Top 11 Travel Tips & Info before traveling to Switzerland Category: Travel Information
Traveling to Switzerland and exploring sites are easiest and great fun, especially when you have appropriate information. Also Switzerland is world’s greatest tourist destinations – but be prepared for some surprises. With lot many places to see, activities to do and excursions to discover, it’s highly recommended to plan your travelling before arrival. Here are some important facts, and travel tips, you must know before traveling.
1. How to travel within Switzerland?
Train, bus and boat are the best way to discover the delights of Switzerland. The Swiss public transportation network is modern, efficient, and safe. Buses, trains, trams, and boats allow you to conveniently explore the whole country.
Connections are guaranteed in all places. Where no train service is available, the journey continues by bus, boat or even mountain railway. Hence, interchange is simple and easy to handle all throughout Switzerland.
Trains always leave at the same minute after each full hour. Main inter-city connections run at half-hour intervals. At major traffic hubs, trains arrive every full and half hour. Bus and boat connections are perfectly coordinated with these regular-interval timetables. The complete timetable is available at sbb.ch or on the corresponding mobile app.
2. Swiss Gastronomy & Restaurants
Swiss gastronomy is another good example of Switzerland’s mixed culture: three very different culinary traditions – Italian, French and German – live together in the same country. One day your clients can enjoy beer and sausages in a Stübli, while the next day they can have lunch with pasta and a good merlot wine in a grotto in Ticino.
There are several restaurants in almost all popular cities of Switzerland. Whether Zurich, Lucerne, Interlaken, Bern, Montreux, Geneva or Zermatt, you can find Vegetarian or Non-Vegetarian or Halal meals. Here you can find Continental to American, Mexican, Chinese, Arabian, Indian and variety of Asian restaurants.
3. Swiss Whether and Climate
In Switzerland, the climate is moderate with no excessive heat, cold or humidity.
In summer, from July to August the daytime temperatures range from about 18 to 28 °C (65 – 82 °F) and in winter, in January and February, from about 2 to 7 °C (28 – 45 °F). In spring and autumn, the daytime temperature range is 8 to 15 °C (46 – 59 °F). Due to the altitude variation, temperatures might be different depending on the region.
It is highly recommended to visitors to pack a sweater, good walking shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses, a compact umbrella, and/or a light raincoat.
Switzerland has four seasons that are clearly distinguishable:
Switzerland is all year round travel season. Although there are peak season as well as low season, but Swiss has everything for different type of travelers.
• In spring (March to May), the trees blossom and the meadows turn green. Sometimes in April, the winter returns for a short period and sometimes there are summer conditions as early as May.
• In summer, temperatures rise to 25 – 30 °C (77 – 86 °F), with temperatures exceeding the 30 °C (86 °F) mark during hot summers, and the Alpine vegetation flourishes.
• In autumn (September to November), the fruit ripens and the leaves of deciduous trees change colour.
• Winter was formerly generally cold and snowy, but now freezing temperatures and snow are no longer the rule, especially in the lowlands.
4. Travel Adaptors and Plugs:
For Switzerland there are two associated plug types, types C and J. Plug type C is the plug which has two round pins and plug type J is the plug which has three round pins. The power plugs in Switzerland are type J, the standard voltage is 230 V, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. I recommend buying a universal adapter (make sure it has surge protection) and using a converter for hairdryers and hot tools.
Please note that Switzerland remains with the Swiss franc, usually indicated as CHF. While Switzerland is not part of the European Union and thus is not obliged to convert to the Euro, many prices are nonetheless indicated in euros so that visitors may compare prices.
Merchants may accept euros but are not obliged to do so. Change given back to the client will most likely be in Swiss francs.
The Swiss franc comes in the following denominations:
5, 10, 20, 50 Cents and 1, 2, 5 Francs
10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 1000 Francs
Money exchange places
– any Swiss bank
– main railway stations (western union)
– major hotels
Swiss banks offer the best exchange rates for your traveler’s checks or cash for foreign currencies (only bank notes). Official exchange offices and hotels may charge a fee for their services
6. Location and Geography
Switzerland is a relatively small country, situated in the center of Europe. Its neighboring countries are Germany in the north, Austria and Liechtenstein in the east, Italy in the south, and France in the west.
