August is midsummer in Switzerland and the peak season for tourism. Visitors flock to the Alps to enjoy the cooler weather and spectacular mountain scenery that's mostly free of snow. As well as hiking, travelers can admire the landscape while paragliding, cruising on a lake, riding a cable car or train, and more. Keep reading to learn about visiting Switzerland in August.

Weather

August is the last summer month in Switzerland, and temperatures are hot, although slightly cooler on average than in July. While temperatures vary by altitude, it's not uncommon for lower-lying areas to reach highs of 95°F (35°C) in summer. The average August temperature in Geneva, Lugano, and Zürich is around 73°F (23°C). Many travelers may find August a bit hot in the cities. In contrast, high-altitude Zermatt in the Alps has an average August temperature of just 48°F (9°C).

Crowds & Costs

Switzerland has two peak seasons: winter and summer. August is right in the middle of the summer peak season, and as it's the month when many Europeans take summer vacations, you can expect Switzerland to be busy wherever you go. Mountain trails and resort towns will be busy with outdoor enthusiasts, while the cities will be busy with summer music and arts festivals. Book accommodation and travel in advance wherever you want to visit in Switzerland in August.

Where to Go

For hiking, biking, paragliding, and general outdoor sightseeing in the mountains, head to the Alps. The mountains of Bernese Oberland, Graubünden, and Valais are particularly beautiful in summer as well as accessible. You can see many of Switzerland's highest mountains at once when you hike or take a cable car up to viewpoints. 

If you want to combine active outdoor pursuits with more gentle sightseeing options, you'll want to visit the Italian region of Switzerland, Ticino. Bordering Italy, this region offers excellent food, interesting architecture and culture in the towns and cities, and hiking trails and lake cruises that are among the best in Switzerland.

Check out Ticino's Cardada to Mergoscia hike. The terrain is gentler than the higher Alps elsewhere, and the moderate trail should only take around four hours. Start from central Locarno by taking the funicular railway to Orselina; stop there to check out the Church of Madonna del Sasso, then take a cable car from Orselina to Cardada. The views of Lake Maggiore and Lake Vogorno from the trail through meadows are unparalleled. 

Check out this article for more about Switzerland's best day hikes.

What to Do

As well as hiking, August is a great time to travel on the world's steepest cog railway, the Pilatusbahn (Pilatus Railway). Climbing from the shores of Lake Lucerne, the railway reaches gradients of up to 48% as it rises 5,344 feet (1,629 m) in just 2.8 miles (4.6 km). The views of Lucerne and Lake Lucerne from near the top of Pilatus Kulm (6,801 ft/ 2,073 m) are fantastic. The railway runs from May to November, but midsummer is an excellent time because the weather will be warmer and free of snow. After, you can cross Lake Lucerne back to Lucerne on a cruise from Alpnachstad

Summer is a perfect time to cruise on more of Switzerland's lakes, both as a means of transport and purely for the sightseeing opportunities. Many rail passes include free or discounted lake cruises, which is a great way to cut costs in expensive Switzerland. Lake Thun, Lake Geneva, Lake Zürich, Lake Brienz, Lake Lugano, and Lake Maggiore offer their own scenic (and often practical) cruise options.

Get inspiration for more train journeys in Switzerland here: Switzerland's Best Train Rides.

Events in August

Swiss National Day, nationwide. Most Swiss towns or cities host a party on August 1 to celebrate Switzerland's founding as a nation. Expect fireworks, as well as some business closures.

Locarno International Film FestivalLocarno. Since 1946, this film festival runs for about 10 days in early August and features a range of film genres.

Zermatt Folklore FestivalZermatt. Another reason to visit the high Alps in August is this charming folklore festival that features traditional music, dance, and clothing. It's held over two days in mid-August.

Lucerne FestivalLucerne. This 4-5 week festival starts in early August and runs into September. More than 100 classical music concerts are held throughout Lucerne.

Traveling to Switzerland in August? Check out these great itineraries

Best of Bernese Oberland - 5 days. Hike from hut to hut under the snowy facades of some of the most famous peaks in the Swiss Alps. You'll pass through Alpine pastures and beside glacial lakes and rushing waterfalls as you hike past the iconic peaks of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.

Chamonix to Zermatt Walker's Haute Route - 10 Days. As you trek through the Alps, you'll visit traditional Swiss villages, explore high-elevation alpine lakes, and cross high rocky passes.

More Helpful Information

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Best Time of Year to Visit Switzerland
How Many Days to Spend in Switzerland