The best time to travel Switzerland (month by month)

by | May 22, 2022 | Europe, Switzerland, Travel Guides | 0 comments

The best time to travel Switzerland month by month
The best time to travel to Switzerland month by month

Have you been thinking about visiting Switzerland, but are not sure when to go? Let me tell you the good news first: Switzerland is an all-year-round destination and there is no bad time for a trip.

The best time to travel Switzerland really depends on what you want to experience!

With an abundance of jaw-dropping landscapes and historic cities, Switzerland is an epic outdoor destination. Whether you’re looking for a fun ski trip or a unique city getaway, endless hiking trails, or a leisurely wine tasting at a local winery, there’s a best month to visit Switzerland for everything.

Having spent most of my life in Switzerland, I will tell you exactly what to expect each month, along with suggestions of the best places to visit, and epic things to do. In addition, I am going to include some hidden gems and lesser visited places, as well as unique Swiss traditions worth experiencing.

The best time to travel to Switzerland

As I said earlier, Switzerland is a great destination to visit all year round. Switzerland has four distinctive seasons, each with its own special charm and attractions. There isn’t really one main peak season, but more of a shift between regions throughout the year.

Winter in Switzerland

December, January, and February are the coldest months. You can expect sub-zero temperatures, and often snow, especially if you’re staying in the mountains. Winter is the perfect time to visit Switzerland for snow activities and for Christmas markets (if you plan your trip for December).

Spring in Switzerland

March, April, and May are ideal months to visit Switzerland if you’re looking for fewer crowds and cheaper prices. The days are slowly getting longer again, the snow starts melting and the landscapes are in full bloom. While the beginning of spring is also still a good time for snow sports, more and more hiking trails become accessible as the season progresses.

Summer in Switzerland

June, July, and August are the hottest months in Switzerland. July to mid-August is also the main holiday season, so expect bigger crowds and higher prices. In my opinion, summer is still the best time to travel Switzerland, if you want to enjoy the breathtaking landscapes to the fullest.

Autumn in Switzerland

September, October, and November are quieter, but extremely stunning months in Switzerland. The leaves turn into stunning shades of golden yellow, orange, and red. Especially in early Autumn, the weather is usually quite stable, making for perfect hiking conditions. The wine harvest peaks in October, making it the best month to visit Switzerland if you want to explore one of the wine regions.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Switzerland in January

January is one of the best months to visit Switzerland for snow activities like skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing. It’s a busy month, especially in the mountain regions, but it gets a bit quieter from around mid-January.

You can also find an overview of all ski areas in Switzerland here.

Even if you don’t intend on skiing, the best places to visit in January are the Alps. You can find charming mountain villages and large ski areas in the canton of Wallis and Grisons, or in the Bernese Oberland.

  • popular destinations in Wallis: Zermatt, Verbier, Saas-Fee, Crans-Montana, Portes du Soleil
  • popular destinations in the Grisons: Lenzerheide, Arosa, Davos, Flims-Laax, Engadin St. Moritz
  • popular destination in the Bernese Oberland: Adelboden, Gstaad, Wengen, Jungfrau region
If you’re planning to go skiing, try to hit the slopes mid-week to escape the big crowds.

January is the coldest month of the year in Switzerland. Especially in the mountain regions, you can expect snow, sub-zero temperatures, and frozen lakes.

Warm clothes, scarves and gloves, and warm sturdy shoes are a must if you’re planning a trip to Switzerland at this time of the year.

Switzerland in February

In terms of temperatures and the weather, February is very similar to January. There is usually still a lot of snow in the mountain regions, making it another great month for snow activities. Many schools are off for a week or two in February, which is why it can get quite busy. Try to tailor your trip around it.

While there is still snow in the mountains, you can feel spring slowly approaching in Ticino, Switzerland’s southernmost region. Thanks to the Mediterranean climate, winter is a lot shorter here, and the magnolias, camellias, and azaleas start blooming as early as February.

