Switzerland remains one of the most famous European destinations for a whole array of reasons. The stunning vistas, snowcapped peaks, winter sports, and relaxing swiss environment coupled with cheese fondue and chocolate all make the country a place to revere. Whatever reason you are visiting this beautiful European country, you are sure that you will find a reason to explore what it has to offer. Before planning your itinerary, it’s crucial to understand when is the best time to visit Switzerland.
Determining the right time to visit the country is integral during the planning process because it will make it simpler in terms of a place to stay, where to visit, and flight paths. If you are looking to visit Switzerland, then the most important thing is to ensure that your timing is right and your trip is well planned for you to cover as many places as possible within the period that you are in the country.
You should understand that there is no best time to visit Switzerland because there is always something to do during different seasons. In this article, we have divided it into sections that will help you choose the right season for you. As well you will get my 5 best picks for each season.
The official dates for spring run from March to mid-June, and it is an exciting period to visit Switzerland. The country’s offseason will give you a chance to explore areas that would otherwise be full during regular seasons. Besides, you are bound to meet with other people who share similar values, making the process easy and fast for you to acclimatize. During this period, the weather is characterized by cooler temperatures and long daylight hours, which usually begins on the last Sunday of March. If you can choose when to visit Switzerland, I can’t recommend more visiting Switzerland in April.
It is a perfect period for you to get your skiing gear on and enjoy the various activities in this region. Besides, the alps are still covered in snow, and flowers begin to blossom. You can still enjoy the scenic mountains, and you can get cable cars running to the top destination.
If you are a cheese lover, you can visit Gruyeres on the first Sunday of May as they have an annual festival that allows people to sample some of the most exceptional cheeses from the country. As you approach, may the temperatures begin to rise, and it is warm enough to melt the snow, and you can get a glimpse of the narcissus blooms across the country.
Best things to do in Switzerland in Spring
- Skiing (STILL). Crazy enough, you can still ski in Switzerland in Spring, the season is not over yet and in a very high up places it ends up just in mid April. Best places to visit is Saas-Fee and Zermatt at this time of the year.
- Kayaking. Switzerland has amazing huge lakes with pristine views to the Alps.
- Gondola rides. Most of the gondolas are open all year long and in the mild weather conditions you can visit many amazing peaks in Switzerland, even above 3000 meters. The one I really recommend is called Mt Pilatus; check it out here – Visit Mt Pilatus.
- Visit Ticino. Ticino is a canton next to Italy and it has the best weather in Switzerland in Spring. It has many beautiful villages, mountains, trails, lakes and so on. Ticino is your place to visit in Spring. Check out best places in Ticino here: Ticino top places to visit.
- Visit Basel. Basel is the capital of museums in Switzerland, so it is perfect for this season. Have a coffee in the old town and stroll to the Kunstmuseum or Tinguely museum in Basel, you will love it.
The summer season in Switzerland lasts from the third week of June through the third week of September. Switzerland is booming with a myriad of activities during the summer period. You can enjoy endless activities from mountain excursion, boating, fishing, among other fun activities. The hiking trails are usually open during this period, and you can take your hiking boots to explore the beautiful country.
You can travel to major attractions such as Jungfraujoch as well as mt. Titlis, among other attractive destinations. In addition, you can explore the jazz festival and other fun activities in the region. The temperatures range from 18 to 25 degrees. There are various places where you can take a dip and enjoy fun fishing activities.
Best things to do in Switzerland in summer
- Hiking. That is a must in Switzerland in summer. Switzerland has more than 65 000 kilometers of very well maintained hiking trails all around in the mountains and other regions. You are going to love the nature, the cows, the atmosphere, the views, the peaks, all of it. Check out my favourite lists for hiking: Best hikes in Grindelwald, Best hikes in Lauterbrunnen, Best hikes in Wengen.
- Swimming in the lake. Switzerland may not have a sea, but it damn has the most beautiful lakes in Europe. And it has many of them and they are as clean as it can be. You can find many lakes up in the Alps and many lakes in the lower regions. You will love it. Check out: the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland and the famous Oeschinensee.
- Visit Jungfraujoch. Jungfraujoch is the highest mountain station in Europe standing at 3463 meters. Even in the middle of summer it is winter up there. Before getting to Jungfraujoch you will have one of the most fascinating train rides in Switzerland as well. Find out more: Visit Jungfraujoch.
- Bike riding. If you love mountain bike riding, that is the time to do it. In Switzerland you will find many gondolas which can take you very high up and all you have to do later, just ride down and enjoy the views. Just be careful, some bike trails are very steep and rocky.
- Visit Zermatt. Zermatt is one of the most beautiful and historical car free villages in Switzerland. The most amazing thing about Zermatt is, that it has Matterhorn it its backyard. Even in the middle of the village you can get a glimpse of the amazing and famous Swiss peak. Do not forget to try the Gornegrat hike.
The fall season runs from the third week of September to the third week of September. This period brings a whole new dimension as the beautiful autumn foliage creates a stunning landscape with a serene environment. Perhaps this is one of the periods that many people visit the country.
