Best time to visit Switzerland


Cloud, snow, fog and rain appear just as quickly as glorious sunshine so pack rucksacks and panniers for four seasons. Nov-April are all about winter sports with the annual Engadin ski marathon making March a must for anyone looking to take cross country skiing to a new level. Wild flower festooned meadows can be seen between snow thawing and hay mowing with June providing the best blankets, although plants on higher ground flower later. July-Aug are the best time to visit Switzerland for lake swimming, whilst Sep-early Oct promise successful grape harvesting, fabulous autumnal foliage and crystal clear air.

Things to do in Switzerland


Things to do in Switzerland...

Self-guided walking vacations come with with detailed trip notes and 24-hour back up enabling Alpine exploration safe in the knowledge that luggage is always one step ahead. The Jungfrau region, Bernese Oberland and the Swiss Alps contain a superb selection of gradients, with funicular railways and cable cars effortlessly ascending slopes whereupon summit walking trails promise higher perspectives of life in the valleys.
Swiss lakes are often surrounded by pine forests and nature reserves with mountains sweeping skywards inviting incredible reflections to absorb from restaurant terraces or picnic blankets. Cycling or strolling around a lake is the perfect remedy for steeper gradients with many a well maintained marina or cobbled town square offering a chance to enjoy a few moments’ people watching or wondering whether the water’s warm enough for a dip.
Taste the difference. Having France, Germany and Italy as neighbours is no bad thing where food is concerned and if you can travel close to the borders you’ll soon discover just how delicious risottos, raclettes and rostis can really taste. Rural Swiss restaurants often open for lunch to provide a hearty two course meal, with traditional pizzerias, cheese farms and roadside cafes serving up more of the same – often at a more affordable price to tourist resorts and city centres.

Things not to do in Switzerland...

Fear for your fitness levels. Although it can be tempting to tackle the Alps no sooner than you’ve touched down, taking it easy in Switzerland is also an achievable option. Medieval sightseeing in Fribourg or Murten, thermal spas in Yverdon-les-Bains or just hopping on the local yellow post bus rather than walking or cycling; Switzerland may well be famed for its snow capped peaks but no one says you have to be Ueli Steck to fully appreciate them.
Expect to speak English. Although you will find English spoken in many of Switzerland’s major cities and lakeside resorts, it’s certainly not the language of choice for the majority of Swiss. Brushing up on your French and German (depending on the region you’re visiting) is the perfect way to make a good impression, with an enthusiastic smile sure to open doors in remote rural villages and roadside restaurants.
Pick the flowers. The Swiss Alps feature Europe’s widest range of flowers, with edelweiss, primrose, cowslip, bell flowers and golden hawk’s beard all populating pastures above and below the snow line. Sticking to designated foot paths and not trampling over meadows like Julie Andrews will give these seasonal adornments every chance possible to flourish – at least until the scythes and munching cows have had their fill over the course of the summer.

Switzerland Travel Advice


Tina James from our supplier, Headwater, shares her advice and personal experiences related to Switzerland:

Jungfrau advice

"The Jungfrau region is great all year round with cycling and walking trails turning to cross country ski tracks during the winter season. It's just the perfect place to explore from one village to the next where you'll feel like you're making your own discoveries as you stumble across out of the way restaurants or farms that produce and sell their own fresh goats’ cheese.”

Small group tours

“Traveling in a small group is the perfect way to learn more about Switzerland as guides will point out traditional cheese, wine or chocolate workshops and invite you to meet local people and ask questions about what you're actually seeing rather than referring to a guide book.”

Non-walking tip

“It's certainly possible to visit Switzerland as a general tourist without having to undertake too much strenuous exercise with several Roman ruins, lakeside vineyards and historic chateaux providing ample options to explore at leisure and enjoy the Alpine ambience. Grandson is worth a visit if you're close to Lake Neuchatel with a medieval castle, the second largest in Switzerland, featuring a collection of weapons, armour and vintage cars, as well as information on the 15th century Battle of Grandson that played a pivotal part in Swiss history."

And some advice from our vacation reviews…

“Buy a Swiss Card and get reduced travel costs. Switzerland is expensive and this card makes visits to Jungfraujoch, Kleine Scheidegg and Schiltorn much more affordable… We found Nordic walking sticks useful, for the long descents in particular (we're fit but in our 50s)… Walk to the Monchhutte if you go to the Jungfraujoch. It's a great hike, with views of the beginning of the glacier, and you can have hot soup when you get there!” – Lynda Bailey on a walking vacation in the Swiss Alps

“Take lots of layers as the temperature varies and the weather can change quickly. Make sure you have lots of film or a large memory card because the scenery is stunning!” – Pamela Addison on a cross country skiing vacation
Photo credits [Temp chart background : Jeremy Seutral] [Jangrau advice: Kacka a Ondra] [Non walkers: Alexey M.] [Help desk: Kecko]
Written by Chris Owen
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