23 Charming Things to Do in Switzerland in Winter


Feature switzerland in winter

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Crystal clear mountain lakes, snowy mountains, recent air, the scent of melted cheese and mulled wine, image postcard Winter scenes, and let’s not neglect concerning the chocolate – a number of chocolate! Welcome to Switzerland in winter!

Cliche alert! Switzerland in winter is sort of a Christmas card. This has been written so many instances, however it’s true! And I don’t imply a type of playing cards with a photograph of Uncle Harold and Auntie Barbara in entrance of their Christmas tree with a glass of wine wishing all people a Merry Christmas. No, I imply those with a drawing of a wintery village underneath a starry evening, clusters of little homes with yellow lights within the small home windows and puffs of smoke rising from the chimneys, and crimson mailboxes with a robin on high. You understand the playing cards I’m speaking about!

If you happen to may soar into that Christmas card, that’s precisely what Switzerland in winter is like. Okay, it’s not precisely – mailboxes are literally yellow in Switzerland. However you get the purpose! You may expertise all this and way more. All it’s essential to do is get on a airplane and fly to this alpine paradise. Don’t go earlier than studying this information although, as a result of it’s full of wonderful ideas from somebody who’s lived in Switzerland for 8 years!

Psst: Planning a visit to Switzerland? Listed below are another superior posts that will help you plan!

bern switzerland in winter
Bern in winter, a smooth blanket of snow masking town. (Photograph Credit score: Switzerland Tourism & Jan Geerk)

Journey ideas for visiting Switzerland in Winter

Planning a visit to Switzerland in Winter? Try these journey ideas earlier than you ebook your journey!

How chilly does it get in Switzerland in Winter?

It’s onerous to think about trying on the snowy mountains, however Switzerland has a reasonable local weather. Meaning it typically doesn’t get excessively scorching, chilly or humid. That additionally implies that there are exceptions: I’ve skilled -18ºC (3ºF) within the metropolis of Geneva in Winter and 36ºC (100ºF) in Zurich in summer season.

The typical temperatures in Switzerland in summer season vary between 18 and 28°C (65° – 82°F) and -2 to 7°C (28° – 45°F) in Winter. In spring and autumn temperatures are someplace between 8 to fifteen °C (46° – 59° F). 

Snow is sort of all the time anticipated within the mountains of Switzerland, however the cities and cities at decrease altitudes recurrently get snowfall too in Winter!

Extra essential is how shortly the climate can change in Switzerland, particularly within the mountains. A sunny day may simply change right into a thunderstorm. (Consider me, I’ve discovered the onerous approach not less than 10 instances!) Attempt to pack for all climate situations! One thing to maintain you cool, one thing to maintain you heat (try our cold weather packing guide) and one thing to maintain you dry ought to work.

How do I get round Switzerland in Winter?

Switzerland is a small nation, roughly the dimensions of the state of Kentucky, which you can drive by it in about three hours. And by chance it has a public transport system that works extremely nicely: it’s environment friendly, all the time on time, and you may get to just about wherever.

In Switzerland, you’re spoiled for alternative. You may take a tram, bus, or prepare like in most nations, however this nation provides a number of extra to select from. Many boats, funiculars and cable vehicles are a part of public transportation too!

Attending to a distant village within the mountains? Take the Postbus! (Guess what colour it’s?) This is a superb service that runs coaches alongside previous mail routes, which implies they go wherever.

Most of your journeys will in all probability be by prepare. Touring by prepare is nice in Switzerland! Not solely does it get you from A to B, however it takes you thru among the most scenic landscapes on the earth. For instance, the well-known Bernina Express goes from Chur or St. Moritz to Tirano in Italy, and the Glacier Express covers the cross-country stretch between Zermatt and St. Moritz, on which you’ll be able to ebook the panoramic wagon, which has top-to-bottom roof home windows that offer you beautiful views of the mountains you’re crossing.

The very best factor you are able to do to get round is to purchase a Swiss Travel Pass in the event you’re planning on doing a number of public transport journeys throughout the nation. You should purchase a 3, 4, 8 or 15-day journey move from CHF 232 (round US$ 254) to make use of on consecutive days. Need to select your personal days? The Swiss Journey Cross Flex enables you to select the times inside a month. Costs begin at CHF 267 (round US$ 292). 

The move provides you limitless journey by bus, prepare or boat, together with premium panoramic trains. It additionally contains mountain excursions to Rigi, Stanserhorn and Stoos plus reductions on different excursions, free admission to greater than 500 museums and free limitless use of native public transport in 90 cities and cities. Shopping for this move is a no brainer actually, because it saves you a number of cash touring round Switzerland in winter.

riverbank of basel switzerland in winter
The riverbank of Basel, Switzerland in winter. (Photograph Credit score: Switzerland Tourism & Jan Geerk)

What Apps Ought to I obtain for Switzerland?

Since Switzerland is such a small nation with solely 8.5 million residents, they really have their very own apps which makes getting round and planning simpler!

Listed below are the Swiss apps that can assist with basic touring:

  • MeteoSwiss: This can be a Switzerland-specific climate app that’s way more helpful than the traditional climate app in your cellphone. You may search climate by space, and it’ll give info as to when precipitation is predicted. I do know that appears like each different climate app however belief me, it’s extra correct and really helpful for attempting to see the elusive Matterhorn!
  • SBB Mobile: in the event you use public transport, obtain the SBB Mobile app in your cellphone. This free app offered by the Swiss Federal Railways is the right transport planner. It is aware of your location and offers you real-time route planning.
  • Google Maps: You will want this. Not solely is it useful for prepare instances and platforms, however it’s going to additionally assist you to discover locations talked about within the itinerary and offer you particular strolling instructions. It’s additionally good to have if it’s essential to sort in “meals” at any level. Strolling all day makes you hungry!
  • Google Translate: Until you’re fluent in German, it would be best to have this downloaded to translate phrases you don’t know. Although a number of signage and menus are in English, that’s not all the time the case. You may even use the digicam perform to translate in real-time.

Do I would like to talk the Swiss language?

There’s no such factor because the Swiss language. Switzerland has 4 official nationwide languages: Swiss German, French, Italian and Romansh. The nation is roughly divided in 4 linguistic areas. That implies that there are cities and cities on the language borders which can be bilingual. Both approach, the Swiss are used to totally different languages. English is one among them. General, individuals communicate a great stage of English, so that you shouldn’t have any drawback getting by.

