Switzerland holidays

Switzerland holidays

Deals from £276 per person

With Switzerland holidays you can discover the epitome of alpine beauty with the majestic Swiss Alps and ride the world-famous Glacier Express train. Nestled in the heart of Europe, it’s a dream destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. There’s charming historic cities for you to explore too. These include Lausanne and Montreux, on the shores of Lake Geneva, and Zurich overlooking its own lake. Geneva is home to many international organisations, including the UN, the Red Cross and CERN (where the world wide web was invented in 1989).

History & Culture:

On your Switzerland holiday, you’ll discover history and culture as diverse as the breathtaking landscapes. With a heritage deeply rooted in a blend of German, French, Italian and Romansh influences, the country boasts a rich tapestry of traditions, art and cuisine. From the historic Old Towns in Zurich and Lucerne to the celebrated Swiss watches and mouth-watering chocolate, you’ll experience a fascinating glimpse into a nation that seamlessly marries its past with its progressive present.

Things To Do:

In Geneva you can discover more about the international organisations based there. Take a look around the visitor centre at CERN. If you’re lucky you may also get the chance to go on a tour too - places are limited and there’s high demand. It’s also possible to visit the Palais des Nations, home to the UN. On selected dates there’s three tours per day, on other dates it’s closed to the public, so keep an eye on the UN Geneva website and book in advance. The International Red Cross Museum offers you a poignant journey through the history of humanitarianism, using immersive exhibits and interactive displays. Geneva isn’t just home to international organisations though - there’s the famous 140m water jet to see, botanical gardens to explore, boat trips to join and interesting sculptures and architecture to look out for. 

Montreux gives you the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities. Stroll along the flower-lined promenade, admire the stunning scenery and explore the charming Chillon Castle, with its fairytale appearance. If you're feeling adventurous take the cog railway up to Rochers-de-Naye. In summer this transports you up to hiking trails with altitudes of up to 2,000m, boasting some of the best views you’ll have ever seen. As the temperature drops in autumn the area is transformed into a winter ski resort.

Basel is a haven for art lovers, with world-class museums like the Fondation Beyeler and the annual Art Basel every June. The charming Old Town with its well-preserved architecture is perfect for a leisurely stroll. Zurich, Switzerland's largest city, is a financial and cultural hub. Here, history lovers can explore the Swiss National Museum and football fanatics won't want to miss out on a trip to the FIFA Museum.

Places To Stay:

For a luxury stay in Switzerland you may choose to stay at the 5 star Hotel D Angleterre Geneva. It offers a view of the Jet d’Eau and on clear days you may even be able to see Mont Blanc. Past guests have included Winston Churchill and Celine Dion. They also welcome Very Important Pets.

In a country where lower cost hotels are rare, B&B Hotel Zurich Airport Rumlang provides an exception. Thanks to the excellent transport links, staying in a hotel near the airport isn’t an issue. It’s 850m from the S-Bahn station, from where the train can whisk you into central Zurich in just 15 minutes.

Food and Drink:

Cheese lovers will already be familiar with Emmental and Gruyère, but there are 475 varieties made in Switzerland, so plenty of options for trying something new. If you’re visiting in winter you won’t want to miss out on sampling a fondue. Cheese is used in a number of Swiss favourites including as a topping for rösti (similar to a potato cake) and raclette (a heated cheese dish, typically served with potatoes and vegetables). 

Looking for lactose free options? Don’t worry the Swiss don’t add cheese to everything! Maybe you’ll choose polenta and braised beef, Zurich-style ragout of veal and mushroom or Papet Vaudois (leeks with potatoes and sausage).

If you like muesli for breakfast, then don’t miss out on the chance to try the original Swiss recipe on your Switzerland holiday. And of course, it’s not a question of whether you should try some Swiss chocolate, you must try some. Lindt may be a brand you see in the supermarket at home, but in Switzerland there are so many more varieties on sale. If you want high quality chocolate, but aren’t bothered about the price, visit the Sprüngli store in Zurich or any Läderach shop and choose from the gorgeous selection of individual chocolates out on display.


Luxury boutiques line Geneva's Rue du Rhône and Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse, making them havens for high-end shopping. There's the world-famous Swiss watches, exquisite jewellery, and top-tier fashion brands. With the high price tags you may prefer to window shop, rather than actually buy anything. In Montreux you'll find everything from local handicrafts to exquisite chocolates and wines. 


Map of Switzerland

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Switzerland experiences a diverse climate, with cooler temperatures and abundant snowfall in the Swiss Alps, while the lowland areas have a temperate climate with distinct seasons.

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1.5 - 2 hours
Fly to Basel, Bern, Geneva or Zurich

Switzerland is best for...

Discovering history: Chateau de Chillon (also known as Chillon Castle) boasts a rich history dating back to the 12th century. This stunning fortress, surrounded by the pristine waters of the lake, is one of Europe's most well-preserved waterfront castles. You can explore its labyrinthine halls, and discover the intriguing stories that have unfolded within its walls, all while enjoying breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps and the serene lake.

