If you’re considering a trip to Switzerland in the late Summer, September should be on your mind. It’s the start of shoulder season for Switzerland until the skiers begin to flock the country in December.
September is a great month to consider when planning a trip to Switzerland if you are looking for cheaper travel and accommodations rates while still being able to enjoy some warm weather activities. You can still manage beautiful hikes, boat cruises and sightseeing while avoiding the bulk of the Summer tourist crowds.
We’ll explain all this and more to help you plan your September vacation to Switzerland!
Switzerland Weather in September
In the month of September, the last bit of Summer is preparing to turn into the beginning of Fall. The weather is still fairly warm, especially in the lower regions, but the mountain peaks that haven’t already retained snow for the full year are beginning to cool down. Some people goes as far as to say that September is the best weather month for visiting Switzerland.
Outdoor fun is in abundance this month as locals and visitors alike get in their last days of high altitude hiking in comfortable weather. The temperature will vary based on your destination, so it’s important to know the altitude and proximity of your location within the country.
If you plan to visit a low altitude region like Zurich, expect temperature lows and highs to range around 49˚F to 68˚F (10˚C to 20˚C) during the day. High altitude places such as Zermatt, where skiing is also possible all year, will see average lows and highs around 39˚F to 59˚F (4˚C to 15˚C).
Average September Temperature in Switzerland (By City)
|Avg Low (°F)
|Avg High (°F)
|Avg Low (°C)
|Avg High (°C)
Switzerland Affordability & Crowds in September
September is the beginning of the Fall shoulder season for Switzerland. Like most areas of the world this time of year, tourism slows as the school year begins and workflow resumes. This leaves a gap of about two to three months where travel becomes a bit easier for those who prefer not to fight the crowds of Summer.
While Switzerland begins it’s slow season, hotels, restaurants and small businesses may shutter their doors until ski season begins anew in December. This isn’t the case for the majority of places, but it’s something to keep in mind.
The good news for frugal travelers is that rates on travel and lodging will go down this month, making a Switzerland trip on a budget more doable. While a Swiss vacation is never on the cheap side (it’s one of the most expensive places to visit) September will be one of the cheapest times of year to go.
Switzerland Snow & Skiing in September
In the Summer, snow is extremely rare and has likely stopped all over the country. But by the time September rolls around, the high mountain areas begin to see little flurries, though not much. It’s not uncommon for the glaciers to keep their snow year round, but low altitude regions will not have any snow on the ground.
Skiing is still possible in September, but in very specific places. You’ll want to select from the short list of ski resorts that have snow in September, which include Zermatt and Saas-Fee. With the vast decline in tourists, the slopes will be empty.
Best Switzerland Ski Resorts in September
Both Zermatt and Saas-Fee are excellent ski resorts that remain open year round for powderhounds and casual skiers alike. In the Winter, they are two of the top resort destinations in the country. In September, the same is true, but there will be significantly fewer people on the slopes.
Zermatt is a beginners paradise, with easy sloping glacier runs with minimal intermediate style skiing toward the lower parts of the trails. Since Zermatt is one of the only areas in the country that has a glacier, skiing is possible 365 days a year and is accommodating to just about any skill level.
The village is a charming town to visit even if you didn’t want to ski, featuring Swiss chocolate box houses and buildings, extremely friendly residents and delicious dining at their eclectic restaurants. From the village, you’ll take a series of gondolas up to the Klein Matterhorn, where you’ll get a breathtaking view of the famous Matterhorn peak.
Once you arrive at the Klein Matterhorn, guests can dine at the mountain restaurant, see the Swiss Alps from the viewing platform or ski back to town on nearly 20km of open pistes. If open, one of the runs actually leads you into Cervinia, Italy, where you can eat pasta and relax for a bit before heading back to town.
Saas-Fee may not have the altitude that Zermatt has, but it offers more in the way of expert and intermediate skiing than Zermatt does. This is a perfect place for brushing up on your skills before the start of the ski season, since there are very few people on the slopes and the multiple ski parks with jumps and bowls. Saas-Fee also has 20km of skiable acreage in September.