I feel it’s all the time good to study a number of primary phrases and sentences, in case you want info and other people don’t communicate English. It’s additionally very a lot appreciated by locals. You don’t need to study all 4 languages of Switzerland, however a little bit of German and French will get you locations!

skiing in switzerland in winter
Snowboarding in Switzerland in winter is among the major pastimes! (Photograph Credit score: Switzerland Tourism)

Issues to Do in Switzerland in Winter

Now you might have every thing it’s essential to put together for a visit to Switzerland, let’s encourage you with issues to do in Switzerland in winter.

Go Snowboarding & Snowboarding within the Swiss Alps

How may snowboarding not be the primary exercise on this record? Switzerland boasts greater than 350 ski resorts, from well-known locations like Davos Klosters to small single-ski raise native mountain slopes. If you happen to’ve ever wished to strive snowboarding or snowboarding, Switzerland is the place to do it. Go for it!

Don’t fear about bringing your tools. Ski rental locations are excellent and you could find them in all places. 

If you happen to’re an absolute newbie, it’s greatest to discover a ski resort with newbie’s slopes. These are the resorts that can present classes as nicely in the event you want them.

Most resorts have a stay webcam on their web site, so you possibly can all the time verify the climate situations earlier than you go!

If you happen to’re in search of the complete Swiss snowboarding expertise, listed here are among the greatest locations to ski in Switzerland:

  • Zermatt – Residence of the famed Matterhorn, Zermatt is thought for having the most effective snow, as a consequence of its microclimate. The glaciers enable for longer ski seasons too. Additionally they have nice bars for après-ski and booming bars on this touristy city (or simply go straight right here in the event you don’t like snowboarding!).
  • Flims/Laax – This place is huge! That is the place I noticed horizontal ski lifts for the primary time, simply to get you from A to B. Flims/Laax is nice for learners, as there are many straightforward blue slopes. It’s near Zurich too, which makes it straightforward to go for the day!
  • Davos – That is the best metropolis in Europe at 5118 ft with beautiful ski slopes and routes (so give your self an adjustment interval in Switzerland earlier than heading straight there). Head to Pischa Freeride Mountain for some high quality powder snow. Snow is saved from final yr and sprayed on this slope. Fairly intelligent stuff! All of the pow-pow with out the chance of avalanches!
sledding in grindlewald switzerland in winter
Sledding in Switzerland in winter (Photograph Credit score: Switzerland Tourism & Christof Sonderegger)

Race down a mountain on a sled

If snowboarding is absolutely not your factor, there are many different methods to have enjoyable happening a slope. Sledding is so exhilarating! You are able to do it in lots of ski resorts, however the car-free city of Braunwald within the canton of Glarus, within the east of Switzerland, is an area gem and my favourite! It takes simply over an hour to drive there from Zurich, add one other hour in the event you go by prepare. 

Right here the toboggan slope is totally separated from the ski slopes and even has its personal cable automobile. Lease a picket sled, get within the cable automobile, then get able to race all the way down to the underside of the observe. Sit down, legs on the aspect for braking and steering and off you go! The 1.5-mile snow observe has ups, downs, thrilling turns and beautiful surroundings. It’s like go-karting on snow (Sure, it’s THAT quick!). Ear-to-ear smiles assured!

Are you aware what’s even higher than sledding down a mountain? Sledding down a mountain at evening! In Braunwald they mild up the sled observe between 7 and 10pm. It’s magic!

You may even book a sledding tour in central Switzerland in Interlaken that comes with a cheese fondue dinner. There are such a lot of alternatives to really feel like a child once more!

christmas market in basel switzerland in winter
The Christmas Market in Basel is pure magic! (Photo Credit)

Get all Christmassy at a Christmas Market

A mug of scorching mulled wine, choirs singing Christmas carols, the scent of roasted chestnuts, raclette and cinnamon, snowflakes falling…the Christmas markets are one thing it’s essential to expertise in Switzerland in December.

I actually benefit from the Christmas market in Zurich. Bahnhofstrasse, the principle procuring avenue is totally lit up with lights that appear to be shimmering stars within the evening sky. On the adjoining squares, you’ll discover a number of stalls with Christmas decorations, mulled wine and avenue meals. There’s a singing Christmas tree, which is a triangular stage within the form of a tree, the place choirs stand on totally different ranges and sing Christmas carols. This market often begins a month earlier than Christmas and closes simply earlier than Christmas.

Among the greatest Christmas markets in Switzerland:

  • Basel – This market was voted probably the most lovely Christmas market in Europe. You could find it on Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz, which is true within the coronary heart of the festively embellished Outdated City, and it is among the largest Christmas markets within the nation.
  • Zurich – Christkindlimarkt is inside the principle station and round Bahnhofstrasse, and is a bit cozier than being exterior! It’s well-known for the Singing Christmas Tree, a stage on a number of ranges within the form of a Christmas Tree, on which choirs carry out.
  • Gruyères – This Christmas market is known for the Christmas decorations made by artisans. The Christmas market in Gruyères usually solely takes place two weekends in December, so verify the web site for this yr’s dates.
  • Lucerne – The Christmas market in Lucerne is often on from December 1st till Christmas. It takes place within the Outdated City, away from the bustle of the principle procuring avenue. There is a gigantic introduction wreath every year that’s constructed across the Franziskaner fountain!
  • Montreux – I just like the Christmas market in Montreux as a result of it’s lakeside. You may meet the actual Santa Claus in his residence on high of Roches-de-Nayer at 6,500 ft (it have to be the opposite one who lives on the North Pole). From the Christmas market, you possibly can see him flying by the sky on his sleigh although. Magic!
View of Matterhorn from igloo in Switzerland in Winter
View of the Matterhorn from an igloo in Zermatt. (Photograph Credit score: Switzerland Tourism & Sylvia Michel)

Sleep in an Igloo

Okay, so that you like snow, you want chilly, you wish to go to Switzerland in winter. However would you sleep in an igloo? It’s what I requested myself a number of years in the past, and by some means my associate will need to have learn my thoughts. Shortly after it was my birthday and guess what I acquired? 

