Switzerland

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With its pristine Alpine mountainscapes, bucolic dairy villages and glittering international cities, Switzerland combines broad cultural influences with a deeply independent attitude. Surrounded by other European countries yet protected by its forbidding mountain range, Switzerland is a nation of many regions, languages and landscapes. Our specialists have visited the whole country, from French-speaking Geneva in the west, where the UN has its headquarters, to the glitzy mountain retreat St. Moritz in the east, where Swiss-German is the main language.

We can help you visit a wine region during a jazz festival in Montreux, walk through an intact medieval town in Swiss-German Bern, see the world’s longest glacier from a mountain summit in the Swiss Alps and learn to make risotto in a lakeside grotto in Italian-speaking Ticino. Whether you want to shop Zürich’s fashionable streets, hear alphorn players in the Emmental Valley or see the Matterhorn mirrored in a glassy lake, we’ll tailor your holiday in Switzerland to your interests.

Surrounded by different nations on all sides, yet secluded by its high mountain terrain, Switzerland’s regions are rich with varying languages, traditions and cuisines. From snow-covered mountain peaks to green, cow-dotted valleys, from international cities to wooden-chalet villages, Switzerland offers up a wealth of diverse places to visit.


Our specialists will help you pick the destinations that match your interests best, whether you want to see the vast range of high-end watches in French-speaking Geneva, walk the medieval cobbles of Swiss-German Bern, cruise across Lake Lugano in Italian-speaking Tirano or learn a little Romansh in the winter-sports capital St. Moritz. With Mediterranean-style lakeshores, glaciers well above the clouds, cosmopolitan cities and car-free mountain villages, we’ll help you see the main sights as well as places you might not expect.

With over half of its landmass covered in mountains, Switzerland is best known for Alpine adventures, but it also boasts the lakefront Montreux Riviera, valleys full of half-timbered farmhouses and grazing cows, richly historical cities and grand 19th-century resort towns. Our specialists have picked out the best things to do in Switzerland, and can help you choose experiences based on your interests.

You can take a gondola to the top of a mountain and walk on the world’s longest glacier, or visit a traditional cheesemaking factory and see how they get the holes into Swiss cheese. Taste truffles at an exclusive chocolatier, then get on a cogwheel train that will take you to the top of a snowy massif. Whether you’d rather ride a luxury train through mountain tunnels in the Alps or take a boat to a grotto to learn how to make risotto, we can help you find the best ways to explore Switzerland.

Ideas for experiencing Switzerland

Experiences you have as you travel often hold the longest memories. As part of their research trips, our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know Switzerland, and the best local guides. These activities reflect some of their best-loved experiences.

  • Day Trip to Pilatus Kulm
    Day Trip to Pilatus Kulm

    Day Trip to Pilatus Kulm

    Lucerne

    Day Trip to Pilatus Kulm

    Explore the many peaks of Mount Pilatus for views across Switzerland’s Alpine landscape, from the bright-green-and-blue of the lake-dotted countryside, to the layers of snow- and cloud-capped mountains stretching to the horizon on this day-long, independent tour from Lucerne.

  • Jungfraujoch
    Jungfraujoch

    Jungfraujoch

    Interlaken

    Jungfraujoch

    Glaciers like rivers of ice, close-up views of high Alpine peaks and a chance to play in the mountain snow — spend a full day exploring Jungfraujoch, known as the Top of Europe. Take the cogwheel railway through a mountain tunnel to Europe’s highest train station, which combines an observatory, an interactive exhibit and a snow adventure park.

  • Gornergrat Glacier
    Gornergrat Glacier

    Gornergrat Glacier

    Zermatt

    Gornergrat Glacier

    Visit Gornergrat, a jagged but accessible ridge among the Pennines, on a tour that offers a chance to enjoy mountain views. You’ll also be able to have a close encounter with the high-altitude glacier that runs like a frozen river through the valley below.

  • Schilthorn Piz Gloria
    Schilthorn Piz Gloria

    Schilthorn Piz Gloria

    Interlaken

    Schilthorn Piz Gloria

    Spend the day exploring Schilthorn, a high mountain destination that offers an unobstructed view of this part of the Alpine range. Your cable car ride begins from one of the resort villages below and allows you to take in the cascading layers of mountains that spill out to the east, including the Jungfrau massif with its triple peak. At the base of the mountains is the lush Lauterbrunnen Valley, also known as the Valley of the 72 Waterfalls.

  • Day trip to Gsaad
    Day trip to Gsaad

    Day trip to Gsaad

    Montreux

    Day trip to Gsaad

    Spend the day bathing in the scenery on a day trip from lakeside Montreux to the high Alps and back. A series of trains takes you from the terraced vineyards along the shore of Lake Geneva, up through the green Swiss countryside and then to Glacier 3000, a mountain peak offering sweeping Alpine views. Come down the mountain to the resort town of Gstaad to relax, dine or shop, then travel back to Montreux on a panoramic train.

