The weather in Switzerland - everything you need to know

What is the weather like in Switzerland? It is as varied as the country itself. The Swiss Alpine massif plays an important role. But there are many other influencing factors that determine rain or shine. In this article you will learn everything you need to know about the weather in Switzerland.

The weather in Switzerland is a colorful bouquet of diverse seasons and local peculiarities. Often, at the end of summer, you hear the cynical saying, "This year, summer in Switzerland took place last Thursday." Fortunately, the reality looks much better The geographical location as well as the mountains are decisive factors for the multi-layered and changeable weather in Switzerland. The altitude of a place is particularly determinant of the weather. In some places the alpine winter does not end even in summer. In order to prepare you optimally for your trip, you will find insightful information about the weather in Switzerland here. Let this article surprise you, so that the climate does not become a surprise itself.

The four seasons in Switzerland

In Switzerland you will experience four completely different seasons. You can find out more in the following overview. How the weather behaves in the Alps is discussed in a separate chapter

Spring in Switzerland

Spring begins in March. Nature awakens from its winter sleep in a delicate green. You will encounter daytime temperatures around 15 °C, longer days with around 12 hours of daylight and changeable weather. From snowfall to sun-drenched days, everything is possible in spring.

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Summer in Switzerland

With June comes summer. Cornfields ripening in the sun bear witness to the warm season. You will encounter daytime temperatures around 25 °C, long days with over 15 h of daylight and stable weather. The long summer days and high temperatures invite to swimming and many other outdoor activities.

Cherry blossom in spring (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Martin Mägli)Cherry blossom in spring (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Martin Mägli)
Stand-up paddling in summer (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Dominik Baur)Stand-up paddling in summer (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Dominik Baur)

Autumn in Switzerland

Autumn begins in September. Falling leaves herald the grape harvest in red-gold vineyards. You encounter daytime temperatures around 15 °C, shorter days with around 11 h of daylight, and changeable weather. Autumn is characterized by the mild sunshine hours of the Indian summer and the wet, gray foggy days.

Winter in Switzerland

Winter begins in December. Snow-covered fir trees in a white dream landscape are part of the postcard picture of Switzerland. You encounter daytime temperatures around 5 °C, short days with around 9 h of daylight and rather stable weather. Minus temperatures and snow in the lowlands are increasingly the exception due to global warming. The situation is quite different at higher altitudes, where temperatures often drop well below the zero degree mark

Autumn (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Jan Geerk)Autumn (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Jan Geerk)
Winter (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Jan Geerk)Winter (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Jan Geerk)

The weather in the Alps

The Alps are a weather world of their own. Nowhere is the weather as unpredictable as here. The alpine massif forms the climatic dividing wall between north and south. In addition, you will find distinct local weather patterns on steep slopes and in valleys. The higher, the colder. This law of nature prolongs the cold season and aggravates the local climate. In addition, sudden weather changes are common and can be dangerous. That's why experienced climbers and hikers keep a respectful eye on alpine weather. When planning your excursion, the usual weather forecasts are part of the basic equipment. Good weather apps and the many live webcams are a valuable asset.

Matterhorn during thunderstorm (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Sylvia Michel)Matterhorn during thunderstorm (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Sylvia Michel)
Thunderstorm clouds (Photo: Pixabay)Thunderstorm clouds (Photo: Pixabay)

Temperatures in Switzerland

In the summer months of July and August, the average daily temperature ranges between 18 and 28 °C. In winter it varies between -2 and 7 °C. Temperatures around 15 °C sometimes climb to 20 °C and dominate both spring and autumn. The following rule of thumb applies: every 100 m upwards, there is a drop in temperature of about 1 °C. Thus, in high alpine locations, you will encounter thick layers of snow even in summer. North of the Alps it is cooler than in sunny Ticino. Southern slopes, wide valleys and lakes, on the other hand, receive more sun Thanks to these different temperatures, both fir and palm trees grow in Switzerland. The warmest areas include Lake Geneva, the Rhone Valley and the valleys in the south of Ticino. The coolest are naturally all places in the high mountains. Here you can find an overview of the temperatures as well as the precipitation of individual main places in Switzerland:

The average weather in Switzerland in January

CityMax. Temp (°C)Min. Temp (°C)Number of rainy days
Geneva5-19
Bern2-412
Zurich4-110
Basel4-313
Zermatt1-79
St. Moritz-2-119
Lugano715

The average weather in Switzerland in April

CityMax. Temp (°C)Min. Temp (°C)Number of rainy days
Geneva1548
Bern14413
Zurich15611
Basel16412
Zermatt11012
St. Moritz8-29
Lugano17810

The average weather in Switzerland in July

CityMax. Temp (°C)Min. Temp (°C)Number of rainy days
Geneva26147
Bern231313
Zurich251511
Basel261312
Zermatt21914
St. Moritz18714
Lugano28188

The average weather in Switzerland in October

CityMax. Temp (°C)Min. Temp (°C)Number of rainy days
Geneva1579
Bern13512
Zurich1589
Basel15611
Zermatt12210
St. Moritz909
Lugano17108

