Last Updated: August 31, 2022

Switzerland In Winter: Things To Do, Places To See

Visiting Switzerland in winter is about as good as a winter trip could be. During the winter months, the snow-covered mountain views are stunning, the ski slopes are primed for snow sports, the snowy valleys showcase quintessential alpine scenery, and the Christmas markets are in full flow.

If you’re looking for the best wintertime vacation around, then a trip to Switzerland is where it’s at but where are the best places to visit?

Join me as we run through the most beautiful places in Switzerland to visit in winter so you can have the best experience of winter in Switzerland possible.

Weather

weather in Switzerland

Winter is a cold time to visit Switzerland and it’s a bit more extreme than just cold weather, especially if you plan to spend time in the surrounding mountains of the Swiss Alps and the world-class skiing resorts.

The swiss winter begins in November and gets into full flow in December, and December is also when all the Christmas decorations and Christmas lights start popping up and the Christmas markets are in full flow too.

Winter in Switzerland really gets going in January and February as this is when the temperatures really drop, the snow falls hard, and it’s the best time to be in Switzerland for winter sports enthusiasts.

All the winter festivals are on at the ski resorts in the Swiss Alps, the snow-covered slopes are prime for snow activities and the snowy landscapes are stunning.

The weather and temperatures vary a lot depending on which places in Switzerland you plan on visiting. If you journey to the Swiss Alps, expect highs of 28.4 Fahrenheit and lows of 3.2 Fahrenheit whereas if you stay in the cities like Zurich or Geneva, you’ll experience highs of 35.6 and lows of 32 Fahrenheit – quite a big difference.

What to Wear

what to wear in switzerland in winter

Now that we know how cold winter in Switzerland really is, let’s take a look at the clothes you’ll need to wear to be warm and comfortable on your visit.

Since the snow is incredibly deep when you visit Switzerland in winter, you will need to wear waterproof boots when you’re in the high-altitude resorts or outside of the cities. Visitors should also bring thermals including socks, long johns, and thermal long sleeve t-shirts. This base layer is key to being warm.

Your next layers should be merino wool or Kashmir, followed by fleece, a down jacket, and then a windproof waterproof jacket and trousers along with some jeans and chinos. You’ll also want a few scarfs, pairs of gloves, and a few wooly hats too.

This will have you covered in the mountains and the cities, and you’ll want lighter clothes for the cities too along with some trainers for the trains and indoor markets.

Best Places to Visit In Winter

Lake Geneva

lake geneva

The Lake Geneva region in southern Switzerland is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland during the winter months. The nearest airport is a few minutes away, the city is alive with Christmas markets in December, and there are a ton of fun activities, winter activities, and popular attractions to enjoy.

My favorite thing about Geneva is that no matter when you are in the region, whether it’s in the city of Geneva or a little village nearby, you’ll have gorgeous views across Lake Geneva and the snow-covered mountains behind.

Skiing opportunities, winter hikes, snowshoeing, and snowboarding are within easy reach of Geneva. There are ice skating rinks open in the city, shopping choices are numerous across the many shops and there is a Christmas market or three to spend time at too.

You find numerous museums to wander around too and travelers can enjoy the many restaurants serving up delicious Swiss cuisine like fondue, Swiss chocolate truffles, and lots more while overlooking Lake Geneva.

The Jungfrau Region

jungfrau region

The Jungfrau Region is one of the most popular destinations in Switzerland in winter for anyone who loves winter sports and if you enjoy winter sports, this might be one of the best places to visit while you’re there.

Jungfrau is a traditional resort town in the alps and it sits at some 13,641 feet above sea level meaning it gets consistent snowfall the entire winter making it one of the best skiing and snowboarding destinations in Switzerland. You can also enjoy snowshoeing, cross country skiing, numerous hiking trails, and lots more.

The area is home to three fascinating mountain peaks and these three mighty mountains, Jungfrau, Monch, and Eiger are considered some of the most famous peaks in Europe. The mountain views and beautiful scenery are jaw-dropping.

Non-skiers will have a lot to do in the area too from taking a scenic train ride from the highest train station in Europe and seeing the Aletsch Glacier, the largest glacier in Europe. Another must-see is the Trummelbach Falls, the world’s only waterfall that comes from a glacier.

Lucerne

lucerne

If you are looking to have Christmas time or celebrate Christmas while visiting Switzerland, then one of the best places to head to is Lucerne.

One of the best things about visiting Lucerne is that winter and the months of December and January are the off-season so the accommodation is about as cheap as it gets during winters in Switzerland.