Switzerland offers a large variety of landscapes, ranging from mountains, to farmland, glaciers, and valleys. There are three main geographic regions:
• the Alps, which cover around 60% of the country’s total surface area. Only 11% of the population lives in this area;
• the Swiss Plateau (30%), which is the area from Lake Geneva in the southwest of Switzerland to Lake Constance in the northeast. Two-thirds of the total population live in this area, where most of Switzerland’s main towns, cities and industrial centre are located. The Plateau is a hilly area, with several large lakes and rivers;
• the Jura (10%), which is located in the northern part of the Swiss Plateau. The landscape of the area is varied, presenting hilly regions, valleys, plateaus and peaks.
7. Time zone
During the winter, Central European Time (CET) applies in Switzerland. From the end of March to the end of October, Summer Time applies (CET + 1 hour).
Sunrise: 7:00 h
Sunset: 19:45 h
(Times for Bern)
The times of sunrise and sunset in Switzerland are significantly influenced by the country’s very northern position in the hemisphere. Relatively high in the north the days in summer are long and short in winter. With up to approximately 16 hours the longest days happen in Juni. On the other hand, the longest and darkest nights are in winter (in the southern hemisphere it is the other way around). In December a night in Bern lasts almost 16 hours.
During summers, the sun in Bern rises around 7:00. The Sunset can be watched at about 19:45 Uhr in the early evening.
Switzerland has a population of approximately 8.3 million (2015 figure), the majority of which lives in the German-speaking part. The most populous canton is Zurich, while the least populous is Appenzell Innerrhoden.
Three-quarters of the Swiss population choose to live in urban areas – but still the population of Switzerland’s cities remains manageable. Given this, it is not surprising that the mountain Cantons of Graubünden, Ticino and Valais, which make up 40% of the total area of Switzerland, only account for 10% of the population.
Population in larger cities (2016):
• Zürich: approx. 402,000
• Geneva: approx. 199,000
• Basel: approx. 171,000
• Lausanne: approx. 133,000
• Bern: approx. 133,000
• Winterthur: approx. 110,000
• Lucerne: approx. 82,000
• St. Gallen: approx. 75,000
• Lugano: approx. 64,000
9. Switzerland languages:
German and Swiss German is spoken in the northern, eastern, and central parts of the country, and is spoken by 63 % of the population, making it the primary language in Switzerland.
English is quite widely spoken across Switzerland as a whole, with around two thirds of the total population estimated to be able to speak some English.
Switzerland actually has four official languages – German, French, Italian and Romansh. Different regions or cantons have different prevalence of languages.
The other regions of the country (Rhaetia and Ticino) kept their Latin-related dialects, which eventually developed into Romansh and Italian. These different territorial dominions are the reason that four national languages are spoken in this relatively small country: German, French, Italian, and Romansh.
In Switzerland, there are four national languages: German, spoken by 63.3%; French, spoken by 22.7%; Italian, spoken by 8.1%; and Romansh, spoken by 0.5% of the population (2014 figures). 20.9 % of the population speaks other languages (NB: the total is more than 100%, as some people have more than one mother tongue).
Each of the three linguistic regions has a different culture with various influences coming from the language of the region. However, there are some common traits: the Swiss are friendly, polite, and a little reserved. Punctuality is considered important, in social as well as business situations. Be sure to say hello, please, thank you, and good-bye when entering and leaving small shops or offices. If you are invited to a Swiss home, visitors typically bring flowers, sweets or a bottle of wine.
Shops are generally open from 9.00 am to 6.30 pm on weekdays (in some towns and cities they close later on Thursdays) and from 9.00 am to 5 pm on Saturdays. Some shops and supermarkets in larger towns and cities and at train and gas stations open earlier in the morning and close later in the evening. Credit and charge cards such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are widely accepted.
11. Phone and emergencies:
When calling Switzerland, the country code is +41. Useful numbers for emergency calls are:
* General emergency calls 112
* Police 117
* Fire service 118
* Ambulance 144
* REGA (helicopter rescue service) 1414
* Vehicle breakdown service 140