Wondering what month or season is really the best time to visit Switzerland?
Switzerland is a gorgeous country that has very definite seasons year after year. Each traveler may have different goals in mind when it comes to planning the ultimate Swiss getaway, so it can be difficult to choose the best time to go for accomplishing your unique desires.
To sum it up, many travelers are going to want to visit Switzerland for ski season, which means that January and February are going to be the ideal months to visit for the best snow conditions. There are many different Winter activities and sports going on this season, with endless ski resorts to choose from and cities to visit. However, some vacationers prefer the warm Summer adventures that Switzerland has in abundance, which also makes July and August key months for traveling.
We’ll cover each season of the year and the best times to visit by month, along with all the various adventures and activities you can accomplish while you’re there.
Everyone will be visiting Switzerland for different reasons, so we’ve given you lots of options to choose from based on your vacation style.
Also, we have in-depth guides to each individual month. We link to them throughout this article and we highly recommend checking them out to really familiarize yourself with what to expect when traveling during each month in Switzerland.
The Best Times to Visit Switzerland: Quick Summary
Best Time for Fall Colors in Switzerland: October and early November
Best Time for Skiing & Snow Sports in Switzerland: January, February and March, though some glacial resorts are open year-round
Best Time for Families to Visit Switzerland: May, June, July, August and December
Best Time to Hike in Switzerland: April through September
Best Time for Markets in Switzerland: November and December
Best Time for Lower Crowds in Switzerland: Spring and Fall months
Best Time for Lower Prices in Colorado: April and October, followed by May, September, and November
We’ll explain each of these times of year in greater depth later in this post, as each topic deserves a more detailed description of why it’s best to select specific months for certain purposes.
Switzerland Seasons At a Glance
Peak Ski Season: Switzerland is the master of all things ski, with the Swiss Alps being the central focal point of the sport. The Swiss also perfected the art of apres ski and the lifestyle surrounding alpine skiing, which makes a ski trip to Switzerland one of the most magical and worthwhile vacations.
The official start of ski season can happen as early as late October at some resorts, but most will be officially open for high capacity skiing by late November through late March. This is the time of year when the snow is at it’s most ideal and regular snow storms take place all over the country. The high altitude regions will receive the best and most consistent snow.
Despite the ski season drawing visitors from November to March, there are several resorts that have snow all year round. The ski resorts set around glaciers like Saas-Fee and the iconic Zermatt Matterhorn are open 365 days a year, making skiing possible for even Summer visitors.
Peak Vacation Season: Winter will usually have some of the largest crowds rushing to take advantage of the great alpine snow for ski season, but Summer crowds can be even larger than those in Winter. Families are more able to travel this time of year while kids are out of school, so July and August will be very busy.
The weather is at it’s hottest in July, but Switzerland weather is almost never unbearable. Light breezes, occasional rain showers and high altitude alpine towns make Summer very comfortable in Switzerland.
The warm weather opens up many different opportunities for hiking, backpacking, biking, climbing, paragliding and other such outdoor fun. Train tours, walking tours, boat cruises and National Park visits are all popular pastimes for residents and visitors in the Summer.
Slow Seasons: Spring and Fall tend to be the slower in Switzerland since they are shoulder seasons of the bustling Winter and Summer crowds. April and May experience snowmelt and light rainshowers, while September, October and November gear up for the holiday and ski season.
There’s no reason not to visit during slow seasons, as Switzerland has no shortage of great activities any time of the year. But planning for tours, transportation and excursions may be more difficult at these times. Hotels and restaurants tend to close during their slowest periods and the weather can occasionally prevent certain outdoor activities.
The Best Season to Visit Switzerland
Switzerland is best known for it’s beautiful ski resorts, chocolate box houses and scenic train rides, and Winter is the perfect time for experiencing all of these. We highly suggest a trip in the Winter months, especially in December when you can pair a festive holiday trip with great skiing and fewer crowds. However, most visitors will opt for ski trips in January and February when snow conditions are at their best.
January and February are considered peak ski season, so crowds and pricing will be very high. There are many great resorts to choose from and other activities like snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or even HeliSkiing this time of year.
If skiing isn’t your number one priority but you’d still like to experience the Swiss Alps, December or April will have fewer people but great conditions in select ski resorts. The glaciers in high altitude resorts will contribute to cool weather and great skiing all year long, so even if you miss peak ski season in Switzerland, you can visit one of these resorts for a day of skiing on the glaciers.
