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Best Time to Visit Switzerland: By season & festivals

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Wondering when is the best time to visit Switzerland? Switzerland is gorgeous at all times of the year and depending on what you wish to explore, and where you want to go – one particular season might work out better for you, than the other.

In this detailed guide, we will go over the 4 distinct seasons (with a month-by-month overview) highlighting popular festivals, events, and destinations. Along the way, we will share our favorites, and travel tips based on our experience!

Brienz in the district of Interlaken in the canton of Berne in Switzerland.
Brienz in the district of Interlaken in Switzerland.

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When is the Best Time to Visit Switzerland 

The short answer is autumn, and maybe because we are biased and we love wandering the old town lanes in Switzerland with fewer summer crowds, better accommodation deals, and pleasant weather! 

But you might have skiing and other winter activities on your list, or may be a music festival that only takes place in the middle of summer? Well, let us help you!

  • Best time to visit: September – mid-October, April – June
  • Peak Season: July – August
  • Off-Season: October – November, and some regions in the winter, February, March

Average temperatures + Weather in Switzerland

Switzerland experiences four distinct seasons, and it varies a lot by region, and altitudes. In the image below, you can see the warmer and colder months in the country. 

Find the best time to visit Switzerland
Best time to visit Switzerland

Typically, the seasons are as follows, and there are overlaps at the transition months in Switzerland.

  • Winter: mid-December to mid-March
  • Spring: mid-March to mid-June
  • Summer: mid-June to mid-September
  • Autumn/Fall: mid-September to mid-December

Note that in the detailed guide below, each season is grouped by months (as a whole without the overlaps).

Fact: The hottest and the wettest month in Switzerland is in July. 

Winter in Switzerland

  • Months: December, January, February
  • Highlight: It is a low season in many parts of the country including cities. It is great for visiting Christmas Markets, indulging in winter activities. The ski season is in full swing in January. Ski resorts are crowded during this time, particularly in late January and February. 
  • Visit: Cities like Zurich, Geneva, Bern for Christmas celebrations (December), Ski towns St Moritz, Zermatt (mid December – February)  
Geneva in the winter
Geneva in the winter

The winter months in Switzerland are from December to February. It is considered as the low season, as compared to the busy summer months. During this time, you can expect snow in all high altitude resort towns, and a variety of winter activities including world-class skiing opportunities are open.

For ski resorts, this is a peak season, especially in late January and February. Cities are quieter after the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. 

Many scenic train routes like – the Bernina Express and the Glacier Express – although operational, have a limited timetable. In the winter, mandatory seat reservation costs are lower as compared to peak summer months. Many of the panoramic lifts and cable cars are closed during this season. 

December

  • Zurich: 2 C/35.6 F  
  • Geneva: 4 C/39.2 F 
  • Lucerne: 4 C/39.2 F 
  • St Moritz: – 2 C/28.4 F 
  • Zermatt: 2 C/35.6 F

January

  • Zurich: 4 C/39.2 F  
  • Geneva: 5 C/41 F 
  • Lucerne: 4 C/39.2 F 
  • St Moritz: -2 C/28.4 F
  • Zermatt: 1 C/33.8 F

February

  • Zurich: 6 C/42.8 F  
  • Geneva: 5 C/41 F 
  • Lucerne: 5 C/41 F 
  • St Moritz: 0 C/32 F
  • Zermatt: 2 C/35.6 F

December 

Popular cities like Zurich, Geneva, and Lucerne do get some snow in the winter, but it is not as COLD as Canada. Temperatures hover around 2 to 4°C/ 35.6 to 39.2°F, so winters are mild (as compared to Canadian standards).

These cities are decked up for Christmas celebrations – with markets, decorations, and stores! It is a lovely time to visit Switzerland for slow travel and to soak in the festive spirit. 

Note that around Christmas and New Year’s hotel rooms will be expensive, and with January the prices drop again.

Mountain towns/resorts are open during this time, and it has a stable flow of tourists. However, the actual ski season starts in late December or January (weather-dependent). 

January & February 

With January kicking in, the temperatures are colder. In the mountains, you can expect snowfall. Although cold, January is actually a good time to find amazing flight deals, shop for discounts on designer items (after Christmas) and go skiing!  

Same goes for the month of February. It is a popular time to visit for ski activities, and exploring mountain towns. 

In January and February, cities experience cold and wet climates, and so it may not be a good idea for sightseeing cruises or going on walking tours. 

