Zürich gets its fair share of rain, but fortunately there’s plenty to do indoors so you can keep dry. Here’s nine ideas of how to make the most of the city, whilst avoiding getting drenched:
Go to the Cinema
Yes, arguably it’s something you could do at home, but I always find it fun to go to the cinema on holiday (if nothing else, it’s interesting to see adverts in foreign countries, you can learn a lot about a country that way). There are plenty of films shown in English, French and German in Zürich, so hopefully you’ll be able to find one you can understand. Even films shown in German often have English subtitles to accompany them, so you will still be able to follow the storyline if you don’t mind reading as you watch. My favourite cinemas are the Arena cinemas in Sihl City shopping centre (bonus, you can stay dry even longer there by shopping after seeing the film) or the KITAG Capitol cinema in central Zürich. Both cinemas show the latest blockbusters. If you’re looking for more arty or alternative films check out the Arthouse Cinema in the Niederdorf instead.
Find a cozy pub
I’ve mentioned my love for Zürich’s pub scene in a previous post, and they really come into their own on a rainy day. What could be better than chowing down on hearty food, sipping refreshing beer and having deep and meaningful conversations, whilst hearing the rain lashing outside? For my guide to my favourite Zürich pubs, click here.
Visit a museum
Unlike London, Zürich doesn’t have that many museums, but the zoological museum is a good place to hide out for a rainy hour . Zürich zoological museum is located in Zurich’s university campus and is free to the public Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 5pm. It’s a small museum, but well thought out with fairly interesting exhibits. Young children especially will appreciate the ride up to the museum on the Polybahn and they will also enjoy seeing the (stuffed) animals up close. You definitely can’t spend a whole day here, but if you’re caught out by the weather, it’s one of the cheapest options in a very expensive city.
If you’re willing to pay to see a museum or go further afield, there are more options, including the dinosaur museum in Aathal, Technorama Science museum in Winterthur and of course, the Landesmuseum right next to Zürich’s main station.
Stock up on books
Orell Füssli, just off Bahnhofstrasse has a great selection of books, including a large selection of English books. Whether you want to find out more about Zürich or simply need to grab something to read for the plane back, you’ll be sure to find something to suit your taste. There is also a Starbucks inside the book shop, so you can enjoy a coffee whilst you wait for the rain to pass.
Take a lake cruise
Lake cruises run all year round, with the journey from Zürich to Rapperswill on the other side of the lake taking about 2 hours. If you have a travel card for the whole of Zürich for the day, a trip on the boat is included in the ticket, since the boats are part of the ZVV network. The boat offers stunning views of the lake, and a chance to hide away from rain inside. I’ve done the boat ride twice, and it is quite enjoyable watching the world go by at a leisurely pace. The historical town of Rapperswill at the other side is worth visiting as well, and if you need somewhere to eat there, I would suggest Dieci, which has excellent Italian food.
Enjoy some traditional Swiss food
Get stuck into the local culture, by sampling the local restaurant scene. Not sure where to start? I’d recommend the Zeughauskeller for an introduction to what Zürich food is all about. No, it isn’t a fine dining experience, and it can be rather loud, but it has an extensive menu written in several languages, and it will give you a good overview of what food is popular here. My favourite thing to eat in there is the Zürcher Geschnetzeltes; strips of veal cooked in a delicious creamy, white wine sauce served with potato rösti on the side. If you want to go somewhere a bit more refined, then I would suggest Zum Kropf instead. The food there is also traditionally Swiss, but a little more polished (and expensive) than the Zeughauskeller. It is one of my favourite restaurants in Zürich – I love it’s dark panelled walls and agreeable atmosphere. Be warned, like many places in Zürich, it is closed on Sundays though.
Whilst Bahnhofstrasse has a good choice of shops, if the weather’s really bad, a shopping centre can be a godsend as it stops you getting wet running between different places. Just a few stops from Zürich main station by train, Sihlcity is a good place to while away a few hours, as it has a decent range of shops, including my favourite C and A (they died out in London when I was younger!) Sihlcity also has activities for children so it could be a good option for families who are at a loose end due to the weather. Sihlcity is also home to the Arena cinemas mentioned above, several restaurants and a nightclub, so you could potentially stay into the evening as well if you really wanted to.
In addition to my love of Zürich pubs, I’ve also detailed my love of it’s cafe scene on this blog as well. Since writing that post I’ve also tried out a couple more cafés that I would also recommend as a way of dodging the weather: Oskar Kowalski Café and Palette café are both located very close to Zürich main station on the same street and have pretty interiors and tasty drinks. They also both weren’t too crowded when I checked them out, which is always a plus!
Go to the zoo
I have been to the zoo in very inclement weather (after a snow storm) in December and despite it being below zero, we managed to stay relatively dry and warm. Whilst some of the exhibitions are outside, a lot of the animals are in fact inside. The beautifully designed elephant house offers much needed shelter from the elements, whilst the Masoala rainforest offers visitors the chance to experience animals in an environment that mimics their own natural habitat, with tropical temperatures inside! The elephant house even has it’s own Thai restaurant inside, so if it’s really lashing it down outside, you can always stop for lunch and elephant watch at the same time.
Where do you go in Zürich when it’s raining?