The time in Switzerland
The time in Switzerland is UTC (GMT) + 1 hour in winter and UTC + 2 hours in summer. Sunrise and sunset times vary, with long days in June and short days in December. The local Swiss time is the same throughout the country, and there is no time difference with any of the surrounding countries.
Daylight saving time is being observed, so the time shifts one hour twice per year.
The time zone of Switzerland
Switzerland has one time zone: the Central European Time zone (CET), which is UTC (GMT) + 1 hour. After the change to summer time, this time zone is called Central European Summer Time (CEST), which is UTC + 2 hours.
All of Switzerland and all surrounding countries are in the same time zone.
Daylight saving time
Switzerland is in “winter time” from late October to late March. This is the normal, Central European Time (CET).
Switzerland is in “summer time” from late March to late October. The time is shifted one hour forward to have more daylight in the evenings. So when it’s 20:00 (8 PM), it’s actually only 19:00 (7 PM). This is called the Central European Summer Time (CEST).
The exact clock change date varies: it’s done overnight, in the early morning of the last Sunday in March (1 hour forward) and the last Sunday in October (1 hour back).
Sunrise and sunset in Switzerland
|Month||Sunrise time||Sunset time|
How to take advantage of daylight hours
Sunrise and sunset times determine your timeframe for scenic trips and photography. However, the number of potentially sunny hours is often less than the number of daylight hours. In mountainous areas, the valley can be shady well before sunset. In narrow valleys, the shade drastically reduces the number of sunny hours.
An example of the Lauterbrunnen Valley:
- June: there’s daylight from 5:30 to 21:20 (9:20 PM), but there’s only sun from 8:15 to 18:30 (6:30 PM).
- December: there’s daylight from 8:05 to 16:35 (4:35 PM), but there’s only sun from 10:15 to 13:00 (1:00 PM).
Swiss time format
Switzerland uses the 24-hour time format. 5 PM is 17:00, for example.
The future time zone of Switzerland
The European Union has decided to stop changing the clock twice per year. However, it’s undecided when this will take effect. The debate about which time to use all year round, and when it will take effect, is still ongoing.
Switzerland is no member of the European Union, but will probably follow whatever decision the surrounding member states take.
A likely outcome is that countries go back to their natural time zone. In that case, Switzerland would keep UTC (GMT) + 1 hour as its time, but without summer time. This would also apply to the neighboring countries Austria, Germany, Italy, and Liechtenstein. It would be one hour earlier in France because that country would be using UTC.