  • Lavaux wine tour
    Lavaux wine tour

    Lavaux wine tour

    Montreux

    Lavaux wine tour

    Take a tour through the bewitching Swiss wine-producing region of Lavaux, where steep terraced vineyards line the banks of Lake Geneva. You’ll taste wines unavailable anywhere else, since very little Swiss wine is exported. Enjoy lunch with a local wine producer, visit a medieval fortress and learn about the history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Chocolate, cheese and mountains
    Chocolate, cheese and mountains

    Chocolate, cheese and mountains

    Zurich

    Chocolate, cheese and mountains

    This daytime bus tour sweeps you around Lake Zürich and through the countryside of northern Switzerland, taking in the quintessential aspects of Alpine culture along the way. You’ll visit a Swiss chocolate outlet, tour a storied cheesemaking factory, then summit a mountain in the Appenzeller Alps for a view of four different countries. Finish the day in Appenzell, a brightly painted village that richly demonstrates the region’s traditions.

  • Glacier express train journey
    Glacier express train journey

    Glacier express train journey

    St. Moritz

    Glacier express train journey

    Take the slow route to admire the Alpine wilds on the Glacier Express, a train known as much for its panoramic views of high mountain scenery as its exceptional level of service.

The best time to visit Switzerland is between April and October, though winter sports enthusiasts may prefer December to March. The country has four distinct seasons, each with its own attractions.

The spring months of March to May bring Alpine blooms, flowering trees and cows heading out to pasture. In the warmest months of June, July and August summery temperatures prevail, though you’ll rarely get any humidity thanks to the high altitude. This is when locals and visitors alike head to the lake shores, meaning thicker crowds.

The wine and fruit harvests dominate the autumn months of September to November and from December to February, you’ll find snow, cold and winter sports.

In the lowlands, rain most often falls in November and May. Because it’s between the busy summer and winter seasons, these months are when many attractions have limited hours and residents often take their own trips.

Switzerland Climate Guide

Destination Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Geneva 3°C78mm 5°C77mm 9°C74mm 14°C71mm 18°C86mm 22°C94mm 25°C72mm 24°C90mm 20°C90mm 14°C79mm 8°C93mm 4°C84mm
Lugano 3°C67mm 5°C65mm 8°C89mm 12°C128mm 16°C169mm 20°C158mm 23°C128mm 22°C158mm 19°C135mm 14°C128mm 8°C109mm 5°C60mm
Zermatt -6°C131mm -5°C117mm -4°C125mm -1°C135mm 3°C150mm 7°C168mm 9°C151mm 9°C173mm 7°C140mm 3°C129mm -2°C143mm -4°C133mm
Zürich 2°C64mm 4°C63mm 9°C65mm 13°C87mm 18°C110mm 21°C136mm 23°C127mm 22°C134mm 19°C91mm 13°C67mm 7°C76mm 3°C67mm

 

Month-by-month guide to travelling in Switzerland

Dec - Jan

Visiting Switzerland in December - January

December and January are the coldest, but not the wettest, months of the year. There’s frequently snow, which makes the Christmas markets in Switzerland’s main cities even more festive. Temperatures hang around freezing, but it’s still common to enjoy crisp blue skies and bright sun reflecting off the snow.

Events & Festivals

  •  Christmas markets (mid-November through early January): Cities feature cute wooden chalets, lots of traditional food, handmade crafts and hot spiced wine.
Feb - Mar

Visiting Switzerland in February - March

Temperatures begin to rise in February and March, but these months tend to see more rain and snow at altitude. Ski resorts are very busy at this time, since many schools take their mid-term breaks.

Apr - May

Visiting Switzerland in April - May

Spring arrives over April and May, and bright flowers come out on the Alpine mountainsides and in the green, low-lying valleys. Meadows return to life, dairy cows are released to graze and alpine resorts become void of skiers. April can sometimes see a late flurry of winter weather.

Jun - Jul

Visiting Switzerland in June - July

In the summer months of June and July, the mountain scenery is at its best. The weather is mild and temperatures are pleasant and rarely too hot. Days are generally dry and sunny, offering clear views across the mountain peaks and rolling countryside.

Events & Festivals

  •  Montreux Jazz Festival (July): The biggest music festival in Switzerland with artists from around the world performing for two weeks on the shores of Lake Geneva.
Aug - Sep

Visiting Switzerland in August - September

As autumn approaches in August and September, the lakes, mountains and cities all overflow with harvest beauty. Flowers adorn wooden chalets, the forest scenery takes on a cloak of golden brown and more mountaintops take on snowy caps. Farmers are out in force as fruit trees ripen and grapevines bend under their heavy load.

Events & Festivals

  •  Swiss National Day (1st August): A lot of towns and cities celebrate with street festivals and parades, many with elaborate fireworks and live music.
Oct - Nov

Visiting Switzerland in October - November

October and November mark the late autumn, when the last of the wine grapes are harvested, the cows are brought down from the hillside and the weather begins to turn cold. In early October you can be blessed with lovely sunny days, but as the days shorten through November many hotels, restaurants and attractions close their doors for respite and refurbishment before the busy winter arrives.

Events & Festivals

  •  Christmas markets (mid-November through early January): Cities feature cute wooden chalets, lots of traditional food, handmade crafts and hot spiced wine.

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