From the snow-capped Swiss Alps to the dreamy Christmas villages, Switzerland has got that perfect festive atmosphere. With twinkling streets, enchanting Christmas markets, and steaming hot chocolate after days spent skiing the world-class slopes, there’s no wonder Switzerland is one of the very best Christmas destinations in Europe. From the medieval magic of Montreux to the stunning winter scenery of Grindelwald, and the delicious treats of Gruyères, here are 9 of the best Christmas towns and villages in Switzerland.
Montreux is one of the ultimate Christmas villages in Switzerland. It’s set in a gorgeous location, on the shores of Lake Geneva at the foot of the snowy Alps. Plus, the city holds the biggest Christmas Market in the country. Imagine over 160 chalet stalls on the lakeside promenade, with everything from local handicrafts to fondue cheese and mulled wine.
Montreux brings it all to life and more, with Elves Square where you’ll find a stunning Christmas tree, Santa’s workshop and post office. You can even watch Santa fly over in his sleigh! There’s also the novelty train rides that take you to Santa’s house on the Rochers-de-Naye mountain, and don’t miss the Medieval Magic at Château de Chillon. Here you can watch live historical reenactments and medieval music performances, plus learn how to make candles, pottery and food like they did in the Middle Ages!
For more Christmas traditions, head to the Lumberjack Village, where you’ll find stands displaying the traditions from all over the world including France, Hungary, Germany, Japan and China. With such an incredibly festive atmosphere mixed with the spectacular scenery, Montreux is easily one of the most enchanting Swiss Alps Christmas villages.
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Lucerne doesn’t hold back when it comes to Christmas celebrations. This beautiful city sits on the shores of Lake Lucerne surrounded by the Swiss Alps and filled with medieval architecture. With such a gorgeous setting, you just know that Christmas is going to be a magical affair here. As soon as Advent arrives, the fairy lights are turned on, the ice rink is opened, and the streets are filled with market stalls selling all kinds of artisanal goodies and gifts.
You can warm up in the snowy weather with fun activities like skiing or snowshoeing under the stars. Or take the cogwheel train ride to the magnificent mountains like the famous Stanserhorn. You can also wander around the city itself, taking in the highlights like the Water Tower and Chapel Bridge, the oldest timber bridge in Europe.
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Dreaming of peaceful nights in nature for your holiday? It’s got to be the Zermatt Christmas village. It’s one of the most tranquil and pretty places in Switzerland, with no vehicles allowed in town, plus stunning mountain scenery all around. Set beneath the shadow of the iconic Matterhorn, you’ll love hiking, skiing or simply wandering through the snow-dusted forests and picture-perfect, fairy-lit streets.
If you want to get closer to the mighty Matterhorn on your Christmas trip, you can take the cable car up the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. You’ll climb over 850 metres above sea level, with breathtaking views over the Alps… And it’s the highest point in Europe that can be reached by cable car! If you prefer to stay grounded, you can explore the magical Zermatt Christmas Market or head to one of the churches for a moving service. Both the English Church and St. Peter’s Church holds Midnight Mass and Christmas services.
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4. St. Moritz
St. Moritz sure knows how to put on a show. The town has hosted the Winter Olympics twice and is famed for its luxury alpine resorts and spas… So you know you’re in for a festive treat when you holiday in St. Moritz. Head to the Christmas Market in the Fussgängerzone for everything from traditional crafts and regional foods, to music concerts, candle-making workshops and visits from Santa. Or get your skates on with dozens of ice rinks dotted throughout the Christmas village.
You can also get out into the winter wonderland scenery, with a ride on the Glacier Express running between St. Mortiz and the Oberalp Pass through the Rhine Gorge. Or perhaps you’d like to ride the famous Bernina Express along the UNESCO-listed stretch of railroad through the dazzling Swiss Alps to Tirano. If you’re looking for some thrills, be sure to visit the Eisarena Ludains to catch an ice hockey game, or head to the Olympia Bob Run to take a ride on the bobsleigh down the iconic ice run.
