WHAT TO PACK FOR SWITZERLAND – PACKING LIST
Switzerland is known for its stunning natural beauty and scenic landscapes, which are some of the reasons why it is considered one of the most beautiful countries in the world. So, surely planning your Switzerland itinerary is a priority but while you might have to think about which places to visit in Switzerland, you will also need to plan what to pack.
There is a wide range of activities to enjoy, from hiking in the mountains, and spending days at the lakes to exploring the cities. The packing list will depend on the time of year you’re visiting and the activities you plan to do.
And of course, what kind of person you are – so, this is a general packing list for Switzerland and you adjust it very apparent to your needs.
Switzerland is very expensive – so, if you pack properly, you can save time and money.
FAQ: WHAT TO PACK FOR SWITZERLAND
So, the first part of the post is a general packing list. Then you will find a packing list for summer, fall, and spring, and then you will find an additional packing list for winter.
Of course, the weather is one of the most important factors for your packing list. So, what is the weather like in each season? First of all, here in Central Europe, we can never rely 100% on seasons, and the weather is not always what it is “supposed” to be.
Summer Weather in Switzerland: Summer in Switzerland (June to August) is mostly beautiful. From July to August the daytime temperature range is 18 to 28 °C (65° – 82° F) – however, rain is quite common in Switzerland. Unfortunately, I can say this with confidence.
Spring and Fall Weather in Switzerland: In spring and autumn, the daytime temperature ranges from 8 to 15 °C (46° – 59° F) and it is probably one of the best times for long hikes and city sightseeing. Rain is also common.
Winter Weather in Switzerland: Switzerland’s winter months are from December to March. Although the outdoor air has a definite chill, the ski slopes are primed for fun, and the scenery is particularly magnificent.
The trick to enjoying Switzerland during winter is to come prepared. Be advised that the average temperature can reach as low as -10° F (-23,33°C) in mountainous regions. You’ll want to have your packing list waxed if you want to enjoy Switzerland’s mountain views.
However, freezing temperatures and snow are not necessarily the rules in Switzerland, especially in the lowlands.
Actually, many ski resorts could hardly survive without artificial snow. But in general, there is snow – especially in the mountains and thus you should dress appropriately. Winter in Switzerland is considered both a high and low season for tourism, especially for those who love Christmas markets and shooting down the slopes.
Check out my post on the best time to visit Switzerland for more info on the different seasons.
BEST PACKING LIST FOR SWITZERLAND
Here are items that you will need in Switzerland regardless of the season.
Luggage for Switzerland
When packing for a trip to Switzerland, consider the season, activities planned, and duration of your trip. One of the many reasons I love Switzerland is the safety it provides, so you could bring your fancy suitcases without worrying.
However, if you are a backpacker you´ll find plenty of your equals in Switzerland. So, depending on how long your trip is, here are some luggage pieces to bring.
Suitcase: Though it depends, on where exactly and for how long you travel, I recommend taking a good, light, and quality suitcase with you where all your clothes and most of your toiletries fit in. Make sure it has four wheels to navigate you through.
Four-wheel luggage can be easily maneuvered in any direction, which makes it easier to navigate through crowded airports or busy streets. You can roll the luggage beside you, push it in front of you, or even pull it behind you. But also, The four wheels on spinner luggage offer more stability and balance than traditional two-wheel luggage.
This means that the luggage won’t tip over as easily, even when you’re walking on uneven surfaces or pulling it at an angle.
Carry-On: These days, I normally only have my carry-on and do not bring any suitcase with me. Packing light is something I try following more and a good carry-on is one of the most essential travel pieces I own.
Again, make sure it is a practical four-wheel luggage, which is convenient for travel – offering better maneuverability, stability, weight distribution, and versatility than traditional two-wheel luggage.
Check out this beautiful carry-on that I have been using for a few months now and has been a loyal companion. Whether I fly or road trip Switzerland, a carry-on is just super handy, lightweight and classic – making it my favorite luggage when I travel for longer than a few days.
Laundry bags for travel are bags designed to help you keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean clothes while you are on the go. They are an essential item if you want to keep your luggage organized and avoid mixing their clean and dirty clothes. They are great if you travel for longer.
Packing Cubes are must-items when it comes to traveling. Packing cubes are small, lightweight containers designed to help you organize and compartmentalize your luggage when traveling. They are typically made of fabric or mesh and come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit different types of luggage.
They are convenient, and they also come in cool colors. It seems there are two camps – you either hate them or love them! I love and highly them.
