THINGS TO DO IN DECEMBER IN SWITZERLAND
Are you planning a winter trip to Switzerland and wondering what Switzerland in December will be like? Do you want to find out about the best things to do in December?
Well, let me tell you that every month in Switzerland has its own unique charm! As a confessed Switzerland enthusiast, I can assure you there is never a bad time to visit this beautiful country.
So, is December a good month to visit Switzerland? Yes, December is a great month to visit Switzerland. There are some amazing activities you can enjoy in Switzerland – aka Winter Wonderland! From winter sports to Christmas Markets, Lights Festivals, and more – here are the best December activities in Switzerland for your itinerary.
Travel Tips For a Switzerland December Trip – FAQ
In this post, you´ll find out about the best things to do in December in Switzerland and get more travel tips for your trip.
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How to Get Around in Switzerland December
Switzerland is a great country for road trips and train travel. But which mode of transportation is the best for a December trip? Here are my thoughts.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: For December, I recommend traveling by trains/buses – even in the winter months, they run regularly. Overall, public transportation is safe, reliable, and superb! You can sit back – in the warmth of the train – and enjoy some fantastic winter scenery while the train gets you to every destination – regardless of the weather conditions.
SWISS TRAVEL PASS: If you opt for public transportation, then consider getting a Swiss Travel Pass. I visit Switzerland often, and most of the time, I get one (even when I road trip). Trail travel in December was STUNNING! Here is why I suggest a Swiss Travel Pass.
- It allows you to use trains and buses without any extra costs.
- You can also do boat cruises without additional costs.
- Also, quite some attractions (like museums) are included.
- It also gives you a 50% discount on most mountain rides (you can get up via cable car/funicular for half of the price, and there are even some mountain excursions, like Mount Rigi, which I will talk about later in more detail, that are free with a Swiss Travel Pass.
- The initial prices for a Swiss Travel Pass are quite high. But it pays for itself if you get around via public transportation and are active in Switzerland for more than three or four days. So, check out prices for boats and trains and then calculate if it is a good option for you. You can find out more about the pass here.
ROAD TRIP: Should you road trip Switzerland in December? I love driving in Switzerland and I road trip the country several times a year. You can also explore Switzerland by car in December. However, driving in the mountains, especially with all the snow, might be challenging in the winter months. Many streets and roads are cleared from the snow, but this is not always the case. If you decide to drive yourself, make sure your cars have winter tires (and maybe even snow chains).
Where to Stay in Switzerland in December
The way to choose your accommodation in December depends on what you are interested in doing and seeing.
- If Christmas markets are your main point of interest, then Zurich, Basel, or Lucerne would be the best choices, as you can get around easily and hop from one city to the other while visiting the main Christmas Markets.
- If you want to stay in a snow-capped town that also offers fun winter activities, then Zermatt would probably be the best choice.
- And if you are into winter sports activities, then the region of Interlaken/Jungfrau, Zermatt, Verbier, or St. Moritz are my suggestions.
What to Pack For Your Trip in December
Even if December is not the coldest month in Switzerland, it can get very, very cold. Especially if you head to the mountain peaks. But if you are well prepared and pack – and dress – accordingly, you will not mind the cold because it is the special Swiss winter trip you were expecting.
These are just a few items to pack.
✔️ A warm, waterproof jacket should be one of the first items you think to pack. Avoid choosing a bulky jacket that takes up a lot of space. This can make you feel uncomfortable when you have layers underneath. Instead, opt for a lightweight trench raincoat that will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable.
✔️ A knitted beanie is a perfect solution for keeping the warmth in while you venture out. A hat will keep you toasty warm wherever you are.
✔️ A pair of gloves can do wonders for your mobility and comfort. When selecting your options, it’s worth investing in a pair that can dry quickly and are touch-screen compatible.
✔️ A warm scarf and/or turtleneck sweater are key items for keeping your neck covered. A turtleneck sweater is perfect as a garment to wear underneath your jacket, while the scarf can be removed easily.
✔️ Leggings are an essential item to pack as you can dress them up or down. You can even wear them underneath your denim as an extra layer of warmth.
✔️ When it comes to packing socks for your Austria winter trip – the thicker, the better. The chances are that you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors in the snow, and you’ll want your feet to be warm and cozy.
