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The 14 Most Magical Places to Visit in Switzerland This Winter

By Caitlin Morton

Traditional houses after snowfall during a winter sunset Ardez canton of Graubunden Engadine Switzerland winter

With an enticing combination of cities, charming villages, and stunning natural landscapes (hello, Alps), Switzerland is easily one of the most beautiful countries in the world. But come wintertime, those aforementioned sights become downright magical: Think city squares dusted with snow, and mountainsides transformed into the best ski slopes on the planet.

Whether you want to cozy up in a luxurious hotel or spend your entire trip in the great outdoors, there are plenty of travel-worthy reasons to plan a Switzerland winter vacation. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best seasonal activities across the country, all guaranteed to make any traveler suddenly embrace the coldest season.

This article has been updated since its original publish date.

Basel

Most European countries are known for their  Christmas markets , and Switzerland is no exception. You can find seasonal cheer in nearly every city and town, though Basel earns a few extra points for having  two markets: one in Barfüsserplatz, and one in Münsterplatz. Here you can find hundreds of vendors selling handmade goods and treats from their stands, as well as plenty of twinkling lights and decorations to really get you in the proper spirit.

The Glacier Express

The Glacier Express

If you really want to maximize the magic of your wintry vacation, consider booking a train ride to get from town to town. There are several cross-country options available, but we’re big fans of the  Glacier Express this time of year. Not only does the train connect two of Switzerland’s biggest mountain resorts (Zermatt and St. Moritz), but it traverses some of the most beautiful sites in the central Swiss Alps and offers onboard perks like panoramic viewing windows and three-course meals.

Lucerne Switzerland winter

Visiting  Switzerland during ski season is hardly a question, but most snow bunnies won’t venture outside their respective resort towns. This year, make your Swiss vacation more interesting and book a trip to  Lucerne . The gorgeous city features activities you won’t find on the slopes—like museum tours and ferry rides on Lake Lucerne—while still offering easy access (via train and bus) to dozens of  winter sport resorts .

Zermatt

Of course, if you  do want a purely on-piste Switzerland winter vacation, the village of Zermatt will mark all the boxes. Fresh powder? Check. Heli-skiing? Check. Great après-ski venues? Double check. It even boasts a few added bonuses, like a city-wide ban on cars (i.e. the freshest air imaginable) and views of the Matterhorn.

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Interlaken is the unofficial adventure capital of Switzerland, and its  winter activities are much more varied and unique than in other major cities. Sure, you can go skiing and snowshoeing here. But you can also go paragliding (or skydiving) down snowy mountains, book an hour at a curling rink, or take a winter kayaking tour on Lake Brienz.

Jura Vaudois Nature Park

Jura Vaudois Nature Park

Just a few miles north of Lake Geneva’s coastline, Jura Vaudois Nature Park occupies roughly 131,213 acres of prime Swiss real estate. Here you can find dense spruce forests and native wildlife, as well as a few hotels, restaurants, and cheesemongers set up in traditional mountain huts. The park becomes even more peaceful during the winter months, though you can still enjoy some cross-country skiing and snowshoeing if you simply must stay busy.

Badrutts Palace Hotel

St. Moritz is typically associated with glitz and glam, and for good reason. The sky-high resort features some of the best slopes and accommodations in the country—just check out  Badrutt’s Palace , a Readers’ Choice Award winner for six years running. With luxurious guestrooms and Michelin-starred dining venues (not to mention the most glorious indoor pool imaginable), the resort encompasses the extravagance that makes St. Moritz pop off the map.

Glacier 3000

Glacier 3000

Glacier 3000 is a sports complex located high in the Swiss Alps, easy to reach via bus or cable car from Gstaad. The resort offers every winter sport imaginable, including skiing, dog sledding, mountain climbing, and glacier hikes. Brave travelers are also welcome to walk across the Peak Walk by Tissot, a gravity-defying suspension bridge that connects two mountain peaks.

Festival International de Ballons

Château-d’Oex

It’s a scientific fact that places get infinitely more magical when viewed from a hot air balloon. So you can imagine the proverbial sparks that fly during the  Festival International de Ballons , an annual event held in the tiny town of Château-d’Oex. During the nine-day festival (the next one takes place from January 19-29), visitors can watch the horizon fill up with some 60 colorful balloons, take rides in the balloons, enjoy live music and airplane shows, and participate in plenty of other kid-friendly activities.

Gstaad Palace

Though there are plenty of reasons to visit the upscale resort town of Gstaad during the winter, we’re here for one primary reason:  Gstaad Palace . This award-winning hotel looks like a fairytale castle in the mountains (complete with towers and turrets), and it encourages guests to cozy up with spa treatments, truffle fondue, and pasta cooking classes. If you do decide to venture out, ski slopes and toboggan runs are just outside the door.

Lake Oeschinen

Lake Oeschinen

Lake Oeschinen (or Oeschinensee) is a dazzling body of water tucked away in the Bernese Alps. The lake is a popular winter destination thanks to a wealth of outdoor activities like ice fishing, tobogganing, skiing, and snowboarding—all enjoyed while surrounded by snow-capped mountains and evergreen trees. There are even some cafes scattered around the area so you can enjoy a nice mug of hot chocolate between excursions.

Tschuggen Grand Hotel

For an action-packed winter vacation without the blinding glamour of the major ski resorts, consider a trip to Arosa. The picturesque mountain village offers access to some 140 miles of slopes, as well as the well-respected Arosa Ski School. It’s also home to the Tschuggen Grand Hotel , a five-star property famous for its sprawling spa with metal-and-glass skylights jutting out of the mountainside.

In late 2017 Switzerland made headlines for opening thenbspworlds steepest funicular in the alpine resort of Stoos. The...

The Stoosbahn

In late 2017, Switzerland made headlines for opening the  world’s steepest funicular in the alpine resort of Stoos. The so-called Stoosbahn, or Schwyz-Stoos funicular, remains impressive to this day, for both its superlative maximum gradient (110 percent, no big deal) and abundance of fun winter activities. Once you get to the top of Stoos, you can enjoy an abundance of pristine ski slopes, toboggan runs, cross-country trails, and more.

Looking to go offgrid You cant do much better than the highest official town in Europe sitting at an altitude of more...

Looking to go off-grid? You can’t do much better than the highest official town in Europe, sitting at an altitude of more than 5,000 feet. Davos is a relatively popular ski destination but has far fewer crowds than other towns, so you can take advantage of those slopes without bumping into the “see and be seen” crowd along the way. 

Badrutt’s Palace

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20 Absolute Best Places to visit in Switzerland in Winter

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What is MOST amazing in this world:  imagine being surrounded by mesmerizing Alps, views of sparkling winter wonderland everywhere you see, with Christmas festive mood and cheer. Well, let’s take you to the best places to visit in Switzerland in winter to experience a fairytale getaway! 

Alpine scenery, Braunwald, Switzerland

There are so many reasons to visit Switzerland in winter. It is an off-season for cities, yes expect fewer crowds at attractions. Ski resorts are busy, but for good reasons and they have plenty of things to keep skiers and non-skiers happy and delighted! 

Yes, it is a perfect winter getaway for romantic couples, skiers and outdoor lovers, festive cheer, and family adventures. Switzerland gives Canada such a competition, that it’s hard for us to choose which one we love more – winter at home (Banff, Canada) or Switzerland.

20 Best Places to Visit in Switzerland in Winter

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Preparing for your trip to Switzerland winter getaways

As a country Switzerland is compact. It is easy to get from an international airport to a ski resort or Alpine town using their train network. You can buy a Swiss Pass to save money on your commute.  

You can explore a city/town and then head to the mountains for a weekend or more – so whether you are looking for a relaxing vacation or an adrenaline-filled winter sports getaway, Switzerland has you covered. 

What are the Winter Months in Switzerland? 

The winter months in Switzerland are from December to February. Starting from November the weather becomes chilly and crowds are fewer. December pulls crowds to pretty Christmas markets and towns .

January and February are the coldest months in the country, and they are perfect for winter sports and festivals. They are also considered peak seasons for winter activities. 

JANUARY is the cheapest month to fly to Switzerland! And it is also the coldest!

Switzerland winter temperatures

Temperatures:

  • Zurich: High: 2 C/35.6 F  Low: 0 C/32 F
  • Lucerne : High: 4 C/39.2 F  Low: – 2 C/28.3 F
  • St Moritz: High: – 2 C/28.4 F  Low: – 16 C/3.2 F
  • Zermatt : High: 2 C/35.6 F  Low: – 7 C/19.4 F

READ : Our post on 7 days in Switzerland Itinerary , combines multiple destinations in one winter trip

Does Switzerland have snow all year?

Switzerland is not covered in snow all year long, and that’s why winter is special if you wish to see snow. Overall it experiences a mild climate. Trust me, their winters are milder than in Canada! 

Mountains or high altitude areas are different, they are mostly covered in snow in winter time. But cities and towns are milder, you will see snow and it will be cold, but not severe cold (temperatures don’t drop below – 15 degrees Celcius for 5 degrees F, for prime destinations).

Read : When is the best time to visit Switzerland?

Switzerland winter packing list

Here is a packing list for Switzerland in winter, you can grab a printable copy here

  • Warm Boots – 1 or 2. Wear them in-flight to travel light. Click to buy this warm boot from Sorel
  • Sneakers or comfortable shoes – For all the walking and wandering in the old town and transiting through different cities
  • Warm socks – Carry a few (depending on your stay) 
  • Warm Parka Jacket – Temperatures in the winter in Switzerland are below the freezing point for most places listed in this article. It will be colder and chillier when you go to observation platforms on the mountain top
  • Cardigan/thermals – Carry 2 cardigans to wear as a layer inside the jacket. If you are skiing or not used to minus temperatures, then add thermals to the list as well. 
  • Tops/thermals –  Long sleeves tops or thermal wear to keep you warm. 
  • Pants/Jeans
  • Sweater Dress – For Christmas markets. You can pair them with leggings 
  • Leggings or long johns
  • Warm cap or beanie – Carry 1 or 2. Get something with a pop of color for your photos
  • Scarf – Travel scarf for in-flight, and outdoor
  • Warm Gloves – My hands get zapped the most in the winter. And Switzerland is no different. Carry gloves to stay warm and toasted. 
  • Sleepwear or loungewear
  • Undergarments 

20 Best Places to visit in Switzerland in winter

1. zurich: festive cheer in zurich, shop & dine.

Winter landscape of Zurich with lake with bridge on foreground, Switzerland

How much I LOVE Zurich! Zurich is one of the prettiest cities in Switzerland . The medieval old town or Altstadt is absolutely stunning in the winter. Festive lights are lit up everywhere, from streets, shops, and sightseeing attractions. Read our 2 days in Zurich itinerary

Located in the old town are prime tourist attractions like the Fraumünster, Grossmünster, Lindenhof Hill, and of course Bahnhofstrasse.

One of my favorite things to do in Zurich in winter is to wander the Bahnhofstrasse with hot chocolate in hand, whilst soaking in the festive cheer. There is a small Christmas culinary market set here for the season (Werdmühleplatz), which is a must visit. 

Read : One day in Zurich itinerary

In the Old Town, visit the Fraumünster. This 11th century church is stunning inside with stained glass windows and outside, as it is wrapped in the festive spirit. 

Christmas Markets in Zurich is one of the finest in Europe. The largest market is located at the main train station, so definitely stop by here before making your way to other places in Switzerland. The crowd puller is the giant Swarovski Christmas tree, adorned with twinkling lights. 

Traditional Christmas tree on Christmas market on Zurich main train station

Zurich is an excellent starting point to explore more of Switzerland. Zurich Airport is the largest in the country and the principal hub of Swiss International Air Lines. Read our guide on accommodation in Zurich

2. Bern: UNESCO World Heritage Site for an epic Switzerland winter vacation

Bern, the capital of Switzerland is just as magical in winter, as it is during the other months of the year. Bern Old Town is a UNESCO world heritage site and is filled with beautiful architecture including the iconic Zytglogge Clock Tower.  

Bern in winter

During Christmas time, the city’s old town transforms into a festive winter wonderland. Here you will find beautiful decorations adorning every corner and plenty of Christmas markets to explore.

The largest market in Bern takes place at Waisenhausplatz Square. Here you will find a lovely traditional market selling local handicrafts, decorations, and festive treats like mulled wine, sausages, and hot chocolate. Don’t miss the illuminated Christmas tree standing tall in the middle of the square.

Berner Münster Weihnachtsmarkt is a wonderful sight with views of the Bern Cathedral and colorful stalls. 

Bundesplatz or Parliament Square offers ice skating opportunities from December to February. Here you can lace up your skates and take a spin around on the ice rink for an hour or two. Popular with locals as well as tourists, this is a great place to soak in some winter cheer.

To get into the festive spirit further, attend one of the many Christmas concerts in Bern or enjoy a lovely fondue dinner. 

If you are looking to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city, there are tons of ski slopes nearby. 

Read: One day in Bern itinerary

3. Basel: For Christmas Markets in Switzerland and nearby

Basel, located in the northwestern corner of Switzerland, is another city bustling with Christmas cheer. 

In Basel’s medieval Old Town (Altstadt), you will find plenty of activities happening during winter including carol-singing performances around Marktplatz – located in front of Basel’s beautiful Town Hall (Rathaus), old-fashioned Christmas markets with local art and crafts, classic carousel rides, and live music concerts.

Basel’s winter festival and Weihnachtsmarkt takes place around Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz Squares. Here you will find Christmas decorations, fun activities, and a fairground. 

The city’s traditional Christmas Market is also located in these two squares – Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz. There are plenty of stalls selling festive treats like gingerbread cookies, traditional Swiss sweets, and warm drinks to keep you cozy and entertained throughout your stay.

Don’t miss the Christmas Parade where locals gather to enjoy the festivities with live music, dancing, and traditional masks.

When it is warm take a leisurely stroll along the Rhine riverfront and soak in the views of Basel’s Gothic architecture that are truly breathtaking.

If you still have time on your Basel itinerary , take a day trip to Colmar in France and enjoy Christmas markets. Or embark on winter hiking by crossing the border to Germany!

Read: One day in Basel itinerary

4. Engelberg: For cross country skiing in winter

Just an hour away from Zurich by train, Engelberg is the perfect winter escape. The village nestles amongst snow-capped peaks and offers excellent skiing conditions. 

Engelberg ski resort

There are a variety of ski areas nearby, catering for all levels – beginners can enjoy gentle slopes at Gerschnialp; more advanced skiers should head to Titlis Glacier Ski Resort (Engelberg-TITLIS ski area). 

You will be spoilt for choice in Engelberg, where there is plenty to do after a day of skiing and snowboarding. 

There are several restaurants and cafes serving warm dishes as well as local specialties like Swiss cheese fondue and rosti (potato pancakes). Spend some time exploring the old village or visit the famous Engelberg Abbey, which is particularly picturesque in winter.

Engelberg will be a memorable experience for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, combined with quaint Swiss mountain charm and plenty of festive cheer!

5. Rapperswil: Visiting Christmas Markets in Switzerland

Located 30 minutes outside of Zurich, and adorned by Lake Zurich is another medieval town of Rapperswil. It is home to one of the most popular Christmas markets in Switzerland.

The entire town is decorated with beautiful lights and the old town area is like a fairytale Christmas village with around 250 market stalls. Shop here for Christmassy decor, gifts, and souvenirs to take back home. 

Read : Most beautiful towns in Switzerland

The market area has fun activities for children, including musical events, choirs, carousel rides, and concerts. 

Other than the Christmas markets, ensure you visit Rapperswil Castle. It is the landmark attraction in the city. During summer the castle has a beautiful rose garden, which is worth visiting. Rightly called, the “City of Roses”, the views of Lake Zurich make it very romantic and serene.  

6. Zermatt: A Fairytale Resort Town

The quaint town of Zermatt looks straight out of a fairytale. With the backdrop of the Matterhorn, the stunning peak in the Alps, and cute lanes and cafes, Zermatt will melt your heart.

Zermatt in 7 days in Switzerland Itinerary

You can easily reach Zermatt from Zurich (4 hour train ride, one way), and stay there to enjoy winter sports. That is one of the major reasons why mountaineers love Zermatt so much. It is quick and easy access to the mountains and world-class skiing! 

If you are not into skiing, don’t worry. How about embarking on a cable car ride in the Swiss Alps to soak in the mountain views, up close and personal? Cable cars take you to the surrounding mountains, maybe plan that with your loved one. And enjoy a relaxing romantic winter getaway in the mountain. 

7. Saas – Fee: Winter Sports Adventures

Saas-Fee is a ski village located in the Saastal or the Saas Valley. It falls within the jurisdiction of the canton of Valais in Switzerland. You can reach Saas-Fee from Zermatt. The road distance between the two places is 50.9 km (36.6 miles).

Skier at Matterhorn Alpine alps peak located at Gornergrat in Switzerland

Why you must visit Saas Fee in winter because it is as iconic as a traditional ski resort town gets – pretty accommodations, mountain views, ice rinks, and sports. BUT… it is still a hidden gem, and not super crowded like Zermatt. 

In Saas-Fee, you can enjoy prime winter activities like skiing, cross-country skiing, and tobogganing, and also get into the body of the glacier at the Ice Pavilion. The town has a car-free city centre, and is known for its stunning views of mountains in Europe.  

8. Aarau: Small town, offbeat, and great for a snowy getaway

Aarau is a small city located in northern Switzerland in Aargau, just a stone’s throw away from Zurich. It has become increasingly popular during the winter season due to its picturesque scenery, Jura mountain views, and spectacular Christmas markets. 

Street with historical houses in Aarau old town, Switzerland

Aarau’s old town retains its charm despite modern development. A notable characteristic of Aarau is the abundance of what is known as “Dachhimmel” – the exquisitely painted undersides of the eaves found in the charming old town centre. 

Make sure to take a stroll through Aarau’s cobblestoned streets, explore the old city centre and visit some of its historical attractions such as the Hallwyl Castle, and Art Gallery

Swiss Canton of Aargau

The central square of the old town is home to the Weihnachtsmarkt Aarau, where you will find colorful and lively Christmas markets. 

Aarau is also renowned for its stunning natural beauty, so why not go for a winter hike through one of the nearby forests or take advantage of skiing opportunities in the local area? With plenty to do and see, Aarau is a great winter escape.

9. Grindelwald: For a charming snowy getaway

Grindelwald in winter is a fantastic place to visit. Nestled at the foot of the Swiss Alps, Grindelwald is known for its breathtaking mountain scenery and world-class ski resorts. 

where to visit switzerland winter

Take a cable car up to the stunning First Cliff Walk, where you can take in the magnificent views of the valley and mountains. The view from here is especially beautiful during winter when it’s all covered in snow. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, try skiing at nearby resorts like Grindelwald and Kleine Scheidegg/Männlichen – Grindelwald/Wengen. There are also plenty of opportunities for snowboarding, snowshoeing, and tobogganing here.

Christmas in Grindelwald is truly a magical experience. The town centre is full of festive lights and decorations that turn it into a winter wonderland. There’s also an annual Christmas market in the village square which attracts tourists from all over the world. 

Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or an adventure in the mountains, Grindelwald in winter is sure to be a memorable experience! 

10. Wengen: Charming mountain town, and winter activities

Wengen is a picturesque village that lies in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland.

From Zurich, it takes 3-4 hours to reach Wengen by train. And your Swiss Travel Pass will include a ride there! 

View of Wengen ski resort in the winter in Switzerland

In winter, the small Swiss town offers a ton of activities such as skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, and more. In fact, it is very popular with visitors from December to March when snow accumulates at the slopes making it excellent for skiing.  

The snow-covered landscape of Wengen, above the Lauterbrunnen valley , makes for some of the most beautiful views in Switzerland. From here, you can also head to Kleine Scheidegg and enjoy the fresh powder in the ski resort of Männlichen, one of the largest in the region.  

Not into skiing? No problem. The village of Wengen is the perfect winter destination for those who want a sense of peace and relaxation, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. 

Take a leisurely stroll through its narrow streets, admire the traditional chalets, and enjoy some traditional Swiss cuisine.

If you’re looking for a romantic weekend away, Wengen also offers plenty of cozy accommodation options such as beautiful mountain lodges and boutique hotels. What better way to end an adventurous day in the Alps than curling up in a warm chalet with breathtaking views over the snow-covered valley?

11. Bernina Express: Embark on a scenic train ride in the winter in Switzerland 

where to visit switzerland winter

Train rides in Switzerland are super scenic. And in the winter it is even more gorgeous. Imagine tucked in a blanket (in a train with huge glass windows) and drooling at the snow-dusted landscape and the light rays of the sun. 

For those seeking a relaxing romantic getaway, this experience is a must. There are many train routes in Switzerland, each connecting different touristy points.

The most popular and favorite is the Bernina Express. This train route connects St. Moritz in Switzerland with the town of Tirano Italy, via the Bernina Pass.

The entire ride is completed in 4-hours, one way. You can make reservations for the Bernina Express trains in winter for CHF10 per seat.

12. Chur in Winter: Oldest city in Switzerland

Chur is the oldest city in Switzerland and one of the country’s most fascinating destinations. Located in the Graubünden region, Chur is an ideal winter getaway for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of a big city.

The old town of Chur is filled with captivating buildings, including Gothic churches, Renaissance-style palaces, and quaint cobbled alleyways.

Chur is also known for its lively nightlife and excellent culinary scene, making it a great destination for foodies. The city’s restaurants offer a variety of local specialties, and you can also join food tours to sample nut tart, dried meat, capuns, and röteli (delicious cherry liqueur). 

No visit to Chur would be complete without trying the local wine.

If you’re looking for some winter fun, Chur also offers plenty of activities for all ages and abilities. You can hit the local mountain slopes or visit the nearby ski resorts of Furggabüel and the Dreibündenstein for skiing and snowboarding.

Chur is an ideal winter destination for those who want to experience the best of Swiss culture and architecture, as well as enjoy some exciting winter sports. Many bucket list panoramic train rides (Glacier Express and Bernina Express) have a stop at the Chur Station making it an amazing Swiss winter hotspot for non skiers as well!

13. Glacier Express: Soak in gorgeous views of the Alps

Glacier Express is another popular scenic train route to enjoy in Switzerland. And this one takes you from Zermatt to St. Moritz. You can enjoy skiing and a romantic getaway and then continue on to St. Moritz for some more outdoorsy fun.

While onboard, the train route welcomes you with gorgeous views of the Alps as they travel bridges, snowy valleys, tunnels, and the iconic Oberalp Pass. The Swiss Pass covers the famous Glacier Express, Bernina Express, and Golden Pass scenic routes (seat reservation is extra). 

Buy : Buy your Swiss Travel Pass here

14. St. Moritz: More Winter Adventures in a picture-perfect Christmas town

Downtown in St. Moritz during winter

St. Moritz is one of the stunning places to visit in winter in Switzerland. The nearest airport to reach St-Moritz is Lugano (LUG) Airport which is 90.4 km away. What makes this town unique is that it hosted the Winter Olympics twice, once in 1928 and 1948. 

During winters, St. Moritz turns into a snowy wonderland, and with added festive illuminations the entire town transforms into a picture perfect Christmas town. It is okay if you don’t ski, there are still amazing things to do in St Moritz.

First off, stay at a (ski) resort surrounded by jaw dropping mountain views. The beautiful alpine landscape with mountain lakes, glaciers, and slowly dusted snow makes it a dream-like winter destination.

Make time to wander the village, and learn about its history and architecture. Looking to shop? St Moritz is home to luxurious brands and pretty stores. While you are wandering, stop by to try delicious cheese fondue! 

Now, for the outdoorsy buddies. St Moritz is a skiers, tobogganers, and snowboarders paradise. From world-class skiing resorts, ice skating rinks, and infrastructure to Nature Almighty the ground is set for winter sports in St Moritz. 

Ski resorts and hotels have everything you need (from ski rentals, and instructors to transportation) to make your dream winter vacation, a reality! 

15. Jungfrau region: Head to the Top of Europe

Jungfrau region is located in the Bernese Oberland region in Switzerland. It is known for one of the most stunning peaks in Europe –  the Jungfraujoch. Even more popular is the highest railway station on the continent, called the ‘Top of Europe’; which pulls crowds to the region.

Panorama Scenic of Great Aletsch Glacier Jungfrau region,Part of Swiss Alps Alpine Snow Mountain Landscape at Switzerland.

Being a touristy site, you can expect bustling activities in the winter time too. Primarily visitors flock there for winter sports (skiing, snowboarding) and scenic mountain views.

At 3454 metres high, this is an EPIC spot to take in all of what Switzerland stands for – alps, snow and ice, and jaw-dropping landscape, as far as your eyes can go. 

Other than the views and skiing, you can also embark on winter hikes in and around Jungfrau. 

16. Château-d’Oex: Best Balloon Festival in Switzerland winter bucket list

One of the best balloon festivals worldwide is located in the cute town of Château-d’Oex in Switzerland. And this lovely festival happens every year at the end of January and lasts for nine days. So here’s another great item to check off in Switzerland in winter!

Château-d’Oex Switzerland winter bucket list

Many countries around the world participate in the festival, and each country shows off its beautiful colorful balloons. The balloons fly around the town, surrounded by tall standing magnificent mountains (I mean it is the Alps!).

There is also a lot of food and drinks, so you can drink while you watch the colorful balloons light up the sky. One of the best things to do at this festival is to ride a balloon. When on top, it is one of the most beautiful views you will ever see!

Château-d’Oex Balloon Festival Best places to visit in Switzerland in winter

This festival tradition has been going on since 1979 and is a must add to your Swizterland bucket list . On one Wednesday, there is even a day when the festival is dedicated to the children. It is an especially great time to bring the family on this day. 

Zurich to the town of Château-d’Oex is 3 hours by car or train.

17. Lucerne: Explore the city with a chapel bridge and stunning views

Lucerne is one of the best places to visit Switzerland in winter. For one, the city is not super crowded as it is off-season, and secondly, the hotels and Airbnbs are super affordable around this time.

Lucerne, Switzerland, aerial view of the old town, city wall towers, lake Lucerne and Rigi mountain in background

BONUS? You ask. Lucerne is stunning, and when you look up or wander a bit outside of the city, the mesmerizing snow capped mountains are not far off. 

According to us, Christmas is the BEST time to visit this charming city. So plan your trip for December and January to enjoy festive lights ( and accommodation fares ). The iconic Chapel Bridge is a must visit, and imagine how beautiful it looks with all the twinkling lights under the crisp winter nights.

Just outside of the Lucerne Old Town is the popular Mount Pilatus. If you are staying in Lucerne, use this time to reach the top of the mountain, and enjoy breathtaking views. 

Another option is to head to Mount Rigi from Lucerne by train. The views from Mount Rigi are also beautiful, although it is not as high as Mount Pilatus, it is worth a visit. 

Read: One day in Lucerne itinerary

Top picks for best places to visit in Switzerland in Winter for your bucket list. Visit Christmas markets, festive cheer & winter adventures

18. Locarno: For a warmer winter vacation

Locarno, situated on the banks of Lake Maggiore in Switzerland, is known for being the warmest place in the country. Here you’ll find warmer temperatures of around 1 degree to 5 degrees Celcius (33 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit) even in the winter months. 

View of Madonna del Sasso Church above Locarno city and the Maggiore Lake in Ticino, Switzerland

So if you are ready to leave layers of clothing to soak in the warm winter sun then Locarno is the place to be! You can comfortably walk the town centre, hang out on an outdoor patio and hop through markets.

The cableway located at the centre of Locarno takes you to a snow-covered local mountaintop where you can admire the views over Lake Maggiore and the Ascona-Locarno region (Passerelle observation platform). If you like some winter sports, you can enjoy snowshoeing at the slopes here. 

Back in the town centre, you can relish delicious local specialties, like fruity mulled wine and freshly baked Swiss pastries. 

If you’re lucky enough to be here during the festive season, you can also enjoy Locarno’s annual Christmas market. Stalls are set up in the central square offering traditional crafts, handmade decorations, and gifts. 

The streets of Locarno are adorned with colorful lights and decorations this time of year, making it even more beautiful. 

