Switzerland is one of the few places whose beauty reveals itself every season of the year. Although there might be a best time to visit Switzerland, based on your own preferences, there is no simply bad time to go! Whether you’re a winter sports fanatic, a hiker dreaming of the Alps, or a city slicker eager to explore Old Town, a trip to this central European nation will not disappoint. In that light, we’ve broken down what to do in Switzerland by season, so you can find the perfect time to explore.
Spring is considered low season for this European nation, as the Christmas markets have subsided and the snow begins to melt. If you haven’t gotten your skiing fix for the year, feel free to ride the lifts up to the higher elevations, where there will still be plenty of powder!
If you didn’t come to Switzerland for any strenuous activity, you could consider taking one of the scenic train rides between cities. While any train ride in Switzerland is jaw-dropping, you can hop on a train from Interlaken to Thun to experience the spring colors on Lake Thun, or you can take the world-famous Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz. (In fact, if your dream European trip includes traveling by rail, you can even use InterRail to visit several countries in one fell swoop.(
If you want to spend your time sipping wine while taking in lake views, make sure to spend a night or two by Lakes Geneva, Lugano, and Maggiore as well. Spring is a wonderful time to do this!
Finally, the perfect compromise between high-impact winter sports and lounging on a train is taking in the beauty of Switzerland’s hiking trails. They are nice during low season as you won’t pass many other travelers and you can have the final views all to yourself! Make sure to pack some hiking shoes, a hat, and extra camera batteries.
Many people opt to travel during the summer for both the fantastic weather and the greater flexibility of their schedules. Although this means you’d be traveling in the high season, summer in Switzerland can’t be missed.
High season, in July and August, is fantastic for hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, and enjoying the views from mountain peaks. You can also opt to take cable cars, all of which are open and running during high season, to the tops of your favorite mountains.
Central Switzerland is very popular during high season, as is hiring boats to take you out onto the famous lakes. Take advantage of the weather by exploring the cities and towns by foot. Participate in cooking classes, try some of the namesake chocolate, and enjoy the sunshine!
While you could participate in high-altitude hiking during the high season, September is the best time to reach those summits that are on your bucket list. The crowds have subsided but the weather is still beautiful, so you could have an entire trail to yourself! Though the snow begins to fall in the mountains as early as October, autumn is the perfect time to take advantage of lower prices, emptier accommodations, and a slower pace for your travels.
When the leaves begin to change and a cooler wind sets in, you can center yourself in Switzerland’s cities. Geneva, Lugano, and Zurich will cater to your every need, and you can watch the leaves change from your quiet hotel room. You can also take day trips to Switzerland’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, as they won’t be as busy as they were during high season, and wander at your own pace.
If you can already feel yourself getting into the holiday spirit, Switzerland is the perfect place to indulge in the celebrations! Europe is known for its Christmas markets, and this nation is no different. Whether you want to frequent the Montreux Noel that’s located right next to Lake Geneva, or lose yourself in the winter wonderland of Bern, the lights, hot chocolate, and Christmas music will stay with you long after you board your flight home.
In the winter, there are over 217 miles (350 kilometers) of ski slopes for every level in Zermatt. The city itself is covered in string lights throughout the season, but if you’d like to take a day trip, there is no better way to get the adrenaline pumping than an alpine helicopter ride over the Matterhorn!
Feel like changing up your accommodation for a night or two? Consider renting out an igloo! The best way to experience the winter is to immerse yourself in it, so take your suitcase into the igloo village that is constructed every year! No matter what you decide to spend your time on, winter in Switzerland is like living in your own picturesque snow globe.
Have you ever been to Switzerland? What time of year did you visit and why?
Xoxo, Grace Poulos
Follow her adventures on Instagram!