In this blog post, I will discuss the weather conditions in Switzerland and provide some insights for those planning a trip to Switzerland. Switzerland experiences four distinct seasons - winter, spring, summer, and fall - and does not have a specific rainy season. However, it's worth noting that weather conditions can vary due to climate change, and the number of rainy days can fluctuate from the average figures. Therefore, it's always advisable to refer to local weather forecasts for accurate information.
I have included pictures and videos that were taken during the respective months to provide an accurate representation of the weather conditions.
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January in Switzerland is usually frosty and wintry, and it's the coldest month of the year with an average temperature of 3 degrees Celsius. This month certainly has snow from an altitude of 800meters (2,624ft.), and it snows a lot on average for 12 days. In cities such as Zurich and Geneva, temperatures are somewhat milder but still cold, with average highs around 4-5 °C (39-41 F) and lows around -3 °C (26.6 F). In the cities, it can also snow occasionally, but this is less frequent than in the mountains. For those who like skiing or snowboarding, it's the best month. For winter sports enthusiasts, there is everything from cross-country skiing to bobsledding. In Switzerland, the famous Lauberhorn race in Wengen, which is the longest downhill ski race, takes place every January. Or you can visit the World Snow Festival in Grindelwald, which showcases ice art.
February is very similar to January in Switzerland. If you enjoy skiing and snowboarding, you'll find the best snow conditions during this month. Higher altitudes are usually covered with lots of snow, while in the valleys, brown meadows can be seen by mid-February as the snow melts away. However, it's normal for the landscape to appear brown at first after winter and then turn to a dreamlike green as the sun shines for a longer period of time. The average number of snow/rain days per month is 10.
February also marks the beginning of the famous Fasnacht/Carnival, which starts first in Lucerne and is celebrated throughout Switzerland.
March is a transition period from winter to spring and it's a very special month in Switzerland. By mid-March, the valleys start to bloom while there is still a lot of snow in the mountains above 1000 meters (3280ft.). The temperature ranges from 0 to 11 degrees Celsius (32 - 52 F) on average, and warm clothing is recommended. However, due to longer hours of sunshine, it can get up to 20 degrees Celsius (68 F) and feel very warm. The average number of rainy days in March is only 6.
From mid-March, cherry blossom trees start to bloom in many different places. The meadows slowly change from brown to green, and dandelions and colorful plants decorate the landscape.
April is a month of unpredictable weather in Switzerland, as the saying goes, 'April does what it wants.' The weather can change frequently, from winter-like conditions to thunderstorms due to long warm spells. Despite being much warmer than the previous months, with an average temperature of 16 degrees Celsius (60,8 F), it's still important to pack warm clothes. While spring is already in full swing in the valleys, it's just beginning in the mountains, and patches of snow can still be found as the snow slowly melts away. In April, there's relatively little rain or snow, with an average of 5 to 8 days of precipitation throughout the month. April is also the beginning of the blossoming of apple trees and various other fruit trees. In my experience, spring only arrives at lower altitudes until mid-April, as higher altitudes remain colder and slower to melt the snow.
The month of May marks the beginning of spring in the mountains. Although there may still be snow in some places, most of the mountains are green and covered with mountain flowers and other beautiful, colorful plants. While the valleys are almost summer-like and can reach temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius (68 F), up high you can still enjoy the fresh, cool air. The temperature drops significantly at night, with drops of 12-15 degrees Celsius not uncommon (53 - 59 F). The number of rainy days increases due to thunderstorms caused by the heat, but it still averages only 8 days per month. Trees and plants are in full bloom, and the whole landscape is covered with lush greenery. In 2022, temperatures in many places already reached over 30 degrees Celsius (86 F). May is also the transitional period from spring to summer.
The month of June marks the beginning of summer in Switzerland. The daily temperatures usually do not drop below 15 degrees Celsius (59 F), with an average temperature of 19 degrees Celsius (66.2 F), making it relatively warm. The landscape is green all around, making it the perfect time to explore Switzerland and enjoy the long, hot days. Summer is also an ideal time to visit the many waterfalls, as it's refreshing to sit next to one after a hike. In June, the waterfalls are particularly strong due to the melting snow above. In 2022, the summer was record-breaking, with June being the hottest month on record. Although statistics show that it rains the most during summer, it is important to note that like any country, strong thunderstorms can occur, resulting in heavy rainfall.
