The number of tourism arrivals have been rapidly developing in Switzerland. With up to 20 million international overnight stays, the Alpine country has lots to offer. The most popular region is Geneva situated at its name giving lake. Similar to Austria, Switzerland has a distinctive winter and summer vacation season. The majority of international tourists come from Germany quickly followed by the United Kingdom and the United States.
Best time to visit Switzerland for winter sports
If you travel to Switzerland for winter sports, the best time to travel is obviously during the winter. It gets extremely crowded on the slopes during the December holidays. January is a better month for skiing as there usually is more snow and less crowds than December.
The best time to visit the Alps for winter sports is January to March. The best time for summer activities is July or August.
Although January is the slowest travel month around the globe, when people prefer to stay at home after the Christmas holidays and with adverse weather in the Northern Hemisphere this doesn’t apply for travels to Switzerland. January is a perfect month for a ski trip in the Swiss Alps as the biggest crowds will be staying away until February. January weather is perfect for skiing but horrible for a city trip: cold and wet. January weather in Switzerland is diverse but snow and freezing temperatures can be expected in the mountains. In Zurich the average maximum temperature is 4 degrees Celsius (39 Fahrenheit) and it rains on 10 days per month on average.
Winter sports: January is a perfect month for winter sports.
City trip (Basel/Zurich/Geneva): Low crowds but adverse weather make January not so great for an city trip.
Summer mountain activities: No. It is winter.
Your Travel Kit
February is a slow month in Switzerland overall, but for winter sports it is peak season. Hotels are packed in ski resorts but when you get away from the snow, most hotel rooms remain empty. February is a good month to go to Switzerland to ski but we would recommend postponing a city trip until the weather starts improving in late March. The average maximum temperature in Zurich in February is about 6 degrees Celsius (43 Fahrenheit) and it rains on 9 of 28 the days.
Winter sports: Busy month for winter sports.
City trip: Expect bad weather & low crowds in Geneva.
Summer mountain activities: Still not happening.
As the snow melts, Switzerland witnesses a shift in tourism. While the ski resorts get emptier, the cities fill up with tourists seeking cultural experiences. In Zurich, the weather improves quickly in March. Although it can still be cold and rainy, March brings spring joy and the city comes to live. Either on the slopes or in the city you need to be lucky with the weather. That means you need cold weather in the Alps or warm weather in the city to make your stay truly enjoyable. The temperature is slowly rising but the rain is not going away. The average maximum temperature in Zurich in March is 11 degrees Celsius (52 Fahrenheit) while it rains on about 10 days that month.
Winter sports: March is a perfect month for winter sports with relatively low crowds, good snow conditions higher in the mountains and great travel bargains.
City trip: March allows for a city trip in Switzerland but you have to be lucky with the weather.
Summer mountain activities: Although ski lifts are still operational and paths have not been cleared yet, you can start hiking in March.
April is the last month where you can enjoy the slopes. Although some areas remain operational well into summer, most of the 400+ ski resorts close mid-April. The weather in the cities remains unpredictable but it gets warmer as the summer nears. April is a good month to visit Bern or Zermatt because the bigger crowds have not yet arrived. You do have to be lucky with the weather as rain can ruin your day.
It can get busy around Easter. Easter is one of the busiest weekends for almost all of Europe’s major destinations. Easter takes place on a different date each year, in 2021 the Christian holiday happens in early April. The first weekend of the month (April 3,4,5) could be extremely busy. However, due to COVID-19 it is difficult to predict whether the travel appetite of Europeans will return to pre-crisis proportions.
In April, the weather in Switzerland starts to improve quickly. As the month progresses, the temperature rises. The average maximum temperature is 19 degrees Celsius (66 Fahrenheit) with rains on about 12 days this month.
Winter sports: Most ski areas close halfway April. Higher situated ski resorts stay open throughout the month.
City trip: With quickly improving weather, April is a good month for a city trip in Switzerland but stay clear of the crowded Easter weekend.
Summer mountain activities: With improving weather, April can be an interesting month to hike in the Alps as long as you are lucky with the weather.
May is a pre-season month and brings warmer weather and more tourists to Geneva, Basel and all other major summer destinations. Switzerland has lots of public holidays and the majority of those holidays are spread over May and early June. During those holidays, domestic tourism briefly peaks, while international arrivals also start to increase. May is most definitely not peak season (yet).
Overall, May is a good month to visit Switzerland. The weather is improving and it is not too busy yet. It gets warmer to the end of the month. The average maximum temperature throughout the month is 19 degrees Celsius (66 Fahrenheit) while it rains on 12 days in Zurich.
Winter sports: Except for some glaciers, May brings an end to the winter fun.
City trip: If you stay clear from the public holidays in Switzerland, May is a perfect month for a city trip.
Summer mountain activities: The first hiking huts reopen in May and the weather improves quickly but be aware of possible bad weather days.
The Swiss summer truly kicks of in June when the weather improves every day. Unlike the other summer months, June is relatively quiet. Most schools in Europe are still in session. The average maximum temperature in Zurich will climb to about 23 degrees Celsius (73 Fahrenheit) in June with some exceptionally warm days. It rains slightly more in the summer in Switzerland than it does in the winter with about 12 days in June.
