As winter descends upon us, there’s no better time to have your winter holidays in Switzerland, at a cold, snowy but beautiful location. Nestled in the heart of Europe, Switzerland transforms into a winter wonderland, casting its magic on locals and tourists with its pristine white snow, cobblestone villages, and world-class ski resorts. The highlights of a winter holiday include the Christmas markets around Switzerland too!
A popular winter holiday in Switzerland usually includes the Swiss Alps, covered in snow and extremely beautiful. However this post highlights more than just Swiss Alps locations, with a few cities that we and other travellers recommend. Whether you’re an avid skier or simply a lover of snow-covered landscapes, Switzerland promises an unforgettable winter escape.
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A stunning snowy destination worth visiting is to the charming village of Zermatt in Switzerland. This snowy destination is in the heart of the Valais canton, which is reachable by train only, since it’s a car free location.
Zermatt is home for many all year long, but comes alive during the Winter months full of snow. It’s a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding, with numerous routes within Switzerland and into Italy at the top. However Zermatt is great also for non-skiiers, with lots to do, such as hiking, the Gornergrat train, museums, exploring viewpoints, boutique shopping, walk in the Glacier Paradise and lots of great restaurants.
The highlight of the valley is to see the famously known Matterhorn, with the silhouette of the triangle. It has a peak reaching 4,478 meters and you can view it from many locations in Zermatt as well as higher up near the Klein Matterhorn.
For a visiting tip with the Zermatt Matterhorn Glacier Paradise cable cars and Gornergrat train, you can book your tickets in advance via the Zermatt Tourism website. Else to buy a ticket on the day of arrival at the entrance area in Zermatt. Though we advise in advance, which will save you time during your visit.
Zermatt is a popular Winter holidays in Switzerland destination, so keep this in mind that visiting will be costly.
Book your stay at the Zermatt House Mojo Apartment. This is located in a super sweet location near the cable car, which is a short walk to the village centre and from all the restaurants. We stayed here for a few days during the start of the Winter season in November, and we’d definitely book it again if we were visiting Zermatt again.
Lucerne, Switzerland is a beautiful destination both in the winter and any time of year. Its surroundings include a beautiful lake, a river that cuts through the city and majestic mountains on the not-so-distant horizon.
One of the best things to do in Lucerne in winter is to take the cable car up to Mount Pilatus. You’ll see snow-capped mountain views and be able to enjoy a range of activities. Whether you’d like to sit with a drink to take in the views, go for a hike, or even spend a night up at the top of Mount Pilatus you won’t be disappointed. Consider staying at Hotel Pilatus-Kulm for its incredible location and vistas.
There’s plenty to see and wonderful views within the city center of Lucerne during winter as well. A must-do is a visit to Wochenmrkt in Old Town, which takes place every Tuesday and Thursday morning right by the iconic Chapel Bridge. Afterwards, you can warm up with some traditional fondue.
Finally, one of my personal favourite things to do in Lucerne was to visit the Swiss Transport Museum. I’m not generally a museum person, but this one has a special chocolate-themed ride in it that makes it worthwhile! Plus, if the chill in the air starts to get to you this is a great way to continue your exploration indoors.
If you’re planning a winter vacation to Switzerland, be sure to add Lucerne to your itinerary.
For a night or more in Lucerne, consider choosing Waldstätterhof Swiss Quality Hotel for your base. It is just a short walk from the station and Chapel Bridge making it a great location. The spacious rooms are a delight to stay in!
Recommended by Nausheen from Globe Gazers
Are you planning to stay longer in Lucerne, Switzerland? Here are some must-do activities to add to your itinerary!CLICK here
Lugano is a great place for your Winter holidays in Switzerland, with fun activities as well as many Winter events that you can join. Unlike other wintery destinations, the weather in Lugano during Winter has an average temperature of 12°C, so it’s not as cold as a few other Swiss locations and its possible that there is not much snow (in the city at least!). So Lugano is a great place to get a bit of Winter sunshine, but the mountains nearby nearly always have snow – such as Monte Tamaro, Monte Bar and Monte Generoso.
If you can, try and visit Lugano during Christmas, but the whole winter period is pretty. The Christmas market in Lugano has all the pretty festive wooden stands and food options. It’s lovely to see during this time, where you can buy local goods, souvenirs, warm drinks and of course warm festive food options. There is often also festive music, either from a speaker or lively played. You can find the Lugano Christmas market mainly at Piazza della Riforma.
We can recommend staying at The View Lugano. Situated in Lugano Paradiso, this gorgeous place to stay is absolutely stunning for those travelling with their partner. It’s only a 5 minute walk from Lake Lugano and facing the mountain of Monte Bre.
If you’re visiting Switzerland during winter, be sure to add Geneva to your itinerary. This beautiful city is fantastic at any time of year but in winter it has a special magic with its breathtaking scenery enhanced by the snow.
Like most cities, the main tourist attractions remain open all year round and there are plenty of unique experiences to enjoy. Don’t miss a visit to the old town and also be sure to see Lac Leman at night- the lights are beautiful. The huge geysir (Jet d’eau) is also very impressive.