The bathing temperatures of the Swiss lakes and rivers

With well over 1000 lakes, countless rivers and streams, Switzerland is considered the water castle of Europe. It takes a maximum of 20 minutes by car to reach the nearest body of water. The bathing temperatures of the lakes average 20 °C in high summer. In the mountains you will find a fresh 17 °C and at lower altitudes it can reach 26 °C. Here is a list of 10 recommended lakes, including bathing temperatures:

  • Lake Constance: the important lake at the border triangle has a bathing temperature of 19 - 21 °C in summer
  • Lake Geneva: The mighty and picturesque lake has a bathing temperature of 21 - 23 °C in summer.
  • Lake Zurich: Urban bathing pleasure awaits you with a bathing temperature of 22 - 24 °C.
  • Lake Lugano: Here you will find southern flair in Ticino with a bathing temperature of 20 - 26 °C.
  • Lake Maggiore: The Mediterranean pearl in Ticino gets about 22 - 24 °C warm.
  • Lake Lucerne: The tourist highlight in the heart of Switzerland comes to a bathing temperature between 18 - 22 °C.
  • Lake Neuchâtel: The largest lake, which lies entirely on Swiss soil, has a bathing temperature of 21 - 25 °C
  • Lake Brienz and Lake Thun: In the enchanting lake landscape in front of an impressive mountain backdrop you bathe in between 18 - 22°C cool water.
  • Klöntalersee: The dream destination for hikers in the Glarnerland has a bathing temperature of 18 - 20°C.
  • Lake Oeschinen: In this deep blue glacier lake with a special charm you can swim in 17 - 19 °C cool water in summer
Lake Geneva (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Lorenz Richard)Lake Geneva (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Lorenz Richard)
Lake Oeschinen (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Lake Oeschinen (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Our watercourses also invite you for a cooling swim. Streams from the Rhine (315 km) to the Rhone (264 km), mountain rivers like the Verzasca (30 km) to countless streams. Water temperatures range around 13 °C, depending on altitude. In summer, the temperature can exceed 15 °C in places.

When is peak season in Switzerland?

There is no uniformly valid peak season in Switzerland because of the diverse climate. Increased bookings or prices are the rule in the mountain regions around Christmas time, in February and during the summer months. Some destinations are almost deserted in May or September. In Ticino, you can expect high prices and tight availability throughout June through October. The good news is that you can always visit Switzerland. Every season is suitable. So there is no such thing as the best time to travel to Switzerland, there is only your best time to travel. In our article The best time to visit Switzerland you will find information and tips on this topic.

Insightful information about the weather in Switzerland

We are happy to answer any other questions you may have about the weather in Switzerland below

When does it snow in Switzerland?

At some altitudes, snow lasts for more than half a year. In the central lowlands, on the other hand, you only see it for a few weeks. Due to global warming, the white periods are becoming increasingly shorter. When the first snow falls, winter has definitely arrived for many. Here are the average results of selected places according to the measurement results of the last 90 years

  • First snowfall in Geneva - mid-December
  • First snowfall in Bern - beginning of December
  • First snowfall in Zurich - end of November
  • First snowfall in Einsiedeln - beginning of November
  • First snowfall in Arosa - mid September
  • First snowfall in Lugano - end of December
Myths in winter (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Jan Geerk)Myths in winter (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Jan Geerk)
Mountain hut in winter (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Jan Geerk)Mountain hut in winter (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Jan Geerk)

Rain in Switzerland

The amount of precipitation varies greatly within Switzerland. Our Alpine regions get the bulk of it. Most of the rain falls in the northwestern Alps, as the clouds usually move in from the Atlantic. The wettest place in Switzerland, however, is the Säntis in eastern Switzerland The driest is the Rhone Valley in Valais. Here even southern fruits grow. Also very dry are some areas in the southeast of the Engadine In Switzerland, the rainiest period begins in late spring and lasts until summer. You will experience the most rainy days and the highest amount of precipitation in the merry month of May.

The hottest month in Switzerland

July may give you the most hours of sunshine, but continuous measurements over the last 70 years make it clear: August, with an average temperature of almost 23 °C, is the hottest month of the year. This summer month reaches peak values of over 35 °C.

The best Swiss weather apps

The complex and changeable weather in Switzerland requires the most accurate weather forecast and local weather monitoring possible. Good weather apps as well as the numerous live webcams are particularly well suited for this. Here you can find some helpful tips.

  • The Meteo Schweiz app of the official Swiss weather authority provides you with the desired weather forecast for all locations in Switzerland. You'll also find the latest readings, weather warnings and a weather blog. Zoomable maps and live tiles are also included
  • SRF Meteo, the weather app of Swiss Television, offers you current weather forecasts for Switzerland and Liechtenstein for free. This app is also iOS and Android compatible. You also get high-resolution panoramic images from live webcams. This app received the "Best of Swiss Apps" award
  • LANDI Wetter is the preferred weather app of Swiss farmers. So the app for full professionals when it comes to weather. You get everything your meteorologist heart desires: the current weather forecast, rain radar with precipitation forecast for the next 24 h, weather warnings (thunderstorms, black ice or storms), Swiss ski weather or bathing temperatures. This app definitely deserves a download.

You see, the weather in Switzerland is very diverse and varied. It's as colorful as our forests in autumn or our meadows in spring. No matter when you come, where you stay or what you want to do: The right weather will be found.

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