✔️ My favorite winter clothes are thermals. A quality set of thermals is your key to enjoying the winter weather in Austria. You have to wear them on a cold day to believe what a wonderful invention it is!
✔️ Make sure you have a trusty pair of warm shoes. You’ll want your shoes to be as versatile as possible. Shoes that allow you to enjoy a variety of activities while keeping your feet warm and dry.
If you go skiing/snowboarding, you will need all your ski equipment, including ski pants and thermal underwear (seriously, I just discovered them, and they are amazing and keep you so warm). If you want to do winter sports but do not/cannot bring your own equipment, then you can rent ski equipment in all ski destinations.
I have a detailed post with “Things to pack for Switzerland” where you will also find tips on what to bring.
PLACES TO VISIT IN SWITZERLAND IN WINTER + THINGS TO DO
Okay, here we go – find out about what to do and see in December.
Visit Christmas Markets
If you plan your vacation to Switzerland in December, you are probably here for the Christmas Markets.
As winter cloaks Switzerland, its towns and cities come alive with the magic of Christmas markets. Nestled among the breathtaking vistas of the snow-clad Alps, these markets are a cherished tradition, weaving through cobblestone streets and grand squares.
Get lured by the scent of mulled wine, gingerbread, and raclette, as artisans display an array of handcrafted goods. The jingle of bells and chorus of local choirs add to the festive atmosphere.
Each market, from Zurich’s Christkindlimarkt to the historic charm of Basel’s market, is a unique celebration of holiday cheer. Here, the essence of Christmas can be felt in the joyful hearts and warm gatherings, offering a picturesque retreat into the festive spirit of the season.
So, there are a couple of well-known places for their Christmas Markets.
Basel, the most northern city in the country, is known as the art capital, but also for its Christmas Markets. It probably has the most beautiful markets, and the good news is that there is more than one market.
Eat your weight in snacks and mulled wine at the Christmas Market at Münsterplatz (just next to the pretty Basel Cathedral), including a Fairy Tale Forest. Or visit the Christmas Market Barfüsserplatz. Both markets have a combined 180 stalls (approximately), and it is all about food, drinks, and Christmas gifts.
But of course, Basel is not the only city with Christmas Markets. Zurich, the unofficial capital of Switzerland, also has several markets to choose from. One in the Old Town, one on the Sechseläutenplatz near Bellevue, and one at the Zurich Main Train Station.
If you visit the capital of the country, Bern, you´ll find more markets in the old town of the city where you can indulge in gingerbread, roasted almonds, mulled wine, and more. Check out my Bern winter guide for more tips.
There are around 70 stalls in Lucerne that have snacks, drinks, and gifts – and of course, Lucerne is also decorated festively and is another great place to see in December. Check out my Lucerne winter guide for more tips.
Can’t get enough of Christmas Markets? Then head to Montreux in December and visit one of the most iconic ones in the country and the best one at Lake Geneva – the Marché de Noël à Montreux.
WHERE TO STAY IN LUCERNE
Mid-Range: Hotel des Alpes – On my last Lucerne trip, I stayed at Hotel des Alpes. The room view was amazing (and included views of the Chapel Bridge and Mount Pilatus).
Click here to read my full post on the best hotels in Lucerne.
WHERE TO STAY IN ZURICH
Budget: Oldtown Hostel Otter – Warning, there are not many budget hotels in Zurich. This is a good-rated hostel in Zurich. I stayed here once and for a hostel, it actually was quite good for a hostel – especially because of its great location.
WHERE TO STAY IN BERN
Mid-Range – Goldener Schlüssel – I stayed at the 3-star hotel Goldener Schlüssel for 1 night, located in the city center/old town. Though my hotel room was pretty small though, with no direct (and free) parking options and the breakfast was simple, the location was perfect and made up for it.
WHERE TO STAY IN BASEL
Mid-Range – Hyperion Hotel -I stayed at the Hyperion Hotel, which is very well-known for its great views. It is located in Kleinbasel, and the tram station is just in front of the hotel. The hotel was great: good breakfast, a good location, and a modern style.
We all know that there are no real bargains when it comes to accommodations in Switzerland. Hostels, where you could also book private rooms are my recommendations in this case.