Top of the list for anyone with a sweet tooth has to be the world-famous Chocolate shop Du Rhône. Follow in the footsteps of Winston Churchill, Grace Kelly and J.F Kennedy and visit the chocolate shop often touted as selling ‘the best hot chocolate in the world’- I can’t deny it was delicious!
Whilst you’re in Geneva, don’t miss a visit to the Saint-Pierre Cathedral, which boasts some incredible views over the city. If you’re brave enough to go to the top (for a small fee) you might even be able to see Mont Blanc (although, alas, I didn’t get to when I visited.)
If you’re in Geneva in January, be sure to make time to see the incredible International Balloon Festival. Held each year in January at nearby Château-d’Oex, the bright colours of the balloons stand out beautifully against the snowy background of the surrounding mountains.
Despite the time of year, there is a high likelihood of sunny and clear days, so you stand a good chance of seeing the balloons take off. This clear weather is one of the reasons you can continue to enjoy car or motorcycle touring in Switzerland all year round (with appropriate tyres of course!) and you’ll find exploring Switzerland much easier with your own vehicle.
For accommodation in Geneva, check out Edelweiss Manatol, which looks like a Swiss Chalet but is right near the city centre. You can relax in cosy armchairs around the fireplace and enjoy typical Swiss food like Fondue and Raclette in the restaurant.
Recommended by Kat from Biker Girl Life
The pretty, international city of Zurich Switzerland, is a thriving, multicultural destination with a wide variety of things to see and do for tourists and locals alike. The city, located with the centre of Europe, is a centre for commerce, culture, and innovation – making it a popular location for all travellers.
Zurich in Winter is great for visiting some local museums. One of the most popular for foodies, which we have not yet tried, is the Lindt Home Of Chocolate Museum. If you love chocolate, we hear it’s a must! Not only you can learn the process and see the history, you get to try some too.
It’s also recommended to take a stroll in the Old Town of Zurich. One of the most picturesque areas of the Old Town is the Niederdorf, a lively pedestrian zone with numerous shops, bars, and restaurants. The area comes alive in the evening, with locals and tourists alike mingling and enjoying the atmosphere. We visited this location also during the Zurich Christmas Markets and events, which was beautifully decorated.
Another must-visit spot in the Old Town is the Lindenhof, a tranquil park located on a hill that offers stunning views of the city. If you’re lucky with some Winter show, it’s a beautiful viewpoint seeing all the snow-topped houses!
A beautiful, clean and spacious hotel to stay at from our personal recommendations start with the Ruby Mimi Hotel & Bar. This historic former cinema is located right in the city centre by the main Zurich train station. So it’s perfect for those arriving by train with luggage as well as the base to explore around Zurich.
Bern is a fantastic destination for your next Winter holidays in Switzerland, combining the liveliness of a capital city with the refreshing wilderness that Switzerland is known for. The city’s quaint architecture in the Old Town is especially lovely under a blanket of snow.
Enjoy Bern’s beautiful winter by taking a picturesque walk along the Aare river, ice skating in front of the Parliament building, or celebrating colorful Carnival in February. For more fresh air, head to the Gantrisch Nature Park for some snowshoeing or Gurten mountain to ski or sled.
To warm up, spend the day relaxing at the Oktogon Hammam and Spa, walking through the Paul Klee Museum, or sipping a cup of mulled wine. You can also enjoy the fondue season, indulging in the cheesy comfort food that warms your body and soul.
I love Bern in the Winter especially because you can enjoy the snowy outdoors, picturesque streets, cozy cafes, and the city’s amazing Christmas markets!
And, in addition to all Bern has to offer, its location also makes it the perfect base for day trips. You can easily go see the pristine lakes at Interlaken or ski at Wengen while exploring the gorgeous Lauterbrunnen Valley!
If you’re looking for a modern, clean accommodation, the hotel NH Bern The Bristol is a fantastic option that includes a tasty breakfast and is just steps away from the city’s major attractions.
Recommended by Megan from Megan Starr
The idyllic village of Chateau d’Oex Switzerland in the Alps Pays-d’Enhaut region is home to a variety of things to do during Winter. With a population of only around 3,800 people, it’s a beautiful Winter location between the mountains, which is not far from the bigger city of Montreux.
Chateau d’Oex offers something for everyone, whether you want to hit the slopes for some local skiing and snowboarding, wanting to take in the breathtaking alpine landscape, or learn more about the town’s fascinating past and present.
A Wintery highlight is to visit during the annual Festival International de Ballons. This is an amazing event that takes place every January for around 10 days long. This event has hot air balloons of all shapes, colours and sizes, which is pretty cool to see in person. The festival has food trucks and things for children to join in with. You can even book a flight in a hot air balloon for yourself.
It was one of our most fun Winter holidays in Switzerland so far, with such an exciting event together with the snow and location!