We believe June is a perfect month to visit any region in Switzerland. The cities can get hot but most of the days are very pleasant. June is the best month to visit Switzerland for hiking or biking.
Winter sports: It is summer, no winter sports.
City trip: Without the craziness of peak season but with good weather, June is a good month for a city trip to Basel or any other major city.
Summer mountain activities: June is a perfect month to spend in Switzerland’s mountains with great weather and almost no crowds.
Crowds start to increase rapidly as the summer gets into full swing. Swiss schools are out for the summer and Europeans start to travel massively. July brings out the best of the cities and the Alps. You can enjoy great weather with very few rainy days and there are endless opportunities to explore Switzerland’s diverse nature in July. Outside the cities and some hotspots, you can easily get away from the crowds
July weather in Switzerland is close to perfect which makes it the ideal month to visit. If you want to avoid crowds, we recommend skipping the cities and major hotspots. However, since travel might still be slow in 2021 due to COVID-19, it might actually be the perfect year to travel to Switzerland in peak season. The average maximum temperature is 25 degrees Celsius (77 Fahrenheit) while it rains on about 11 days.
Winter sports: No winter sports in July.
City trip: It can get (too) busy in July. The start of the month is better than towards August.
Summer mountain activities: July is perfect for summer activities in Switzerland.
Like most other major tourist destinations in Europe, peak season in Basel or Geneva reaches ultimate hights August. August is simply the busiest month of the year for summer tourism. Needless to say, there is no winter sports in the middle of summer. Although it can always rain in Switzerland, the weather is very good with sunny day temperatures that can easily go up to 30+ degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit). The average maximum temperature in Zurich is 24 degrees Celsius (75 Fahrenheit) with rain on about 8 days.
Watch out! Crowded
August is Europe’s busiest month of the year when it comes to tourism. It can get very crowded. Also in Switerland.
When you travel to Switzerland in August it is best to plan ahead. Crowds can be big at the most popular tourist destinations. A smart way of planning ahead is by booking timed entry to tourist attractions or visiting them in the morning.
Winter sports: Unless princess Elsa changes the weather, no winter activities in the middle of summer.
City trip: August can get too crowded for a city trip in Switzerland. Due to COVID-19 it might not be too crowded in 2021.
Summer mountain activities: The mountains are showing themselves from their best side in summer with all huts open and lifts operational for summer activities.
The late season in Switzerland starts in September, when most tourists are back at work. September usually brings great weather but it becomes more unpredictable. Bad September weather means that torrential showers show up to ruin your day but this rarely happens. If you are able to change your plans on short notice, we recommend keeping an eye on weather conditions and plan your day according to the weather. The average maximum temperature will drop to 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) while it rains on 9 days in Zurich.
Winter sports: No winter sports in September.
City trip: If you are lucky with the weather, September is a good month for a city trip in Switzerland.
Summer mountain activities: One of the last good months for summer activities like hiking or biking in the Alps.
October is a slow travel month in Switzerland. Although autumn in the lower regions of the Alps brings beautifully coloured forests, weather conditions are highly unpredictable. October is certainly a good month to travel to Switzerland as long as you prepare for rain and wish for sun. The first glaciers will open for winter sports operations halfway through the month. However, most hotels and bars, even in the higher areas will remain shut until early December. The average temperature will drop to about 15 degrees Celsius (59 Fahrenheit) with rain on 9 days.
Winter sports: The first glaciers will open for winter sports halfway through the month. Most areas remain closed.
City trip: The weather is unpredictable in October but if you are lucky, October can be a great month to travel in Switzerland with relatively low crowds.
Summer mountain activities: The weather can be bad and most huts are closed. Lifts are usually not operational.
Visiting Switzerland in November is not the best timing. Although the crowds are relatively low, there is a clear reason why: the weather. November weather can be cold, wet and highly unpredictable. The winter sports season hasn’t started yet and rain will ruin most city trips. However, if you are lucky with the weather or only plan indoor events, November can be a good month to visit for example Geneva as the crowds will be extremely low. It will rain on about 10 days while the average maximum temperature drops to 9 degrees Celsius (48 Fahrenheit).
Winter sports: Some ski areas are operational with artificial snow. If you are lucky with the weather and get snow, some areas open early.
City trip: With bad weather, November is not a great month for an Switzerland city trip.
Summer mountain activities: Not happening.
The Christmas Holidays bring lots of tourists to Switzerland’s ski resorts. Cities like Zurich see some Christmas shopping tourists, but international arrivals don’t peak like they do in summer. Overall, December is the busiest winter month as people around the world have holidays. Around Christmas and New Year’s Evening you’ll find the priciest hotel rooms and there is a surge in ticket prices. Meanwhile, in the mountains the ski season kicks off. Although most major resorts can produce snow, it is possible that there is no real snowfall until January. During the holidays it is extremely busy in the ski resorts. With good weather you’ll experience some of the busiest winter sport days of the year. The average maximum temperature is 5 degrees Celsius (41 Fahrenheit).
Winter sports: Lower areas are often still without snow and it gets extremely crowded during the Christmas holidays.
City trip: It can get busy around the holidays and the weather is not so great.
Summer mountain activities: Not happening in winter.