Read : Northern Italy and Switzerland itinerary

19. Piz Gloria: Dine at the world’s highest revolving restaurant

Would you like to celebrate Christmas and New Years at the world’s highest revolving restaurant? Then look no further than the Piz Gloria. It is located at a height of 2,970 metres (9,740 feet) at the summit of the Schilthorn near Mürren.

Schilthorn, Switzerland

Murren is in the Bernese Oberland region in Switzerland.

You can reach Schilthorn by cable car from Mürren. Head there for celebrations, while you soak in mountain views. Apart from the restaurant, there is a viewing platform to enjoy the panoramic views. 

The nearest airport to Mürren is located in Berne which is 49.5 km or 30.7 miles away. 

20. Geneva: Winter outdoor and indoor fun

Geneva is a fun city to visit in Switzerland. Geneva in the winter is perfect for those who love to spend time outdoors as well indoors. There are skating rinks, and skiing opportunities in the nearby Jura Mountains, home to three Alpine Ski Areas.

Geneva in the winter

If this is your first time skiing, ensure you opt for a beginner class they are totally worth it.

Geneva’s fountain Jet d’eau is a must visit. Dress warm as it is quite cold and chilly near the waters. 

If the cold is too much for you, head to the museums. First off, the United Nations site at the Palais des Nations building. For those who love History (like me), visit the Musee d’ Art et d’Histoire – learn all about prehistoric cultures here. 

Geneva is also an amazing Swiss destination to explore Christmas markets in the winter. They have not one, but several markets sprinkled all across the city, where you can enjoy mulled wine and other typical Christmas treats.

The most traditional-style Christmas market is on Rue du Mont-Blanc, which is held from late November to early January. Food is an important part of Christmas celebrations. Head to Café du Soleil to try their delicious fondue. 

If you are in Geneva, the Sunday before Christmas ensures you don’t miss the Coupe de Noël, which is Geneva’s annual Christmas swimming race. In this race about 2,000 swimmers dive into the icy waters of Lake Geneva, wearing fancy dresses and wetsuits. 

Is it worth visiting Switzerland in winter?

The winter months are one of the best times to visit Switzerland. Wintertime can be especially magical, with the snow-capped mountains and sparkling lights in the city streets. 

If you enjoy winter activities such as skiing or snowboarding, then Switzerland is definitely a great place to visit during the colder months. There are plenty of things to do in Switzerland for non-skiers too from visiting Christmas markets to soaking in the views of the snowy landscapes! 

Additional Travels Tips for Switzerland Winter Trip

where to visit switzerland winter

Travel documents and visa

Switzerland is not part of the European Union, but they follow the Schengen agreement for non-visa-exempt countries. Read our detailed guide to applying to the Schengen visa.

When visiting Switzerland with an Indian passport, a Schengen Visa will be required.

Visitors with US and Canadian passports do not require a visa to enter the country and stay for 90 days; however, from 2025, an online authorization – ETIAS – is required prior to travel. 

There are tons of direct flight options available from both the United States and Canada to Zurich, Switzerland.

A week’s itinerary is enough to explore the prime highlights in Switzerland. Start in Zurich or Geneva, and then from there explore Zermatt, Montreux, Jungfraujoch, and many other destinations like Berne, Lucerne, and Lausanne in Switzerland. If short on time, you can read and follow one of our 5 days in Switzerland itinerary

There are lots of things to do in Switzerland for the non skier from taking a scenic train ride, to visiting Christmas & food markets. One can also enjoy the snow without skiing – by staying in a resort, soaking in a hot pool, spa, or shopping!

It is cold in Switzerland during the winter months. At high altitudes, it will be colder, as compared to cities. Snow is definitely common.  In the mountainous areas are coldest temperatures are around -10°C or 14°F. In the central part of the country, expect temperatures to be about 0°C or 32°F. Southern areas are warmer as compared to the rest, averaging around 4°C or 39°F. During January and February, expect only a few hours of sunlight.

Winter, overall is a great time to visit Switzerland. In December the snow starts to fall, making everything pretty at the mountain ski resorts. In various cities and small towns, Switzerland gears up for the festive season, and you will find stunning Christmas markets, and seasonal decorations and fests pop up everywhere in the country!

January is the coldest month in Switzerland.

January is the coldest month in Switzerland, making it a good time to visit for those who love to ski and all things related to snow sports. Cities are not really crowded but the ski resorts of Valais and St. Moritz are especially busy around this time!

Located on the southern border of Switzerland is Locarno, which is known to be one of the warmest places in the country. It boasts 2300 hours of sunshine annually.

There is no legal requirement for getting winter tires, but it is recommended when you are driving in the colder months in Switzerland.

When visiting Switzerland in winter, it’s important to dress for the cold temperatures. Layering is key – starting with a base layer of lightweight wool, followed by an insulating mid layer and topped with a wind-resistant outer layer.  A good hat and scarf are essential accessories that will keep you warm while exploring the outdoors. Waterproof boots are essential for keeping your feet dry in the snow. If you need to go skiing, make sure to invest in a good pair of ski pants and jacket.  A winter trip to Switzerland is an amazing experience – with the right clothing, it’s easy to stay warm and enjoy the beauty of this stunning country even during colder months. Here is a list of items to pack for your trip to Switzerland,  – Winter (waterproof) parka or jacket – Sweaters – Thermal tops and bottoms – Snow boots – Warm socks – Warm gloves, scarves, beanie

More Switzerland travel guides:

  • Where to stay in Switzerland
  • 2 day Switzerland itinerary

Pin: Switzerland in winter for non skiers & skiers

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Mayuri is the founder & editor of ToSomePlaceNew. An Indian-Canadian globetrotter, she has traveled to over 100 cities and 40+ countries.

Mayuri has a graduate degree in History and is an MBA. She loves traveling the world particularly Europe, capturing historical nuances, and discussing that over a cup of coffee with her husband, Salil. 

She has lived in Portugal, Canada and India.

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Hey Mayuri, thanks for putting this together. Any thoughts on how to travel to all of these places? For instance, we are looking at public transportation but can’t figure out if Swiss pass is the best deal. We will be there for 7 days in December and wondering if we should be looking at more than just Swiss pass or pay per ride for all of these places so we are not in a rush to cover everything. I would love to hear your thoughts on transportation.

The Swiss Travel Pass is definitely the best option out there to save on transportation. It is available and sold for 3,4, 8, or 15 days. To cover 7 days, you will need the 8-day pass.

An alternate option is to buy the 4-day pass, and then use day tours or walking tours on the remainder of the days to explore (keeping one city as a base). On the 4 days when you have the pass, you can check off the museums and special trains from your list.

From a cost perspective, if you are using trains to get to various places in Switzerland, the Swiss Pass will be the way to go!

Hope this helps!

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15 Top Things to Do in Winter in Switzerland

Written by Diana Bocco Updated Nov 26, 2021

Winter is one of the best times to visit Switzerland. While summer offers beautiful flowering valleys and great hiking trails , winter brings on the magic of snow-covered peaks, charming Christmas markets, and the best skiing you'll find in Europe.

There are plenty of things to do in Switzerland for non-skiers, too. The snow fun continues off the pistes, with trails for snowshoeing, ice-skating on frozen lakes, and great dining and shopping when you're ready for a break from the cold weather. Plus, unless you're staying at a ski resort, winter means smaller crowds at the most popular attractions and much better prices for flights and accommodations – a big plus in one of Europe's most expensive countries.

Need some inspiration? Plan your trip with our list of the top things to do in winter in Switzerland.

1. Discover World-Class Skiing

2. ride the bernina express, 3. shop at christmas markets, 4. ice-skate on natural rinks, 5. explore alpine fairy-tale towns, 6. relax in a thermal bath, 7. go dogsledding, 8. spend the night in an igloo, 9. have a chocolate experience, 10. enjoy the views from up top, 11. try other snow sports, 12. get your heart pumping at the titlis cliff walk, 13. take a winter walk with st. bernards in champex-lac, 14. go glacier climbing at interlaken, 15. paraglide over grindelwald, map of things to do in winter in switzerland.

Skiing near the Matterhorn

There's perhaps no better reason to visit Switzerland than the amazing skiing – no matter if you're a snow expert or just a beginner.

St. Moritz , home to 87 pistes and host to two Winter Olympic Games, is the place to visit for both skiing and snowboarding, while Zermatt offers 360 kilometers of runs at the highest ski area in Switzerland.

There's also Davos , one of Europe's largest winter sports areas, where multiple ski resorts interconnect to offer groomed runs, beginner slopes, and off-piste terrain for the advanced skiers.

If you're after a more relaxed vibe or gentler runs, Switzerland has plenty of smaller resorts that will satisfy you. Saas-Fee in the Valais region offers 37 kilometers of beginner trails plus areas for kids and learners, while the less-known Arosa Lenzerheide resort area offers lots of winter sunshine and plenty of groomed runs for intermediate skiers.

Even better, skiing in Switzerland is a social adventure, not just a sport. At the end of a day-long skiing session, head to a mountaintop restaurant for a cup of hot chocolate or a hot meal by a crackling fireplace.

The Bernina Express

No other winter train ride in the world can beat the Glacier Express route between Zermatt and St. Moritz . The eight-hour-long ride takes you through the snow-covered Alps and over 291 bridges, as well as glacier lakes, and narrow valleys that seem to go on forever. It's one of the most stunning ways to enjoy the winter scenery while sipping a cup of hot chocolate.

Because this is Switzerland, your choice of stunning train rides doesn't end there. The Bernina Express between Chur and Tirano is another incredible route that goes through snow-covered fir trees and rolling mountainsides covered in clouds.

This particular Bernina Express even offers a full moon excursion on the line between St. Moritz and Alp Grüm, with classical music playing and lights out to enjoy the beauty of the sky in all its splendor.

Christmas market in Basel

One of the highlights of visiting Switzerland in winter is shopping at some of Europe's best Christmas markets .

Zurich is home to many holiday markets, including Christkindlimarkt, the largest indoor Christmas market in Europe, inside the main train station. In Basel , the main city square becomes home to almost 200 artisans selling their wares from inside tiny wooden chalets, while Bern's Waisenhausplatz Christmas market offers not only Christmas decorations and gifts, but also souvenirs.

Geneva has several Christmas markets known for their old-school carrousels, live caroling, and a focus on artisans' work. And in Montreux , you can visit an authentic-looking medieval market at the Chateau de Chillon Castle.

In addition to great shopping, Swiss Christmas markets are also a feast for your taste buds, offering things like cheese fondue and rösti (potato pancakes).

Ice-skaters on Lago Bianco, Switzerland

You'll find plenty of ice-skating rinks in Swiss cities, but the true experience here is to jump on a natural rink. Surrounded by forests, deep inside valleys, and sometimes only accessible via a chairlift ride, natural rinks are everywhere in Switzerland.

Europe's largest natural ice rink is in Switzerland, in the winter resort town of Davos . It covers 18,000 square meters, and it's used by professionals (ice hockey players and speed skater champions), as well as beginners just wanting to have some fun.

In the Jura area of Switzerland , a number of lakes freeze over in winter, transforming into giant ice rinks. Lac (lake) de Joux, sitting at an altitude of 1,004 meters, is a stunning icy display. Lac des Rousses and the Lac des Tailleres in La Brevine area are also popular destinations.

For those keeping their trip urban, Katzensee Lake just outside Zurich also attracts ice-skaters during winter.

The Alpine town of Grindelwald in the winter

Switzerland is beautiful in winter no matter what city you're visiting, but it's the small charming villages and towns that truly pack on the magic when it comes to places to visit.

The ski resort towns of Zermatt and St. Moritz are favorites, but Grindelwald and Gstaad are equally stunning, with smaller crowds. As the highest town in the Alps, Davos attracts plenty of winter sports enthusiasts, but the town is also a good shopping destination and offers great dining in beautiful mountain surroundings.

St. Gallen is a different kind of destination, home to a car-free Old Town Center; the old-world charm of centuries-old houses; and the historical Abbey of St. Gallen, which becomes the background to the Christmas market in December.

Gruyères (world-famous for its namesake cheese) is another stunning medieval town full of cobblestone streets that take on a festive atmosphere during the holidays.

Set against a backdrop of dramatic mountains and sitting right on a lake, Lugano is another great winter destination, with Christmas markets that start in November and last until early January.

Soaking in an Alpine thermal pool

Thermal spas have a long history in Switzerland, and for centuries even royals enjoyed the mineral-rich, healing waters from the local springs. Whether at a small, cozy wellness center or an impressive massive health resort, the experience of relaxing in a 40-degree outdoor pool while snowflakes fall on your face is a must-try while in Switzerland.

One of the most famous thermal baths in Switzerland is the Mineralbad & Spa Rigi Kaltbad , which overlooks Lake Lucerne from the top of Mt. Rigi. There are indoor and outdoor pool options here, plus herbal steam baths and an outdoor lounging area.

Another great waterfront location is the Termali Salini & Spa on Lake Locarno, with outdoor saltwater lakes that look right over the lake.

The largest spa resort in the Alps, Leukerbad-Therme uses water from its own private mineral-rich spring to fill 10 thermal baths with temperatures as high as 43 degrees Celsius.

Dogsledding in the Swiss Alps

For something different, Switzerland offers lots of husky runs. Many depart from ski resorts as part of their non-skier offerings. But there are also run options at the Jungfraujoch near Interlaken , at the Les Rosées-Dessous (where the polar-like environment is perfect for days out in the snow), and in the Lake Geneva region.

If you want to spend time with dogs without having them do the heavy pulling, try the Barry Foundation in Champex-Lac. The foundation organizes animal-assisted therapy and in winter offers guided walks on the snow in the company of friendly St. Bernards.

Igloos in Switzerland

For a completely different experience, tuck in for the night in an igloo. A number of Alpine ski resorts build their own igloos to double as ice rooms during winter. Each place offers its own package, but igloo rooms come packed with their own sleeping bags, welcome hot drink, and either lamps or battery-charged lights.

Located in the Engstligenalp plateau in the western Alps, the popular Berghotel Engstligenalp igloos are set 2,000 meters above sea level. Guests receive a hot water bottle to keep warm inside the sleeping bag, access to toilets and showers in the nearby chalet, and a three-course dinner and buffet breakfast as part of their stay. Plus, they get to take home homemade Nidletäfeli (Swissmilk caramel candy) as a farewell gift.

A stay at the also popular Iglu-Dorf in Gstaad in the Bernese Oberland comes with a guided snowshoe trip in the dark, a heated Jacuzzi under the stars, and your own cheese fondue.

Zurich chocolate shop

You can eat lots of chocolate while in Switzerland, but for a true experience, nothing beats a factory tour, where you can see it being made and get plenty of free samples along the way.

At the Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory in Broc, you can learn about the history of chocolate all the way back to the Aztecs through their interactive museum tour, while the Läderach Chocolate Experience in Bilten allows you to create your very own chocolate while tasting artisan samples along the way.

If you have no time in your schedule for a chocolate tour, you can always find a cozy café and try one of the many chocolate-based delicacies the country has to offer. Order a Coupe Danemark (ice-cream sundae covered in thick melted chocolate) or a Belle Helene (chocolate sundae with pears poached in syrup) along with your coffee. Or just grab a few Swiss chocolate truffles to snack on the go. Aside from the traditional milk chocolate ones, you can try flavors like coffee, hazelnut, and toffee.

Titlis cable car in Engelberg

Sometimes the best way to enjoy the beauty of Switzerland is from up high. And what better way to do it than from a helicopter. A number of outfitters offer sightseeing flights over the snowcapped Alps, with jaw-dropping rides that last anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours.

From Zermatt, you can catch a helicopter tour all around the world-famous Matterhorn mountain, or head to Lauterbrunnen for a flight over the impressive glaciers of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau, where scenes for James Bond movies were filmed.

For something a bit less heart-stopping, you can also take a cable car or funicular ride to the top of Switzerland's most famous mountains. You don't have to be a skier to get the million-dollar view. Just head up to enjoy a hot meal at the resort's restaurant or soak up the views over the Alpine peaks.

The gondola ride up the Grindelwald mountain offers colossal views over the Alps, while the Chaumont Mountain offers a funicular that rides up 1,087 meters to the top of the mountain, where you'll find a great little restaurant to warm up with a cheese fondue.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the Jungfrau Region

Snowshoeing in Zermatt with beautiful views of the Matterhorn

If sliding down the side of a massive mountain is a bit too exciting for you, don't worry - Switzerland offers plenty of snow fun even if you don't ski. You can always try cross-country skiing, winter walking, or snowshoeing on trails and mountain paths. There are guided winter hikes in almost every town, often with stops at Alpine huts or cozy cafés along the way, so you can warm up and try some local delicacies.

The Grindelwald area is particularly popular for snowshoeing. You can take advantage of a number of trails near towns, or take the lift up the mountain for off-trail snowshoeing through Alpine forests.

While snowmobiles are not usually available for private rental, there are several outfitters that offer guided tours that are both stunning and exhilarating. The snowXpark in Engelberg offers cordoned-off trails you can explore on your own after renting a snowmobile, while visitors to the St. Moritz/Engadine Valley will find plenty of travel outfitters offering organized tours.

Titlis Cliff Walk

Sitting 3,041 meters above sea level and 500 meters above the snow-covered cliffs, the barely one-meter-wide Cliff Walk is a suspension bridge not for the faint of heart. As Europe's highest suspension bridge , though, it does offer some stunning mountain views.

Getting to the bridge itself, which runs along the cliff of Mount Titlis, starts with a Rotair gondola ride up Mount Titlis , which offers rotating, 360-degree panoramas over the stunning glaciers. Once here, you'll have to walk through a glacier cave that reaches to a viewing platform. From here, the 100-meter-long bridge takes you to the Ice Flyer glacier chairlift station on the other side.

Saint Bernard in Switzerland

Saint Bernards were first bred for rescue work in the 1600s by monks at the Great St. Bernard Hospice on the Switzerland border. Today, the Barry Foundation continues that tradition as the world's oldest breeding kennels for St. Bernards.

In addition to working as a center for animal-assisted therapy and education, the foundation also offers a number of activities, including their very popular winter walks.

The 45-minute walks take place around the Champex-Lac area, surrounded by stunning mountain peaks, throughout the entire winter, and include the companionship of a few St. Bernards –usually one of them pulling a small sled, which children can ride.

Ice climbing

Surprisingly, no previous experience is necessary to climb up sheets of ice, abseil into a frozen crevasse, or rappel deep into a glacier. Under the guidance of a certified mountain guide, it's possible to experience the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of climbing on the icy mountains outside Interlaken.

Ice climbing adventures usually combine a glacier hike to reach a crevasse, from where you'll secure yourself to the wall to start your climbing adventure. For more traditional climbing, there are also routes at the foot of the Eiger Mountain's North Face. No ice climbing here, but instead a route of iron ladders, wires, and cables to get you up the rock walls to reach stunning views over the Matterhorn and the town of Grindelwald.

Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Interlaken

Paraglider over Grindelwald

Tandem paragliding is exhilarating in any season, but jumping off the side of a mountain in winter adds an entirely new layer to the experience. Switzerland has perfected the art of winter paragliding, and the best place to try it is over the village of Grindelwald.

Here, you can catch a ride up Grindlewald First in a cable car before you strap on to your instructor and get ready to soar over the snow-covered valley, with gorgeous views of the mighty Eiger mountain all around.

There are also winter flights at Interlaken for a great view over the Lakes of Thun and Brienz, as well as flights over the ski slopes down the cliffs to the mountain village of Stechelberg.

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Switzerland In Winter: Best Places To Visit & Things To Do [2023/2024]

  • Post author: Nicoletta
  • Reading time: 57 mins read
  • Post last modified: February 8, 2024
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switzerland in winter

Switzerland is a magical place all year round. Each month brings unique opportunities, stunning landscape colors, and exciting things to do. But how is it really in winter? I can tell you that it’s worth traveling to Switzerland even in winter for everyone, skiers and also nonskiers .

I lived in Switzerland for 3 years , each year in a different place. Besides, I’ve been traveling a lot through the countries. Spending 3 winter seasons in Switzerland gave me a great understanding of how the country is in winter.

So, in this article, I’ll share all my insights , tips , the best places to visit, and things to do. Let’s get into it.

✈ Travel Resources For Your Trip ✈

Here are some of my favorite travel resources I use for my travel adventures.

Best Time To Visit Switzerland In The Winter

The best time to visit Switzerland during the wintertime is December and January .

December is the beginning of the season, and fresh snow is almost guaranteed. It’s also a magical time to visit Switzerland, thanks to the Christmas markets in the cities and the unique atmosphere.

The beginning of December is also less crowded , especially on the skiing slopes than the rest of the season.

January is great, mainly thanks to fewer crowds and lower prices . Even though prices don’t drop significantly, it’s one of the months when Switzerland is slightly cheaper.

There are also fewer crowds so that you can explore the beauty fully.

switzerland in winter best time to visit

Switzerland In Winter: Weather Month-By-Month

The weather in winter in Switzerland is usually cold and snowy . However, it varies from the region. Without mountains, the northern part of Switzerland is warmer and gets less snow .

The central and southern part of Switzerland gets a lot of snow , and it’s cold .

Here is a breakdown of the weather in the country each winter month:

Switzerland In December

December in Switzerland can be both rainy and snowy . Temperatures range around 4°C/39°F .

The northern part of Switzerland is slightly warmer, with temperatures around 7°C . It snows only a few inches, and the snow often changes into rain.

The central and southern parts of Switzerland , with the Alps , get a lot of fresh snow in December, which is perfect for all skiers. I was always super excited to see fresh snow when the ski lifts opened at the beginning of the month, and I went straight to the mountains.

Temperatures in the Swiss Alps in winter range around -2°C/28 °F (in the mountain towns like Grindelwald, Zermatt, Davos, and Laax) up to -12°C/10°F (in the mountain peaks like Gornergrat near Zermatt, Jungfraujoch, Schilthorn, Mt. Titlis).

Switzerland in December is less crowded in the first 2 weeks , and prices are lower , especially at the beginning of the month, including hotels and ski tickets.

SWITZERLAND IN DECEMBER OVERVIEW:

Switzerland in january.

January in Switzerland is slightly colder than December. Temperatures range around 0°C/32°F in the entire country.

Northern Switzerland usually gets more snow in January than in December, with temperatures around 0°C/32°F . It’s quite chilly, so bring many layers.

Central and Southern part of Switzerland with the Alps is cold with a lot of snow . January is guaranteed to have snow, and the conditions for winter sports lovers are perfect .

Temperatures in the Swiss Alps are around -4°C/25°F.

Switzerland in January is less crowded after the holiday season, and you can enjoy lower prices .

SWITZERLAND IN JANUARY OVERVIEW:

Switzerland in february.

February is the coldest month in Switzerland. There is a lot of snow, which mostly stays on the slopes and on the roads.

The average temperature in February in Switzerland is about -2°C/28°F , which differs depending on the place.

The northern Switzerland usually has snow in February. In February, most cities like Geneva, Zurich, Bern, Lucerne, and St. Gallen are covered in snow. Temperatures range between 0°C/32°F and -3°C/26°F .

The Swiss Alps (central and southern Switzerland) are the coldest in February . It snows a lot , and the conditions for skiing and snowboarding are the best. Temperatures range around -5°C/23°F . And in the mountain peaks, it can get to -15°C/5°F up to -20°C/-4°F .

Switzerland in February is the most crowded in the winter due to the ski holiday season that many countries have. Many people come for ski holidays, and prices skyrocket again .

SWITZERLAND IN FEBRUARY OVERVIEW:

Switzerland in march.

March in Switzerland is calmer again. Snow starts to melt towards the end of the month, and everything gets cheaper . Temperatures in March in Switzerland range around 1 °C/34°F .

Northern Switzerland , with cities like Zurich and St. Gallen, has less snow, and temperatures are between 2 °C /35°F and 4 °C /39°F .

The Swiss Alps in March are still covered by snow , and you can enjoy ski season but for less. It gets significantly warmer in March, and snow melts towards the end of the month. You can easily ski in a light jacket or with no extra layers.

Temperatures in the Swiss Alps range around 0°C/32°F in March.

SWITZERLAND IN MARCH OVERVIEW:

👉 READ ALSO: Switzerland In November: Best Places To Visit & Things To Do

Best Places To Visit In The Wintertime In Switzerland

Switzerland is a beautiful winter wonderland , but choosing the right destination matters if you want to experience it.

My tip for you is to skip Zurich in winter . It’s cold, but there is no guarantee it’ll have snow. It also doesn’t offer as many activities as other places and the overall atmosphere is not so nice.

If you want to visit a Swiss city in winter, visit Lucerne instead . It’s magical, has snow, and you can do many things around.

With that said, here is a list of the best places to visit during winter in Switzerland :

📍 LUCERNE 📍 BERN 📍 GRINDELWALD 📍 ZERMATT 📍 DAVOS 📍 ANDERMATT 📍 AROSA 📍 ST. MORITZ 📍 GRUYERES 📍 JUNGFRAUJOCH 📍 MT. TITLIS 📍 GSTAAD

switzerland in winter best places to visit

13 Best Things To Do In Winter In Switzerland

If you’re visiting Switzerland in the winter season, I’ve got tips for how to spend your time best .

Whether you’re excited about the ski slopes and some of the best ski resorts in the world, or you’re a nonskier and want to enjoy the Swiss winter wonderland , I’ve got you covered.

Below, I’m giving everyone the best things to do in winter in Switzerland : skiers, snowboarders, and even nonskiers.

Here is a list of the 13 best things to do in winter in Switzerland for skiers and nonskiers:

  • Enjoy Zermatt & Skiing
  • Visit Schilthorn
  • Go Free Ride Skiing In Laax
  • Enjoy Winter Wonderland In Andermatt
  • Enjoy Winter Hikes In The Jungfrau Region
  • Visit St. Moritz & Go Skiing
  • Explore Jungfraujoch
  • Ride Glacier Express – Swiss Panoramic Train
  • Enjoy Lucerne
  • Make A Day Trip To Mt. Titlis
  • Visit Gruyeres
  • Ride Cable Cars
  • Enjoy Winter Spa

1. Enjoy Zermatt & Skiing

Zermatt is one of the best destinations for skiers in the world. It offers hundreds of skiing slopes, stunning views of the Matterhorn mountain, and great activities.

It’s a perfect place to be for everyone, skiers and nonskiers, too.

If you don’t like skiing , you’ll enjoy riding cable cars , visiting the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise , exploring the town, or warming up in a spa with stunning views.

Don’t forget to enjoy Fondue in a Swiss chalet .

best mountains in Switzerland to visit Gornergrat Matterhorn

2. Visit Schilthorn

Schilthorn is another great mountain you can visit in winter. While it doesn’t offer as much as Jungfraujoch does, it has some of the most breathtaking views in the entire country.

Stop in Birg (middle station) for the Thrill Walk . Then continue up to Schilthorn for even better views. Eat lunch in the 360° revolving restaurant and visit the James Bond Exhibition .

It’s also a great place for skiers as it has one of the steepest slopes in the world. It scared the h* out of me when I saw it, but it was manageable, and I loved skiing there.

switzerland in winter schilthorn

3. Go Free Ride Skiing In Laax

If you love free rides , you don’t have to plan anymore. The ski resort Laax/Flims offers some of the best freeride skiing and snowboarding . The vast mountains often have a lot of fresh snow , perfect to slide down.

Laax has a great young vibe . There are many snowboarding competitions and a ramp, and you’ll love the winter paradise it offers.

Skiing in Switzerland ski resorts

4. Enjoy Winter Wonderland In Andermatt

Andermatt is truly one of the most beautiful Swiss towns in winter . It offers great skiing slopes, has some of the best luxury hotels with great spas , and a charming atmosphere.

Andermatt is great for relaxing and disconnecting , especially if you don’t like skiing.

Besides, the Glacier Express stops here, so you can ride it, stay overnight in Andermatt, and continue riding the Glacier Express to St. Moritz or Zermatt the next day.

I highly recommend booking one of the luxury hotels – The Chedi Andermatt . They have a fantastic spa, excellent service, and atmosphere.