Lucerne is the largest town in Switzerland and it sits in the center of the country and it’s most charming attribute is the breathtaking views across the crystal clear waters of Lake Lucerne. The town surrounds a corner of Lake Lucerne and there isn’t a better place to enjoy the stunning views than from the iconic Chapel Bridge.

While in Lucerne, you should enjoy your time at their great Christmas market, stroll around the beautiful Old Town, and enjoy the Swiss Museum of Transport, Switzerland’s most popular museum that is home to classic cars, planes, trains, and even an IMAX cinema.

You can easily get into the beautiful mountains easily from Lucerne too and enjoy some hiking and other winter activities too.

Arosa

arosa

If you’re looking to discover a part of Switzerland that has inspired many travelers you have to visit the small village of Arosa in the alps. Arosa still maintains the amazing small village vibe that is becoming hard to find in Switzerland in winter.

Known as the adventure capital of Switzerland, the ski resort of Arosa is a winter wonderland of an alpine town that is home to winter festivals, cable cars, ski lifts, ski slopes, restaurants, and panoramic views over the Alps.

The village is drenched in alpine tradition where you can enjoy ice skating, trails to hike, stunning scenery, sledding, world-class skiing, delicious hot chocolate, fondue, and even more. Going to Arosa is a special trip for anyone and it’s a wonderful old town to spend a month or two while visiting Switzerland in winter.

Getting to Arosa isn’t so easy as the nearest airport is in Zurich and then it’s either a train ride or a very windy car journey.

Oberalp Pass Via Glacier Express

oberalp pass via glacier express

Image courtesy of Flickr

If there is one thing you have to see and do on a chilly visit to Switzerland in winter is to see the Oberalp Pass while riding the famous Glacier Express or on the Furka oberalp railway. The glacier express is a far better option though as it’s zero hassle and doesn’t require fighting for a reservation.

This will be the best train ride you will ever have in your entire life and is one of the best experiences you have in Switzerland as it takes you from Zermatt to the Ski Resorts of St Moritz and with some of the most beautiful views in the country along the way.

The Glacier Express train runs around and through the alps by passing around narrow valleys, over 291 bridges, and through 91 tunnels. The story along the way has incredible views of 100% jaw-dropping scenery and the sight to see is the Oberalp Pass.

Zurich

zurich

Zurich is one of the largest cities in Switzerland and is one of the most popular places for holidays in the country and for good reason.

The reason why tourists love to visit Zurich in winter so much is the balance of the old town with the new city, beautiful views across Lake Zurich, and the amazing festive vibes during Christmas.

Being a large city, there are also a ton of things to explore including both nature and culture, as well as world-class shops, restaurants, and the largest indoor Christmas market in the country which you’ll find at the main train station.

The old town of Zurich is home to buildings that date back to the 17th century. A stroll down the cobblestone streets to see the most famous buildings, the Fraumünster, Grossmünster, Lindenhof Hill, and Bahnhofstraße, is a must while visiting Zurich.

While in Zurich, you should also take some time to hike around Lake Zurich, go up into the mountains around Zurich, and explore the many forests. A trip to Uetliberg Mountain is a must as it offers a lovely panorama across the city and the lake.

St Moritz

st-moritz

St Moritz is one of the loveliest places to visit in Switzerland during the winter especially if you love mountains, great views, exploring nature, and more.

St Moritz is a favorite destination with anyone who loves skiing and other winter sports as the ski resort hosted the winter Olympic games back in 1928 and has been a number one ski destination ever since.

St Moritz is in the heart of the alps and sits at 5,905 feet above sea level and it looks directly down a magical valley. The town of St Moritz actually dates back to the 11th century and is full of amazing things to see and do, outside of hitting the slopes and it is surrounded by amazing lakes.

The best lakes to see in the area around St Moritz include the Lake of Staz which is a crystal clear lake with amazing mountain views in the background. Another is Lake St Moritz itself which is home to churches, lovely places to sit, and more, be sure to bring your camera.

Tourists and locals love St Moritz and one of the coolest places to visit in Switzerland in Winter for the whole family.

Interlaken

interlaken

Interlaken Ost is one of the best resort towns to visit in Switzerland during winter for anyone who loves winter sports as it sits in a huge valley near the mountain peaks of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.

The scenery around this awesome town is nothing short of mind-blowing and it showcases Switzerland in winter better than anywhere.

This town is relaxing with a spa of two, has alpine meadows and glaciers to visit, is covered in cable cars to make getting around easy, and there are even 45 mountain railways that connect you anywhere a cable car can’t reach.