We can recommend booking your stay at Les Chélettes. This is a stunning property that offers access to a balcony, free private parking (for those wanting to visit with a car) and free WiFi. The views are outstanding and the rooms are super cosy for the Winter. Location is great too!
Lausanne is a gorgeous city that is especially lovely in the winter. Lausanne is on the shores of Lake Geneva. It has stunning landscapes and medieval architecture. The city is special in winter as it has a backdrop of the majestic Alps.
Lausanne is a wonderland throughout the winter, with snow-covered rooftops, glittering lights, and a quiet ambience that exudes tranquillity. Laussane is a must-have in your 2 week Switzerland itinerary. Especially during winter, a great time to explore the city’s charm.
Visit the Olympic Museum where you can get into the atmosphere of the Winter Olympics. You can learn about the Games’ history and the careers of celebrated athletes. The interactive exhibits at the museum make it a fascinating experience for visitors of all ages. You can also visit the Lausanne Cathedral and climb its tower to get panoramic views of Lausanne.
You can visit the Lausanne Ice Rink in Flon Square to enjoy gliding over ice. This temporary outdoor ice rink is perfect for both novice and experienced skaters and is surrounded by the city’s ancient architecture.
The Montreux Christmas Market is a short train trip from Lausanne and is extremely lively during winter. Stroll through the charming market, which is adorned with lights and decorations. Indulge in Swiss delicacies and shop for lovely handcrafted gifts and souvenirs.
Walking through the snow-covered streets was my favourite part and snow made everything look like a fairy tale.
You can stay at the Beau-Rivage Palace which overlooks Lake Geneva. It is an elegant and luxurious stay. Take a look and see if you’d like it for your Winter holidays in Switzerland!
Recommended by Lavina from Continent Hop
Basel is one of Switzerland’s best places to visit for winter holidays. It’s situated along the Rhine River in the Northwestern part of the country and borders France and Germany.
A leading reason why Basel, Switzerland is a beautiful winter destination is that it holds an award-winning Christmas market! From the end of November until Christmas Eve, you can enjoy two magical Christmas markets in Basel, the Barfüsserplatz Christmas Market and the Münsterplatz Christmas Market.
Situated in the heart of Basel’s Old Town, in front of the Barfüsserkirche historical museum, the Barfüsserplatz Christmas Market is famous for its mulled wine pyramid. The market also features festively decorated wooden stalls where you can shop for local handmade trinkets, jewelry, wooden toys, and ornaments.
The Münsterplatz Christmas Market is the largest of the two markets in Basel. It’s next to the Basler Münster, and the entire Christmas market resembles a fairytale forest. You can cozy up in a Fondue chalet at this location, sip glühwein, and make memories with friends and family.
In addition to the Christmas markets, other great things to do in Basel, Switzerland during the winter are to stroll through the Old Town and admire the Medieval and Romanesque architecture, visit one of the many museums, stand in three countries at once at the Dreiländereck, and enjoy breathtaking views of the city from the cathedral’s tower.
From Basel, you must also take a day trip to Grindelwald in the Bernese Alps to ride the Jungfrau Railway (the highest railway in the world), go skiing or snowboarding, and explore the quaint mountain village, which will transport you into a storybook.
Radisson Blu Hotel, Basel is the best hotel in this charming city during the winter months. It’s steps away from the train station, Old Town, Christmas markets, the main shopping streets, and the Rhine.
Recommended by Taylor from Brown Eyed Flowerchild
Kandersteg – Blue Lake
Wondering what to do in Switzerland for Winter holidays without skiing? Well, you should consider spending some time in the town of Kandersteg! This charming mountain village nestled in the Bernese Alps is 2.5 hours by train or car from Zurich airport and 1 hour from the Swiss capital of Bern.
Kandersteg is a popular summer destination but becomes a lovely winter wonderland to discover during the months of January through March. Although there are ski areas around Kandersteg, a visit to the Blausee (German word for Blue Lake) is highly recommended. The small turquoise-blue lake is surrounded by mountains and features the quaint Blausee Hotel in a unique secluded fairytale setting.
Blausee has a maximum depth of 10 meters but is crystal clear because of the mineral rich mountain spring water from an underground source. For a fee of 8 Swiss Francs, you can enter the nature park and enjoy a short (max 1 hour) flat walk around the lake and see the many trout fish and logs beneath the clear water. Don’t miss the underwater maiden statue that is based on a sad romantic legend.
Another place in Kandersteg worth a visit is Oeschinensee. The Oeschinen Lake is reachable by a gondola lift and offers fascinating views of the surrounding mountains.
Don’t miss visiting magical Kandersteg during your Winter holidays in Switzerland!
The Hotel & Spa Blausee is quite a treat for those wanting to stay in the area. This hotel has an delicious gourmet restaurant, spa facilities, cosy terraces and beautifully designed rooms with views of the Bernese Alps.
Recommended by Jan from JanAdventures
These Winter holidays in Switzerland destinations are just a short list of what you could experience during the colder months of the year. There are of course many more destinations not yet listed, which we will be added more too this Winter!