Switzerland is one of the best places to spend Christmas. With its picture perfect scenery and centuries old traditions, As the days get shorter, the Swiss employ all kinds of ways to bring warmth back into their lives, All kinds of Swiss Christmas and New Year’s events help brighten the festive season. Enjoy the best part of the Christmas season, twinkling lights, enticing aromas, Christmas music and a fairytale ambience: the festive season is particularly magical in Switzerland.
Switzerland has countless experiences to delight both young and old in the run-up to Christmas. Walking through the romantic main squares of Switzerland’s cities and towns, crisp, sometimes snowy air around you in the shadow of mediaeval churches, cinnamon scenting the air, embrace the romance and Christmas atmosphere, sample the sausages, biscuits and all manner of melted cheese, and taste with mulled wine.
Surprised by the delights of a European white Christmas, Switzerland is the ideal destination. Arrange skiing in the morning, visit Switzerland’s Christmas markets in the afternoon, and enjoy the light show on the bustling streets decorated with Christmas lights in the evening. Whether you’re wandering around a Christmas market, enjoying a mulled wine or fondue, finding inspiration in the decorated streets or whizzing around the ice rink: There’s a festivity in the air in Switzerland during Christmas time that visitors of all ages will enjoy.
Stroll through the city, marvel at the Christmas lights and festive decorations, listen to musical sounds and enjoy this magical atmosphere with a mulled wine in between. Discover the best part of the Christmas season, white Christmas with snowflakes, twinkling lights, mulled wine and indulgent confections heralding the wonder and carol singers wrapped up in woollen hats and scarves spring to mind.
Settle into an indulgent of revelry and shopping, stroll in the well-decorated high-end commercial streets of Swiss cities, or visit the winter-specific Christmas markets. Exquisite luxury goods, characteristic local snacks, or Christmas-themed souvenirs, there is something for everyone. Popular items include nativity scenes crafted from wood; handmade toys for the younger people on your shopping list; handmade beeswax candles; and plenty of sweet treats to take home, from gingerbread to chocolates.
Swiss cities are simply magically beautiful at Christmas time. Wander around the city, admire the Christmas lights and festive decorations, listen to the music and enjoy the magical atmosphere with a mulled wine: Swiss cities are enchanting at Christmas time. As the days get shorter, a host of light festivals bathe Swiss cities in a dazzling array of colour, transforming public spaces into fairytale worlds of twinkling lights. Artists give their imagination free rein, enchanting audiences around the country with spectacular sound and light animations.
Discover the best Christmas markets with mulled wine, Christmas music, twinkling lights and enticing aromas. Basel has been voted the most beautiful Christmas market in Europe, this pedestrianized city is a perfect destination for families. For a romantic Christmas getaway stay in Lucerne, its bridge is ranked among the best places for a marriage proposal in Europe. For a Christmas city break combining shopping, culture and comfort, choose Bern and for a winter holiday with a festive après-ski atmosphere, stay in Lausanne.
On the occasion of the Advent sparkle, Rheinfelden is ablaze with light. The town park with its mighty trees is transformed into a fairytale forest during this time. Light artist Tobias Degen illuminates the Storchennest and Obertorturm with changing subjects and the Rhine bridge and the adjacent island are also staged with various light installations.
Baden located at northwest of Zürich in the Limmat Valley, its mineral hot springs have been famed since at least the Roman era. The village of Baden is designated as part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites. A historical city with a very lively present, is worth a visit, not just because of the Grand Casino Baden. The old town, the Tagsatzung room in the city hall, the 1847 railway station and the building of the Stiftung Langmatt are listed as heritage sites of national significance.
With sparkling lights in all the alleys, Baden invites you to enjoy its winter magic in Baden exudes its Christmas atmosphere. The unique festive lights in the city centre and the three Christmas villages give the whole of Baden a magical feeling during the Christmas season. The Badener WunderDorf on the Theaterplatz enchants with its Christmas market and delicious street food. Several Christmas villages and festive events await you in Baden. Stroll through the city centre and immerse in the sea of lights and let yourself be enchanted .
Home to 40 museums, the city of culture for connoisseurs has the highest concentration of museums in the country. Basel is Switzerland’s oldest university city. Historic landmarks of the city include the large market square with its richly decorated red sandstone town hall and the late Romanesque-Gothic cathedral. During a walk through the old town, past small boutiques, antique book shops but also shops of modern designers.