Spring in Switzerland

  • Months: March, April, May
  • Highlight: Crossover month. Off-season. Good for city sightseeing in late spring in terms of weather, and better accommodation rates. Spring skiing is possible. By late April/May, outdoorsy activities open up.
  • Visit: City and lakeside destinations – Lake Lugano, Lake Geneva (late March-May), ski resorts (March), Lucerne & Thun for outdoorsy activities (mid-April – May), Scenic train rides (low reservation costs, enjoy amazing views from the comfort of your seats)
Grindelwald with Eiger and Schreckhorn mountain peaks in spring
Grindelwald with Eiger and Schreckhorn mountain peaks in spring

With the beginning of the spring season, the weather gets better, and warmer. The cities come alive with patio dining, flowers, and tourist activities, particularly in late spring months. 

Switzerland’s resorts are open to spring skiing, and April is the last month to enjoy the mountain slopes.

March

  • Zurich: 11 C/51.8 F  
  • Geneva: 11 C/51.8 F 
  • Lucerne: 11 C/51.8 F
  • St Moritz: 3 C/37.4 F 
  • Zermatt: 2 C/35.6 F

April

  • Zurich: 15 C/59 F  
  • Geneva: 15 C/59 F 
  • Lucerne: 16 C/60.8 F 
  • St Moritz: 7 C/44.6 F 
  • Zermatt: 6 C/42.8 F

May

  • Zurich: 19 C/66.2 F  
  • Geneva: 19 C/66.2 F 
  • Lucerne: 19 C/66.2 F
  • St Moritz: 12 C/53.6 F 
  • Zermatt: 11 C/51.8 F

March  

March is a crossover month in Switzerland, where days are slowly becoming longer, and temperatures are moving towards double digits. 

In cities like Zurich, Geneva and Lucerne the weather is warmer, but occasionally you will also encounter showers. With pleasant temperatures during the day, you can venture outside on walking tours, or spend time outdoors. 

Don’t leave your warm clothes at home yet, because it gets chilly in the evenings (and temperatures drop).

If you want to ski, there is still time to go skiing in March, in fact there are fewer crowds in the mountains during this time. 

April & May

In April and May, you can really enjoy the amazing weather, attractions and go sightseeing in various cities in Switzerland. The average maximum temperatures in the major cities hover around 19 degrees Celsius (66 F).

There are a lot of festive events taking place in the country, especially Easter celebrations. 

For outdoor lovers, in late spring hiking trails are open, and winter activities will be closed by mid April. In May, you can expect cable cars to be operational again. 

April, May and June are a great time to visit Switzerland. April and May are an off-season, in terms of low visitors to the country so you can expect amazing deals on flights and accommodation, and fewer crowds. 

Summer in Switzerland

  • Months: June, July, August
  • Highlight: Warmer weather, considered a peak season in July and August. Hotel prices skyrocket (sometimes over 50% increase), cable car rides are operational, hiking trails are open, most tourist attractions will be crowded. 
  • Visit: All attractions (except winter activities) are open, and there are tons of things to do all across the country
Paragliding Interlaken in summer. One of the popular and best time to go to Switzerland
Paragliding Interlaken in summer. One of the popular and best time to go to Switzerland

Summer is a high tourist season in Switzerland. Starting from June, through August, the temperatures are warmer, days are longer, and a variety of outdoor activity opportunities open up for visitors. 

Although warm, summers also tend to be rainy. July is the warmest and the wettest month of the year!

June

  • Zurich: 23 C/73.4 F  
  • Geneva: 23 C/73.4 F 
  • Lucerne: 23 C/73.4 F 
  • St Moritz: 16 C/60.8 F 
  • Zermatt: 19 C/66.2 F

July

  • Zurich: 25 C/77 F  
  • Geneva: 26 C/78.8 F 
  • Lucerne: 25 C/77 F  
  • St Moritz: 19 C/66.2 F 
  • Zermatt: 21 C/69.8 F

August

  • Zurich: 24 C/75.2 F  
  • Geneva: 26 C/78.8 F 
  • Lucerne: 24 C/75.2 F 
  • St Moritz: 18 C/64.4 F 
  • Zermatt: 20 C/68 F

June

In mid June you can experience nice weather, with fewer crowds. The average maximum temperature in cities like Zurich soars to about 23 degrees Celsius (73 Fahrenheit) in June, and further into the summer months the sun doesn’t set until late into the evening. So expect lots of daylight (for amazing outdoor shots). 

