What to wear in spring in Switzerland
Deciding what to wear in Switzerland during Spring is a tricky task, even for us locals. One day it can be 20 degrees and brilliant sunshine, the next day it can be snowing. So just like in winter - layers are going to be key to total comfort. Luckily, in spring you need fewer layers. When you’re out in the sunshine you will feel quite warm, but in the shade or if hiking up a mountain you’ll need a few extra items to keep you comfy.
We still see crisp mornings (think 1-5 degrees Celsius) during the Spring, with temperatures slowly warming up over the day. This can fool you into believing it’s warm enough to eat outside, but as soon as the sun disappears, the chill returns to remind us that Summer is still a few months off. So how do the Swiss dress in the spring? Here is a list to help you get started.
Whether your adventure in Switzerland takes you to the cobblestone streets of an old town or on a panorama hike, you are going to need a good pair of walking shoes. If you want to play it very safe, consider waterproof shoes, but a of trainers with a decent tread will do just fine.
In spring you will find me swap out my warm boots for a bright pair of nice trainers - my current favorites are these cute gold trainers form Geox. If things are a little more active then I move into my On running shoes - although made for runners, they are super light which makes them great for stuffing into a suitcase, too.
If you plan to do a little spring hiking you might also want to consider a pair of trekking shoes, although as mentioned, you can probably get by with a pair of trainers with a good tread. My trekking shoes, these ones from Lowe, have a great tread and if I’m in a pinch for suitcase space I can wear them other places, as well.
Bringing shoes that require no socks may be pushing it in early spring but as we move into May I celebrate the day I can finally wear my ballerinas!
While most of us adults have put away the warm hats for the winter, a light spring woolen or cotton hat is a good idea for the younger members of your family. Our 5 year old wears this merino wool hat, especially in the mornings and some of her friends wear cotton ear warmers like this. If you are still worried about being a bit cold, you might consider a cap.
If you are planning on heading up one of the mountains that are open during spring, a hat (as well as gloves) are highly recommended. Some mountains see snow even in summer, and many visitors are very surprised at the temperature difference when they get up there.
I find scarfs to be good traveling companions, useful in many situations and in spring they definitely have their place. The mornings are chilly, so your neck will welcome a thin, cotton scarf. But be prepared to stow the scarf in your bag after lunch on a very warm day.
It's this time of year that I always seem to forget my sunglasses. But with the sun finally shining bright, you will be very pleased that I have reminded you to bring yours along!
An under layer
Ok, so you aren’t in need of thermals anymore, but some sort of singlet (undershirt), especially on the kids can still be a good idea.
Spring clothing brighter and lighter—yay! Gone are the dark and bulky clothes of winter in favor of lighter clothing in shades of the spring flowers. Most of us are still wearing long pants/trousers but those can be paired up with a lighter long-sleeved blouse/shirt, or even a short sleeved top. By late April/early May ladies have their spring dresses out but may still pair them with leggings or warmer tights.
Jackets, Jumpers, Cardigans and co.
Ultra-light down jackets - For early spring, and for trips up into the mountain, you simply cannot beat an ultra-light down jacket, or something of similar functionality. They are useful in so many situations and take up very little space. These jackets roll up very small for your suitcase or day bag and are the perfect travel companion. We’re now in early April and I am still wearing my North Face jacket.
Soft-shell Jacket - It isn’t cold enough for a winter jacket but not really warm enough for no jacket at all, and a thin cardigan simply doesn’t cut it for the cool early mornings - so why not try a soft-shell jacket These jackets are fleece lined and water proof/resistant, keeping both the rain and wind out. They often come with a hood too so you can leave your umbrella at home if you know there could be some light precipitation. These are especially handy in early spring and on hikes when it can get a little cooler. You could also skip this type of jacket altogether and layer up with a thin cardigan and rain jacket (see below).
Vest - Down-Vests are great for this in between season, as well. Layer up with a t-shirt, cardigan and vest and you will be warm enough for many situations. I love the vests from Unqilo as they pack down really small.
Rain jacket - In general, Spring is notorious for a bit of rain, especially in April, so having a waterproof layer can help avoid having to cart around an umbrella or having to dash into the shops for a plastic poncho. If your time is limited (and whose isn’t?) you will want to adopt the Swiss mentality of “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices” and be sure to bring rain protection so you can get out no matter the weather.
Hoodies & Jumpers - And remember, as soon as the sun disappears you will be glad you have brought a thin cardigan or jumper. Either a woolen or cotton cardigan or jumper/fleece hoodie is a smart layering choice.