The Swiss know how to time things perfectly and, in many ways, our holidays that take you hiking and cycling around their array of adventure playgrounds are representative of that. With the Alps omnipresent, it only takes one topographical element to affect a hiking route or cycling trail. So the trekking timetable is pretty precise. When it comes to working out the best time to go to Switzerland, take a look at all our options below. We are always here to help you with the timing.
Best time to visit Switzerland for climate
The best time to go to Switzerland for cycling and hiking is between May and September, when temperatures range from 16C and 22C at their peak in July. Strangely, July is also the month with the highest rainfall, due to summer thunderstorms gathering strength over the mountains. So always pack raingear.
Best time to do the Tour du Mont Blanc
This tri-partite trek is one of the most magnificent multinational mergers you will come across. The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB), Mont Blanc Circuit or Il Giro del Monte Bianco, depending on which language you opt for in Switzerland, is a 170km circumnavigation of the massif’s lower levels. As the dame blanche of European summits stretches across France, Switzerland and Italy, Switzerland is just one part of this adventurous sandwich. Our Tour du Mont Blanc tours are only available during summer months. If you choose to start the circuit in Les Houches, near Chamonix in France, they are bookable between June and September, but the Swiss tour, starting in Martigny, is only available between July and September. And be warned, they start booking up a year in advance sometimes.
Best time to walk Switzerland’s Way of St. James
If you want to saunter through the Swiss hills earlier in the year, the Way of St. James is open for travel between the end of March and the beginning of October. Which means plenty of spirituality and seasonality on this 440km trail between Lake Constance and Geneva. This is part of the European network of caminos all eventually leading to Santiago de Compostela, although Switzerland has wrapped up its section beautifully into a chocolate box version of heavenly bites.
Walk all of it in 21 days or take it on in sections: Lake Constance to Einsiedeln, between Einsiedeln to Interlaken or from Interlaken to Romont. The best time for walking Via Jacobi is between June and mid-September when the wildflowers are in bloom, and the weather is generally good. Earlier in the season, there may be some residual snow patches, but not enough for you to need any special equipment or skills.
Best time to cycle around Switzerland’s lakes
Mountains may dominate landscapes in Switzerland but the lakes are often the leading ladies. Lake Constance, known locally as Bodensee, is the best known of all its 1,500 lakes or so, and our cycling holiday around Lake Constance is available between April and September. This means that you tend to avoid the Föhn winds, which happen in early spring and late autumn. You also get the explosions of colour from the lakeshore’s many apple, cherry and pear trees, which start to shimmer around mid-April. The water is shimmering too by July, when lake temperatures go up to 20C, with the air temperatures hitting an average high of 24C.
Our Ticino Lakes and Valleys walking holiday is another aquatic arcadia, with Lake Lugano its most sought after mountain oasis. This trip is available between April and October. But the oscar for leading lady of the lakes goes to our walking holiday in the High Engadine Valley, also known as the Pearl of the Alps, interspersed with sapphires of St. Moritz, Silvaplana, Champfèrer and Silser lakes. As the Engadine is at higher elevations (1,000-1,600m) our trips here are only available for travel between late June and late September. It’s also best to avoid it around the end of August, when the annual National Park Bike Marathon is held for a couple of days.
For a longer season of lakeshore cycling, check out our Cycling in Switzerland’s chocolate region tour which takes in Lakes Sihlsee, Brunnen and Zug, as well as the larger lovelies, Lucerne and Zürich. This trip is open for travel between April and October, which may be too late for Easter some years, but chocolate shouldn’t just be for Easter.
Best time to cycle the Via Rhôna
This is a tough one because this new, long-distance cycling trail, following the Rhône River for 815km, from Lake Geneva in Switzerland to the Mediterranean (the last sections are still in progress) is a colossal journey through a mix of microclimates. The longest section possible at the moment is between Geneva and Orange in France, over 13 days, with other week long sections between Geneva and Lyon or Lyon to Orange. Our Via Rhôna cycling holidays are open for travel between the beginning of April and the end of October. So you can catch the lavender in Provence between mid-June and mid-July, grape harvests in the foothills of the Alps and also the Ardèche as well as all year round cultural events in cities like Geneva and Lyon.
Best time to go to Switzerland for wild flowers
Late May to early July is one of the best times to feast your eyes on flora in Switzerland. Strangely, the national flower of edelweiss is actually quite rare. However the meadows are glowing with buttercups, and the valleys and slopes are home to common spotted orchids, red globe flowers, pink alpenrose, purple mountain milkwort and silvery, shimmering cottongrass. Treat yourself to a botanist’s book on your hiking trips in Switzerland. You won’t regret it.
Best time to walk the High Passes of the Valais
The Valais canton, or region, in the south of the country, encapsulates every Swiss cliché you could think of and will stop you in your trekking tracks. With 41 mountains over 4,000m, in winter it looks like the peaks on a perfect Christmas cake. But in summer months, when these mountain landscapes between the Simplon and Grand St Bernard passes do their big reveal of flower-rich meadows, larch forests, emerald lakes and panoramic views, the Valais is verging on velvety.
Walk the complete section between Brig and Grimenz in ten days, or divide it up into either the east in six days or the west section in seven days. For cycling holidays, Switzerland’s High Passes are a definite lead-out. All of our Valais vacays are open for travel between June and September, and as Valais boasts over 300 days of sunshine a year, you will definitely need your sunscreen. You may also want to time your arrival or departure with one of the many cultural festivals the Valais is famous for, such as the 5 Continents in June and the SaasFeestival in July and August.
Best time to walk the Via Alpina and Bernese Oberland
The Bernese Oberland, also called the Bernese Highlands or Bernese Alps, is home to the most masterful of Switzerland’s mountains: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. You don’t have to summit to get it though, with our walking holidays in Switzerland’s central Alps following a section of the Via Alpina long-distance trail between Meiringen to Lenk. Spend a week between the end of June and mid-September walking up to exquisite elevations like Blüemlisalp or Grosse Scheidegg, the latter proffering views of the great peaks and blankets of wild flowers. You want to veer away from the Via in mid-July, when crowds pour in for the Eiger Ultra Trail for just a couple of days. Chat to our adventure specialists to book your itinerary around this big event.
Best time to walk the Jura Crest Trail
Some of our adventurers are surprised to hear that our walking holidays on the Jura Crest Trail open at the beginning of May, with our last bookings being taken for travel in early October. This is a relatively big wanderlust window but because the highest altitude on the trail is Dent de Vaulion at 1,483m, it’s more accessible than some of the alpine ones. This is Switzerland’s oldest long-distance trail, covering spectacular ridges such as Aiguilles de Baulmes and passes with infinitesimal sub-Alpine views. On one day alone you get up close and personal with five passes of Staffelegg, Bänkerjoch, Salhöhe, Schafmatt and Untere Hauenstein.
Conquer the Jura Crest Trail in 19 days, with the help of some trains and cable cars, or take on a smaller section between Weissenstein and Couvet. Temperatures can vary greatly however, so be prepared for several seasons in a day on this spectacular route. In April, snowy patches may still be hovering, but not enough for you to need special equipment or skills.