Basel’s old town is always worth a visit. Even more so in the run-up to Christmas, when the city is transformed into a magical winter wonderland. Most Swiss towns are pretty much taken over by festive markets at this time of year and the atmosphere is incredible. Basel Christmas Market is the biggest and arguably the best around. Separated into two different sections at Barfusserplatz and Munsterplatz, it’s made up of nearly 200 fabulously decorated stalls selling Christmas spices, decorations and candles.
Stroll through the historic Old Town, past lovingly decorated houses and festively adorned shop windows, and you’ll be charmed by the care that Basel puts into celebrating the Christmas season. With 100 decorated Christmas trees, kilometres of fairy lights and festively decorated houses, the people of Basel know how to transform their city into a tantalising treat for the senses. Families will particularly enjoy the Christmas fairytale forest at Munsterplatz thanks to activities such as gingerbread and candle decorating, a star workshop and a festive train.
Bern is the capital of Switzerland. The old town of Bern managed to retain their historic features quite as successfully, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site The medieval air of this city with its many fountains, sandstone facades, narrow streets and historic towers is unique. The elevated Rose Garden above the Bear Park and the platform of the 101-metre-high cathedral tower offer the best views of the old town round which the River Aare flows. The 6 kilometres of arcades boasts on of the longest weather-sheltered shopping promenades in Europe. The boutiques, bars and cabaret stages of the old town, some of which are located in vaulted cellars, and the small street cafes attract locals as well as a lot of tourists.
A variety of Christmas markets, creative winter pop-ups, fairytale ice palaces and many more winter experiences besides: visitors and guests will enjoy a truly special festive season in Bern. Bern boasts several delightful Christmas markets, each with its own unique character: there’s the traditional market on Waisenhausplatz, the handicrafts market by Bern Minster and the trendy Sternenmarkt (star market) in Kleine Schanze, all of these are within walking distance of each other.
Biel / Bienne
Biel is the largest Swiss city in which German and French are equally spoken. The town of Biel lies at the eastern end of Lake Biel, at the foot of the Jura in the delightful Lake Region. Biel is a town of many facets. The modern part of the city with its high-rise buildings lies at lake level, the intact old town with its gothic town church stemming from the 15th century. The town has been an industrial and watchmaking heart of Switzerland since the 19th century. The town of Biel is a tradition-imbued watch metropolis in which this Swiss craft is still fostered. Swatch, Rolex, Omega, Tissot, Movado and Mikron are all located here. Biel has additionally also positioned itself in the field of other industries and in communication.
Every year in December the christmas houses in and next to Nidaugasse open daily for the traditional christmas market of Biel. Christmas music, a glittering sea of lights and the smell of gingerbread and mulled wine await visitors. The glassblower in the Nidaugasse is certainly a highlight.
Chur located on the right bank of the Rhine, is reputedly the oldest town of Switzerland. Chur charms visitors with its fine mountain setting, twisting alleys and historic buildings. Numerous boutiques, restaurants, bars, museums and galleries in the largely traffic-free Old Town create a Mediterranean-style atmosphere. Chur is the gateway to important trade routes and alpine passes, remains its 5000-year history, discover witnesses to the past and stories, documented by Early Stone Age and Bronze Age finds anc artifacts from the Roman period, as well as testimonies to more recent history.
The Christmas market of Chur in Graubünden is as rustic and magical as the historical Alpine city itself. Handmade crafts, home-baked festive treats and, of course, nutritious, freshly prepared barley soup are sure to delight all visitors at Christmastime.
Geneva is a well-known international city in Switzerland offers a urban nature, the city’s symbol is a fountain with a 140-metre-high water jet . Most of the large hotels and many restaurants are situated on the right-hand shore of the lake. The old town, the heart of Geneva with the shopping and business quarter, holds sway over the left-hand shore. It is dominated by St. Peter’s Cathedral, however the actual centre of the old town is the Place du Bourg-de-Four, which is the oldest square in the city. Quays, lakeside promenades, countless parks, lively side streets in the old town and elegant shops.
The Jardin Anglais in Geneva will be transformed into a magical winter wonderland. There’s plenty on offer for those who love Christmas: see what gift ideas you can discover on the craft stalls, sample traditional delicacies in the street food village and be enchanted by the railway and entertainment chalet.