Hiking and biking trails open up in late May, so by June you can explore them all minus the summer crowds. This includes popular hiking trails around Lake Lucerne and Canton Valais. 

It is also a good time to join guided tours or cable car rides to mountain tops!

Old city center of Basel with Munster cathedral and the Rhine river
The old city center of Basel with Munster cathedral and the Rhine river

July & August 

July and August are the busiest months in Switzerland in terms of tourism. Schools are closed for the summer, and there are domestic and international travelers visiting Switzerland enjoying the lovely weather and outdoorsy activities. 

Summer is popular for a reason. Weather is one of the factors, then there are festivals (particularly the Montreux Jazz Festival held on the Lake Geneva shoreline), and availability of bucket list attractions and tours!

Switzerland celebrates Swiss National Day on 1 August. On this day, you can enjoy festivities and fireworks all across the country.  

July and August brings out the best side of the cities and the Swiss Alps. It is the optimum time to get your cameras out, and get clicking. To capture images of Switzerland without crowds of people in it, wake up early and get to the attractions before 9:00 am. 

You can also explore small towns, and lesser visited lakes and mountain spots, they are usually less crowded in these months. 

Summer is also great to enjoy picnics, swim at Lake Lucerne, paragliding at Interlaken, and boat cruises.

If you are planning to visit Switzerland in the summer, we recommend booking accommodation, flights, guided tours including day tours to Jungfraujoch, Mt. Titlis, and sightseeing cruises ahead of time. 

Accommodation, generally, is expensive in the summer, with hotel prices increasing to up 50% than normal. This increase also has a ripple effect on packaged tours, which also becomes slightly pricier in this season. 

A note about scenic/premium train routes for summer travel.

  • Glacier Express seats can be booked about 3 months in advance. In the summer months, the reservation fee is relatively higher, as compared to winter months – about 49 CHF vs 29 CHF in low season. 
  • Bernina Express also requires seat reservations, which is 16 CHF (vs 10 CHF in winter)

Autumn in Switzerland

  • Months: September, October, November 
  • Highlight: Early fall months are great for the city explorers, outdoorsy activities (no skiing), expect fewer crowds, better deals on hotels, and Switzerland tours
  • Visit: Cities (September – October), Jungfrau, Mount Rigi other cable car rides (Sept to mid-October)
Lanes of Zurich Old town in the fall which is the best time to visit Switzerland
Zurich in the fall: Best time to visit Switzerland

Autumn or fall months are gorgeous in Switzerland. It is a great time to explore cities minus the crowds and soak in pretty fall colors on trails, and mountain areas. You can also find the best wine in the country during this time. 

For the most part, the days are warm, but it starts to get shorter and chillier towards the end of the season. The positive part is that you get better seats on trains, and on cable cars! 

September

  • Zurich: 20 C/68 F  
  • Geneva: 21 C/69.8 F 
  • Lucerne: 20 C/68 F
  • St Moritz: 14 C/57.2 F 
  • Zermatt: 16 C/60.8 F

October

  • Zurich: 15 C/59 F  
  • Geneva: 15 C/59 F
  • Lucerne: 14 C/57.2 F 
  • St Moritz: 10 C/50 F 
  • Zermatt: 12 C/53.6 F 

November

  • Zurich: 9 C/48.2 F  
  • Geneva: 9 C/48.2 F
  • Lucerne: 8 C/46.4 F 
  • St Moritz: 3 C/37.4 F 
  • Zermatt: 6 C/42.8 F

September 

If you wish to explore cities, go on scenic train rides, and cover touristy attractions, then look no further than planning a trip to Switzerland in September. You can wander old towns, book tours with ease, find relatively cheaper accommodation – all with nice weather and without crowds.

There won’t be a lot of snow on the slopes though, and you can’t indulge in winter sports, for that you have to visit in the winter. 

However this is a good time to soak in the views of the Jungfrau, or to visit Interlaken, and lakes like Lake Geneva, Zurich, Lugano and Lucerne. These are usually very busy in the summer months. 

There are a lot of colorful festivals in September from wine fests, air shows to harvest festivals. We have detailed all the popular festivals by month below. 

One notable festival that we would like to highlight is the harvest fest in Bern, called the “Sichlete”. On this day, Bernese farmers bring their cows, sheep, horses, and other cattle to the square in front of the federal building in Bern. At the end of the festival, one cow is crowned Miss Sichlete 🙂 

Mid October & November 

October is a good time to capture fall foliage, plus you will find lots of opportunities to hike, and enjoy lake views. 

