Heads up! We’re working hard to be accurate – but these are unusual times, so please always check before heading out.

A romantic hike on a snowy hill in Gstaad.
© Destination Gstaad / Melanie Uhkoetter

The top things to do this winter in Switzerland

Break out that winter jacket and make the most of this magical season

By Time Out editors
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Winter is a fantastic time to be in Switzerland. Whereas some countries curl up and hibernate in colder months, Switzerland blooms into a winter paradise, so it’s no surprise that there are a ton of amazing things to do during this time. From any snowsport you care to name to first-rate Christmas shopping to peaceful Alpine hikes to charming, snow-covered villages to explore – you won’t be bored in winter. And as a bonus, Switzerland’s already-stunning scenery looks even more impressive throughout the season.

Here are 15 of our favourite winter activities from around the country to keep you busy. In these unusual times, please do remember that opening hours and restrictions will vary across Switzerland at the moment, so it’s always best to double check with the venue you’re planning to visit beforehand. 

Give yourself the ultimate weekend of luxury in Arosa

Things to do

Make your winter weekend breaks as fantastic as they can be by spending them at Tschuggen Grand Hotel or Valsana Hotel, both located in the gorgeous Alpine village of Arosa. What’s more, both offer a ton of superb experiences to enjoy during your stay, such as spending the day in the magnificent Bergoase Spa, dining on first-rate food in the hotel restaurants, grabbing a private ski lift directly to the slopes, keeping active through yoga and pilates, or even morning ice-bathing to show winter who’s boss.

Tobogganing in Gstaad
Tobogganing in Gstaad
© Destination Gstaad / Melanie Uhkoetter

Explore the wintry charms of Gstaad

Wondering where you can find a winter wonderland? Head straight to Gstaad, a beautiful region that looks its best in this frosty season and has lots to offer. There are winter sports galore (including varied skiing, from cross-country to ski-touring), relaxing hikes and family friendly activities, all framed by gorgeous scenery.

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Hotel Bären Gonten spa
Hotel Bären Gonten spa
Reto Guntli

Kick back at Hotel Bären Gonten

Winter always feels best when you’ve got a cosy base to enjoy it from, and that’s exactly what this marvellous hotel is. It’s packed full of rustic Swiss charm and top-notch facilities, and you’ll also have the glorious Appenzell countryside to roam through, which begins literally as you step out of the hotel.

Cable car up to Klein Matterhorn Zermatt.
Cable car up to Klein Matterhorn Zermatt.
Pedro Rodrigues

Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

Zermatt’s Matterhorn Glacier Paradise network of mountain lifts connects the Valais resort with the highest cable car station in Europe (3,883 metres above sea level). The 45-minute journey, by gondola then cable car, transports you across glacial crevasses and provides some truly incredble photo opportunities.

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La Salève mountain, Geneva.
La Salève mountain, Geneva.
Peter Wittich/Solarnu/Flickr

Day trip from Geneva into the mountains

Geneva’s proximity to various Swiss and French ski resorts (such as Saint-Cergue and Chamonix) means it’s entirely possible to head off for a day’s skiing and be back in town by the evening. If skiing’s not your thing, the mountainous landscape is also wonderful for winter hiking, ice skating on frozen lakes and other delightful winter larks.

Bern, flags, cantons, Switzerland
Bern, flags, cantons, Switzerland
Jan Geerk / swiss-image.ch

Wander the streets of Bern’s Old Town

One of the prettiest and best preserved in Switzerland, Bern’s Old Town is understandably UNESCO-protected, and is a delightful place to spend a winter’s day or evening – or both. The medieval cobbled streets, ornate fountains and arched walkways are a photographer’s dream and there are plenty of stops along the way to fuel your journey with warming food and drink.

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Bergrestaurant Bussalp, Grindelwald restaurant, Time Out Switzerland
Bergrestaurant Bussalp, Grindelwald restaurant, Time Out Switzerland
© Bergrestaurant Bussalp

Bergrestaurant Spielboden

With a panoramic view of snow-capped peaks, Bergrestaurant Spielboden is a mountain restaurant in-tune with its surroundings. It’s set 2,450 metres above sea level and overlooks both the beautiful village Saas-Fee and a basin of 4,000-metre summits. In winter, it becomes truly wonderland-esque, deep in snow and full of welcoming atmosphere.

Ascend the Uetliberg

‘Zurich’s mountain’ offers fantastic views across the city at any time of year, and there’s nothing quite like a crisp winter jaunt to the top. Once you’re at the summit there are various hiking trials to pick-up, and some of the steeper ones are even turned into sledding runs, meaning you can hurtle down them on your preferred mode of winter transport.

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Ouchy, Lausanne, Time Out Switzerland
Ouchy, Lausanne, Time Out Switzerland
© Regis Colombo/diapo.ch

Hang out in Ouchy

Lausanne’s lakefront district is the city’s playground, even in winter months. It’s where people come to while away a Sunday afternoon by strolling along the shore of Lake Geneva or simply enjoy some quality people-watching from a bench (wrap up warm first!) or one of the many cosy cafes and bars nearby.

Wooden benches in a park at Zurich Airport
Wooden benches in a park at Zurich Airport
Flughafen Zürich AG

Get back to nature in an unlikely location

Roam around Zurich Airport’s newly opened nature park this winter, covering an impressive 80,000m². Soak up superb views of all that lovely nature from the park’s ‘sky platform’, installed at its highest point and reachable via a funicular. You can even book a detailed guided tour of the park to meet some of its inhabitants.

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Christmas at Zurich Airport.
Christmas at Zurich Airport.
Zurich Airport

Fall in love with Christmas shopping at Zurich Airport

We’ll let you in on a secret: Christmas shopping can be fun if you do it properly. Find out for yourself at Zurich Airport, where you’ll find the Circle, an immense new retail and leisure complex that boasts all the shops you’ll need to own festive gift-buying this year, plus great restaurants and bars for when you need to relax.  

Winter hike like a pro

Explore the network of winter trails (measuring around 140 kilometres) which run around the picturesque winter-sports resort of Arosa Lenzerheide, where you can take a slow stroll or a long hike amidst the magnificent winter landscape.

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Get your skates on

During the winter months, Dolder Sports hosts one of Europe’s largest open-air ice rinks. It’s a popular spot for Zurich locals and visitors alike, and offers a great escape in the weeks before Christmas.

Engadin, St Moritz
Engadin, St Moritz
Sepp Rutz

Explore St Moritz

One of the oldest Swiss ski resorts is also one of the most glamorous. St Moritz really comes alive in winter and is obviously great for winter sports – skiing, of course, but also tobogganing, curling, ice skating and much more. But crucially, it’s also a great place to just stroll around and soak up the atmosphere on a frosty winter day.

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St-Luc Planet Walk
St-Luc Planet Walk
www.myswitzerland.com

Try a ‘planet trail walk’ in Valais

St-Luc’s picturesque location on the sunny side of Val d’Anniviers (Eifischtal) means there are plenty of daylight hours to enjoy the 6km-long planet trail walk that rises from 2,141 to 2,513 meters above sea level and is open year-round.

Einsiedeln
Einsiedeln
www.einsiedeln-tourismus.ch/en

Einsiedeln

This Medieval village is pretty in sunny seasons, but come winter it looks absolutely magical thanks to the brilliantly wild scenery surrounding it. The main attraction in Einsiedeln itself is a famous and highly impressive abbey, the origins of which date back over a thousand years. Beyond the abbey you’ll find a charming cobblestone old town with plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants to explore. 

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