Are you wondering what to wear in Switzerland? When planning a trip to Switzerland, every traveler will debate about what to pack for the alpine destination. Whether you’re planning to hike in the mountains, explore city streets, or indulge in the luxury of a mountain resort town, this guide will help you determine the best attire for your Swiss adventure.
When it comes to hiking in the mountains, functionality is vital. Pack sturdy hiking boots, waterproof pants, and a warm jacket. Layering is also essential, as temperatures can change quickly at higher elevations. In the cities, it’s best to dress in a more casual and comfortable style but still be mindful of the weather.
Lightweight layers, a waterproof jacket, and comfortable walking shoes are essential. For those visiting fancy mountain resort towns, you may want to pack a few more formal or dressy outfits. However, it is always best to check the dress code of the specific location you will be visiting. With this guide and a little planning, you’ll have the perfect wardrobe for your Swiss adventure.
What Should You Wear In Switzerland?
We recommend everyone pack several staples for their trip to Switzerland. As most of the country lies in the mountains, you’ll want clothing that can handle mountain weather. One of the best ways to accomplish this is with quality layers.
This can be outdoor wear, such as a shell or down jacket, hiking footwear, and pants. Of course, this depends on your level of exertion. If you only have plans for leisurely hikes and sight-seeing a cozy sweater and rain jacket is the perfect outfit. Pair that with the right accessories and it can even look very fashionable.
It’s not all outerwear, though. Switzerland has some lovely cities and posh mountain resorts, so a nice outfit is always a good idea. Here a nice outfit can be made with a great-looking parka or trench coat.
Pair that with a dress, chinos, or even a suit. It all depends on your age, plans, and personal style. However, most days in the country are very relaxed, so pack practically. Of course, it all depends on your travel style and budget.
What’s The Weather Like in Switzerland?
Switzerland is a central European nation known for its natural beauty, dominated by two mountain ranges, the Alps and the Jura. The country has lakes and rivers of all sizes, forests, meadows, and stark massifs.
When it comes to weather in Switzerland, most visitors associate it with two types of weather – cold, snowy winters and warm, sunny summers. However, Switzerland has four distinct seasons and some weather variations.
Spring is the season of renewal, where blooming flowers and green grass cover the country. Summer brings warm and sunny weather, perfect for outdoor activities. Fall brings colorful leaves and crisp air, making it a great time for hiking and exploring. Winter is the time for skiing and snow sports, but also the coldest, with temperatures dropping to freezing levels.
It’s often said of the weather in Switzerland that you can receive all four seasons in just one day. It can be sunny and hot in the morning, but cold rain with a strong wind and perhaps even snow by noon. This is all pretty standard in the mountains, which dominates much of the country.
It’s essential to check the weather forecast and pack accordingly. With this guide, you’ll be prepared for the weather and climate in Switzerland, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable trip.
Seasons in Switzerland
|Spring||Spring in Switzerland can be a great time to visit Switzerland. Visitors will experience a mixture of everything from sunny days to blizzards. However, by late spring, many low-elevation hikes become accessible while the cities enjoy mild pleasant temperatures. Temperatures range from 8 to 15 °C. and afternoon storms become more common as spring progresses.|
|Summer||Summer in Switzerland can have varying weather, including sun, rain, and temperature changes. Summertime temperatures range from 18 to 28 °C (65°-82° F), with occasional heat waves reaching 30 °C (90+ °F). You can experience a wide range of temperatures, from warm days to below-freezing with high altitudes.|
|Fall||Fall weather in Switzerland can be unpredictable, with a mix of sunshine, clouds, fog, and rain. September is an excellent time to visit, with mostly sunny days and warm temperatures. Temps gradually decrease in October and November, with higher elevations below freezing. November is cold and damp in low areas, but many ski resorts start to open by the end of the month.|
|Winter||The mountain landscapes in Switzerland during winter are the iconic Alpine scenery many visitors imagine. However, the views can be obscured by clouds, fog, and snowstorms. In lower elevations, temperatures are above freezing, around 0-5 °C, and rainy. In the mountains, daytime temperatures are at -6 to 0 °C but can drop much lower at night, during storms, and at higher elevations.|
Tips On What to Pack for Switzerland
- A lightweight hiking jacket or shell jacket is a staple that should be in every traveler’s luggage, no matter the season.
- Packing cubes are excellent at separating dirty clothes from clean clothes or wet from dry. Opt for a packing cube with mesh that will allow wet clothes to dry.
- The proper footwear, such as winter boots or hiking shoes, will make your trip much more comfortable.
- Train travel is reliable and sometimes the fastest way to travel around Switzerland. If you have plans to travel around via train, pack a suitcase that’s easy to get on and off trains.