Carnival in Switzerland

The best thing about visiting Switzerland in February is Carnival. A fun and colorful festival, Carnival is also an old, and for many people very important, Swiss tradition. Carnival is celebrated all over the country at different times, but mostly throughout February.

Some places have very specific Carnival customs, but they all have some things in common: fun costumes, Guggenmusik (typical carnival brass band music), and a lot of paper confetti.

The biggest Carnival in Switzerland takes place in Basel and is really part of the city’s identity. For 3 days, starting at 4 AM on day one, the city is turned upside down in the best way possible! If you’re in Switzerland during Basel Carnival, I 100% recommend planning a trip to Basel.

If you want to experience a really fun and exciting part of Swiss culture, February is definitely the best month to visit Switzerland!

Switzerland in March

March marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring in Switzerland. But don’t let this fool you – you might still need some warm clothes in March. The weather can be very unpredictable. You might be sitting outside in a t-shirt one day, and wear a coat and beanie tomorrow.

Especially in the Alps, winter lingers for a bit longer. March is actually another good month for ski holidays, at least in high altitudes like Zermatt or Samnaun-Ischgl. It’s not a very popular travel month in Switzerland, so you can expect lower prices and smaller crowds than in January or February.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Switzerland in April

There’s a saying in Switzerland “April, April does what he wants”, referring to the unpredictable weather in April. In April, you can have anything, from beautiful, almost summer-like days, to rain or even snowstorms. Layering is your best friend in April.

But it is also the best month to visit Switzerland if you want to see the landscape in full bloom. 

3 stunning places to visit in Switzerland in April

  • Zürich, where you can see the cherry trees along the streets with beautiful pink or white blossoms. You can get live updates on the flowering status from Zürich Tourism here.
  • the Bodensee region, where the fruit orchards and apple trees turn into a sea of blossoms from mid-April onwards.
  • Morges at Lake Geneva, where the roughly 150.000 tulips in Independence park start blooming as early as April, and all the way to mid-May.
If you visit Switzerland in April, you can even still add a few days of skiing to your itinerary.

A lot of ski areas in Switzerland close down for summer around mid-April, but some even keep going until May. If you do plan on skiing in April, just make sure you hit the slopes early in the morning, before the snow gets too soggy. You can find an overview of different season-end dates here.

Switzerland in May

May is a beautiful middle thing between spring and summer. In May, the days start getting longer, the mornings and evenings start getting warmer, and you’ll get a first taste of what summer in Switzerland will be like.

All things considered, May is probably one of the best months to visit Switzerland.

May is a pretty quiet month in Switzerland, with some hotels in rural areas even closing for a few weeks. The big summer holidays mostly only start at the beginning of July, which means that in May, you’ll benefit from lower prices and pretty small crowds, especially mid-week.

If you have some popular tourist destinations like Luzern or Lauterbrunnen on your Switzerland bucket list, May is a great time to plan your visit, especially during weekdays.

Day temperatures in May often rise to 20°C or more. As the snow melts in the mountains, more and more hiking trails become accessible. And a lot of the mountain huts also start opening up for summer in late May or early June.

2-week Namibia itinerary
Swimming at Lai Blau in Switzerland

Switzerland in June

Besides September, June is the best month to visit Switzerland to experience summer without the large crowds. And just like May, June is another excellent month to plan your trip!

Temperatures in June are often in the 20°C range, and you will see a lot of people spending as much time outside as possible. Especially from late afternoon, people flock to the lakes and rivers, or sit on restaurant terraces for an after-work drink and/or swim.

If you decide to visit Switzerland in June, pack mostly for a summer holiday, but bring some warmer clothes and a rain coat too.

Unfortunately, June is also the wettest month of the year. But don’t worry, there is still a lot to do in Switzerland, even on rainy days, especially if you don’t mind getting a bit wet.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

4 day trip ideas for rainy days

Tamina Gorge | Follow the secured path along the roaring river into the gorge, all the way to the 36.5-degree thermal spring. Combine it with a trip to the Tamina thermal spa to soak in the thermal water.

