Switzerland has always been one of the most popular winter destinations in Europe, and this is especially true during the Christmas period. Almost every city square and shopping street is decorated with baubles and Christmas lights from late November, highlighting the incredible beauty of Swiss cities.
I’m fortunate to have travelled several times through Switzerland, often in winter, and in this guide, I share the best Christmas markets in Switzerland in 2023.
Best Christmas Markets in Switzerland 2023
Bear in mind that each Swiss city boasts at least one Christmas market, and frequently, multiple markets can be found within the same city. As a result, selecting the finest among them is an incredibly challenging and wholly subjective task.
On a personal note, I thoroughly enjoy exploring major cities for the vibrant ambience and the plethora of cultural and entertainment options at my disposal. In these cities, there is always an abundance of activities to engage in beyond the Christmas markets themselves.
However, if your schedule permits, I highly recommend venturing out to the quaint towns and villages scattered across Switzerland. These charming destinations offer a more serene and peaceful experience, providing a unique and refreshing perspective on the festive season.
Zurich Christmas Market – Zurich’s Christmas and Advent events can be found throughout the city, commencing in late November and continuing until New Year’s Eve, creating a festive atmosphere for all to enjoy.
The enchanting Christkindlimarkt takes place within the bustling confines of Zurich’s central train station, drawing in visitors with its captivating charm. Meanwhile, the traditional Christmas market nestled in Niederdorf is Zurich’s oldest, fondly referred to as the Village Christmas Market.
As you stroll down Mühlegasse, your senses will be delighted by the enticing aromas of cinnamon and mulled wine wafting through the air.
At Hirschenplatz, you’ll find a treasure trove of Christmas gifts and Swiss culinary delights waiting to be discovered.
Additionally, the area around Grossmünster is renowned for its delectable fondue stands and mouthwatering Swiss raclette, perfect for warming up in the crisp winter air.
Get more information on Christmas market dates, times and things to see in Zurich with my Zurich Christmas Market guide, updated for 2023.
If you would like to stay in a central location, book one of my recommended hotels near Zurich Christmas Market.
Basel Christmas Market – Basel, known as Switzerland’s cultural and Christmas epicentre, comes alive during the festive season. The Basel Christmas Market is spread across two primary squares in the Old Town, while the entire city is adorned with charming Christmas decorations and twinkling lights that create a magical atmosphere.
Two principal Christmas markets grace Basel’s Old Town, one in the picturesque Barfüsserplatz and the other in the historic Münsterplatz.
Standing proudly on Münsterplatz is Basel’s most stunning Christmas tree, adorned with exquisite ornaments crafted by the renowned decorator Johann Wanner.
As you explore the festive streets, keep an eye out for Swiss culinary specialties that are sure to delight your taste buds.
These delicacies include the traditional Basel Läckerli, a gingerbread-like treat, mouthwatering Swiss raclette, fluffy waffles, and the warming and spiced glühwein, perfect for savouring during those chilly winter evenings.
Bern Christmas Market – The Bern Christmas Market is a festive celebration that encompasses three primary markets and three smaller markets and events scattered throughout the city.
For a taste of tradition, make your way to the Waisenhausplatz Christmas Market, known for its classic charm. If you’re seeking a more intimate atmosphere, consider visiting the Christmas market set in front of the iconic Bern Minster. For an upscale, designer village-style experience, the Berner Sternenmarkt is the ideal destination.
Among Bern’s most beloved and picturesque Christmas markets is the one located in front of the stunning Bern Cathedral. As one of the largest festive events in the city, it exudes an inviting warmth and coziness that is hard to resist.
Another must-visit market in Bern is Chalet Alpenland. This lovely venue is the perfect setting to savour a light meal, indulge in a rich hot chocolate, or enjoy a cup of handcrafted mulled wine. All of the offerings originate from the city of Bern and its surrounding region, providing an authentic taste of local Swiss culture.
For full details including dates, locations and opening times, read my Bern Christmas Market guide for festive Advent markets in Bern.
Geneva Christmas Market – Christmas in Geneva is a captivating experience that can truly be defined as magical. The entire city transforms into a winter wonderland adorned with festive decorations, mesmerizing light displays, and a towering Christmas tree that serves as a stunning centrepiece.
One standout aspect of the market is the extensive variety of traditional Swiss food and beverages on offer. This gastronomic selection imbues the market with a distinctly Swiss atmosphere, setting it apart from the neighbouring German markets.
While exploring the market, be sure to set aside time for a memorable ride on the Grande Roue, an enchanting Ferris wheel that provides stunning views of the city.
Meanwhile, younger visitors will be delighted by the opportunity to enjoy pony rides and take a spin on the charming, vintage-style carousel, creating lasting memories of their festive adventures in Geneva.
Read my full guide to Geneva Christmas Market that provides an overview of what you can expect when visiting Geneva during the winter season, including Christmas market dates, opening times and how to make the most of your visit.
Swiss Christmas Markets
Switzerland has an abundance of charming Christmas markets beyond those previously mentioned, each offering a unique festive experience. Here are a few more noteworthy markets to consider.
For more Christmas travel inspiration for 2023, this guide to the best Christmas markets in Europe can help you decide where to go. Get an overview of each destination, local specialties, dates and locations.
- Lugano Christmas Market: Located in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland, Lugano’s market offers a Mediterranean twist on the traditional Christmas market, with local crafts, gourmet food, and a festive atmosphere.