- For a winter trip, you may want an oversized parka. The best tip is to wear the jacket on the plane to save space in your luggage.
- We love to pack wool base layers such as thermals, socks, and underwear to help fight off the cold.
- A good toque/hat and gloves are a great way to stay warm without much space.
- Sun protection is a good idea in the summer, so bring sunblock, sunglasses, and possibly UPF clothing.
- Remember that Switzerland isn’t the end of the world, and if you forget something, it’s likely you’ll be able to find it in Iceland.
The Essential Documents To Pack
- Passport – This is obvious, but you won’t make it very far without a passport.
- Credit Cards – We always use several travel credit cards that offer purchase protection, rewards, and no foreign transaction fees.
- Visa – Make sure you have a visa if you need one. USA, U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand all receive a free 90-day visa on arrival to the Schengen Area.
- Driving License – If you plan to rent a car, you will need your driver’s license, plus it never hurts to have a second form of I.D.
- IDP – In addition to a driving license, a rental agency may require an IDP. However, this is super subjective to the rental agency. I’ve rented a car numerous times with and without it. We have a post about renting a car in Switzerland for more information.
What Luggage To Bring To Switzerland?
I have two bag recommendations for a trip to Switzerland or Europe. You can opt for a traditional hardshell suitcase with four wheels or a travel backpack.
Suitcases with four wheels are best as the ability to roll sideways down the aisle of a train, or a sidewalk makes life a lot easier. We prefer hardshell as it does a better job at protection and security. Our favorite hardshell suitcase is the Delsey Helium Aero 25″.
Travel backpacks are great for young backpackers, digital nomads, or minimalists! They are also great if you want to save on any checked bag fees your air carrier might charge you.
If paying for taxis or car rentals makes you hesitant, you’ll need to book accommodation near public transport or have a backpack. Our favorites are the Peak Design Travel Backpack and the NOMATIC Backpack but read about the best backpacks for Europe if you’d like to learn more.
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What To Wear In Switzerland
Before you pack clothes for Switzerland, you must determine what you’ll need for your trip. Travel plans have a significant impact on this. While the small country is not super diverse, activities and seasons have a lot of variances. As does budget and travel styles — a well-heeled traveler staying in resorts will have a much different packing list than a backpacker.
There are several staple items that I would recommend everyone bring for their trip to Switzerland. Pack functionality with clothes that can serve multiple purposes. Layers are essential in Switzerland, as the weather and temperatures can change a lot in one day. The right outfit and layers can handle just about any environment or climate.
Whether camping, hiking, skiing, sightseeing, or climbing, Switzerland has much to do with the great outdoors. You’ll likely need some outdoor gear that is well-suited for movement and offers protection from the elements.
If there is one article of clothing made for travel in the mountains, it’s the wool sweater. Sweaters can make a great travel outfit staple. They’re comfortable, stylish, and warm. It doesn’t matter the season either, as many parts of Switzerland remain cool year-round, and it’s a great mid-layer in the winter.
I have several sweaters, but my favorites are from organic materials like wool or Alpaca. It’s become my favorite travel souvenir, and I treasure my Scottish wool and Peruvian Alpaca sweaters. The one pictured above is from a boutique designer Walker Slater.
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Right after you pack your wool sweater, reach for a shell jacket. If we were taking bets, we’d make a substantial wager you’ll see some rain or wind during any trips to the mountains. A good shell jacket will help protect you from the elements.
We suggest a hard-shell hiking jacket for the outdoors/hiking. They are lightweight, durable, packable, waterproof, and windproof. Any rain jacket will do, but the top-dollar ones designed for the outdoors will hold up and help in inclement weather. They also do an exceptional job at blocking the wind, which can be unrelenting.
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A down jacket is an outdoor staple and can be worn every day in Switzerland. They’re warm and provide decent protection against wind. The jackets are lightweight by design and easy to pack in a backpack or suitcase.
We find they’re handy in the shoulder seasons around spring and fall. Summers are pretty mild in Switzerland, and unless you have plans for many high-alpine adventures, you likely won’t need the warmth of a down jacket. Nevertheless, it never hurts to have a packable down jacket with you.
Down Jacket Recommendations
Pack at least one hiking shirt that is quick, dry, and anti-microbial for Switzerland. This can be either a synthetic blend or a wool shirt. Staying dry is important when hiking in cold temperatures, as moisture will pull the heat away from your body. Plus, if your clothes get soaked, the shirt will dry overnight.
Synthetics are a bit cheaper and lighter, but they are made from plastic and contain chemicals. That being said, they offer exceptional performance. It’s up to your preference on the sleeve length, but long sleeves provide more protection. Our absolute favorite hiking shirts are the Outdoor Research Echo series. They make a hooded version that is light enough to be worn in the heat with total sun protection!