Crossbody bags: I love cross-body bags for the simple reason of hands-free convenience – meaning, I can take all the pictures I want while I do not have to worry about my bag.
Also, crossbody bags are typically worn close to the body, and while Switzerland is overall a very safe country it is also good to have your valuables close to you – especially in crowded areas.
Backpack: Alternatively, you might want to carry a handy backpack with you. Like the crossbody bag, it leaves your hands free to carry other items – especially your camera to take pictures of the beautiful surroundings.
Passport holder: This apparently does not apply to everyone, but if you visit Switzerland and have your passport with you (as a European citizen your ID is enough to travel with), then a passport holder is a good way, to protect one of the most valuables items you need for your Switzerland trip.
A passport holder can help keep your passport and other travel documents organized and in one place as many passport holders also include additional slots or pockets for credit cards, cash, and other important documents and they can help protect your passport from damage.
Light bag: A light bag, can be a convenient option for carrying items to the beach (or in the case of Switzerland, this means spending time at the lakes), you should also take a light and (ideally foldable) beach bag or a cotton bag instead.
What Clothes to Pack for Switzerland
When it comes to what clothes to pack, it, of course, depends on the season of your visit. While I highly suggest checking the weather forecast before you visit, here are a few clothing pieces you most likely will need.
HAT/CAP: Packing a hat or cap for the trip is a good idea because the weather in Switzerland can be unpredictable and vary greatly depending on the region and altitude.
In the summer months, the sun can be strong, especially at higher altitudes, and a hat or cap can provide shade and protect your face and head from sunburn. In the colder months, a hat can help keep you warm and protect your ears from the cold.
SUNGLASSES: If you’re visiting in the summer months, make sure to pack sunglasses. The sun can be strong, especially at higher altitudes. When it comes to sunglasses make sure to buy and pack high-quality ones – those that do protect your eyes properly from the sun.
SKIRTS/DRESSES: Packing skirts and dresses for a Switzerland trip can be a good idea if you plan to do activities that are not too strenuous, such as exploring cities or enjoying leisurely walks in the countryside. It is not only about hikes and outdoor sports – there may be opportunities to dress up and enjoy some of the more sophisticated aspects of Swiss culture, such as attending a concert or an art exhibit.
In the summer months, wearing skirts and dresses can be especially comfortable and cool, as they allow for more airflow and breathability compared to pants. Additionally, some parts of Switzerland, such as Geneva and Zurich and of course the Italian-speaking part of Ticino, are known for their fashion-forward culture, so if you plan to explore these areas, you may want to bring some dressier clothing options.
LINEN TROUSERS: Packing linen trousers for a Switzerland trip can be a good idea because linen is a lightweight and breathable fabric that can help keep you cool and comfortable in warmer weather. Switzerland can be quite warm in the summer months, especially in low-lying areas, and linen trousers can be a great alternative to heavier materials like denim.
They can also be a good choice for more formal or dressy occasions, as they have a more polished look than shorts or athletic pants. If you plan to attend a concert, a cultural event, or visit some of the more sophisticated areas of Switzerland, such as Geneva or Zurich, linen trousers can help you look stylish and feel comfortable at the same time.
However, one problem remains for which I have not found a solution: They do wrinkle easily and you need to have access to iron to still look great!
TOPS: The more the merrier in the case of tops! Packing tops for a Switzerland trip is essential because tops are versatile clothing items that can be layered and mixed and matched with different bottoms to create different outfits. Depending on the time of year you’re visiting Switzerland, you’ll want to pack a variety of tops that can accommodate different weather conditions.
SHORTS: Packing shorts for a Switzerland trip can be a good idea, especially if you’re visiting during the summer months, after all, your body needs to produce Vitamin D and the best way to do it is if the sun shines on your skin. Just make sure to use sunscreen on sunny days!
DENIM: Packing denim for a Switzerland trip can be a good idea for several reasons. The most important: They just look good! The second one: They keep you warm even if the sun is not out!
CARDIGANS AND JACKETS: Dressing in layers is one of the most important travel tips for Switzerland. The weather can be unpredictable, even during the summer months and cardigans and tops help you to not feel too warm or too cold.
FOOTWEAR: Packing the right footwear for a Switzerland trip is important, as you will likely be doing a lot of walking and exploring. Even if you pack light, you might most likely need more than one pair of shoes.
The most, most, most important tip is to bring shoes that are comfortable. Even if you do not plan to go on hiking trips, most of Switzerland´s villages, towns, and cities are old towns – meaning there are the cobbled-stoned streets that make the places extra charming but walking a bit more challenging. On top of that, many cities are hilly!
