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What to know if you're travelling to Switzerland in September

If you are planning on travelling to Switzerland in September, you probably have stacks of questions, like is September the best month to visit? Is Switzerland warm in autumn? Will there still be big crowds? When does Switzerland’s autumn foliage appear? Can I still see snow?

This article will answer all your questions about what it’s like to explore Switzerland in one of the best months of the year. Here’s why you should choose September for your next Swiss escape. 

Switzerland weather and crowds in September

September marks the beginning of autumn or fall, and the low season for tourism as the masses of European summer holidaymakers return to work and school. With generally warm, sunny weather across parts of the country, you can still enjoy blissful outdoor activities with much thinner crowds.

Of course, it’s a mountainous country, so if you are planning on travelling to Switzerland in September you’ll need to pack warmer layers and jackets for those high altitude adventures. There’s no fresh snow, and that means no winter ski sports, but there’s plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy and you’ll still see snow covering the highest peaks.

Weather wise, September is a lovely month to visit. The city of Zürich averages between 10.5°C (51°F) and 19°C (66°F), Lucerne receives similar weather while Geneva is a little warmer. If you head up into the high altitude of the Swiss Alps, expect average temperatures of around 7°C (45°F). September in Switzerland can bring a little bit of rain so pack a raincoat or umbrella too.

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Where to go in Switzerland in autumn

Everywhere! With weather this brilliant, thinner crowds and all activities and stores open, September is the best month to visit Switzerland. This time of year Switzerland is overflowing with beauty and you’ll want to visit the lakes, mountains and cities to experience it all.

In the cities, like Zurich, Geneva, Lucerne, Bern and Basil, the streets are alive with locals enjoying the last weeks of pleasant weather before the cooler days of winter start to creep in. Enjoy lunch in the sunshine on warmer days, or get cosy indoors with fondue as the weather dips.

It’s harvest time for vineyards and fruit trees. Look for workers in the fields and grapevines hanging heavy with fruit as you journey through the countryside. If you pass through Valais, Switzerland’s top wine region, you can trek through the vines or enjoy a tasting.

If you like mountain hiking the trails will be quiet with no fresh snowfall, making it easier to navigate the trails without any icy surprises. Towards the end of the month the tree foliage will start changing to golden hues, a glorious contrast to the snowy mountain peaks. 

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September events in Switzerland

September is a time of harvest in Switzerland. Expect every town and village to celebrate the grape or apple harvests with festivals and fun. There are also loads of traditional folklore festivals with Alpine horns, traditional costumes and celebrations called “Désalpe” where the cows return from mountain pastures after the summer. Later in the month these cows are often judged and prizes are awarded for the most beautiful cows.

Here are events you can enjoy if you’re travelling to Switzerland in September.

Horlofolies, La Chaux-de-Fonds
Expect three days of music, concerts and street artists, along with pop-up bars and markets at this traditional watch town.

Biedermeier Festival, Appenzellerland
Every four years, the village of Heiden in Appenzellerland returns to the 19th century. Over two days, locals stroll through the village in traditional typical Biedermeier costumes. There’s a big parade on Sunday, plus a market with old crafts.

Jeûne Genevois, Geneva 
This is a special thanksgiving day held in Geneva, Switzerland’s French-speaking city. It’s always held on the Thursday after the first Sunday of September and it’s a public holiday for this canton.

S-chargiada d’Alp, Müstair
At the end of summer the herdsmen and cattle descend from the mountain pastures with a big folklore event. The best dairy cows are decorated with headdresses and proudly parade through their village where the locals welcome them with a party, dancing and traditional food.

La Désalpe de Charmey, Charmey 
Charmey, a village near Gruyères, also celebrates the return of the dairy cows from their summer vacation, where they graze high up in the green pastures of the mountains. 

Food Zurich, Zurich
Love food? The city of Zurich does too. Dive into 11 days of street food, workshops, marketing, tastings and courses.

Chästeilet, various towns
During the summer, the shepherds make cheese from the cow milk up in the mountains. At the end of the summer, there’s a centuries-old ritual called “Chästeilet” where the cheese is divided among the farmers. 

Federal Day of Thanksgiving, Repentance, and Prayer, nationwide except Geneva 
The rest of the country celebrates this interfaith festival with a public holiday on the third Sunday in September. 

Grape Harvest Festival, Lutry, Neuchâtel and other towns.
Lutry marks the end of the grape harvest with a three-day festival with open cellars, open canteens and a touch of madness! Neuchâtel puts on a huge parade, marching bands and fancy dress.

Flea Market Festival, Landeron 
Experience Switzerland’s largest open-air antiques festival over three days. The fair pops up in the magnificent mediaeval town of Landeron.

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Are you planning on travelling to Switzerland in September? Let us know about your travel plans in the comments below….

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