A couple of hours later, round sundown, I’m strolling up a mountain, following a dude who works for Iglu-dorf (Igloo village). Wanting behind me I see the cable automobile station and restaurant disappear, along with the remainder of civilization. We attain a constructing made out of ice. It’s like a lodge. There’s a bar, a restaurant and a hall with a number of rooms. They’re all manufactured from ice!

Iglu-dorf is fairly cool (no pun supposed). They serve a warming cheese fondue, mulled wine and different scorching drinks. It retains you heat! There’s a sauna as nicely, and a scorching tub. A magical expertise, to be exterior in a scorching tub within the mountains at midnight, underneath the celebrities.

I stayed in Davos within the east of the nation, however there’s an Iglu-dorf in Zermatt and Gstaad as nicely.

Did I’ve a great evening’s sleep? F*ck no! The mattress is actually a block of ice with a shammy on high and a pile of woolen blankets. Was it an unforgettable expertise I nonetheless take into consideration now and again, years after? Hell yeah!

Grand Resort Bad Ragaz spa switzerland in winter-Blog Photo-3
The Grand Resort Dangerous Ragaz Spa, the place you possibly can soak among the many snow! (Photograph Credit score: Grand Resort Dangerous Ragaz)

Pamper Your self at a Spa

Is simply studying about racing down mountain slopes approach an excessive amount of pleasure? Possibly a spa day is extra your factor (who doesn’t like spas, proper?). There’s nothing like sitting in a scorching thermal tub, exterior, whereas snowflakes gently land in your zen head. 

Switzerland does a spa day proper! Most spas are like public swimming swimming pools. No have to ebook something, until you’d like several remedies. You simply present up, pay the doorway charge and for a number of hours you might have entry to thermal indoor and out of doors swimming pools, fireplace and ice baths, steam rooms, saunas, scorching tubs, drip caves and leisure rooms. Towels are offered.

Going to a spa is all about recharging, so take into accout to talk quietly and let different individuals chill out (so ignore these ideas of cannonballing in that thermal water!). If you happen to’re planning on going to the sauna, please observe that you’re required to be bare. (It’s not like you understand anybody in there, like your boss, however that’s one other story).

If you happen to’re in search of a tremendous spa day in Switzerland, I can suggest one among these spas (or simply go to all of them!):

  • Grand Resort Bad Ragaz – Dangerous Ragaz is a picturesque city within the canton of St. Gallen, within the east of the nation. It’s filled with quirky artwork too, like an open-air museum. The thermal tub will get its healing water from the Tamina Gorge close by. The spa presents full remedies, thermal baths, saunas and aromatherapy steam rooms.
  • Sole Uno in Rheinfelden – Within the north of the nation, on the border with Germany, you’ll discover the Sole Uno spa. Thermal baths, saunas with out of doors enjoyable gardens, fireplace and ice baths, aromatherapy steam rooms and -check this out- there’s a cave within the basement with a really salty pool to drift in. Stick your ears underwater and also you’ll hear enjoyable music!
  • Hürlimannbad & Spa Zurich – Bathing and enjoyable in centuries-old vaults, however in the course of town? This thermal tub and spa is in Zurich and presents splendid views of town, from its out of doors thermal pool on the roof. Their Roman-Irish spa ritual is exclusive in Switzerland!
roasting chestnuts in switzerland
Roasting chestnuts on an open fireplace! (Photograph Credit score: Switzerland Tourism)

Seize a Bag of Heissi Marroni

Switzerland is just not well-known for avenue meals, however the scent of heissi marroni (roasted chestnuts) takes me proper again. It begins in October, when the scent of roasted chestnuts fills the air. Go for a wintery stroll in a city or metropolis, like Zurich or Geneva, and one can find picket stalls roasting chestnuts and promoting them. Purchase a bag of freshly roasted scorching chestnuts. They style nice, are warming and offer you sufficient vitality to maintain strolling.

Eat them slowly – to begin with as a result of they’re scorching – however holding the bag with chestnuts can also be a good way to heat your palms!

The chestnuts are sourced south of the Alps, within the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino. Based on native perception, the primary chestnut you discover brings good luck, so long as it’s carried in your left pocket. I attempted it. It was uncomfortable. No luck for me!

The very best nuts in Switzerland? Ask anybody and you’ll get a special reply. I discover a lot of the stalls excellent, however the chestnuts by the Zytglogge  – the famous clock tower in Bern –  stood out!

pot of fondue overlooking the jesuit church in lucerne switzerland
Fondue at Fondue Home Du Pont overlooking the Jesuit church in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Feast on a Swiss Fondue 

Talking of nice-smelling meals in Switzerland in winter, a fondue can’t be missed from this record. It’s the last word winter-warming-cozy-in-a-Swiss-chalet meals you could find in Switzerland. Fondue is melted cheese and wine in a hotpot on a transportable range. The pot sits in the course of the desk. You eat the cheese by dipping items of bread within the pot utilizing lengthy, skinny forks.

Now, you possibly can eat fondue in all places in Switzerland, however the high quality differs. All of it depends upon the Swiss cheese that’s getting used. Ask any Swiss individual what their favourite sort of fondue is, and they might in all probability say moitié-moitié (yep, which means half-half). Moitié-moitié has equal quantities of Gruyère and Vacheron Fribourgeois cheese. It additionally incorporates potato starch, white wine, black pepper and cherry schnapps. 

If you happen to’re in Zurich, strive a fondue at Chäsalp. This former farm-turned-chalet is a country restaurant the place you possibly can strive all types of fondue, together with moitié-moitié. In Lucerne, strive the Fondue House Du Pont, which overlooks the River Reuss and the Jesuit church.

raclette Switzerland Winter
Scraping the melted Raclette proper off! (Photograph Credit score: Switzerland Tourism)

Have Extra Melted Cheese! Raclette!

I hope you want melted cheese, as a result of there’s one other dish it’s best to strive in Switzerland in winter. Raclette! A big spherical of Swiss cheese is positioned subsequent to a wooden fireplace till it slowly begins to soften and drip. The cheese is then scraped off and served on a plate with boiled potatoes, dill pickles, pickled onions and varied slices of cured meat. Historically it’s served with a cup of black tea, to assist with digestion, however these days it’s usually served with wine (positively select the wine!)