Here are some recommendations for footwear to pack
Comfortable walking shoes: You’ll likely be doing a lot of walking, so it’s important to pack comfortable shoes with good support. Sneakers or walking shoes are a good choice, as they provide cushioning and stability for your feet.
Hiking boots: If you plan to do any hiking or outdoor activities, it’s a good idea to pack hiking boots with good traction and ankle support. Switzerland has many scenic hiking trails, so having the proper footwear can make your experience much more enjoyable.
Sandals: If you’re visiting during the summer months, packing sandals can be a good idea for warmer weather. Look for sandals with good arch support and a comfortable footbed.
Dress shoes: If you plan to attend a formal event or dine at a fancy restaurant, it’s a good idea to pack dress shoes such as loafers or dressy flats. Make sure they are comfortable enough for walking, as you may need to walk to and from your destination.
Rain boots: Switzerland can be rainy, especially in the spring and fall months. Packing a pair of rain boots can help keep your feet dry in case of rain.
- In winter, you will need ski shoes – though my waterproof hiking boots do a good job and I can also wear them for winter hikes and winter sports.
LOUNGEWEAR: Nothing beats beautiful and comfy loungewear. These comfortable clothing options to wear while relaxing in your accommodations or during downtime on your trip. This can include items such as sweatpants, yoga pants, or comfortable leggings, as well as comfortable tops or hoodies. Also, I do wear my stylish loungewear also outside – this is the beauty of Switzerland, do as you like!
UNDERWEAR/SOCKS: That might go without saying but sometimes the most important things tend to be forgotten, so bring your underwear and socks.
SLEEPWEAR: Changing into pyjamas at the end of the day can help signal to your body that it’s time to rest and help you get a better night’s sleep.
What to Pack For Hiking in Switzerland
If you’re planning a hiking vacation in Switzerland, it’s important to pack the right gear and clothing to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Here are some recommendations for what to pack:
Hiking boots: Proper hiking boots are essential for a safe and comfortable hiking trip. Look for boots with good ankle support, sturdy soles, and waterproof material.
Hiking clothes: Pack comfortable and breathable clothes that are appropriate for hiking. Moisture-wicking fabrics are a good option to keep you dry and comfortable while hiking. Consider packing lightweight and quick-drying clothes that can be layered for changing weather conditions.
Daypack: A small backpack or daypack is essential for carrying water, snacks, and other essentials while hiking.
Water bottle: Staying hydrated is important while hiking, so pack a refillable water bottle or hydration system. You will find many water fountains, even in the mountains, that provide us with amazing fresh mountain water. There is no need to buy water bottles and pollute the environment any further – and it will also help your wallet.
Navigation tools: Make sure to bring a map, compass, and/or GPS device to navigate trails and ensure you stay on track.
Sun protection: Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect your skin and eyes from the sun.
First-aid kit: It’s important to be prepared for emergencies while hiking, so pack a basic first-aid kit with essentials such as bandages, antiseptic, and pain relievers.
Snacks: Pack snacks such as trail mix, energy bars, and fruit to keep your energy levels up while hiking.
Camera: Switzerland has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, so don’t forget to pack a camera to capture your hiking memories.
Hiking poles: Recently (okay about 2-3 years ago) I discovered hiking poles and it has been a game changer ever since. Hiking poles are good for hiking because they provide stability, reduce strain on the knees and other joints, and can help you maintain balance on uneven terrain. They can also increase your endurance and provide extra support when navigating steep inclines or descents.
Packing the right gear and clothing is important for a safe hiking vacation in Switzerland. Make sure to do your research and pack according to the difficulty level and length of the hikes you have planned.
Toiletries to Pack for Switzerland
If I travel for 10 days or shorter I take travel sizes toiletries which I refill with my natural and organic beauty products from home (shampoo, conditioner, hair masks, cleaning water, and cleansing milk).
Of course, you could buy toiletries here as well, but if you do not want to waste your time in drug stores or supermarkets (plus, these products are super expensive here in Switzerland- especially compared to Germany), use this checklist for Switzerland.
TSA-Approved Clear Travel Toiletry Bag (if you fly)
- Dental floss
- Body wash or soap
- Moisturizer or lotion
- Insect repellent
- Lip balm
- Hand sanitizer
- Face wash
- Facial moisturizer
- Eye cream
- Shaving cream or gel
- Hair styling products (e.g. hair gel, mousse, hairspray)
- Hairbrush or comb
- Contact lenses and solution (if applicable)
- Glasses and cleaning cloth (if applicable)
- Nail clippers and file
- Cotton swabs
- First-aid kit (including band-aids, antiseptic wipes, pain relief medication, etc.)