We’ve given a quick summary on the times to visit Switzerland but you need to know all the possibilities for a trip to Switzerland. Looking into each month of the year can help you focus on the cities, tours and sights you might want to add to your list. Each month can have a unique feeling to it, so we’ve covered the weather, activities and events you won’t want to miss.
Switzerland in January
January is the official start of the Winter season, with endless amounts of snow covering nearly all of Switzerland. On average, you can expect January to be cold and snowy with occasional icy winds in most places. Low altitude cities like Zurich will be around 34˚F (1˚C) during the day, while high altitude places such as Zermatt, will have averages of 28˚F (-2˚C).
This is a great time to visit Switzerland for the great ski conditions, magical atmosphere and beautiful Winter landscape. Throughout the month, you’ll notice the crowds will increase for peak ski season. January rates and affordability tend to be on the higher side, as hotels and transport prepare for an influx of visitors this month.
Best Activities in January: Skiing, Snowshoeing, Tobogganing, Ice Skating, Cross-country Skiing, Apres Ski, Sightseeing, Walking Tours, Glacier & Ice Cavern Tours, Gondola Rides, Scenic Trains, Fondue Tasting
Events in January: Harder-Potschete Parade, Snow Polo World Cup, Silvesterchlausen, World Snow Festival, International Balloon Festival
Switzerland in February
February is the middle of Winter in Switzerland, with pretty even temperatures and occasional snow storms rolling in. It’s helpful to study the altitude of the cities you’re visiting, since this will often dictate the forecasted temperature and weather. Low altitude cities like Zurich will be around 37.5˚F (3˚C) during the day, while high altitude places such as Zermatt, will have averages of 28˚F (-2˚C).
February is definitely peak ski season for Switzerland and a very busy month overall. With the influx of visitors, the prices for lodging, rentals and lift tickets will rise, too. However, if you are looking for some of the best skiing and weather around, February is the perfect month for visiting Switzerland.
Best Activities in February: Skiing, Snowshoeing, Tobogganing, Ice Skating, Cross-country Skiing, Apres Ski, Sightseeing, Walking Tours, Glacier & Ice Cavern Tours, Gondola Rides, Scenic Trains, Fondue Tasting
Events in February: Fasnacht, Horn Sled Races, White Turf, Chalandamarz
Switzerland in March
March is a whimsical month where the first Spring weather begins to show. At the beginning of the month the weather will feel most like Winter and will feel closer to Springtime towards the end. The ski resorts like Zermatt, which is at the highest altitude in the country, will have average temperatures of 31.5˚F (0˚C). Lower areas and big cities like Bern and Zurich will have average temperatures closer to 44˚F (6.6˚C) during the day.
March can still be pretty busy as skiers still flock to the slopes for those last blue bird days. Throughout the month, you’ll notice that crowd levels start to decrease leading into the Spring. If the higher travel rates aren’t an issue, March is actually a very pleasant time to visit Switzerland as the weather is gorgeous and there are lots of activities and events going on all over the country.
Best Activities in March: Skiing, Snowshoeing, Tobogganing, Ice Skating, Cross-country Skiing, Apres Ski, Sightseeing, Walking Tours, Glacier & Ice Cavern Tours, Gondola Rides, Scenic Trains, Fondue Tasting
Events in March: Republic Day, Engadin Ski Marathon, St. Joseph’s Day, International Jazz Festival
Switzerland in April
April weather in Switzerland tends to be much more unpredictable than other months. Altitude is the single biggest factor to consider when you’re planning around Switzerland’s April weather. The low altitude Zurich ranges from 40˚F (4˚C) to about 57˚F (15˚C) this month, while Zermatt can range from about 28˚F (-2˚C) to about 45˚F (7˚C). Rainfall is also a factor in April.
April is one of the best times to visit Switzerland if you want to find good deals and low crowds. You’ll be able to find some cheaper rates for hotels throughout the month of April, but Switzerland will still be higher in comparison to other European countries even in slow season. When you visit in April you can be one of the first to experience warm weather activities before Summer visitors come to town.
Best Activities in April: Boat Cruises, Castle Tours, Walking Tours, Sightseeing, Scenic Trains, Cogwheel Trains, See Waterfalls, Hiking, Chocolate Tasting, Skiing
Events in April: Sechseläuten, International Jazz Festival, International Classics Music Festival, Lucerne Spring Festival, Appenzell Landsgemeinde
Switzerland in May
May brings much warmer weather to Switzerland. Zurich, for example, has average temperatures of 64˚F (18˚C) and the highest altitude town of Zermatt averages 37˚F (3˚C) during the day. Rainfall can vary throughout the month of May, with the majority of the month having clear skies and dry ground – except where snow melt is occurring.
