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Switzerland - Planning your trip

Visiting Switzerland is fairly expensive, but the quality of service is top-notch. Well-located in the heart of Central Europe, Switzerland is blessed with some of the continent’s most beautiful places and epic landscapes. Luxury watches, big banks and delicate chocolates are mixed with glacier-carved alps, alpine lakes and cozy villages in perfect blend of traditional and contemporary. Writers, artists, photographers from around the world travel inspired by Switzerland's natural beauty. If you are planning your next trip to Switzerland, here is what you need to know to getting started.


What you need to know before you go

Transportation - The fastest and most convenient way to get around Switzerland is by public transportation, all major attractions can easily be reached by trains, buses, boats and cable cars. Swiss public transportation is efficient, reliable, clean and most importantly safe. Trains allow you to travel around the entire country and reach all major highlights. You can purchase tickets online or at the SBB ticket machines at the train station before getting aboard.

If you are planning a road trip, be aware of the traffic regulations and try to avoid booking accommodations in the center of larger cities because parking options are mostly limited and always quite expensive.

Accommodation - Switzerland isn't cheap, but the hotel options include everything from guest houses to castles. Do you want to enjoy the very best views of the Swiss Alps right from your window? Or just want a hotel located centrally and close to the rail stations? A general advice is to choose a hub city where is easier to book an affordable hotel and take day trips by train. You will likely prefer spending time exploring the mountains rather than packing your bags. Some hotels may require a minimum stay of 2- 3 nights or may be opened in summer or winter only.

Food - You just can't go wrong eating out in Switzerland. The country is famous for its chocolate and cheese, but there's much more to Swiss typical food. Regional cuisine is wide and varied, you can dine out in a great restaurant enjoying the national gastronomy with stunning views or shop for regional delicacies to contain your daily budget. There is a Migrolino in every corner and their pastries are delicious. Lunch is usually served between noon and 2 pm, while dinner is served from 6 pm to 9.30 pm.

If you enjoy cheese and potato, Fondue, Raclette and Rösti are some of the dishes you cannot miss in Switzerland.

You can drink tap water anywhere in Switzerland. Eighty percent of the water comes from underground sources and meet very high-quality standards. Note that some restaurants will charge you for tap water.

Attractions - Of course the cities are worth visiting, but the Alps are the true highlights of Switzerland. The views and attractions will be different according to the season. July through September is perfect season for hiking, while January to mid March is perfect for winter sports or simply enjoying the snow.

 Suggestion to save on your daily budget

  • Expect to spend 50-60 CFR per meal for a couple in a popular restaurant. An “à la carte” main course costs on average between 20 and 35 francs! Usually, the most affordable way to eat at lunchtime is to order the “menu of the day”. (soup or salad and a main course).
  • If you are after something more affordable, try the groceries and department stores (e.g. Migros, Coop, Manor). The convenience stores avec and k kiosk at train and gas stations offer affordable prices to buy foods and drinks too.
  • Take advantage of the rail pass. The Swiss Travel Pass includes free entrance to museums and castles, and allows free traveling on beautiful scenic routes. Some cable cars and cogwheel trains are also free with the pass.
  • If you book a hotel in Bern, Geneva or Montreux, you’ll get free access to local public transport for your entire stay in one of those cities.
  • You can eat and drink your own food on trains.
  • Typically Swiss Hotels offer a delicious breakfast, “all you can eat” buffet style.
  • Feel free to ask the hotel to keep your luggage for the rest of the day after you check-out if you want to spend more time visiting the city. Most train stations also offer lockers to leave your luggage.
  • Booking a 2nd class seat is perfectly fine and cheaper than 1st class when traveling by train.
TIps for first visit

1. Download Google Translator – Germany, Italy, Austria, and France border Switzerland, and their languages and customs infuse this country with a multicultural sophistication. Be prepared to listen to different languages in each corner of the country. Google translator using camera for menus was very helpful during our trip.

2. Get the Swiss Travel Pass – The Swiss Travel Pass Flex is the perfect ticket for quick deciders. It is valid on 3, 4, 6, 8, or 15 freely selectable days within one month. We decided to buy 15 days, but 8 would be enough for 10 – 14 days trip.

3. Bring your international travel adaptor – The voltage in Switzerland, as in most of Europe, is ~230v/50hz, and most power sockets are designed for three pin round plugs. Although adaptors are available in most hotels, we found very useful to bring our own.

souvenir from Switzerland
Essential Information

Passaport and Visa – Every traveler must have a valid passport. Visa is required for a continuous trip of more than 3 months only. All tourists from non-EU and non-Schengen countries can be asked to show proof of their travel plans in Switzerland, including a return plane ticket, hotel reservations, proof ability to pay for your stay in Switzerland (CHF 100 per day) and a travel insurance covering Schengen states.

Currency – The currency is Swiss franc – CFH You can use credit cards everywhere.

Language – English is spoken in the big cities and popular places, however, Switzerland has four main languages, German is the main one (63%), followed by French (22%), Italian (8%) and Rhaeto-Rumantsch (0,5).

Tax free – The taxes in Switzerland are 7.7%. If you are not resident, you may ask at the stores for your Tax Free Form and reclaim the VAT. The amount must be more than CHF 300. Note that is not valid for food or services.

Tipping – Tips are included in the price and you don’t need to add any amount to your check. However, the waiters and servers will wait for a tip when a good service is provided. The tip is rounding up the bill.

Population – There are approximately 8 million people in Switzerland.

Economy – Switzerland’s economy is based on a highly qualified labor force. The main areas include banking, microtechnology, hi-tech, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

Curiosity – Germans are well known by being direct. They are not rude, they are direct.

Useful Links

Useful Links to research more for your trip

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