October is the middle of fall in Switzerland, and that means changeable weather that could be warm and pleasant (specifically earlier in the month) or wet, gray, and overcast. Although mountain towns get much colder in October, the month is not very cold at lower elevations. For example, the average temperature in Geneva, Lugano, and Zürich is around 56°F (13°C), with warmer temperatures if the sun's out, while in high-altitude Zermatt, it's 37°F (2.5°C). The first snow begins to fall in the mountains this month.
Crowds & Costs
October is in the middle of the low season for travel to Switzerland. Although some hiking may be possible and comfortable at lower altitudes, October is not the best month for outdoor adventures, as summer and early fall are. Plus, the ski season doesn't begin until December. Overall, this means few people are attracted to Switzerland in October.
That said, October is a great time to visit the cities, especially if you're less concerned about the weather and more interested in cultural attractions like museums, galleries, and architecture. You may find discounted accommodation, flights, and activities with fewer other visitors around. Just be aware that many facilities in the mountains, including trains that offer scenic rides, take a maintenance break in the fall.
Where to Go
In October it's a good idea to base yourself in a Swiss city close to the mountains. You can enjoy the city attractions when the weather is less than favorable, but when it's fine out, you can venture into the mountains on day trips or at the least enjoy pretty views from around the city. Bern, Lucerne, Lausanne, and Geneva are excellent city break destinations, as are the lakeside cities in the Italian-speaking Ticino region, Lugano and Locarno.
October is also the grape-harvesting season in Switzerland, so wine lovers might want to include some vineyard visits on their itineraries. Switzerland has six wine-producing regions: Geneva, German-speaking Switzerland, Three Lakes (including Neuchatel, Fribourg, and part of the canton of Bern), Ticino, Vaud, and Valais. October is a perfect time to sample Swiss wines because of the Caves Ouvertes, when winemakers open up in spring and fall and offer tastings for a reduced fee.
What to Do
Switzerland is famous for its efficient railways, but many of the purely scenic (rather than commuter or long-distance) railways shut down partially or fully in October. A notable exception is the Jungfrau Railway, which makes the trip up to the terminus at the top of Mt. Jungfrau 11,332 feet (3,454 m) high. Unsurprisingly, it's the highest railway station in Europe and offers incredible views of some of Switzerland's highest mountains. If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, then make the most of it for discounted tickets, as it's an expensive activity. The railway operates hourly, year-round.
Events in October
Festivity of Autumn, Lugano. Over three days at the end of September and/or the start of October, the city of Lugano puts on a display and celebration of Ticino's music, food, and drink.
Traveling to Switzerland in October? Check out this great itinerary
Exploring the Wine Regions of Mont Blanc - 6 Days. Circle Mont Blanc from Switzerland to Italy to France to sample some of the world's top wines. Visit vineyards nestled in the idyllic countryside in the foothills of the Alps, where ancient grape varieties still produce rare and high-quality wines.