Lausanne, the second-largest city on Lake Geneva, combines a dynamic commercial town with the locality of a holiday resort. The setting of Lausanne is extremely picturesque, the town is built on three hills, surrounded by vineyard-covered slopes, with Lake Geneva at its feet. Rising impressively from the opposing French lakeshore are the Savoy Alps. Lausanne is also a lively university and convention town. Sports and culture are given a high profile in the Olympic capital. Small alleyways with cafes and boutiques shape the streetscape in the medieval city centre.
Lausanne shows its most glorious side in the run-up to Christmas. A magical ambience awaits visitors at the various Christmas markets in the city centre, where the most beautiful live nativity scene in Switzerland and its moving performance await. A children’s village is set up for the youngest visitors, where they can play and listen to stories. Held each year since 2012, the “Lausanne Lumières Festival” illuminates this city on the shores of Lake Geneva with a stunning array of light installations. International and local artists alike create a festive atmosphere in the streets of Lausanne with their original works of light.
Lugano is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Switzerland. The city is home to a number of historic buildings and museums, whilst the surrounding area has many natural sights. Lugano lies in a bay on the northern side of Lake Lugano, surrounded by numerous mountains offering splendid viewpoints. The traffic-free historic town centre, the numerous buildings in Italianate Lombardy style, the exclusive museums, the mountains, lake and a packed calendar of events all invite visitors to see the sights, soak up the atmosphere. With Mediterranean flair, Lugano offers all the advantages of a world-class city, combined with the cachet of a small town.
Unforgettable moments in Switzerland’s southernmost city: with its festive lighting, beautifully decorated Christmas tree, lovingly displayed market stalls and the scent of cinnamon wafting through the alleyways, Lugano is sure to delight both young and old.
Lucerne, the gateway to central Switzerland, sited on Lake Lucerne, is embedded within an impressive mountainous panorama. Complete with gable paintings, the covered, medieval Chapel Bridge forms the centrepiece of Lucerne’s townscape and is considered to be one of the oldest, covered wooden bridges in Europe. A further landmark of the town is the Museggmauer, a wall which, with the exception only of one of its towers, has been preserved in its original, well-fortified state. Lucerne also offers a beautiful lakeside setting and the nearby excursion mountains of the Rigi, Pilatus and Stanserhorn.
The Olympic city of Lausanne with world-class Swiss food and wine , where more than 20,000 litres of Swiss mulled wine and 1.2 tonnes of cheese are consumed by visitors each December. During Advent, the whole of Lucerne is lit up as far as the eye can see. Glittering lights and city tours at Advent attract visitors to the city lit up in all its winter glory. A stroll around the sights of Lucerne is always a delight, but in January the experience becomes a truly magical one. Squares, sights and streets throughout the picturesque old town and along the shores of the lake are decked out with a myriad of lights.
The Lozärner Christmas market in Lucerne boasts the Franziskanerbrunnen fountain, which adorned with metre-high candles, twinkling lights and pine fronds is transformed into the largest Advent wreath in Central Switzerland. The concerts in the church of St. Maria and the unique nativity scene with life-size figurines are also worth seeing. On Place St-François, locals shop in a hangar-sized market while caroling along with festive concerts. At Bô Caveau, beneath the arches of Grand-Pont, the region’s winegrowers offer copious samples.
Tradition seeps in at Place Pépinet, where local designers marry medieval customs with muted luxury, while the Lausanne Lumières festival channels the spirit of a modern art gallery. Expect light sculptures from both up-and-coming and well-established artists. Here, for those who want a bit more than tradition, tourism chiefs have mapped out the perfect Christmas itinerary. The giant fir tree at La Palud, treasure hunts and igloos in which you can enjoy cheese, charcuterie and – surprisingly – iced platters of oysters. Then, the pièce de résistance is the Bô Quartier du Flon, where a giant geodesic snow globe shelters the Esplanade fountain and a union of bauble-lit restaurant terraces.
Located in the centre of a region named Riviera, Montreux has been an important tourist destination since the 19th century due to its mild climate. The region includes numerous Belle Époque palaces and hotels near the shores of Lake Geneva. From the lake to the mountains and vineyards, Montreux Riviera offers a postcard landscape. Montreux Riviera is especially rich in cultural events, including the unmissable Montreux Jazz Festival.
