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What to expect if you're travelling to Switzerland this winter

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
What to expect if you're travelling to Switzerland this winter
There's plenty of snow in the Swiss Alps this December. Photo: Daniel Frank on Pexels

From Covid rules or recommendations and energy saving to skiing, here's what to expect if you're visiting Switzerland this December.


Covid restrictions?

This holiday season is the first one since 2020 with no travel restrictions or any other health-related rules - at least for now.

There had been talk at the beginning of the fall that Covid may re-emerge when the weather becomes colder (as it has now). But so far, the number of reported infections has been stable, no new dangerous variants are on the horizon, and most people have developed immunity to the virus either through vaccination or previous infection.

So no new Covid measures are planned at the moment.

However, not all is perfect on the public health front.

If you are planning to visit Switzerland, be aware that flu is spreading quickly through the country, with he number of infections rising “sharply” and now higher than at the same time in previous years.

“We are expecting a stronger flu wave," said Huldrych Günthard, an infectiologist at the University Hospital in Zurich, adding that doctors are expecting “above-average number of severe cases.”


While masks are not required on public transport, ski lifts, or at indoor venues at the moment, it would be a good idea to wear them in crowded places.

Masks (here in Lausanne) can protect against flu and other viruses. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

This is what else could await you in Switzerland this winter:

Possible power shortages

Officials have been hinting that the much-feared shortage of gas, which is used to generate electricity, is not going to happen Switzerland.

“For this winter, the risk of a gas shortage remains relatively low,” Economy Minister Guy Parmelin said in November, pointing out that Switzerland has enough reserves to withstand the energy crisis.

But "if a shortage should nevertheless occur, the Federal Council will regulate the electricity supply by means of time-limited measures in order to preserve the stability of the network and to secure the supply,” the government said. “Each level of measures aims to avoid more serious consequences, which would require more drastic measures." 

This means that you, along with everyone else, could be, literally, in the dark, even if temporarily.

READ MORE: ‘Restrictions and bans’: What to know about Switzerland’s new energy crisis plan

Regardless of whether there are power outages or not, you will still feel the energy crisis to some degree.

For instance, Christmas illuminations in the streets will be dimmer than usual (or not lit at all), and it may be cooler in your hotel room or rented accommodations to comply with federal guidelines.

READ MORE: What the Swiss government is asking you to do to save energy 

What about skiing?

If you are coming to Switzerland to ski or for other winter sports, you are in luck: there is abundant snow right now at medium and high altitudes.

That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that skiing passes are more expensive this year, as many mountain resorts are increasing their prices due to rising energy costs.

So far, a number of ski areas have already announced impending price hikes.

For instance, in the Bernese Oberland resorts of Adelboden-Lenk, Gstaad, Jungfrau, and Meiringen-Hasliberg, prices went up by 9.4 percent for adults.

In the Saas-Fee (VS) ski area multi-day passes have gone up by 5 percent. And In Riederalp, Bettmeralp, and Fiesch-Eggishorn, all located in the Aletsch glacier area of Valais, the price for a season ticket will increase from 777 to 850 francs.

A cable car of Glacier 3000 company above Les Diablerets. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

However, some areas — including Arosa-Lenzerheide (GR), Laax and Zermatt (VS), Engelberg-Titlis (LU), and Crans-Montana (VS) — have said they’d try not to increase their prices.

"With a price increase, we would lose our competitiveness against European ski resorts,” said Stefan Reichmuth, spokesperson for the Arosa Lenzerheide mountain railways. 

So if you choose your destination carefully, you may not have to dig deeper into your pockets this year. Plus, there are other ways to cut costs while skiing in Switzerland, as outlined here:

EXPLAINED: Six money-saving tips for skiing in Switzerland


What can you expect in terms of weather?

Long-term forecasts are difficult, but right now it is very cold, with temperatures dropping below the zero mark in much of the country. it even dipped below 27C on the Ofen Pass in Graubünden earlier this week. 

It's still a bit too early to know, however, how long these low temperatures will last, and whether we will have a white Christmas this year.

What else can you do in Switzerland in December?

If you get here before Christmas, you will likely be able to still visit some Christmas markets, which are abundant across the country, in big cities, small towns, and villages.

You can find them listed here. 



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