Experiencing music: The Montreux Jazz Festival is the second largest in the world. The city is also home to “Queen: The Studio Experience”, located in the building where they once recorded many of their albums. Before you leave, pose for a photo alongside the statue of Freddie Mercury on the promenade. You are also encouraged to write messages of support for the band and the Mercury Phoenix Trust charity on the external wall, so don’t forget your pen.

Scenic rail journeys: In a country full of spectacular lakes and mountains, there’s always something interesting to see from a Swiss train window. Some services are operated by lengthy double-decker formations, giving plenty of space and good vantage points. One tourist favourite is the Glacier Express. The name is actually a bit misleading, as it’s a slow train from Zermatt to St Moritz. But what it lacks in speed, it makes up for in stunning scenery, and to maximise your view the train has huge panoramic windows.

Fast facts for Switzerland

Language: French, German and Italian are all spoken in Switzerland. 

Currency: The currency used is the Swiss Franc (CHF).

Local time: Switzerland is one hour ahead of GMT/UK time. 

Fly to: The country’s main airports are Basel, Bern, Geneva and Zurich. There are year-round flights to Geneva from many UK airports, with additional options in the winter months.

Flight time from the UK: The flight time is around 1.5 - 2 hours.

Roaming: Switzerland is not part of the EU, so if your mobile operator offers any EU roaming deal, check whether or not it includes Switzerland. To prevent incurring roaming charges you might wish to download offline maps, allowing you to find your way around without needing to use any data.

Tourist Information: Further tourist information can be found at the official website for tourism in Switzerland.

Visa / health: Before you travel, please check the latest advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Getting around Switzerland

By bus and tram: Local bus and tram networks provide an easy way of getting around Swiss cities. Some services in Geneva cross the border into France, making it one of the few places in the world where you can cross an international border on a tram. 

By boat: As Lake Geneva is huge (73km in length) you’ll find both local and longer distance ferry services operating on it. In Geneva there’s Mouettes (yellow boats) shuttling across the bay. If you’re heading further afield the ferry provides an alternative way of getting from Lausanne to Chillon Castle, on the outskirts of Montreux.

By train: The Swiss rail system is renowned as being one of the most comprehensive and reliable railway networks in the world. You can use Swiss trains to get practically anywhere in the country. The Léman Express network, centred on Geneva, connects the city with towns and villages in the French Alps. Lausanne has a steeply-inclined Metro system, saving you from needing to make an uphill hike from the lake shores to the Old Town. It’s said to be the smallest city to have a metro system.

Events in Switzerland

Basel Carnival: (also known as "Fasnacht") This time-honoured tradition kicks off at precisely 4:00am on the Monday following Ash Wednesday (35 days before Easter). You'll experience the streets coming alive with elaborate parades, extravagant costumes, and the resonating sounds of piccolos and drums. 

Montreux Jazz Festival: Montreux plays host to the second largest jazz festival in the world every July. It started in the 1960s as a solely jazz event, but has diversified in recent years to include various genres of music. Past headliners have included Sting, Youssou N'Dour, Brian May, Tracy Chapman, Chaka Khan and Van Morrison.

Escalade: On 11 & 12 December Geneva hosts its annual festival to commemorate its victory against the Duke of Savoy's troops in 1602. Around 800 people parade through the city in traditional costumes. You can keep warm near a bonfire, while awaiting the smashing of the chocolate cauldrons to release a delicious range of tasty sweets.

Switzerland safety and security

For up-to-date advice on travelling to Switzerland, please visit the FCDO website.

Switzerland weather

Due to the mountainous landscape of Switzerland the weather can vary significantly from one place to another. In May you might think it’s warm enough to go out in just a t-shirt in Locarno as temperatures reach the low 20s. While in La Brévine snow is a possibility in any month from October to May. So always check the forecast for the place you’re actually going to, not somewhere else nearby.

When’s the best time to go?

That really depends on the purpose of your visit. If you’re going into the Swiss Alps for hiking or skiing you need to travel during the right season for the activity you want to do. Planning on visiting Geneva, Zurich or Basel for a city break? Expect warm weather from May to September and very cold weather in December and January. Switzerland is not a country with guaranteed sunshine. You can expect around 10 days of either rain or snow, during each month of the year.

Best hotels in Switzerland

Is Switzerland expensive?

As you might expect, a country famous for high quality watches, premium chocolates and a super efficient public transport system, isn’t going to be a budget destination. Switzerland is ranked as the most expensive country in Europe and one of the dearest destinations in the world. Even if you go for takeaway fast food from international chains, you’ll find the prices much higher than you’re used to. For example in 2023, a children’s Happy Meal from McDonald’s costs £3.59 in the UK and CHF7.40 in Switzerland (roughly £6.70).