Snowing in Switzerland in November

5. Enjoy Winter Hikes In The Jungfrau Region

If you have someone who loves skiing but you’re not a big fan, visit the Jungfrau region . It has great skiing resorts but also some of the best winter hikes.

So let the others ski while you enjoy the stunning winter landscape and the sun hiking around .

You can ride a train from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg and walk around. Have lunch, enjoy the views, and then hike back to Lauterbrunnen .

Or hike around Grindelwald First to the Bachalp Lake . There are many winter hikes , and the Jungfrau region is the perfect place to enjoy them.

👉 READ ALSO: Grindelwald In Winter: Complete Guide For Your Visit

switzerland in winter hiking

6. Visit St. Moritz & Go Skiing

St. Moritz is a great destination for those who want to go skiing and enjoy relaxation and luxury . It’s a luxury Swiss town in the Grisons region and offers some of the best skiing slopes.

Besides, it’s one of the best towns to go shopping. You’ll get everything if you want to shop for clothes, jewelry, or souvenirs.

It has some of the best luxury hotels , including Grand Hotel Des Bains Kempinski and Badrutt’s Palace Hotel . So you can relax , go to a spa , and then walk around the stunning Lake St. Moritz .

switzerland in winter skiing

Winter In Switzerland For Non Skiers: Best Things To Do

Switzerland attracts all kinds of visitors , and winter is not an exception. Even if you’re not a skier or a snowboarder, you’ll still love wintertime in Switzerland.

With that said, Switzerland offers many things to do for nonskiers in winter . So here is a list of the best things you can do if skiing/snowboarding is not your thing:

7. Explore Jungfraujoch

Jungfraujoch is a perfect destination all year round. And it’s the best place to visit for non-skiers in winter. You’ll visit the highest train station in Europe , walk through, and learn about the history of this place.

Besides, you’ll see the largest glacier in the Swiss Alps and enjoy the snow. The entire journey is an experience, and it’s picturesque. I’m sure you’ll love it.

Jungfraujoch Glacier Plateau

8. Ride Glacier Express – Swiss Panoramic Train

Riding a panoramic train in Switzerland is one of the best experiences , and winter is no exception.

Just imagine sitting on a luxury train with comfortable seats and a commentary about the surroundings while sipping hot chocolate , coffee, or champagne and staring at the beautiful winter wonderland .

Glacier Express offers some of the best experiences. It’s an 8-hour ride between Zermatt and St. Moritz and passes through some of the most beautiful places in Switzerland.

Bernina Express is another great scenic train you can ride if you want your journey to be shorter but equally enjoyable.

switzerland in winter glacier express ride

9. Enjoy Lucerne

Lucerne is a true winter wonderland . If you are a city lover, I recommend visiting Lucerne rather than other cities like Zurich, Basel, and Geneva. Lucerne is by far the most beautiful in winter.

You can enjoy all the activities , and there is usually snow. Besides, it offers many attractions and mountain excursions such as Mt. Pilatus or Mt. Titlis or riding a boat on Lake Vierstatter .

Switzerland in winter lucerne

10. Make A Day Trip To Mt. Titlis

Mt. Titllis is another great mountain to visit in winter if you’re a nonskier. You can play with the snow, go for a winter hike, or slide. Walk through the ice cave or the highest suspension bridge in Europe . It’s a lot of fun.

Glacier 3000° - suspension bridge

11. Visit Gruyeres

Gruyere is a charming medieval town close to Bern, the Swiss capital. So whether you’re visiting Bern and want to make some day trips or visit some beautiful town in the winter, Gruyere is great.

It’s not too cold , yet it’s covered in snow. You can visit the La Maison du Gruyere s cheese factory and learn about the cheese production.

Besides, the town has many cute houses and restaurants where you can try Fondue , a traditional Swiss dish.

Switzerland in November Gruyeres medeival town

12. Ride Cable Cars

In case you’re visiting Switzerland with those eager skiers, heads up. You can still enjoy the ski resort even if you don’t like skiing. Hop on the cable cars and ski lifts and enjoy the winter landscape from above.

You can take a cable car, ride up, walk around, and then enjoy a warm lunch or a cup of hot chocolate in the mountains or sunbathe on the terrace of the mountain huts . It’s a lot of fun, I promise.

switzerland in winter cable cars

13. Enjoy Winter Spa

Imagine sitting in a whirlpool while breathing the fresh mountain air , watching the stars, and having the snowflakes flying around . This is how a spa in winter in Switzerland feels like. It’s truly one of my favorite things to do.

Another great thing is to go to a sauna , warm up, and then jump into the snow . Many spas have a door through which you can go outside and jump right in. Try it; it’s fun and also healthy.

I recommend these spa hotels in Switzerland for your winter visit – think outdoor pools with stunning mountain views, spa, and sauna world:

✨ The Chedi Andermatt ✨ Park Hotel Vitznau ✨ Six Senses Crans-Montana ✨ Le Grand Bellevue ✨ The Alpina Gstaad ✨ Burgenstock Hotel & Alpine Spa

Switzerland Winter Itinerary

You know how much I love creating travel itineraries for you guys. And so this article is not an exception. I’ve got the perfect winter wonderland itinerary for you to take this season and explore Switzerland.

It’s put together places to enjoy skiing and winter activities, even if you’re not a skier .

So here is my 10-day Switzerland winter itinerary by train :

👉 READ ALSO: Best Of Switzerland Itinerary: 8 Days By Train

3 Days In Switzerland In Winter

If you only have 3 days in Switzerland, I’ve got a few itineraries for you, too. So here are our top 3 itineraries for a 3-day Switzerland winter trip :

3-Day Swiss Winter Itinerary For City Lovers & Mountain Excursions

3-day swiss winter itinerary for skiers, winter lovers & relax, 3-day swiss winter itinerary for skiers, luxury & winter lovers, travel itinerary planning services, practical tips for visiting switzerland.

I’ve got some more tips for you to help you plan your visit to Switzerland in the wintertime. It’ll help you get your itinerary together even faster.

Where To Stay In The Wintertime In Switzerland

If you want to visit the best places and do any of the activities I suggest above, these are the places I recommend you to stay in winter in Switzerland:

If you want to visit a charming Swiss city, enjoy boat trips, and explore nearby mountains such as Mt. Titlis and Mt. Pilatus, stay in Lucerne.

Here are my top hotel recommendations for Lucerne in winter:

➡ Backpackers Luzern – budget-friendly – book here ➡ Hotel Des Alpes – mid-range hotel – book here ➡ Mandarin Oriental Palace Luzern – luxury hotel – book here

GRINDELWALD

If you want to go skiing, enjoy some winter hikes, or mountain excursions such as Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn, stay in the beautiful mountain town, Grindelwald .

I recommend the following hotels in Grindelwald for your stay:

➡ Eiger Lodge Chic – budget-friendly – book here ➡ Belvedere Swiss Quality Hotel – mid-range hotel – book here ➡ Boutique Hotel Glacier – luxury hotel – book here

Zermatt is great for a winter wonderland, skiing, snowboarding, enjoying the snow, and luxury spa and hotels.

Here are the hotels I recommend for your stay in Zermatt:

➡ Matterhorn Inn – budget-friendly – book here ➡ Swiss Alpine Hotel Allalin – mid-range hotel – book here ➡ Matthiol Boutique Hotel – luxury hotel – book here

Andermatt is another winter fairy tale in Switzerland that I suggest visiting. It offers skiing slopes, luxury spa resorts, and a cute mountain village. It’s also a stop for the Glacier Express panoramic train.

I recommend these hotels in Andermatt:

➡ Basecamp Andermatt – budget-friendly – book here ➡ Radisson Blue Hotel Reussen – mid-range – book here ➡ The Chedi Andermatt – luxury hotel – book here

If you want to enjoy a bit more luxury regarding services, hotels, and shopping, visit St. Moritz. From skiing to the perfect relaxation or winter walks around the lake, St. Moritz will make your stay super cozy.

Below are the best hotels in St. Moritz I recommend for your stay:

➡ St. Moritz Youth Hostel – budget-friendly hostel – book here ➡ Hotel Waldhaus Am See – mid-range hotel – book here ➡ Badrutt’s Palace Hotel St. Moritz – luxury hotel – book here

What To Pack For A Winter Trip To Switzerland

Switzerland is cold in the wintertime, and so winter clothes are necessary . If you go skiing, pack smart , not much. The same applies to nonskiers.

So here is a quick list of the things I recommend you pack for your winter holiday in Switzerland:

  • Winter jacket
  • Winter pants
  • Warm winter shoes
  • Sunglasses – the reflection of the sun in the snow hurts your eyes a lot, so make sure to bring them
  • Thermo clothes
  • Thick socks
  • Skiing boots, ski set, ski pools, helmet for skiing

is switzerland expensive budget guide costs experience

How Much Should You Budget For A Winter Trip In Switzerland

Switzerland is equally expensive in the wintertime as in the summertime. The same applies in the winter; getting some kind of travel pass is best if you want to enjoy Switzerland for less. A ski pass or a winter hiking pass does its magic in the winter.

If you want to travel to Switzerland in the winter and visit many places, get the Swiss Travel Pass or a Half-Fare Card . They’ll save you a lot.

If you want to visit one region in Switzerland, such as Zermatt, Jungfrau region, Davos, or Arosa, get a local winter pass .

Generally speaking, these are the expenses you can expect in winter in Switzerland:

🔅 As a budget traveler or a backpacker, plan to spend around $80 per day . 🔅 Mid-range travelers can expect to spend approx. $240 daily . 🔅 As a luxury traveler , you can spend around $500 per day in Switzerland.

christmas markets in Switzerland Bern

READ ALSO: 👉 Is Switzerland Expensive? All You Need To Know 👉 Does Switzerland Use The Euro? All You Need To Know

Is Switzerland Safe In Winter?

Yes , Switzerland is safe in winter. In terms of dangers such as scams, pickpockets, or thefts, there is no need to be afraid as nothing like this happens in Switzerland or rarely.

Regarding safety , consider a few things when visiting Switzerland in the winter. Avalanches and snowstorms are dangerous, especially in mountain areas and around skiing slopes.

Avalanche Risk

Local authorities handle it very well and tell you whether there is a high risk of avalanche or not. For each day, there is a risk level for avalanches on the ski slopes, so if the risks are too high, they tell you not to go skiing/snowboarding.

The same applies to snowstorms. When there is a snowstorm, the cable cars, lifts, and even the roads high up in the mountain towns shut down . So they take care of your safety, and you’d have to stay at your hotel that day.

It only happened to us when we were in Arosa , and we couldn’t get down to the valley because they closed the road due to a snowstorm and a high snow level.

Snowchains are necessary if you drive a car in the wintertime in Switzerland. You have to have them on snowy roads leading to the mountain towns.

Mountain Passes In Winter

Also, most mountain passes are closed in the wintertime in Switzerland. So plan your trip accordingly. You can check the live road status here .

I’ve also answered some of the most frequently asked questions about winter in Switzerland. Check my answers below.

Is It Worth Visiting Switzerland In The Wintertime?

Yes , Switzerland is 100% worth visiting in winter for everyone, skiers and nonskiers .

Switzerland has some of the best skiing resorts in the world so that you can enjoy skiing and snowboarding. Besides, you can go for winter hikes , enjoy a spa , ride on a panoramic train , and admire the stunning winter wonderland .

When Is Winter In Switzerland?

Winter in Switzerland is during December, January, February, and March . It snows in most places, and the temperatures range around -2°C/28°F .

The coldest and most wintery month in Switzerland is February .

Which Month Will It Snow In Switzerland?

It snows mainly in January and February in Switzerland. While most mountain towns already get snow at the end of November, most Swiss cities get snow in January or at the end of December.

Is December A Good Month To Visit Switzerland?

Yes , December is a great month to visit Switzerland. Prices are lower than in the peak season (February), and it already snows in most places.

Besides, you can enjoy the magical atmosphere of the Swiss cities and Christmas markets in December.

How Many Days In Switzerland Is Enough?

15 days in Switzerland are enough. 10 days is a good amount of days to enjoy all the highlights of Switzerland.

And the minimum number of days you must spend in the country is at least 5 . This way, you’ll get to do and see the best things Switzerland offers.

👉 READ ALSO: How Many Days In Switzerland Is Enough? Revealed!

WRAP-UP: Switzerland In Winter

This is what winter looks like in Switzerland. All in all, it’s one of my favorite countries in the world to visit, and each season offers something unique. Whether you’re a skier or don’t like skiing, you’ll love Switzerland in the wintertime . So, see some of the best places to visit and things to do, make your itinerary, and set off for a winter adventure.

If you have any questions or need a customized travel itinerary , contact me at info(at)voicesoftravel.com . I’ll gladly help you.

Happy Travels!

More Tips For Switzerland Travel

Looking to visit more places in Switzerland? Check out my related articles:

Best Of Switzerland Itinerary: 8 Days By Train

Honeymoon In Switzerland: How To Plan Your Romantic Gateway

3 Days In Switzerland: 11 Itineraries For All Travelers & Seasons

Grindelwald In Winter: Complete Guide For Your Visit

5 Best Panoramic Trains In Switzerland

11 Cheapest Ways To Travel In Switzerland

Swiss Travel Pass: Unlimited Travel In Switzerland

Jungfrau Travel Pass vs. Swiss Travel Pass

8 Best Mountains In Switzerland To Visit

22 Amazing Day Trips From Interlaken

23 Incredible Things To Do In Jungfrau Region

Brienz Switzerland: Best Things To Do & Places To Visit

Where To Stay In Grindelwald: 9 Best Hotels

Is Switzerland Expensive? All You Need To Know

Does Switzerland Use The Euro? All You Need To Know

How Swiss Cheese Is Made: 6 Simple Steps

voices of travel about me photo

About the author: Nicoletta  is a travel enthusiast and passionate language learner. While traveling, she loves to connect with locals using her language skills to learn about new cultures. Look for her skiing, hiking in the mountains, or exploring new destinations as she designs travel itineraries for her clients.

SWITZERLAND : Interested in more articles for Switzerland? Check out my Switzerland Travel Page .

Switzerland Travel Page

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Switzerland in Winter: Things to Do and Places to See

Studying in Switzerland

Switzerland in winter transforms into a wonderland with snow-capped Alps, vibrant Christmas markets, and exciting winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, making it a must-visit destination for winter enthusiasts.

Imagine a world where the land merges seamlessly with the sky, a place where every glance holds the promise of a breathtaking vista – this is Switzerland in winter. Steeped in snow, Switzerland offers a winter experience unparalleled anywhere else in the world.

From the frosted peaks of the Alps to the charming streets of Zurich draped in festive lights, this guide provides an all-encompassing look into the magic of Switzerland in the colder months.

So, whether you’re a thrill-seeker aiming to conquer snow-covered slopes or a tranquility lover seeking cozy evenings by the fire, you’ll find something to love about winter in Switzerland.

There is so much to do in Switzerland during winter, starting from snow activities and winter sports to relaxing and simply enjoying the picturesque mountains. Many destinations and tourist centers are easily approachable thanks to the trains, cable cars and ferries as the most efficient means of the Swiss public transport system . 

So if you’re planning to head to Switzerland this winter, take a look at our list of 10 most extraordinary places to visit in Switzerland in this beautiful season.

19 of The Best Places to Visit in Switzerland during Winter

Switzerland truly shines in the winter, transforming into a snow-covered wonderland that offers a plethora of breathtaking sights and activities. Whether you’re drawn to the charm of its medieval towns, the magnificence of its alpine peaks, or the thrill of its world-class winter sports, there is something for every type of traveler.

In this section, we’re going to take a closer look at 19 of the best places to visit in Switzerland during winter. From the sparkling streets of Zurich to the majestic beauty of the Swiss National Park, these destinations promise to make your Swiss winter holiday an unforgettable experience. Join us as we explore the diverse attractions of this enchanting winter destination.

1. The Jungfrau region

You’ve heard about the glory of the Jungfrau massif, compiled of three famous peaks – the Jungfrau at 4,158 meters, the Mönch at 4,099 meters, and the 3,970-meter Eiger. These three are the world’s major ski areas, which draw winter sports enthusiasts from all around the globe.

Sightseers can easily access mountains and enjoy the views through lifts and existing cableways, whereas those who like to ski can find fields convenient for beginners near Wengen or challenging ones in Murren’s slopes. The whole region is characterized by postcard-like towns and splendid natural attractions, which you cannot go by not visiting if you happen to be in Switzerland.

Fact: The rack-railroad to the Jungfraujoch opened in 1912, and its upper station is the highest railroad station in Europe at 3,454 meters, as we’ve mentioned among fun facts about Switzerland .

zermatt-switzerland

The petite place called Zermatt lies in southern Switzerland, in Valais canton, to be more exact. This beautiful mountain resort lies right below the iconic Matterhorn peak, which provides visitors with fantastic scenery and many, many things to do.

Zermatt is well known as a great place for skiing, climbing, and hiking, whereas its main street called Bahnhofstrasse is filled with boutique shops, hotels, and restaurants for the people who like to stay in one place and contemplate the goods of Switzerland. Or, you can choose to visit the public outdoor rinks for ice-skating and curling. The town is a perfect pitch, if you’re looking for your next Christmas postcard.

3. St. Moritz

where to visit switzerland winter

This luxury alpine resort town in Switzerland is known for having hosted the Winter Olympics twice and for organizing the Cresta Run – a world championship bobsled run that consists of natural ice.

St.Moritz is also home to numerous frozen lakes; thus, polo, cricket, and horse racing on ice are some interesting winter activities to engage while you pay a visit. St. Moritz first became famous thanks to its mineral springs, which were discovered 3,000 years ago. Whereas nowadays, this town is known worldwide for its modern Alpine lifestyle and top-class restaurants.

4. St.Gallen

where to visit switzerland winter

If there is one epithet that could mostly suit this magnificent town, it would be – a winter wonderland. In case you’re dreaming about a white Christmas, with trees covered in heavy snow and with no cars roaming around, then you should certainly visit St.Gallen. The old town is jaw-dropping, as it offers views of houses that have been there for centuries. It is most famous for the lively festive atmosphere during Christmas time.

A place mostly behind the shades and slightly underrated in Switzerland is Arosa. People who seem to visit it, have amazing feedback, and say this place is a delight of its own. Arosa has fascinating mountain peaks and snowy landscapes that attract hiking enthusiasts. Hence, the town is home to numerous wonderful snow sports and activities like ice-skating, ice-stick throwing, and curling.

Arosa lies at the ends of the dreamy Schanfigg Valley, and it is certainly one of the best places in Switzerland in winter, where you should stay for a little while.

6. Interlaken

where to visit switzerland winter

This cute Swiss village is located in between two lakes in the middle of the Swiss Alps, presided by three mighty mountains such as the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. You can imagine why it has some of the best views and many winter activities to offer. You will basically find all sorts of things to do, from relaxing in an outside hot tub with top-quality beers to sky-diving, paragliding, or other adrenaline-filled activities.

This traditional resort town is home to 45 mountain railways, cable cars , glaciers, and alpine meadows. It is therefore called the adventure capital of Switzerland and should definitely be on your list of top Swiss destinations to visit.

The city of Lucerne is considered to be one of the best cities to visit in Switzerland during winter. The main reason is the pretty scenery of buildings that are beautifully sprinkled in snow and the Christmas market that makes you experience the city with an additional touch of magic.

Christmas lights will be in the city during early December and January, so make sure you get there just in time because the view in the night-time is impressive; Especially if you’re standing anywhere near the Chapel Bridge. The Lake of Lucerne offers a lovely panorama of the Alps, so it is certainly a must-visit city of the Swiss country.

Note: Wintertime is considered the best time of the year to fully enjoy Lucerne, as there are fewer tourists and there is a perfect atmosphere for relaxing holidays.

Davos, Switzerland

Davos is known as the highest town in the Alps, which lies within the canton of Graubünden. Its reputation consists of three main tourist attractions: The Glacier Express, the scenic train ride , and the road that connects Davos to the Matterhorn. This town offers multiple opportunities to enjoy winter activities, bragging about its cross-country ski areas that include Jakobshorn, Pischa, Rinerhorn, and Parsenn.

Tourists can also get caught in many shopping choices, refined dining, or high-class accommodation choices. Day-light activities or night-life ones, everything can be found in the town of Davos.

9. Lake Geneva

We weren’t really sure whether Lake Geneva is more suitable for summer or winter times, so we just decided that it can be both. With beautiful scenery in summer, Lake Geneva should definitely be paid a visit in winter as well. The best time in winter to visit Lake Geneva is during the annual Winterfest when the packed itinerary of fun also includes the U.S. Snow Sculpting Championship.

The lake is stunningly beautiful during the winter, and it is far from deserted. In December, Lake Geneva is full of ice fishers, ice boaters, ice coasters, and skaters, all fun activities you can try, along with skiing, snowshoeing, or sledding.

10. Oberalp Pass Via Glacier Express

Oberalp Pass Via Glacier Express

One can’t simply visit Switzerland and not take the special trip to Oberalp Pass. Considering the name of the train, you might think that you’ll be seeing glaciers one after the other while enjoying the ride. However, you will only see the glaciers once you are up in the mountains. And you’ll see just how much the trip is worth it, and what a shame it is that the glaciers are getting smaller and smaller due to global warming. Still, the scenery remains beautiful with impressive rock formations, fierce streams, and tons of snow.

The route consists of four sections, each with its own unique scenery. You can ride the Furka-Oberalp railway that operates throughout the year and provides limited access through the reservation. Or you can simply ditch the hassles and enjoy its view while riding the Glacier Express—a direct train that takes you from Zermatt to St. Moritz.

11. Mt. Pilatus

If you’re seeking an immersive experience in Switzerland’s majestic winter landscapes, a trip to Mt. Pilatus is a must. Towering over the region of Lucerne, this 2,128-meter-high mountain offers some of the most enchanting views of Switzerland in winter.

From the summit, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of snow-laden forests, frozen lakes, and undulating mountain ranges, forming a spectacle that will leave you breathless. On clear days, the vista extends to 73 Alpine peaks, a sight that is sure to remain etched in your memory forever.

Apart from the stunning scenery, Mt. Pilatus offers an array of winter activities. You can explore the area via the network of winter hiking trails or try sledging down the local slopes for a more adventurous experience. If you’re interested in wildlife, keep an eye out for alpine ibex and chamois that roam these heights during the colder months.

Accessing Mt. Pilatus in winter is an adventure in itself. A ride on the Pilatus Bahn, the world’s steepest cogwheel railway, from Alpnachstad is an experience that you will not want to miss. However, it’s important to note that the cogwheel railway operates from May to November. During the winter months, the mountain can be reached by cable cars and gondolas from Kriens, which provide a scenic ascent to the mountain’s summit.

Once you’re on the mountain, the Pilatus-Kulm Mountain Hotel offers warm meals and cozy accommodation, allowing you to fully embrace the Swiss mountain experience. From dining with unparalleled mountain views to waking up to a pristine snowy landscape, staying here makes your visit to Mt. Pilatus even more unforgettable.

In conclusion, a visit to Mt. Pilatus adds a touch of enchantment to your experience of Switzerland in winter, combining stunning panoramas, exciting activities, and a unique travel journey. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure enthusiast, or a tranquility seeker, Mt. Pilatus promises a fulfilling and memorable winter experience.

12. St. Gallen

Steeped in history and culture, St. Gallen is another destination that should be on your list when visiting Switzerland in winter. Situated in northeastern Switzerland, this charming city is renowned for its well-preserved old town, world-class museums, and the famous Abbey of St. Gall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Abbey’s library, Stiftsbibliothek, is one of the oldest and most beautiful in the world, housing thousands of priceless medieval manuscripts. A visit here is like stepping back in time, making it a must-see for any history enthusiast.

In winter, St. Gallen transforms into a festive wonderland. The Christmas market is a highlight, with its beautifully illuminated stalls selling local crafts, traditional Swiss foods, and festive goods. The city’s Baroque-style buildings are adorned with lights, adding to the enchanting ambiance.

But St. Gallen isn’t just about culture and history. For outdoor enthusiasts, there’s the nearby Appenzellerland region, offering picturesque hiking trails and cross-country skiing routes. The three nearby mountains, Hoher Kasten, Säntis, and Kronberg, are popular for winter sports activities and provide stunning views of the surrounding snowy landscapes.

Dining in St. Gallen is another treat, with a plethora of restaurants offering everything from traditional Swiss cuisine to international dishes. Don’t miss out on trying the local specialty, St. Gallen bratwurst, a delicacy that’s best enjoyed with a crusty roll and a dollop of mustard.

In conclusion, St. Gallen presents a unique blend of cultural richness, festive cheer, and outdoor activities, making it a compelling stop on your tour of Switzerland in winter. Whether you’re exploring the historic Abbey, browsing the Christmas market, or venturing into the nearby mountains, St. Gallen ensures a delightful and diverse winter experience.

13. Chateau de Chillon

Nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva, Chateau de Chillon offers a unique blend of history, architecture, and stunning natural beauty, making it a must-visit during your trip to Switzerland in winter.

Chillon Castle , as it’s also known, is a historic marvel. With its roots dating back to Roman times, the castle served as a strategic water fortress, a vibrant summer house for the Counts of Savoy, and even a prison. Today, it stands as one of the most visited historic sites in Switzerland.

In winter, the castle takes on a new charm. The snow-covered turrets against the backdrop of the frozen lake and alpine landscapes create a picture-perfect setting. The interior of the castle is equally mesmerizing, with grand halls, underground vaults, and 14th-century wall paintings, all waiting to be explored.

The castle is home to four great halls, three courtyards, and a series of bedrooms open to the public. As you wander through the rooms, you’ll get a glimpse into the lives of the dukes of Savoy and the Bernese bailiffs who once lived here. Be sure to take a guided tour to fully appreciate the rich history of this castle.

After exploring the castle, take some time to walk along the lakeshore. The panoramic view of Lake Geneva, with the snow-capped Dents du Midi in the background, is truly a sight to behold.

Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply a lover of beautiful landscapes, Chateau de Chillon offers a memorable addition to your Switzerland in winter itinerary. Immerse yourself in the castle’s captivating history, marvel at its architectural splendor, and soak up the breathtaking views for a truly enriching Swiss experience.

14. Swiss Grand Canyon

While the name may conjure images of the famous American landmark, the Swiss Grand Canyon, also known as the Ruinaulta, offers a unique natural spectacle in the heart of Switzerland. Formed over 10,000 years ago by a massive landslide, the Ruinaulta is a deep gorge cut through by the Rhine River, and it’s a must-visit for nature enthusiasts exploring Switzerland in winter.

In winter, the Swiss Grand Canyon transforms into a breathtaking landscape of snow-covered peaks, icy-blue waters, and frost-dusted forests. This is a fantastic location for winter hiking, as numerous trails wind their way along the edges of the gorge, offering panoramic views of the snow-laden canyon and the Rhine River below.

For the more adventurous, the canyon is also home to a range of winter sports. There are tracks for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, and the nearby Flims-Laax-Falera ski area offers excellent downhill skiing and snowboarding options.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, consider taking a train journey along the Rhaetian Railway, which snakes its way through the canyon. From the comfort of your seat, you’ll witness the changing winter landscapes, steep cliffs, and the swirling Rhine River.

Aside from its winter activities, the Swiss Grand Canyon is also a geologically significant site. The area is a geological window into the Ice Age and offers an interesting learning experience for geology buffs.

In conclusion, the Swiss Grand Canyon, with its imposing cliffs, stunning winter vistas, and array of outdoor activities, offers an adventurous and scenic addition to your winter trip to Switzerland. Whether you’re hiking its snowy trails, skiing down nearby slopes, or simply enjoying the view from the train, the Ruinaulta promises a memorable experience in Switzerland’s winter wonderland.

15. The Castles of Bellinzona

In the heart of Ticino, the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland, the town of Bellinzona boasts a rich history, vibrant culture, and most notably, a stunning complex of castles that will transport you back to the Middle Ages. The Castles of Bellinzona — Castelgrande, Castello di Montebello, and Castello di Sasso Corbaro — are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are a must-visit during your winter journey through Switzerland.

Cloaked in snow, the castles exude a unique charm during winter, their ancient walls and towers standing in stark contrast against the white landscape. Offering panoramic views of the town, surrounding vineyards, and distant snowy peaks, each castle presents a unique vista of the winter wonderland that Switzerland becomes in the colder months.