Beatus Caves  | Explore the cave system on a 1 km track into the mountain, past stalagmites, and stalactites, through grottoes, and over deep gorges. Entry is CHF 19.- for adults.

Aare Gorge | It takes about 45 minutes to walk through to gorge, and the trail is a mix of tunnels and secured wooden walkways. The gorge is most impressive and mystical on rainy days. Entry is CHF 10.-.

St. Léonard Lac Souterrain | Visit Europe’s larges navigable underground lake. You can explore the crystal clear water of this 300-meter-long lake on a 30-minute boat tour. Tickets are CHF 12.- for adults.

Not all of these places are open all-year-round. Make sure to check the opening times if you plan on visiting outside the summer months!

Switzerland in July

Switzerland’s hottest month is also one of the busiest. If you plan on visiting Switzerland in July, be prepared for big crowds and high accommodation rates, especially in popular tourist destinations.

July is also one of the main holiday months for Swiss people, and many like to spend their holidays in the country. But if you don’t mind the crowds and high prices, or if you are happy to visit some less popular places, July is an amazing month to travel Switzerland.

Why not visit some less popular, but equally stunning alternatives instead of the tourist hot spots?

Certain places in Switzerland, like Seealpsee or Lauterbrunnen, have become very popular (amongst locals and tourists). But the good news is that you can find many other turquoise mountain lakes and charming alpine villages in many other parts of the country too:

  • for amazing hiking opportunities and charming villages you could visit Val Müstair or Val d’Hérens
  • some off-beat mountain lake alternatives are Lake Cauma, Lago di Cama, or Lake Fälen

Just like in June, it does also rain quite a bit in July. If you’re unlucky, you can get days with a lot of rain, or even a bit of snow in higher regions, and temperatures of 10 degrees or less. But again, there is plenty to do in Switzerland, no matter the weather.

Use Booking.com to find the best places to stay during your trip to Switzerland!

Switzerland in August

August is pretty much the same as July, with high temperatures, high accommodation prices, and big crowds, especially in the first half of the month. But it starts quieting down a bit towards the end of August.

Celebrating the Swiss National Day

On the first of August, we celebrate the Swiss National Day, to celebrate the founding of the Swiss Confederacy. The first of August is a public holiday, with celebrations all over the country.

Many places are decorated with Swiss or regional flags, and paper lanterns, and shops sell pastries with little Swiss paper flags. The main part of the festivities happens at night when a lot of people and towns organize fireworks and large bonfires.

Hiking the Swiss Wine Trail in Lavaux
Hiking the Swiss Wine Trail in Lavaux

Switzerland in September

Together with June, September is the best month to visit Switzerland if you want to experience the Swiss summer with fewer crowds. The days in September are still mostly warm, but fall starts hinting its arrival in the crisp mornings, cool nights, and first trees changing color.

The weather in September is a bit more stable, with fewer rainy days on average than in June, July, and August. It’s an amazing month to visit Switzerland for outdoor activities like hiking or mountain biking.

If you’re planning to visit some Swiss cities, September is a good month for you too. The temperatures are slightly lower, making city trips more pleasant. Many of them are built by a lake or river, where you can still take a refreshing dip in September.

Alpabzug – alpine cattle descent

Many farmers take their cattle to the alpine pastures at the beginning of summer. And the return of the cattle, usually in September or early October is a special occasion in many regions in Switzerland.

The farmers dress in clothes typical of the region, and the cows wear large bells and a colorful bouquet of flowers on their heads. Some regions combine alpine descents with traditional Swiss music, market stalls selling regional products, and other festivities:

  • the cattle descent in Schüpfheim in Entlebuch, with over 200 beautifully decorated cattle, various market stands, yodeling clubs, and people in traditional garments
  • the cattle descent in St-Cergue in the Jura Vaudois, where you can watch the herds of adorned animals pass to the sounds of Alphorn, and try some local treats at the nearby market
  • the descent of 120 black Eringer cows, marching through the charming Valaisian village of Grimentz in the Anniviers valley

Switzerland in October

October is the best time to travel to Switzerland for fall foliage and wine hikes. Fall is in full swing, with forests and vineyards turning into beautiful shades of yellows, oranges, and reds.