A extra trendy sort of raclette you see in eating places is to have an electrical grill on the desk. The cheese is sliced and put in a tiny frying pan, which is positioned underneath the grill. The precept is similar as the normal approach, however that is extra sociable. A raclette meal with a gaggle of individuals can final hours!

I like to recommend Le Chalet, which is a part of Lodge de Gruyères, in Gruyères. It’s a chalet-style restaurant that’s cozy and heat in Winter!

swiss chocolate
Is there something like Swiss chocolate? (Photograph Credit score: Switzerland Tourism)

Be like Charlie and Go to a Chocolate Manufacturing facility

Unleash your internal Willy Wonka and see what it’s wish to be in an actual chocolate manufacturing unit. Swiss chocolate is world-famous and for good motive. The typical Swiss individual eats 22 lbs. of chocolate per yr!

Essentially the most well-known Swiss chocolate model is Lindt & Sprüngli, and you may go to their factory museum in Zurich. If you happen to’re in Geneva, I like to recommend going to the Favarger chocolate factory. That is the one Swiss chocolate producer that also follows the entire means of chocolate-making, from uncooked cocoa beans to chocolate bars. 

The Favarger Experience is a really attention-grabbing and enjoyable exercise. It begins with a tour within the museum, the place you study every thing concerning the historical past of Favarger chocolate and the chocolate-making course of. The tour is nice, however the chocolate tasting is bigger! You get to style the totally different flavors they make right here. Then you definately even get to make your personal chocolate to take residence (mine didn’t make it exterior the door although!).

Get Smacked by Schmützli

How about getting smacked with a bunch of sticks by a scruffy-looking individual in a gown when you’re strolling by town? (Hey, you’re the one who wished to expertise Switzerland in winter!) The Swiss model of Santa is known as Samichlaus – in different European nations often known as St. Nicholas. He’s the patron saint of youngsters and on December fifth he arrives along with his donkey, from his mountain cottage. He brings the youngsters who come to greet him sweet, chocolate, clementines and ginger biscuits. Beautiful man!

His helper, not so pretty! He’s referred to as Schmützli, which implies soiled in Swiss German. Brown gown, scruffy black hair, smudged face, carries a brown sack and a bunch of sticks. Fairly creepy-looking man in the event you ask me. 

Lengthy story brief: he robbed three youngsters as soon as, killing them within the course of. St. Nicholas introduced them again to life and punished Schmützli by making him his helper. So now he retains calm and palms out sweet (each cloud has a silver lining I assume). Simply regulate him, he may nonetheless smack individuals now and again.

Need to see Samichlaus and Schmützli? The annual parade in Zurich takes place on the finish of November round Bahnhofstrasse. The parade follows a specifically embellished tram. The kids learn poems and sing songs, within the hope of receiving a present or sweet. It’s very Christmassy, however not as you understand it. 

The occasion in Zurich is by far the most important Samichlaus parade, however most cities and cities have their very own Samichlaus festivities. In Küssnacht you possibly can attend Klausjagen (St. Nicholas Chase) which is a procession in six levels that includes whip cracking, firecrackers, noisy bells, huge miters, Samichlaus and 4 Smützlis. 

There’s additionally a Samichlaus Swim within the Limmat River in Zurich in December (sure, as in freezing-cold-water-December). Nothing to do with Samichlaus, however it’s across the similar time. You may even meet Samichlaus and Schmützli in a forest hut in some locations (yeah, I’m gonna say no to that too. Have you ever ever watched the Blair Witch Venture?).

snoeshowing in Switzerland in winter
Snowshoeing in Switzerland in winter. (Photograph Credit score: Switzerland Tourism & Jan Geerk)

Go on a Snowshoe Stroll

The mountains of Switzerland aren’t all about snowboarding, snowboarding and sledding. Let’s not neglect that the Swiss Alps are beautiful nature reserves that beg to be explored on foot. There’s an abundance of hiking trails with various difficulty levels. Whether or not you need to do a fast 1-mile loop or a full-day hike as much as a mountain high, it’s positively one thing to strive!

On the ski rental locations, you may also lease snowshoes, that are a should whenever you stroll by deep snow. When placed on snowshoes, you might have extra grip within the snow and it additionally stops you from sinking within the snow. 

Benefit from the wildlife and convey a picnic. There are extra scenic picnic locations than you possibly can deliver sandwiches! 

Would you wish to have a go at snowshoeing? Listed below are among the greatest routes:

  • Sellamat – This can be a nice path for learners within the east of Switzerland, in Toggenburg, close to the border of Liechtenstein. The Sellamat Snowshoe Path is a reasonable – however with some steep climbs – three-mile stroll that takes about an hour and a half to finish. The loop begins on the Sellamat ski raise and there’s a mountain restaurant there too.
  • Engelberg – Engelberg is one among my favourite locations in Switzerland in Summer time, however for snowshoeing it doesn’t disappoint both. Take a prepare from close by Lucerne, then take the cable automobile as much as Engelberg. The Obertrübsee Path is a 4-mile huge loop round Trübsee, a frozen lake. I discovered the loop on the straightforward aspect of intermediate. On a transparent day, it provides you some spectacular views of Titlis (I’m not being impolite: it’s the identify of a mountain).
  • Muottas Muragl – This can be a snowshoe route I’ll always remember. It’s within the Engadin, an unbelievable valley within the Japanese Alps. Begin going up the Muottas Muragl cable automobile. The second you’re on the high, you’ll be spoiled with spectacular views of the Silvaplana Valley and the Bernina Alps. The mountain peaks appear to be very shut by. The stroll is just 2 miles lengthy, however the views hold getting higher. Again on the mountain station, take pleasure in an ever-changing sundown over dinner within the panoramic restaurant.
alp raguta ice skating Switzerland Winter
The Alp Raguta ice skating rink has among the most superior views. (Photograph Credit score: Switzerland Tourism)

Apply Your Pirouettes on Ice

Switzerland in winter will get chilly sufficient for some lakes to freeze over. When that occurs, you understand it’s essential to go ice skating! Skating on a frozen lake is by some means extra thrilling than on an ice rink, and the environment are lovely. I like ice skating in Sils!