Castelgrande, the largest and oldest of the three, can be reached by a picturesque walk through the old town or a convenient elevator ride. Once there, you can explore the battlements, black tower, and on-site museum that houses artifacts dating back to the Roman era.

A short hike or funicular ride from the city center takes you to Castello di Montebello, located on a rocky hill. The castle is renowned for its well-preserved ramparts and enchanting courtyard.

At the highest point lies Castello di Sasso Corbaro. Although it’s the smallest and most isolated of the three, it provides the most spectacular views of Bellinzona and the surrounding valley. It also hosts an interesting museum featuring a collection of crystal glass.

Together, these castles offer a fascinating insight into the region’s past, making Bellinzona a paradise for history and architecture enthusiasts. And after a day of exploring, what could be better than indulging in the town’s rich gastronomic scene, characterized by its fusion of Swiss and Italian cuisine?

Visiting the Castles of Bellinzona provides a rich historical journey combined with breathtaking winter scenery. They’re an unmissable addition to your winter visit to Switzerland, promising a perfect blend of history, culture, and culinary delights.

A trip to Switzerland in winter would be incomplete without a visit to Zurich, the country’s largest city. Known for its perfect blend of urban life and natural beauty, Zurich has a rich history, diverse culture, and is home to some of the best Christmas markets in the country.

In winter, the city is adorned with lights, turning it into a veritable Christmas fairyland. The Christmas markets, the most famous of which is held in the old town (Niederdorf), offer a festive shopping experience. Here, you can browse a range of stalls offering artisan crafts, festive decorations, and a plethora of Swiss delicacies.

Don’t miss out on the ‘Wienachtsdorf’ Christmas market held in front of the Opera House, where you can ice skate with a beautiful view of Lake Zurich. Another highlight is the ‘Lucy’ Christmas Lights that illuminate the Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich’s main shopping street, creating a festive atmosphere that’s hard to resist.

Zurich also boasts a wealth of museums and galleries, including the Kunsthaus Zurich, one of the most significant art museums in Switzerland, and the Swiss National Museum, which is dedicated to Swiss cultural history.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, Zurich won’t disappoint. The nearby Uetliberg mountain offers excellent hiking trails and a panoramic view of the city blanketed in snow.

Dining in Zurich is a gastronomic delight. From traditional Swiss cuisine to international dishes, the city offers a wide range of culinary experiences. Don’t miss out on trying the local specialty, Zürcher Geschnetzeltes, a creamy dish made with sliced veal.

In conclusion, Zurich in winter is a dynamic city that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re exploring the festive Christmas markets, delving into Swiss history in its museums, enjoying the winter vistas from Uetliberg, or dining in its diverse restaurants, Zurich guarantees an enriching and exciting experience when visiting Switzerland in winter.

17. Swiss National Park

Encompassing over 68,000 hectares of unspoiled natural beauty, the Swiss National Park is a gem in Switzerland’s crown. Established in 1914, it’s the oldest national park in the Alps and provides a sanctuary for a diverse range of flora and fauna. During your visit to Switzerland in winter, this park offers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the country’s stunning alpine wilderness.

In winter, the park transforms into a snow-covered wonderland, presenting a serene and picturesque landscape. This is a perfect place for winter hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, with trails that wind through snow-laden forests, across icy streams, and along the edges of frozen alpine lakes.

The park is home to an array of wildlife that thrives during the colder months. If you’re lucky, you may spot red deer, chamois, and ibex navigating the snowy terrain, or spot a golden eagle soaring against the clear winter sky.

If you’re interested in geology, the park offers a unique insight into the Swiss Alps’ geological history. The park’s visitor center at Zernez provides a wealth of information about the park’s ecology, history, and the various trails that crisscross the park.

Exploring the Swiss National Park in winter can be a challenge due to the colder temperatures and snow-covered trails. However, if you’re adequately prepared and adhere to the park’s regulations, it’s a rewarding experience that will allow you to witness the tranquility and majesty of Switzerland’s alpine landscape in its most pristine form.

The Swiss National Park offers a perfect escape for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts visiting Switzerland in winter. Its snow-covered landscapes, rich biodiversity, and serene environment provide a captivating and rejuvenating experience, making it a must-visit destination on your Swiss winter itinerary.

18. Rapperswil

Rapperswil, often referred to as the ‘town of roses’, is a charming historic city located on the eastern banks of Lake Zurich. With its picturesque old town, beautiful castle, and stunning lakeside views, Rapperswil is a delightful destination to explore during your winter trip to Switzerland.

Winter in Rapperswil offers a unique charm, with the cobblestone streets and medieval buildings of the old town dusted with snow. The centerpiece of the town is the Rapperswil Castle, perched on a hill and overlooking the lake. In winter, the castle and its surrounding rose gardens take on a serene beauty. A visit to the castle also offers panoramic views of the snow-capped Alps, the lake, and the old town.

The old town itself is worth exploring, with its narrow streets, colorful houses, and a variety of shops and restaurants. The Capuchin monastery, the town’s oldest building, and the Parish Church of St. John are notable landmarks.

Despite the chill, winter is a great time to stroll along the town’s lakeside promenade. The icy-blue lake, the snow-lined walkways, and the distant snowy peaks create a mesmerizing winter landscape.

Rapperswil also hosts some delightful Christmas markets in winter. The Christkindlimärt, held in the Fischmarktplatz, is a popular one, featuring beautifully decorated stalls selling traditional Swiss crafts, holiday goodies, and local delicacies.

In conclusion, Rapperswil, with its medieval charm, beautiful castle, and stunning lakeside location, offers a tranquil and picturesque retreat during your winter visit to Switzerland. Whether you’re exploring its historic old town, enjoying the lake views, or shopping in the Christmas market, Rapperswil is sure to leave you with beautiful winter memories.

19. Saas-Fee

Known as the ‘Pearl of the Alps’, Saas-Fee is a charming alpine village nestled among the highest mountains in Switzerland. With its car-free streets, traditional chalets, and stunning natural beauty, Saas-Fee is a paradise for winter enthusiasts visiting Switzerland.

In winter, Saas-Fee becomes a hotspot for a range of snow activities. The village is surrounded by over 100 km of ski slopes, catering to both beginners and advanced skiers. There’s also a snowpark for freestylers and numerous trails for winter hiking and snowshoeing.

One of the highlights of Saas-Fee is the Fee Glacier, where you can ski even during the summer months. The Ice Pavilion, a cavern inside the glacier, offers a unique opportunity to walk within millennia-old ice. You’ll witness impressive ice sculptures, learn about glaciology, and feel the chilling thrill of being inside a glacier.

Take a ride on the Metro Alpin, the highest underground funicular in the world, to reach the Mittelallalin. Here, at over 3,500 meters above sea level, you can dine in the world’s highest revolving restaurant and enjoy panoramic views of the snow-covered peaks.

Back in the village, take time to explore its charming streets. You’ll find quaint boutiques, Swiss chocolate shops, and cozy cafes. Don’t miss trying Raclette, a traditional Swiss dish, in one of the local restaurants.

Saas-Fee, with its snow-covered slopes, thrilling winter activities, and captivating alpine charm, offers an unforgettable experience for those visiting Switzerland in winter. Whether you’re skiing on the glacier, exploring the village, or simply marveling at the alpine views, Saas-Fee is sure to leave you spellbound.

The Bottom Line

Experiencing Switzerland in winter is truly an unforgettable journey, where awe-inspiring alpine landscapes meet the warmth of vibrant, festive cities. Whether you’re exploring the snowy peaks of the Alps, indulging in the cultural richness of Swiss cities, or savoring world-class Swiss cuisine, winter in Switzerland offers something for every traveler. Don’t shy away from sharing your digital business card with the people you meet at these locations to expand your network in Switzerland. 

So, don’t wait; pack your winter gear and get ready for the experience of a lifetime. Have any questions or want to share your Swiss winter experience? Feel free to leave a comment below. Let’s continue the conversation about the spectacular beauty of Switzerland in winter.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: what are the best places to visit in switzerland in winter.

A: The best places to visit in Switzerland in winter include Zurich for its delightful Christmas markets, St. Moritz for world-class skiing, and the Jungfrau region for breathtaking alpine scenery.

Q2: What activities can I do in Switzerland in winter?

A: Switzerland in winter offers a range of activities such as skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, sledding, and winter hiking. You can also visit Christmas markets, explore Swiss castles, or enjoy a scenic train ride on the Glacier Express.

Q3: What should I pack for Switzerland in winter?

A: For Switzerland in winter, pack warm clothing including thermal layers, a good quality winter jacket, snow boots, gloves, and a hat. Don’t forget sunscreen and sunglasses for the snow glare, and if you plan to ski, bring appropriate gear.

Q4: Is Switzerland expensive to visit in winter?

A: Switzerland is known to be quite expensive compared to other European countries. However, costs can vary depending on your travel style. Planning ahead and budgeting can help manage expenses without compromising the winter experience.

Q5: Is it safe to drive in Switzerland in winter?

A: Yes, it’s safe to drive in Switzerland in winter, but you need to be prepared. Snow chains are often necessary in mountain areas, and it’s important to check weather conditions before setting off. Always adhere to speed limits and be aware of winter driving regulations.

It’s the geneva in Winconsin no in switzerland which has a frozen lake

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The 14 most magical places to visit in Switzerland this winter

By Caitlin Morton

Traditional houses after snowfall during a winter sunset Ardez canton of Graubunden Engadine Switzerland winter

With an enticing combination of cities, charming villages, and stunning natural landscapes (hello, Alps), Switzerland is easily one of the most beautiful countries in the world. But come wintertime, those aforementioned sights become downright magical: Think city squares dusted with snow, and mountainsides transformed into the best ski slopes on the planet.

Whether you want to cozy up in a luxurious hotel or spend your entire trip in the great outdoors, there are plenty of travel-worthy reasons to plan a Switzerland winter vacation. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best seasonal activities across the country, all guaranteed to make any traveler suddenly embrace the coldest season.

This article has been updated since its original publish date.

Basel

Most European countries are known for their  Christmas markets , and Switzerland is no exception. You can find seasonal cheer in nearly every city and town, though Basel earns a few extra points for having  two markets: one in Barfüsserplatz, and one in Münsterplatz. Here you can find hundreds of vendors selling handmade goods and treats from their stands, as well as plenty of twinkling lights and decorations to really get you in the proper spirit.

The Glacier Express

The Glacier Express

If you really want to maximize the magic of your wintry vacation, consider booking a train ride to get from town to town. There are several cross-country options available, but we’re big fans of the  Glacier Express this time of year. Not only does the train connect two of Switzerland’s biggest mountain resorts (Zermatt and St. Moritz), but it traverses some of the most beautiful sites in the central Swiss Alps and offers onboard perks like panoramic viewing windows and three-course meals.

Lucerne Switzerland winter

Visiting  Switzerland during ski season is hardly a question, but most snow bunnies won’t venture outside their respective resort towns. This year, make your Swiss vacation more interesting and book a trip to  Lucerne . The gorgeous city features activities you won’t find on the slopes—like museum tours and ferry rides on Lake Lucerne—while still offering easy access (via train and bus) to dozens of  winter sport resorts .

Zermatt

Of course, if you  do want a purely on-piste Switzerland winter vacation, the village of Zermatt will mark all the boxes. Fresh powder? Check. Heli-skiing? Check. Great après-ski venues? Double check. It even boasts a few added bonuses, like a city-wide ban on cars (i.e. the freshest air imaginable) and views of the Matterhorn.

Interlaken

Interlaken is the unofficial adventure capital of Switzerland, and its  winter activities are much more varied and unique than in other major cities. Sure, you can go skiing and snowshoeing here. But you can also go paragliding (or skydiving) down snowy mountains, book an hour at a curling rink, or take a winter kayaking tour on Lake Brienz.

Jura Vaudois Nature Park

Jura Vaudois Nature Park

Just a few miles north of Lake Geneva’s coastline, Jura Vaudois Nature Park occupies roughly 131,213 acres of prime Swiss real estate. Here you can find dense spruce forests and native wildlife, as well as a few hotels, restaurants, and cheesemongers set up in traditional mountain huts. The park becomes even more peaceful during the winter months, though you can still enjoy some cross-country skiing and snowshoeing if you simply must stay busy.

Badrutts Palace Hotel

St. Moritz is typically associated with glitz and glam, and for good reason. The sky-high resort features some of the best slopes and accommodations in the country—just check out  Badrutt’s Palace , a Readers’ Choice Award winner for six years running. With luxurious guestrooms and Michelin-starred dining venues (not to mention the most glorious indoor pool imaginable), the resort encompasses the extravagance that makes St. Moritz pop off the map.

Glacier 3000

Glacier 3000

Glacier 3000 is a sports complex located high in the Swiss Alps, easy to reach via bus or cable car from Gstaad. The resort offers every winter sport imaginable, including skiing, dog sledding, mountain climbing, and glacier hikes. Brave travelers are also welcome to walk across the Peak Walk by Tissot, a gravity-defying suspension bridge that connects two mountain peaks.

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Château-d’Oex

It’s a scientific fact that places get infinitely more magical when viewed from a hot air balloon. So you can imagine the proverbial sparks that fly during the  Festival International de Ballons , an annual event held in the tiny town of Château-d’Oex. During the nine-day festival (the next one takes place from January 19-29), visitors can watch the horizon fill up with some 60 colorful balloons, take rides in the balloons, enjoy live music and airplane shows, and participate in plenty of other kid-friendly activities.

Gstaad Palace

Though there are plenty of reasons to visit the upscale resort town of Gstaad during the winter, we’re here for one primary reason:  Gstaad Palace . This award-winning hotel looks like a fairytale castle in the mountains (complete with towers and turrets), and it encourages guests to cozy up with spa treatments, truffle fondue, and pasta cooking classes. If you do decide to venture out, ski slopes and toboggan runs are just outside the door.

Lake Oeschinen

Lake Oeschinen

Lake Oeschinen (or Oeschinensee) is a dazzling body of water tucked away in the Bernese Alps. The lake is a popular winter destination thanks to a wealth of outdoor activities like ice fishing, tobogganing, skiing, and snowboarding—all enjoyed while surrounded by snow-capped mountains and evergreen trees. There are even some cafes scattered around the area so you can enjoy a nice mug of hot chocolate between excursions.

Tschuggen Grand Hotel

For an action-packed winter vacation without the blinding glamour of the major ski resorts, consider a trip to Arosa. The picturesque mountain village offers access to some 140 miles of slopes, as well as the well-respected Arosa Ski School. It’s also home to the Tschuggen Grand Hotel , a five-star property famous for its sprawling spa with metal-and-glass skylights jutting out of the mountainside.

In late 2017 Switzerland made headlines for opening thenbspworlds steepest funicular in the alpine resort of Stoos. The...

The Stoosbahn

In late 2017, Switzerland made headlines for opening the  world’s steepest funicular in the alpine resort of Stoos. The so-called Stoosbahn, or Schwyz-Stoos funicular, remains impressive to this day, for both its superlative maximum gradient (110 percent, no big deal) and abundance of fun winter activities. Once you get to the top of Stoos, you can enjoy an abundance of pristine ski slopes, toboggan runs, cross-country trails, and more.

Looking to go offgrid You cant do much better than the highest official town in Europe sitting at an altitude of more...

Looking to go off-grid? You can’t do much better than the highest official town in Europe, sitting at an altitude of more than 5,000 feet. Davos is a relatively popular ski destination but has far fewer crowds than other towns, so you can take advantage of those slopes without bumping into the “see and be seen” crowd along the way.

First published on CNT US

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A romantic hike on a snowy hill in Gstaad.

The top things to do this winter in Switzerland

Break out that winter jacket and make the most of this magical season

Winter is a fantastic time to be in Switzerland. Whereas some countries curl up and hibernate in colder months, Switzerland blooms into a winter paradise, so it’s no surprise that there are a ton of amazing things to do during this time.

From any snowsport you care to name to first-rate Christmas shopping to peaceful Alpine hikes to charming, snow-covered villages to explore – you won’t be bored in winter. And as a bonus, Switzerland’s already-stunning scenery looks even more impressive throughout the season. Here's a selection of our favourite winter activities from around the country to keep you busy. 

Escape out into a winter wonderland

Escape out into a winter wonderland

In Switzerland, the rewards of stepping back from the day-to-day are almost beyond belief, as you have some of the most stunning landscapes imaginable just a short journey away. That’s why it’s time to forget about the office for a weekend and get out into the mountains. It’s here that you’ll find out what Switzerland is really about and it’s here that you’ll be blown away, time after time, by numerous snow-tipped Alpine peaks, glaciers and lakes. Click through below to discover a world of winter activities.

Dine on a beautiful winter sun terrace

Dine on a beautiful winter sun terrace

  • Restaurants

Take advantage of the crisp weather and incredible views from the sun terraces of Switzerland's many Alpine restaurants and cafes this winter. Food ranges from traditional to avant garde while the vistas are all Michelin-star standard. 

Find your perfect winter hideaway in Switzerland

Find your perfect winter hideaway in Switzerland

Winter has always been a season to celebrate in Switzerland, thanks to all the stunning mountainside accommodation that really comes into its own at this time of year. Winter hideaways are perfect spots to get away from it all and hunker down in, but with so many incredible hotels to choose from, how do you find the one that's ideal for you? Click through below to find out some of our top picks from around the country.

Give yourself the ultimate weekend of luxury in Arosa

Give yourself the ultimate weekend of luxury in Arosa

Make your winter weekend breaks as fantastic as they can be by spending them at Tschuggen Grand Hotel or Valsana Hotel, both located in the gorgeous Alpine village of Arosa. What’s more, both offer a ton of superb experiences to enjoy during your stay, such as spending the day in the magnificent Bergoase Spa, dining on first-rate food in the hotel restaurants, grabbing a private ski lift directly to the slopes, keeping active through yoga and pilates, or even morning ice-bathing to show winter who’s boss.

Explore the wintry charms of Gstaad

Explore the wintry charms of Gstaad

Wondering where you can find a winter wonderland? Head straight to Gstaad, a beautiful region that looks its best in this frosty season and has lots to offer. There are winter sports galore (including varied skiing, from cross-country to ski-touring), relaxing hikes and family friendly activities, all framed by gorgeous scenery.

Kick back at Hotel Bären Gonten

Kick back at Hotel Bären Gonten

Winter always feels best when you’ve got a cosy base to enjoy it from, and that’s exactly what this marvellous hotel is. It’s packed full of rustic Swiss charm and top-notch facilities, and you’ll also have the glorious Appenzell countryside to roam through, which begins literally as you step out of the hotel.

Embark on mountain adventures

Embark on mountain adventures

Taking advantage of Switzerland's incredible mountain scenery is a must for those willing to scale the epic Alpine peaks, as well as more casual explorers. In fact, Swiss passion for mountain engineering has resulted in some outstanding attractions, such as Europe's highest train station, Europe's longest tobogganing track, and the world's first Cresta Run. Click through below to check out all kinds of high-altitude revelry. 

Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

Zermatt’s Matterhorn Glacier Paradise network of mountain lifts connects the Valais resort with the highest cable car station in Europe (3,883 metres above sea level). The 45-minute journey, by gondola then cable car, transports you across glacial crevasses and provides some truly incredble photo opportunities.

Day trip from Geneva into the mountains

Day trip from Geneva into the mountains

Geneva’s proximity to various Swiss and French ski resorts (such as Saint-Cergue and Chamonix) means it’s entirely possible to head off for a day’s skiing and be back in town by the evening. If skiing’s not your thing, the mountainous landscape is also wonderful for winter hiking, ice skating on frozen lakes and other delightful winter larks.

Wander the streets of Bern’s Old Town

Wander the streets of Bern’s Old Town

One of the prettiest and best preserved in Switzerland, Bern’s Old Town is understandably UNESCO-protected, and is a delightful place to spend a winter’s day or evening – or both. The medieval cobbled streets, ornate fountains and arched walkways are a photographer’s dream and there are plenty of stops along the way to fuel your journey with warming food and drink.

Bergrestaurant Spielboden

Bergrestaurant Spielboden

With a panoramic view of snow-capped peaks, Bergrestaurant Spielboden is a mountain restaurant in-tune with its surroundings. It’s set 2,450 metres above sea level and overlooks both the beautiful village Saas-Fee and a basin of 4,000-metre summits. In winter, it becomes truly wonderland-esque, deep in snow and full of welcoming atmosphere.

Ascend the Uetliberg

Ascend the Uetliberg

‘Zurich’s mountain’ offers fantastic views across the city at any time of year, and there’s nothing quite like a crisp winter jaunt to the top. Once you’re at the summit there are various hiking trials to pick-up, and some of the steeper ones are even turned into sledding runs, meaning you can hurtle down them on your preferred mode of winter transport.

Hang out in Ouchy

Hang out in Ouchy

Lausanne’s lakefront district is the city’s playground, even in winter months. It’s where people come to while away a Sunday afternoon by strolling along the shore of Lake Geneva or simply enjoy some quality people-watching from a bench (wrap up warm first!) or one of the many cosy cafes and bars nearby.

Get back to nature in an unlikely location

Get back to nature in an unlikely location

Roam around Zurich Airport’s newly opened nature park this winter, covering an impressive 80,000m². Soak up superb views of all that lovely nature from the park’s ‘sky platform’, installed at its highest point and reachable via a funicular. You can even book a detailed guided tour of the park to meet some of its inhabitants.

Fall in love with Christmas shopping at Zurich Airport

Fall in love with Christmas shopping at Zurich Airport

We’ll let you in on a secret: Christmas shopping can be fun if you do it properly. Find out for yourself at Zurich Airport, where you’ll find the Circle, an immense new retail and leisure complex that boasts all the shops you’ll need to own festive gift-buying this year, plus great restaurants and bars for when you need to relax.  

Winter hike like a pro

Winter hike like a pro

Explore the network of winter trails (measuring around 140 kilometres) which run around the picturesque winter-sports resort of Arosa Lenzerheide, where you can take a slow stroll or a long hike amidst the magnificent winter landscape.

Get your skates on

Get your skates on

During the winter months, Dolder Sports hosts one of Europe’s largest open-air ice rinks. It’s a popular spot for Zurich locals and visitors alike, and offers a great escape in the weeks before Christmas.

Explore St Moritz

Explore St Moritz

One of the oldest Swiss ski resorts is also one of the most glamorous. St Moritz really comes alive in winter and is obviously great for winter sports – skiing, of course, but also tobogganing, curling, ice skating and much more. But crucially, it’s also a great place to just stroll around and soak up the atmosphere on a frosty winter day.

Try a ‘planet trail walk’ in Valais

Try a ‘planet trail walk’ in Valais

St-Luc’s picturesque location on the sunny side of Val d’Anniviers (Eifischtal) means there are plenty of daylight hours to enjoy the 6km-long planet trail walk that rises from 2,141 to 2,513 meters above sea level and is open year-round.

Einsiedeln

This Medieval village is pretty in sunny seasons, but come winter it looks absolutely magical thanks to the brilliantly wild scenery surrounding it. The main attraction in Einsiedeln itself is a famous and highly impressive abbey, the origins of which date back over a thousand years. Beyond the abbey you’ll find a charming cobblestone old town with plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants to explore. 

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Best Places to Visit in Switzerland in Winter

Glacier Express in Switzerland in Winter

Spending winter in Switzerland is a dream for many people globally. The country is home to various superb winter destinations, including Davos, St Moritz, and Zurich. Switzerland has Europe’s highest mountains, and winters are fantastic for skiing, snowboarding, and snow sports.

Switzerland also has delicious chocolate, majestic hiking destinations, and stunning scenery. Plus, Switzerland offers some of Europe’s most enticing cuisine, such as Fondue, Raclette, and Swiss tarts and cheeses. If you’re looking to visit Europe during the winter – you will struggle to find a better spot than Switzerland. Rent a car and plan your Switzerland road trip adding the below destinations to your itinerary.

Table of Contents

Switzerland in Winter Complete Guide

Weather in switzerland in winter.

Switzerland is cold during the winter, and it often snows. The average lows during the Swiss winter are between 6 Fahrenheit and 30 Fahrenheit, while the average highs are between 16 Fahrenheit and 42 Fahrenheit. Sunlight is weak during the winter months and may only last for two to four hours in certain places.

December is Switzerland’s snowiest month, with temperatures plummeting way past freezing in both December and January.

What to pack for Switzerland winter weather?

If you’re visiting Switzerland during its bitterly cold winters, you should pack plenty of layers. Make sure you bring a warm jacket, maybe two jackets for an extra layer. Also, be sure to bring gloves, hats, and scarves with you.

You should bring waterproof boots because the snow is deep, and water will get into your socks if they aren’t waterproof. Bring your ski shirt if you want to go skiing but most importantly, make sure everything is waterproof.

8 Beautiful Places to Visit in Switzerland in Winter

Zermatt - Switzerland in winter

Zermatt is a superb destination if you are visiting Switzerland in winter. The town is in the Swiss Alps and is home to shops, bars, hotels, and restaurants. Visitors love the excellent views of surrounding nature and there are incredible views since the town is from 5,200 feet above sea level. Popular attractions include ice skating rinks and curling opportunities.

You will find The Matterhorn in Zermatt, one of Switzerland’s most iconic mountains and one of the world’s most photographed places. If you’d like to see glaciers, check out the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise via the Matterhorn cable car. This is Europe’s highest cableway, at an incredible 12,740 feet. Once you’ve arrived, you will find cinemas, shops, and bars.

St Moritz in winter -best places to visit in switzerland

St Moritz is in the heart of the alps and offers some of Europe’s greatest skiing and winter views. The town is 5,905 feet above sea level, and it overlooks the entire valley. The town hosted the Winter Olympics in 1928 and has been a vibrant winter sports town ever since. St Moritz also has a long history, spanning back to the 11th century when the Celts discovered the town.

Popular attractions include Diavolezza, one of Switzerland’s most beautiful peaks and a fantastic photo opportunity. Visitors also love Lake St Moritz, offering spectacular photo opportunities, churches, and places to sit. Also, you should visit the Lake of Staz, a stunning crystalline lake offering mountain views in the background.

Lucerne - best places to visit in Switzerland in winter

Lucerne is in the center of Switzerland and the German-speaking part of the country. It is the most populated town in Switzerland with 82,000 residents. The most popular Lucerne attraction is Lake Lucerne because of the breathtaking crystal clear waters. Plus, there are stunning surrounding mountain views. Switzerland offers a vast history, and it is hard to find richer Swiss heritage than Old Town Lucerne.

Popular old town attractions include Weinmarkt and the Old Town Hall, which offer a deeper insight into its history. If you love aviation, you should visit the Swiss Museum of Transport and view its vast collection of aeroplanes. It is Switzerland’s most visited museum, and also has trains, classic cars, and Switzerland’s first IMAX cinema.

Glacier Express

Glacier Express in Switzerland in Winter

Glacier Express is one of Europe’s – and the world’s – most popular train journeys. The views from the train are utterly spellbinding. You’ll love the 180-mile journey taking you from Zermatt to St Moritz on the world’s slowest express train. You’ll enjoy the seven and a half-hour ride while sitting in the train’s comfortable interior.

Two private Swiss railways run the journey: Rhätische Bahn and Gotthard Bahn, and they complete the trip daily. Guests can enjoy crisp Swiss white wine and a delightful lunch of your choice as you witness one of the world’s most spectacular train views. It is a must-do if you’re in Switzerland in winter.

Zurich - Switzerland in winter

Zurich is Switzerland’s biggest city with a population of over 415,000. It is famous for being one of the world’s wealthiest cities with great shops, restaurants, and stunning mountains. Did you know the official Zurich language is German? However, locals speak various global languages in this cosmopolitan city that attracts millions of visitors yearly.

Zurich is home to one of Europe’s best old towns. You will see a plethora of historic buildings and the area is pedestrianized so there are no cars allowed. Lake Zurich is also one of Europe’s most famous lakes, with fantastic city views and surrounding structures. If you have the chance, visit Uetliberg Mountain because it offers the most splendid city views of Zurich at 2,847 feet above sea level. Plus, if you want beautiful winter views, this is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland in the winter.

