Baby, it’s cold outside! It’s time for the festive season! So light up your candles, turn on the music, and start thinking of shopping for gifts. Would you like to know where to go in Switzerland to get in the mood for Christmas? Where to buy handmade gifts and drink some mulled wine or hot chocolate while listening to music? Here are top spots in the country to experience some Swiss Christmas Magic, shared by several blogging families in Switzerland! From the Zurich Christmas Market, to the Montreux Christmas Market with its flying Santa and new illuminated ice rink in 2021, and from a typical winter recipe, to other end of the year traditions in Zug. Read all you need to know on where to find some Christmas Magic in Switzerland!
Montreux Christmas Market, and Santa’s House
Do you know Santa lives in Switzerland? He divides his time between Finland and Rochers-de-Naye, a mountain top overlooking Montreux and Lake Geneva!
Montreux transforms in total Christmas magic every year at the end of November! Montreux Christmas Market, or Montreux Noёl in French, is a big Christmas Market beautifully set by the lake. There are plenty of wooden cabin stalls filled with inspiration for special Christmas gifts and there is food from several countries. Montreux Christmas has Santa flying over the lake at set times, and he stops to sing a song!
Children will love the big ferris wheel or the stand where they can decorate their own chocolate Christmas tree. Of course, for families, a visit to Rocher-de-Naye will also make Christmas time very special. A beautiful panoramic train ride on the Goldenpass line, takes you up the mountain. The train ride takes about 45 minutes, but the views along the ride are beautiful! On top of Rochers-de-Naye, you can immediately go to Santa’s Grotto, where you can meet Santa himself, have your photo taken, and the kids will receive an official certificate from Santa! By showing this certificate in Santa’s Office, your children will receive a gift.
After visiting Santa, you can still walk around on the mountain and enjoy the beautiful view! Make sure you wear good shoes and dress warm, as there can be snow up there!
How long for a visit to Santa Claus on Rochers-de-Naye?
We have spent 3 hours in total with the train up and down. We were lucky there was not a big line to meet Santa, and since it gets busy on weekends, you should calculate a half day for this.
How to get to Santa’s House?
The train leaves directly from Montreux Train Station. Tickets to Santa’s House can be bought here: http://www.goldenpass.ch/en/goldenpass/
Make sure to get them well in advance, as weekends tend to sell out fast!
Dates for Montreux Christmas Market 2021: from November 25 until 24 December
New at Montreux Noel in 2021: an illuminated ice pathway called Light on Ice, for you to skate through a forrest with an ice bar and more.
Their website: https://www.montreuxnoel.com/en-1-homepage.html
Writing Santa letters from Switzerland
Do you know the Elves really respond to your letter to Santa in Switzerland? Yes, in Switzerland you can write a letter to Santa and expect a real reply! For years already, the special Christmas team from Swiss Post kindly takes care of replying to all the letters. In some years, over 20.000 letters were received by Swiss Post, and 96% of the letters were answered! We love this initiative to keep the Christmas magic alive!
Address: Anything goes really: Father Christmas, North Pole, or Rochers-de-Naye, in English, German, Italian or French. Don’t forget to mention your return address!
Zürich, a tram which looks like a Christmas card!
Shared by Tanya from Swiss Family Fun
One of the beloved Christmas traditions for Zürich kids is taking a festive tram ride around the city with Samichlaus and his helper angels who tell stories during the 20 min ride. Children from age 4 to 10 may participate, unaccompanied by their parents. After the ride, we like to take the kids across the street to the beautiful Zürich Wienachtsdorf Christmas market, where we can get special treats and even go ice skating if the kids are still up for it.
In 2021, the Märlitram runs most every day from 26 November to 24 December. Tickets cost CHF 8 and can be purchased at the Jemoli department store or by phone. The tram ride starts and ends at the Bellevue tram stop.
More details can be found on Swiss Family Fun: https://swissfamilyfun.com/marlitram/
Zürich, more Christmas Markets!
Recommended by Vanda from The Yogi Wanderer
Christmas season is the most magical time of the year in Zurich. Switzerland’s largest city puts up not one but three big Christmas markets, as well as enchanted Christmas lights and decorations. This means everywhere you look you can’t help but get into the Christmas spirit!