Besides, you can some of the best prices across the country. While the days may get short, you will spend most of your time enjoying your life because of the many activities you will find. During the September period, the alpine villages are thronged by cows, and the villages in these villages celebrate the cows by wearing their crown. It is one of the life experiences and this can only be experienced in Switzerland. In October, you will experience one of the most dramatic weather changes.
The cable cars begin to reduce their trips to the region, and the weather can be a little chilly. For wine lovers, this is a perfect period. It is the period for harvesting grapes, and you can watch firsthand as they are converted into some of the most exceptional wines in the region. November comes with a winter taste as the weather begins to get chilly and wet, making all the fun summer activities unpleasant.
However, you have a lot of indoor activities that you can enjoy during this period. There are over 500 museums in the country, and you will get to explore them during the fall period.
Best things to do in Switzerland in Autumn
- Enjoy the local swiss cuisine. Switzerland is famous for their amazing cheese dishes: fondue, raclette and many others. Get to the local restaurant, cozy up, get some cheese and enjoy the early sunset.
- Visit Jura mountains. Jura mountains is yet another mountain range in Switzerland. The mountains there are a bit higher than 1000 meters, but you can still get breathtaking views and it is not all snowed in in Autumn. Check out: Best things to do in Jura.
- Visit Zürich. Zürich is beautiful painted by autumn colors. Enjoy the slow walks by the lake and stroll down to the old town. Have a cup of coffee and a local dessert in a tiny coffee shop.
- Visit Montreux. Montreux is situated in a splendid location: next to enormous Geneva lake, in front of the lake stands Swiss Alps and the city is surrounded by vineyards. In the autumn months it has a beautiful and colorful atmosphere all around. You can visit the local vineyards trails and the castle. Check out: Things to do in Montreux.
- Spend a day in Lucerne. Lucerne is extraordinary beautiful in Autumn months as straight from the city center you can sea the Swiss Alps peaks getting white and the walks by the lake in the middle of the oldtown are not chilly yet. Do not forget to take many instagramy pictures on the lakes bridges – they are very famous. Check out: Lucerne things to do.
The winter period runs from the third week of November through the third week of March. Snows across the country characterize the winter period. There are numerous winter sports activities that you indulge in as you embrace. The best destination that you can visit during the winter period. It is a perfect destination where you can enjoy winter skiing, snowboarding, among others.
During this period, the weather is cloudy and wet, and you should plan effectively for this period. If you want that Christmassy feel, visit the traditional Christmas markets during the winter period and enjoy hearty meals and warm drinks.
In December, the weather can get extremely cold, humid and overly unpredictable. Plan to spend your time either on the slopes or indoors by a fire enjoying hearty traditional food and warm drinks. During the winter period, as you approach the new year, there are numerous fun activities that you can do in the country.
The swiss celebrate not only the new year but also the 13th when the Gregorian calendar begins. Besides, there are significant events held across the country, from snow polo world cup, international trade fairs, and hot air balloon festival. If you are not a fan of winter sports, you can visit the warmer climates of the country in the Ticino valley. The weather features a Mediterranean twist hence the warmer climate.
A major tip is that you should carry woollen clothes and warm gear to help you beat the cold climate.
Best things to do in Switzerland in winter
- Skiing. Without a doubt – that is a must in winter in Switzerland. That is what Switzerland is famous for – the best skiing resorts in the world. There are dozens of smaller skiing resorts and as well as big as 300 kilometers (counting all slopes lengths) ones. I really suggest you visiting the Jungfrau ski resort as it at the moment it has the most modern gondola ride in all the world (the line from Grindelwald to Eigergletscher). There are many small restaurants and coffee places on the slopes, so you will never get cold or hungry, just enjoy the rides with your skis or snowboard. Other famous places to ski: Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Titlis, St. Moritz, Davos.
- Snowshoeing. I love snowshoeing myself, so I must recommend it to you. It can be quite demanding, but if you’ve never tried it – it is a must in a winter season in Switzerland. You will get to hike through huge snow fields and no worries – with snowshoes it is ten times easier. There are hundreds of snowshoe trails, but my favorite one is in Isenfluh, check it out: Snowshoeing in Isenfluh. One more great place: Bernina pass.
- Cross country skiing. Switzerland has hundreds of kilometers of cross country skiing tracks prepared for you. Some routes are 5km long, some are 20km and longer. Most famous places to do this is: Maloja, St. Moritz, Lauterbrunnen.
- Visit Christmas markets. With all my heart I can say that Christmas markets in Switzerland are the most beautiful ones. Switzerland really knows how to prepare for Christmas: cities are full of beautiful decorations, dozens of Christmas trees, many lights and the jolly mood all around. Find out more here: Best Christmas markets in Switzerland.
- Winter hiking. If you are not up to Snowshoeing, there’s no need to rent them, you can still have amazing hikes in the snow in Switzerland up high in the mountains. Swiss authorities prepare many hiking trails for winter where you can walk even with your running shoes, they are that good maintained (but hiking shoes for sure are better, especially waterproof ones). Places I recommend: Maloja, Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, St. Moritz, Davos, Zernez, Pontresina.
Here you go. As you can see, there is no best time to visit Switzerland as every season offers something special. Plan your trip accordingly and you’ll have a stunning time here.