Nothing gets us all into the festive spirit better than Christmas markets. Let me share with you my thoughts on the fairytale Christmas in Switzerland after visiting its 3 unique cities – Lucerne, Zurich, and Basel.
Traveling to Switzerland
One of my favorite places to travel
Switzerland is one of my all-time favorite travel destinations in Europe (alongside with Greece, Spain, and Iceland). This country has impressed me so much during my first visit to Lucerne that I was seriously day-dreaming about making it my home one day.
It´s hard not to fall in love with Switzerland. This land is full of so many unique attributes: beautiful landscapes, friendly people, fresh mountain air, crystal clear water, local food and delicious cheese, general safety … I could talk forever about all the things I liked in Switzerland. It would be almost perfect, if only Switzerland was not one of the most expensive countries in Europe.
While I still have a plenty of experiences in Switzerland to cross out of my travel bucket list (like, Swiss Glacier Express, Zermatt, The Château de Chillon, or Interlaken), let me share with you three Swiss cities I visited in the past few years in search of the local Christmas spirit!
Visiting Swiss Christmas Markets
Generally speaking, Christmas markets in Switzerland reminded me a lot of the German Christmas markets. Sweet winter scents, wooden chalets, hot drinks, childhood melodies, handicraft gifts… but they definitely felt a bit more private and exclusive. Even if I try to compare, lets say Zurich with Cologne or Nuremberg – it still felt less significantly crowded (or at least it was my experience in the beginning of December).
Another personal feel about Switzerland and its Christmas decor is that everything in this country comes with a sophisticated tag. Comparing to New York (which I also enjoyed immensely for Christmas), local decorations in Zurich, Basel, or Lucerne felt way less commercial and much more traditional. Less is more is clearly a thing in Switzerland.
So in my experience, Swiss Christmas markets definitely had a unique atmosphere hard to put into words. While they reminded me a lot of the other European Christmas markets I visited, there was undeniably something truly unique about all of them.
Let´s discuss Zurich, Basel, and Lucerne one by one.
Fairytale Christmas in Switzerland: Top 3 Cities
Christmas Lucerne totally felt like a storybook destination.
The city is known for its beautiful lake with hundreds of swans and mountain landscapes with snow caps on the backdrop. Therefore Lucerne is a beautiful place to visit all year round, but for me it was a perfect spot to beginn enjoying the upcoming holiday season.
Christmas markets in Lucerne were cozy and serene. Nowhere was too overcrowded, yet there were enough visitors to perceive the festive atmosphere.
This is a huge plus, believe me: I’ve experienced the opposite during my trip to Christmas New York. All the decorations were extremely beautiful, but the city was flooded with tourists coming to check out the infamous Rockefeller tree, magical window displays, light shows, and ice skating rinks. Walking around was a nightmare. New York is always a busy city (during the fall season in the Big Apple as well), but with the Christmas holidays around the corner it was at its peak with tourists coming to visit!
But again – that´s me, for people who love the buzz, chilly atmosphere and loud holiday mood – Lucerne might not be the top pick. It´s more of a match if you want combine a Christmas mood with a romantic travel experience with your partner.
If you want to combine Christmas atmosphere with a diverse sightseeing plan – basing you trip in the Swiss city of Zurich will be a smart thing to do. To sum up my impressions of Zurich: there were more Christmas Markets, more things to do and see, and of course, more people around (still it was far less crowded than Vienna or Prague around the same dates). In one of the local markets we accidentally spotted a local children’s choir singing Christmas songs, which was extremely cute. I guess, I have even shared it on Twitter.
The decorations in the city center were extremely beautiful, even lavish at times, including a huge Swarovski Christmas tree at the Railway Station. By the way, make sure to check this Christmas Market at the Zurich Railway station – at one of the local food stands, I’ve had the best Apfelstrudel (or Apple strudel in English) in my entire life.
If I am completely honest with you – the city of Basel felt less picturesque than the first two Swiss cities on this post (or at least in my opinion). But don’t lose your wanderlust right away. Basel is still a beautiful place to enjoy Christmas in Switzerland.
Basel has a huge plus over the first two Swiss cites on this list. It has an extremely unique location, while being literally nestled in between Switzerland, France, and Germany. Not only can enjoy the Christmas markets in Basel, but also take a day trip to a magical Colmar in the French Province of Alsace or head to Germany´s Black forest.
Another thing I liked about Basel is that it was much more budget-friendly than Zurich or Lucerne for both food and accommodation.
As you have definitely figured out by now – Lucerne, Basel, and Zurich were all great cities to enjoy Christmas in Switzerland. Your top pick will really depend on your own travel preferences.
For me, Lucerne was the most magical experience due to its quietness and romantic setting. But I guess, at the same time, the most memorable trip for me was Basel, as I got to visit Colmar, Strasbourg and a few other unique places nearby.
This post is linked up with The Weekly Postcard