Imagine stepping out of a relaxing spa into a charming town with glaciers down the road, mountain views in every direction, some of the best skiing in Europe, and a restaurant for every occasion.

Davos

davos

If you’re looking to relax and get some inspiration while in Switzerland in winter, then one of the places to visit is Davos, the highest town in the Alps.

Davos is one of Switzerland’s most stunning resort towns and a healthy one at that. Davos is home to hundreds of miles of ski slopes and during the season it has consistent snowfall making it both a famous and popular place to ski, ice skate, and do a ton of other winter sports.

Davos isn’t just about ski and snow either as there is a lot of fun to be had outside of the cable car and ski slopes. Davos comes alive at night with shopping and is one of the most famous towns apres-ski party towns with many pubs, casinos, and nightclubs.

Visitors can also take a walk around the mountain landscapes Davos is surrounded by, kids can have fun learning to ski and have fun sledding, and there are even more children and family-orientated activities on offer too.

St Gallen

st gallen

One of the top places to visit in Switzerland for Christmas is St Gallen. Visitors to St Gallen will never fall short if they are looking to have the most iconic Swiss Christmas possible as this town is home to more festive charm than anywhere on the planet.

Located in northern Switzerland, this stunning town is car-free, full of snowy streets, and is one of the coziest destinations to have winter in. The town is home to Switzerland’s tallest Christmas tree which is lit up by thousands of lights and sits in front of the iconic Abbey of St Gallen.

A walk around the old town is a must as you go from a shop to a restaurant trying Swiss chocolate and fondue while hearing carols, seeing Christmas decorations, and sipping on mulled wine.

Zermatt

zerrmatt

Zermatt is a top destination to see in Switzerland in winter. Zermatt is a small town you can access via a direct train with some of the best slopes, views of the Matterhorn, the most iconic peak in the Alps, it has a quiet Swiss vibe to it that everyone loves.

Zermatt is the highest Swiss ski resort and if you love hitting the slopes and want a quiet and romantic place to do it, then Zermatt is the spot for you. It’s lit up every winter’s night with beautiful lights, is a great place to have Christmas, and it’s home to some of the loveliest hotels in the Swiss alps too.

The Matterhorn is a big part of what makes Zermatt so popular. The Matterhorn is THE peak that pro mountaineers need to conquer and these adventurers use Zermatt as their base to plan their adventures up the Matterhorn from.

Lugano

lugano

If you’re looking for a unique place to visit in Switzerland during the winter, then the town of Lugano might be the spot for you. Located on Switzerland’s border with Italy, just over the border from Lake Como, this charming town is a delight in every sense of the word.

On the shores of Laguna Lake, a glacial lake that is surrounded by mountains in every direction, this town has a lovely mix of both the Mediterranean and Swiss culture to it. You can see it showcased everywhere from the architectural style of the buildings to the amazing food served throughout the small city.

Lugano is a very easy city to get to as it has its own airport and it’s one of those destinations that is great in every season, so you can summer here too.

READ: THINGS TO DO IN LUGANO, SWITZERLAND

Saas-Fee

Saas Fee

If you’re looking for a relaxed ski town to visit in Switzerland, then a trip to Saas-Fee located in the Saas Valley just 50 km from Zermatt is where you should go.

Similar to Zermatt, Saas-Fee is a stunning ski town but it’s far less busy than Zermatt which means you can enjoy the winter snow, skiing, and any other snowy mountain fun without so many crowds.

The skiing is ideal for beginners, the town is car-free with loads of great bars and restaurants, and the surrounding landscapes are pretty hard to beat.

For a chilled time in the snow with everything you could want, bar the Winter Olympics, and with no crowds, head to Saas-Fee.

Château-d’Oex

Château d'Oex

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

A town you have to visit in Switzerland during winter is Château-d’Oex, which is a 3 hours bus, train or car ride from Zurich. Château-d’Oex hosts a festival every year in January and it’s a pretty awesome festival at that.

Every year at the end of January, this town plays host to the best hot air balloon festival in the world. The festival lasts nine days and balloonists from around the world come to fly their balloons around the surrounding mountains. It’s an awesome thing to watch.

While you’re there you can also go for a balloon ride yourself and there is no better way to see the mountains than by cruising amongst them.

The town is also a fun place to hang out with great restaurants, fun bars, excellent hotels, and lots more.

Gruyeres

gruyeres

Gruyeres is a great place to see if you’re looking for some culture during your visit to Switzerland. This ancient and beautiful medieval village, when covered in snow, is about as stunning as a town can get.

