Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

The Swiss summer shouldn’t be slept on. With warm, Mediterranean temperatures creeping in from the south and cultural events kicking off across the mountains, summer in the Swiss Alps is an adventurer’s playground. From hiking trails across sun-drenched slopes to sampling the best Swiss wines, here’s why you shouldn’t dismiss Switzerland as a holiday destination during the summer months.

1. There’s no better place to hike and bike

Visitors go for a hike in the Swiss Alps.

Discovering the great outdoors is one of the best things to do in Switzerland in the summer.Photo credit: Burben / Shutterstock

You can easily get adventurous in the Alps over summer.

There’s more to a Swiss Alps vacation than skiing, thanks to moderate summer temperatures bringing ideal conditions to explore hiking trails or go on a bike ride. Check out the First Cliff Walk, an elevated walkway high above Grindelwald, treating intrepid explorers to breathtaking views across the Bernese Oberland. For family-friendly hiking trails, go to the Üetliberg above Zurich or in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, known for its many waterfalls that glisten in the summer sunshine. To get around faster, try E-bike tours that allow you to explore Switzerland’s undulating landscape, letting you zip between picturesque villages nestled beneath the Alpine peaks.

2. Cool off in Alpine waters

Visitors kayak near the Swiss Alps.

Kayaking in the Swiss Alps is a popular summer pastime.Photo credit: makasana photo / Shutterstock

Nothing’s more refreshing than a dip in the lake during a Swiss summer.

Not every Alpine excursion needs to be land-based, and when better than the summer months to cool off in the region’s blue lakes and rivers? The Staubbach Falls, Trümmelbach Falls, and Seerenbach Falls make for picture-perfect picnic spots, while Interlaken serves as a gateway for water-based adventures such as stand-up paddleboarding and boat rides. Fun, summer things to do include lake kayaking, white-water rafting, or simply savoring a quintessentially Swiss apéro on a sunset cruise. Thanks to its temperate climate, the Verzasca Valley, located in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, is another popular option for free swimming and sightseeing in Ticino.

3. Summer is Swiss wine time

A view of the Lavaux vineyard in the Swiss Alps.

The Lavaux vineyard is just one of many wine options in the Swiss Alps.Photo credit: Michal Ludwiczak / Shutterstock

The wine scene in Switzerland looks even better when it’s sunny.

One of Switzerland’s best-kept secrets is its wine scene. Across Valais, Vaud, Grisons, and Ticino, Alpine foothills are put to excellent use as vineyards, and beneath the summer sunshine, the produce blooms to its best. Add a wine tour to your Swiss Alps vacation itinerary—a great way to discover wineries in their rural settings. Options range from Montreux and Maienfeld, to Martigny and beyond.

4. Festivals flourish across the country

Cows on a walk during the Swiss Cow Parade.

The Swiss Cow Parade is one of many festivals held during summer in the Swiss Alps.Photo credit: ventdusud / Shutterstock

Switzerland in summer is a culture lover’s dream.

From the International Alphorn Festival, which kicks off in July, to the annual Swiss Cow Parade, which closes off the summer as the cows are brought home, there’s a wealth of cultural events to experience over the summer months in Switzerland.

Other highlights of a trip to Switzerland in summer include the Swiss Federal Yodeling Festival, the world’s largest yodeling festival that takes place every three years. The next one is set for Basel, in June 2026; the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival in July in Lake Geneva; and Swiss National Day every August 1 where celebrations take place across Switzerland. Then there’s Gauklerfest, a kid-friendly weekend of street performances, taking place at various times during the summer in medieval towns such as Interlaken and Lucerne.

5. Great views from Alpine railways

A train passes through the Swiss Alps.

Views from the Bernina Express are arguably better in summer.Photo credit: Leonid Andronov / Shutterstock

Summer scenery is (arguably) best seen from a train window.

Scenic railways are a great way to soak up Switzerland’s snow-capped peaks and valleys. The GoldenPass Panoramic Express whisks adventurers between Montreux and Lucerne—via Interlaken and Zweisimmen—and is better known as the gateway to Gstaad. To the south, the Glacier Express connects Zermatt and St. Moritz, traversing high viaducts and mountain passes along the way. From St. Moritz, the Bernina Railway cuts through the Engadin Alps, all the way to Tirano in Italy.

Insider tip: Holders of the Swiss Travel Pass enjoy included or discounted access to many rail services, plus several other Alpine attractions.

6. See how the Swiss do summer

Kids run around the Swiss Alps in the summertime.

Summer in the Swiss Alps is a great time to see how the Swiss celebrate the season.Photo credit: Tomsickova Tatyana / Shutterstock

Hint: it involves a lot of outdoor activities.

Swiss people don’t ski all the time. When the snow on Mont Blanc and other mountains melts, they find other ways to make the most of the Alpine landscape. Toboggan runs, cable cars, and high ropes are popular things to do in Switzerland in the summer, while those looking for less adrenaline-fueled adventure can try wellness retreats or outdoor art classes. Outdoor grills are the real staple of the Swiss summer, though, but if you’re only here once, don’t miss the opportunity to sample the famous fondue.

Related: The Fon-Do’s and Don’ts of Eating Fondue in Switzerland

7. Skiing is still possible

A ski lift in the Swiss Alps.

If you must, you can still hit snow-capped peaks during summer in Switzerland.Photo credit: NavinTar / Shutterstock

You don’t have to shuck off the snow boots just yet.

If your heart is set on skiing, there are options even at the height of summer in the Swiss Alps. High-altitude slopes such as Zermatt and Saas-Fee enjoy year-round snow, so you can book lessons or show off your chops on the easy, medium, and difficult runs of the Zermatt-Matterhorn Ski Paradise resort. Don’t miss Snowpark Zermatt, either—it’s one of the best places to visit in Switzerland in summer and is where world-leading freestylers and snowboarders get in their summer practice without the winter crowds.


By Lala