Our Hiking Shirt Recommendations
Technical Pants & Shorts
Technical pants like hiking pants are water-resistant and dry quickly, not to mention they’re comfortable on long walks. Traditionally these pants were pretty ugly, but now times are changing, and pants look similar to chinos or khakis. They’re a welcome addition to your Swiss packing list if you plan to spend some time hiking in the mountains.
We suggest the prAna Halle that rolls into capris for women and the men’s KUHL Renegade Rock Pants. They are both tremendous pairs of hiking pants at a reasonable price. These pants won’t hold up in truly heinous weather, but they look suitable for casual walks around town.
If pants aren’t your cup of tea, hiking shorts are easy to pack. We both prefer shorts as we like to move fast when hiking. These are also great for extended trips when visiting a hotel gym or running around town. I typically pack two pairs of shorts, one pair of jeans, and one pair of travel pants for any trip.
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Women’s Halle Pant
Men’s Renegade Pant
Classic Tee Shirt
A classic tee will never go out of style. We suggest sticking with solid colors like black, white, or grey. Hiking on a sunny day can be pretty warm, and we often shed layers. A classic cotton tee shirt is adequate if you have plans for casual hikes or walks around the village if you already have a few technical shirts.
However, a merino wool shirt is a worthy investment and one of the best pieces of travel clothes. Wools shirts stay fresh longer and do an excellent job at temperature management. I’ve tested a lot of wool shirts out, and my favorite for travel so far is from Unbound Merino.
We suggest you keep it simple when it comes to tees. No one needs a fancy designer tee as a base layer. Cameron prefers the grey as it’s super easy to stain the white ones. We love the quality and ease of ordering from Bombas if you’re after a classic cotton tee.
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Jeans are a fashion staple but aren’t the best packing or most comfortable travel pants. However, travelers have options such as DU/ER jeans. The organic cotton jeans look sharp, but a subtle blend of polyester and spandex allows the jeans to stretch and resist wrinkles.
Fit is exceptional, with a slim fit throughout the leg. You can comfortably wear the jeans on long travel days without any discomfort. Thanks to the synthetic blend, they’re great for lengthy trips as there is no need to wash the jeans.
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A nice outfit is a beautiful idea for those date nights and stylish mountain resorts. Women, we’ll appreciate a versatile dress. We recommend a classic dress like an exposed shoulder top, slip, maxi, or your favorite summer dress. It will likely be your most worn outfit when you want escape hiking clothes. Right now, my favorite summer dresses come from Salty Crush.
Men will look ridiculous wearing a T-shirt or a flannel to any one of the country’s fine dining restaurants. We suggest every man travels with at least one nice outfit that fits their style. Pair awesome travel pants from Western Rise or Bluffworks with a simple dress shirt, or go all out with a travel suit.
There are plenty of pools, hot springs, and hot tubs across Switzerland to enjoy. It would be a shame to miss out on a classic like Therme Vals. We recommend always packing at least one bathing suit in our suitcase no matter the trip. For women, one of the best brands for swimsuits we’ve found is Andie Swim. They make unique swimsuits that offer support and fit as nicely as they look.
Men can try out Quicksilver’s Amphibian shorts. The material looks like tough fabric, but they’re super lightweight and durable. Best of all, they look great and can be worn as regular shorts. Be careful with the inseam cut, though, as we’ve found it can be a bit long.
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It would be best to pack several pairs of sports/travel underwear. Generally, we’ll pack five to seven pairs of underwear for a typical trip. We recommend several pairs of underwear made from wool or synthetic material.
These materials are antimicrobial, so they stay fresh longer and can dry quickly overnight if you hand wash them. For women, it’s best not to wear your typical cheap cotton undies. Women’s hygiene is essential, so antimicrobial undies are a lifesaver when you’re active in the heat.
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We’ve learned to love our feet with a good pair of socks. You will want to keep your feet dry while walking around. Most importantly, wool socks stay fresh for several days as they have natural antimicrobial properties. We travel with several pairs of wool socks on any trip. Our recommendations for socks are Darn Tough, Smartwool, and REI Co-op.
Our Favorite Wool Socks
A stylish pair of sunglasses is an excellent addition to an outfit. Everyone owns at least one pair of sunglasses. However, it’s best to ensure they have UV protection for the health of your eyes.
We always travel with two pairs of sunglasses as we’re pretty active. A pair of Smith Optics for hiking and outdoor adventures and a couple of stylish sunglasses to wear at the beach or around town for the day. My stylish ones are Persol, and my Active ones are always the Smith Lowdowns.