Mid October onwards, it gets trickier with the weather, as the temperatures cross over to winter season. Cable cars, funiculars and cogwheel trains may either be closed, or not operational for a week or two because of maintenance. The high altitude pass roads will start closing by October too. 

But the good news is that – all the indoor activities, museums, shops are open, and less crowded. In November, you can also score good flight tickets and accommodation deals. 

However, keep in mind, weatherwise November may not have the brightest of days in Switzerland, and outdoor activities will be limited – no skiing and no swimming, or boating. 

Although winter doesn’t set in October and November, we recommend bringing in a warm jacket and a scarf when visiting in late fall months. 

Festivals in Switzerland by Month

JANUARY  Harder Potschete (in Interlaken), International Balloon Festival (Château’d’Oex in Fribourg)
FEBRUARYSwiss Carnival celebrations – Seasonal February to May, Basel Fasnacht – (in Basel)
MARCHEngadin Ski Marathon
APRILMorges – Parc de l’Indépendance / Tulip Festival (Canton Vaud), Eierleset – Easter Tradition (in Effingen), Zermatt Unplugged (Music)
MAYLavaux Wine Fest / Epesses nouveau en fête (Canton Vaud)
JUNEStreet Artists Festival (Canton Ticino)
JULYSummer Musical on the Lake – Thunerseespiele (Thun), Montreux Jazz Festival
AUGUSTSwiss National Day, International Film Festival (Locarno)
SEPTEMBERSichlete Farmers Harvest (Bern), Alpine Descent (Bern)
OCTOBERAutumn Festival (Locarno)
NOVEMBERChristmas Markets (various places)
DECEMBERChristmas Markets, St. Nicholas Chase (Canton Schwyz)

Additional Tips: Best time to go to Switzerland

What is the best month to go to Switzerland?

To experience the popular tourist attractions June and September are the best months to visit Switzerland. During this time the weather is pleasant for outdoor activities, and cable cars, funiculars, etc. are all open.

How many days are enough in Switzerland?

We recommend 7 days in Switzerland at the very least. In a week’s time, you can explore a variety of destinations. Spend a couple of days visiting 1-2 major cities, walk old towns, museums, and enjoy culinary delights (options: Zurich – Lucerne, Zurich – Bern, Geneva – Lausanne). Set aside 2-3 days for Interlaken (go on boat tours on Lake Thun or Brienz, paragliding, cogwheel trains, Jungfrau/Top of Europe). Add a day for scenic train – Glacier Express or Golden Pass, depending on your return trip.

What is the warmest month in Switzerland?

July is the warmest month in Switzerland, with temperatures hovering around 28 °C/ 82° F, maximum.

What month does it snow in Switzerland?

Mid-December onwards is the official winter season in Switzerland. You can experience snow in January through February at high altitudes. Most cities experience very little snow or no extreme cold temperatures.

When is the best time to visit Switzerland from India?

June, and August – September are perfect to explore Switzerland from India. During these months you can experience excellent weather, and all of the touristy attractions will be open. You can check off all the Swiss bucket list items, with relatively cheaper flight tickets, accommodation, and guided tours. 

When is the best time to visit Switzerland for a honeymoon?

Offseason is a good time to visit Switzerland for a honeymoon. With fewer crowds in June, and August – September, it makes sightseeing comfortable, and romantic. Winter months are also great to enjoy slow travel, soak in snowy mountain views and wander Christmas Markets hand in hand!

When is the best time to visit Jungfrau Switzerland?

September and early October are the best months to visit Jungfrau. During this time, the summer madness has exited the tourist scene (for next year), and Switzerland slowly enters into a low season mode.

So that’s a wrap! We hope you found our tips useful in deciding when to visit Switzerland. Whichever month you plan on visiting, we are sure you will have an amazing time – there is so much to see and do in this marvelous country! 

Just research, plan and book in advance!

Read our Switzerland Guides & Travel Blog

Source: NOAA – All weather/ temperatures details

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Find when to go to Switzerland
When is the best time to visit Switzerland

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Mayuri, nice share. This post is a useful guide for me. I have a plan to visit Switzerland after everything becomes normal from the Covid 19 crap pandemic. The information shared here will certainly helpful for me to plan an amazing Switzerland tour.

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