I’m often asked ‘when is the best time to visit Switzerland’ and to be honest, there is no best time for every single person – what’s best for you may not work for the next traveller.
The ‘best time’ for you may depend on when flights are cheapest, when you can get time off work, or when particular events that you want to participate in are happening. And there are other considerations too, such as if you want to hike or ski, for example.
A couple of the Swiss panoramic trains and some of the mountain cableways and funiculars cease running at the end of autumn whilst their annual maintenance takes place, too, so if you’re desperate to enjoy one of these rides, you should also keep this in mind.
These are just some of the things that might help you to decide on the best time of year for you to visit Switzerland.
Today’s guest, Birgit Weingartner, the Marketing Manager for Switzerland Tourism Australia and New Zealand, is going to give us an overview of the four seasons in Switzerland to help you choose the ideal time to visit.
Of course, in my opinion, any time is a good time to visit Switzerland!
[This post may contain compensated links. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.]
Before we get started, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Birgit and her colleagues from Switzerland Tourism for sponsoring the podcast. Their website myswitzerland.com is packed full of helpful information about the different seasons and events that take place across the country throughout the year, so do go and take a look.
If you need a natural trophy, you need Switzerland.
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In this episode you’ll learn about:
- What to expect when you visit Switzerland in each of the four seasons
- Events and celebrations that take place in each of the seasons
- Important things to know about visiting in the different seasons
- Birgit’s favourite season to visit Switzerland
Birgit Weingartner is the Marketing Manager for Switzerland Tourism Australia and New Zealand.
Born and raised in Switzerland and now residing in Australia, she is passionate about promoting her country of birth to fellow travellers.
The 4 seasons in Switzerland
Spring – March / April / May
Spring in Switzerland is the shoulder season and you can expect mild temperatures which are ideal for hikes or cycling tours in the lower altitudes. It’s a wonderful contrast as you get the last fresh snow on the mountain peaks so you can go for a ski trip one day, but at the same time, you can do beautiful hikes in the lowlands as well.
Wildflowers and cherry blossoms start to bloom and as the snow melts, the hillsides and meadows become a lush green.
Daylight Saving begins on the last Sunday in March so the days start to become longer.
Spring festivals include Sechseläuten in Zurich, held on the third Sunday and Monday of April. This is a celebration to say goodbye to winter and involves the burning of an 80-kilogram snowman.
There are generally fewer tourists in Spring than Summer. Some mountain railways close for a short period for maintenance during April/May.
Summer – June / July / August
The summer months in Switzerland are busy. Many international tourists choose to visit during summer, and the Swiss also like to get out and about in the mountains on weekends. You can expect to have to queue for cable car rides and activities in popular locations such as Grindelwald First.
Sunset is normally around 9pm so there are plenty of daylight hours to enjoy the outdoors.
As well as mountain excursions and hiking, swimming is popular in the many lakes and rivers. Badis (bathing areas) along the Limmat River in Zurich, for example, become bars in the evening.
Summer festivals include the Montreux Jazz Festival, Paleo in Nyon, Rainbow Festival in Zurich and there are big celebrations for Swiss National Day on 1 August.
Autumn/Fall – September / October / November
With fewer tourists in Autumn, this is another popular time to visit Switzerland. The leaves on the trees put on a display of yellow, orange and brown.
Evenings are still balmy during September and October and the lakes are still warm enough to swim in. It’s also an ideal time of year to go hiking.
Often the first snowfalls occur in October, too.
There are numerous Autumn festivals including the alpine descent parades when farmers bring their cattle from the alpine pastures to the lowlands for the winter. Visitors love to watch the alpine descents but the dates aren’t usually confirmed until about a week beforehand.
Autumn is the season to enjoy the many wine festivals in Switzerland, too.
Daylight Saving ends the last Sunday in October. Some mountain railways and mountain hotels close for a short period before gearing up for the busy winter months.
The Glacier Express stops running from mid-October until the second week of December for its annual maintenance.
Winter – December / January / February
Visiting Switzerland during winter is a great idea and not just for skiers. The Christmas markets open in late November and can be enjoyed right up until Christmas.
Other events include the World Cup Ski Classics in Switzerland which are held in Adelboden, Crans Montana, St. Moritz, and Wengen, which is home to the Lauberhorn Ski World Cup, held in the middle of January.
Winter is also the perfect time to visit Switzerland’s many museums (entry to 500 museums is free with the Swiss Travel Pass) and thermal spas, and to enjoy lots of fondue and hot chocolate.
Switzerland Tourism’s website myswitzerland.com has loads of useful information to help with your trip planning.
Read our articles:
- When is the best time to visit Switzerland?
- Essential information for visiting Switzerland in winter
- Cable car and funicular closure dates
Listen to these podcast episodes:
- What to expect when you visit Switzerland in winter
- Tips and advice for first-time travellers to Switzerland (featuring Birgit Weingartner)
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This episode is sponsored by Switzerland Tourism
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