Traditional Christmas markets are a highlight of the holidays in Switzerland. Ranging from small, outdoor markets in tiny village squares to hundreds of market stalls spread out over bigger cities, Switzerland’s Christmas markets are a magical experience. Here’s how to see them.
Note that it’s also possible to take the stress out of planning and book an organized tour of all the best Christmas markets in Switzerland, departing from Zurich, Geneva, and Basel. Depending on the tour, it may include overnight stays, train tickets, and a guided or self-guided tour.
Zurich seems to have a Christmas market for everyone. Visit Zurich’s oldest market in the charming Old Town, stroll through the urban Wienachtsdorf on Sechseläutenplatz, or drink your mulled wine in the shadow of a 49-foot (15-meter) Christmas tree at the Christkindlmarkt at Zurich’s Main Train Station, one of the largest indoor Christmas markets in Europe. No matter which you choose, you’ll find vendors selling handcrafted trinkets, delicious pastries, gourmet chocolates, and, of course, mulled wine.
On the shores of Lake Geneva, Montreux Christmas Market features more than 150 decorated and illuminated chalets along Grand-Rue and the quays of Lake Geneva. Visit Santa Claus (who arrives direct from Lapland), as well as an authentic Christmas Village in Caux, and stroll through a medieval market where you can attend a story festival within the walls of the legendary Château de Chillon.
Held at the Waisenhausplatz and at Münsterplatz, the Christmas markets in Bern are devoted mostly to arts and crafts, as well as traditional market fare. Candles, gifts, and handmade souvenirs are all on hand, as well as restorative mulled wine and snacks.
The popular Basel Christmas markets at Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz are situated cozily along the banks of the Rhine where the well-preserved Old Town glows from Christmas lights, and shops glitter in the crisp winter evenings. All the usual items are for sale, but the ambiance is truly spectacular.
If you don't get enough of the Christmas markets in Switzerland, head across the border to Chamonix, which can make a great day trip from Geneva. Wander through dozens of wooden chalets peddling local handicrafts, spices, sweets and herbal teas and enjoy magical Christmas parades and shows, including the arrival of Santa Claus.