- Feminine hygiene products (if applicable)
- Prescription medications (if applicable)
Remember that if you’re flying, liquids must be in containers no larger than 100ml and packed in a clear, plastic, sealable bag. Also, some toiletries such as sunscreen and insect repellent may need to be reapplied frequently, so it’s a good idea to pack travel-sized containers.
What to Pack For a Day at the Lake in Switzerland
Switzerland might not have access to the ocean, but they have lakes. And lakes in Switzerland are top-notch and can easily compete with the beaches in Europe.
If you’re planning a day at the lake in Switzerland, here are some items you may want to consider bringing along, along with a brief explanation of why they’re useful:
Swimwear: This is obviously essential for swimming in the lake.
- I love kaftans and think it is best to wear them from the beach to the hotel room. Luckily, they look super cool these days.
Sunscreen: The sun can be strong in Switzerland, especially in the summer months, so be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
Sunglasses: Sunglasses will help protect your eyes from the bright sunlight reflecting off the water.
Hat: A hat will provide additional protection from the sun, especially for your face and neck.
Towel: You’ll need a towel to dry off after swimming and to lie on if you want to sunbathe on the beach.
Water bottle: Staying hydrated is important, so bring a reusable water bottle to refill throughout the day.
Snacks: Pack some snacks to keep you fueled throughout the day. Some options might include fruit, trail mix, energy bars, or sandwiches.
Picnic blanket: If you want to have a picnic by the lake, bring a blanket to sit on.
- Flip Flops are my must-have for the beach, aka lake days.
Waterproof phone case or camera: Though these days, many phones are waterproof, you might need an extra case if you’ want to take photos of the beautiful scenery, so bring a waterproof phone case or camera to protect your devices from water damage.
Insect repellent: Depending on the time of year and location, mosquitoes and other insects may be present, so bring some insect repellent to keep them at bay.
- Beach Bag: I recommend one of the cool beach bags, which are light, affordable, and stylish.
Change of clothes: It’s always a good idea to bring a change of clothes, just in case.
Remember to always follow the rules and regulations of the specific lake you’re visiting, and to respect the environment by properly disposing of any trash or litter.
Tech Stuff to Pack For Your Switzerland Vacation
Oh, how could it be any different!? Tech stuff is extremely expensive in Switzerland, so it is even more important to bring all your tech gear bebause you really do not want to buy it in Switzerland.
When it comes to tech items to bring to Switzerland, here are a few options to consider:
Smartphone: A smartphone can be incredibly useful for navigating around Switzerland, checking the weather, and staying in touch with family and friends back home. You can also use it as a camera, to access the internet, and to listen to music.
Camera: If you’re interested in photography, consider bringing a camera to capture the beautiful landscapes and cityscapes of Switzerland.
Power bank: It’s always a good idea to have a portable charger with you, especially if you plan to spend a lot of time exploring outdoors or away from electrical outlets.
Universal adapter: If you’re traveling from outside of Europe, you’ll need a universal adapter to charge your devices.
Laptop or tablet: If you need to work while you’re in Switzerland, or if you want to stream movies or shows in the evenings, consider bringing a laptop or tablet.
Headphones: Noise-cancelling headphones can be especially useful if you’re traveling on a plane or train and want to block out surrounding noise.
GPS device or maps: If you’re planning on doing a lot of driving, consider bringing a GPS device or printed maps to help you navigate.
E-reader: If you’re an avid reader, consider bringing an e-reader to save space in your luggage.
Remember to always be aware of your surroundings and to keep your valuables safe when traveling with tech items. You may also want to consider purchasing travel insurance that covers lost or stolen devices.
Random Things to Pack For Switzerland
It is a good idea to bring an umbrella or a raincoat to Switzerland because the weather in Switzerland can be unpredictable, and rain can occur at any time of the year. Even during the summer months, it’s not uncommon for short rain showers to occur. It’s always better to be prepared and have an umbrella or raincoat on hand to stay dry and comfortable during your trip.
- Guides – though you will find all kinds of information for your Switzerland trip on my blog, an actual offline travel guide for Switzerland might be helpful – providing information on the country’s history, culture, and customs. Especially if you are offline and want to do a bit of reading while you are doing the sightseeing. Check out the guides here.