May is a great time to jump on Spring and Summer activities before the influx of visitors swarm the country starting in June. Pricing is low to moderate as far as travel expenses goes and most hotels will be open again this month in preparation for the Summer guests. Hiking trails are back open at this point, along with waterfall tours and climbing excursions.
Best Activities in May: Boat Cruises, Castle Tours, Walking Tours, Sightseeing, Scenic Trains, Cogwheel Trains, See Waterfalls, Hiking, Swimming, Ropes Courses, Chocolate Tasting, Skiing (in select areas)
Events in May: Alpine Cattle Ascent, Ascension, Tulip Festival, International Jazz Festival, Appenzell a Capella Festival
Switzerland in June
June is the epitome of Summer and brings some of the best warm weather in the country. Days are also longer, giving you extra free time to enjoy the great outdoors. Most lower altitude regions will have the warmest weather, like Geneva and Zurich, which will be around 70°F (21°C) or warmer throughout the day. Higher altitude regions like Zermatt will have average temperatures around 45°F (7°C) throughout the day. The snow may remain on the mountain peaks, but it won’t continue to fall throughout the month of June.
June is also right at the cusp of peak Summer season in Switzerland. Vacationers flock to the country as school lets out and families enjoy Summer break. This will inevitably mean that pricing on travel and hotel reservations begin to rise, making your Swiss vacation a bit more expensive than it was in May. On the bright side, all the hotels, restaurants, tours and excursions are open and available this month.
Best Activities in June: Boat Cruises, Castle Tours, Walking Tours, Sightseeing, Cogwheel Trains, See Waterfalls, Hiking, Backpacking, Mountain Biking, River Rafting, Paragliding, Swimming, Ropes Courses, Skiing (in select areas)
Events in June: Tellspiele, Fete de la Musique, St. Gallen Festpiele
Switzerland in July
July is like most places this time of year, experiencing warmer temperatures in the Southern parts of the country and cooler to cold weather in the Northern parts. July is one of the best times to visit Switzerland due to such perfect outdoor weather. If you plan to hike and spend lots of time outdoors, which is the top activity this month, prepare in advance for warm, dry trails with occasional rain showers.
Lower cities like Zurich will hover around 70˚F (21˚C) each day. Meanwhile, high alpine towns like Zermatt average about 63˚F (17˚C) during the day. Prepare for a lot of bustling activity no matter where you travel. July will also bring higher pricing for hotels, rentals, airfare and tours, which can make a significant difference in budget if you’re traveling with multiple people.
But remember, July is peak season for good reason – conditions are perfect for warm weather activities and outdoor fun!
Best Activities in July: Boat Cruises, Castle Tours, Walking Tours, Sightseeing, Cogwheel Trains, See Waterfalls, Hiking, Backpacking, Mountain Biking, River Rafting, Paragliding, Swimming, Ropes Courses, Via Ferrata Climbing, Skiing (in select areas)
Events in July: Montreaux Jazz Festival, Rigi Schwinget, Gurten Festival, International Alphorn Festival, National Costume Festival, Interlaken Gauklerfest
Switzerland in August
August is another great weather month for Switzerland, maintaining that warm mountain air and sunshine. Lower altitude towns will average temperatures at 68˚F (20˚C) during the day, while high altitude towns will average 53˚F (12˚C) in August. August is part of the Summertime rush, but the weather is immaculate, granting access to high altitude hiking trails and warm outdoor activities. Because of this, pricing is due to be almost as high as ski season rates.
While it may be busy and a bit pricey, you can guarantee that all accommodations and guided tours are open this season, but availability may be tricky if you don’t book ahead. Lots of fun family-friendly activities take place in cities all over Switzerland and more adventurous excursions like paragliding and cliff walking are a blast in the warm weather.
Best Activities in August: Boat Cruises, Castle Tours, Walking Tours, Sightseeing, Cogwheel Trains, Hiking, Backpacking, Mountain Biking, Paragliding, Swimming, Ropes Courses, Via Ferrata Climbing, Skiing (in select areas)
Events in August: Swiss National Holiday, Buskers Bern, Lucerne Festival, Zermatt Folklore Festival
Switzerland in September
In the month of September, the weather is still fairly warm but the mountain peaks are beginning to cool down. Some actually consider September to be 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 hiking in comfortable weather. If you plan to visit a low altitude regions, expect temperatures to be around 60˚F (15.5˚C) during the day. But in high altitude places, the average temperature is 51.5˚F (11˚C).
September is the beginning of the Fall shoulder season for Switzerland. 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. 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.
