Whether you’re hitting the ski slopes or shopping for gifts at some of Europe’s most atmospheric Christmas markets, Switzerland makes a festive destination to spend the holidays. The Christmas season starts off on December 6th with St Nicklaus Day, when traditionally Samichlaus (the Swiss Santa Claus) and his sidekick Schmutzli, bring treats for the children, but the biggest celebration is on Christmas Eve when families gather for a spread of seasonal foods.
Held annually each December in Geneva, L’Escalade is a chocolate festival that has become famous the world over. Ostensibly organized to commemorate the defeat of an attack by the Duke of Savoy in the 17th, century, this five day celebration of cocoa, butter, sugar and eggs is hardly an exercise in solemn remembrance. L’Escalade is all about silliness (engaged in with a sense of European decorum, perhaps, but silliness nonetheless).
With over 100 Christmas trees flanking Europe’s longest street of Christmas illuminations and home to the Johann Wanner Christmas House, the world’s largest manufacturer of handmade Christmas decorations (and a favorite of none other than the Queen of England), it’s no surprise that Basel is a festive place to spend the holiday season. The city also hosts one of Switzerland’s most popular Christmas markets, held at Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz in the heart of the historic Old Town.
Perched on the eastern bank of Lake Geneva, on the cusp of the idyllic Swiss Riviera, Montreux is ideally situated for exploring the region’s many highlights. Whether you fancy indulging in a selection of Swiss cheese and wine, visiting Switzerland’s second largest city or cruising along the riverside, here are some of the best day trips from Montreux.
One of central Switzerland’s most photographed regions, the dreamy landscapes of the Bernese Oberland are so breathtaking they could have been photoshopped, so it’s no surprise that visitors flock to the area year round. From sailing the shimmering waters of Lake Thun to soaring to the Top of Europe at Jungfrau; these are some of the highlights of the Bernese Oberland.
From soaring to the Top of Europe at Jungfrau to braving the open-air cable car to the summit of Mount Stanserhorn, Switzerland has no shortage of mountain views, and here’s another superlative to tick off your list – the world’s steepest cog railway, running up the slopes of Mount Pilatus.