Climate of Switzerland
Where is the country of Switzerland located? Switzerland is a mountainous Central European country. According to the Köppen system, Switzerland has no fewer than four climates. The highest areas have a high mountain climate (type EH), the medium-high areas a cold continental climate (Dfd) and the lower parts (northwest) a moderate continental climate (type Dfb). The extreme tip of Ticino (Lugano/Chiasso), which borders on Italy, has a Mediterranean climate or a warm maritime climate (type Cfa), with mild winters and warm summers.
Switzerland has an image of mountains and snow, which makes many people mistakenly think it is a cold country. In the winter months, the weather conditions in large parts of the country are predominantly wintry and cold, but in the spring the snow disappears in many places and the thermometers shoot up very quickly to pleasant temperatures.
Summer in Switzerland
The summer months in Switzerland are predominantly warm, with maximum temperatures averaging between 20 and 25 degrees throughout the summer. The higher mountain areas do not reach these temperatures and in some regions in Graubünden and Wallis the thermometers often remain between 10 and 15 degrees during the day. On the highest mountain peaks the temperature barely rises above freezing and there is eternal snow and ice. Under the influence of climate change, the number of square kilometers permanently covered with snow or ice has decreased by tens of percent over the past thirty years. In total, about two thousand square kilometers of Switzerland is covered with glaciers or eternal snow.
The area on the south side of the Alps, where places like Lugano, Locarno and Chiasso are located, even has a slightly Mediterranean character. Especially at the lakes you sometimes imagine yourself more at the Mediterranean Sea than in Switzerland.
In winter it is quite cold and gray in large parts of Switzerland. In the mountain areas above 2000-2500 meters it is regularly even very bleak. In the Alps and the Jura it freezes almost all day and there is quite a bit of snow. During strong depressions in the winter months, tens of centimeters of snow can fall in one day. The large winter sports areas in Switzerland are almost one hundred percent sure of snow from December to April. However, the snowfall can also make it unsafe for winter sports. If a thick layer of fresh snow falls on top of an old layer of snow, the risk of avalanches increases quickly and off-piste skiing in particular is very risky.
Switzerland is one of the wettest countries in Europe. Because depressions are pushed up against the mountains, they will eventually cause precipitation against the mountain walls. This precipitation is called rising rain and ensures the wet character of the Alps and Jura. Most precipitation falls on the mountain peaks of the Alps and to a lesser extent the Jura and the west and north sides of the Alps. The central, lower part of Switzerland is somewhat drier than the mountain areas because they absorb a large part of the showers. The wettest parts of Switzerland account for more than 2000 millimeters of precipitation per year, a reasonable part of which falls in the form of snow. On average, about 1100 to 1500 millimeters fall per year in Switzerland, spread over the whole year, with a slight peak in the summer months.
The figures below are based on long-term average climate statistics. The temperatures are displayed in degrees Celsius (°C).
|Maximum temperature||Minimum temperature||Hours of sunshine per day||Days of rainfall per month|
Best time to visit Switzerland
Do you want to know when is the best time to travel to Switzerland? You can determine the best time to travel to a destination based on the weather and climate. In addition, there are other factors that are not directly related to the weather and that can influence the best travel periods for a travel destination. Think, for example, of holidays or festive periods, which makes traveling more interesting or not, because daily life comes to a standstill as a result. The inner state of Switzerland is known for its neutrality within Europe, the fairly high prices, the high standard of living and the beautiful landscapes. The mountain landscapes of Switzerland are among the most beautiful in the world. It is not for nothing that the country can count on tourists all year round, who mainly come to enjoy nature in all kinds of ways. The weather is an important factor in this. It is therefore good to inform yourself in advance what kind of weather you can expect for Switzerland during certain travel periods. The weather in Switzerland mainly depends on the location. The mountains ensure that some areas are wetter due to rising rains, while other areas are drier because the mountains hold back rain areas. The altitude is very decisive for the temperatures and the type of precipitation that falls. As a rule, the higher you go, the cooler it is and the more likely it is that precipitation will fall in the form of snow. In the highest places in Switzerland there are even glaciers and eternal snow.
Most pleasant months
The general best time to travel to Switzerland is from May to September. The highest temperatures occur in July and August. Since the chance of thunderstorms is greater then, the period from May to the end of June is best for hiking in Switzerland or for other active activities in the open air. September is a good alternative to a sporty holiday in Switzerland. For whom summer weather is the most important, the months of July and August are just that little bit better. The maximum temperatures are then mainly around the summer value of 25 degrees. In the Alps it is mostly cooler, especially at higher altitudes. In Davos, which is 1600 meters above sea level, the maxima in the middle of summer average slightly below twenty degrees.
The Swiss cities are perfect for a city trip. The weather plays a less important role in a city trip, so that the best travel time covers a longer period: April to October. Winter is more gloomy, quite cool and there is a chance of wintry weather. These are not the best conditions for a city trip, unless you want to combine a visit to Geneva, Bern, Lausanne or Zurich with a winter sports holiday.
Winter Sports in Switzerland
Switzerland is one of the best countries in the world for winter sports. Here you will find hundreds of kilometers of slopes where you can ski or snowboard for months. The winter sports season usually starts in December, but you can already experience plenty of skiing fun in November in various ski areas. The season usually lasts until April. In the highest areas you can even do winter sports in the summer. The best time to travel for a winter sports holiday in Switzerland is the months of February and March. This is the snowiest period and the days are longer than in December and January. If you want to travel to Switzerland during spring break, you may have to deal with higher prices.