July is similar to June in terms of weather, with temperatures continuing to rise and an average temperature of 22 degrees Celsius (71.6 F). However, it's important to note that Switzerland doesn't have sea breezes to cool things down like coastal regions. Some days can feel like being in an oven, with temperatures reaching up to 30 degrees Celsius (86 F) or more, making it quite humid and uncomfortable. In such cases, heading to the mountains can provide a much-needed respite. Visiting an ice cave or a gorge such as the Titlis or the Jungfraujoch can also be refreshing on hot days. Alternatively, you can follow the hiking tips on my blog for hot days. HERE
The heat can sometimes lead to extreme thunderstorms, with some even reaching hurricane strength. This can be especially dangerous if you're on a mountain without proper preparation. The weather in the mountains can change dramatically within 15 minutes. If you smell rain or see mist in the distance, and suddenly can't see the mountains anymore, find shelter as soon as possible.
Switzerland has numerous outdoor festivals throughout the summer, featuring various music genres from hard rock to techno.
August marks the late summer season in Switzerland and begins with Swiss National Day on August 1st. While higher altitudes may be a bit cooler, the average temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius (68 F), with temperatures often rising above 30 degrees Celsius (86 F). After hot days, extreme thunderstorms can develop, which is why it's often said that it rains a lot in summer, even though there may be few rainy days. However, when it does rain, it can result in extremely large amounts of rain.
Swiss National Day on August 1st is celebrated in practically every village in Switzerland, with spectacular fireworks displays and drone shows. If you enjoy parties, you might want to attend the famous street parade in Zurich in mid-August, where several hundred thousand people celebrate techno on the streets of Zurich, with DJs on trucks driving through the city. It's reminiscent of the Love Parade from the past.
September is the transitional month from summer to autumn in Switzerland. At the beginning of the month, there are usually no signs of autumn, but temperatures can quickly drop due to the decreasing hours of sunshine. While it may have been shining 12 hours a day in June, in September it only shines for around 9 hours. At night, temperatures can fall to single digits, so it's important to pack warm clothes. September is an excellent month for hiking, as it's cool in the morning and the heat isn't as oppressive during the day. Towards the end of the month, the leaves begin to turn golden and fall from the trees. According to statistics, it only rains for 3 to 5 days throughout the entire month, making it the perfect month for hiking.
Alternatively, you can witness the Swiss tradition of "Alpabzug," in which decorated cows are brought from the Alps to the stables for the winter. It's a fascinating event that highlights the cultural heritage of Switzerland.
In October, as autumn sets in, leaves begin to fall from the trees, blanketing the paths with brown foliage. The temperature drops rapidly, with temperatures ranging between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius (50 - 59 F), making it quite chilly. Warm clothing is highly recommended. On average, there are 8-10 rainy days in October, and in mountainous regions, it's not uncommon to experience snowfall during this month.
Autumn air tends to be humid due to longer nights. This season is known for mushroom picking, and the smell of mushrooms can be found in many forests. Larch forests are particularly stunning during autumn, as their needles turn a beautiful golden yellow (as seen in November).
If you're looking for a great autumn hike, I recommend the 5 lakes hike in Zermatt. This hike takes you through a larch forest and past 5 lakes, offering stunning panoramic views of the Matterhorn. HERE
November marks the transition from autumn to winter. October and November are also called the "foggy months" due to the prevalence of ground or high fog. As a result, everything can look grey. At the beginning of November, it is similar to October, and the leaves have usually already fallen from the trees. Hikes in larch forests or coniferous forests are recommended, particularly in the Engadin (Grisons) or Valais, which offer fantastic autumn views. The weather in November is typically fresh, with temperatures ranging between 5 - 10 degrees Celsius (41 - 50 F). It's advisable to pack winter clothes, as temperatures often fall below freezing at night. On average, there are about six rainy days during the month. By the end of November, most mountain regions have already experienced snowfall, resulting in a thick layer of snow on the roofs.
December marks the beginning of winter in Switzerland. During the day, temperatures typically range from 0 to 5 degrees Celsius (32 - 41 F), making it quite cold. Therefore, warm clothes are a must-have in your suitcase. If you don't ski, you can always rent a sled and enjoy a ride down the slopes. Almost every mountain region has a Sledging Slope, and rental usually costs between 10 and 20 francs.
Many people celebrate Christmas in December, making a visit to a cozy Christmas market a must. It's wonderful to sip on punch or mulled wine and get into the Christmas spirit, especially if it's snowing. Although cities like Zurich, Geneva, Lucerne, and Bern are dream destinations for a white Christmas, rain is more common during this time.
New Year's Eve is celebrated extensively in Switzerland, with many towns and villages hosting big firework displays or even spectacular drone shows.
And after the New Year, January begins. 😊
I hope I've been able to assist you with your planning and provide a rough idea of the weather conditions in Switzerland during each month. If you found this helpful, please leave a comment and rate the blog.
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