The best time to visit Switzerland really has more to do with your likes and dislikes than with climate. Switzerland is beautiful no matter what time of the year, and all year there are plenty of things to do and see. Let's start with Spring and work our way through the four seasons in Switzerland.
Spring in Switzerland means the traditional Sechseläuten festival held on the third Sunday and Monday in April. The festival dates from 1818 when one of the guilds held a parade with horses and musicians. By 1839 it had turned into a full fledged festival. The name Sechseläuten means "ringing 6:00," which refers to the fact that once spring arrived, work could be carried on until 6:00 p.m. After children's and adults' parades, there is a parade of the guilds, and the entire festival culminates with the burning of the Böögg, which is a creature that resembles a snowman and is stuffed with firecrackers. It is lit when the cathedral clock chimes 6:00, and as it burns, guild members ride horses around it. When the Böögg's head explodes, it marks the end of winter.
Summer in Switzerland offers the scent of Alpine meadows, the sight of herdsmen driving cattle up to mountain pastures, and traditional Swiss wrestling. You can even visit an Alpine dairy. In Ticino, the Gottardo Dairy in Airolo allows guests to use the milk of the cows of the San gottardo region to make cheese. Following the instructions of a cheesemaker, guests create cheese, and after it has aged enough, it is sent to the home of the guest that made it. If you visit the Augusta Raurica, a former Roman settlement on the Rhine, you can participate in games like board games and even try your hand at stage acting. In Berger, Barau, visitors can now cast their very own bells. First, visitors decorate sand moulds, then tour the foundary while the metal is being heated up (to 1100 degrees!). After the metal has molten, the bells are cast and only a little while later, visitors can admire the unique bells they made.
Switzerland in the autumn is time for festivals. Harvest time is a time of celebration and thanksgiving in Switzerland, and it is also a time of spectacular natural beauty. In the canton Fribourg, villages celebrate the autumn with the Bénichon feast, which is accompanied by dances, music, and parades. Many villages and towns in the cantons of Valais and Ticino celebrate the chestnut harvest in honor of the times when chestnuts were a big part of the diet of poor people. At the festivals there are stalls with displays of chestnuts, and the consumption of chestnuts is certainly part of the festivities. In Stans, the main town in the canton Nidwalden, a harvest celebration called the Aelperchilbi is celebrated, organized by a group of farmers called the Aelper fraternity, who took their flocks to the mountains in the summers. Along with food and general celebration, there are parades to cap off the festivities. Similar festivals also take place in other parts of Switzerland during the month of October. On the fourth Monday in November, the Bern Onion Market takes place. During this holiday, elaborately decorated onions are sold, and other festivities abound, including much confetti throwing and conking each other's heads with squeaky inflatable hammers.
Winter in Switzerland is perhaps the season that most comes to mind when people think of taking a holiday there. In Zermatt, the Matterhorn, Switzerland's most famous landmark, dominates the landscape, but it is many other features that make Zermatt the best ski resort in Switzerland, and perhaps the world. Besides the great sight of the Matterhorn, Zermatt doesn't have cars, and retains a sense of tradition. People just have to come back again and again. In Zermatt, you are surrounded by 29 peaks each of which rises to over 4,000 meters (approximately 13,000 feet) - the highest mountains in Europe. Not only are the slopes long, but by springtime it is possible to start skiing at 8 a.m. and ski until 6 p.m. Zermatt also has the longest winter ski season in the alps: from late November until early May. You can even ski on the glacier area throughout summer! The larger ski resorts like Zermatt and St. Moritz are the most expensive, but are also considered the best. For more reasonably priced skiing, smaller resorts are often quite thrilling, too. And every ski resort has a bar at the end of the piste for the apres-ski socializing.
The best time to go to Switzerland is pretty much whenever you have the chance. Of course, hard core skiiers will want to go in the Winter, but Switzerland offers so much, that there really isn't a bad time of year to visit.