seasons, you’ll definitely get more elbow room on some popular points of interest and major landmarks but also indulge in activities among lesser crowds.

September and October visitors can expect temperatures between 66°F and 45°F.

March still carries some of the winter chill vibes, and while it can still be unpredictable weather-wise, the temperatures usually allow for a nice hike, mountain biking, or spending some time walking along the banks of the Limmat River.

April and May introduce the spring conditions in the city, and outdoor terraces and bars quickly fill up. This is also when the Lake Zurich Navigation Company starts providing lake tours.

Popular events at this time include:

September and October are also pleasant and relatively idle months. But, yet again, there are plenty of events; get the most out of your stay by attending Contemporary Art Fair Zurich, Zurich Film Festival, or Kunst Zurich.

September is most well-traveled folks’ preferred month, as you get to visit Zurich’s cultural facilities during their extended work hours up till 2 a.m. for the so-called Long Night of the Museums.

Worst Time to Visit Zurich

The worst time to visit Zurich is in winter (December–February). The winters are rainy, cold, and bleak.

Snowfall is common, and although this is Zurich’s low season, paradoxically, prices skyrocket thanks to the nearby Alps enticing winter sports enthusiasts to their slopes.

Speaking of which, if skiing or snowboarding is on your Swiss agenda, consider heading to Atzmännig, a ski resort close to Zurich — the perfect location for beginners and families. Ice skating is also an option at the Doder Open-Air Ice Rink, one of the biggest ones in Europe.

If winter-based activities aren’t really your jam, you can always opt for some of the Christmas celebrations and marvel at the holiday lights, watch a singing Christmas tree, drink mulled wine, and enjoy the annual fireworks at Lake Zurich.

Those who wish to enjoy watching some of the best equestrians in the world should head to the Mercedes-Benz CSI contest in January.

Then, equally loved by both Zurich residents and guests, ZuriCarnival is an event for the whole family. As much as Zurich winters can be dull, the abundance of holiday celebrations seems to compensate for it.

Christmas markets are in full swing, with the festivities being at their peak with New Year’s celebration. After December and January’s celebrations, the ultimate fondue month arrives, when you can enjoy dipping bread in mouth-watering melted cheese.

For true fondue lovers, there’s even a seasonal fondue tram allowing passengers to dip while trundling through the city’s most beautiful places.

Another popular February event worth being on your winter radar is Art on Ice — a Swiss figure skating extravaganza. These three months tend to get quite chilly and have temperatures between 40°F and 28°F.

Things to Consider

Blue and white tram in Zurich, pictured during the best time to visit, making its way down the street at dusk

July 23,2021,Zurich,Switzerland. View of the main city center of Zurich with trams and surrounded by old historic buildings captured at Zurich, Switzerland/Sriya Pixels/Shutterstock

How to make the most out of your Zurich stay? Follow these tips to ensure a relaxed Swiss visit:

  • If you’re a US citizen, you don’t need any visa to enter the country for up to 90 days. Anything longer than that requires valid documentation obtained via the Embassy of Switzerland before your arrival. Also, note that visitors are required to possess a passport valid for at least three months after they leave Switzerland.
  • It’s worth noting the country uses Swiss francs, as many travelers tend to stock up on euros and end up being taken aback once they arrive. That said, certain restaurants may accept euros as a form of payment, but you’ll receive the change in francs.
  • There are four official languages spoken in the country — German, French, Italian, and a little bit of Romansh. That said, you’ll probably have no problem communicating in English with locals working in the tourism industry and other English-speaking residents.
  • Skip taxis during your stay, as they’re quite expensive — the meter starts at six Swiss francs (nearly $7). We advise against driving, as there are limited parking options, and there’s traffic during the peak season. You can rent city bikes or e-bikes for free!
  • Get the Zürich Card. It’s convenient and saves you money with its unlimited second-class travel on all means of public transportation — not just in Zurich, but in nearby regions as well. It also features Short Lake Cruise, Mini Lake Cruise, and Limmat River Cruise, free or heavily reduced museum admissions, half the price of the Zurich Old Town Walking Tour, and so much more.
  • Meat is quite expensive. If you can help it, stick to other cuisines such as Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Thai restaurants for affordable eats.
  • Don’t litter. As a matter of fact, the city is so clean that you can freely fill your water bottle in one of the fountains (and Lake Zurich as well!).
  • Zurich’s daytime and nighttime temperatures vary greatly, so make sure you’re always dressed in layers. Also, carrying an umbrella or a water-resistant jacket with you is advisable, as you never know when it might start raining (especially if you’re visiting during rainier months).
  • Tips are included in the final bill (as part of service fees), which is why tipping isn’t necessary. With that said, rounding the bill or leaving a small tip is advisable if you receive fantastic service.
  • Get travel insurance prior to your departure — better to be safe than sorry!