Don’t fear about packing your ice skates (Does anybody try this, aside from Olympic ice skaters?), as a result of you possibly can lease a pair proper there. There will likely be stalls that promote meals and scorching chocolate as nicely – scorching Swiss chocolate that’s!

The place to go ice-skating on a frozen lake? These are nice choices:

  • Lac de Joux – Go huge or go residence! This lake within the canton of Vaud, within the west of Switzerland, is large. It fully freezes over, so you possibly can actually do some long-distance ice skating. Thoughts the ice sailers although!
  • Skateline Albula – Now that is one thing particular in East-Switzerland. Usually you skate on an ice rink or frozen lake, however that is like ice skating on a mountaineering path. Whizz by snowy forests, on a pure ice observe, on ice skates!
  • Alp Raguta – If you happen to’re so good at ice skating you don’t have to take a look at your ft on a regular basis, strive the pure ice rink with the most effective alpine views. Is it nonetheless a view whenever you’re proper in the course of it? The backdrop is simply mountains throughout.
train in switzerland in winter
The Glacier Specific winding by the wintry mountain aspect. (Photo Credit)

Admire the Swiss panorama from a prepare window

Prepare journeys in Switzerland are all the time an important expertise, regardless of the place you go. Essentially the most well-known prepare routes are the Bernina Express and Glacier Express. These world-famous cross-country journeys take you thru alpine meadows, luxurious ski resorts, proper alongside the shores of massive blue lakes, majestic mountain passes, small cities and greater cities. 

The Glacier Express goes from Zermatt to St. Moritz. Don’t be fooled by the brief distance of 180 miles, as a result of this prepare journey takes 7 hours! The Bernina Express covers solely 76 miles from Chur through St. Moritz to Tirano in Italy, however it takes 4 hours! You don’t need to ebook the entire route. There are various stations en route, so you possibly can select to journey a part of the journey.

The very best factor concerning the trains is which you can ebook premium panoramic tickets. These railcars have top-to-bottom panoramic home windows. It’s like driving a roofless prepare, however with out getting your face frozen! 

st. moritz switzerland in winter_
St. Moritz, Switzerland in winter. (Photograph Credit score: Engadin St. Moritz Tourismus / Andrea Furger)

Spot Celebrities in St. Moritz

I’ve dropped the identify St. Moritz a number of instances now, so it’s about time it will get featured. This can be a city you need to go to whenever you’re in Switzerland in winter! It’s within the Engadin Valley in East Switzerland and all of it appears to occur right here on this luxurious alpine ski resort. Suppose fancy eating places, 5-star motels, celebrities on holidays, and you being there!

Despite the fact that St.Moritz isn’t formally a metropolis, it does really feel like one. It has a frozen lake, which is the middle stage of polo, cricket and horse-racing occasions on ice! St. Mortiz hosted the Winter Olympics twice, so sports activities play an essential position on this city. It boasts a number of ski and snowboard areas, the Cresta run, a pure ice-bobsled run, and many langlauf (cross-country snowboarding) trails. 

Go people-spotting and also you’ll discover a number of trendy outfits, costly supercars and perhaps even a star! All of it appears very misplaced in a sport-happy mountain resort, however by some means St. Moritz makes it work. And it does it in model!

St. Moritz is the epitome of Swiss Winter holidays. On the similar time, it will get round 322 days of sunshine a yr! It has every thing you want in the event you’re after snowboarding (in Corviglia, Corvatsch, or Diavolezza), nice meals (strive Banfi’s Bar-Restaurant for Swiss delicacies, Restaurant Cresta Run for pizzas and Restaurant Engiadina for Italian and Swiss dishes) and spa days (I suggest Ovaverva) in an elegant, cosmopolitan ambiance. Visiting this ski resort is an expertise in itself!  

St. Moritz is within the Higher Engadine Valley, at 6,089 ft above sea stage. You may simply attain St. Moritz by automobile or by prepare from Zurich Airport. The prepare journey takes a bit lower than 4 hours, however it’s a shocking route.

Cool issues to do in St. Moritz in Winter:

  • Olympia Bob Run – That is the most important ice sculpture on the earth! A pure ice bob run that’s greater than a mile lengthy and runs from St. Moritz to Celerina. The very best factor? You may go on it! In a bobsled! With individuals who know what they’re doing! 
  • Snow Yoga – There are many several types of yoga, however have you ever ever tried snow yoga? It’s fully zen to do a downward frozen canine at 8,200 ft, only a bit colder than regular! This can be a very cool expertise (pun sort of supposed)!
  • Horse-racing – If you happen to’re in St. Moritz in February, you’re in luck! That’s when the annual White Turf horse race takes place on the frozen lake. This is a gigantic occasion that attracts in 30,000 spectators. The fun of watching the horses thunder alongside the ice is unbelievable!
matterhorn over zermatt switzerland-Blog Photo-2
Visitng the Matterhorn in winter is an journey in itself!

See the Matterhorn from Zermatt

Talking of well-known mountain resorts, Zermatt might be probably the most well-known Switzerland in winter locations. The city is 5,249 ft above sea stage and is totally car-free, which makes it an excellent place to discover on foot. It’s a paradise for snowboarding and mountaineering, but when that’s not your factor there are many eating places and boutique outlets to find. Zermatt is well-known for its views of the well-known Matterhorn Peak. Examine that field of Toblerone in your cabinet, it’s THAT mountain! Now eat chocolate!

From Zermatt, you possibly can simply take excursions to a few mountain tops: Gornergrat, Rothorn and Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. Take a funicular and cable automobile to Rothorn for beautiful views of the Matterhorn. To succeed in Gornergrat, you must take the Gornergratbahn, which was the primary electrical cogwheel railroad. 

Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is beautiful. From the best viewpoint in Europe (12,739 ft) you might have a 360º view of 38 13,000 ft mountain peaks and 14 glaciers! There’s additionally a glacial palace you possibly can go into.

Extra about Zermatt, the Matterhorn, and Matterhorn Glacier Paradise in our article 23 awesome things to do in Zermatt!

swiss chalet next to a mountain
A bit Swiss chalet subsequent to a mountain. (Photograph Credit score: Switzerland Tourism & Jan Geerk)

Keep in an alpine chalet

Lodging in Switzerland – the land of the hospitality business – is of a excessive customary, whether or not you keep in a luxurious lodge or a easy B&B. For a extra genuine expertise, keep in a picket chalet. They’re simply made for Winter! 