You might also want to check out: How to spend 2 days in Zurich in winter.

Davos is a great place to visit in Switzerland in winter

Davos is famous for its world-class skiing resorts and being home to the World Economic Forum. You will find Davos in the heart of the Swiss Alps, and during the winter, the mountains are capped with stunning snow. Davos is nearly 5,000 feet above sea level, so it does freeze during the deep winter months. If you’re visiting Davos, there’s a good chance you are a skiing fanatic or you want to learn how to ski.

If so, you’re in the best place because Davos is home to over 125 miles of slopes and terrain. There are various nearby ski resorts, attracting luxury clientele, including the Klosters ski resort. Davos is also home to Switzerland’s best nightlife and tourists can enjoy multiple clubs, such as Ex-Bar, Pöstli Club, and Jatzhütte.

Jungfrau rgion in Switzerland in winter

Jungfrau is one of Switzerland’s main ski resorts. At a staggering 13,641 feet above sea level, the views and the ski slopes are outstanding. Many locals and visitors consider the mountain Europe’s most iconic peak. The Grindelwald-First is a very popular ski-resort, offering some of Europe’s best skiing opportunities and beautiful crystalline lakes.

Trummelbach Falls is also a top-rated destination. During the winter, these waterfalls might be challenging to access. However, these are the world’s only glacial waterfalls and a must-see if you’re visiting the region, regardless of the season. The falls carry up to 20,000 liters of water per second. Visiting the Jungfrau region is a must-do if you are spending winter in Switzerland.

Gruyeres in winter in Switzerland

Gruyeres is a medieval Swiss town and a must-visit if you’re looking for places to visit in Switzerland in winter. The primary Gruyeres attraction is the castle, dating back to 1270, and it is a Swiss heritage site of national significance. Today, it is also a museum with some incredible exhibits on Swiss history.

The HR Giger Museum is also popular with visitors. The museum began in 1998 and exhibits the 400-year history of Gruyeres. If you check out the top floor, you’ll find a permanent display of Giger’s private art collection. Plus, you should check out the HR Giger bar because it is an impressive work of art. The museum has remodeled the bar so the ceilings, walls, and floors match the artist’s acclaimed biomechanical designs. If you want to experience some of the country’s most delicate artwork, a visit here is a must!

You might also like: One day in Geneva An Italy and Switzerland Itinerary

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  • Top 18 Places To Visit In Switzerland In Winter 2024 For A Memorable Vacay

23 Mar 2023

When the air is crisp and the ground is white, Switzerland turns all the more fascinating. Nature’s masterpiece, this small country is blessed with jaw-dropping scenery that turns exotic in winters. No wonder, there are scores of places to visit in Switzerland in winter and snow activities to indulge in. The vacationing charm manifolds when the Alpine air echoes with the clinks of church bells and cowbells.

Whether you enjoy winter sports or simply prefer to relax, you would be bowled over by its charm and fall in love with it over and over again. Thanks to its efficient Swiss transport system, you can easily reach most of the top sites through trains, ferries, and cable cars. So, ready for a holiday but still wondering where to go in Switzerland in winter ? Here are the best places that you should not miss on your Switzerland winter vacation!

18 Best Places To Visit In Switzerland In Winter 2024

If you are planning a winter vacation with your spouse or family, here is a list of top places to visit in Switzerland in winter where you should spend your holidays. The season casts its magical spells on these beautiful destionations turning them into real winter-wonderlands.

  • The Jungfrau Region –  For Fresh Mountain Air
  • Zermatt –  For The Best Skiing
  • St. Moritz –  For The Best Nightlife
  • Oberalp Pass Via Glacier Express –  For Beautiful Views
  • Mt. Pilatus –  For Adventurers
  • St Gallen –  Old World Charm
  • Lucerne –  Picture-Perfect Views
  • Interlaken –  A Charming Resort Town
  • Davos –  Highest Town In The Alps
  • Arosa –  Snowy Landscapes
  • Lake Geneva –  Jaw-Dropping Views
  • Chateau De Chillon –  For Artists
  • Swiss Grand Canyon –  For Rafting 
  • The Abbey Of St Gall –  For History Lovers 
  • The Castles Of Bellinzona –  Magnificence At Its Best
  • Lugano – With A Glacial Lake
  • Zurich – A Medieval Town
  • Swiss National Park – Snow Mountains

1. The Jungfrau Region –   For Fresh Mountain Air

The Aletsch Glacier in Jungfrau will surely leave you spellbound and is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland in winter

Visiting Switzerland in December? Inhale the fresh mountain air at this breathtaking destination. The best bet to enjoy winter holidays in Switzerland, Jungfrau Region’s splendid scenery will surely leave you spellbound. Peaks of the lofty mountains – the Jungfrau, Monch, and Eiger are coated with milky white snow and present a beautiful contrast to emerald valleys in the Alpine paradise.

In addition to scenic pleasures, your trip to this region brings you some natural wonders. These wonders include The Jungfraujoch – a col between the Jungfrau and the Mönch, which has Europe’s highest railway station, and the Aletsch Glacier – the largest glacier in Europe. It is one of the must-visit places in Switzerland in winter for non-skiers.  

Why Visit: It is home to the highest train station.  Tourist Attractions: Aletsch Glacier, Lauterbrunnen Village Places To Stay:  Club Med Wengen, The Onya resort & spa, Hapimag resort How To Reach: The nearest airport is Zurich international airport

Must Read: Honeymoon Trip In A Fairytale World Of Switzerland

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2. Zermatt – For The Best Skiing

The beautiful town of Zermatt lit up in the evening

The small town of Zermatt is a special treat for skiers and snowboarders seeking a genuine quiet stay during winter in Switzerland. Cable cars paddle skiers up surrounding mountains, making it among the best winter honeymoon destinations in Europe . You can reach the town via scenic train routes that c onnect it with the outside world. When illuminated, the town transforms into a picture-perfect Christmas postcard that is bound to make your winter holidays in Switzerland extra special.

The most famous peak in the Alps, the Matterhorn, stands here. Mountaineers flock to this town to conquer this technically difficult peak. If you don’t want to indulge in adventurous games, you can delight in the town’s energetic nightlife instead!

Why Visit: It is the highest ski resort Tourist Attractions: Matterhorn, Gornergrat, Klein Matterhorn Places To Stay:  Cervo mountain boutique resort, Hotel Alex, Riffelalp resort How To Reach:  Zurich international airport is the nearest airport

3. St. Moritz – For The Best Nightlife

The stunning Carlton Hotel at St Moritz which is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland in winter

St. Moritz, Numero Uno Alpine winter holiday destination, spoils you with unique leisure and sports choices as well as shopping opportunities . This well-groomed resort town has been a venue for two winter Olympics. Take the most interesting of Switzerland winter tours to St. Moritz.

A celebrated playground to enjoy winter sports in Switzerland in December, the town presents you opportunities to indulge in skiing, snowboarding, and snow-shoe trekking. St. Moritz’s mineral springs have also contributed to enhancing its popularity among travelers. To add a cherry to the cake, the town is also a hub of happening nightlife .

Why Visit: Witness the best Alpines here  Tourist Attractions: Lake Saint Moritz, Corviglia, Piz Nair Places To Stay:  Grand Hotel Des Bains, Badrutt’s Palace hotel, Kulm hotel How To Reach: Take the famous Glacier Express

Suggested Read: 15 Best Places To Visit In Canada

4. Oberalp Pass Via Glacier Express – For Beautiful Views

A stunning view of glacier-express

This is one of the best places for a vacation in S witzerland in February. Visiting Switzerland and missing out on the special trip to Oberalp Pass is a no-no. You can ride the Furka-Oberalp railway that operates throughout the year and provides limited access through the reservation.

Or you can simply ditch the hassles and relish its view while riding the Glacier Express – a direct train that takes you from Zermatt to St. Moritz. En route, the train ride presents you with incredible views of the Alps while squeezing its way through tight curves, 291 bridges, narrow valleys, and 91 tunnels. Riding this train for incredible scenery is among the best things to do in Switzerland in winter. The special touch is imparted by amounts of snow on the Oberalp Pass and snowy valleys.

Why Visit: The most adventurous train ride Tourist Attractions: Gemsstock, Gotthard Tunnel How To Reach: The nearest airport is in Lucerne

5. Mt. Pilatus – For Adventurers

The snow covered Mt Pilatus in all its glory which is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland in winter

Perched adjacent to the city of Lucerne, Mt. Pilatus is a 2,120 meter tall mountain that magnetizes tourists to delight in the marvelous scenery of the Swiss Alps. You can easily reach here via a cable car while enjoying the exhilarating views.

At this spectacular venue, you not only delight in the charismatic views around but can also take up several trails for remarkable winter walks . You must add this destination to your list of places to visit in Switzerland in the winter for an enhanced Swiss vacationing experience.

Why Visit: For picturesque views of Lucerne Tourist Attractions: Tomlishorn Peak Places To Stay:  Hotel Bellevue, Seehotel Pilatus How To Reach: The nearest  airport is in Lucerne. 

Suggested Read: Honeymoon In Switzerland

6. St. Gallen – Old World Charm

An enchanting scenery of St Gellen

St Gallen is a sprightly addition to any list of Switzerland attractions in winter that one must visit. But visit it during Christmas time for maximum holiday spree. The old town presents beautiful scenery with its centuries’ old houses, car-free and snow-covered streets, and a lively atmosphere oozing festive fervor!

The place is home to the tallest Christmas tree in Switzerland, which is illuminated by 5,000+ lights during the Christmas season. Get bewitched by the sight of a dazzling Christmas tree in front of the impressive Abbey of St Gallen & manifold your Christmas charisma humming carols and savoring free glühwein (mulled wine)! This is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland in winter. 

Why Visit: It is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site Tourist Attractions: Abbey Library of Saint Gall, St. Gallen Cathedral Places To Stay:  Einstein St Gallen, Hotel Walhalla, Hotel Dom How To Reach:  Euroairport is the nearest airport. From there you can go by road. 

7. Lucerne – Picture-Perfect Views

The enchanting landscape of Luzerne which is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland in winter

Sitting picture-perfect on Lake Lucerne with the backdrop of a lovely panorama of the Alps, Lake Lucerne Region dons a spectacular blanket of fluffy snow in winter. Listed among the unmissable Switzerland attractions in winter, the region is a wonderland that attracts snow-savvy skiers and snowboarders. This is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland in Decemberwhere couples as well as families can enjoy. 

The beauty of the region captivates both the heart and the soul as you take up splendid winter walks and snowshoe treks here.

Why Visit: It is home to Chapel bridge Tourist Attractions: Chapel Bridge, Lion Monument, Swiss Museum Of Transport Places To Stay:  Radisson Blu Hotel, Renaissance Hotel, Ameron hotel How To Reach: The nearest airport is Zurich. From the airport, you can take a train or go by road. 

Suggested Read: Christmas In Europe 

8. Interlaken – A Charming Resort Town

Two friends enjoying the amazing vistas of sunrise over Interlaken

A traditional resort town, Interlaken is nestled on a tapered stretch of valley. Presided over by the three mighty mountains: the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, the town is distinguished for its extraordinary mountain scenery. If you are planning to visit Switzerland in winter, do add this destination to your list of places to visit.

Owing to its over 45 mountain railways, cable cars, alpine meadows and glaciers, skiing and hiking trails, Interlaken is considered the adventure capital of this beautiful country. This is where you get to indulge in most exhilarating things to do in Switzerland in December.

Why Visit: It is home to a very beautiful Interlaken lake.  Tourist Attractions: Harder Kulm, Interlaken Ost, Hoheweg Places To Stay:  Hotel Interlaken, Hotel Bellevue, India village How To Reach: The nearest airport is Zurich. 

9. Davos – Highest Town In The Alps

The charming town of Davos which is one of the top places to visit in Switzerland in winter

A destination of superlatives, Davos is the highest town in the Alps as well as a high-altitude health resort. The town is also known for offering myriad opportunities to enjoy winter sports in Switzerland.

At the heart of this town, tourists can entertain themselves with a broad array of shopping choices, options for redefined dining, and cozy accommodation. In addition to that, the town has a plethora of options for after-sunset partiers with its range of casinos, bars, and discotheques.

Why Visit: A beautiful resort village Tourist Attractions: Parsenn, Landwasser Viaduct, Fluela Park Places To Stay: Parsenn resort, Hotel schatzalp, Intercontinental Davos How To Reach: You can reach here via road or rent a taxi

Suggested Read: 12 Gorgeous Honeymoon Places In Switzerland

10. Arosa – Snowy Landscapes

The lively town of Arosa bathed in festive fervor

Still, looking for places to see in Switzerland in winter? Standing at the end of the dreamy Schanfigg Valley, Arosa is among the coolest places to visit in Switzerland in January or any winter month. Its fascinating mountain peaks and snowy landscapes draw adventure enthusiasts for extended hiking tours. In addition, the town offers a wonderful variety of snow sports and activities to help you indulge in snow play. It is one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland in winter where you should stay for a while. The place is home to the best ski resorts in Switzerland !

Why Visit: For a rich culture and tradition Tourist Attractions: Landwasser Viaduct, Parpanor Rothorn Places To Stay:  Priva Alpine Lodge, Soleval, Arosa ski resort How To Reach:  Once you reach Zurich international airport, you can either take a train or go by road. 

11. Lake Geneva – Jaw-Dropping Views

A majestic view of Rainbow at  Lake Geneva which is one of the enchanting places to visit in Switzerland in winter

Lake Geneva, the largest Alpine lake is one of the most popular places to visit in Switzerland. Surrounded by stunning snow-capped peaks, Lake Geneva offers panoramic views of the Swiss Alps! The lake is surrounded by numerous Promenades, gardens, and parks, giving you a chance to have peaceful family time amidst the serene ambiance. This is amongst the best places to visit in Switzerland in January.

Why Visit: Sightseeing tours, peaceful ambiance, and the place is home to Montreux Jazz Festival which is organized in the month of June or July.  Tourist Attractions: Big Foot Beach State Park, Tristan Christ Magic Theatre, Geneva Lake Museum Places To Stay: Hotel Villa Toscane, Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic How To Reach: The best way to reach is by bus

Suggested Read: 6 Marvelous Places To Visit In Switzerland In June

12. Chateau De Chillon – For Artists

Beautiful view of famous Chateau de Chillon at Lake Geneva in Switzerland

Are you visiting Switzerland in January ? Chateau de Chillon is located on the shores of Lake Geneva and has been an inspiration for artists and writers for centuries. It was constructed in the 12th century and comprises nearly 25 buildings. The prime attractions of Chateau de Chillon are the Great Halls, the Gothic underground rooms, the Chapel, paintings of the 14th century, the Camera Domini. This is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland in winter . 

Why Visit: To witness the magnificent masterpiece that was constructed in the 12th century and still stands speaking the stories of the past centuries.  Tourist Attractions: Golden Pass Railway, Rochers de Naye Places To Stay: Le Coucou, Hotel Residence Bristol How To Reach: The best way to reach is by boat. You can take a boat from Vevey or Montreux.

13. Swiss Grand Canyon – For Rafting 

Places to visit in Switzerland in winter

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That one place that offers everything from beautiful views to adventurous activities is the Swiss Grand Canyon. It is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland in winter . While the gorge looks amazingly charming with its meadows and lush greenery, it is a treat to the eyes during the winter season. In the later months like October and November, you can go rafting and even kayaking there.

Why visit: It offers recreational activities like rafting and kayaking Tourist Attractions: Rhine River Places To Stay:  Hotel Cresta,  The Hide Hotel Flims, Ruinaulta How to reach: You can reach there by train from Zurich. The train takes 1h50m to reach Flims Waldhaus. From there you can trek to the canyon which is located 3.5 km away.

Suggested Read: 10 Best Restaurants In Zurich

14. The Abbey Of St Gall – For History Lovers 

The Abbey Of St Gall should not be missed out from the list of places to visit in Switzerland in winter

A UNESCO World Heritage site, The Abbey Of St Gall should not be missed out on while visiting Switzerland in winter. The site contains a very old library that will fascinate the traveler in you. The structure of the Abbey is a sight to behold and has been standing there since the 8th century. It is one of the top places to visit in Switzerland in winter.

Why visit: It is a world heritage site Tourist Attractions: Abbey Library of Saint Gall, St. Gallen Cathedral, Wildlife Park Peter and Paul Places to stay: Touched city apartments, Hotel Vadian, Hotel Dom How to reach: You can either take a bus or train from Lucerne to the abbey.

15. The Castles Of Bellinzona – Magnificence At Its Best

A gorgeous view of castles in Switzerland

If you are fond of castles, then you must visit the three castles of Bellinzona during winter in Switzerland . The castles, namely, The Castelgrande, Castello Montebello and Castello Sasso Corbaro, stand proudly and offer a majestic view. The castles are the emblems of royalty and grandeur of the city. You will be taking several steps back in time while visiting the castles. Do not forget to bring your camera along.

Why visit: These castles are some of the oldest ones in Switzerland Tourist Attractions: Bellinzona Market Town, 3 castles – Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro Places to stay: Hotel Unione, Ostillo Bellinzona, Villa Del Gusto How to reach: The best way to reach here is by train. Take a train to Bellinzona. Once you reach there, you can either walk to the castles or take a bus till there.

Suggested Read: 7 Best Spots For Canyoning In Switzerland

16. Lugano – Home To A Glacial Lake

Lugano is one of the most interesting places to experience winter in Switzerland

Lugano is one of the most interesting places to experience winter in Switzerland. Located in the Ticino region of Southern Switzerland, this charming town settlement encircles a glacial lake, Laguna Lake. This place has a mix of Swiss-Mediterranean cultures which can be experienced through its cuisine and architecture. Lugano city sits amidst mountains that accentuate the landscape. Piazza Della Riforma and Lugano Lake are some of the best places to visit.

Why visit: To experience the beauty of mixed-culture Tourist Attractions: Lake Laguno, Villa Del Balbianello, Monte San Salvatore Places to stay: Hotel Splendid Royal Lugano, Hotel Villa Principe Leopoldo & Spa How to reach: Lugano has a regional airport with flights connecting to other major cities including Geneva, Zurich, Cagliari, Sion, and Olbia.

17. Zurich – A Medieval Town

A breathtaking view of Zurich glorifying the scenic beauty of the town

Zurich is one of the most popular cities for Switzerland holidays. It is located in the Northern region of the country, occupying the north end of Lake Zurich. This city is a beautiful fusion of old and new existing together in harmony. It is a financial center of Switzerland but also has several locations dating back to the medieval era. Limmatquai and 17th-century Town Hall – Rathaus are some of the major attractions in Zurich. If you are spending 3 days in Switzerland in winter ,  make sure to witness the best of Zurich. 

Why visit: To explore the historical Waterfront promenades and Old Town established along Limmat River. There are also some beautiful castles in Zurich Tourist Attractions: Grossmunster, Fraumunster Church, Banhhofstrasse Places to stay: Zurich Marriott Hotel, Crown Plaza Zurich How to reach: Zurich Airport is one of the major aiports in Switzerland

Suggested Read: Hang Gliding In Switzerland

18. Swiss National Park – Snow Mountains

View of Large Tress in Swiss National Park

Located in Eastern Switzerland, the gorgeous Swiss National Park spans the Western Rhaetian Alps. The park has been recognized as a Word UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Swizz National Park is one of the best places to experience the S witzerland winter. The verdant mountains get covered in a thick carpet of snow during the cold season. 

Why visit: Explore the wildlife and witness the beauty of the snow-laden surroundings. Tourist Attractions: Engadin, Soul Places to stay: Hotel Park Naziunal II Fuorn, Hotel Crusch Alba How to reach: The best way to reach Swiss National Park is by boarding a train from Zurich to Zernez. 

Further Read: 3 Days In Switzerland

Switzerland, without a doubt, is among those places on earth that are unparalleled. So, are you prepared for a classic holiday to this winter wonderland? If yes, then book your Switzerland tour packages right away and experience pure magic whether you’re thinking of a honeymoon in Switzerland or a trip with family! And if you know of any more places to visit in Switzerland in winters, put them in the comments below. 

For our editorial codes of conduct and copyright disclaimer please click here .

Frequently Asked Questions About Places to Visit In Switzerland

What is there to do in Switzerland in the winter?

There are numerous activities you can indulge in when visiting Switzerland. Some of these include: 1. Try ice skating and skiing at St. Moritz 2. Enjoy dog sledging 3. Indulge in shopping experiences at Christmas markets 4. Witness the beauty of Swiss National Park

Which are the best places to stay in Switzerland in winter?

Some of the best places you can visit in Switzerland to witness the best of it include Zermatt, staad, Bern, Grindelwald, Zermatt, Montreux, Davos, and Villars.

Which are the places to visit in Switzerland in winter with family?

If you're wondering where to go in Switzerland in Winter with your family then, Zurich, Nendaz, Grachen, and Engelberg are among the top places to consider. These places are kid-friendly and have plenty of options in terms of accommodation, activities, and sightseeing which interests both adults and kids alike.

What are the best places to celebrate Christmas in Switzerland?

Berne, Zurich, St. Mortiz, and Zermatt are among the best places in Switzerland in winter where you can celebrate Christmas. These places are adorned with Christmas lights, and the Christmas markets make for a fun-filled extravaganza.

How many days do you need in Switzerland?

You will need at least 3 full to explore Rome, 2 days each for Florence, Siena/San Gimignano/Pisa, driving around Tuscany, Venice, and 1 day for Milan. On the whole, you need at least 6-7 days to visit the best of Switzerlamd.

How cold is Switzerland in December?

December is a festive month and despite the biting cold temperature, there is so much fun guests can have while on holiday in Zurich. December is winter in Zurich with an average temperature of 2°C (35 ̊F). The highest temperature for December is 4°C (39 ̊F) while the lowest temperature is -1°C (30 ̊F).

Where can I spend Christmas in Switzerland?

Here are a few places where you can bring in the festive season and celebrate Christmas in Switzerland: 1. St Gallen 2. Stein am Rhein 3. Einsiedeln 4. St Moritz 5. Locarno 6. Lugano

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What Is Winter Like In Switzerland? Here’s What You Need To Know

Darla Uhl

  • December 1, 2022 November 30, 2023
  • General Information

Last Updated on November 30, 2023 by Darla Uhl

Switzerland has four seasons, each with its own unique character – Winter,  Spring ,  Summer , and Fall . You can create some great memories during winter in Switzerland and capture lots of charming snow-covered pictures. Switzerland is a winter paradise. We’ve got snowy peaks, awesome ski resorts, and more. Plus, the Christmas season is just around the corner. So, what’s winter  really  like in Switzerland? 

You might want to consider visiting during the winter, especially if you live in a tropical country. Having a cold climate will allow you to experience something completely different from what you are used to. A variety of traditional festivals are also held, as well as Christmas markets and carnivals.

It doesn’t always have to be on the ski slopes; sled rides, wellness areas, and museums are also other options to consider in winter. Most ski resorts also offer winter walking trails if you don’t ski or snowboard. So don’t be afraid that you’ll be left with nothing to do if you don’t ski or snowboard. Snowflakes falling and the sun shining makes for lovely peaceful walks, which I also thoroughly enjoy.

  If you’re thinking about visiting Switzerland this winter, here’s what you need to know.

When is Winter in Switzerland?

where to visit switzerland winter

Although according to the calendar  December 1  is the start of winter, astronomically it starts later. In Switzerland, the astronomical winter starts during the winter solstice. This is the day of the year with the shortest period of daylight.

Astronomical  winter in Switzerland  starts between  December 21 or December 22  and lasts for three months until March.

Winter in Switzerland: Recommended Places

where to visit switzerland winter

Winter is a great time to visit Switzerland. Pack yourselves warm since it might be cold and your trip will take you to some of the most picturesque places in Switzerland. Check out these places to go in winter if you’re looking for some inspiration.

  • St. Moritz – St. Moritz is the ultimate winter playground in the Engadine  region of Switzerland. Winter activities abound here. It will only be a matter of time before the entire lake in St. Moritz is frozen once the temperatures drop enough.
  • Interlaken – Interlaken, one of the most popular places to stay in the Bernese Oberland , is also a perfect winter destination. The location here makes it easy to take advantage of the lakes and mountains, to indulge in shopping, or to visit nearby picturesque towns.
  • Lucerne – Winter in Lucerne brings you the Christmas market in December, the Light Festival in January, and the Carnival in February. Along with a crystal clear lake, the glacier garden , chapel bridge , and nearby mountains , Lucerne has a lot to offer.
  • Verbier or Zermatt – In Verbier, you can find the largest and best ski resort in the country. Furthermore, it is relatively easy to reach from Geneva. Winter sports enthusiasts should definitely visit Verbier. You might want to consider Zermatt if you are not as interested in winter sports. A fairytale winter wonderland, Zermatt is home to wooden ski lodges, shops, hotels, and boutiques covered in snow.
  • Ticino  – You can find warmer weather in Ticino than in the rest of Switzerland if you’re looking for it.

Winter in Switzerland: Weather

Winter in Switzerland is generally a three-month period from December to February.

Here are some  average temperatures  in Switzerland from December to February.

Winter Weather in December

where to visit switzerland winter

Despite the shortest days of the year, December is not as gloomy as it might seem due to Christmas lights and markets all over the country. In the higher mountainous regions such as Engadine, Zermatt, and Verbier, it is likely that snow has already fallen.

It is starting to get colder in December, so more ski resorts are opening. Snowfall over the past few days or weeks is likely to have reached several inches. Having this in place makes opening a ski resort much easier. In the run-up to Christmas, almost all ski resorts will already be open.

The days immediately before and after Christmas, as well as New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, are likely to be the busiest days of the ski season. 

In cities that are not located in the Alps, snow might be present, or there may be none at all. Ultimately, the weather will determine the outcome, and it’s hard to determine what it will be.

Winter Weather in January

where to visit switzerland winter

Aside from being the coldest month of the year, January is also typically the prime time to enjoy snow sports like skiing and snowboarding. The best time to ski is during the first three weeks of January, just before Switzerland heads into its sports holidays in February.

Winter Weather in February

where to visit switzerland winter

It is still cold in February, but the days are getting longer as time passes. Consequently, it will be less dark outside during the day. Winter sports are exciting, but so are the numerous carnivals that take place nationwide.

In Switzerland, most schools will take a 2-week sport break in February, so the slopes will be crowded. During the month of February, the majority of ski resorts will be very busy and more expensive. Ski holidays are over for most cantons by the end of February. 

Winter in Switzerland: Highlights

where to visit switzerland winter

  • Christmas Markets  – The Christmas market is an opportunity for various business owners to sell their produce (such as wood, textiles, ceramics, handmade products, fresh produce, and more). Particularly worthwhile to visit are the Christmas Markets in Montreux , Einsiedeln , and Rapperswil .
  • Winter Sports Events – Various winter sports events are held in Switzerland every year, especially the Alpine Ski Races at Wengen and Adelboden as well as the women’s races at St. Moritz and Crans-Montana.
  • Carnivals – It is said that the two most famous carnivals in Switzerland are the ones in Lucerne and Basel. In 2017, UNESCO inscribed the Basel Carnival ( Basler Fasnacht ) on the International Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
  • Winter food – It is common for Santa Claus to give clementines and shelled peanuts as gifts during the winter months. Swiss specialties such as cheese fondue and raclette are also enjoyable at this time of year.

Winter in Switzerland: What to Wear

Since Switzerland’s weather can be unpredictable during the winter, it is advisable to dress in layers. You can wear long-sleeved t-shirts, knits, and pants. A heavy winter jacket will come in handy, especially in January or at higher altitudes. Adding another layer or wearing a thicker down jacket is recommended when you’re heading to high altitude.

Wearing proper winter shoes is highly recommended. It may be slippery in some areas, especially if there is a sheet of ice on the road, so you want to have proper grip to avoid slipping.

Summary: Winter in Switzerland

Switzerland is truly a winter wonderland, especially when the sun is shining and snowflakes are falling. With the  Christmas  just around the corner, winter is truly a relaxing and beautiful time to be in Switzerland.

