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Time zone and winter/summer time in Switzerland

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Clock tower Zytglogge Bern

Switzerland is obsessed with time. That results in beautiful clocks, high end watches and trains that run as scheduled. This is part of the Bern clock tower, the Zytglogge.

The time in Switzerland

The time in Switzerland is UTC (GMT) + 1 hour in winter and UTC + 2 hours in summer. Sunrise and sunset times vary, with long days in June and short days in December. The local Swiss time is the same throughout the country, and there is no time difference with any of the surrounding countries.

Daylight saving time is being observed, so the time shifts one hour twice per year.

The time in Switzerland now

The current local time in all of Switzerland:

Time zone of Switzerland

Switzerland has one time zone: the Central European Time zone (CET), which is UTC (GMT) + 1 hour. After the change to summer time, this time zone is called Central European Summer Time (CEST), which is UTC + 2 hours.

All of Switzerland and all surrounding countries are in the same time zone.

Daylight saving time

Switzerland is on "winter time" from late October to late March. This is the normal, Central European Time (CET).

Switzerland is on "summer time" from late March to late October. The time is shifted one hour forward to have more daylight in the evenings. So when it's 20:00 (8 PM), it's actually only 19:00 (7 PM). This is called the Central European Summer Time (CEST).

The exact clock change date varies: it's done overnight, in the early morning of the last Sunday in March (1 hour forward) and the last Sunday in October (1 hour back).

Sunrise and sunset in Switzerland

Switzerland is a small country, so sunrise and sunset times are nearly the same everywhere.

Month Sunrise time Sunset time
January 8:10 17:00
February 7:35 17:50
March* 6:40 18:30
April 6:40 20:15
May 5:50 20:55
June 5:30 21:20
July 5:50 21:15
August 6:25 20:35
September 7:05 19:35
October* 7:45 18:35
November 7:30 16:50
December 8:05 16:35

*) Daylight saving time shift

How to take advantage of daylight hours

Sunrise and sunset times determine your timeframe for scenic trips and photography. However, the number of potentially sunny hours is often less than the number of daylight hours. In mountainous areas, the valley can be shady well before sunset. In narrow valleys, the shade drastically reduces the number of sunny hours.

An example of the Lauterbrunnen Valley:

  • June: there's daylight from 5:30 to 21:20 (9:20 PM), but there's only sun from 8:15 to 18:30 (6:30 PM).
  • December: there's daylight from 8:05 to 16:35 (4:35 PM), but there's only sun from 10:15 to 13:00 (1:00 PM).

Swiss time format

Switzerland uses the 24 hour time format. 5 PM is 17:00, for example.

Future changes

Europe has decided to stop changing the clock to observe daylight saving time. However, this is not official yet. The debate around which time to use, and when it will take effect, is still ongoing.

Whether or not most of Europe will stay in one time zone (CET), is not decided yet. Countries may go back to their "natural" time zone. For Switzerland, the most likely outcome is that the country keeps UTC (GMT) + 1 hour as its time, but without summer time.


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