Chalets are very nicely geared up for a Winter break. They’re a well-deserved reward after a day within the snow. There’s nothing like coming residence to a picket chalet whenever you’re chilly and drained, simply to have a scorching tub and sit by the hearth, searching the window with a glass of wine, taking within the mountain views.

Chalets are sometimes nice lodging for teams, however listed here are some cozy smaller choices:

  • Chalet Gädi – This small chalet on a hill overlooking Zermatt is the last word chalet expertise. Sit on the balcony with excellent views of the Matterhorn, and although you’re feeling “within the mountains”, the city middle is just about half a mile away. Watch the lights of the village come to life at evening and comfortable up on this excellent chalet.
  • Chalet Aphrodite Ost – Grindelwald is a superb place for a winter keep in Switzerland, because it’s near so many different lovable Swiss villages within the Alps, together with the stunning Lauterbrunnen. This chalet has every thing it’s essential to chill out after a day within the snow, together with beautiful views of the mountains.
  • Sunnehuesli – This easy picket chalet is quiet and really near the ski slopes in Braunwald. This car-free city within the east of Switzerland has nice ski slopes, a sled observe, and many strolling routes.
olympic museum in Lausanne switzerland
The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Photo Credit)

Go to the Olympic Museum in Lausanne

If you happen to like sports activities, the Olympic Museum is a must-visit. You could find it in Lausanne, a gorgeous metropolis on the northern shore of Lake Geneva. For greater than 100 years, Lausanne has been the house of the Worldwide Olympic Committee. There is no such thing as a higher place for this museum than Lausanne!

Even when sports activities aren’t your factor, I’d nonetheless suggest this museum. It has attention-grabbing artifacts equivalent to tools, medals and outfits worn by well-known athletes and reveals the historical past and growth of sports activities and Olympic athletes alike. The reveals are enjoyable, with interactive video games and experiences all through the museum. There’s a operating observe exterior, the place you possibly can race in opposition to a sequence of lights that signify Usain Bolt’s pace. Are you able to beat him? 

You may simply spend a morning right here! Don’t neglect to discover Lausanne as nicely. Town has a novel vibe and presents an important mixture of French and Swiss aptitude.

In case you have extra time right here, go to close by Vevey and Montreux, the place Freddie Mercury used to stay. The Unesco World Heritage vineyards of Lavaux are additionally shut by and value visiting (and a few wine tasting!)

Ascona Switzerland in Winter against the mountains
That is Ascona, Switzerland in winter, in the event you can imagine it! (Photograph Credit score: Switzerland Tourism & Jan Geerk)

Go to Mediterranean Switzerland

Have you ever ever checked out a map? I do know it appears like I’m mixing up my nations right here, however sure, Switzerland -the alpine country- truly has a Mediterranean half within the south. It’s the canton of Ticino!

Folks communicate Italian in Ticino, the panorama appears to be like Italian, the meals is Italian, even the climate is Italian. It’s simply way more organized than Italy (sorry Italy, I like you actually!) This distinctive mixture of Italian dolce vita and Swiss effectivity makes Ticino an exquisite place to be. Particularly in Winter, in the event you don’t like snow and chilly that a lot. Winter right here is far milder than in the remainder of Switzerland, however it does snow typically. The mountains within the north of Ticino are coated in snow in Winter.

Cities to go to in Ticino are Lugano for its metropolitan lakeside vibe, Locarno for exploring the previous city, filled with alleys that result in a central sq., Ascona for its lakeside promenade with bars and eating places, and Bellinzona for its three medieval castles.

Need to be immersed in overwhelming nature? Go to Valle Verzasca, a valley burrowed in a spectacular mountain panorama. A blue river runs by it. It’s excellent for mountaineering, mountain biking, or simply enjoyable. Simply don’t even consider swimming within the river in Winter! (Even in Summer time it’s f*cking chilly!)

dogsledding in Switzerland in winter
Dogsledding in Switzerland in winter. (Photograph Credit score: Switzerland Tourism)

Go Canine Sledding within the Alps

At all times wished to go sledding with huskies? However by no means wished to go to the North Pole? I can completely relate! You don’t have to journey to the Arctic Circle to go canine sledding. Simply do it in Switzerland, within the Alps!

The panoramic dogsledding tour by Takitrek in Verbier in southwest Switzerland is a stunning expertise. You get to fulfill and greet the canines that can pull your sled. The tour takes you thru beautiful wintery landscapes, that are much more lovely on a sunny day. On the 3-mile route, you’ll study every thing concerning the every day lifetime of the canines and their musher (yep, that’s the individual controlling the canines. I study one thing new each day!)

The expertise may be very enjoyable. You’re outside, respiration within the chilly recent air, silently whizzing by the snowy pine forests. There’s nothing else prefer it!

Have you ever ever dreamt of being a musher (or not less than, since I advised you what it means)? E-book the half-day discovery tour, which is longer than the panoramic tour. On this tour you’ll learn to drive the sled, and after that, you possibly can have a go at controlling the canines and steering the sled. So mush enjoyable! *Ba dum tss!*

Dive in an Icy Lake

Sure, you learn that proper! Ice diving is a factor. It’s like scuba diving in clear water with tropical fish, however with out the tropical fish. With out something tropical actually. You will have the identical diving gear, however you decrease your self by a gap within the ice. Are you continue to studying? Could be one thing for you then!

The setting is Lake Lioson, a frozen lake between Gstaad and Aigle within the southwest of Switzerland, the place you’ll discover snowy mountains and snow-covered ice on the lake. This white panorama is completely beautiful. Excellent place to go scuba diving, mentioned nobody ever! 

However whenever you truly dive beneath the ice, you’ll witness a particular play of sunshine, reflections, bubbles and the occasional fish that makes you neglect the chilly (it’s truly so chilly that you just’ll by no means f*cking neglect this, ever, however you get the purpose). 

Fortunately the close by Restaurant du Lac Lioson is good and heat and serves a well-deserved fondue, so you may get heat and take into consideration this cooler-than-cool journey.

Warmth Up in a Sauna & Dip in a Frozen Lake

Let’s swim in equally ice-cold water, however warmth ourselves up in a sauna first, so that you get much more of a temperature shock! In concept, this sounds terrible, however I personally suppose that is a lot nicer than ice diving. The sauna will get you so scorching and sweaty, that you just need to quiet down. Ice chilly water or not! 