Winter is our family’s favorite season because we enjoy both alpine and cross-country skiing. I also love winter walks.

While skiing and snowboarding are certainly enjoyable, winter can also be thoroughly enjoyed without them. Make sure you dress warmly and take a break every couple of hours to enjoy a hot beverage.

Related Posts

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  • Switzerland Winter Packing List: Essential Items for Your Trip
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where to visit switzerland winter

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.

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20 photos of Switzerland in winter that will make you want to fast-forward to the colder months

There's more to this fairytale winter wonderland than just skiing

switzerland in winter

If you're a fan of lake and mountain holidays but hitting the slopes isn't your thing, Switzerland should be high on your list of winter destinations. It's also an excellent place to visit by train from the UK, helping you reduce your carbon footprint while exploring a beautiful corner of Europe.

One of the best ways to traverse the country's wonderful snowy landscapes is by train. Hop on board the Glacier Express and travel through mountain forests, over the arches of the stunning Landwasser Viaduct, and past the jagged scenes of the Rhine Gorge, stopping off at many quaint Alpine villages on the way. This magnificent adventure truly is one of the world's greatest railway journeys . There are also lots of bustling towns and cities to explore in Switzerland. There's Geneva , with its vast freshwater lake, the pretty capital Bern , with its UNESCO-protected old town on the River Aare, and Basel , with its fairytale Christmas market, which belongs on the front of a Christmas card. Then there's a whole host of delightful towns and villages tucked away in the Swiss Alps, where you can wander from tavern to tavern enjoying warming cups of glühwein as you absorb breathtaking views of towering peaks and white valleys.

If you're planning a snowy getaway this year check out these magical photos of Switzerland in the snow to get you dreaming of a winter wonderland. And if you're looking to visit Switzerland before winter, you'll want to check out Country Living's exclusive holidays that combine train journeys with spectacular scenery.

switzerland in winter

HOTELS IN LUCERNE

Basel Christmas Market

switzerland in winter

HOTELS IN BASEL

Blausee Lake

switzerland in winter

HOTELS IN GENEVA

switzerland in winter

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switzerland in winter

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switzerland in winter

The Glacier Express on the Oberalp Pass

switzerland in winter

RIDE THE GLACIER EXPRESS WITH CL

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switzerland in winter

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switzerland in winter

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switzerland in winter

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switzerland in winter

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switzerland in winter

HOTELS IN ZURICH

Landwasser viaduct

switzerland in winter

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switzerland in winter

HOTELS IN VERBIER

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Essential Information for Visiting Switzerland in Winter

Have you dreamed of visiting Switzerland in winter but are unsure just how practical it is to visit at this time of year?

With shorter daylight hours, colder temperatures and concerns about what transport and attractions will be operating, it’s only natural that many travellers are hesitant to travel to Switzerland from November to March.

We can confirm, though, that a winter vacation in Switzerland is a wonderful experience.

In this guide, we provide the essential information you need to know to plan your Swiss winter vacation.  

We cover the weather in Switzerland, transport options, winter closures and the best things to do in winter in Switzerland.

You’ll also learn about New Year and Christmas in Switzerland as well as other winter festivals and events, and, importantly, what to wear in Switzerland in winter.

Read on for practical tips for visiting Switzerland in winter.

The information in this guide is also covered in episode 55 of our podcast. > Listen here.

[ This post may contain compensated links. Please see my  disclosure policy  for more information. ]

What's in this Article

Weather in Switzerland in winter

One of the first things you’ll probably want to consider before planning your Switzerland winter vacation is the weather.  Temperatures, weather forecasts and the number of daylight hours can all have an impact on your trip so it’s good to have an idea of what to expect.

Although the Northern Hemisphere winter is officially from December to February (inclusive), we will include the months of November and March in this guide.  

All five months – from November through to March – generally have fairly cool temperatures and are regarded as ‘off season’ for visitors (except in the ski resorts).

With changes to the climate all around the world, it can be hard to predict exactly what the weather will be like, regardless of the time of year you travel.  

Based on previous years you can expect temperatures of around zero degrees Celcius overnight in cities like Zürich and Basel and as low as minus 15 degrees Celcius overnight in the mountains.

Average winter temperatures in Switzerland

The table below shows average winter temperatures in Zurich, Lugano and Davos.

Weather conditions in the cities and lowlands tend to include fog and rain with little sunshine and very little snow.

In the Alps, weather conditions (if not, temperatures) are often much better with more sunshine and clearer days.

We recommend using the MeteoSwiss app or meteoswiss.ch website for the most accurate weather forecasts.  

If you are planning a visit to a mountain resort, it is wise to check the live weather conditions before you head up the mountain. 

Almost all mountains have webcams installed which beam live images to their website so you can quickly check the current weather conditions.

Where to expect snow in Switzerland

We mentioned above that it rarely snows in cities like Zurich and Basel so you may be wondering where are the best places to visit in Switzerland in winter to see snow?

Your best option is to head to the Swiss Alps. Winter is beautiful in the Alps – wooden chalets line the streets of charming alpine villages and with the addition of dustings of snow on their rooftops, it’s like stepping into a postcard.

Thanks to their height, many of Switzerland’s most famous mountains are snow-capped all year round but during winter they take on an even more magical appearance.

If you want to wake up each morning and gaze out at snowy winter wonderland, then staying in the Swiss Alps is the answer.

If time restraints don’t allow you to spend a night in the Alps, you can always take a day trip to a one of the popular Swiss mountain peaks. > See the options here.

The Swiss alpine village of Grindelwald in winter

Number of daylight hours in Switzerland in winter

As you would expect, the number of hours of daylight in Switzerland during winter is much less than in the summer. 

In December, you can expect around 8.5 hours of daylight in Bern, increasing to 10.5 in January and almost 12 hours in February.

Travelling around Switzerland in winter

Before you finalise your Switzerland winter itinerary, you’ll need to decide how you are going to travel around.  There are a number of options which we’ll cover below.

Travelling around Switzerland by train during winter is very easy and very convenient.  In fact, it’s how most of the Swiss get around.

The Swiss public transport network – which includes trains, buses, boats and trams – offers at least hourly services on most routes right throughout the year.

Services are rarely affected due to rain or snow except in the case of major weather events.  The Swiss Federal Railways app SBB Mobile (or their website SBB.ch ) will display any delays on the relevant timetables.

As well as covering almost the entire country, the Swiss public transport network is clean, safe and reliable.  It is also very cost effective when you purchase a Swiss Travel Pass , a hop on hop off ticket for the entire network. 

You simply purchase a pass for the number of days’ travel that you require and show the ticket inspector on board when requested.  

If you’d prefer to have a Swiss travel specialist book your rail tickets (and accommodation) on your behalf, booking a Switzerland rail package is a fantastic solution.

Most stations have lifts and ramps to access each platform so there’s no need to carry your luggage up flights of stairs that may be slippery.  

We do recommend you allow extra time to get to the platform, though, as wheeling a suitcase along a platform that is wet and slippery or covered in melting snow, can be challenging.

Read more about travelling by train in Switzerland > here .

Luzern Interlaken Express in winter

Renting a car and driving in Switzerland is another option but unless you are used to driving in snowy conditions it’s not an option we recommend.

Whilst the roads are cleared of snow fairly regularly, they can still be very icy and slippery, making it more difficult to control your car.  In the mountain areas, roads are also steep, twisty and narrow, adding to the difficulty factor.

Winter Tyres and Snow Chains

In most cases, winter tyres are required to be fitted to your vehicle. If you are renting a car, the rental company usually charges a ‘winterisation’ fee which includes fitting the appropriate tyres.

Depending on where you are driving to, you may also require snow chains on your vehicle. 

There are some smaller mountains which have no tunnel and therefore you have to drive on high altitude roads that are exposed to the elements. Snow chains would need to be fitted in these circumstances.

Unless you are familiar with driving on snowy roads, we recommend you use the public transport system if you are visiting Switzerland in winter.

If you are driving on Swiss motorways you will also require a road tax sticker (Vignette) to be affixed to your windshield. 

Read about the Swiss Vignette and other useful information in our Driving in Switzerland Guide .

Car driving on snowy roads in winter

If you’d rather leave the planning and navigation to someone else, joining an organised group tour of Switzerland is a great option.

There are numerous tour companies who offer a wide range of itineraries over various durations from one day to a couple of weeks.

Winter tour itineraries include half and full day city sightseeing and mountain trips, multi-day tours that visit much of the country, and everything in between.

Both coach and rail tours are available, and with your accommodation included on multi-day tours, budgeting for your trip can be easier, too.

An added bonus is your tour guide who is on hand to provide useful information about the destinations you visit. 

Tour bus driving on snowy road

Private tour

Another excellent option for those who are looking for a more personalised experience, or have specific destinations or sites they would like to visit, is a private tour of Switzerland .

Itineraries can be designed to suit your individual interests and the time you have available.

One day or multi-day tours can be tailor made especially for you.

Travelling with your own private driver/guide in a smaller vehicle means you are able to access more off-the-beaten-track places.

You’ll enjoy the convenience of being driven ‘door to door’ in most cases – a real luxury during winter when outside temperatures can be low.

> Find out more about tailor made private tours of Switzerland here.

Planning a trip to Switzerland? At Holidays to Switzerland we are passionate about sharing our love of Switzerland and helping you to plan the perfect trip. Read our guide to planning a trip to Switzerland to kick start your travel plans and join our free Switzerland Travel Planning group on Facebook to chat with other past and future travellers. Want monthly news and podcast updates, helpful travel tips and special deals sent straight to your inbox? Subscribe to Holidays to Switzerland and we’ll send you a bonus copy of our 10 Useful Things to Know Before You Visit Switzerland guide. 🇨🇭 Check out our exclusive discount offers and save on your Swiss vacation. 🇨🇭

Winter closures of services and attractions in Switzerland

One thing to be aware of if you are planning to visit Switzerland in winter is that there are periods when some services and attractions will be closed. 

These closures are usually only for a short period of time but if you don’t plan for them in advance, they can result in you being disappointed because you can’t do something you had planned to do.

If you are visiting Switzerland in November, it’s important to be aware that many cable cars and funiculars are closed for their regular maintenance during November (and sometimes even in October or December) before the busy winter season starts.  

Schilthorn cableway

This is also the time when many of the mountain railways, such as the Brienz Rothorn and Schynige Platte trains, close for the winter period, although they mostly don’t resume operating again until April or May.

A couple of exceptions to the closure rule are the train to Jungfraujoch and the cogwheel train from Vitznau to Mt. Rigi, both of which operate 365 days a year.

You can check the closure dates for Switzerland’s most popular cable cars and funiculars in > this article .

Just as some cable cars and funiculars are closed, some hotels and restaurants also close for a short period in November. 

This is particularly the case for smaller, family owned businesses but can apply to larger hotels and restaurants as well.

In most cases, if there are two hotels in a small village, they will alternate their closing dates so that there is always somewhere for visitors to stay.

> Click here to search hotels in Switzerland

Best things to do in winter in Switzerland 

When considering things to do in Switzerland in winter, the first thing that’s likely to come to mind is skiing. 

Many Swiss children in fact start skiing at a very early age, in some cases when they’re only been walking for a year or two. 

Due to the (usual) abundant snow, many local people also get into snowboarding, sledging and cross-country skiing.

Ice skating is also a popular pick among winter activities in Switzerland. In some mountainous areas, the flat ice is right out there, ready and waiting in the forest.

This means you can skate over ice through the trees, which is pretty cool and makes for a memorable winter vacation memory.

Couple hiking in Grindelwald Switzerland in winter

So what about Switzerland in winter for non-skiers? If you want to find things to do in Zermatt in winter, for instance, then another option is to go snowshoeing. This is very similar to hiking in some ways. 

If you have a warm, sturdy pair of boots, you can also go hiking or walking in many other places in Switzerland. Routes through the valleys are good for those who don’t want to tackle steep slopes.

In Grison (Graubünden), for example, there are scenic valleys where you can hike and feed the birds. The birds and squirrels there wait for walkers to feed them, which is really cute, especially for younger visitors. 

For people that aren’t really into snow sports, what are the best things to do in Switzerland in December, January or February, you might be wondering. There are other activities to do and attractions to visit during winter. 

Taking a walk around a picturesque Swiss village can be, for example, very satisfying. These places look like something from a postcard or chocolate box when all the buildings and trees are covered in pure white snow. 

Lights twinkling in the village of Zermatt in winter

There is plenty to do around Christmas time, too. Various places in Switzerland are illuminated with twinkling festive lights during this season, creating a magical atmosphere.  

Many larger towns and cities also have Christmas markets to discover.

Sampling local foodie delights is also something to do during any time of year. A must-do is to try an authentic Swiss fondue, or sample some raclette.

This cheese speciality is usually served with potatoes, and is often made using fresh local cheese from the mountains.

Wellness centres and thermal spas are also popular during snowy weather. 

Or you could take a scenic train trip such as the Glacier Express or the Bernina Express , head to some museums or enjoy city life. 

If the weather is bad and you don’t want to spend time outdoors, you can still find plenty of things to do such as these rainy day activities for Interlaken .

There is always something to do in Switzerland, whatever the season and whatever the weather. You’ll find lots more suggestions in our 10 Must-do Switzerland winter activities guide .

The Bernina Express travelling in winter

Renting ski and snow gear

When planning a skiing holiday in Switzerland, another question that might come to mind concerns winter sports equipment. Even if you have your own, you may not want to bring it all the way across the continent or even the world with you. 

If you are wondering if it is simple to rent all your ski gear and snow gear once you arrive in Switzerland, the answer is yes.

The truth is that even many Swiss people don’t have all their own skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing equipment. It’s not really worth buying or storing it if you’ll only use it once or twice per season.

Read more: The Jungfrau Region, Switzerland. A fabulous winter holiday destination.

Most Swiss villages will have at least one sports store that rents out all the equipment to both locals and international visitors.

They usually have quite a large supply but it doesn’t hurt to contact them in advance to check that they will have what you need and the correct size in stock.

This is particularly relevant if you are heading to a very touristy area such as the Jungfrau region or Zermatt during high season.

Skiing at Zermatt

Christmas in Switzerland

Many folks that visit Switzerland in December will be there for Christmas so an often-asked question is which are the best places to visit in Switzerland at Christmas? 

The truth is, there’s no one single ‘best’ place, it depends on your interests.

If you want to be sure of a white Christmas and are wondering does it snow in Switzerland in December, you really need to plan your Christmas stay in the mountains.  

As we discussed in the Weather section above, snow is not common in Switzerland’s cities so a mountain stay is your best chance of enjoying a white Christmas in Switzerland.

From late November until around Christmas Eve, the Swiss Christmas markets are a great place to wander. 

Here you’ll find gifts and Christmas decorations for sale as well as food and drink, and there is often entertainment, too.  

The Christmas Markets are usually open from around midday until 10pm but do check in advance so you’re not disappointed.

Stein am Rhein Christmas Market

If you will be spending the festive season in Switzerland, then do expect the shops to be closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Stores usually close their doors on Christmas Eve, and reopen on 27 December. 

When supplies are required during this time of closure, you should be able to get what you need from the shops at major Swiss train stations.  At Zurich’s train station or airport, for instance, the stores are open every day. 

In smaller villages, though, shops will be closed from the evening of 24 December and won’t reopen until December 27.

As in other parts of the world, Swiss people tend to spend Christmas at home with their families. The typical Christmas meal in Switzerland varies by region.

LISTEN: Festive Fun at Switzerland’s Christmas Markets

In French-speaking areas they tend to tuck into a Christmas goose, while in the German-speaking regions meat fondue is the usual dish. 

The meat fondue is known as Fondue Chinoise, and is probably the top traditional Swiss Christmas dish to share on Christmas Eve.

If you’re coming from a country such as the United States, Australia or the UK at Christmas time, then you may want to know if you can have a traditional Christmas meal on Christmas day itself. 

In more touristy areas, some restaurants will be open. If they know that tourists will want to eat, then they may choose to open to cater to this need. 

In the biggest city, Zurich, some restaurants are likely to be open, too.

Swiss meal of Fondue with meat

If you do want to sit down to a festive meal on Christmas Day, then it’s best to check with the hotel or restaurant ahead of time. Not least because if they are open they could also be fully booked! 

Many eateries will display a clear message on their website regarding Christmas opening hours. 

As for the traditional turkey meal that you may be used to at home – or whatever you usually enjoy where you come from – you may need to be a bit more flexible and instead eat meat or cheese Fondue or Raclette.

In any case, if you’re going to spend Christmas in Switzerland, then surely you may as well enjoy a traditional Swiss Christmas meal.

Celebrating New Year in Switzerland

If you’re visiting at the end of December, then you may be wondering about things to do in Zurich in winter that involve New Year celebrations. 

As with many locations across the globe, New Year in Switzerland can often be a time for fireworks and celebrations, especially in the bigger towns and cities. 

Though some Zurich attractions in winter have been halted in recent years due to the Covid pandemic, all being well, you can expect fireworks displays to resume. 

These also take place in the Italian-speaking cities of Lugano and Locarno in the southern canton of Ticino. The fireworks reflected in the lakes are a spectacular sight. 

January 1 is a public holiday in Switzerland , and in some cantons the 2nd is too. So do check in advance: make sure you know what’s going to be open and what’s going to be closed while you’re there. 

New Year Fireworks display in Lugano

Festivals and Events in Switzerland

If you’re looking for things to do in Switzerland in January, December or February, then it’s also worth finding out about major events or festivals taking place during the winter months. 

So what’s going on in Switzerland between November and March?

The Christmas markets are obviously one of the things to do in Switzerland in November and December, and there are lovely ones in places like Montreux, Lucerne, Bern and Zurich.  

As the end of winter approaches, several mountainous Swiss regions follow a tradition to scare away the ghost of winter. 

In Engadine, for example, this involves huge cow bells. Everyone walks through the village wearing the bells plus traditional clothing, and making lots of noise. 

In Wallis (Valais), people wear masks instead to scare the winter away. Seeing or even taking part in one of these practices can really make visitors feel like they’re part of the local community. 

Santa's sleigh flying above Lake Geneva and Montreux Christmas Market

Things to do in Bern in winter include the onion market in late November, when you can enjoy mulled wine and delicious, freshly baked onion tarts. 

In January, things to do in Lucerne, Switzerland in winter include the Lilu Light Festival , while in Wengen there’s the Lauberhorn Run. There’s also an international balloon festival in Chateau d’Oex in late January.

For those seeking things to do in Switzerland in February, consider timing your visit to coincide with Fasnacht, also known as the Carnival of Basel.

Meanwhile in St Moritz, the frozen lake becomes a race course for horses and jockeys during the White Turf event.

A group of Waggis playing the piccolo at Basel Carnival in Switzerland.

What to wear in Switzerland in winter

How should you dress for Switzerland in the winter? A visit during the snowy season is about bringing the right clothing to make sure you’re warm and comfortable wherever you go. 

Layering is key when visiting Switzerland, and this applies to all seasons. Higher elevations can be much colder, so you’ll need warmer clothing at the top of the mountain than down in town. 

Waterproof boots are also recommended for winter. They don’t need to be incredibly warm, but they really do need to be waterproof. 

When it rains in Switzerland the snow starts melting, and it’s just wet everywhere. Cold, wet feet will soon feel like ice blocks when it rains. 

Group of young people dressed warmly in winter

If you plan to visit the mountain peaks, do bring a really warm jacket with you. Not only is it very cold up there, it’s also windy.

For temperatures of zero or below you need to wear a good warm jacket and a scarf, hat and gloves, even in the cities. 

As with anywhere you visit, layering really is the best approach. Even if you’re exploring the city then enter a museum or shop, it can often be so warm inside that you’ll soon feel too hot. 

Wearing layers allows you to easily adapt your clothing to suit the temperature both inside and out. 

Appropriate clothing is equally important if you plan to visit a Christmas market. Many people underestimate how much time they’ll be spending outside.

For an hour you may feel completely fine, but after two or three hours, you really will feel the cold. 

Packing and wearing lots of layers is therefore so important in Switzerland!

Final Thoughts about Visiting Switzerland in Winter

Don’t be deterred by colder temperatures or shorter days – with the right clothing and planning, a visit to Switzerland in winter is a magical experience.

The Swiss Christmas markets have a fairytale appeal with the aromas of mulled wine, gingerbread and roasting chestnuts in the air. 

Snowy alpine villages with their cosy chalets are postcard-perfect destinations for both skiers and non-skiers, and the cities offer a plethora of museums to visit and events to enjoy.

Armed with our tips, you can plan your Swiss winter vacation with confidence.

🇨🇭 For more practical trip planning tips, read our Planning a Trip to Switzerland guide .

Zurich in winter

SWITZERLAND TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Rail passes.

Swiss Travel Pass

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where to visit switzerland winter

Carolyn Schönafinger

Carolyn Schönafinger is a frequent visitor to Switzerland, the country she fell in love with more than 30 years ago. She now visits Switzerland every year in her quest to explore every inch of the country. Carolyn is a certified Switzerland Travel Expert and she has achieved the Swiss Travel System Travel Expert diploma. She loves sharing her Switzerland travel expertise and helping others to plan their dream Swiss vacation on this website and the Holidays to Switzerland Travel Podcast. Read more

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Best places to visit in switzerland.

Switzerland is known around the world for its chocolate, cheese, charming towns and scenic landscapes . Everywhere you turn, you're treated to a little bit of history and a little bit of nature's beauty, as well as plenty of mouthwatering cuisine in between. U.S. News considered factors like sights, culture, accessibility and variety of things to do, plus traveler and expert input, to calculate the best places to visit in Switzerland. Peruse the list below, and vote for your favorite spots.

Appenzell District

Jungfrau region.

where to visit switzerland winter

Interlaken's unique location between two lakes – Lake Brienz and Lake Thun – makes it a breathtaking spot for a vacation. Here, you can spend hours hiking various trails, taking in the castle-studded shores of Lake Thun on a boat cruise or gazing at the surrounding mountains from the Harder Kulm observation deck (accessible via a funicular). To see more of the region's stunning scenery, go for a ride on the Schynige Platte Railway or sign up for a paragliding or skydiving excursion.

where to visit switzerland winter

Travelers looking to ski or snowboard in the Swiss Alps should head to Zermatt. This small, car-free town in the middle of the Alps is famous for housing one of the world's most famous attractions — the Matterhorn (a peak so popular that it inspired a Disneyland ride) — and Switzerland's highest ski resort. Novice and expert skiers and snowboarders can spend the bulk of their vacation hitting the slopes, which showcase incredible mountain views. After shredding powder, visitors can ride the Gornergrat train, pick up a slab of homemade chocolate from a local shop or savor cheese fondue at a traditional Swiss restaurant.

where to visit switzerland winter

Picturesque Lucerne sits on Lake Lucerne in central Switzerland, framed by snowcapped mountains and medieval buildings. This beautiful city's old town is home to historic attractions, lively town squares, boutique shops and old churches. Top attractions include the Musegg Wall and its towers (the preserved fortifications date back to the 13th century) and Europe's oldest wooden covered bridge, the must-see Chapel Bridge, which was originally built in the 1330s. Those looking for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure can also ride a cable car to Mount Pilatus for stunning views of Lake Lucerne and plenty of activities at the top.

where to visit switzerland winter

This lakefront city on the Swiss-Italian border offers visitors a unique travel experience. Because Lugano shares waters with neighboring Italy, the city features a mix of Swiss and Mediterranean influences in everything from its cuisine to its architecture. Plus, Lugano boasts unforgettable panoramas. Visit Monte San Salvatore and Monte Brè, both of which you can reach by funicular, for bird's-eye views of Lake Lugano and the city. Or, spend a few hours hiking the Olive Grove Trail or strolling the gardens of Ciani Park. If you'd rather lounge on a beach, head to Lido di Lugano.

where to visit switzerland winter

Zurich is a cosmopolitan financial center, a foodie haven and a romantic European city that appeals to all types of travelers. A vacation here should include spending time admiring Lake Zurich, exploring the trendy bars and Michelin-starred restaurants, meandering through Lindenhof park and exploring the city's distinct neighborhoods. Join well-heeled shoppers (or just admire the window displays) on Bahnhofstrasse, a world-famous exclusive retail boulevard. While here, be sure to sample the famous dark chocolate Champagne truffles from specialty chocolatier Teuscher.

where to visit switzerland winter

Visit the medieval town of Gruyères if you want to feel as if you've stepped back in time during your next trip. Its good looks (think: car-free cobblestone streets, fountain-filled squares and a 13th-century castle) create an old-world ambiance you're bound to love. Plus, the town is world-renowned for its Gruyère cheese, which you can sample and learn more about at a local cheese dairy or cellar. Sampling chocolate is also a must-do here, so be sure to check out a chocolate factory or attend a chocolate workshop while in town.

where to visit switzerland winter

Like its neighbor Lugano, Locarno is located in the Ticino region near the Italian border. This quiet, small town is surrounded by stunning scenery (it sits on the shores of Lake Maggiore in the foothills of the Alps), and since it's the warmest destination in Switzerland, you'll have plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and explore. Be sure to stroll through the picture-perfect main square, Piazza Grande, where the city hosts several summer festivals, and trek to Madonna del Sasso, considered sacred among Roman Catholics. Then, head to the Verzasca river valley to swim or bungee jump.

where to visit switzerland winter

Appenzell captures the essence of Switzerland with rolling hills, a car-free village and well-preserved customs. Visitors can take in the scenic landscape of the Appenzell District (located in the northeastern part of the country) by taking a cable car to the oft-photographed Aescher guest house, picturesquely built into the rock face, or hiking the region's "experience trails" like the Gonten Barefoot Trail and Appenzeller Kapellenweg, which weaves past 11 chapels. Meanwhile, the tiny village of Appenzell boasts quaint, frescoed shops and Museum Appenzell, which highlights the region's traditional crafts, folk music and art.

where to visit switzerland winter

You'd be hard-pressed to find a small town that boasts more charm and incredible scenery than Brienz. Located in the stunning Bernese Oberland region, Brienz sits on the northeastern shore of Lake Brienz, which features gorgeous turquoise water and is flanked by towering evergreen mountains. Some of the best ways to soak up the awe-inspiring setting include strolling picture-perfect Brunngasse (often proclaimed the most beautiful street in Europe), riding the Brienz Rothorn Bahn (which traverses a steam rack railway) and taking a boat tour to lake attractions like Giessbach Falls.

where to visit switzerland winter

Set along the banks of crystal-clear Lake Geneva in western Switzerland, this city is known for its incredible views and as the headquarters of the Red Cross and the United Nations. Geneva is also home to some iconic sights, including the Jet d'Eau (one of the world's tallest water fountains) and an old town with cobblestone streets and picturesque squares. While exploring the latter, be sure to check out the Saint Pierre Cathedral, which features Roman, Gothic and neoclassical details.

where to visit switzerland winter

The capital of Switzerland, Bern sometimes gets overlooked for flashier Swiss cities like Zurich and Geneva. But Bern holds many charms, including an old town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) featuring the iconic Zytglogge clock tower, Renaissance-style fountains and a Gothic cathedral with the highest spire in Switzerland. The city also boasts many museums – several dedicated to Albert Einstein, who lived in Bern when developing his theory of relativity. Head to Gurten mountain – which you can reach by funicular, by bike or on foot – for sweeping views of the city below.

where to visit switzerland winter

As the largest ski area in central Switzerland, Engelberg is a winter playground, with a long, snowy season for downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and sledding. But don't sleep on a summertime visit here; warmer months allow for a bevy of fun family activities like a toboggan run, 300-plus miles of hiking trails and water activities on Trübsee lake. Regardless of when you visit, you won't want to miss the TITLIS Rotair, a revolving cable car that takes riders up Mount Titlis, and the other cable lifts that stop at a glacier cave, a panoramic restaurant, and the TITLIS Cliff Walk.

where to visit switzerland winter

Considered "the birthplace of Alpine winter tourism," St. Moritz welcomes travelers with world-class skiing, swanky hotels, renowned après-ski offerings and top-notch restaurants. In addition to offering downhill skiing trails so highly regarded that the town has hosted the Olympics twice, St. Moritz features excellent spots for cross-country skiing, sledding and winter hikes. Come summertime, the area invites outdoor lovers to golf, bike, hike or enjoy water sports and swimming in the surrounding lakes.

where to visit switzerland winter

The Jungfrau Region is the perfect place for first-timers wanting to experience the otherworldly splendor that is the Swiss Alps. But be forewarned: The destination is sky high. Popular attractions like the Jungfraujoch (which features Europe's highest train station), the Grindelwald-First cable car and the First Cliff Walk Presented by Tissot sit at the top of towering peaks. The innovative Eiger Express gondola offers even faster transport to the top (just 15 minutes from Grindelwald). For those who'd rather stick closer to Earth's surface, prioritize a hike on a lower-level valley path and a visit to the Pfingstegg toboggan.

where to visit switzerland winter

Tourists may not be as familiar with Montreux as they are with its Lake Geneva neighbors, which makes this Swiss town such an undiscovered gem. Quaint Montreux features a waterfront promenade dotted with flowers and trees, a medieval castle and a charming old town, not to mention a statue commemorating Freddie Mercury (Queen recorded multiple albums here from 1978 to 1995). Montreux is also surrounded by vineyards and hosts a popular open-air jazz festival every summer, while the holiday season brings the festive Montreux Noël market.

where to visit switzerland winter

Located less than 5 miles from Montreux, Vevey is another Lake Geneva gem. This town's picturesque promenade along the lake is filled with flowers and features a sculpture of Charlie Chaplin, who spent the last 25 years of his life in Vevey. The Alimentarium, a nutrition-focused museum, also adorns the shoreline with its beautiful sandstone building, which once served as the headquarters to Nestlé (the company is still based in Vevey). After admiring the town, visitors can take a cog railway to the scenic Les Pléiades vantage point for its stunning views and the astronomy-centric Astropléiades trail.   

where to visit switzerland winter

The second-largest city on Lake Geneva, Lausanne is characterized by its renowned Gothic cathedral and surrounding hilly terrain. The stunning lake views and colorful city center don't hurt, either. Travelers can take in Lausanne's lively atmosphere by checking out the city's cafes, admiring the old town's beautiful architecture and perusing the exhibits at the Olympic Museum. No visit would be complete without venturing outside the city to nearby Lavaux, where you can enjoy wine from vineyards that are so scenic and well-preserved (some date back to the 11th century), the area was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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The 11 most incredible places to visit in Switzerland: be inspired

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Summer morning on Oeschinensee Lake.

