Famous for its jaw-dropping snow-capped mountains, brilliant skiing, and delicious cheese and chocolate, Switzerland certainly shines during the icy winter ski season. But while some can’t resist the pull of skiing, there are just as many reasons to travel to Switzerland – if not more – in the warmer months.
If you’re wondering when the best time to visit Switzerland is, just look at the vibrant blue skies on a toasty summer’s day to realise winter isn’t the only season for Switzerland travel. In fact, it’s a brilliant destination year-round.
Switzerland’s cities come alive in the warmer months with festivals and cultural events, nature becomes more accessible with cable cars and funiculars giving speedy access to the peaks, and sunny weather makes being outdoors a joy. Here are 11 reasons to travel to Switzerland outside of the ski season.
1. Explore stunning alpine landscapes
As the snow melts off the mountains, fields bloom with wildflowers and rivers fill with fresh melt, the mesmerising alpine landscapes of Switzerland simply sparkle under brilliant blue skies.
If you’re wondering when is the best time to go to Switzerland outside of the ski season, well, there is no bad time. Throughout the warmer months the mountain scenery will go through the full spectrum of spring blooms, hot summer days and fiery autumn foliage before the mountains fill with white powder once more.
2. Ride the world’s first double decker ‘CabriO’ cable car to the top of Mount Stanserhorn
Standing outside on the world’s first open-air cable car, the CabriO, you’ll be grateful for visiting in the warmer months as you soak in the elements and spectacular vistas. Feel the wind in your hair and sun on your face as you climb up high to the top of Mount Stanserhorn.
It takes 6.5 minutes to venture 2.3 kilometres and the cable car will leave you standing at 1,900 metres above sea level. It’s possible to add this unique Switzerland experience to Trafalgar tours that pass through the area. Watch the video to check out what it’s like up there.
3. Go wine tasting in Lavaux
A unique wine region, the Lavaux terraces date back to the 12th century when monks built miles of stone walls still used by the winemakers today. Here the grapes ripen with heat from the sun, the reflection of Lake Geneva and the heat from the stone walls at night.
If you join Trafalgar’s Best of Switzerland tour, the special Be My Guest lunch drops into a local family vineyard to hear their stories and enjoy a homemade meal together (while sipping the local vino, of course).
4. Zip through the country by train
There are few destinations where epic and extensive rail travel is possible, but mountainous Switzerland is one of them. If you’re a train lover or curious about the romance of rail travel, this is one of the best reasons to travel to and around Switzerland.
Here at Trafalgar one of our Switzerland tours is actually dedicated to the art of train travel. Our Contrasts of Switzerland swaps our beloved coaches for trains, including the famous and unforgettable Glacier Express.
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5. Celebrate cows returning from alpine pastures
September is harvest time in Switzerland. Grapes are picked and squished to make wine, apples are plucked from the trees, and the dairy cows return from the high alpine pastures after the summer. Of course, like any good European country, Switzerland celebrates it all.
In villages and towns across the country look for traditional folklore festivals called “Désalpe” where the cows parade through the village with decorations, traditional costumes and alpine horns. There’s usually prizes for the most beautiful cattle!
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6. Join a sunset cruise on Lake Geneva
On a bright and sunny day the aquatic blue of massive Lake Geneva is calling. Board a historic paddle boat, passenger ferry or cocktail-sipping sunset cruise and soak in the sights of Switzerland from the country’s largest lake.
There are many, many great reasons to travel to Switzerland in the warmer months and a sunset cruise is up there with the best. Cheers to the good life.
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8. Go skiing (or just touch the snow)
All 365 days a year the ski area on the Theodul Glacier is open. From the resort town of Zermatt, take an electric taxi to the base and board the highest cable car station in Europe.
Dropping you at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, a whopping 3,883m (12,740ft) above sea level, from up here enjoy spectacular views across the highest mountains of Italy, France and Switzerland.
This high on the mountains snow is guaranteed year-round, and if you’re feeling brave you can join a guided hike to a peak.
8. Explore cultural Zurich
Switzerland is more than mountains, cows and alpine scenery. Venture into the largest city Zurich to discover cobbled lanes of the Old Town on one side of the river, and contemporary art and architecture of the New Town on the other.
In Zurich history and modern life collide with more than 50 museums and galleries to explore, plus world-class restaurants and shopping.
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9. Montreux, famous for its annual jazz festival
One of the best reasons to visit Switzerland in summer is the famous Montreux Jazz Festival. Created in 1967, jazzy sounds take over the shores of Lake Geneva for two weeks every summer, drawing almost 250,000 spectators.
The breathtaking setting of Montreux forms the backdrop for a huge, diverse program of intimate events, curated concerts and legendary performances.
10. Go hiking
Whether you’re a beginner or experienced hiker, Switzerland is a fantastic place to lace up your boots and climb a summit. Eager hikers can start at the bottom, while those more interested in a short stroll can cut the work in half by taking cable cars up to near the summit of many mountains.
In the winter it’s difficult or impossible to hike up many peaks covered in snow, so summertime is the best time to enjoy short walks or day-long hikes in nature.
11. Swim in the lakes
The lakes are always one of the best reasons to travel to Switzerland. From zipping along the water’s edge by train, to cruising around the lakes, to hiring paddleboard or kayaks, the many expansive blue lakes are an aquatic playground that are essential to enjoy as the mountains.
If you find yourself in the heart of Switzerland in summer, pack your swimmers. In the hotter months the lakes are actually warm enough to take a dip amidst stunning scenery.
Are you considering Switzerland as a place to travel to in the warmer months? Let us know what you’ll do in the comments below…
This article was created in partnership with Tourism Switzerland.