The village is a great homebase for an early Fall ski trip, and will be much quieter this time of year. It will most likely be warm in comparison to the mountain temperatures. In addition to skiing, a trip to Saas-Fee could include hiking on beautiful trails, floating on the water, relaxing at the spa and or dining at one of multiple great restaurants.
Best Things to Do in Switzerland in September
Just before the chilly breezes and early snowfall approach, vacationers can get their last bit of Summer fun inside a September trip to Switzerland. Most of the bigger cities will be a little quieter and your trip is sure to be a bit more relaxing than in peak season.
Marvel at Basel
Basel is a truly enchanting city situated on the Northern border of Switzerland. September is perfect for visiting since this usually bustling city is more subdued. It’s conveniently located near France and Germany, making it a great jumping off point for visiting neighboring countries. Basel is known as a cultural hub with many museums and art galleries to see while you’re there. Some that are highly recommended include the Vitra Design Museum, Kunstmuseum, and the Spalentor Medieval Gate.
Like most Swiss cities, it has a beautiful historic district, with Basel Minster at the center. This Gothic masonry extraordinair dates back to the 12th century and overlooks the Rhine River. Touring Basel by way of the Rhine is another fantastic experience and visitors can catch the ferry at four different docking points throughout the city. Alternatively, you could rent a wielding paddle boat and venture out on your own.
Shop in St. Moritz
The clear nights and warm days of September make this month a great time to see St. Moritz, especially before the Winter crowd sets in. St. Moritz is a ritzy ski town that is a great place for relaxing during low season. The streets are lined with grand hotels, high end shops and five star restaurants which make it easy to stay in town. Loads of art galleries and museums offer a quiet reprieve and learning experience while in St. Moritz.
To get a real appreciation for the outdoors, try dining at a rooftop restaurant or mountain view cafe like Panorama restaurant at the top of Corviglia. You can also still spend the day on the water in September, whether you choose to boat, paddle or sail on Lake Silvaplana. We also recommend you ride the Bernina Express when you travel to St. Moritz which has stunning views of vastly different climates, including glaciers, lakes and valleys.
Sip Wine at Lavaux Vineyard
Switzerland is not particularly known for their wine, but the wine they do produce is equally as delicious as neighboring France and Italy. Since Swiss wine isn’t as highly regarded as others, local growers keep their stock for locals and visitors only, making this exclusive experience even more special. Several key places to visit for hand-harvested and locally pressed wine include La Cote, Neuchatel and Praz.
The most notable of all is the Lavaux Vineyards on Lake Geneva, which is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site. Their vineyard is recognized for the steep incline, making machine harvesting impossible. Each year temporary harvesters are hired to hand-pick the grapes, and those planning to stay in the city for an extended time can call ahead for employment and lodging.
Lausanne sits on Lake Geneva and is a hidden gem of sorts when compared to bigger cities on the lake. The one notable thing about this little town’s international presence is that the Olympic Committee has its headquarters here, along with the Olympic Museum, which guests can’t miss when visiting.
September in Lausanne still feels like Summer, so many outdoor activities like boat cruises are still great for seeing the city. In addition to the cruise, take a tour through the famous Notre Dame of Switzerland: Cathedrale de Lausanne, the pinnacle of the city’s old town or get a bird’s eye view from Sauvabelin Tower.
Lucerne is fairly busy throughout the Summer, so September is a great month for missing the crowds while enjoying the last of the warm weather. This lakefront city is steeped in medieval architecture, showcased in the ramparts on the Northern end that still stand from the 14th century and a chapel bridge built in 1333. In addition to it’s old heritage, Lucerne’s boat cruises are the number one attraction.
