Switzerland in the winter: Best places to visit and things to do

Switzerland in the winter: Best places to visit and things to do

Winter in Switzerland is a magical time. From visiting the gorgeous mountains in the Swiss Alps to skating on natural ice rinks, there is no shortage of incredible places to visit and things to do during this fabulous season.

What to do in the winter in Switzerland

Winter in Switzerland is generally regarded as starting in December and ending in February - although depending on the weather it can start much earlier and end much later! Although the long, cold months might have you hankering for spring by March, winter in Switzerland really is a fantastic time, if you know what to do with it. 

Switzerland is blessed with many beautiful cities bustling with activities, picture-perfect towns and villages, glorious winter landscapes, and some of the best slopes for skiers and winter sports enthusiasts alike. Whether you love the cold weather or not, you're sure to find something fun to do during the winter season.

The efficient public transportation system in Switzerland makes most cities easily accessible, meaning you'll never have to travel far to find something fun to do. Even the train journeys themselves can be part of the fun! Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do for a winter in Switzerland.

Places to visit in Switzerland in winter

Every area of Switzerland has its own unique charm, especially in the wintertime, but there are certain towns and cities that are extraordinary during the colder season.

The Jungfrau region of the Swiss Alps

The Jungfrau region is at the foot of the Bernese Alps, and it has two valleys just south of Interlaken, called Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen (the town of Grindelwald is regularly named as one of the most beautiful places to visit in Switzerland during Christmas). The whole region is a skier and snowboarder's dream with the mountains offering slopes for all abilities, snow and fun parks, racetracks and powder areas.

For anyone who doesn’t love winter sports, the mountain can be enjoyed via lifts and cable cars that provide breathtaking views. A unique factor of the Jungfrau region is that it is the highest accessible point in Europe, thanks to its railway, at a height of 3.454 metres.


Davos is a town in the Swiss Alps that is also a popular ski resort. It is known for its passion and history of winter sports and health resorts - as well as for hosting the World Economic Forum. It is also on the route of the Glacier Express (see below), a scenic train ride that goes through the Swiss Alps and connects Davos to the Matterhorn.

Aside from the plethora of winter sport choices, visitors to Davos can spend their time shopping in the many boutiques and smaller markets in the town or treating themselves at a fine restaurant. End the day perfectly at one of the many lively clubs or ski bars that form the heart of the vibrant nightlife of Davos.


Zermatt is a village in the southern part of the Swiss canton of Valais. It is a mountain and winter resort that is renowned for winter sports, climbing and hiking. The village is hard to miss with the iconic pyramid-shaped peak of the Matterhorn mountain right above it.

The main street, Bahnhofstrasse, is lined with boutiques, shops, restaurants, and cafes, perfect for a lazy morning of window shopping. Obviously, there are unlimited options for all skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts, as well as ice skating or curling in the public outdoor ice rinks. The city is perfect for families with children, as there are many beginner and smaller slopes for children to practise and race on.


Things to do in Switzerland in the winter

Switzerland isn't a country that hibernates during winter - rather, it comes alive! Throughout the country, there is no shortage of fun things to do that are perfect for the winter months. From shopping in festive markets to seeing gorgeous landscapes on train rides to getting active at a ski resort, there is a winter activity for everyone in Switzerland.

Ride the Glacier Express and Bernina Express

One of the best winter train rides that offers magnificent views of the Alps is the Glacier Express, which goes from Zermatt to St. Moritz. The train ride is eight hours long and it’s packed with sights of the Alps, glacier lakes, narrow valleys and around 300 bridges. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy the winter scenery of the gorgeous snow-capped mountains.

Another incredible train ride is the Bernina Express, which runs between Chur and Tirano, displaying the snowy mountains and beautiful lakes on the Swiss-Italian border. There is also the option for the full moon excursion of the Bernina Express that goes between St. Moritz and Alp Grüm, on which classical music is played and the lights are shut out to enjoy the splendour of the sky.

Shop at Christmas markets

Some of Europe’s best Christmas Markets take place in Switzerland, and it is the perfect way to enjoy the winter and holiday season. Zurich has many holiday markets that are suited to all kinds of tastes. The Christkindlimarkt at the Zurich Train Station is one of the largest indoor Christmas markets in all of Europe. Other Swiss cities have their own unique, picturesque markets with twinkling lights and mulled wine, creating a cosy, festive atmosphere.

The Christmas Market in Montreux is designed as an authentic-looking medieval market at the Château de Chillon Castle, or the magnificent, old-school style Christmas Markets in Geneva are fantastic ones to visit. Whether to find the perfect gift for a loved one, treat your taste buds to regional delicacies, or spend a romantic day with someone, the Christmas Markets are a must in the Swiss winter.

After Christmas is over, you're sure to still find weekly markets in your local area, which are the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning browsing and tasting. 

Winter sports

With its snowy mountains and glacier lakes, Switzerland is the ideal place for all winter sports enthusiasts. World-class skiing can be found in any of the ski resorts along the Swiss Alps that are perfect for beginners or professionals. Natural ice-skating rinks can be found all throughout the country, but the largest in Europe is in Davos, which is used by professional ice hockey players and speed skaters, along with beginners.

For those looking for something a bit different, dogsledding and husky runs can be found in the Jungfraujoch near Interlaken, at the Les Rosées-Dessous, and near Lake Geneva. Additionally, winter walking and snowshoeing are very popular in the wintertime on trails and mountain paths, specifically in the Grindelwald area.

There is even glacier climbing in Interlaken, where with a certified mountain guide, visitors can climb the icy mountains outside of Interlaken. Tobogganing runs and snow-tubing are in many different parts of Switzerland and can be done in the daytime or even at night.

For thrill-seekers, winter paragliding can be done over the villages of Grindelwald, where participants first take a cable car up to the peak of the mountain before jumping off the side and soaring through the valley for an exhilarating experience.

While running isn't necessarily a winter sport, there are a lot of runs or marathons during winter in Switzerland, such as the Lausanne Marathon, Balexert Run Geneva and the Santa Run in Bern. They provide a great opportunity to get active while taking in some marvellous views.


Eating Swiss winter delicacies 

During the winter season, Swiss foods and delicacies really come into their own! It probably won't be a surprise that one of the most popular and famous winter dishes in the land of dairy is cheese fondue, which is often served with bread, meats, and wine.

Along with cheese fondue, raclette cheese and spiced raclette cheese are popular delicacies found throughout Switzerland as well. And of course, roasted chestnuts are the perfect winter snack to munch on as you explore the different Swiss cities

Enjoy Switzerland during winter

Winter in Switzerland is one of the best times of year in the country, with magnificent places to visit and incredible activities to do. Make sure to check out the resort towns or larger cities along the Swiss Alps and try some of the winter sports, or relax with a warm beverage on a scenic train ride.

Eesha Wirk


Eesha Wirk

Eesha studied in the United States, obtaining a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience and Studio Art. She is currently getting her Research Masters in Cognitive Neuropsychology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In...

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