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Switzerland in late May?

Hello all,
First off, thank you Rick Steves for this wonderful website!

More directly, my wife and I are traveling to Europe in the last week of May. We would like to include Switzerland-specifically the BernerOberland area (Murren and the like). Is it too cold or snow-covered to enjoy a beautiful trip there? We arent looking for skiing or snow activities. More like hiking, biking, and the like.

Thanks for your pointers in advance!


Posted by
833 posts

I can't speak for the Berner Oberland area, but when I looked up average weather for Lucerne (I'll be visiting Mount Rigi in late May) the average was low 60s F, but in the last few years it had gotten quite cold (highs low 40s I think) some years. I'm hoping we luck out and it's not too cold for hiking, but we'll buy a few sweaters if it is on the colder side).

If you google average temperature with the location, generally you can look at either the average or even scan back for those dates over the last few years.

Posted by
6898 posts

Michael, we have stayed in Lauterbrunnen in late May and early June. It was our first trip to Switzerland and we were scared away from Muerren by the travel books for fear of snow and bad weather. For us, it simply wasn't true. The snow had retreated to points up much higher than Muerren (5,200') and we were fortunate that the weather was nice and warm. Muerren was a bit quiet but it was open for business. The wildflowers were in full bloom in the alps and the farmers were walking their cows with their musical cow bells up to higher pastures. Most scenic and beautiful. No guarantees on the weather but we did quite well. Here are two links to show you what we saw. (Farmers walking their cows)

This second image is the main street of Muerren in very late May. See any snow?. Look at the higher hills in the background. No snow there either. You takes your chances but we did just fine.

Posted by
12040 posts

It varies year to year, and impossible to predict in advanced. The problem with May is usually not snow at that point, although there's still plenty covering some the trails at higher altitudes, and fresh dustings are not impossible. It's that the weather can be very cloudy and rainy. Those mountain views aren't doing much good behind a veil of clouds. Some of the trails can be very muddy due to the snow run-off and accumulated rain.

Late in the month of May is probably worth the gamble IF you budget enough time. Give yourself at least two, ideally three full days, and be prepared to lose at least one day to weather.

PS- And I often repeat this: checking the average temperature for the month is not very useful for transitional times like spring or fall, because the mathematical mean conceals a much larger range of temperatures than in summer or winter. You would need the average plus the standard deviation to make any kind of reasonable assumption.