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What to do when it rains?

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
206 posts
3 reviews
What to do when it rains?

SWo much of what we are planning to do on our trip involves being outdoors and seeing nature. We are spending 3 nights in Locarno, 2 nights in Lucerne, and 4 nights in Wengen. What do we do if the weather doesn't cooperate and there is a lot of clouds and rain? Are there good indoor activites in the Ticino area? Do we just shop? Should we take the train to Milan? And in the Bernese Oberland, what does one do on those rainy washout days?

I ask this as I look at the very early weather forecast for next week and see much rain in that forecast. Obviously, it is very early, it is not always accurate, and it doesn't mean that it won't just be a passing shower. But I don't know if hiking in the rain is my ideal vacation.

Anyone have any thoughts for this worrywart?

Level Contributor
616 posts
30 reviews
1. Re: What to do when it rains?


- find out about any markets. As long as it's not pouring rain, they are doable.

- shopping in Locarno, Ascona and Lugano

- Bellinzona castles


- Verkehrsmuseum (Tranportation museum)

- shopping

- Morschach Swiss Holiday Fitness center

Level Contributor
2,942 posts
28 reviews
2. Re: What to do when it rains?

Hi mjkny....,

A word of comfort and one or two suggestions for you -

We choose to holiday in Switzerland rather than other more sun-certain countries, and we return time and time again because Switzerland has gorgeous and varied scenery, great, well sign posted hiking, beautiful villages and towns, and brilliant public transport so that we have easy access to even the most remote and scenic spots. It has lakes and lushness and waterfalls, and uncertain mountain weather - that goes with the territory. It also feels honest, clean, safe, and proud of its environment. Gosh, I sound like a travel ad, but we would rather take our chances on the weather than not go, and we've never had a wash-out holiday there, but if we did, we would probably drown our sorrows with grappa or pflumli by an open fireplace, and vow to return. I've booked ahead for a summer holiday, only to notice fine unbroken sunshine in the spring. We've experienced snow in the summer, and days of rain. So there's no point panicking if you're about to go. But you should prepare for variable weather.

If it's a total wash-out day in Locarno, which I doubt, I would suggest Lugano over Milan. Lugano is less than an hour away by train, it is a chic small city with lots of choice of museums and shopping. Check out website www.lugano-tourism.ch to get a sense of what it offers. Or email the tourist office. Bellinzona castles another option, as already suggested, and can be combined with visiting Lugano.

From Wengen, you can visit the castle at Thun, or go to Bern, which has an exquisite arcaded medieval center (great ambiance for shopping as well), clock tower, and terrific museums worth seeing in fine weather too.

Lucerne transport museum really is very interesting - no shortage of rainy options in Lucerne, so good luck and have a great time

England, United...
Level Contributor
3,535 posts
195 reviews
3. Re: What to do when it rains?

We have twice been to Switzerland for 2 weeks in August and we've had a total of 4 days without rain. I'm sure we've been unlucky and we're going back again this year, but I would say on the whole do whatever you were going to do anyway, just wear waterproofs.

OK, we went to Zermatt and didn't see the Matterhorm, but got completely soaked, we went up Jungfraujoch and there was no view, we wrung our socks out in the entrance of the Kleine Scheidegg station buffet, we sheltered in the buildings at Ballenberg, we enjoyed the castle at Thun and we enjoyed ourselves.

Level Contributor
2,942 posts
28 reviews
4. Re: What to do when it rains?

Hi mjkny...

I agree with skitandoori about having waterproofs (in a backpack - also layers and a spare pair of socks - but no umbrella if lightening is possible). We would not deliberately set out for a long hike if very bad weather were forecast. We have at times cut short a hike, only to find that the weather cleared up, and obviously you can get caught out in a sudden bad spell, and have to wring out your socks and laugh. I guess it's like tennis at Wimbledon. Sometimes the weather lets you down, but still there's nothing like Wimbledon!

We went up to Mt Titlis in very cloudy weather, and felt really stupid, but the clouds cleared briefly to reveal the awesome mountain scenery. That was magic - almost better than wall to wall sunshine (but not quite). On one occasion, to escape bad weather, we went all the way to Gruyeres for the day, from Wengen. It was quite a trek - there are easier alternatives, but the train connections were reliable and it was nice to see Gruyeres without the hoards of tourists. (we've had brilliant times in the Bernese Oberland as well.)

I agree it's disappointing if you are looking forward to seeing the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, and all the beautiful scenery, and rain stops play. I hope that you have enough good weather to enjoy yourselves, and plenty of back-up plans. Good luck!

Level Contributor
2,942 posts
28 reviews
5. Re: What to do when it rains?

More 'rainy day' in Locarno thoughts for you -

If it's a steady light rain, too miserable for walking, but not too desperate for semi-outdoors,

elegant Ascona + its museums

boat from Locarno to Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore. It's nicer in the sunshine (but then perhaps too touristy), but it is such an extraordinary building and site, that a boat trip to it would be worthwhile.

6. Re: What to do when it rains?

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