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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
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

Pin for Switzerland Travel Winter Destinations
What to do 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
Switzerland winter temperatures | Winter Switzerland December to February

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
Winter landscape of Zurich

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
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
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. 

Bern Cathedral
Bern Cathedral

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. 

Basel Christmas Market
Basel Christmas Market

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
Engelberg is a popular Ski resort in the central Swiss Alps

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.

Rapperwil

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
Zermatt in Winter

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. SaasFee: 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
Skier at Matterhorn Alpine alps

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
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 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. 

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.

Kleine Scheidegg
Chalets in Kleine Scheidegg, near Grindelwald, Switzerland

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
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 

Train ride in Switzerland

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.

Chur and vineyards in winter
Vineyard and the Alps in Chur in winter

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
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.
Panorama Scenic of Great Aletsch Glacier Jungfrau region

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
Château-d’Oex By Michelle from The Wandering Queen

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
Château-d’Oex

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
Lucerne: Views of the city wall towers, lake Lucerne and Rigi mountain in the 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
Winter in the Swiss Alps, Switzerland

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
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
Schilthorn, Switzerland in winter

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
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

Free Europe Traveler Course

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.

How many days do I need in 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

What can you do in Switzerland if you don’t ski?

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!

What is Switzerland like in winter?

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.

Is Switzerland a good place to travel in December?

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!

What is the coldest month in Switzerland?

January is the coldest month in Switzerland.

Is Switzerland a good place to visit in January?

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!

Where is the warmest place in Switzerland in winter?

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.

Does Switzerland require winter tires?

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

What to wear in Switzerland in winter?

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:

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  1. 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.

    1. Hi Avneet!

      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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