Every year, on the third Thursday of November, the switching on of the famous “Lucy” Christmas lights at Bahnhofstrasse and the opening of the Christmas markets marks the official beginning of the season.
Zurich’s biggest Christmas market, and one of the largest indoor Christmas markets in Europe, is held at the main train station. The market’s top attraction is its huge Christmas tree decorated with 6’000 sparkling Swarovski crystals.
In the old town, you can find Zurich’s oldest Christmas market, while a Christmas Village is built every year at Sechseläutenplatz, one of the city’s main squares.
But my favorite place to enjoy a glass of mulled wine during the Christmas season is the tiny market hidden at Werdmühleplatz with a unique attraction: a Singing Christmas Tree where children and adult choirs spread joy with their carols.
If you would like to know what else you can do in Zurich, then check out this post on the Yogi Wanderer: Zurich.
Bern Christmas markets
Shared with us by Hanka from Our Swiss Experience
There are two different Christmas markets in Bern. The first one, Berner Münster Weihnachtsmarkt, takes place, as the name suggests, on the square directly in front of the Münster Cathedral in Bern. In this small market, you can find many local arts and crafts products.
The second Market, much bigger, is the Berner Sternenmarket, ie. “Star market”. In a magical world full of shining stars on the Kleine Schanze near the Parliament building you can find stands with goods from local designers. In the middle of the design stalls, you will find small marketplaces with delicacies not only from Switzerland (fondue chalet cannot be missed) but from the whole world. During the duration of the market, there are various performances for children and adults.
To see more Christmas recommendations, you may want to check out this post on Our Swiss Experience: 10 tips for the best Christmas markets in Switzerland
Zug, home of many end of the year traditions
Shared by Kristin from z’Nüni
You know it is the beginning of the holiday season in the city of Zug when you find a puppet show in a bank and fairies telling stories in the violin store – it’s time for Märlisunntig! The annual fairytale Sunday (this year on the 5th December) kicks off just after lunch with shows for all ages dotted around the city. You may even spot Samichlaus and Schmutzli too, giving out treats to all the kids passing by. As darkness falls, look out for groups ringing large bells called “Trycheln”, large lanterns carried on heads called “Iffelen” and listen out for the sound of cracking whips called “Geisselchlöpfern”. These are all part of the central Swiss traditions centred around the festival of St. Niklaus, which some villages call Chlausjagen. Finish off the afternoon by watching the fireworks by the lake at 17:30 alongside Samichlaus, Schmutzli and their fairytale friends.
To read all about Märlisunntig: https://swissfamilytravel.com/blog/maerlisunntig-zug
What is Chlausjagen?: https://swissfamilytravel.com/blog/klausjagen
Every year I look forward to the Christmas themed posts on Kristins website! Go check it out on z’Nüni!
Typical Swiss if you ask us! These cute little fellows can be found all over the shops or bakeries at the end of the year! Tamara from Parttime working Hockey Mom shares here Grittibänze recipe with us!
- 4 cups flour – all purpose flour is fine, if you can find anything finer ground, even better, I like to use “Zopfmehl”
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- 1 cup whole milk, warm
- 8 teaspoons liquid yeast or equivalent dry yeast
- Mix, knead well, cover with a cloth and let rise for 60 – 90 minutes.
- Form little guys (“freestyle” or roll out your dough and use a gingerbread man cookie cutter) and decorate with chocolate chips, nuts or raisins.
- Let rise for another 30 minutes, coat with egg yolk or egg wash.
- Bake at 350°F for 20 – 25 minutes.
We will definitely try those out soon!
More Christmas Markets in Switzerland:
After a first successfull ‘Noel au Bastions’, the Christmas Market in Geneva changed location and now is ‘Noel au Jardin’ and is located in the Jardin Anglais by the lake. Handcrafted items, a fondue chalet, a Ferris wheel, and a Christmas Pub will make for a great outing to get a bit of the Christmas vibe!
Dates: from 18 November 2021 – 26 December. Their Website : Noel au Jardin
Carouge, in Geneva, has its own Christmas Market which takes place on set dates. This years dates: 10, 11 and 12 December 2021. Carouge also has beautiful lights in the winter, and a big mailbox for children to post their letter to Santa.
And you, what are your favorite Christmas Markets in Switzerland?