Yuletide markets in Lake Geneva’s resort town are almost an art form. From the shores of Lake Geneva to the surrounding mountains, Festive Montreux (Montreux Noël) offers a great many activities in conjunction with the traditional Christmas Market. Exploring the 150 bauble-lit chalet stalls at Hunter’s Place, which extends for more than a kilometre along Lake Geneva’s frigid shoreline on Quai Edouard-Jaccoud. Join the romance of the holiday season bursts to life, thanks to covered walkways and frontier-style Logger’s Cabin, the city’s post-work meeting place at the train station. Locals mix things up with pizza and so-called “logger’s tea” here, but the vibe quickly gets restored thanks to advent concerts and carols.
This fairy-tale Christmas market offers a traditional festive experience on the lakeside promenade of Montreux. Santa & His Flying Sleigh, another of Montreux’s highlights, is a mind-tricking spectacle which sees the man in the red suit somehow transport himself over the lakeside promenade in a whoosh of bells and reindeer brays. This is often the warm-up for a ride on the Santa Train, and can glide along the tracks in a cogwheel carriage to visit Father Christmas in his grotto at Rochers-de-Naye. Be mesmerised by even more festive highlights behind the walls of Chillon Castle, which is adorned with Christmas decorations.
The little mediaeval town of Murten, located on a small hillside overlooking Lake Murten. On the south-eastern shore of the lake of the same name has preserved its original appearance, with the picturesque lanes and alleys of the Old Town and the pleasant shady arcades. The town bordering German and French-speaking Switzerland also boasts a lovely lakeside promenade with a wide range of water sports and plenty of culture to discover, excursions and outings.
Murten welcomes in the new year with a sparkling array of light animations created by regional and international artists. The streets will be decked out with numerous colourful light installations for visitors to admire as they stroll around the city.
Olten is a town in the canton of Solothurn, lies between Solothurn and Aarau at the southern foot of the Jura on the river Aare. Olten’s railway station is within 30 minutes of Zürich, Basel, Bern, and Lucerne by train, and is a rail hub of Switzerland. Thanks to its central location in the Swiss Mittelland, the town is a popular venue for conventions and meetings.
With a combination of Christmas market and Advent magic, the first Olten Advent Village is being created in Olten’s city centre. There are many small, lovingly decorated chalets with vendors that change weekly. For the little ones, there is a Christmas carousel and an ice rink.
Schaffhausen is a town with historic roots, in the northernmost corner of Switzerland, in the “knee” of the Rhine in Eastern Switzerland on the border with Germany. The traffic-free Old Town of Schaffhausen is considered one of the prettiest in Switzerland, on account of its many oriel windows and lavishly painted facades. Many of the fine guildhouses and merchant’s houses date from Gothic and Baroque times. The old town has many fine Renaissance era buildings decorated with exterior frescos and sculpture, as well as the old Munot fortress.
For two days in December, the cloister of the Allerheiligen Monastery in Schaffhausen is the backdrop to a wonderful Christmas market. Visitors can amble from the cloister to the old town, past small yet exclusive market stalls and enjoy the romantic atmosphere of the run-up to Christmas.
Solothurn is regarded as the finest Baroque town in Switzerland, where Italian grandeur is combined with French charm and German practicality. The town got its name from Salodurum, a Roman-era settlement. The old town, shows an impressive array of Baroque architecture, combining Italian Grandezza, French style, and Swiss ideas, was built between 1530 and 1792. So-called “ambassador’s town”, it was then the seat of the French ambassador to Switzerland.
A variety of regional exhibitors present their creations at the Christmas market in the Capuchin monastery. Visitors are invited to enjoy and browse the wares on offer which range from culinary delicacies to handicrafts.
St.Gallen is a university town with a focus on the economic sciences. The compact metropolis of eastern Switzerland between Lake Constance and Appenzellerland has a charming, traffic-free old town. Colourfully-painted oriel windows are a town feature. The Abbey precinct with the cathedral and Abbey Library has been accorded UNESCO World Heritage listing. The home town of the renowned “Mummenschanz” theatre group offers a varied cultural offering with theatres and museums. In summer, the romantic art-nouveau Dreilinden-Weiher open-air pool with its splendid views over the town attracts visitors to swim.
Above the squares and streets of St. Gallen’s old town, 700 stars sparkle and bathe the historic facades of the UNESCO World Heritage site in seasonably festive splendor. The Christmas market in the winding alleys of the old town has something for everyone who loves Christmas – from St. Gallen artistic handicrafts to mouth-watering delicacies.
