Wondering what to do in Switzerland during the cold season? This guest post by Anna Timbrook from Expert World Travel covers all the best places to see in Switzerland in winter.
Switzerland enjoys snow-capped peaks all-year-round, but there’s no other wonderland like it during winter.
Its world-renowned scenery becomes even more fascinating when glistening with snow.
Around Christmas time, the crisp air becomes alive with clinks of church bells and towns are aglow with twinkling lights.
Here are must-see places in Switzerland during the most magical time of the year.
Zermatt – Winter adventure in Switzerland
The small town of Zermatt is big on adventure.
Situated at the foot of the Matterhorn, this car-less destination is a favourite for skiers, snowboarders, and even honeymooners.
Cable cars transport visitors to nearby mountains, providing access to Switzerland’s most iconic peaks like the Matterhorn, Weisshorn, and Monte Rosa.
There are several things to do in Zermatt whether you stay in the town or head up to any of the famous peaks.
The train journey to Zermatt is very scenic and breathtaking, and the town turns into a picture-perfect Christmas village during winter.
Visitors can either trek up and around the many snow trails, conquer famous snow pistes, or indulge in the energetic nightlife of this popular town.
How to get to Zermatt: Search flights, trains and buses
St. Moritz – Switzerland’s luxury winter getaway
St. Moritz is the ultimate luxury winter getaway.
With stunning panoramas and elegant establishments, this glamorous town is a favourite for the world’s rich and famous.
If you have the budget, or if you don’t mind the splurge every once in a while, then St. Moritz definitely is the best place to go for an amazing winter vacation.
Having hosted the Winter Olympics twice, St. Moritz is also a top spot for winter sports.
There are many opportunities to experience skiing, snowboarding, and snow-trekking.
It’s also known for mineral springs, which is a great option for those who aren’t into sports or those who want to wind down after a day out in the snow.
This well-groomed resort town also has many establishments for some luxury shopping and fine dining.
How to get to St. Moritz: Search flights, trains and buses
Interlaken – Stunning Swiss mountain views
This quaint resort town is popular for the adventurous.
Loomed over by the Jungfrau, Eiger, and Monch, Interlaken is great for various activities with stunning mountain views.
Much of Interlaken’s summer activities can also be done in winter, such as paragliding, skydiving and every snow sport imaginable.
In very cold winters, a natural ice rink even forms at Lake Brienz.
This usually happens around December to February where visitors can glide across the ice or arrange for a friendly game of ice hockey.
How to get to Interlaken: Search flights, trains and buses
Bergün – Go sledding this winter in Switzerland!
Sledding is a popular activity in Switzerland.
It’s a thrilling activity, plus it’s a great and unique way to explore the natural beauty of the country.
There are officially 150 toboggan runs around the country, but there are also many “makeshift” runs that casual sledders find – any slope covered with snow is an ideal place for some sledding fun.
Sledding is also great for visitors of all ages, making it a great bonding activity for the whole family.
For the ultimate experience, head to Bergün Filisur, home to the longest toboggan run in the country.
The Preda-Bergün sled run is 6 kilometres long with a total descent of 400 meters.
The journey begins with a scenic train ride via the Rhaetian Railway to Preda, where passengers travel across viaducts and helican tunnels.
The run itself winds its way through the Albula Valley, which earned its UNESCO World Heritage status in 2008.
There are spectacular views of the Alpine hamlet of Naz, with hairpin turns and passing through several viaducts, all the way till you reach the town of Bergün.
Jungfraujoch – “Top of Europe”
Truth be told, the Jungfraujoch is a must-see any time of the year.
It’s the closest you will get to feeling at the top of the world at an elevation of 3,454 metres above sea level.
Aptly named “Top of Europe” it’s the highest station in all of Europe, sitting at a glacial pass at the Bernese Alps that connects the Jungfrau and Monch peaks.
The train ride to Jungfraujoch is an experience in itself.
It begins with a train ride from Interlaken to Klein Scheidegg, through either Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen, with views of the mountains through panoramic windows.
The ride from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch is mostly dominated by tunnels, but there are quick stops at Eigerwand and Eismeer for endless views of snow and ice.
Activities and exhibits are open at the Jungfraujoch throughout the whole year, but there’s a different kind of charm when everything is covered in snow.
There are many vantage points for breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding peaks, all almost blindingly white.
Visitors can go sledging, winter hiking, snowshoeing, and even ride down the First Flyer, a zip line that hurtles 80 kilometers into the valley.
At night, Grindelwald and surrounding towns light up, casting a warm glow amidst snow-laden rooftops.
Montreux – Switzerland’s largest Christmas markets
Montreux is a small city on the shores of Lake Geneva.
This authentic piece of paradise has a backdrop of lake, mountains, and vineyards that have attracted artists, poets, and travellers long inspired by its beauty.
During Christmas time, the city goes all out with one of the most magical Christmas markets in Switzerland, Montreux Noël.
For one month, Montreux sets up one of the country’s largest Christmas markets.
Over a hundred merchants put up stalls on lakeside promenades to sell local delicacies and unique handicrafts.
In December, the Chillon Castle becomes the setting of “Medieval Magic” where visitors are treated to activities and exhibits across different time frames.
Children also get to meet Santa himself as MOB trains bring guests up to Rochers-de-Naye.
Every night, Santa rides his sleigh down the lake to greet everyone a Merry Christmas.
How to get to Montreux: Search flights, trains and buses
Arosa – More snowy adventures in Switzerland in winter
The Alpine resort village of Arosa sits in the Schanfigg Valley in the canton of Graubünden.
The setting is naturally romantic, surrounded by impressive mountain peaks and pure air as there are no cars in town.
There are 60 kilometres of marked winter hiking and walking trails around Arosa at varying levels of difficulty.
Families can enjoy snowshoe hiking together, or more adventurous types can take extended treks into the mountains.
There are also 225 kilometres of slopes with guaranteed snow in the winter sport region of Arosa Lenzerheide.
Visitors can take the cable car joining Arosa Hörnli and Lenzerheide Urdenfürggli in just three minutes.
How to get to Arosa: Search flights, trains and buses
Glacier Express – Magical train ride
It’s not technically a place, but no trip to Switzerland is complete without a Glacier Express Swiss train experience.
It’s dubbed as the slowest express train in the world as the whole journey takes eight hours, but it’s exactly why this trip is a must.
The Glacier Express operates all year round, but it’s most magical during winter. There’s no other winter wonderland like it.
There are four sections to the journey from Zermatt to St. Moritz.
The train travels over 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels and climbs to the top of the Oberalp Pass at 2,033 meters.
With its panoramic windows, it will be impossible to stop gazing at the scenery that pass by, from snow-covered mountains and forests, the jagged landscape of Rhine Gorge, and the iconic arches of the Landwasser Viaduct.
The Glacier Express journey also includes three-course meals and a commentary about what unfolds on the other side of that train window.
About the author
Anna was born to travel the world having studied languages all her life. Although she has travelled the world, she now calls Switzerland home and spends her time writing about her experiences on Expert World Travel. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.