Packing List for Switzerland in Winter: December, January & February
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Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries in Central Europe, hence why you’ve decided you need a winter packing list for Switzerland. It is famous for its numerous lakes, pretty alpine villages, and the scenic peaks of the Alps. The high mountains contribute to a lot of visitors coming from all over the world to enjoy skiing and hiking no matter the time of the year.
Apart from the beautiful scenery, the country is also known for its wealth of cultural heritage. The Swiss watches are also famous all over the world, not forgetting the making of the most delicious chocolate too.
If you happen to be visiting Switzerland in winter then this is the perfect packing list for you. Read on to find what to wear in Switzerland in winter, weather overviews and a few sightseeing ideas.
When to Visit Switzerland: Weather and Seasons
On average, Switzerland’s climate may be considered moderate. However, the weather conditions vary in the different parts of the country. Since most of the country is covered with mountains, the season’s temperature may drop or rise depending on the altitude.
Spring in Switzerland (March, April, and May): Spring starts earlier in the southern part of Switzerland then the rest of the country follows. The average temperature is up to 9oC with Geneva and Zurich being the warmest cities. If you are visiting the mountainous areas, the temperature reaches above zero. Therefore, it is advisable to pack warm clothing if you are going to visit mountain regions and light clothes if you are visiting the other areas.
Summer in Switzerland (June, July, and August): Summer in Switzerland is humid and is hotter in the southern regions than the northern areas. The temperature is usually 32oC in the south part and 19 and 24oC in the north and central regions. To blend in with the locals and feel comfortable ensure you pack light clothes but don’t forget a light jacket for the chilly evenings. See the Summer Switzerland Packing List here.
Fall in Switzerland (September, October, and November): Fall in Switzerland is known to bring different weather conditions during its three months period. September is recorded to have the best weather conditions for sightseeing and hiking. The real fall starts in October with a moderate drop of temperature and wind. By November, the place is windier. Therefore, remember to pack some warm jackets and cardigans. Visit the Packing List for Switzerland in Fall here.
Winter in Switzerland (December, January, and February): Just like all other European countries, Switzerland is cold in the winter season. Nonetheless, the temperature depends on the altitude and location of the various regions. The southern part is about 4oC with the mountainous areas being the coldest with -10oC. Also, the northern region is between -1 and -4oC while the central region is about 0C. Since all the areas are usually covered with snow, be sure to pack all warm clothes with a pair or two of winter boots.
What to Wear in Switzerland in Winter?
How to Dress for Winter in Switzerland?
- 1-2x warm boots: Depending on how much suitcase room you have take 1-2 pairs on boots suitable for colder temperatures. To save space and luggage weight make sure you’re wearing one of these pairs during flights.
- 1 pair of sneakers: If you have some activities planned where your boots just wont do pack a pair of sneakers. If not, I’d recommend traveling with just the two pairs of boots, or 1 pair of boots and 1 pair of sneakers.
- 4-5 x socks – wash these in the sink
- 6-10 pairs of underwear
- 3-5 bras
- 1-2 x pairs of gloves: Switzerland gets quite cold in winter, especially if visiting the alpine villages so don’t let the heat escape through your fingers.
- 1-3 x Woolen hat / beanie
- Cardigan x 2
- 1-2 x jacket/ coats: Wear one of these on the flights if you’re tight on space / luggage weight. If you have the space pack two, but you’ll do just fine with one.
- Tops x 4-7: Longer sleeves to keep you warm. Remember you can hand wash these so if you’re tight on space / weight you can easily get by with only four tops if you want to travel light.
- dresses x 1-2: You can pair these with leggings or stockings, or alternatively ditch the dresses and add an extra 1-2 tops.
- Bottoms x 2-5: You’ll want long pants to keep yourself warm.
- Leggings x 1-2: If your susceptible to the cold consider packing long johns to wear under your pants as well.
- Stockings x 1-2: For under dresses if you pack some, pick warmer options.
- 1-2x Scarf
What to Pack for Switzerland in Winter: Other Items
- Pain killers – it might be for a stomach ache or headache.
- Anti-acid medicine
- First aid kit
- Prescribed medication – Remember to carry the prescription in case you need a refill or asked upon at the airport.
Makeup and Toiletries
- Toothbrush & toothpaste (travel-sized tube)
- Regular makeup kit and travel sized makeup bag
- Tissues (travel sized)
- Solid shampoo or travel-sized shampoo and conditioner
- Phone and charger
- Digital camera and lens – I use the Sony a6500 and 19mm f2.8 lens
- 2 or 3 8GB Memory cards– This will help you out in case one memory card fails or get lost
- International adapter – like this one
- Batteries and camera charger
- Portable battery (see this one) to charge a phone or the camera
- Suitcase: It is ideal since its easy to find things, something like this would do well.
