March is late winter or early spring in Switzerland, and weather conditions will largely depend on altitude. Snow is still present higher in the mountains, although it starts to melt lower down, and some lower-level ski resorts begin to shutter in March.
In lower-altitude towns, cities, and valleys, spring-like weather starts to appear in March, and temperatures are warmer this month than in February. In lowland cities like Zürich, Geneva, and Lugano, the average March temperature is 48°F (9°C). Temperatures at higher elevations in the Alps are generally colder: the March average temperature in Zermatt is just 25°F (-4°C).
Crowds & Costs
March is still the high season for travel to the Swiss Alps, although some lower-altitude ski resorts start to close in March, especially later in the month. Timings are dependent on snow and weather conditions in a given year.
Switzerland is always a pricey destination, but costs are at a peak in the winter when visitors flock from around Europe (and farther afield) to the mountains. This extends to the cities, too, where many travelers pass through. Depending on the date of Easter, Carnival sometimes falls in early March. The best places to be for the biggest parties are Basel and Lucerne. Book accommodation in advance and travel to these cities early if you'll be there during Carnival, which runs for a few days.
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Where to Go
To enjoy skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and winter hiking in Switzerland in March, head to ski resort towns at higher altitudes, where conditions will generally still be like they are in mid-winter. The ski resorts at Zermatt and Matterhorn are the highest in the country, at around 12,800 feet (3,900 m). At such heights, expect thick snow and freezing temperatures in March.
For a completely different experience and to make the most of the more springlike weather, head to the lakes in Ticino, the Italian part of Switzerland, where the weather will be milder. Lugano on Lake Lugano, and Locarno on Lake Maggiore, are delightful cities with beautiful natural surroundings, Italian-inspired culture and cuisine, and incredible mountain views.
What to Do
As well as skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and winter hiking, travelers to Switzerland in March can enjoy cultural attractions. Join a Carnival celebration if the religious festival falls in March during your visit. The Carnival in Basel is Switzerland's most significant and is unusual in that it's a Protestant event (Carnival is usually Catholic). Lucerne's Carnival has particularly striking parades. Carnival celebrations last for a few days.
Travelers who like flowers, gardening, and all things colorful should head to the Tulip Festival in Morges, on the shores of Lake Geneva. Although full-on spring doesn't come to Switzerland until April or May, this lovely festival is an early preview.
Events in March
Republic Day, nationwide. March 1 is Republic Day in Switzerland, a national holiday, and some businesses will be closed.
Carnival, various locations. Depending on the date of Easter, Carnival is sometimes held in late February. Various places around Switzerland put on celebrations, but the parades, costumes, and parties of Basel's and Lucerne's Carnival celebrations are the most famous.
Engadin Skimarathon, Engadin. The second-largest cross-country skiing event in the world is held on the second Sunday in March. The Engadin Half Marathon, Engadin Women's Run, and Engadin Night Run are also held during the same week.
International Jazz Festival, Bern. Starting in late March and running until late May or early June, Bern's International Jazz Festival is held in the intimate setting of Marian's Jazzroom.
Tulip Festival, Morges. On the shores of Lake Geneva, this colorful spring festival runs from mid-March until mid-May.
Easter, nationwide. Easter is celebrated and observed as a public holiday in Switzerland, a predominantly Catholic country with a large Protestant population. Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday are holidays, and many businesses are closed. Easter either falls in late March or April.