When is the best time to visit Switzerland?
Snow-covered peaks, charming historic towns, delectable cheese, and some of the most breathtaking landscapes make Switzerland a perennial favorite and one of the most beautiful places to visit in the world! With a plethora of activities to experience every season, it’s advisable to find the best time to visit Switzerland.
The most popular times to visit Switzerland are the summer months of July and August and the winter months from December to March. While summertime is the perfect time to swim in the crystal clear and clean waters of Switzerland’s many lakes, the winter months are ideal for snow activities.
However, the shoulder months from April to June are an excellent time to visit the country without the crowds. Springtime blossoms cover the region’s valleys and mountains during this period. The months of September and October are perfect for hiking and city explorations.
It’s the coldest month of the year, with most cities in the country receiving frequent snow. The ski season kicks into high gear. Temperatures hover around freezing point.
- Dig into a hot pot of fondue at Geneva
- Get ready for an unforgettable train ride to view the majestic Matterhorn aboard the Gornergrat Railway
Temperatures start to inch up, but there is still plenty of snow to go around, especially at higher altitudes. Ski resorts are busy, and it’s a great month for winter sports
- Art connoisseurs will appreciate a tour of the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern
- Swish down some of the world’s best ski slopes at Zermatt
The first signs of spring can be found in the blossoming flowers surrounding the lakes of Switzerland. Ski season is still on at resorts located at higher altitudes. Day time temperatures break into the 50s, well above the freezing mark.
- Get an insight into Swiss culture at the Swiss National Museum in Zurich
- Discover the inner workings of Zytglogge, a medieval tower in Bern that houses one of the oldest clocks in Switzerland
A carpet of wildflowers covers the countryside. Most ski resorts close for the season by the end of the month while hiking trails open up. Expect a mix of rainy and dry days during the month.
- Admire the Grossmünster’s medieval architecture in Zurich
- Delight at the Jet d’Eau, Geneva’s most iconic attraction
With the winter crowds leaving and the summer crowds yet to arrive, it’s a quiet time to visit Switzerland. Temperatures rise into the high 50s. But with around 15-18 days of rainfall, it’s best to pack some rain gear and layers.
- To shop for the most exclusive brands in the world, head to Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich
- Take in views of the city’s tree-lined promenade and the beauty of the Alps as you hop on a boat ride over Lake Geneva
With temperatures hitting 70F and lean crowds, it’s one of the best months to visit Switzerland. Mild weather and clear blue skies make it an excellent time to explore the country’s hiking trails. Expect some rain during the month.
- Savor a relaxed lunch at Vieille Ville in Geneva
- Sign up for a walking tour of Bern’s UNESCO-listed medieval Old Town
Summer sets in firmly with daytime highs in the mid-70s. Pleasant temperatures, wildflower-covered valleys, and the chance to try out various outdoor activities make this one of the busiest months to visit Switzerland.
- Take a cruise down Lake Zurich for sublime views of the city from the water
- An exciting cable car ride takes you to the balcony of Geneva, the Salève
Daytime temperatures cross the 80F mark, and crowds continue to flock to the cities and mountain resorts. A variety of outdoor activities and summer festivals make this another popular month to visit Switzerland.
- Bonfires and fireworks are part of the Swiss National Day celebrations
- For the best views of Zurich, take a train ride to Uetliberg
Thinning crowds and the appearance of fall foliage towards the end of the month make September an excellent time to visit Switzerland. It’s a great month to go high altitude hiking too. Day time temperatures drop to around 70F.
- Discover charming cafes and quirky shops as you amble the streets of Altstadt or Old Town in Zurich
- Take a relaxing walk along Lake Brienz
Crisp, cool weather conditions, and a riot of fall colors make October a good month to visit Switzerland. Average daytime highs are in the upper 50s, and the mountains may experience their first dusting of snow.
- Surround yourself with nature at the Swiss National Park, the Alps’ oldest national park
- Hop on an unforgettable train ride to the top of Europe, the Jungfraujoch, for 360-degree views of the Aletsch Glacier
With temperatures in the mid-40s, it is time to bring out your winter gear. Many cable cars, cogwheel trains, hotels, and attractions close for maintenance. Some high altitude ski resorts may start operations depending on weather conditions.
- Savor some of the world’s best Swiss chocolates at Zurich
- Delve into the history and architecture of St Pierre Cathedral in Geneva
Things kick into high gear, especially during the second half of the month. Charming Christmas markets pop up across the country, and the ski slopes open up for the season.
- Sip on mulled wine and get into the festive spirit at the Christkindlimarkt in Zurich
- Get pampered with a sauna and spa treatment at one of Zermatt’s many spas
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Best Time to Visit Switzerland by Season
Switzerland experiences all four seasons, with the summer months being the most popular for travel and tourism. With plenty of sunlight hours and pleasant temperatures, summer, which extends from mid-June to mid-September, is the perfect season for city exploration, lake swimming, and mountain hiking. Rain makes brief yet frequent appearances during these months.
Fall or autumn sets in only by the end of September as the leaves start to change color and the air gets cool and crisp. By October, the higher passes/pass roads begin to close. Towards the end of November, temperatures drop into the mid-40s and the days get shorter. Snow can be expected from the first week of December, particularly at the higher altitudes. It’s low season in the cities, except during the second half of December when Christmas markets pop up all over the country. But, in the mountains and ski resorts, it’s high season, which continues well into March. The landscape changes in April, with scenes of snow-covered valleys being replaced by those of flower-strewn hills and countrysides. Expect rain during this season.
What to Pack
With distinct seasons and weather conditions, what you pack for Switzerland depends on when you are visiting.
With varying temperatures at different altitudes, the general rule is to pack layers while traveling to Switzerland. Rain is not uncommon during spring and summer, so be sure to pack an umbrella and rain gear. While temperatures can reach the 80s during the day in summer, it can get a little chilly after the sun goes down, so a light jacket or sweater is recommended. The air turns chilly in autumn, so it’s time to bring out your full sleeve T-shirts, trousers and warm woolens. During winter, the temperature often drops below freezing, especially in the higher altitudes. If you are visiting Switzerland during its cold months for sightseeing or skiing, you will have to pack your winter coat, thermals, woolen cap, and gloves. Remember to bring sunglasses, sun hats, and sunscreen as the sun is stronger at higher altitudes. Switzerland is full of opportunities to experience the outdoors, so if you plan on hiking, good quality walking shoes are a must. For those planning on taking a dip in one of the country’s many beautiful lakes, swimwear is necessary.
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