Swiss Christmas markets
The Christmas markets are a good reason to visit Switzerland in late November or December. Combine a city trip, one or more Christmas markets, and a visit to the snowy mountains for the ultimate Christmas feeling.
There are smaller and larger Christmas markets all over Switzerland. Nearly all major cities have one. Several smaller towns do too. And some markets are held at very special locations. There’s one on top of Mount Pilatus for example.
Opening dates and times
Swiss Christmas markets are mainly open between mid November and 24 December. Dates vary for each market. Some are open for weeks, others just a day or two.
Average opening hours are late morning to early- or mid-evening. In late November and December, sunset starts about 4:30 PM. Many markets and town centers are beautifully illuminated at night. So the late afternoon and early evening are a perfect time of the day.
2021 Christmas markets in Switzerland's cities
Basel, Montreux and Zurich are ideal Swiss cities for Christmas markets. They have some of the most beautiful markets. They also provide quick access to other towns with more Christmas fairs.
- Basel. There are two markets in the old town center. One is at the Barfüsserplatz. The other is at the Münsterplatz near the famous Münster cathedral. Both are open from 25 November to 23 December: www.basel.com.
- Bern. The market is located at the Waisenhausplatz. This can be reached in a few minutes on foot from the railway station. The Christmas market is held from 26 November to 24 December. A New Year's Market is open from 27 to 29 December: www.weihnachtsmarktbern.ch.
- Geneva. There are several markets in town. More interesting is the l'Escalade festival, held in the weekend closest to 11 December: www.geneva.info.
- Lausanne. There are several festivities and a market in the old town. Festivities are available from 18 November to 31 December. The market is closed on 25 December: bo-noel.ch.
- Lucerne. There are various dates and places with markets, from early December to Christmas. The Christmas and Crafts market at the Weinmarkt is a traditional one: www.luzern.com.
- Lugano. The town center is beautifully illuminated and a market is open from 5 December to 24 December: https://www.ticino.ch.
- Montreux. The "Montreux Noel" market is one of Switzerland's most famous Christmas fairs. It's located at the boulevard along Lake Geneva. There are lots of activities for kids too. The market is open from 19 November to 24 December: www.montreuxnoel.com.
- St. Gallen is called "City of Stars" in winter. A market is open from 25 November to 24 December: www.sternenstadt.ch.
- Zurich has no less than 3 Christmas markets. One is at the central railway station. Others are located in the old town. They're open from 25 November to 23 or 24 December: www.zuerich.com.
2021 Christmas markets in smaller Swiss towns
Many smaller Swiss villages have beautiful Christmas fairs too. Some examples are:
How to combine Christmas fairs with other activities
Our proposal for an ideal December visit to Switzerland: start with a few days in a city to experience the cosy December feeling and of course the Christmas markets.
Then travel to the mountains, preferably by a scenic train. Explore the peaks of the Swiss Alps and other winter activities, before returning home to celebrate Christmas.
Note that this time is considered low season, so check the timetables and opening hours of places you'd like to visit. Some cableways and mountain trains may not be operational.
Itinerary suggestion 1: Zürich and Wengen
First spend a few days in Zurich. Your can visit the Christmas markets in Basel, Bern, Lucerne and Zurich from here if you wish.
Then spend a day on scenic railroads: take the train to Chur, then the Glacier Express route to Brig, and finally travel to Wengen to enjoy the mountains.
A shorter route is Zurich - Lucerne - Interlaken - Wengen via the Golden Pass line.
Itinerary suggestion 2: a week in Lucerne
The city of Lucerne offers many options, including a Christmas market. Your can also make day trips to the Christmas markets in Basel, Bern and Zurich from here.
Apart from that, mountains like Pilatus, Rigi and Titlis are nearby and make for an easy day trip.