Find yourself in scenes that feel straight out of a holiday storybook.
WHEN YOU PICTURE A MAGICAL European Christmas, you likely picture charming holiday markets, sweet and savoury warm drinks, delightfully cosy food and snow-covered natural beauty.
Thankfully, Zurich offers all of these, and it’s one of our favourite Christmas holiday destinations. The city sparkles under its blanket of snow, with each neighbourhood draped in pretty decor and a host of festive activities to discover during the stunning Swiss winter.
Unlike most Christmas destinations, which celebrate only in December, Zurich offers extended holiday cheer from November to February at locales like Frau Gerolds Garten and the Magic Winter Village at the top of Uetliberg mountain. Vibrant decor, dazzling light displays, and seasonal events enchant visitors for the entire festive period.
Charming Christmas Markets
While the city has a host of enchanting Christmas markets, which are open from late November through late December, two famed markets truly capture, share and showcase Zurich’s yuletide spirit.
Main Station Christmas Market. The Christkindlimarkt, located in the Zurich Main Station, welcomes train travellers and visitors from around the world from Nov. 23 through Dec. 24. Wander through the indoor market — one of Europe’s largest indoor Christmas markets — to see an array of stalls with a sack of roasted chestnuts and a cup of mulled wine. Discover handmade and traditional decorations, unique gifts and seasonal treats.
Sechseläutenplatz Market. The Wiehnachtsdorf, on the big square in front of the Opera House, sits in a picturesque setting beside Lake Zurich and is the city’s largest Christmas market offering. This market, open from Nov. 23 through Dec. 23, focuses on artisan items, Christmas decor and neverending stalls selling delicious seasonal treats.
Indulgent Cheese Fondue and Raclette
Though the quintessential Swiss culinary delights fondue and raclette are enjoyed year-round in Zurich, they perfectly complement cold weather and make the ideal cosy holiday meal. During the festive season, a number of unique and delicious pop-up restaurants serve the melted cheese dishes alongside rustic breads, roasted potatoes, and tart pickles.
The hearty dishes can be enjoyed in picturesque mountain chalets, such as Fondue Chalet Zurichberg, where you can savour the rich flavours by candlelight beside a crackling fire. To indulge in the classic cuisine in more unusual settings, book an experience like the Fondue Tram, which takes you on a tour of the city as you dine, or invite a few friends to enjoy Fondue in an E-Tuk Tuk for a true culinary adventure.
Instagram-worthy Hot Chocolate in beautifully decorated cafés
Take a break from exploring Zurich’s festive streets and stop in one of many gorgeous cafes decorated for the holidays. Sip a warm, sweet blend topped with fresh whipped cream and a handmade piece of local chocolate to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit.
Escape the cold in the elegant Café & Conditorei 1842, which has been serving light lunches, cakes and drinking chocolate for over 180 years. The historic Le Hall at Baur au Lac is another local favourite, renowned for its afternoon tea alongside its festive offerings. Milchbar is also beloved for its holiday decor and full bistro offerings.
Chocolate lovers visiting Zurich should also pre-book tickets to visit the world-famous Lindt Home of Chocolate to complete their city visit.
Glühwein & Punch: The Heartwarming Elixir
No Christmas visit to Zurich would be complete without a mug of steaming red or white mulled Glühwein, perfected by hints of cloves, cinnamon and citrus.
As you wander through rows of festively lit Christmas markets, let the warm drink soothe your throat and thaw your nose as it warms from within. Younger visitors enjoy non-alcoholic versions that use a base of warm fruit punch with the same festive winter spices. With a seasonal warm drink in hand, enjoy the sounds of carolers and the scent of roasting chestnuts to feel transported to a scene from a holiday storybook.
Alpine Day Trips
Zurich is just a stone’s throw away from the awe-inspiring Alps, which offer a host of opportunities to step out of the city and into a magical winter wonderland.
Find yourself amidst white-capped mountains glittering beneath the winter sun. Breathe in crisp, clean air as your boots crunch across freshly fallen snow and local guides lead you on hikes through breathtaking landscapes.
Whether you choose to visit Jungfraujoch and ride a cable car to a UNESCO World Heritage site, see the Alpine glacier and ice falls of Mount Titlis or try skiing for beginners in Grindelwald, every itinerary is unforgettable.
Throughout the holiday season, Zurich enchants at every turn with twinkling lights, festive streets, indulgent cuisine, and heartwarming Alpine hospitality. It’s truly a Swiss winter wonderland filled with Christmas markets, mountain vistas, and Yuletide cheer.
Article Sponsored by Switzerland Tourism.