What is Switzerland like in the winter?

When you’re planning to visit Switzerland during the winter season, it’s essential to get a firm idea of what is Switzerland like during the winter season. That’s the question we will answer in this blog post. Switzerland turns into a magical fairytale during this time of the year. The white blanket of snow and the cheerful and festive mood create an atmosphere many people love. Let’s dive right into it.

Zermatt with the Matterhorn
Zermatt with the famous Matterhorn in the back

What are the winter months in Switzerland?

The winter months in Switzerland are from December to February. The snow starts to fall in Mid December. In December during Christmas time and New Year’s Eve, Switzerland is fully decorated with lovely lights and cheerful music. During the winter months, you can enjoy excellently prepared slopes and of course the festive ambience in Switzerland.

What is Switzerland like in December?

We love the month of December to visit Switzerland. For several reasons, the most important reason is to celebrate Christmas time and of course New Year’s Eve together with our friends and family. During Christmas time, Switzerland is covered mostly under a white blanket. The combination of the cheerful mood and the festive lights create a lovely ambience.

The weather in Switzerland in December

From November first snow starts to fall in the Swiss Alps. December is the “official” start of the winter season in Switzerland. The first signs of winter appear, snowfall and colder temperatures. You won’t see the heavy thick snowfall yet, this will come later during the winter season. From December the ski resorts open their doors again to welcome hundreds of thousands of ski enthusiasts. The so-called winter föhn winds, which are typically a bit warmer winds, can lead to the swiss unpredictable weather.

When you are going to visit the lower valleys with the larger cities like Zurich or Lucerne. Be prepared for more cold weather, dull and wet. Do not expect too much snow yet in the lower altitude regions. Unfortunately in the lower altitude regions, a white Christmas is not certain every year anymore. This is partly due to the changing environment. Days are shorter during December. Less sunlight makes the days darker and chilly. Average temperatures in cities like Geneva are 4 degrees Celcius. Higher altitude ski resorts like Zermatt are colder with average temperatures of -5 degrees Celcius.

How crowded is Switzerland in December?

When December starts, it is still low season in Switzerland. Many ski resorts just start to open their doors again for tourists. The ski resort towns come back to life. And everyone prepares for the busy weeks of Christmas and NYE. This is the moment when the alpine towns change their mindset to high season. This means higher prices as well. In December many cable cars start running as well, to bring all skiers uphill again.

Many people come to Switzerland to perform wintersport activities, but of course, exploring the beautiful cities and villages is popular as well. After mid-December, the larger cities and villages start to get more crowded as well. All the festive Christmas markets in the larger cities such as Basel, Bern or Zurich are busy as well.

We highly recommend booking your accommodation well in advance. Both accommodation and overall prices rise significantly during late December. The last two weeks of December with Christmas and NYE are the busiest weeks of the year in Switzerland.

Christmas decorations in Zurich
Christmas decorations in Zurich

Where to go and what to do in Switzerland in December?

December is as said the start of the winter season in Switzerland. It doesn’t matter if your snowboarder, a ski enthusiast or just a winter landscape lover. Switzerland offers beauty for everyone. Enjoy the fresh snow on the well-prepared slopes or a hike through the magical snowy landscape. Or enjoy a hot chocolate in the beautiful towns and villages.

Ski resorts like Zermatt, St. Moritz or Andermatt are great places to stay to enjoy the excellent well-prepared slopes of Switzerland. We think these just mentioned villages are indeed probably the most expensive to stay and be in, but the slopes are of excellent quality. And the hotels and restaurants as well. To avoid high prices in these famous ski resorts you could stay in a village near these popular ski resort towns. This will save you lots of money. By bus, you can easily travel to the ski resorts like Zermatt or St. Moritz.

Christmas markets are definitely recommended to visit in December as well. Enjoy local foods, souvenirs and shopping while sipping on a mulled wine. And of course enjoy the Christmas music, lights and festive mood. Basel is considered to have the most beautiful Christmas market. Check out more information about the Christmas markets here.

What is Switzerland like in January?

January in Switzerland is one of the winter months with reliable snowfall. Especially above 1400 metres. January is also known as the mid-winter in Switzerland. High numbers of visitors during January and high prices as well. The temperatures are low, and at night it can be far below zero. You won’t experience much snow in the lower valleys or the larger cities like Zurich. But it is not impossible, just less likely to happen. This is of course a perfect time to ski as well. Besides winter activities, strolling through the cosy cities can be a charming way to enjoy your wintertime in Switzerland as well. For the active hikers, we love this period to make long hikes through the winter wonderland of Switzerland.

