Switzerland's wintery holidays: featuring 3 Christmas markets in 24 hours

'Buone feste' sign for Holiday decoration
Lara Decastecker '23

Welcome back to Adventures at Franklin! As the Fall '22 semester has come to an end, and most students are back at home with their families, Lugano has become a winter wonderland. Luckily, we were able to take part in some of the festivities before leaving for the break. This includes gazing at the lights lining the streets of downtown, sightseeing the giant pine tree placed right in the center of the town square, Piazza della Riforma, and even visiting the picturesque ‘Buone Feste’ sign where (practically) every single family in Lugano takes their postcard photos at.

christmas decorations in the city of lugano

My favorite part of the holiday season in Switzerland however has to be the Christmas markets (and most Franklin students for sure agree).

Here are some pictures taken of these activities and decorations:

lugano christmas marketLugano definitely has a lovely and quaint Christmas market, with its official website linked here. This is where all of us students go to buy our family presents for our respective holiday celebrations. However, Lugano is surely not the only city in Switzerland with a Christmas market (and far from it!) Therefore, when the opportunity to go to 3 other Swiss Christmas Markets in one day presented itself to students, 44 crazy people signed up for it… Right before finals!

So on Sunday, December 3, 44 students managed to, in the span of one day, go to 3 different Swiss cities for their Christmas markets: Zurich, Bern, and Basel (and somehow we all made it back without getting lost)!

Even though the entire extravagance was a commitment from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. I have no regrets. Yes, it was a total of 7 hours on the train, but we were encouraged to do work and study while on it because what else would you do the day before finals began? With this opportunity, we could productively study and visit some of the major Swiss cities with friends! I couldn’t ask for more.

So, to begin the day we all went to the Zurich HB Christmas market, which is at the Zurich Train Station. We stopped here for about an hour, between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. in order to grab a bite to eat and do some light shopping. Already, there was a grand selection of food and holiday drinks. I personally got dumplings from a stall and vin brule (which is a type of mulled wine). In regards to shopping, there was a plethora of knitted wear and jewelry stands. My favorite however was the local candle vendor.

Here is an image photo of how mulled wine is made (it’s delicious).

Mulled wine Stock photo

After Zurich, we all then went to Bern and stayed there from 12:58 p.m. until 3:25 p.m. We were given quite a lot of time because there were multiple Christmas Markets! The one I went to is linked here. Although I only went to one, I grabbed a pair of amazing wool socks, ate amazing miso soup, and also managed to buy a beanie because it was getting colder by the second! Just below there's a picture of the beanie. Overall, the Bern Christmas market was a great success and equally an amazing atmosphere to be in. 

Here is a picture of the beanie!

Finally, we boarded the train again in the direction to Basel, where we were scheduled to be there from 4:32 p.m. until 6:50 p.m. Basel’s Christmas markets were also gorgeous, as the lights were stunning in the evening. Here my shopping had ended, but getting a cup of hot chocolate as I was walking around was certainly a delight.

Basel Christmas market entrance

Finally, we had then a three-hour train ride back to Lugano but by then we were all exhausted and more than ready to be back home. The entrance to the Christmas market. Certainly not the best quality photo but you can tell it's humongous!





Now, here are some nice pictures of the Christmas markets:

(The first two are of Zurich HB, then Bern, then Basel)

Zurich HB Christmas Market

Zurich HB Christmas Market

Bern Christmas Market

Bern Christmas Market

Basel Christmas MarketBasel Christmas MarketMost photo credits are not mine, though consent was given to reproduce.

Overall, it was honestly an amazing adventure to go on and for such a good deal. 15 CHF (Swiss Francs), for the entire day with a group ticket, was a steal compared to the regular 75 CHF it would’ve cost to go alone. In all honesty, the Office of Student Life (OSL) events like these are truly one of my favorite opportunities for students to partake in. They’re always fun, you get your bang for your buck, and you can go with your friends without the hassle of having to plan anything! Someone else is in charge and doing all the logistics (thank you to Orientation Mentor, Kyle Weiss '25 for getting all 44 of us back home safely).

These Christmas markets were the best way for me to relax, enjoy myself, and pace my studies during finals. It was hard work on the train and then a few hour break to roam around a beautiful city while getting gifts for family and friends. There’s absolutely no better way to spend an ideal day.

So… to our next meet-up via the web, and if you are curious to know what other OSL events and activities are in store next, check out the University calendar here!

Ci vediamo presto!


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