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This beautiful Gothic medieval town is famed for its namesake cheese, superb chocolate and the 800-year-old, fairytale Gruyères Castle… And it’s also one of the most wonderful Christmas villages in Switzerland. Wander along the illuminated cobbled streets to the Gruyères Christmas Market, where you’ll find local crafts and treats, choirs of carol singers, and the aroma of roasting chestnuts wafting through the air. The atmosphere is simply magical, and you can’t miss indulging in all the town’s iconic delicacies on your Christmas holidays.
If you’re in the mood for cheese, head to the La Maison de Gruyere cheese factory. Here you can find out how the famous cheese is made – and taste it!. Prefer chocolate? Stop by the Maison Cailler chocolate factory where you can watch the talented chocolatiers creating the sweet stuff, then tickle your tastebuds with these irresistible treats. If you want to go one step further and make your own, head to the Chocolaterie de Gruyères.
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If you like your Christmas filled with shopping, skiing and feasting, Gstaad is the place to be. This luxurious resort town is famed for its five-star shopping and dining scenes. You can spend your days getting acquainted with Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton on the shopping miles. Or indulge in Michelin-starred fare at the Chesery and the Megu, with everything from European desserts to Japanese dishes on offer.
Prefer to get out into nature? The snowsports are world-class in Gstaad, with 200 kilometres of pistes including the stunning Glacier 3000 ski area. Don’t forget to take a ride up Eggli mountain on the luxury gondolas – they were designed by Porsche!
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Set in the dramatic snowy peaks and meadows of the Bernese Oberland, Grindelwald is one of the most enchanting Christmas villages in Switzerland. You’ll have breathtaking views of the famous rocky north face of the Eiger, plus there are plenty of ways to explore nature including skiing, sledding and snowshoeing.
Take a ride on the Jungfrau Railway inside the north face of the Eiger to the Jungfraujoch, the highest rail station in Europe. You’ll marvel at the views over the Aletsch Glacier from almost 3,500 meters above sea level. Or take a lift up 100 metres to the striking Sphinx lookout point.
Back in the Grindelwald Christmas village, you’ll find magical markets, shops and restaurants illuminated in twinkling lights, not to mention the Ice Palace and the Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven display. From world-class snowsports and one of the longest toboggan runs in the Alps, to lavish spas and cosy cafes where you can indulge in festive treats, Grindelwald is one dreamy Christmas village in Switzerland.
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If you love Christmas markets, you’ll adore Zurich. The city holds the largest indoor Christmas market in Europe, spread across the main hall of Zurich Central Station. You can explore more than 160 stalls stacked with local handicrafts, special gifts, and regional treats like homemade ringli, hüppen, hot chocolate and glühwein. And you can’t miss the magnificent Christmas tree towering above the market, adorned with 10,000 Swarovski crystals.
Beyond the Christmas market, you can find even more festive cheer in Zurich, including a singing tree that belts out carols and Christmas tunes in the Werdmühleplatz. There’s also the enchanting Lichterschwimmem, a traditional event where 800 floating candles are launched into the River Limmat. It’s a gorgeous scene and the perfect way to top off an unforgettable Swiss Christmas!
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Bern may be one of Europe’s smallest capitals, but it certainly packs a punch when it comes to Christmas time. The city transforms the Old Town’s Waisenhausplatz into a festive wonderland every December, and you’ll love wandering all the Christmas markets and admiring the decorations, with the stunning 15th-century houses lining the square. You can stock up on special local crafts and gifts, plus there are all kinds of workshops including candle making sessions.
Head to the Münsterplatz for more Christmas markets, and don’t forget to keep an eye out for all the Christmas concerts that pop up in the churches, theatres and parks across the city. Be sure to indulge in fondue and raclette made from superb local cheese, and if you want to get active after, head to the Bundesplatz (Parliament Square) for some ice skating magic.
What are your favourite Christmas villages in Switzerland? Let us know in the comments below!