Winter, Lake Blausee
Hikes through a winter wonderland in Switzerland, this is a hike to lake Blausee.

The weather in Switzerland in January

As we mentioned above, January is mid-winter in Switzerland. Above 1400-1500 metres you will experience snowfall. Although we said winter starts in December. The first proper snow is in January. January and February are, for this reason, the best months to enjoy winter sports activities.

In January in larger low-altitude cities like Zurich, you may experience cold weather with rain as well. Due to climate change, you should not expect too much snow in the lower altitude regions during the month of January. It is colder then December.

The temperatures vary from 2 to 4 degrees Celcius on average in Zurich or Geneva. In the famous mountain resort Zermatt, the temperatures are significantly lower with an average of -7 degrees Celcius.

How crowded is Switzerland in January?

January is a crowded month in Switzerland. Due to the excellent snow conditions, many visitors from Europe come to enjoy the slopes. Areas like St.Moritz are especially busy. During the winter season prices rise in Switzerland. Not only in the mountain resorts. Also in the larger cities as many travellers stay here for a few days.

Where to go and what to do in Switzerland in January?

There are several things to do in Switzerland during the month of January. As we already mentioned, this is a great month to perform wintersport activities. This month is excellent to enjoy the beauty this country has to offer you by strolling through cities or following a hike through the winter wonderland. We recommend checking where to hike, you can not just hike in the mountains everywhere. There are well-prepared trails for winter hikers. This is a safer way to enjoy the winter landscape.

What is Switzerland like in February?

February in Switzerland is the best month for winter sports activities in the Swiss Alps. The snow conditions are great. There are 16.2 snow days in for example the famous ski resort Zermatt. At higher altitudes, the snow is thick and great to perform wintersport activities. If you are not into skiing or snowboarding maybe February isn’t the most attractive month to visit Switzerland. Why? Well, in the lower-altitude towns and cities the weather is cold and wet. Heavy snow is not happening anymore at lower altitude levels. Winter days are short in February.

The weather in Switzerland in February

The weather in February is cold. There is lots of snowfall and thick snow. Excellent if you’d like to perform wintersport activities. Temperatures around 5 degrees are average in larger cities like Zurich or Lugano. In higher altitude regions like Zermatt, you will still experience temperatures like minus 5 degrees Celcius. February is still high season because many tourists from Europe come to enjoy the swiss alps to perform winter sports activities. For performing wintersport activities, we recommend going to Zermatt or St Moritz. these mountain resorts offer excellent ski facilities, mega beautiful hotels and a fantastic cheerful atmosphere.

Slopes in Andermatt

How crowded is Switzerland in February?

Just like January, February is the high season in Switzerland. Visitors from all places over the globe come to experience the snowy landscape of Switzerland. All kinds of snow activities are performed during this time of the winter season. Popular areas like St. Moritz or Verbier are busy during February. We think all resorts are busy during February. Verbier is a beautiful ski resort, check out 10 reasons why to consider Verbier as your next ski holiday destination.

Where to go and what to do in Switzerland in February?

Also, February is a fantastic month to perform skiing or snowboarding. The snow is of excellent quality. Towns like Zermatt or St. Moritz or Verbier are crowded with wintersport enthusiasts. Enjoy the Aprèsski and the festive mood. Hiking in February is great too. Check out our recommendations below about what to wear to be well prepared for your hike. Ever heard of snowshoe hiking, this is actually great to not fall in the deep snow during your hike. These snow shoes prevent you from falling into the deep snow. There are excellent well prepared snowshoe trails. Check out more information here.

What clothes to wear in Switzerland during the winter season?

To prepare yourself for your visit to Switzerland, packing your bags in the right way is essential to have a comfortable and nice holiday in Switzerland. We created a blog about what to wear in Switzerland during the winter season. Please check it out here.


All in all, it becomes clear that Switzerland is the perfect winter holiday destination for both winter sports lovers as well as city explorers and hikers. The white blanket creates a fairytale place. During Christmas time and NYE, Switzerland is decorated with lights and cheerful music. The weather in lower altitude regions like Zurich can be quite dull and wet. In higher altitude regions like Zermatt, you are more certain of snowfall. We hope you will have a wonderful time in Switzerland during the winter season. If you have any questions left, feel free to leave a comment below.


Maurits love affair with Switzerland started on his first visit to Switzerland and still continues today. He visits Switzerland often and enjoys writing about his discoveries and sharing his tips with fellow travellers.

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