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Hiking Shoes Or Boots
Pack shoes that best fit your everyday needs for hiking. A trail running shoe is perfect for most hikers as it is capable on and off the trail. That way, you get plenty of use out of your investment. Easy hikes are on well-maintained trails, so good hiking or running shoes are more than adequate.
However, there is a notable difference in the tread between running and hiking. If you have plans for many hikes, the grip from hiking or trail running shoes will be remarkedly better than those made for the gym or road. We recommend a well-cushioned trail running shoe for the most versatility.
There has been a long debate on whether you need high-top boots or low-cut shoes to protect your ankles. It would be best if you also were cognizant of your body’s health. Do you have previous injuries, or are you prone to ankle rolls? If you need extra support, do not hesitate to choose the best option for yourself. For most, these will be high-ankle boots.
We wear the right shoe depending on the conditions, whether a boot or shoe. For example, the stiff sole in boots helps carry weight on multi-day camping trips. We have a great post on what to wear hiking if you want to learn more.
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What Accessories to Pack for Switzerland
If you’re not going on an overnight backpacking adventure, a daypack should be more than enough to hold your belongings. No matter the hike, you will want a daypack to store your belongings. My daypack usually consists of a shell jacket, down jacket, hiking poles, snacks, water, gloves, chapstick, a buff, a camera, a first aid kit, navigation, and an emergency blanket.
While not everyone needs an alpine pack, the key to take away is to opt for the correct size pack. I love a versatile size around the 30L mark if you only have one pack. The size gives enough room for gear-heavy days, but it’s light enough for light short treks or walking around town. Of course, a nice backpack will do the job if you don’t have plans for extensive hikes. I can get around on almost any size day hike with a small 10L multi-sport vest.
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So much of the hiking in Switzerland is accessed by an extensive cable car system. However, most stop operating in the evening, which is a problem if you want to catch the evening light like us.
On more than one occasion, we found ourselves hiking down the valley after dark. So a headlamp for hiking is super handy. A great option is a rechargeable headlamp like the BioLite 330 or 150.
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A universal power adaptor is essential for any trip to Switzerland. We recommend picking up one before arriving at your destination. Once at your destination, finding one that is not overpriced or poor quality can be challenging.
Also, I never want to be searching for an adaptor when I have just come off a long travel day and need to plug in my computer. I want to have it with me and ready to go. We’ve tried a bund of adapters, but this one from Ceptics has to be our favorite in our travels. It has multiple plugs and USB ports. It also works as a surge protector.
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A Kindle is an essential travel accessory for travelers who love to read. As much as we love an actual book, they are too heavy and take up too much room in my suitcase. We recently upgraded to the Kindle Paperwhite and love it.
It’s small, has touchscreen functions, and has a backlight to read at night without a harsh glare. We can’t think of a better way to disconnect in the mountains than a good book.
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Grayl GeoPress Water Filter & Purifier
Regarding travel essentials, a travel water bottle is at the top of our list. And when it comes to water bottles, our favorite is the Grayl GeoPress purifier bottle. It saves money, reduces plastic waste, and ensures that our water is safe and free of viruses and other waterborne illnesses.
The Grayl bottle is not only practical but also innovative in design. A press-like system effectively filters out sediment, bacteria, and heavy metals, leaving only clean and safe water. Its wide-mouth top makes it easy to drink and fill, and its sleek design fits comfortably in any bag or backpack.
Yes, the water in Switzerland is excellent to drink from the tap. However, we would never recommend drinking water from a stream or pond due to alpine livestock without purification/filtration.
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It’s always a good idea to keep your toiletries organized and separated from your clothes. It almost feels like a toiletry bag is essential for any trip. Plus, it’s not uncommon to find small or cramped bathrooms in Switzerland.
If you are limited on counter space, buying a hanging toiletry bag is a great option. This bag style tends to have a better organization system with various sections for storage than the traditional option. We love the Peak Design Wash Pouch. It contains a hidden hook to hang and features terrific organization.
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We always pack a travel towel when we’re on the road. It’s one of the best travel essentials for international travel you can buy. They pack up small, antimicrobial, and lightweight, so they will save you from always needing a new towel or constantly washing yours.
A towel is necessary for backpackers as hostels often do not supply a towel. However, they’re also excellent for those not on a budget for excursions such as a waterfall hike, snorkeling, or beach days.
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You Need This To Travel in Switzerland!
We never travel without travel insurance with Heymondo. With all the risks of travel in a foreign country and insurance coverage, we never have to worry about a good health plan. Heymondo offers incredible flexibility and great plans!
You never know if the worse could happen while you’re abroad, and your insurance plan at home often will not cover medical emergencies abroad. Having the peace of mind that we have a good backup plan helps us sleep at night.