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The best time to visit Switzerland in winter


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Must knows about the best time for a winter visit

  • January, February and March are the best months for a winter holiday with snow.
  • December is cosy for atmospheric city trips.
  • November, late March and April are low season. These months are suitable for quiet trips.
Lago Bianco in winter

The Lago Bianco ("White Lake") at the Bernina pass in winter.

What’s the best month for a winter visit to Switzerland?

The best months to visit Switzerland in winter are January, February and early March. They offer the best chances of snow. Snow activities are available in many ski resorts.

When does it snow in Switzerland?

Snow in Switzerland mostly falls in January, February and March. During these months, temperatures are lowest and the zero-degree limit drops.

Snowfall is not limited to that season. It’s common from October to April. Eary or late snow will rarely be enough for a closed snow cover though.

In the mountains, snowfall is possible during the rest of the year as well. The highest peaks are snow-covered all year round.

Where does it snow in Switzerland?

The snow area in Switzerland mainly consists of mountain tops and high valleys. Towns at an altitude of 1500 m (4921 ft) or higher have the best chances of snow.

In lower areas, there’s less chance of snow. For example: Lauterbrunnen is on the valley floor at 800 m (2625 ft). It may or may not snow there.

In Switzerland’s lowlands, snow in winter can occur, but it’s not common. Don’t expect a snow-covered landscape if you’re staying in low-altitude towns such as Zurich, Locarno, Basel, Geneva or Lucerne.

Find tips for the best Swiss winter destinations here.

Winter and snow in November

November isn’t winter yet. But snowfall can start in the mountains. Weather is often chilly and foggy. It’s low season and not all mountain transportation will operate.

Still, this is a good time to visit Switzerland if you like peace and quiet. You can visit beautiful towns and museums. Train journeys are wonderful too. By late November, the first Christmas markets start.

Winter and snow in December

Early December is like November weather-wise. Winter in Switzerland begins by late December. Snowfall may occur in the mountains and ski resorts start operating. You’ll find Christmas decorations and a cozy atmosphere in the towns and cities.

December is the best month to enjoy the holiday season in Switzerland. You can make city trips and shop at Christmas markets. Mountain top visits are possible too. If you stay in a town high in the Alps, you may experience the first snowfall.

December 24 to January 1 is the most expensive week of the year for accommodation. Find out how to save money here.

Winter and snow in January and February

January and February are the coldest months. They’re drier than summer. Snow can fall, especially at high altitude.

You can best stay in the mountains. You’ll have the best chances of snow and of sunny, bright winter weather there.

You can enjoy lots of snow activities such as sledging and snowshoe hiking. Mountains and ski lifts can be crowded, especially during Swiss school holidays.

Winter and snow in March

March is still a good month for a winter holiday in Switzerland, if you choose a resort high in the mountains. If there’s enough snow, ski resorts at high altitudes are still open. Most mountain transportation is operational.

The lower hills and valleys aren’t a good winter destination in March. Snow will start to melt and the landscape can look wet, brown and dull. In the lowlands, there’s not much chance of wintry weather.

Winter and snow in April

April is low season, except for Easter. Most ski resorts are closed and most mountain transportation shuts down. Hiking trails at high altitude will still be snow-covered, and special winter hiking trails will no longer be groomed. There’s still snow at higher mountain tops, but spring will set in in the lower areas.

April is not a good month for a winter visit, but you can still count on snowy views in the Alps. You’ll have to visit mountain tops to touch the snow.

Winter and snow in May to October

May to October is the summer season, and this is not suitable for a winter holiday in Switzerland. There can be snow, but on mountain tops only. Snow can fall at lower altitudes, but it’s rare.

Where to find summer snow in Switzerland

Summer snow in Switzerland can be found at the highest mountain tops: about 3000 m (9843 ft) and higher. Examples are:

Tips for snow activities in winter can be found here.

Dates of Swiss winter school holidays

Dates of Swiss school holidays during winter differ per canton. Exact dates can be found here. The most important school holidays in Switzerland during winter are:

  • Christmas break: from a week before Christmas through the first week of January.
  • Sports break (in most but not all cantons): the last week of February and the first week of March.
  • Easter weekend: from Good Friday until Easter Sunday and in some cantons Easter Monday.
  • Spring break: two weeks in mid-April.

It’s busier on ski pistes and mountain tops during these holidays. Avoid these weeks if you want a quiet visit.

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