Last Updated on 23rd December 2018 by Sophie Nadeau
During December, the smell of Glühwein and cinnamon is ever-present in the air. Wooden chalets line the streets while festive firs can be found in abundance. There is perhaps no time of year quite as magical to visit Switzerland. So whether you want a seaside escape or are looking to head to the mountains, here’s your guide to the best Switzerland Christmas Markets!
Though many people mistakenly believe that Bern is the capital of Switzerland, this is simply not the case. Instead, the Swiss Confederation (as it is officially known) doesn’t actually have a capital city and each of the twenty-six Cantons is self-governed.
Come winter, Bern is decorated with twinkling lights and plenty of festive firs. Some of the best markets in the city include those that are found in Bern’s two central squares; Munzterplatz and the Waisenhausplatz. Muntzerplatz is all about hand-crafted goods, while Wasienhausplatz offers the chance to sample plenty of local delicacies.
As the largest city in Switzerland, it should come as no surprise that Zurich has a whole host of stunning Christmas markets worth visiting. One of the largest indoor Christmas markets in Europe can be found in Zurich’s main central station, while a carousel, ice skating rink, and raclette chalet can be found in front of the imposing opera house.
Read more: Zurich Christmas Markets Guide
The art city of Switzerland can be found on the border with Germany and France. If you’re visiting here via its international airport, then be sure to enter the right country and from there, the bus ride to the city centre doesn’t take too long! Easy to visit all year ’round, Basel is also home to one of the best Switzerland Christmas Markets.
The festivities of Basel are focused around several spots around the city. While the market on the Kleine Schanze is the newest of all the markets, Bern’s market in Minster Square (i.e. around the city’s beautiful cathedral) is easily one of the prettiest festive events in Europe. Elsewhere in the city, the Waisenhausplatz offers fifty stalls vending warious wares.
Often said to be the oldest city in Switzerland, Chur is characterised by its car-free old town, many Swiss buildings, and as being the starting point for the impossibly beautiful train ride, the Bernina Express. In the winter time, a Christmas market can be found in the old town of the city.
Sprawling out onto the streets surrounding the station and beautiful cathedral, you can purchase Glühwein and all kinds of Swiss cheese and Christmas desserts. For one of the best views of the city (as well as the twinkling Christmas lights of Chur) be sure to head onto the rooftop terrace at the top of the MANOR department store.
Read more: How to visit Chur Christkindlimarkt
Situated in the South of Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Geneva (or Lac Leman as it is so-called in French) and not far from the pretty Swiss city of Lausanne, Montreux is in the French-speaking area of the country. Surrounded by the Alps and located lakeside, the Christmas Market of Montreux comprises of some one hundred and sixty chalets selling all kinds of souvenirs and local cuisine.
Located lakeside on the glittering shores of Lake Maggiore, Locarno may not be your first consideration when planning a winter visit to Switzerland. However, should you opt to book a trip there, you’ll soon discover that this summer resort has much to offer, even during the ‘low season’.
While in the town, be sure to make the hike up to the Sacro Monte Sanctuary (or at the very least take the funicular) and wander around the Borgo (old town). The Christmas market itself, while not the largest in Switzerland, is home to igloo bars, a large skating rink, and a few dozen chalets. Set against the beautiful Piazza Grande, the main town square is often said to be the most beautiful in Switzerland.
Read more: Locarno Christmas Market
Home to special festivities such as the largest Christmas tree in Switzerland, which twinkles with well over ten thousand fairy lights, no trip to Christmas Markets in Switzerland would be complete without at least considering a visit to St Gallen in the German-speaking North East of the country.
The festive fair itself stretches from the Waaghaus to the Market Square, under street all dressed up for Christmas. For those who are wishing to sample some traditional Christmas cookies, or simply want to sample some mulled wine (check out my Glühwein recipe here), St Gallen is the place to go.