An awesome place to expertise a nature sauna is on the lido in Buochs. A caravan is transformed right into a sauna and positioned proper subsequent to Lake Lucerne. You may ebook this non-public sauna only for your self, to provide your physique a lift that makes you’re feeling relaxed on the similar time. The directions are straightforward. Warmth up within the sauna till you get actually scorching, soar within the lake till you get actually chilly, repeat.

Vallorbe Caves winter in switzerland la grande colonne
The Vallorbe Caves are an important place to cover away from the snow for a bit. (Photograph Credit score: Vallorbe Caves)

Discover Your Inside Cave Individual in Vallorbe

Vallorbe is a small city within the Swiss Jura mountains, alongside the banks of the River Orbe. It’s well-known for the Vallorbe Caves, a cave system that was fashioned when the ocean that coated the Jura retreated. This was 7 million years in the past! Now the caves are open to the general public and among the best you could find in Europe.

The Vallorbe Caves are value a go to! Like most caves, you’ll discover impressively formed stalagmites and stalactites, cavernous halls (see what I did there?), siphons and an underground river. The river is wild and noisy at instances, and typically nothing greater than a quiet trickle.

4 chambers lower into the caves are residence to the ‘Fairy Treasure’, a set of 250 uncommon, beautiful minerals from everywhere in the world.

Jungfraujoch, Fahnenschwinger und Alphorn
Yodelayheehoo! (Photograph Credit score: Switzerland Tourism)

Get Your Yodelayheehoo On!

Yodeling is the sound of the Alps. Shepherds used it as a approach of speaking with their herd or with different shepherds between villages. Completely different calls imply various things. These days it’s a part of cultural folklore and in Switzerland, you’ll nonetheless discover performers yodeling songs at native occasions. 

Within the small canton of Appenzell, yodeling remains to be practiced recurrently. Right here you possibly can hear an eerie sort of yodeling on New Yr’s Eve and once more on January thirteenth (New Yr’s Eve within the Julian calendar). The sounds are sluggish and haunting. They arrive from mummers, males wearing pagan costumes with masks and an infinite cowbell round their necks. Hauntingly yodeling they roam the streets within the early hours, knocking on doorways to want individuals a contented new yr.

Need to learn to yodel and let your voice carry over lengthy distances by the mountains? Strive a yodelling lesson in Appenzell! Earlier than you understand it, you’ll be yodeling your messages from a mountaintop. Let’s be sincere, it sounds rather a lot higher than shouting: Mum, what time is dinner prepared?

Go to Jungfraujoch, Prime of Europe

Time to take issues increased up once more! Is the Prime of Europe excessive sufficient for you? Take the prepare to the best prepare station in Europe. Welcome to Jungfraujoch! Situated at 11,630 ft above sea stage, it’s excessive sufficient to make you’re feeling dizzy whenever you get off the prepare. (Not that that occurred to me or something…let’s transfer on.)

The journey to the highest is kind of lengthy, however completely value it. Plus, the precise journey is a part of the expertise. Think about the engineering it took to get a prepare route and station at that altitude! 

It takes about an hour and 45 minutes to get to Jungfraujoch from Lauterbrunnen, and you’ll have to begin at Lauterbrunnen railway station and take the prepare to Kleine Scheidegg (sit on the precise aspect for the most effective views of the Alps, although a number of the journey is thru a tunnel). Your Swiss Journey Cross covers your fare to Wengen (the cease earlier than Kleine Scheidegg), however previous that you’ll get a 25% low cost on the remainder of the journey together with to Jungfraujoch. As soon as at Kleine Scheidegg, you’ll hop on the Jungfraujoch prepare that’s going to take you to the highest!

Give your self not less than 4 hours to discover Jungfraujoch when you arrive, as there’s lots to do on the high from films to kitschy shows to an ice palace to mountaineering the majestic Alps! There are many eating places and outlets as nicely, so that you received’t go hungry and you may simply spend more cash. Take the elevator as much as the principle viewing platform, referred to as the Sphinx Terrance, for distinctive views of the Alps and the Aletsch Glacier.

You may discover all of the different ways to get to Jungraujoch right here, and Lauterbrunnen is a superb vacation spot by itself – Listed below are 23 lovely things to do in Lauterbrunnen!

Lia and Jeremy from Practical Wanderlust in Hallstatt, Austria in the winter.
Simply lookin’ lovable and being mushy in a snowy mountain city, residing my dream life.

What to Pack for Switzerland in Winter

Listed below are our suggestions for clothes that’s travel-friendly, purposeful AND tremendous cute to put on within the winter.  If you happen to’re in search of extra particulars, we’ve acquired a full Europe in winter packing list guide.