- Backpack: Equally suitable for traveling in Switzerland, especially if you are not carrying a lot of things. This Osprey 55 litre is a great choice and will last for (Almost) ever.
- Belt/ Neck Wallet: It is safe for keeping your personal documents such as passport, credit card, or ID card as well as cash.
- Two bank cards – Carry a MasterCard and Visa since not all Swiss banks will accept your regular card
- Photocopies- To avoid being stranded without a passport, if the original gets stolen, have several photocopies made. Leave one copy with someone back home
- Luggage lock- It ensures your luggage is safe at all times.
Don’t Forget to Pack Travel Insurance: Switzerland Packing List for Winter
Travel insurance is essential on any trip and should be planned beforehand. Apart from taking care of any medical emergency that arises, it will also cover you from any loss of personal valuables. Although there are many travel agencies out there, I would recommend you choose the one which is straight forward when it comes to claiming.
Additionally, always consider the ones that cater to your needs and is fair to your budget. Visit the website here for more details and to see prices.
Packing List for Switzerland in Winter: Safety and Health
Switzerland is known to be one of the safest countries throughout Europe. However, since no place is 100% secure, visitors are advised to take care of their belongings such as phones, documents, and cash when on the move.
As for medical care in Switzerland, the country offers the best services in the world. In case of an emergency, every hospital you visit has an emergency department. Moreover, most hospitals accept a travel insurance card. If you are need of an ambulance, their ambulance services are always available 24/7. Note that, the number to call for the ambulance is 144.
Where to Stay In Switzerland in Winter
- Budget: Zurich is the most expensive city in Switzerland. Therefore if you are on a budget, it is good to compare hotel and dorm room prices. One of the cheapest dorm rooms is the SOS Budget Hotel. It is ideal for anyone using public transport as it’s located near a train station. Additionally, if you are need of cash, there is an ATM on the premises. The hotel also has free WIFI and breakfast included in their package.
- Mid-range: If you are more interested in having private rooms, the three stars Sorell Hotel Seidenhof is the one for you. The hotel is close to the train station and tram. Apart from that, attached to the hotel, is an Asian themed restaurant, and if you have time to relax, there is a massage salon available at an affordable price.
- Luxury: Since there are a variety of luxury hotels in Zurich to choose from, it’s hard to pick the best. However, my favorites are the Park Hyatt Zurich, which has classic decor and the Widder Hotel that is edgy and unique. In both hotels you will find a restaurant and bar, both have elegant baths, sauna and also treatment rooms.
- Budget: Favorable fair compared to Zurich hotel prices, the Downtown Hostel Interlaken is a suitable dorm room for backpackers who are on a budget. The hostel is located close to the Interlaken West Train station and is ideal for anyone using the train as a means of transport. Furthermore, the hostel provides its guests with lockers for keeping their belongings safe, a clean towel, as well as kitchen and laundry facilities.
- Mid-range: If you can afford a private room, the Hotel Central Continental is the one for you. It takes less than five minutes from the Interlaken West Train Station, making it ideal if you are using public transport. Apart from having a restaurant and bar, the hotel is situated on the banks of the Aare River, giving you a chance to enjoy a magnificent view when coming in and going out.
- Luxury: Being one of the more affordable 5-star hotels, the Lindner Grand Hotel is a great place to stay. If you have been able to spare some extra money, stay at the junior suite and enjoy the spectacular view of the Aare River, the cable car and mountain. There is also a pretty church close to the hotel which is visible from the suite’s sitting room. The hotel also has an elegant restaurant, swimming pool, sauna and beauty treatment room.
Popular Day Tours for Switzerland in Winter
- Jungfraujoch: visit Jungfraujoch, Europe’s most scenic mountain top with insane views– see prices here.
- Visit Grindelwald – a pretty alpine village in the Swiss mountains. See prices here.
- Explore Mt Pilatus by cogwheel train, cruise a lake and see the city from above on this day tour. See more details here.
- Interlaken and Grindelwald trip – visit adventure hub Interlaken and a pretty mountain village on the same day. You can see prices here.
- For tours of Zurich you have a couple of different options such as sightseeing by bike (see prices here), eBike (see details here) or segway (more details here). Each tour lasts for roughly three hours and visits the main city sights.
- To experience Jungfraujoch, the epic train ride to spectactular views from Zurich check out this tour.
- Interlaken is an amazing place to go paragliding, giving you superb views over the city and surrounding lakes. See the latest prices here.
- You can also do the Jungfraujoch train ride from Interlaken, its closer here (see prices here)
- Adventure in Interlaken: Interlaken is known as the adventure capital of Switzerland so there are a bunch of things you can do beyond paragliding, such as canyoning and this canyon swing experience. Just double check these are available for your dates as they may not be available all year round.