- Credit Card and cash – Cash is king in Switzerland – even in the year 2023, however, most places accept credit card payments. So, bring your credit card, but also have some cash (Swiss Francs – CHF)
What to Pack for Switzerland in Winter
If you’re planning to travel to Switzerland during the winter months, the key is dressing in layers. The temperature can reach freezing levels, and yet the sun can be deceptively strong. You can work up a sweat on your adventures. Dressing in layers allows you to keep warm without compromising on comfort.
In the same breath, your items should be versatile in function. For example, pack a jacket that is both waterproof and warm. Also, comfortable walking shoes are essential. If your Switzerland itinerary takes you through snowy areas, then snowshoes – or at least very good hiking boots that are waterproof – are a must.
Everyday Attire Essentials For Switzerland In Winter
At the top of your packing list should be the following versatile, essential items. Using these items to dress in layers will keep you both stylish and warm.
- Coat – Warm And Waterproof: A warm, waterproof jacket should be one of the very first items that 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.
- Hat: Science tells us that we lose up to 10% of our body heat through our heads, meaning that it’s essential to keep this area warm. A knitted beanie is a perfect solution for keeping the warmth in while you venture out. A hat will keep you toasty warm whether you’re on the slopes, sipping coffee, or exploring the sights.
- Gloves: Have you ever tried to use your phone with frozen fingers? It’s a nearly impossible task. A pair of gloves can do wonders for your mobility, dexterity, and comfort. This makes it one of the most important items on your Switzerland packing list. When selecting your options, it’s worth investing in a pair that can dry quickly and are touch-screen compatible.
- Scarf Or Turtleneck: A warm scarf and/or turtleneck sweater are key items for keeping your neck covered. Not only do these items keep you warm, but they also prevent you from getting ill (and thereby ruin the fun). A turtleneck sweater is perfect as a garment to wear underneath your jacket, while the scarf can be removed easily.
- Leggings: There’s a reason that almost every woman owns a pair of leggings. They are both comfortable and snug. 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.
- Socks: When it comes to packing socks for your Switzerland trip – the thicker the better. 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. If you plan on hitting the slopes at any stage, then you’ll want your socks to be extra-thick or padded for increased comfort.
- Thermals: A quality set of thermals is your key to enjoying the winter weather in Switzerland. They provide the extra layer of heat that will allow you to spend an extra hour on the slopes, or to pack fewer items on your road trip instead of excess clothing.
- Comfortable Walking Shoes: If you can only pack one pair of shoes, then make sure that they are a trusty pair of waterproof snowshoes. You’ll want your shoes to be as versatile as possible. Snowshoes allow you to enjoy a variety of activities while keeping your feet warm and dry.
One of the best top reasons to visit Switzerland during the winter months is winter sports opportunities. While most ski resorts will offer rental equipment, there are a few essentials to pack for yourself.
- Ski Jacket: When choosing the perfect ski jacket, you need to consider warmth, level of waterproofing, and freedom of movement. A jacket that is adjustable in fit seals effectively, and dries quickly is the perfect apparel for snowboarding, skiing, and other winter outdoor sports.
- Ski Pants: A trusty pair of insulated ski pants are the next essential item for all winter sports fans. Make sure that your choice of pants is breathable, warm, and waterproof. These details will keep you dry, warm, and comfortable on the slopes.
- Winter Protection: There are a few items that will make your winter vacation all the more comfortable. The last thing that you want is to be soaked on your first day, or get a migraine from snow blindness.
- Umbrella: Regardless of what time of year you visit Switzerland, it’s always a smart move to pack a foldable umbrella. The nifty item doesn’t take up too much space. It can be the difference between a leisurely stroll in the city streets and getting caught in a flu-inspired downpour.
- Chapstick: Visiting Switzerland in winter will most likely find you spending hours of fun on the snow-covered slopes. This can quickly dry out your lips and burn your skin. In this instance, you’re going to be grateful that you’ve packed your moisturizing stick of Chapstick.
- Sunglasses: The best days on the slopes are the ones accompanied by clear, sunny skies and good conditions. These circumstances also increase the glare of the sun on the white snow, making it close to unbearable for your eyes. A pair of polarized sunglasses or ski goggles can protect your eyes from the wind and bright light.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON PACKING FOR A SWITZERLAND TRIP
To avoid some costly shopping, it is important to have all essentials with you. Switzerland is such an amazing place with so many unique places to visit that you do not want to spend much time in malls to get clothes and items you forgot to bring.
Whether you visit in summer, fall, winter, or spring – with this Switzerland packing list you should be all set. If you are still looking at how to create an epic Switzerland itinerary, check out my post with suggestions on how to spend your time in Switzerland.
Happy travels and stay safe!