- St Gallen Christmas Market: Situated in the historic Old Town, St Gallen’s market is known for its stunning illuminations and features unique gift ideas, delicious culinary treats and a cosy ambience. Known as the City of Stars during Advent due to the 700 stars illuminated across the city and at the Weihnachtsmarkt.
- Montreux Christmas Market: Set along the shores of Lake Geneva, Montreux’s market boasts over 160 decorated chalets, a Ferris wheel, and Santa’s workshop, making it a delightful experience for visitors of all ages.
- Lucerne Christmas Market: The picturesque city of Lucerne hosts several festive markets, including the traditional market at Franziskanerplatz and the more modern Design & Handmade Market, offering a variety of crafts, food, and entertainment.
- Rapperswil Christmas Market: This market in the medieval town of Rapperswil features over 200 stalls, a nativity scene, and a unique floating Christmas tree on Lake Zurich, creating a magical atmosphere.
- Lausanne Christmas Market: The Bô Noël market in Lausanne offers a charming festive experience, complete with traditional wooden chalets, artisan crafts, and delicious local cuisine. Don’t miss the chance to explore the market’s themed villages and skate on the ice rink at Place de l’Europe.
- Lauterbrunnen Christmas Market: While Lauterbrunnen itself does not host a large Christmas market, the nearby town of Interlaken offers a lovely market during the holiday season. The Interlaken Christmas Market features a range of local crafts, food, and entertainment, all set against the stunning backdrop of the Swiss Alps, and from there, you can take a day trip to beautiful Lauterbrunnen.
- Interlaken Christmas Market: Set in the heart of the Swiss Alps, the Interlaken Christmas Market offers a festive experience surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. Visitors can explore over 60 wooden chalets featuring local crafts, gifts, and culinary delights, while enjoying various entertainment options, including live music and children’s activities. The market’s magical atmosphere is further enhanced by the twinkling lights and impressive ice sculptures on display.
- Locarno Christmas Market: Locarno on Ice is a popular Christmas event that combines a traditional market with a beautiful ice-skating rink. Visitors can shop for unique gifts, indulge in local delicacies, and enjoy the festive atmosphere while surrounded by the picturesque Lake Maggiore and snow-capped mountains.
- Zermatt Christmas Market: Zermatt, famous for its iconic Matterhorn, holds an opening ceremony for lighting its Christmas Tree in its car-free village centre. This will take place on the 3rd December 2023 from 4:30pm to 6pm in the village centre. Some resorts in Zermatt hold mini Christmas markets, where you’ll find a variety of local crafts and Christmas snacks set against the breathtaking alpine landscape.
- Bremgarten Christmas Market: Bremgarten truly sparkles as Christmas descends, illuminating the city with twinkling lights and instilling a sense of warmth despite the winter chill. This Christmas market and Christchindlimärt, known locally as Weihnachtsmarkt, is in its 28th year.
Switzerland is a truly remarkable country with a rich history, fascinating customs and delicious cuisine. Regardless of which city you choose to explore, you’re sure to find a captivating Christmas market and plenty of memorable experiences.
Sustainable Winter Travel in Switzerland
Experience a sustainable Christmas in Switzerland by implementing some of these simple measures to create a positive impact on both the environment and local communities:
- Shop mindfully: Be conscious of your purchases while visiting Swiss Christmas markets. Focus on buying items you truly need or those that are meaningful and representative of the local culture.
- Walk, cycle, and use public transport: Switzerland boasts an efficient and well-connected public transportation system. Opt for walking, cycling, or using trains and buses to explore cities and towns while reducing your carbon footprint.
- Stay in a sustainable hotel: Choose accommodations in Switzerland that prioritize sustainability, such as eco-friendly hotels powered by renewable energy sources.
- Avoid plastic: Refrain from buying items made from or packaged in plastic. Look for eco-friendly alternatives and bring reusable bags, bottles, and containers during your trip.
- Eat locally sourced organic food: Switzerland offers a variety of delicious local and organic produce. Visit farmers’ markets, support local eateries, and savour Swiss culinary delights made from locally sourced ingredients.
- Limit meat and dairy consumption: Reducing your meat and dairy intake can significantly lessen your environmental impact. Switzerland provides ample plant-based and vegetarian options to enjoy during your visit, especially in the bigger Swiss cities.
- Be open to diverse cultures and experiences: Embrace the different cultures, languages, and traditions found throughout Switzerland, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the country’s rich heritage.
- Explore outside main tourist areas: Venture beyond the popular tourist spots and discover hidden gems in smaller Swiss towns and villages, spreading the benefits of tourism to less-visited areas.
- Support the arts and attend local events: Engage with the local Swiss art scene by attending concerts, plays, and exhibitions or by purchasing handmade crafts from local artisans.
- Avoid flying, if possible: Switzerland’s extensive rail network connects to numerous European destinations, offering a more eco-friendly alternative to air travel. Consider taking a train or bus to your destination, reducing your carbon emissions while enjoying the scenic journey.
The Christmas markets typically start on the 23rd November until the 24th December 2023, but this varies greatly between each market.
Switzerland’s largest cities generally have the best Christmas markets with the most diverse range of food and products available. Zurich, Basel and Geneva are three of the most popular.
The oldest Christmas market in Switzerland is in Basel at Münsterplatz. It has been used for festivals, parades, royal events and markets since medieval times.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research.