When to travel to Switzerland: weather and seasons
The Swiss climate is not as cold as people normally think, though the highest peaks of the Alps can get snow year-round. There are no extremes of hot and cold, so the country can be visited at any time of year. It’s basically the mountainous character of Switzerland that’s responsible for the spectacular differences in the climate of different regions.
The Alps act as a climatic divide running from east to west. Weather forecasts always distinguish between the north side of the Alps, southern Switzerland and the Engadine. The climate of the Alps and of the Jura uplands in the cooler months is mostly raw, rainy, or snowy, with frost occurring above 1,830 m (6,000 ft).
At lower levels in the Alpine valleys and on the central Swiss plateau, the temperature is moderate with no extremes of hot and cold, with an average yearly temperature of about 10°C. The temperature decreases about 2° C for every additional 300 m of elevation.
North of the Alps the Swiss climate is temperate but varies with altitude, wind exposure, and other factors; the average annual temperature is 9°C (48°F). In the higher Alpine regions temperatures tend to be low, while the lower land of the northern area has higher temperatures and warm summers. Generally, the areas to the west and north of the Alps have a cool, rainy climate, with winter averages near or below freezing and summer temperatures seldom above 21°C (70°F).
South of the Alps, the canton of Ticino has a warm, moist, Mediterranean climate, and frost is almost unknown. Spring arrives much quicker in Ticino than in the north, and it’s generally the sunniest part of the country.
Average temperatures throughout the year vary widely across the country; Lugano in the south enjoys long sunny days in the summer and temperatures in the upper 20s°C, while Alpine resorts such as Davos may fall as low as -11°C in the depths of winter.
From July to August the daytime temperature ranges from 18 to 27°C (64 to 81°F) and from January to February from -1 to 5°C (30 to 59°F).
In spring and autumn, the daytime temperature range is 8 to 15 °C (46 to 59°F). Spring is wet and cool, and April particularly is well known for fast and often changing weather conditions. If you’re on a walking tour of Switzerland, remember to wear comfortable shoes and weatherproof clothing! While eastern Switzerland and the Lowlands, with their blossoming orchards and lush green meadows, show themselves to best advantage in spring, in the summer visitors tend more towards seeking out the country’s numerous lakes and Alpine valleys.
Summer is warmer and drier with maximum temperatures up to 35°C (95°F). The temperature depends primarily on the elevation; the zero line (0°C or 32°F) may rise as high as 4000 meters above sea level (13125 feet). Summer lasts from about June to September, and although good for outdoor activities it is also the most crowded time for a holiday. June and July are when the alpine wildflowers are usually at their peak. Note that much of the summer rainfall is heavy and is often accompanied by severe thunderstorms, and evenings are quite cool, even in summertime.
Autumn: the temperature drops considerably in September or October, with the zero line around 2000 meter above sea level (6560 feet). The temperature may drop below 0°C throughout Switzerland, especially at night. Don’t forget to bring along a warm fleece, raincoat, waterproof boots and an umbrella, even in the height of summer, and likewise, sunglasses and suntan lotion even in the depths of winter.
Climate in Switzerland
Fahrenheit and centigrade, inches and millimetres, average values.
|Average High(deg F)||58.1||60.1||63.7||66.4||71.1||76.6||81.3||82.2||79.5||72.3||64.0||58.6||69.5|
|Average Low (deg F)||46.8||48.2||49.8||52.0||55.4||60.1||63.3||63.9||62.6||58.3||52.2||48.0||55.0|
|Average Monthly Precipitation (Inches)||4.3||4.4||2.7||2.5||1.5||0.8||0.2||0.2||1.0||3.1||4.5||4.3||2.5|
|Average High (deg C)||14.5||15.6||17.6||19.1||21.7||24.8||27.4||27.9||26.4||22.4||17.8||14.8||20.83|
|Average Low (deg C)||8.2||9.0||9.9||11.1||13.0||15.6||17.4||17.7||17.0||14.6||11.2||8.9||12.80|
|Average Monthly Precipitation (mm)||110.0||111.0||69.0||64.0||39.0||21.0||5.0||6.0||26.0||80.0||114.0||108.0||62.75|
|Average Relative Humidity (%)||80.0||78.0||71.0||69.0||66.0||66.0||63.0||61.0||67.0||72.0||77.0||79.0||70.75|
Our other Switzerland pages:
Useful facts, dates and links to help you plan your tour of Switzerland