Unless you're a skier, you might be surprised to hear that Switzerland makes a great destination ANY time of the year, even in the Winter. While Summer offers the most comfortable temperatures, it can also be the most crowded, with Summer tourism affecting popular sites (but, of course, that's no different than in other places in Europe!). You may want to consider a trip in the Fall or Spring, when the cooler weather is crisp but pleasant -- and you'll encounter fewer crowds. Of course, Winter sports enthusiasts will love the colder months when they can enjoy Alpine activities.
And gluten free travelers will be thrilled to learn that travel agent Ellen Morse, who is Celiac herself and provides customized travel itineraries for gluten free travelers (as well as travelers without dietary restrictions), has recently created an itinerary for a 7-night trip to Switzerland. Please note: This is NOT a group tour. You can take this trip at any time you like and with whomever you like. The suggested itinerary, which Ellen can help you customize for your own specific interests, covers three perennial favorite spots: Zurich, Lucerne, and Interlaken. These towns will give you a true taste of Switzerland's beauty -- its lakes, forests, and mountains -- as well as the sophistication, charm, and history of its urban centers. You can create an itinerary that's perfect for you...perhaps one that blends city walking tours, museum visits and culture, nature, and shopping. And if you're gluten free, Ellen has you covered, having done all the necessary vetting of hotels and restaurants so YOU can relax and enjoy your vacation without all the legwork before or during your trip!
In fact, your toughest decision will be WHEN to visit. Here's a glimpse of Switzerland's highlights throughout the year...
November through March (Winter)
This season is somewhat contradictory. It's both the high season and the low season. Many resorts close around this time, but the ski slopes will be wide open with a number of tourists. Especially around Christmas, a lot of tourists head to Switzerland to experience the snowcapped mountains, the wonderful skiing, and the Christmas markets. Prices are relatively cheap in the winter months, except for the slopes, which is where most of the crowds will be. The winter offers ideal weather for winter sports with temperatures hovering around 41 - 50° F. If you're visiting at this time of year, head to Zibelemärit, the annual market in the old town of Bern, which takes place in late November.
Then, of course, there are the Christmas Festivities held nationwide in the month of December. Geneva and the nearby Valais Region are stunning during the winter. Zermatt and Saas-Fee offer beautiful skiing and snowboarding. This is also a great time to take a trip on the Gornergrat Railway or the Klein Matternhorn Cable Car to discover the most stunning views.
April through June (Spring)
The Springtime is a beautiful time to visit Switzerland for a number of reasons. The snowfall has started to melt, providing more bearable temperatures, but still allowing you to see Switzerland for the winter wonderland that it is. Additionally, the crowds from the ski slopes have thinned out, and the summer crowds have not yet started coming. Therefore, most accommodation and plane tickets are cheaper. The weather in Switzerland might be slightly chilly this time of year, but with cheaper rates, beautiful wildflowers blooming across the valleys, fewer tourists, and stunning views, visitors really enjoy visits in the Spring.
The weather offers average temperatures from 60 -74° F. Some highlights when visiting the area during these months are hiking, scenic train rides, the lakes (especially Lake Lugano, on the Italian-Swiss border), and some of the Festivals, such as the Artisti di strada in Ascona. Other events include the Primavera Concertistica in Locarno (April), Sechseläuten (Six O'Clock Chimes) in Zurich (April), Corpus Christi solemn processions in the Roman Catholic regions and towns (May), and Fête de Lausanne (June).
July through August (Summer)
July through August are ideal to visit in terms of weather. The summer months, however, are also considered peak tourist season, so therefore prices are at their highest. Travelers should book accommodations well in advance as accommodations fill up quick this time of year. Visitors flock to Switzerland because the weather is perfect and warm, with wildflowers growing all across the valleys. The snow thaws during this season, even in the higher passes, so you will be able to hike a larger area of trails.
Average temperatures this time of year are typically in the low 80s° F. Some highlights in the summer months are the beautiful and expansive hiking trails and outdoor adventures such as biking and paragliding. The summer also offers a variety of festivals like the Montreux International Jazz Festival (July), Züri Fäscht in Zurich (July), Fêtes de Genève in Geneva (August), Lucerne Festival (August), and the Zurich Street Parade (August).
September through October (Fall)
September and October offer another very beautiful time to visit, with the weather varying between fairly warm and mildly chilly. Vibrant fall colors take over the slopes (trees typically start to change color at the end of September). For visitors preferring to explore the Alpine nation with less shoulder-rubbing, these months are ideal, since it`s less crowded. Temperatures start to dip in September and October, averaging around 57 - 75° F. Snow will start to fall in the mountains, and days will get shorter. Some highlights in the autumn are hiking (although some trails may get snow covered) and harvest season in the vineyards. The higher passes and pass roads will start to close in October. This is a beautiful time to visit Interlaken, where you can see the stunning Jungfrau. This is also a popular time to visit Lake Brienz and Lake Thun for paragliding, or even swimming. There are all sorts of Autumn Festivals during these months.
You can discuss endless travel possibilities -- either to Switzerland or other destinations -- with Ellen by contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-337-9235. Ellen has many long-time gluten free clients for whom she has planned itineraries in virtually every area of the world. You can also visit her website at Gluten Free Travel-Us.