➡️ There are a few budget hotels and hostels that you can check out here.
Winter Sports in December
Are you a fan of winter sports? The rush of skiing down the slopes or the thrill of snowboarding can be an unforgettable experience. Switzerland boasts some of the best winter sports destinations in the world, with places like Verbier, Grächen, Zermatt, and St. Moritz you have an abundance of places where you can hit the slopes.
Whether you’re looking for family-friendly activities or a heart-stopping adventure, there’s something for everyone. And if you’re planning a trip in December, there are plenty of ski resorts to choose from.
Did you know that even non-winter sports enthusiasts can have a blast on the slopes? I speak from experience – I went on my first (and so far only) winter sports vacation a few years ago.
It all went down in Verbier, a picturesque town located in the canton of Valais. I tried skiing and snow hiking for the first time and it was a thrilling experience. Who knows, maybe you could be the next convert to winter sports!
So, what about winter sports in December?
Every year is different, and we never know long in advance whether there will be enough snow in December or not. Some ski resorts might not offer every kind of winter activity in the first weeks of December, and the best time to ski is actually from mid-January onwards.
However, you should be good to experience a fun winter vacation with many winter sports activities from mid-December. Winter sports in December include – amongst others – skiing, snowboarding, snow hiking, sledding, and ice skating.
- Check out my guide on the best places to ski in Switzerland.
WHERE TO STAY IN VERBIER
Chalet d’Adrien Verbier is a luxurious 5-star property located next to the Savoleyres Ski Lift with a spa and swimming pool that is the perfect choice for those who want to indulge in luxury.
W Verbier is another luxurious hotel in Verbier that offers a lot of luxury to its guests.
Mirabeau – I stayed at this 3-star property and enjoyed great room views (especially sunrise views). The hotel is quite basic (and so was breakfast), but the view and the fireplace in the lobby made up for the simplicity.
Enjoy Mountain Views
Get ready to be blown away by the breathtaking mountain views and idyllic lakes that make this country truly one of a kind. And here’s the best part – even in December, you can still enjoy the stunning mountain panoramas that Switzerland is famous for.
Don’t miss the opportunity to bask in the beauty of these amazing places!
The country is so well prepared for visitors coming at any time of the year that its cable cars/funiculars/trains etc. run throughout the year (at least most of them) and you can get up many mountains without hiking.
You get amazing mountain views in almost all of Switzerland. However, if you want to have snow-capped mountain peaks, then visit places that are high above sea level. You will find them almost everywhere in the country apart from, I would say, the northern part as the high mountains are more in Central, Southern, and Eastern Switzerland.
BEST MOUNTAIN VIEWS IN SWITZERLAND
So, where to go for amazing mountain views in December? Here are some of my tips:
Rigi Kulm (Rigi Mountain) near Lucerne
Mount Titlis near Lucerne
Mount Pilatus near Lucerne
Corvatsch Mountain near St.Moritz
Klein Matterhorn in Zermatt
- Some mountain excursions are included in the Swiss Travel Pass – e.g., Mount Rigi.
- But even if you “only” get a discount, getting up there is often well worth the price. Check out the prices for a trip to Jungfraujoch or tickets for getting up Mount Titlis.
- Check out my post with the most beautiful mountain views in Switzerland
Hop on a Train
Let me tell you about my love affair with Switzerland, and it’s not what you’d expect! It’s all (or at least mostly) thanks to their incredible public transportation system and the breathtaking views from the train windows. I’m not kidding – you won’t be able to take your eyes off the scenery!
If you happen to visit Switzerland in December, make sure you take a train ride and witness the magic for yourself. Trust me, it’s worth it!
While Switzerland may not have the most amazing window views every time, don’t worry, because most of the time you’re in for a visual treat. And let’s not forget about the incredible routes you can take, regardless of the season! Speaking of which, December is absolutely enchanting for train sightseeing – picture yourself cozying up in a warm train while taking in the winter wonderland around you. Pure magic!
The most scenic train rides – normally – are the “express” trains. These are: the Glacier Express, Bernina Express, Lucerne-Interlaken Express, GoldenPass Panoramic, Gotthard Panorama Express, and Voralpen Express.