Getting out into the surrounding nature should be at the top of your list for Lucerne. You can see beautiful cobblestone streets and red brick homes of the Alstadt from a cruise, take the cogwheel train to hike Mount Pilatus or Mount Rigi, or walk the historic pathways on the covered bridges and rampart towers. You should also take advantage of Lake Lucerne’s unique bathing area while the warm weather permits.
Play at Mount Pilatus
Mount Pilatus sits atop Lake Lucerne and has incredible views of the lake and the mountains from the top. It’s a destination that the whole family will enjoy, which involves an easy sightseeing trip or hike. When September rolls around the tourist crowds really die down, so you won’t be fighting to get to the top.
We suggest traveling here from Lucerne on the Golden Round Trip, which provides the ultimate experience when visiting Mount Pilatus. You’ll start by taking a bus through the country to Kriens, journey by cable car up to Pilatus and take in the stunning view from the Pilatus-Kulm platform. You’ll return by taking the cogwheel train from Pilatus to Alpnachstad and complete the journey by boat to Lucerne. This full day excursion is one of the best ways to take in the full sights of Lake Lucerne.
Via Ferrata in Murren
September is the last safe month you can guarantee a great via ferrata climb and Murren is the place to do it. Via ferrata climbing is a big feat, one that the course at Murren takes quite seriously. Hikers love it for the sweeping views of the mountains and valley while traversing heights of 2000ft. The course is open for anyone, but we recommend going on a guided tour for the safest experience.
The course includes tight ropes, suspension bridges and steep ladders and sets off from the small town of Murren in the Jungfrau region. To complete the 2.2km trek, climbers will brave steep, rocky terrain from the valley floor at Murren to Gimmelwald on the other side of the mountain.
Grindelwald is extremely popular for skiing in the Winter, but the shoulder season of September really provides a well-balanced warm weather haven for the adventure-seeker. In the Summertime, this popular ski resort serves as the gateway to both Lauterbrunnen 72 Waterfalls Valley and the famous Jungfraujoch. Both are incredible sites on their own, but there’s even more to experience closer to town.
Gletscherschult is a breathtaking journey through a ravine that’s existed since the Little Ice Age. First Cliff Walk is another stunner that puts visitors on edge – literally. You’ll walk a 45 metre metal walkway to the center where the views are out of this world. From here, you can also access the Bachalpsee alpine lake or the Grosse Scheidegg alpine trail.
Jungfraujoch has been dubbed the “Top of Europe” with one of the tallest peaks in the world. It also claims the highest railway station in the continent. The attraction hosts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, the majority of which come in Summer, so September will be less busy. This month will also bring cooler weather to this breathtaking view of the Bernese Alps and Glacier Valley (pictured above).
On the train up the mountain, you’ll get impeccable panoramic views of the mountain tops on the Jungfrau Railway. You’ll also be treated to a delicious meal on your journey. When you reach the top, a variety of activities await you. The Sphinx Terrace viewing station is the main attraction, but there are also glacier tours, the Ice Palace and sculptures, and the most modern tricable gondola in the world.
Tour the Rhone Glacier
The magnificent Rhone Glacier is a contributing source to both the Rhone River and to Lake Geneva. This impressive landmark is located high above the popular ski village of Andermatt and welcomes visitors all year round. It’s most impressive in the Summer when you least expect to see ice and snow, and provides a welcoming cool down from the warm weather.
Don’t miss a walk through the Ice Grotto, which is redrilled each year for tourists to walk through. The brilliant blue hues in the ice are starkly contrasted to the grayish tones of the mountain. There’s also an outdoor viewing platform that overlooks the exterior of the glacier and the lake below.
Hike the Swiss Grand Canyon
The Rhine Gorge, otherwise known as the “Swiss Grand Canyon”, is one of the most spectacular and unassuming sights in all of Switzerland. Those who travel to Switzerland specifically to hike the Alps will not want to miss this unique feature. The Rhine Gorge has multiple hiking trails and viewpoints varying in difficulty. The family hiking trails are great for young kids.