One of the things in Gruyeres you have to see is the castle which dates back to 1270 and is a Swiss heritage site. The HR Giger Museum is another must-see as it exhibits a 400-year history of Gruyeres, and the top floor is home to Giger’s private art collection.

You’ll also find the Tibet museum in Gruyeres, and if it hasn’t clicked yet, Gruyeres is also a form of cheese, so make sure to try some while you’re there. You’ll also find a load of great chocolate shops, hotels, restaurants, and more in Gruyeres during your visit.

Things To Do In Winter In Switzerland

Skiing Downhill and Cross-Country in the Alps

Almost nothing is more iconically Swiss than skiing the country’s impeccable slopes. There are hundreds of resorts to choose from that boast a range of skiing options, from snowboarding to cross-country to championship-quality downhill runs. Zermatt’s proximity to the Matterhorn makes it picturesque at any time of year, but the winter months shine as avid skiers hit the slopes to explore hundreds of miles of runs. For a smaller and more approachable resort, try Kleine Scheidegg, with its charming village and beginner-friendly runs.

Snow Shoeing In Switzerland

Winter Hiking and Snowshoeing

While most ski resorts maintain mountain trails that are ideal for hiking or snowshoeing, the village of St. Cergue has cultivated a reputation for being particularly friendly to snowshoers. With dozens of trails to choose from, visitors will enjoy the stunning mountain views and fresh air. The manicured snow trails of Lenzerheide are especially suited to winter hiking.

Tobogganing

A breathtaking sport not for the faint of heart, tobogganing is particularly popular in Switzerland. The run from Preda to Bergün covers four miles with a drop of 400 yards in altitude along the way. At night, the track is lit with floodlights, and there are places to grab a bite to eat at the beginning and the end of the track.

Ice Skating Switzerland

Ice skating

For those who enjoy whirling along on the ice, Interlaken features Ice Magic, a series of rinks located in the heart of the city. Occasional events include themed skating, ice sculpting and musical performances. Every level of ability is welcome in the rinks, and there’s even a restaurant for sipping hot chocolate when it gets chilly.

Or, if you happen to be in Zurich, there are a whole load of ice skating options for you to enjoy.

Ride in a Cable Car

For those who want to take in the snowy wonderland, but don’t have the time or inclination for some of the more strenuous winter sports, a ride in a cable car allows the chance to view the landscape in warmth and comfort. The town of Zermatt has the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, a cable car traveling the heights of the Klein Matterhorn that offers sweeping views of the Matterhorn itself, as well as other noteworthy peaks spanning Italy and France.

Iglu Dorf Switzerland

Visit an Iglu Dorf

Sometimes, just playing in the snow is not enough. Featuring the height of artistic, snow-carving talent, the wintertime igloo villages that spring up around Switzerland in cities like Zermatt or Davos are a visual spectacle that includes the chance to sample delicious fondue or sleep in a bed made entirely of snow. Visitors can wander in and out of the structures, which are often decorated in the same theme and may include hot tubs, bars made of snow serving mulled wine and rooms to be rented for the night.

Soak in Some Hot Springs

Nothing is better than a long, hot soak after a day of playing in the snow. Famous for mineral springs scattered across the country, Swiss baths are especially soothing in winter, when the warm temperature of the water allows for comfortable bathing even when surrounded by snow. Solbad Schönbühl is located in Schönbühl and is one of the largest in the country, with multiple pools and an on-site bistro. The thermal baths in Leukerbad are another excellent choice.

The Thrill Of Dog Sledding

If you have never had the chance to experience the thrill of controlling a team of 8 or more dogs, then you absolutely have to try dog sledding. I got to experience this in its extreme in the Yukon last winter, but if you are in Switzerland there are also plenty of amazing options for you to try.

No matter where you are or what you are doing, there is plenty to do in Switzerland this winter, all you have to do is give it a shot!

Ride The Bernina Express

bernina express

The Bernina Express is one of the best ways to see a lot of the beauty of Switzerland in just 4 hours. This train runs from St. Moritz in Switzerland all the way to the town of Tirano Italy, via the Bernina Pass.

It’s probably one of the most beautiful train rides you’ll ever experience as you wind through the Alpine mountains seeing stunning snow-covered landscapes as you go.

Winter In Switzerland

As you can see, winter in Switzerland is nothing short of spectacular. Between the glaciers, mountains, magical towns, mountain villages, lakes, and beautiful scenery, each region has something wonderful to offer anyone who visits Switzerland.

If you love skiing, you’ll be in heaven, if you love Christmas and good food, you’re also going to have the best time. No matter what it is you’re looking for from winter, Switzerland has got you covered.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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