  • Warm Walking Boots: Don’t skimp in your sneakers in your journey to Prague within the winter! This can be a strolling metropolis and it is going to be COLD, so it’s essential to have sneakers which can be as much as the duty. We suggest boots that may stand up to ice or snow, are completely waterproof, and are comfy sufficient to stroll in for HOURS, particularly on uneven cobblestone. Our favourite winter boots are cute, insanely comfy, waterproof and thermal lined to maintain your toes toasty heat, and very light-weight and foldable so you possibly can stuff them in your bag whenever you journey. Plus, they’ve skinny and versatile soles that allow your ft perform as in the event you had been strolling round in freezing chilly Prague fully barefoot!  Notice: you may end up in want of some calf strengthening earlier than your journey in the event you’re not used to barefoot-style soles. Listed below are my boots and Jeremy’s boots. You may learn extra about them in our round-up of our favourite travel shoes for women or for men.
  • Wool Socks: Run-of-the-mill acrylic or cotton socks received’t hold your ft heat when you’re out exploring on a chilly day. Be sure you get socks with wool blended in to maintain your toast toasty heat and insulated, like these or these
  • Warm Coat: Like good heat sneakers, a heat winter coat is completely vital. .I introduced 2 jackets with me to Europe: a gorgeous camel-colored A-line wool coat like this one that saved me extremely heat and regarded wonderful in all of my footage, and a travel-friendly packable down jacket that I saved stuffed in my daypack in case I wanted an additional layer! Jeremy wore a wool-blend coat much like this one and this one.
  • Travel Jeans: Not like common denims, journey denims are designed particularly to unravel travel-related woes. One in every of my private woes is the dearth of pockets on ladies’s denims. My favourite journey denims have 6 POCKETS. 6!! And a pair of of them are zipped and hidden inside different pockets, for further pickpocket safety – essential in any European nation. Jeremy and I every have a pair of Aviator USA black denims. They’re tremendous stretchy and buttery smooth, dry shortly within the rain or when moist, and hold our legs heat when it’s chilly out. They’re cozy sufficient to put on on a airplane, stretchy sufficient to accommodate that 5 further kilos of vacation weight I all the time appear to deliver again residence with me, they usually’re tremendous cute! We’re each obsessed. You will get a pair of males’s or ladies’s denims on the Aviator USA website.
  • Wool Base Layer: Beneath your garments, you’ll need to put on a head-to-toe base layer to maintain you heat on chilly days. We love smooth merino wool for our base layer as a result of it’s thermal, heat even when moist, and naturally anti-microbial – that means you possibly can put on it beneath all your sweaty layers for every week straight they usually nonetheless received’t scent. Um, not that we’ve area examined that … or something. *cough* Above the waist, I put on this wool cami and Jeremy wears a wool T-shirt. Under the waist, we every have a pair of wool leggings (mine, Jeremy’s) to put on underneath our pants, which make your legs really feel like they’re being hugged by a particularly smooth sheep. And as a bonus, in addition they double because the world’s coziest lounge leggings and even sleepwear!
  • Flannel Shirt: I’m in LOVE with these cozy flannel button-downs. They’re stretchy, they’re cozy, they’re blended with merino wool  (yassss) and most significantly, they’re heat AF. However not so heat that you just’ll get all sweaty operating round and exploring as a result of they’re additionally tremendous breathable. They’re additionally wrinkle-resistant, odor-resistant, and moisture-wicking, and have a hidden zip pocket – so principally every thing you may ever ask for in a flannel shirt. I’ve been looking for the right flannel for YEARS (you understand, one which didn’t give me button-down boob hole and allowed me to really cross my arms) and that is The One. I find it irresistible! Right here’s mine and Jeremy’s.
  • Warm Hat: A heat hat is an absolute necessity within the winter. It additionally doubles as an excellent cute accent! You desire a hat that can keep in your head even in blustery gusts of wind, so avoid these wool felt ~journey lady forms of hats and persist with dependable beanies. Personally I’m a fan of those with poofs on high, like this or this. Jeremy is extra of a purist, and likes to put on beanies like this one.
  • Scarves: I LOVE a chunky scarf. They’re my favourite accent! And you’ll completely want a great scarf in Europe. I’m a giant fan of scarves which can be sufficiently big to double as blankets, like this one or this one.
  • Gloves: Don’t go exterior within the chilly with out gloves on! You’ll remorse it. I like these wool gloves that work with touchscreens, as a result of let’s face it, I’ve a tough sufficient time utilizing my cellphone with out sporting gloves.

For extra chilly climate packing ideas, head over to our Europe in winter packing record:

About Our Visitor Poster: David Breeker is a journey author with over 20 years of expertise within the tourism & leisure business. He lived in Switzerland for 8 years, exploring new locations and actions each weekend. 

What issues to do in Switzerland in winter are you dreaming about doing first? Tell us under!

Psst: Planning a visit to Switzerland? Listed below are another superior posts that will help you plan!

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Our Prime Journey Ideas & Sources

Listed below are our favourite journey ideas & sources for saving cash and planning journey logistics! For extra ideas, try our travel tips resource page or our guide to planning a trip.

  • Reserving Flights: To attain flight offers, search on Google Flights or Kayak. Cash-saving ideas: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on solely on a price range airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
  • Lodging: We often keep in budget-friendly trip leases, boutique motels or non-public rooms in hostels. We use Booking.com to ebook motels (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to ebook hostels (low deposit, straightforward change/cancellation, and glorious critiques). For trip leases, we choose to ebook utilizing VRBO as a result of they have decrease charges and higher help than Airbnb, and we’re not followers of Airbnb’s unethical observe file. You can too ebook trip leases on Expedia and Hotels.com. We additionally use TrustedHousesitters as each hosts (for our residence and our fur-child) and vacationers!
  • Journey Insurance coverage: We all the time, all the time, ALWAYS purchase journey insurance coverage for worldwide journeys, and we STRONGLY recommend it – go to our Travel Insurance Guide to search out out why. We suggest both World Nomads or SafetyWing for worldwide journey insurance coverage. SafetyWing is among the few insurance policies that covers Covid-19, they usually have glorious month-to-month insurance policies which can be excellent for Digital Nomads and long run vacationers!
  • Journey Credit score Card: We ebook all of our journeys on our favourite journey bank card. Not solely will we earn money again that we are able to spend on extra journey, however the card presents unbelievable journey perks like journey insurance coverage, journey delay and cancellation protection, misplaced baggage reimbursement, and rental automobile protection, which helps defend us on our travels. Learn more here.
  • Vaccines & Meds: We use the journey guides on the CDC website to analysis beneficial medicines and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We all the time suggest getting each vaccine beneficial by the CDC! You will get them at your major care physician’s workplace or a walk-in pharmacy.
  • Excursions: We love reserving guided excursions, particularly meals excursions and strolling excursions, to get an area’s perspective and a historical past lesson whereas sight-seeing! We ebook our excursions utilizing Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to determine learn how to get from place to put, and ebook native transportation on-line utilizing Bookaway wherever we are able to. After we ebook a rental automobile, we use DiscoverCars to check rental corporations and discover the most effective deal.
  • Baggage Storage: Every time we’re testing early or benefiting from an extended layover, we use LuggageHero to soundly retailer our baggage whereas we’re operating round. Use the code PRACTICALW for two hours of free baggage storage on us.
  • VPN Service: A VPN retains your digital info (like web site login particulars, financial institution data, and so on) secure, even whenever you’re related to an unsecured community whereas touring. Plus, it enables you to use Netflix & different streaming websites overseas! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO whenever you join!
  • What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we deliver on each journey. We even have packing lists for hot weather, cold weather, and lots of extra. Check out all of our packing guides!


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