A trip to Switzerland in winter is an incredible experience from spectacular alpine views to Christmas markets and fondue feasts. Explore the enchanting Old Towns and experience the Swiss train journeys that run through a winter wonderland from city to city. The soaring peaks of the Alps offer world-class skiing and other thrilling winter sports. Plan your itinerary around these five winter hotspots in Switzerland.
Although much of the Zurich’s ancient Old Town has been lovingly preserved to resonate with pre-medieval history, the city embraces the contemporary with cultural centres in converted old factories and a riveting nightlife. Plan your trip to coincide with all the wonderful Christmas markets around the city open during the Advent period. Stroll the stalls and enjoy mulled wine with all the excited shoppers. Don a pair of skates and hit the ice on a temporary skating rink set up in the middle of the market or leave the city for authentic ice skating on a frozen natural lake. A ride on the Fondue Tram is a must-do. The tram leaves Bellevue and zips past the city’s most scenic sights while you’re served a savory cheese fondue and desserts.
The quaint mountain town of Zermatt is a popular ski resort in winter. Sitting at an elevation of around 1600 kilometers, the town is within view of the famed pyramid-shaped Matterhorn peak. Hotels, restaurants, and fashionable boutiques line the main street for a vibrant après-ski scene. The winter season brings the opening of public ice skating rinks in a car-free destination, and snowboarders and freestylers practice at Snowpark Zermatt aside hopeful Olympians. Skiiers can hone their skills on around 360 meters of pistes and make a possible crossover into some of Northern Italy’s ski regions from the Matterhorn glacier’s Theodul Pass.
The cozy and compact city of Lucerne is situated on the magnificent Lake Lucerne and surrounded by towering snow-capped peaks including Mount Titlis and Mount Pilatus. The River Reuss winds through the colorful façades of Old Town where you can have hot chocolate or mulled wine in a picture-postcard setting at a riverside café. The 14th-century Chapel Bridge crosses the River Reuss diagonally at the Water Tower to the north bank where you’ll find accommodations and restaurants. Visit the south bank to marvel at the Jesuit Church of Saint Francis Xavier with its iconic twin onion domes and marble stucco interior.
4. St Moritz
For a winter getaway filled with luxury, place the alpine village of St. Moritz at the top of your winter hotspot list. Located in the stunning Engadin Valley, the town has twice hosted the Winter Olympics with its famed bobsled run of all-natural ice and Olympic outdoor skating rink. For the unusual, you’ll want to experience White Turf horse racing, cricket, and polo on the frozen lakes. The areas of Corviglia, Diavolezza, and Corvatsch are the scene of pristine cross country ski trails. The après-ski lifestyle here is quite glamorous, so don’t be surprised to see a celebrity or two in town.
5. Swiss Mountains
Winter sports and the Swiss Mountains are practically inseparable and include an array of thrilling activities including skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, ski gliding, snowshoeing, and more. Tourists and winter sports enthusiasts cram the resorts throughout the season for fun in a picture-perfect setting surrounded by the Alps. You’ll find a variety of resorts from cozy and affordable to posh and pricey. Some of the most popular are in St. Moritz, Zermatt, Davos, and Verbier. The resorts provide great facilities like cable cars and chair lifts. And if you’re new to skiing, no worries, you’ll find several ski schools throughout Switzerland.