Rhine Gorge will see the most visitors later in the Summer, so hikers will love the tranquility and warmer weather in May. If the day is warm enough, you can even cool off after a long hike by swimming in the Caumasee alpine lake.
Backpack Mont Blanc
September is the last month that is ideal for backpacking across the Mont Blanc trail, since colder and possibly snowy weather could come toward the end of October. Mont Blanc is the highest peak in Western Europe, so the cold weather sets in sooner than other places in Switzerland. The full Tour du Mont Blanc trail actually begins in France and takes hikers through Italy to Switzerland. If you begin in Switzerland, you can easily start in Champex-Lac or La Fouly via train from Geneva to Martigny.
While hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc, backpackers will have access to rest stops every few miles that are stocked with refreshments and necessities. If you do the full tour, you’ll be able to stop in multiple places in each country. You can eat alpine cheese in Switzerland, get delicious pasta in Italy and robust wines in France.
Tour Oberhofen Castle
Oberhofen Castle is a gorgeous 13th century relic located in the Bern canton of Switzerland. It sits on Lake Thun and is considered a romantic getaway. Couples will love the journey through the renovated castle halls, dining on traditional Swiss fare at the castle restaurant and stealing a kiss inside the picturesque top tower smoking lounge.
September will be accompanied by lake breezes and warm sunny days. If you plan to spend the day in Oberhofen, take a boat cruise to neighboring Thun on the Aare River. Thun has many scenic walks through the old town, down the historic covered bridges and over to Balliz Island where you can shop at the market and dine at several local cafes.
Boat Lake Thun & Lake Brienz
Speaking of Thun, it’s located on the gorgeous Lake Thun, which is too cold for swimming in September, but perfect for boat cruising this time of year. This alpine lake was formed from a melted glacier and sailors love the light breezes that are prevalent on the lake all year long.
Lake Brienz is a neighboring waterway that feeds into Lake Thun, featuring brilliantly blue water. The paddle steamer runs regularly throughout the month and guests can choose their tour time based on the cuisine they would like. When you opt for a boat cruise on one of these lakes, you’re served a delicious meal with relaxing entertainment while touring romantic villages with giant mountains as the backdrop.
September Events in Switzerland
Federal Day of Thanksgiving, Repentance and Prayer
This unique federal holiday takes place on the third Sunday in September and is recognized by people of all faiths, including but not limited to Christians, Catholics, Muslims and Jews. While the focus is on mindfulness and fasting, the holiday is also seen as patriotic and the entire country usually ceases any sort of work this day.
Alpine Cattle Descent
Switzerland is known internationally for cheese and dairy products, all made lovingly by their well-attended and cared-for cows. These cows get special treatment each Spring by ascending to the mountains for fresh and delicious grass in a cooler climate for the Summertime. In the Fall, they make their descent all over the country and local villages celebrate their return. As the herds come back to town, the farmers greet them with a decorative parade.
Grape Harvest Festival
The Grape Harvest Festival is an annual celebration that takes place at the end of September in Neuchatel Country. The festival is celebrated by all the residents who put together a harvest procession and dress in cultural costumes. Elaborate floats decorated with floral bouquets and wine harvesting tools take to the streets as the countryside prepares to press the season’s grapes. Other similar events take place in wine regions like the village of Praz.
September is the perfect month to visit Switzerland to enjoy the last bit of Summer weather with fewer tourist crowds. You can still get out onto Switzerland’s famous lakes for a warm boat cruise, hike with less foot traffic on the trails and you can tour the big cities with ease.
Not only can you get in a lot of iconic tours and refreshing activities, you can also avoid some of the larger crowds and get better deals on pricing your vacation in the month of September.
This article is part of Roundtript’s series of expert Switzerland travel guides for every month of the year.
Spring in Switzerland
Summer in Switzerland
Fall in Switzerland
Winter in Switzerland
For a summary of each Switzerland month & season all in one place, check out our big guide to the Best Times of the Year to Visit Switzerland.