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Expat Exchange - Best Places to Visit in Switzerland for Christmas Cheer
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Zug, Switzerland


Best Places to Visit in Switzerland for Christmas Cheer

By Joshua Wood, LPC

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Summary: Plan a day trip or weekend getaway to get some holiday cheer. This article highlights the best places to visit in Switzerland for Christmas cheer.

Switzerland transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, with its snow-capped mountains and charming towns adorned with festive decorations. For expats and digital nomads seeking to immerse themselves in the Christmas spirit, there are numerous places across the country that offer a magical experience. From traditional markets to enchanting light displays, here are some of the best destinations to visit in December.

Zurich

Zurich is a hub of holiday festivities, with several Christmas markets scattered throughout the city. The Christkindlimarkt at Zurich Hauptbahnhof, one of the largest indoor Christmas markets in Europe, is renowned for its 15-meter-tall Christmas tree bedecked with Swarovski crystals. Stroll through the market in early December to find unique gifts, handmade crafts, and an array of Swiss treats like raclette and Glühwein. The Singing Christmas Tree is another highlight, where choirs perform festive songs on a vertically arranged stage that resembles a Christmas tree.

We Recommend: Don't miss the opportunity to taste the luxurious hot chocolate and the famous Zurich Tirggel cookies, a traditional honey biscuit that is especially popular during the Christmas season.

Montreux

Montreux, nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva, hosts the Montreux Noël, a Christmas market renowned for its picturesque setting and diverse offerings. The market usually runs from late November to Christmas Eve, featuring over 150 decorated chalets selling artisanal products, festive foods, and warm beverages. The highlight is the Santa Claus' house on the Rochers-de-Naye mountain, accessible by a cogwheel train, offering breathtaking views and a chance to meet Father Christmas himself.

We Recommend: Be sure to try the traditional Swiss fondue and the Vin Chaud (mulled wine) while enjoying the panoramic views of Lake Geneva and the surrounding Alps.

Basel

Basel is known for hosting the largest Christmas market in Switzerland, which takes place in the historic Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz squares. The Basel Christmas Market, typically open from late November until December 23rd, is a must-visit for its festive atmosphere, beautifully decorated stands, and the giant Christmas tree designed by Johann Wanner, a world-renowned Christmas ornament designer. The market offers a variety of crafts, gifts, and culinary delights, including Basel Läckerli, a gingerbread-like biscuit.

We Recommend: Indulge in a bag of roasted chestnuts and a glass of Feuerzangenbowle, a traditional German alcoholic drink where a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and drips into mulled wine.

Bern

The medieval city of Bern becomes a fairy-tale setting during the holidays, with its Münsterplatz Christmas Market offering a more artisanal and intimate experience. The market is known for its high-quality handcrafted items and the Star Market in the Kleine Schanze, which is a newer addition with a focus on design and gastronomy. The markets usually run from the beginning of December until Christmas Eve, providing a perfect backdrop for holiday shopping and enjoyment.

We Recommend: Try the Berner Mandelbärli, a sweet almond treat shaped like a bear, which is a symbol of the city of Bern.

Lucerne

Lucerne's Franciscan Square turns into a charming Christmas market known as the Lozärner Wiehnachtsmärt. The market, typically held from early to late December, is smaller than others but offers a cozy and authentic atmosphere. Visitors can find a variety of handcrafted items, local specialties, and festive decorations. The nearby ice-skating rink adds to the winter charm, providing fun for all ages.

We Recommend: Warm up with a cup of homemade Glühwein and savor the delicious Magenbrot, a sweet, spiced Swiss gingerbread confection.

St. Gallen

St. Gallen, known as the "City of Stars," is illuminated by over 700 stars during the festive season, creating a magical ambiance. The St. Gallen Christmas Market, usually open from late November to December 24th, is set against the backdrop of the Abbey District, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The market offers a variety of regional specialties, handicrafts, and the opportunity to enjoy the festive lights that adorn the city's streets and buildings.

We Recommend: Don't leave without trying the Olma Bratwurst, a local sausage specialty, accompanied by a piece of Biber, a gingerbread-like pastry filled with almond paste.

Lausanne

Lausanne's Bô Noël is a unique Christmas market that combines tradition with modernity. Spread across several sites in the city, including Place Saint-François and Place de la Riponne, the market runs from late November to December 31st. It features design items, local products, and a variety of food stands. The market also includes a children's village and numerous cultural events, making it a festive experience for visitors of all ages.

We Recommend: Enjoy the Swiss fondue in the convivial atmosphere of the market's heated terraces, and don't miss the chance to taste the locally produced Lausanne Christmas beer.

Geneva

Geneva's Christmas market, the Marché International de Noël, takes place at the Parc des Bastions. Open from early December to just before Christmas, the market offers a wide range of international and local products, including crafts, jewelry, and festive foods. The park is also home to a large ice-skating rink and a traditional carousel, adding to the holiday cheer.

We Recommend: Sample the variety of international cuisines available at the market, and be sure to try the Geneva specialty, Longeole, a pork and fennel sausage.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


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