Thun is a town with its historic buildings, towering raised promenades steeped in history, the white castle on the Schlossberg and the fantastic views over the lake set against the backdrop of the imposing Bernese Alps. Thanks to its enormous diversity, the city of Thun is worth a visit at any time of the year: While the charming old town and the delightful river and lakeside promenade are bursting with life in the spring, cultural open-air events such as the popular Lake Thun Festival get everyone in the mood for a summer of fun.
In the run-up to Christmas, the Bälliz shopping promenade becomes a playground for young and old. Children can try their hand at candle making or enjoy a ride on the merry-go-round. Decorated market stalls make up the heart of the Thun Christmas Market. With panoramic views of the Alps, they offer pretty wood carvings, regional specialities and other treasures.
Winterthur is a service and high-tech industrial satellite city within Greater Zürich. Winterthur has blossomed from a former industrial town to a lively venue for all ethnic groups and types of culture. Being a city small enough to get around conveniently while also having a big-city atmosphere makes Winterthur a popular destination. Shops, restaurants, markets and festivals bring the charming Old Town to life and provide a meeting place for locals, visitors and businesspeople alike.
It is not just the Chlausenumzug that helps draw 350,000 visitors to the Neumarkt square in Winterthur each year – they also marvel at the beautifully decorated Christmas huts, the colourful gifts and the hundreds of Father Christmases.
Capital of the Swiss canton of Zug, a stylish town that values public art, and goes together with the town’s business world, which lends the pretty town a certain international flavour. Zug is a high quality of life, a view of the Rigi and Pilatus, and a jewel of a historic centre.
At the Advent Market in Zug, around 26 exhibitors have the opportunity to present their handmade products on site. Mulled wine and various delicacies are not to be missed during a visit.
Zurich is Switzerland’s centre of economic life and education. The cosmopolitan city by the water combines creative urban life with nature in all its glory. Zurich is abuzz with activity day and night with its countless events, diverse museums, food festival and Switzerland’s most vibrant nightlife. Zurich is a boutique city that offers all the modern amenities of a cosmopolitan metropolis, and has for years ranked among the world’s top cities in terms of quality of life.
Christmas markets, Advent concerts and Christmas shows: Zurich is simply enchanting at Christmastime. The whole city is bathed in warm light, there’s a scent of cinnamon and mulled wine in the air and Christmas melodies ring out everywhere. Sunday opening and night shopping provide the opportunity to splash out on gifts.
Zurich at Christmas is star-spangled and carnival-like. Here, the festive markets keep getting bigger and better, and the historic core fills out with half-timbered stalls and evergreen trees. Zurich boasts a great many magical Christmas markets, from culinary delicacies in the Christmas village at Bellevue to the festively decorated hall of the main railway station. The choirs that provide the perfect accompaniment at the oldest Christmas market in the romantic old town of Niederdorf are without doubt a special attraction in Zurich.
In particular, the Christkindlimarkt at the Main Train Station, located underneath the tinsel-wrapped arches of the main ticket hall, is a one-stop shop for that special Swiss Christmas feeling. Micro-chalets sell handmade toys, wooden puppets, glühwein (mulled wine) and gingerbread cookies as if it were still the 19th-century, and a showpiece tree sparkles with 7,000 dazzling Swarovski crystals.
One of Europe’s largest indoor markets, the Christkindlimarkt brims with some 140-odd stands, but never fails to deliver what locals really want at this time of year: melted cheese raclette, scraped onto pickles and potatoes. The city’s oldest Christmas market was however hidden away in the twisted alleys and cobblestone squares of the Niederdorf quarter of the Old Town. A stroll to Lake Zurich reveals Wienachtsdorf, the city’s Christmas village. Here the draw is a cluster of 100 stalls, spread like a stretched nativity scene beside the spectacular Opera House.
Every year at the end of November, things get a little magical on Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse: the Christmas lights are switched on during late-night shopping and shine throughout the entire Advent season. For several weeks, the inner courtyard of the National Museum will be transformed into a winter wonderland of light, illusion, music and culinary delights. The almost 30-minute light show featuring mysterious mythical creatures will enchant young and old alike. Food and drink will be available aplenty at the event, with catering options including an illuminated bar, restaurant and a broad range of different food stands.