No matter how much we love the warmth of summer, winter–especially a Swiss winter–has always held an undeniably timeless charm for us.
Picture waking up to the sight of vast snow-blanketed landscapes right outside your window, or falling back onto the fresh powder-white snow and making snow angels–need we say more?
There’s nothing quite like a winter spent amidst the untouched beauty of Switzerland’s gorgeous sights.
From the serene majesty of the Swiss Alps to the delightfully quaint traditional Swiss Christmas markets, here’s 8 reasons why winter is the best time to visit Switzerland!
1. Swiss winter scenery
It’s no secret that the Swiss Alps are some of the most beautiful mountains on the planet, but come winter, they’re almost completely in a league of their own.
Meandering slopes, deep valleys and towering trees peek out from underneath carpets of pristine white snow, stretching endlessly into the distance. It’s definitely a sight you’re not likely to ever forget in your lifetime!
View from Jungfraujoch Plateau, Bernese Alps.
It isn’t just the Swiss Alps that transform into a winter wonderland. Swiss lakes come into their own in winter too, when the entire scene is bathed in hues of turquoise, cobalt blue, and (of course) white 😍
It goes without saying that a wintertime stroll along Switzerland’s numerous lakes is an absolute must-do. You might even come across signs along the lake that tell you to take a breather, put the camera down, and just admire the scenery around you for a while!
2. SNOW everywhere!
If, like us, you come from a tropical country, you’d be hard-pressed to find snow anywhere around you back home (unless it’s artificial 😅). In Switzerland, though, it’s a different story altogether.
While it’s almost a given that winter in Europe generally brings snow with it, few places match up to Switzerland’s snowy winters.
With thick blankets of fresh, milky-white snow blanketing almost everything in sight, it makes the ultimate postcard-perfect setting for the wintertime holiday you’ve always dreamt of.
Credit: Ben Freeman on Flickr
Think of all the snowball fights you could be having, or the snowmen you could build–we’re not kidding when we say it truly feels like a winter fantasy come to life!
3. Christmas markets
Without a doubt, one of our favourite things about Swiss winters are the atmospheric Christmas markets that spring up everywhere at this time, lending a festive cheer to the air and presenting us with the perfect opportunity to get a taste of Swiss culture.
What makes Swiss Christmas markets especially magical are the fact that each Christmas market tends to have its own charm–some are livelier, some are artsier, some have an international flair to them 😌
You’ll find rows and rows of neatly arranged stalls hawking rainbow-coloured scented candles, gift-wrapped Swiss chocolates and candies, artisan tableware, exquisitely decorated lamps, dainty jewellery, fluffy warm scarves, mufflers, gloves, and more!
#HHWT Tip: Aromatherapy is an especially popular find you’re likely to come across multiple times at every Christmas market, so take full advantage and get some as souvenirs! You’ll be spoilt for choice on this one, though 😉
4. Christmas light-ups
The cobblestoned streets and pastel-coloured buildings of Switzerland’s various old towns make a remarkably attractive sight during the day, but in winter, they truly come alive at night with twinkling multi-coloured lights and tastefully decorated Christmas trees.
While Christmas light-ups elsewhere tend to be marked by glaring neon signs and over-the-top Christmas trees, you’ll find that Swiss Christmas light-ups have a much calmer and more understated feel to them which makes the perfect backdrop for a romantic stroll with your significant other 😊
Wander around a Swiss old town on a winter night, and you’ll come across quiet, winding backstreets aglow with modest Christmas lights and wide squares centred around grand lit-up Christmas trees like these ones!
5. Muslim-friendly Swiss food that helps to stay warm
Even if you’re all bundled up in multiple layers of clothing, those freezing winter temperatures do have a way of getting to you. Pro-tip, though: stay warm by munching on Muslim-friendly Swiss street food!
You’ll find pushcarts selling piping hot roasted chestnuts (known locally as “heissi marroni”) literally everywhere in winter here, and each bag costs about 3-4CHF, so they make the perfect light bites to munch on the go.