Switzerland really is this stunningly beautiful here in the Bernese Oberland region © fokke baarssen / Shutterstock

Nowhere is perfect, but let’s face it,  Switzerland gets pretty darned close. 

The Alps ripple across 60% of the country, and the landscapes and towns look like they have been dreamed up by a particularly imaginative child. We’re talking glacier-capped peaks, crash-bang waterfalls, turreted castles of the fairy-tale kind and lakes in the most surreal shade of turquoise blue. Red trains curl up mountains to improbable heights and clanging cowbells ring out across hilly meadows that you can skip down with Heidi-like glee.

Even the culture-filled cities have magnificent backdrops of vineyards, lakes or rivers, and the mountains are never more than a whisper away. As natural beauty goes, Switzerland is off the charts. That makes it a joy to travel around , whether by train, bus or car. Here are the 11 best places to visit in Switzerland.

Jungfrau Peak reflected in the water of a hearth pond at Kleine Scheidegg

1. Jungfrau

Best for outdoor activities

The idyllic Jungfrau region is the icing on the Alpine cake of Switzerland’s  Bernese Oberland . Sky-high peaks, glaciers and thundering falls elicit gasps of wonder wherever you go. Grazing the 4,000m (13,123ft) mark are Switzerland’s "big three:" Eiger (Ogre), Mönch (Monk) and Jungfrau (Virgin), enshrined in mountaineering legend.

Take a once-in-a-lifetime ride up to the everlasting snow at Europe’s highest train station, 3,454m (11,332ft)  Jungfraujoch . Hike, ski, sled and zip-line among mountains of myth in  Grindelwald , enjoy waterfalls galore in  Lauterbrunnen  and tackle every kind of extreme sport imaginable in  Interlaken (skydiving, ice climbing, glacial bungee jumping – you name it). The Jungfrau region is the great outdoors on a blockbuster scale.

Planning tip:  Rush this region and you’ll regret it. Allow a week or more to dive in deep if you have the time. It's worth it. Great bases for dropping your bags include the astoundingly pretty villages of Wengen and Mürren.

A city old town with a turquoise river running through it

Best for stepping back in time

Bern often pops up in those I-can’t-believe-it’s-the-capital trivia questions, but frankly, Switzerland’s first city deserves more love. The cobbled, flag-bedecked medieval Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage treat with 6km (3.7 miles) of covered arcades, cellar shops and bars, fantastical folk figures topping 16th-century fountains and the eye-grabbing Zytglogge . Framed by wooded hills and split in two by the turquoise Aare River, this red-roofed city looks good from pretty much every angle. It’s pure storybook stuff for kids, too, with its giant who snacks on children (the Kindlifresserbrunnen ) and resident bears .

Sights-wise, you’ll be drawn to big-hitters like the Einstein-Haus (where the genius and Nobel laureate developed his theory of relativity), the Kunsthaus (with its outstanding fine arts collection) and Renzo Piano’s wavy Zentrum Paul Klee (Bern’s answer to the Guggenheim).

Planning tip: In summer, the action’s on the water with swimming, tubing, rafting and paddleboarding along the Aare River, so bring your swimsuit. A classic float takes you from Camping Eichholz to Marzili, with knockout views of the Old Town.

Exterior of Castle Chillon, one of the most visited castles in Switzerland.

3. Geneva and Lake Geneva

Best for a cosmopolitan city experience

In Switzerland’s western crook, crescent-shaped Lake Geneva (Lac Léman to Francophones) is a joy to behold with its mountain backdrop, spirit-lifting views, vineyards and shoreline necklaced with handsome cities and castle-crowned towns.

Marked by its rainbow-kissed Jet d’Eau fountain and Mont Blanc peeping up on the horizon, Geneva wraps around the lake’s southern shore. The worldly city makes an excellent launchpad for exploring with big-hitting museums and galleries to absorb, botanical gardens to stroll, lidos to swim, Old Town cafes to hang out in and bright-yellow mouettes ferrying locals across the water – surely one of the world’s most scenic commutes.

Detour: It’s a quick boat or train hop to Lausanne , which can culturally give Geneva a run for its money, especially with its Plateforme 10 arts district , the lovely terraced vineyards of the Lavaux wine region (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and flower-draped Montreux , host to one of the world’s most famous jazz festivals, with the picture-perfect Château de Chillon right on its doorstep.

Here are the best times to visit Switzerland  for skiing, partying or sampling local life

Man on a rock next to a lake with a reflection of Matterhorn at dawn in Switzerland

Best for hiking, skiing and rock-climbing

No peak has more pulling power than the 4,478m (14,692ft) Matterhorn, a terrific, gnarled fang of rock that flings up above the seductive, timber chalet-filled Alpine resort of Zermatt . It's Switzerland’s mountain icon, so beloved by the nation that it inspired the pyramid shape of Toblerone chocolate.

Zermatt is more than a one-mountain wonder. Climbers have been rocking up here since the mid-19th-century, and it’s still a magnet for challenging summit ascents today. Otherwise, come to hike, ski and gaze over a sea of glaciers and 4,000m (13,123ft) peaks at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise . 

Detour : Fancy popping over the mountains for pranzo (lunch) or putting one snow-booted foot in Switzerland and the other in Italy? Go for a ride on the cloud-grazing cable car from Zermatt to Testa Grigia. The views from the top are out of this world.  

5. Swiss National Park 

Best for wildlife (and wildflowers) spotting

Switzerland has just one national park? Yes, we know it’s a shock, but trust us it’s a good one. Snuggled away in a remote corner of the country’s southeast on the border with Italy, the 172 sq km (66 square mile) Swiss National Park is the Alps in overdrive: a nature-gone-wild spectacle of high moors, forests, wildflower-freckled pastures, waterfalls, jewel-colored lakes and mountains as high as the sky, where ibex, chamois, marmots, deer and golden eagles roam and fly free.

Here wildlife rules and human intervention is kept to a conservation-driven minimum. And long may it stay that way, say park authorities. Amen. This mountainscape is so pristine, ancient and unaltered that dinosaur tracks are still regularly found here.

Lace up your boots for phenomenal hikes such as the challenging 21km (13 mile), eight-hour return stomp from Zernez to the Lakes of Macun, where 23 lakes of sapphire, azure and turquoise blue shimmer on a high-Alpine plateau with extraordinary views of the snow-capped Bernese, Silvretta and Ortler Alps.

Planning tip: Start off on the right foot with the inside scoop on walking trails and ranger-led guided hikes at the visitor center in Zernez.

A sunny day at Piazza Collegiate in Bellinzona, Switzerland

6. Bellinzona

Best for piazza dining

With a trio of medieval castles plonked on hilltops with dress-circle views of the Alps rearing beyond, good-looking, good-living Bellinzona in Ticino is like an espresso shot of Italy in southern Switzerland. You’ll find a generous splash of Italian flair, food and culture in its historic center, woven with flower-draped alleys, Renaissance churches and cafe-rimmed piazzas that brim with life, laughter, clinking glasses and the out-of-tune toll of countless campaniles. 

Detour: Top of any wish list is seeing the castles, among them the medieval stronghold of Castelgrande , which can be drawn out into a full day’s activity (bring water, comfortable shoes and possibly a picnic). From the ramparts, views reach out across vine-streaked, castle-studded hills.

Find out what to order when  eating and drinking in Switzerland

7. Jura Mountains and Lac de Neuchâtel 

Best for road tripping

In the dark forested hills along the French–Swiss border, the Jura Mountains are a natural wonder. This peaceful region has a beauty all its own: meadows of green, ancient forests, rocky outcrops overlooking a trio of lakes against an Alpine backdrop and slow-paced villages and valleys little changed in centuries. 

Begin with a road trip . Kick off at the Jura Vaudois Nature Park for hikes with dress-circle views of Lake Geneva and Gruyère cheese tastings at rustic Alpine huts. Swing north to Lac de Joux, the watchmaking village of Le Sentier, and Vallorbe, honeycombed with Switzerland’s biggest (and most impressive) limestone caves.

Detour: Tag on a trip to Lac de Neuchâtel and you can bathe in the thermal waters of Yverdon-les-Bains, tip-toe off the map in the lushly rolling Val-de-Travers (birthplace of absinthe) and the crescent-moon canyon of Creux du Van . Cultured Neuchâtel is a fitting climax with its fantasy of a lavishly turreted château.

See more of Switzerland on one of these classic road trips

Young man walking with swiss cow on mountain footpath. Mount Pilatus, Lucerne,

8. Lake Lucerne

Best for sunset promenades

Reclining on the shores of its glittering namesake lake , Lucerne is a walkable, medieval dream of a city that has a magic you can’t quite put your finger on. It will grab you when you are strolling along the promenade as the sun sets in a blaze of gold and pinks or as you cruise across its waters to mountains of myth: 2,132m (6,995ft) Mt Pilatus , where Wagner raved about the Alpine panorama and Queen Victoria trotted on horseback, and 1,797m (5,896ft) Rigi , with a light so sublime Turner painted it in three different moods.

The little city punches far above its weight culturally with its iconic medieval Kapellbrücke bridge leaping across the Reuss River and the Jean Nouvel–designed KKL arts center and Sammlung Rosengart harboring a prized private collection of Picassos. Ambling past the belle époque hotels lining its shores, the same views that captivated Goethe, Queen Victoria and Wagner in the 19th century will hold you in their thrall.

Local tip: With more time on your hands, you can really get out on the lake. Cruise across fjord-like, mountain-rimmed Lake Uri for a taste of Switzerland’s geographical and spiritual heartland. Boats ply the glassy turquoise waters to Rütli , birthplace of the Swiss nation.

9. Appenzell and northeastern Switzerland

Best for a bucolic Swiss experience

Northeastern Switzerland might not have the in-your-face drama of higher realms of the Alps, but it nevertheless delights in its own serene, deeply rural way with dairy country unraveling to meet the mountains and half-timbered, gaily muralled towns all fit for a postcard. This pocket-sized region is perfect for a family vacation with a hit of culture and gentle adventure.

Begin in St Gallen, with a spin round its World Heritage Stiftsbibliothek (Abbey Library), a literary marvel and a feast of rococo art and architecture. Move on to folksy, ridiculously pretty Appenzell, popping into the Schaukäserei to sample regional cheeses.

Muscling further south into the Alps, head on up to Säntis at 2,501m (8,205ft) for views embracing six countries and then go to Werdenberg , a tiny speck of a medieval hamlet home to Switzerland’s oldest timber chalets.

Detour: Factor in a visit to nearby Vaduz , Liechtenstein ’s princely, castle-topped capital on the banks of the Rhine. If you’re up for an adventure, it’s the trailhead for the 75km Liechtenstein Trail , enabling you to hike around an entire country in the space of a weekend.

Woman sitting on a bench next to the Rhine River in Basel, Switzerland

Best under-the-radar city experience

Popularity-wise, poor old Basel barely gets a look. But that’s a mistake. Straddling the Rhine, this city has everything going for it: world-class art in some of the country’s best galleries, a hot food scene, avant-garde buildings bearing the hallmark of Pritzker Prize–winning architects and an upbeat cafe culture.

Allow several days for a satisfying romp of the center, where must-sees include the Kunstmuseum and its fine arts collection, the Renzo Piano-designed Fondation Beyeler and the Frank Gehry-designed Vitra Design Museum . Linking the latter two cultural showstoppers and skipping over the border to Germany and back is the Rehberger-Weg , a 5km, 24-stop art trail best explored on foot or by bike. 

Planning tip: Basel endears itself most to those who look beyond the trophy sights, with sundown drinks by the river or a wild swim in the Rhine. Rent a Wickelfisch (a fish-shaped waterproof bag) at the tourist office, strip to your swimming suit and go with the flow, floating downstream past the city’s landmarks.

People swimming in the river in Zurich city centre

Best place to live

Regularly landing at the top in quality-of-living surveys, urban dynamo Zürich never seems to miss a beat: from cool waterside bars on the banks of the Limmat River to its alley-woven Old Town, where the twin-spired Romanesque Grossmünster , founded by Charlemagne in the 9th century, shines with Augusto Giacometti’s rainbow of stained glass. 

Old Masters hanging in the outstanding Kunsthaus gallery, Le Corbusier’s boldly colored architectural creations and the edgily post-industrial Züri-West neighborhood, home to the Schiffbau , presenting cutting-edge arts in a former shipbuilding factory, notch Zürich's culture cred up even further.

Planning tip: In mid-August, Zürich throws one of Switzerland’s wildest parties: the techno-pumping Street Parade. Hot summer days also see locals swapping business suits for swim suits at the city’s Badi-Bars, lakefront and riverfront pool bars with an upbeat party vibe such as Rimini .

This article was first published Sep 20, 2021 and updated May 22, 2024.

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23 Unforgettable Things to Do in Switzerland

If you’re planning a trip to Switzerland, you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime! This captivating country nestled in the heart of Europe is known for its snow-capped mountains, charming villages, food culture, and so much more. There truly are things to do in Switzerland for every kind of traveler.

You might be visiting for the first time and heading to ski in the towering Alps. Or perhaps you’re returning to tour the best Christmas markets in the region . Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a food lover, or simply in search of the most awe-inspiring views, you’ll find it here.

We’ve been lucky enough to live in Switzerland for a little while and enjoy all of its beauty and culture. Recently, I returned to visit good friends and got to relive all the incredible things to do in Switzerland with my good friend.

Below, you can read about 23 experiences you’ll want to add to your Switzerland bucket list! You’ll look at essential stops, whether it’s your first time in central Europe or your 20th. After that, you’ll read about more outdoor-focus activities, then finish off with activities that center around a unique aspect of Swiss culture.

Don’t have time to read a bunch of reviews and blog posts? Here are our top picks for visiting Switzerland:

Wanderlust switzerland guide.

Need a quick day-by-day, open-and-go itinerary for Switzerland? Get my guide and let me do the work for you!

Our favorite Hotels in Switzerland

  • Zurich : Baur Au Lac
  • Lucerne : Burgenstock Alpine Hotel & Spa
  • Zermatt: The Omnia
  • Interlaken : Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel
  • Bern : Hotel Schweiserhof
  • Geneva : Swiss Luxury Apartments
  • Montreaux : Eurotel Montreaux

Must Have: Swiss Pass

Our favorite activities and tours in Switzerland

  • Paragliding
  • Lindt Chocolate Tour
  • Lake Lucerne Cruise

Best Things to Do in Switzerland for First-Time Visitors

Starting off my list are must-see Switzerland attractions for first-time visitors. These are places and activities that will guarantee an unforgettable travel experience!

1. Explore the Swiss Alps

Visiting the Swiss Alps should be on every nature lover’s Switzerland bucket list. The winter is the busiest season when world-class slopes and resorts come alive! For a more tranquil experience go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in the serene winter wonderland.

A must-do in Switzerland is exploring the renowned Swiss National Park, the country’s only national park. Here you’ll be enchanted by the grandeur of snow-capped peaks, crystal-clear alpine lakes, and lush green valleys. Hikers will find an extensive network of trails that lead to hidden gems and panoramic viewpoints.

In the warmer months, the mountains offer even more outdoor adventure, including paragliding, mountain biking, and white-water rafting. Or simply enjoy the serene alpine meadows, dotted with wildflowers and grazing sheep.

The Swiss Alps are also home to charming mountain towns like Zermatt and Grindelwald. These ski communities offer a variety of outdoor activities within reach. They also boast luxury hotels and cozy chalets, as well as quality restaurants, shopping, and tourist attractions of their own.

2. Visit the Matterhorn

The Matterhorn isn’t just a mountain. It represents the spirit of the Swiss Alps and holds a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike. Visiting the Matterhorn is undeniably one of the best things to do in Switzerland.

You can admire this iconic mountain from the village of Zermatt or venture closer to its base along one of the hiking trails. It’s an unforgettable experience, seeing the reflection of its towering form in the mirror-like waters of Lake Riffelsee!

For many, scaling the Matterhorn’s summit is the ultimate mountaineering challenge. But even if you’re not an experienced climber, there are plenty of other ways to see the mountain up close.

One way is by taking a cable car ride to Trockener Steg . This mountain ridge offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers, with the Matterhorn at the forefront.

3. Take a Swiss Train Journey

Switzerland is famous for its efficient and extensive train network. But it’s also a great way to enjoy the country’s breathtaking and diverse landscape! Not only will you get from one destination to another, but a Swiss train journey is its own experience.

You can take the Glacier Express on a panoramic eight-hour journey through the heart of the Swiss Alps. Take in stunning views of snowy mountains, deep valleys, and historic Alpine villages.

Another spectacular train journey, The Bernina Express, is a wonderful way to see the Swiss and Italian Alps. This UNESCO World Heritage route navigates the Bernina Pass, through dramatic landscapes, crossing dizzying viaducts and winding through tunnels!

Or go with the GoldenPass Line. This scenic route takes travelers from Lucerne to Lake Geneva. The route passes through the rolling hills of the Emmental region and the charming towns of Interlaken and Montreux.

4. Go Paragliding

If you are thinking about going paragliding at all and are planning a trip to Switzerland, NOW is the time to do it. Switzerland has some of the most incredible paragliding in the world due to the elevation of its mountains. You get a long ride down! I am terrified of heights and i still went paragliding. I was really proud of myself for overcoming my fear in order have this amazing experience. It was 100% worth it! It was much more peaceful than I thought it would be.

There are several companies in Switzerland who offer paragliding. The most popular places to do it are Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, and Zermatt. I chose to go paragliding in Interlaken and it was absolutely breathtaking. Be sure to go with a licenced guide or tour company. We recommend this one.

5. Explore Lucerne

Located in central Switzerland, Lucerne is a charming town set on the shores of Lake Lucerne. It’s a place dripping with history, gorgeous views, many world-class restaurants, and cultural attractions.

A visit to the city’s medieval old town center is a must. Take a stroll along the 700-year-old Chapel Bridge for a bit of history and panoramic views of the Reuss River. And history lovers will want to explore the medieval walls of Museggmauer with its nine towers.

To see works by artists such as Picasso and Klee, visit the Rosengart Collection. And Lucerne is home to the Richard Wagner Museum, a 15th-century residence of the renowned composer turned museum. Or shop boutiques and international brands in Lucerne’s old town.

Nature lovers will be enchanted by Lucerne’s surroundings. Why not take a cruise on Lake Lucerne to enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains from the water? Or take a day trip to nearby Mount Pilatus or Mount Rigi for a day of hiking or mountain biking.

Additionally, Lucerne’s central location makes it an excellent base for exploring the rest of Switzerland. From here, you can embark on scenic train journeys, such as the GoldenPass Line or the Wilhelm Tell Express.

6. Visit the Jungfraujoch

Take a cogwheel train to Jungfraujoch, known as the “Top of Europe.” At an elevation of over 11,000 feet, you’ll enjoy absolutely breathtaking views and a variety of landmarks and attractions. This isn’t just a fun train ride to the top of a mountain! I would plan 3-4 hours here for the full experience.

From Kleine Scheidegg, the cogwheel train will start its 20-minute ascent through tunnels and across viaducts, gradually climbing to the highest railway station in Europe! Upon reaching Jungfraujoch, you’ll step out onto the observation deck to take in the moving beauty all around you.

Spread out before you will be the winding Aletsch Glacier. This is one of the best sites to see a sweeping view of the largest glacier in the Alps. Then go inside the complex, which is home to Sphinx Observatory and the fun Ice Palace.

Visitors to Jungfraujoch can also try snow tubing or take a guided tour of the glacier. And the complex features various restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy a meal with a view. Indulge in traditional Swiss fondue or authentic Indian food while gazing out over the peaks!

And if you’re coming from Zurich, this day trip to Jungfraujoch Zurich is an excellent choice. Or if you’re staying in Interlaken, this is a great day trip by train.

7. Discover the Old Towns

Exploring the historic old towns of Switzerland’s cities, such as Bern, Zurich, Geneva, and Bellinzona, is like stepping back in time! These cities offer a glimpse into Switzerland’s past while boasting charming architecture, bustling squares, and tourist-friendly things to do. And if you have a limited amount of time, focusing on one of these cities is a great way to get a taste of Switzerland.

Bern, the capital city of Switzerland, features a well-preserved old town dating back to the 12th century. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can stroll along the cobbled streets and marvel at the famous medieval Clock Tower. Visit the Cathedral of Bern or explore the Bern Historical Museum.

Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city and presents a blend of old and new. Its old town offers classic charm with narrow alleys, busy markets, and pretty squares. You can visit 12th-century cathedrals and then hit up the vibrant Bahnhofstrasse shopping street, with its high-end brands, trendy cafes, and gift shops!

In Geneva, the heart of the city is the Old Town. Admire St. Peter’s Cathedral and see the giant Mur des Réformateurs outside the University of Geneva. There are also excellent museums all throughout Old Town. The Maison Tavel is the oldest house in Geneva, now a museum showcasing the city’s history. It’s a must for anyone visiting Geneva.

8. Enjoy Swiss Chocolate and Cheese

No visit to Switzerland is complete without indulging in two of its most renowned culinary delights: Swiss chocolate and cheese! Switzerland offers a variety of indulgent experiences for anyone who appreciates the country’s unique food culture.

Swiss chocolate is renowned worldwide for its quality and craftsmanship. One of the most fun things to do in Switzerland is go on a chocolate tasting. This Geneva chocolate walking tour allows you to experience the city’s old town while sampling a variety of chocolate creations!

Cheese lovers are in for a treat! Switzerland boasts an impressive variety of artisanal cheeses. The Alpine regions are most famous for their flavorful cheeses, made from the milk of cows grazing on lush mountain pastures. If you have the chance, visit one of the traditional cheese dairies in the countryside. You’ll witness the cheese-making process firsthand and enjoy fresh samples.

And for an authentic Swiss experience, trying fondue is a must. This melted cheese dish served with crusty bread is a long-standing Swiss tradition. Restaurants across the country, especially in the Alpine regions, offer fondue as a specialty. It’s served as a main dish and should only be paired with a dry, white wine! Try it after skiing or as a meal with loved ones.

Also, several chocolate and cheese festivals take place throughout the year in Switzerland! There’s the Salon du Chocolat held every March in Zurich and the Swiss Cheese Festival held in May in Gruyères.

9. Take a Boat Ride on Swiss Lakes

A lake cruise is a wonderful way to enjoy a day of sightseeing while experiencing the tranquility of Switzerland’s lakes. There are thousands of lakes scattered across Switzerland, each offering its unique charm.

Lake Geneva, nestled between the Swiss and French Alps, is Europe’s largest alpine lake and a popular choice for a boat ride. You’ll cruise by picturesque villages, vineyards, lakeside towns, and historic landmarks like Chillon Castle. Lake Lucerne , surrounded by towering mountains, is a relaxing trip with unbeatable views!

There’s Lake Zurich, offering a look at bustling Zurich from a different perspective. And then there’s Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, both in the Bernese Oberland region. These lakes are known for their glass-top waters and mountain backdrops, making for a tranquil ride.

10. Visit Chillon Castle

One of the top places to visit in Switzerland is the historic Chillon Castle. It will be a highlight of your travels! Located on the shores of Lake Geneva near Montreux, Chillon Castle is a fortress from the Middle Ages that offers a captivating look into Switzerland’s history.

Inside the castle, you’ll explore the halls, courtyards, and towers at your own pace. Admire the intricate Gothic architecture and walk through haunting underground dungeons. During your visit, you can walk the lakeside promenade and garden, which offer sweeping views of Lake Geneva and the mountains beyond.

There’s an entrance fee for each guest. Chillon Castle is open year-round but with different hours in each season. You can take self-guided audio tours in a variety of languages or book a guided tour. Both offer excellent insight into the castle’s significance in Swiss history.

11. Discover Rhine Falls

Rhine Falls, located near Schaffhausen along the Switzerland/Germany border in the north, is one of Europe’s largest waterfalls. It’s a landmark you have to see in person and offers a range of activities for visitors close by. If you’re in Zurich and want to see the falls, consider booking a tour with transportation .

The main attraction is, of course, the majestic waterfall itself. You can stand on the viewing platforms and witness the thundering cascades, reaching 23 meters high! It’s an experience to feel the mist on your face and feel the sheer force of nature.

For an even more memorable experience, during the summer months, you can take a boat ride that will take you close to the falls! Or explore nearby pathways that offer different perspectives of the falls. This way is definitely more serene and much less crowded.

When you visit Rhine Falls, you’ll arrive at Schloss Laufen. This 1000-year-old castle has been turned into a tourist hub for visitors to the falls. Inside, you’ll find a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes. Enjoy the view while you eat or shop for souvenirs to commemorate your visit.

12. Explore the Swiss Riviera

Between the lakeside towns of Lausanne to Montreux is a gorgeous region known as the Swiss Riviera. Cradling the northern shore of Lake Geneva, you’ll find hillside vineyards, sprawling historic villages, luxury experiences, and a variety of outdoor activities.

A Switzerland must-see, Montreux is a highlight of the Swiss Riviera. Explore the Chillon Castle, a medieval fortress that overlooks the lake, or stroll through the charming Old Town with its quaint shops and cafes. It’s also famous for its annual Jazz Festival.

At the eastern end of the Swiss Riviera, Lausanne is home to a handful of top-notch museums, art galleries, and theaters. You can visit the Olympic Museum or wander through the beautiful sculpture gardens of Olympic Park.

The Swiss Riviera is also renowned for its vineyards and wine production. Take a tour of the Lavaux vineyard terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Or enjoy panoramic views of the cobalt-blue lake while taking advantage of all the water sports available to you on Geneva Lake! You can even take a vintage paddle steamer across the Swiss Riviera.

13. Attend a Music Festival

Every year, Switzerland hosts a diverse range of international events and music concerts centered around every genre of music. You’ll have an unforgettable experience with other music lovers. Also, these events offer unique destinations and opportunities to see a different side of Swiss culture!