Frequently Asked Questions

Boats on the water in Zurich during the overall best time to travel there

Canadastock/Shutterstock

What are some facts about Zurich?

Here are some facts about Zurich:

1. It’s the largest city in Switzerland.
2. You can spell the city’s name in several ways thanks to the city’s multilingual communities — Zürich (German), Züri (Swiss German nickname), Zurigo (Italian), and Turitg (Romansh).
3. It’s the city where muesli (yes, the cereals) originate from.
4. Google’s largest office is based in Zurich.
5. Zurich is home to the largest church clock in Europe.

How expensive is Zurich to visit?

Zurich is one of the most expensive cities not only in Europe but worldwide. With that said, calculating your potential expenses can help you plan your budget accordingly. Past travelers have set aside $270 per person per day on average.

Also, you’ll need $60 for food per day and $35 for local transportation. Based on the budget at your disposal, you’ll need $115 per day per person if you’re trying to go easy on your wallet. If you can afford more entertainment or the extra drink during dinner, $270 a day will do the trick.

Lastly, $600 per day will ensure that you get everything Zurich has for deeper pockets. In any case, note that the aforementioned figures are averages based on previous visitors’ experiences, and by the time you travel to Zurich, they might have changed.

What food should you eat in Zurich?

Here’s a list of foods you must try if you visit Zurich: Swiss oatmeal, Gipfeli (a.k.a. croissant), cheese fondue, raclette, Zürcher Geschnetzeltes, Luxemburgerli, rösti, and Swiss veal.

What are some day trips from Zurich?

If you’re visiting Zurich but wish to expand your itinerary, we suggest heading to some of the following locations:

1. Lucerne, where you can wander the Old Town and marvel at the colorful houses making the city come alive;
2. Winterthur, home to some of the most significant Europe-based photography museums;
3. Uetliberg, if you wish to keep fit during your Swiss getaway while getting immersed in nature’s majestic colors;
4. Rheinfall, a not-to-be-missed sight;
5. Rapperswil, referred to as “the city of roses;”
6. Lichtenstein, if you wish to see what a real-life fairy tale looks like;
7. Baden, for its world-famous spas.

Is Zurich safe to visit?

Being one of the safest countries in the world, there’s little to worry about when it comes to visiting Zurich. Violent crime, scams, or petty theft are infrequent.

That said, it’s always recommended that you exercise common sense, keep your valuables in a safe place, and pay attention to your items on public transportation and in crowded tourist areas.

Over to You — Book Your Trip Today!

👍 Best Time to VisitJune-August
💲 Cheapest Time to VisitNovember
🗓️ Least Busy Time to VisitMarch-May & September-October
👎 Worst Time to VisitDecember-February

The best time to visit Zurich is arguably during the summer months (June–August). The climate is pleasant, outdoor events and activities are running at full steam, and people have the time of their lives. That said, summers see steep prices.

Wish to see Zurich without breaking the bank? Head in November, as it’s when budget travelers flock to the city to take advantage of the slightly lower airfare tickets and hotel rates.

The least busy time to head to Zurich is either in spring (March–May) or in the fall (September and October) if you wish to enjoy the lack of crowds.

The worst time to visit Zurich is in winter (December–February). Winters in Switzerland are never pleasant, especially if you’re a warm-weather traveler.

Finally, many travelers feel “confined” to Zurich in the summer months just because it’s the best time to visit — don’t be one of them. Unless you have budget restrictions, weather preferences, or wish to avoid crowds, plan your Swiss itinerary based on what you wish to do/attend/see once there.

If attending winter festivities in this Swiss city sounds magical, head in winter, although it’s technically “the worst time” to visit. If you wish to sail on Lake Zurich and dine outdoors, opt for the spring/summer months.

Travel shouldn’t be complicated, especially not when visiting such a lovely city where it feels like every decision is the right one. Happy travels!