My favorite routes in December are the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express but also the one from Stechelberg (above Lauterbrunnen) to Murren! It is just WOW!
Switzerland might not be completely covered in snow in December, but the chances are good that you will enjoy some nice scenic train rides – especially those in high altitudes in Grisons or Valais.
You can do all the train rides with your Swiss Travel Pass. You will need to pay a fee for the “reservation” (which can cost up to 30€ in winter) on some express trains, but seriously, riding a train in the winter months can be STUNNING.
Take that ride! You will enjoy it, I‘m sure!
TIP: Reservations are compulsory for the Glacier Express, the Bernina Express, and the Gotthard Panorama Express. To avoid reservation fees, you can hop on local trains that have the same route, and you get the same views. They might take a bit longer, but you have the option to get out of the train, too. If you get out of the other 3 express trains, you will lose your reservation.
Do a Helicopter Ride
Are you looking for a unique way to experience the stunning scenery of Switzerland? Look no further than a helicopter ride! Whether it’s summer or winter, Switzerland’s views from above are absolutely breathtaking. While reaching the summit of a mountain offers incredible views, a helicopter ride will take your breath away with a whole new perspective.
If you’re planning a trip in December, be sure to check out helicopter rides in Jungfraujoch – a popular area for experiencing Switzerland’s beauty from above.
- If you are brave, you can combine a helicopter ride and a skydive! Check out prices here for that unique experience.
Discover the magic of Switzerland beyond its picturesque outdoors! Whether you’re dodging summer sun or winter snow, there’s always something fun to do indoors. Experience the country’s rich cultural heritage with visits to museums and galleries that showcase Switzerland’s art, history, and science.
After all, there’s more than one way to fall in love with a place as stunning as Switzerland. And I’m here to help you find it!
The Transport Museum in Lucerne is the most visited museum in the country, but there are many more museums to visit – yes, Switzerland is not only about stunning outdoor places.
The Foundation Beyeler in Basel is actually the most visited art museum in the country and is known to be one of the world’s best. Ernst and Hildy Beyeler gathered an art collection that is on display for people from all around the world.
Apart from a permanent collection, there are also contemporary art collections on display. So, even if you have visited Fondation Beyeler before, you might want to revisit it because there is always something new on display.
Lausanne has an interesting indoor museum about the Olympics – I am not into sports or the Olympics, but even I enjoyed my time in that museum. It is interactive and presents the history of the games very well.
If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, many museums (including the Olympic Museum) are included, and you do not need to pay any entrance fees. So, double-check before you pay!
Spa and Wellness Treatments
Discover Switzerland’s hidden gem: luxurious spas and thermal baths scattered throughout the country. From quaint villages to bustling cities, there are options for every type of traveler. If you’re looking to indulge in some rest and relaxation, look no further than the Zurich Thermal Baths & Spa.
I just recently visited the Zurich Thermal Baths & Spa. I was not allowed to take any pictures, but I promise you the views from the outdoor thermal pool were beautiful! But even the indoor pools are perfect after a cold day in December.
I mean really, really beautiful views! I could not believe it took me all the years to spoil myself with this visit. Ticket prices are actually not that high and start from around CHF 36. Much less expensive than I had expected. Check out prices here.
Fancy something more luxurious? Then visit the Tamina Therme in Bad Ragaz. The public thermal baths unite traditional spa culture with a modern range of saunas.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON A DECEMBER VACATION IN SWITZERLAND
In December, Switzerland transforms into a storybook tableau, with its landscapes wrapped in pristine snow and cities aglow with festive lights. It’s a time where tradition and modernity blend seamlessly, offering enchanting Christmas markets, world-class skiing, and tranquil spa retreats.
The month brims with the promise of warm memories, be it through exhilarating winter sports or the simple joy of a hot chocolate savored by a roaring fire. Switzerland in December is truly a mosaic of winter’s finest offerings, inviting all to indulge in its seasonal splendor.
Visiting Switzerland in December is an awe-inspiring experience. Whether you’re skiing down the slopes, taking a train ride through the snow-covered landscape, or enjoying some rest and relaxation at one of the country’s luxurious spas, Switzerland has something for everyone to enjoy in the month of December.
So don’t hesitate – take the plunge and explore all that this incredible country has to offer! You won’t regret it.