Zurich Openair is a 5-day event in August with a star-studded lineup across 3 stages. Or you can try to get tickets to the exclusive Verbier Festival in July. Here, you’ll experience international classic music while relaxing in the mountain resort!

In the Swiss Riviera, there’s the Montreux Jazz Festival in June. Soak in the stunning setting while you attend all kinds of concerts and free stages set along Geneva Lake. You can also head the Lucerne Festival, a summer-long event featuring world-class classical performances.

Another event that draws visitors from around the world is OpenAir St. Gallen, at the end of June. This 3-day rock festival is one of the largest and oldest music festivals in Switzerland! Or enjoy the charming city of Bern while you attend Gurtenfestival, another massive annual international music festival.

14. Visit the Christmas Markets

During the holiday season, exploring Switzerland’s Christmas markets is one of the best things to do in Switzerland! You shop for unique gifts, traditional handcrafted items, and delicious treats. Some of the most popular Christmas markets are in Zurich, Basel, and Montreux. We lived in Basel during the holidays and can attest that the markets are so much fun! It’s more than just shopping. There are usually rides for kids and lots of great street food!

The atmosphere of these markets is truly magical. Stalls are covered with twinkling lights and festive decorations, creating an inviting ambiance that instantly gets you into the holiday spirit! Pick up hand-painted ornaments, sip on mulled wine, or sample roasted chestnuts while you shop.

Christmas markets offer live entertainment, including carol singers and musicians, adding to the festive charm. Children can go on carousel rides and meet Santa Claus, making it fun for the whole family! And the sense of community at these markets is palpable as locals and visitors gather together to celebrate.

 More Must-Do Activities in Switzerland for Thrill Seekers

Once you’ve seen the best of Switzerland, there’s more! Below are just a few heart-pumping experiences every kind of outdoor lover will want to add to their Switzerland bucket list.

15. Go Hiking

Many travelers visit Switzerland just to spend weeks hiking! It’s a no-brainer, exploring a myriad of trails that showcase the country’s natural beauty. One of the top things to do in Switzerland in summer, hikes are a great way to see a variety of landscapes.

And you don’t have to be a mountaineer to enjoy hiking in Switzerland. The Aare Gorge Trail is an easy hike with a clear path through a dramatic gorge near Meiringen. And inside the Swiss National Park, the Champlönch – Il Fuorn Trail is a wonderful nature walk that ends at a historic chateau-style hotel and restaurant.

Or enjoy the lush countryside along the moderate Lavaux Vineyards Trail . Overlooking Lake Geneva, this picturesque hike winds through terraced vineyards and charming villages. And a notable challenging hike is the Rhine Gorge River Hike, often referred to as the Swiss Grand Canyon. Take the route from the Rhine Gorge viewpoint down into the gorge and along the river for awe-inspiring views all around you!

During winter, some hiking trails transform into cross-country ski trails, offering a different way to experience Switzerland’s beauty. It’s an exhilarating experience, gliding through snowy landscapes, surrounded by pristine forests and mountains.

16. Try Skiing and Snowboarding

Of course, one of the most popular things to do in Switzerland is skiing in the Swiss Alps. You can visit a world-famous ski resort, like Zermatt, Verbier, and St. Moritz. They provide a range of slopes suitable for all levels of expertise, from gentle beginner slopes to challenging black runs. There’s something for everyone!

Switzerland attracts winter sports enthusiasts from around the world, with its picturesque alpine scenery and well-developed infrastructure. Swiss resorts are known for their excellent ski facilities. This includes state-of-the-art lifts, well-maintained slopes, and professional ski schools offering lessons for all ages and abilities.

Equipment rental services are readily available, but that’s just the beginning of the amenities that Switzerland’s ski resorts offer. Experience stunning mountain views and charming alpine villages. You’ll find cozy mountain huts where you can indulge in Swiss fare and après-ski activities! Book services at the spa, enjoy drinks at a slope-side bar, or sample piping-hot cuisine at a restaurant after a day skiing.

17. Mountain Biking

Mountain biking enthusiasts can take advantage of miles of trails through a variety of landscapes throughout Switzerland. Enjoy stunning views inside the Swiss National Park or take in the rolling terrain of the Swiss Plateau. And the Swiss Alps serve as a dramatic backdrop for mountain biking.

Switzerland’s mountain biking trails cater to all skill levels, from beginners to experienced riders seeking a challenge. Whether you prefer technical singletracks, scenic forest paths, or epic cross-country trails, you’ll find a trail to suit your style.

Some popular destinations for mountain biking include Verbier, Davos, Arosa, and the Engadin region. But throughout the country, you’ll find easily accessible bike parks and rental services. Many resorts also offer bike-friendly lifts and gondolas, making it convenient to access the higher elevations for thrilling descents!

18. Stand-up Paddleboarding, Kayaking, or Canoeing

Did you know that Switzerland offers fantastic opportunities for SUP boarding, kayaking, and canoeing? With 1500 lakes, you’re sure to find some that are ideal for these water sports, including Lake Geneva, Lake Lucerne, and Lake Zurich.

It’s a memorable way to see the country’s many pristine lakes, rivers, and stunning alpine landscapes. Float across the calm waters, soak in the picturesque scenery, and enjoy a unique perspective of the mountains and lakeside towns.

You can also go kayaking along the Rhine River and the Aare. Navigate through the river’s twists and turns, encounter gentle rapids, and enjoy sightseeing along the way.

Rental services and guided tours are available all over. This is a great way for everyone to enjoy these water sports, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced paddler seeking a guide through the countryside.

19. Via Ferrata

A Via Ferrata is one of the top things to do in Switzerland for thrill seekers due to the unique experience it offers! The sport combines the elements of rock climbing and hiking. With the aid of fixed cables, ladders, and bridges, you’ll transverse vertical cliffs, scale mountains, and conquer challenging terrain!

Switzerland has several Via Ferrata routes, one of the best being in Mürren, with its stunning views of the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Interestingly, Via Ferratas are a relatively modern addition to the long list of Swiss alpine sports. They actually originated in the Dolomites in Italy and have gained popularity in recent years.

Many outdoor enthusiasts add Via Ferrata trips to their Switzerland bucket list because they provide physical exertion, push boundaries, test endurance, and give the ultimate sense of accomplishment. Whether you’re an experienced climber or a beginner looking for an adrenaline rush, you’ll have an unforgettable adventure on a Via Ferrata.

Wellness Culture Things to Do in Switzerland

While you explore Switzerland, don’t forget to immerse yourself in the country’s established wellness culture. Switzerland’s thermal springs and clean mountain air have long been recognized for their healing properties.

Today, the country is known for its spa resorts and wellness centers that offer a wide array of treatments and focus on holistic well-being. Below you can read about some of the best wellness tourism experiences in Switzerland.

20. Swiss Thermal Spas

Switzerland boasts some of the best thermal spas in the world. They originate from the country’s natural thermal springs, renowned for their healing properties and therapeutic benefits.

Switzerland is home to numerous thermal baths and spa retreats built around them. You can relax in natural hot springs, indulge in soothing spa treatments, and enjoy the tranquil ambiance.

One of the most popular thermal spas is Tamina Therme in Bad Ragaz, cradled in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Its thermal waters have been flowing for over 700 years! There’s also the Leukerbad Therme, the largest thermal spa resort in the Alps.

Or for unique places to visit in Switzerland, there’s Hürlimannbad & Spa Zürich., located in a former brewery in the heart of Zurich. Soak in the rooftop pool while enjoying panoramic views of the city or book any number of wellness treatments and massages.

21. Alpine Wellness Hikes

Different than traditional hiking, alpine wellness hiking is a gentle way to move your body and enjoy the natural beauty of Switzerland. A huge part of wellness culture is mindfulness of your well-being and looking for opportunities to nourish your body.

On an alpine wellness hike, you’ll trek through alpine trails. Purposefully breathe in the fresh alpine air and contemplate the peacefulness of the mountains.

Some wellness hikes may include yoga sessions or meditation stop so you can connect with yourself and nature on a deeper level. Enjoy the benefits of low-impact exercise and the healing power of nature.

You can join guided hikes that focus on mindfulness, breathing techniques, and relaxation. Or stay at a wellness resort that includes walking trails you can explore on your own.

22. Alpine Herbal Remedies

Discover the traditional Swiss knowledge of herbal remedies and natural healing. Learn about the beneficial properties of alpine herbs, visit herb gardens, and explore local herbal medicine traditions.

23. Wellness Hotels and Resorts

When you’re looking for wellness tourism experiences, consider booking a stay at one of Switzerland’s world-class wellness hotels. One of the best things to do in Switzerland, they offer luxurious accommodations and a long list of unique wellness experiences. Check out the best places to stay in Switzerland to find some of these great resorts.

These hotels are designed to provide a holistic retreat, combining luxurious amenities, soothing spa facilities, and healthy cuisine. You can enjoy serene surroundings while you attend activities like yoga, meditation, and wellness workshops.

Bad Zurzach is a renowned spa town in Switzerland, home to a variety of exceptional wellness resorts and hotels. For over 100 years, the thermal salt springs have made this a destination for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation.

Stay at one of the town’s holistic-centered hotels, like Parkhotel Bad Zurach . Onsite you have access to a wellness center and spa, including an indoor thermal pool. But you’re also within walking distance of several wellness centers, including the sprawling SPA Medical Wellness Center.

Visiting Switzerland FAQ

What is switzerland known for.

Switzerland is that the country has several claims to fame, depending on your interest! There are the majestic Alps, with its stunning peaks, waterfalls, glacial lakes, and world-classing ski resorts. The country is known for its culinary scene, but especially for fondue and chocolate! Switzerland is also the world capital of watch production and boasts an influential spa industry.

How many days do you need in Switzerland?

If you can aim for a week or longer in Switzerland, do it. This will allow you to travel inside the country and really get a feel for everything in this amazing place! But you can also enjoy a quality 3- to 4-day trip if you focus on 1 region and stick to major landmarks. I highly recommend using our week-long Switzerland Itinerary to help you organize your trip and maximize your time.

What is the best month to go to Switzerland?

If you plan to visit Switzerland for winter sports, you’ll find the best conditions from December through February. For the cheapest rates and mild weather, aim for May or September. However, Switzerland offers an amazing experience all year round! Come June through August for the best summer weather and lush landscapes. Or if fall foliage makes your heart sing, early fall is the best time to plan a trip.

What are some of the top things to do in Switzerland?

No Switzerland visit is complete without exploring the Swiss Alps, whether you’re hiking the iconic Matterhorn or taking a scenic train ride on the Glacier Express. Experience Swiss culture by visiting charming cities like Zurich and Lucerne. Every visitor should delight in Swiss cuisine, indulging in traditional dishes like fondue. And soak in the beauty of nature with a cruise on Lake Geneva or to see Rhine Falls.

What Will You Add to Your Switzerland Bucket List?

Switzerland is unlike any other place you’ve been to! The country offers a wide range of activities and attractions that make it a top destination for travelers.

And you don’t have to pick, with so many experiences within your reach. You can explore the Swiss Alps or visit historic cities like Bern and Zurich. Indulge in rejuvenating spa treatments and take scenic train rides in the mountains.

You’re sure to find things to do in Switzerland to create lasting memories. If you’re planning a trip to Switzerland, be prepared for a one-of-a-kind adventure!

The post 23 Unforgettable Things to Do in Switzerland appeared first on Wanderlust Crew .

If you’re planning a trip to Switzerland, you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime! This captivating country nestled in the heart of Europe is known for its snow-capped mountains, charming villages, food culture, and so much more. There truly are things to do in Switzerland for every kind of traveler. You might be visiting [...]

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Top 10 Places to Visit in Switzerland: Best Switzerland Travel Spots in 2024

Krithika Babu

Updated On May 27, 2024

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 Top 10 Places to Visit in Switzerland: Best Switzerland Travel Spots in 2024

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The Best Months To Visit Switzerland

10 best tourist places to visit in switzerland, 1. walk through lucerne's iconic chapel bridge, 2. discover lake geneva’s resort rings, 3. discover zurich: where lakeside beauty meets urban excitement, 4. conquer the majesty: the matterhorn awaits, 5. unleash the marvel at the majesty, the rhine falls, 6. drench yourself in lake lugano where glacial waters sparkle amid alpines, 7. begin your adventures in the flower gardens of interlaken, 8. explore europe's highest train station: jungfraujoch, 9. get a glimpse of switzerland's most visited historic gem: chateau de chillon, 10. step back in time: discover the medieval charm of bern.

Welcome to a world where every corner whispers tales of wonder and beauty - Switzerland tourist places await your exploration. From the snow-capped peaks of the Alps to the serene shores of its pristine lakes, Switzerland’s attractive places are a canvas painted with the colors of adventure and tranquility.

Embark on a journey through Switzerland's captivating landscapes, where every turn unveils new places to see in Switzerland. Whether you're drawn to the historic charm of its cities or the untouched wilderness of its countryside, Switzerland offers a tapestry of experiences for every traveler. Join us as we unravel the treasures of this picturesque land, where every sight to see in Switzerland is a testament to its timeless allure.

The best months to visit Switzerland are between April and October for pleasant weather and blooming landscapes, though winter sports enthusiasts may prefer December to March. Spring (March to May) brings Alpine blooms and grazing cows, while summer (June to August) offers warm temperatures and vibrant lake shores, attracting larger crowds.

Fall (September to November) features wine and fruit harvests, and winter (December to February) is perfect for snow activities. In the lowlands, November and May are the rainiest, and many attractions have limited hours during these quieter months.

Ready to explore majestic Switzerland? Whether you're visiting or relocating, don't miss this guide to the 10 best tourist places to visit in Switzerland. From breathtaking mountain peaks to dreamy turquoise lakes, Switzerland offers a wealth of stunning destinations packed within its borders. Dive into the top picks and discover the unforgettable beauty of this Alpine gem!

Before You Set Off to Swiss, Here are some things you need to know about their Tourist Visas: Switzerland Tourist Visa Requirements: All You Need to Know

Imagine a turquoise lake surrounded by mountains, a car-free medieval old town with covered bridges, waterfront promenades, and frescoed historic buildings. Lucerne is one of the top Switzerland places to see, offering major attractions like the Chapel Bridge, Lion Monument, and the Swiss Transport Museum.

Known for its annual International Music Festival, Lucerne is a cultural hub and one of the best places to explore in Switzerland, making it a must-visit on any itinerary. For sights to see in Switzerland, Lucerne is truly a place worth visiting.

where to visit switzerland winter

Discover the top sights to see and places of interest in Switzerland, where Lake Geneva beckons with its Alpine beauty. From the historic charm of Geneva's old town to the picturesque promenades of Lausanne, and the vibrant energy of Montreux during the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival, there's no shortage of places to visit in Swiss.

Immerse yourself in culture at the Opera House and the Grand Théâtre, or simply stroll along the shores of Lake Geneva, soaking in the breathtaking scenery. Explore the best places to go and sights to see in Switzerland for an unforgettable journey.

Zurich

Discover Zurich, one of the prime places to see in Switzerland, nestled at the picturesque northwestern end of Lake Zurich. Dive into its rich cultural tapestry, from the charming Old Town's heritage shops to the world-class Kunsthaus Zurich. Indulge in shopping along Bahnhofstrasse and explore historic gems like the Gothic chateau housing the Swiss National Museum.

Don't miss family fun at Zurich Zoo, home to an exclusive Elephant Park and captivating Madagascar pavilion. Zurich truly epitomizes the essence of places to visit in Swiss, blending history, art, and family-friendly attractions seamlessly.

The iconic Matterhorn, one of the must-visit places of interest in Switzerland. Towering over the charming village of Zermatt, this majestic peak offers an unforgettable experience. Whether you're skiing its slopes in winter or hiking its trails in summer, the Matterhorn is a top destination to see and go in Switzerland, captivating visitors with its natural beauty and thrilling adventures.

Explore one of the top places of interest in Switzerland, the magnificent Rhine Falls in Schaffhausen. As the largest falls in Central Europe, spanning 150 meters, they offer an awe-inspiring spectacle.

During June and July, witness the cascading waters spilling over a 21-meter-high ledge of Jurassic limestone. Boat trips up the Rhine provide an unforgettable experience, making it a must-visit place to go in Switzerland.

Did you know Switzerland tops the chart, in the best places to visit in the world, here’s a quick read:

10 Best Places to Travel in the World: A Complete Tourism Guide

Discover Lake Lugano, one of the best places worth visiting in Switzerland. Nestled on the Swiss-Italian border in Ticino, this pristine blue water body exudes charming Mediterranean vibes, adorned with citrus groves and palm trees.

Explore the Italian-inspired architecture and savor fine food in Lugano, Ticino's vibrant hub. Cruise the lake on a steamer or soak in panoramic views from Monte San Salvatore. With its blend of Swiss efficiency and Italian allure, Lake Lugano is a gem among Switzerland's places to travel.

where to visit switzerland winter

Looking for an adventure-packed getaway in Switzerland? If yes, then you might be Interested in exploring the breathtaking mountain views.

Interlaken is truly a gem among Switzerland's places to see and explore. From hiking on the Harder Kulm Circular Path to paragliding over snow-capped peaks, there's no shortage of excitement here. Whether you're seeking adrenaline-pumping thrills or serene moments on the lakes, Interlaken has something for everyone. So why wait? Start planning your adventure today and experience the magic of Interlaken!

Jungfraujoch, the highest train station in Europe, is among the top sights to see in Switzerland. It offers stunning panoramic views of the UNESCO-recognized Great Aletsch Glacier and the surrounding 4,000-meter peaks.

This iconic destination features the Sphinx Observatory and is a gateway to memorable train journeys and treks, making it one of the must-visit Switzerland places to see. It's also a perfect spot to enjoy snow year-round, offering a cool retreat during the summer. For those looking for places worth visiting in Switzerland, Jungfraujoch is an essential stop.

Are you an Avid Traveler? Then Strike Your Bucket-list with 10 Most Visited Countries in the World in 2024

where to visit switzerland winter

Looking for enchanting places to explore in Switzerland? Have you considered Chillon Castle, an architectural treasure on the shores of Lake Geneva? Celebrated by artists like Lord Byron, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Victor Hugo, this historic gem is a must-visit among Switzerland places to see.

With 25 buildings clustered around three courtyards, it's undoubtedly one of the places worth visiting in Switzerland. Explore the Gothic underground rooms, heritage architecture, great halls, and the chapel adorned with 14th-century paintings. For anyone seeking unforgettable places to travel, Chillon Castle should be at the top of your list.

where to visit switzerland winter

Consider Bern among the best places to visit in Switzerland as it offers a perfect blend of old-world charm and modern vibrancy. This captivating city, with its cobbled streets, 16th-century fountains, and panoramic vistas, is among the top Switzerland places to see.

Visit the tallest cathedral, the Zytglogge medieval clock, and the Rose Garden for unforgettable experiences. Bern is undeniably one of the places worth visiting in Switzerland, offering a unique mix of history and culture, making it a must on your list of Switzerland places to travel.

All Set To Fly Off? First, get Clarity on Difference Between Visit Visa and Tourist Visa: What You Need to Know

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Krithika Babu

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This is the best time to visit Switzerland

Is there really a bad time to visit switzerland.

Vaud Switzerland by Lake Geneva

When you want to escape, Switzerland provides the ultimate playground. Jagged peaks cut into the horizon, the high alpine putting nature’s majesty on display. Hiking and biking trails let you roam and explore , with vast meadows and vistas around every turn. World-class terrain greets skiers and snowboarders, like Mont Fort at 4 Vallées in Verbier. Cuisines like fondue or Älplermagronen offer unique tastes and textures.

  • The Alps on a budget or perfect weather? Here’s when to visit Switzerland

When should you visit Switzerland?

That’s a lot to take in, and if it’s your first time, you might be wondering the best time to visit Switzerland. If you’re looking for low crowds and good deals, specific periods let you play on a budget. On the other hand, different seasons feature ideal weather or winter fun. Whatever you’re after, we’ll steer you right on your alpine vacation.

The Alps on a budget or perfect weather? Here’s when to visit Switzerland

As you plan your Swiss vacation, what do you hope to experience? Maybe you just want to be there, no matter the season, and want the best deal to make it happen. You could be a skier or snowboarder, thirsting for alpine adventure. If you’re a food enthusiast, chocolates and cheeses await throughout mountain villages. Each travel season has pros and cons, and we’ll provide the details to point you in the right direction.

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Spring offers low crowds and good deals

From April through mid-June, the shoulder season sees winter crowds disappear and prices drop. With reduced costs on plane tickets and hotel rooms, you’ll have extra cash for a chocolate tour in Geneva or a tram ride up the Matterhorn. 

As the snow melts off the peaks and wildflowers bloom, a perfect panorama surrounds your morning hikes (or trail runs). April features average temps in the 60s, with May bringing increased rain. In June, as summer sets in, long, 70-degree days bring all-day refreshment.

In spring, we’d visit Bern, Switzerland’s capital, a UNESCO World Heritage site with historic buildings, numerous fountains, and natural surroundings. After a walk through the city, swimming in the River Aare would offer cool relaxation.

Summer is nice, but crowded and expensive

No matter the travel destination, weather plays a central role in the experience. With summer’s balmy conditions and hiking opportunities, Switzerland’s high season costs extra and brings crowds. Since the snow’s disappeared from the peaks, you can hike to your heart’s content, and experience the high alpine. Take in a music festival or swim in a lake, and wonder if you’ve arrived in paradise.

But those ideal experiences come with a cost, with pricing as much as 50% more than shoulder or low seasons. Not only that, but the country’s beauty can be interrupted by numerous travelers getting their fair share.

We’d visit Lake Geneva, take a cruise on the pristine waters, and then enjoy fondue as the sun sets. Talk about picture-perfect.

Autumn is refreshing and economical

The initial weeks of fall, from mid-September through October, bring brisk air and stunning foliage. Watch the surroundings change as you roam the mountains, and enjoy cooler temps from the 50s to the 70s. As winter inches closer, the alpine chill is a special feeling. Since summer throngs are gone, you can tour villages or take cable cars in peace, take in the scenery, and do as you please. 

As a shoulder season, fall lets you travel on a budget for a European getaway that won’t break the bank. That, along with autumn’s weather and sights, make it an excellent time to visit.

Fall is ideal for a panoramic train ride on the Bernina Express , which traverses the 65-meter-high Landwasser Viaduct and passes the Morteratsch glacier. Get your camera ready . 

Winter offers exceptional skiing and snowboarding

The Swiss Alps are different. One look at the Matterhorn shows why. The dramatic peak, its eons-old features cutting and jutting into the sky, is the ideal alpine silhouette. Beyond that, Switzerland’s numerous peaks and resorts — like 4 Vallées in Verbier — offer steeps and challenges few others can. If you want to push your limits, a trip there should be on your bucket list.

But with those qualities come popularity, and from mid-November through March, mountain towns are overrun by winter enthusiasts, bringing higher prices and crowded slopes. You could score a deal early in the season, but snow levels might be low, with little terrain available. 

We’d head straight for Verbier, and have a guide show us around . At the end of the day, we’d enjoy raclette at Chez Simon, situated right on the mountain.

It’s nice to save money on a vacation . Whether on plane tickets, lodging, or activities, getting more for your dollar is a satisfying feeling. But if you’re after specific things — like skiing, swimming in a mountain lake, or hiking the high alpine — you’ll have to pony up. For those who want to visit Switzerland and spend as little as possible, try spring or fall. But if it were us, we’d save up for a winter journey to Verbier or a summer escape to Lake Geneva. That seems worth it to get the most out of the country’s mountains, culture, and cuisine.  

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With its mix of spring and summer, June is an ideal time to get away. There’s a lingering freshness in the air, but there’s also a sweet warmth inching in. It’s a time to be outside, experience nature, and take in new places. Not only that, but since peak crowds haven’t arrived, you could score a deal on airfare and lodging.

Iceland is one of the most fascinating countries in the world: an oversized island of fire and ice between North America and mainland Europe in the North Atlantic. While this island is somewhat larger than Ireland, Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe, which means Iceland abounds in open spaces and natural wonders. And with Reykjavík as its cultural center, Iceland touts additional great lures, from a thriving art and music scene to intriguing cuisine and colorful architecture.

One of the country's greatest features has to do with its positioning. Being so far north, Iceland is treated to wildly long days right around the summer solstice. The weather tends to be cool and wet, but it's compensated for by the hyper-extended days. During June, the sun there tends to set around 23:00 (or 11 p.m.) and come up around 4:00 (or 4 a.m.). It's prime time to cross things off your Nordic bucket list, like driving around the whole country via the gorgeous Ring Road or trekking up north to dip in the restorative waters of Mývatn. But when is the best time to visit Iceland? Keep reading and we'll give you a guide. What happens in a year in Iceland?

Italy, with its rich history, beautiful landscapes, and world-famous cuisine, has long been a favorite destination for travelers seeking an unforgettable experience. Amidst its picturesque scenery lie some of Europe’s most captivating natural wonders– the Italian lakes. Whether you are relaxing by the water or embarking on a scenic hike, the lakes in Italy provide a gorgeous backdrop. These are just a few beautiful Italian lakes to add to your bucket list. 1. Lake Garda

Location: Northern Italy Where to stay: Popular towns to stay in include Sirmione, Bardolino, and Malcesine. How to get there: Lake Garda is easily accessible by both car and public transportation. Major airports such as Verona Villafranca Airport and Milan Bergamo Airport are within driving distance, and train services connect nearby cities like Verona and Brescia to the lake’s shores.

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A row of coastal multi coloured houses in Scotland which are reflected in the calm waters.

A practical guide to touring Scotland's islands, from midge-dodging to ferry bookings

Get the most out of your visit with our booking tips and packing advice.

Most of the 900-odd islands and islets off the coast of Scotland can be grouped into four main archipelagos: Shetland and Orkney in the north, and the Inner and Outer Hebrides in the east. They’re impossible to neatly define — some with rocky crags, some with shores so scenic they could stand in for the Tropics. Although remote, they can be busy, and it pays to plan in advance.

How far in advance should I book my accommodation?

Although you might get away with rocking up in towns like Stornoway and Lerwick and finding a bed for the night on the hoof, it’s worth remembering that you’re dealing with a rural region, and hotels are few and far between. If you’re travelling in the peak summer season or during school holidays, you’ll need to book several months in advance — if not longer — to secure the best rooms.

How frequent are the ferry crossings, and how far in advance should I book them?

The ferries are the lifeblood of the islands, so most major destinations have at least a daily link to the mainland. While you can often turn up at a ferry port and travel on the next available service, it’s always best to book your journeys in advance, especially if you’re travelling with a car.

CalMac , which serves many of the islands off the west coast, generally publishes its summer timetable in January and its winter schedule in September, with bookings opening in phases shortly afterwards. NorthLink Ferries , which serves Orkney and Shetland, usually publishes its timetable and opens bookings for the following calendar year in November. If you’re travelling between Aberdeen and Lerwick, you’ll sail overnight and will need to book either a cabin, sleeping pod or reclining seat — best done as far in advance as possible.

What should I pack?

Whatever your plans, you’ll need layers (thermal ones in winter), a decent rain jacket and waterproof shoes. Leave out the formal wear; the isles are a laid-back place, and even the fanciest dinner can be enjoyed in a jumper and walking boots.

Should I plan for rain?

The Scottish weather has a dreadful reputation, and there’s a reason so many Scots jet off in summer to destinations with guaranteed warm, dry weather. Scotland, and particularly its west coast, is a wet and windy place — but as islanders love to say, if you don’t like the weather, wait and it’ll change. This is a place where clouds tend to scuttle overhead rather than bed in for the long haul, so take the local advice to do things ‘between weathers’: when you get a sunny spell, make sure to make the most of it.

What about the midges?

Scotland’s famous midges can ruin an otherwise pleasant summer’s evening. While these teeny, flying insects are intensely annoying, their bites are harmless, and you won’t encounter them if it’s sunny, even slightly windy or outside the summer months. They like dark clothing, so wear lights and brights, and apply a liberal spray of Smidge insect repellent — it’s DEET-free and was invented by a Scottish midge expert.

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