Pretzels (“brezels”, as they’re referred to locally) are another local favourite in Switzerland: pop by any local bakery or Christmas market and you’re bound to come across them.
#HHWT Tip: Our FAVOURITE pretzels are from “Brezelkonig”, a local chain that you can easily find in train stations. They come in a huge variety of flavours, with the cheapest one at just 2CHF!
If all else fails, go for some freshly made chocolate crepes hot off the pan. These are often found in Christmas markets for about 5-7 CHF, and you might have to wait in line since they’re hugely popular, but really–steaming hot chocolate sauce in winter? It’s definitely worth it 😋
Even if you’re not in the mood for Swiss snacks, you can always fall back on Indian snacks to keep you warm. Most Christmas markets will have Indian stalls that sell vegetarian food like samosa and pakoras (and even papadoms!)
6. Panoramic train rides in winter
No other country is perhaps more known for its scenic train rides than Switzerland, and for good reason.
With such dazzling natural scenery, panoramic train rides are the perfect way to experience Switzerland’s full beauty first-hand, especially in winter, when you can watch the snowy landscapes outside zip past you right from the comfort and warmth of your seat.
Credit: Nice pictures in the world on Facebook
But if you only have time for one Swiss scenic winter train ride, go for the Bernina Express, a 4-hour journey crossing over picturesque viaducts, past thundering waterfalls and through rolling, snowy mountains. Trust us, it’ll leave you absolutely breathless with awe!
#HHWT Tip: The railway on which the Bernina Express runs on is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of how stunning the scenery along the route is 😍
Credit: @flos_photoheart on Instagram
The Glacier Express.
If you prefer a full-day ride through the Swiss Alps and don’t mind crowds of other tourists, the world-famous Glacier Express’ll suit you better, being an 8-hour journey running between the Swiss mountain resorts of St Moritz and Zermatt.
#HHWT Tip: Some of these scenic train routes are closed for a specific period of time in winter, and it differs from route to route, so always check in advance before you go!
7. Swiss ski and mountain resorts
Switzerland is chock full of world-class ski resorts which have rightfully given it the reputation of being one of the best locations in the world for skiers, so it’d really be a shame not to give it a go 🎿
Just the thought of the adrenaline rush from whizzing down the slopes while admiring those gorgeous views all around is enough to make us dizzy with excitement!
Zermatt and St Moritz, both serviced by the Glacier Express, remain two of the most popular and expensive ski resorts in the country–the former, for example, boasts magnificent views of the Matterhorn mountain, the most photographed mountain in Switzerland.
Credit: Grindelwald Switzerland on Facebook
For a much more affordable alternative, head for the humble ski resort of Grindelwald–since it’s located on the route up to Jungfraujoch (the Top of Europe); it doubles as a convenient place from which to make your Jungfrau excursion! 😉
8. Off-peak season: less tourists, cheaper accommodation
Switzerland is a hugely popular tourist destination all year round, but come winter, it’s off-peak season, which really makes things SO much more convenient for travellers!
When it comes to scenic train rides, it’s important to sit on the right side of the train to get the best views. In Switzerland, most of the time you’ll find good views on both sides of the train, but catching the best views from both sides is almost impossible in peak season when the train is fully booked.
With lesser crowds during off-peak season, though, you’re free to move around more freely indoors without having to worry about encroaching upon others, leaving you with a higher chance of catching all the best views you need 😌
Most importantly, though, you won’t have to jostle for space or feel rushed by hordes of other tourists, so you can set your own pace to discover Switzerland’s true beauty, whether you’re literally on a mountaintop or strolling along a lake at ground level!
Indeed, there’s no better time than winter to dive headfirst into Switzerland’s awe-inspiring sights, culture, activities and everything she has to offer. So what are you waiting for? Time for that once-in-a-lifetime Swiss winter trip–it’s now or never 😊