Best Activities in September: Boat Cruises, Castle Tours, Walking Tours, Sightseeing, Cogwheel Trains, Hiking, Backpacking, Mountain Biking, Paragliding, Ropes Courses, Via Ferrata Climbing, Grape Harvesting, Skiing (in select areas)
Events in September: Federal Day of Thanksgiving, Alpine Cattle Descent, Grape Harvest Festival
Switzerland in October
October is a gorgeous season for vacationing in Switzerland as most of the country will be colored with changing leaves and browning vegetation. Temperatures will be comfortably cool this month but can vary drastically depending on the region you’ll be visiting. Generally, you can expect October to be mild and breezy with low altitude temperatures around 52˚F (11˚C) and high altitude temperatures at 45˚F (7.2˚C).
Airfare and lodging will be at a low this month, which makes a trip to Switzerland on a budget easier to plan. With this in mind, October is best for the traveler who wants to experience the outdoor activities and beauty of Fall while saving a little money. Switzerland is beautiful most of the year, but the true magic comes when you get to experience the changing seasons on a lower budget.
Best Activities in October: Boat Cruises, Castle Tours, Walking Tours, Glacier Tours, Sightseeing, Hiking, Via Ferrata Climbing, Gondola Rides, Wine Tasting, Skiing (in select areas)
Events in October: Foire du Valais, Festa d’Autunno
Switzerland in November
November is the last month in Autumn and the weather takes a noticeable turn toward Winter. The glorious colors of Fall will still be abundant, but fading as the Winter snows set in. Temperatures can range from mild to very cold depending on the altitude and time of day. Lower altitude regions like Ticino can average 45°F (7.3°C) or more while high alpine areas like Zermatt will average 35°F (1.6°C) or lower.
November is still considered part of the slower shoulder season for Switzerland, so traveling will be fairly easy and crowd levels will be low. The affordability in a month like November is quite budget-friendly compared to other months of the year. However, Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries to visit, so the term “budget-friendly” can still look more expensive than the average meaning.
Best Activities in November: Boat Cruises, Walking Tours, Sightseeing, Hiking, Gondola Rides, Skiing, Snowshoeing, Tobogganing, Ice Skating, Apres Ski, Glacier & Ice Cavern Tours, Gondola Rides, Scenic Trains, Wine Tasting, Fondue Tasting
Events in November: All Saints Day, Geneva International Film Festival, Zibelemarit, Christmas Markets
Switzerland in December
December in Switzerland is a true Winter wonderland. On average, you can expect December to be cold with occasional snowfall in most locations. The ski resorts will see the coldest weather this month at a mild 30˚F (-1˚C), while Southern or low altitude areas of the country will be around 38˚F (3.3˚C) during the day.
December is one of the months where Switzerland starts to see a new rise in visitors due to the holiday season. Tourists will come to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s here, with a big uptick happening toward the end of the month. The top attractions will revolve around the festive Christmas markets, celebratory events and impressively decorated streets and buildings.
Hotels may be moderate this month, along with lift tickets and touring prices. However, plane tickets, train transport and car rentals may be a bit high especially toward the end of December.
Best Activities in December: Christmas Markets, Walking Tours, Sightseeing, Gondola Rides, Skiing, Snowshoeing, Tobogganing, Ice Skating, Cross-country Skiing, Apres Ski, Glacier & Ice Cavern Tours, Gondola Rides, Scenic Trains, Fondue Tasting
Events in December: St. Nikolaus Day, Fete de l’Escalade, Christmas, New Year’s Eve
We are most partial to the winter months in the Swiss Alps – so much so that we took our December honeymoon in Zermatt! We would highly recommend taking a Christmas vacation to Switzerland if you get the chance, especially if you’re an intermediate to advanced skier who loves a great cocktail, delicious fondue, charming resorts and historic towns.
For those who prefer to avoid the cold and participate in adventurous outdoor activities, we love the idea of planning a budget-friendly vacation in April, May, September or October. Not only can you save big these months, but you can also still enjoy hiking, climbing, sightseeing, walking tours, scenic train rides and those boat cruises that Switzerland is famous for.
Ultimately, you as the visitor will determine what month is best based on the activities you’d like to accomplish in Switzerland. The is such a variety of different opportunities available all throughout the year, you’ll want to establish which ones are best suited for you and your group. Whether you choose the splendor of a holiday ski trip filled with dazzling lights and well-groomed slopes, experience the Medieval architecture of cities like Basel or Stein am Rhein, or hike your way through Harder Kulm or Swiss National Park, your trip is bound to be the adventure of a lifetime.