The wine harvest peaks in October and it’s the best time to explore some wine regions.

Although October belongs to autumn, the weather is often still pleasantly mild during the day. Especially in lower regions, you can often still be out and about in a T-shirt. But there are also rainy and stormy autumn days in October and the first snow can fall in the higher regions.

Whenever I travel abroad, I always use Airalo to get an eSim with local data. It’s the easiest way to stay connected abroad!

The best Wine regions in Switzerland

As I said, October is the best month to visit Switzerland’s wine regions. In many of these wine regions, you can combine hikes or walks with wine tastings, or even get a glimpse of the ongoing wine production. Some wine regions to add to your itinerary are:

  • Ottenberg Wine Region, where you can find the best wine hike I’ve discovered in Switzerland so far
  • Bündner Herrschaft in the Rhine valley, known for its delicious Pinot Noir
  • Lavaux Wine Region, set above the shores of Lake Geneva
  • Lake Biel Wine Region, with a 15 km long wine trail zigzagging along the shores of Lake Biel
  • Wallis, where 1/3 of the Swiss wine is produced and where Europe’s highest vineyard is located

Switzerland in November

November is probably the best time to travel Switzerland if you’re looking for small crowds and low prices. November is the last month of fall, but you can feel winter fast approaching in the low temperatures and snow in higher altitudes.

November is off-season for tourism in Switzerland. The hiking season is over for the most part, and the ski season hasn’t begun yet. Some hotels in the mountain regions even close down for a few weeks.

But don’t worry, there is still plenty to do in Switzerland in November.

November is a good time to explore some of Switzerland’s cities, visit museums and art galleries, soak in a thermal bath, and enjoy a traditional Fondue.

And November is also not only cold and grey. You can still get some cool, but sunny days, especially in the Alps. Luckily, the mountains are never really far away in Switzerland. Base yourself in a city, and venture out into the Alps for a day trip on sunny November days:

  • Lucerne, where you can visit the nearby Mount Rigi or Pilatus on a sunny autumn day
  • Bern, Switzerland’s capital, is located conveniently close to gems like Interlaken or Grindelwald
  • Lausanne, where you can head into the mountains at Rocher-de-Naye or Les Diablerets
Christmas market in Zürich
Christmas tree and fairy lights

Switzerland in December

December is one of the coldest months in Switzerland. Unfortunately, it snows very rarely in the lower regions, and especially in the cities due to global warming. But in the mountain regions, you’re pretty much guaranteed to see snow-covered villages and forests.

December is the start of the ski season in Switzerland, and especially after Christmas, it gets very busy. If you’re planning to visit Switzerland for a ski trip during the holidays, make sure you book well in advance.

People eating fondue
Red tram with fairy lights

Visiting Christmas Markets in Switzerland

If you want to experience some European Christmas markets, December is THE month for you!

In most Swiss cities, the Christmas decorations, fairy lights, and Christmas markets start as early as late November. You can find awesome Christmas markets in all the big cities, but I want to highlight a few lesser-known places for you to consider:

  • the Christmas villages in Baden, a famous spa town near Zürich
  • the Christmas market in Biel, the Swiss capital of watchmaking
  • the “Christkindli” market in Chur, Switzerland’s oldest town
  • the Montreux Marché de Noel, deemed one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe
Like I said at the beginning of this post, the best time to travel Switzerland really depends on what you want to experience!

Each month has its own charm, and you’ll never run out of things to do. If you have any other questions about the best month to visit Switzerland, or would like more suggestions of awesome things to do or places to visit, let me know in the comments!

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The best time to visit Switzerland month by month
The best month to visit Switzerland

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Welcome to my world!

Hi, I’m Sara, a twenty-something Swiss on a mission to become a full-time travel writer and digital nomad.