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Switzerland

What can I expect from Switzerland?

Ah, Switzerland. An alpine wonderland filled with chocolate and cheese! What is there not to love? The biggest challenge you will have if you are coming to Switzerland, is deciding what to see, and, what NOT to see. Yes, there are so many amazing cities and stunning mountain-filled destinations in this country, that you are spoiled for choice.

Below is a quick overview of what I consider to be the best itinerary for anyone coming to Switzerland. It allows for arrival/departure in either Zurich or Geneva and gives you enough time to see the best this country has to offer. There is also the flexibility to allow more (or less time) in each place so you are not locked into this “exact” plan. Just use it as a guide.

Things to See and Do in Switzerland

Zurich
Lucern
Interlaken / Grindelwald

Jungfraujoch
Sollicitudin, lorem quis auctor
Zermatt

Zurich/Geneva
Davos Klosters

Typical Costs When Travelling

Accommodation – The best and most comfortable hotels, lodgings, B&Bs, holiday apartments, chalets, youth hostels and campsites in Switzerland at a glance. Head to LINK.

Food – Culinary Switzerland is a gourmet’s paradise to be explored afresh wherever you go as the menu in addition to a modest number of national dishes mainly features regional specialities. Swiss cuisine combines influences from the German, French and North Italian cuisine. However, it varies greatly from region to region with the language divisions constituting a rough boundary outline. Mind you, many dishes have crossed the local borders and become firm favourites throughout Switzerland. These dishes include, among others: Cheese fondue, Raclette, Älplermagronen, Rösti, Birchermüesli, Swiss chocolate.

TransportationSwiss Travel System stands not only for roughly 29’000 kilometres of extensive public transport network in Switzerland, but also for a unique range of tickets available to foreign guests.

 

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Suggested daily budget – 80-100 EUR / 86-108 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be much much higher!)

Money Saving Tips

1
Shop from COOP From groceries to electronics, you can find everythign from COOP, chain of stores present across Switzerland
2
Use City Passes Get city passes, these would give you access for the desriied duration across publlic transport for unlimited times

3
Use Public Transport The SBB Mobile app made it convenient to view timetables and plan my route using all modes of public transportation. No matter which method of transport I chose, the service was frequent, comfortable, and safe, with well-timed connections.
4
Couchsurf Make friends and live local, nothing better than that

My Must Have Guides For Traveling

Everything you neeed to know about traveling.

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What can I expect from Switzerland?

After my first trip to Switzerland, I can tell you to expect a country that’s stunningly beautiful the whole way through. From unbelievably blue lakes, dramatic alpine valleys, and charming architecture, the beauty of Switzerland is sure to impress.Switzerland is also far more diverse in terms of language, landscape, and culture than you might expect. From glaciers to palm trees, and cultural influences from surrounding countries, variety is definitely the spice of life in Switzerland.

Language

1
Switzerland has 4 official languages- German, French, Italian, and Romansh- and numerous regional dialects.
2
The most widely spoken language is Swiss German. French is primarily spoken in western Switzerland, and Italian is mainly spoken in the canton of Ticino and some southern areas of Graubünden canton. Romansh is spoken by only 0.5% of the population
3
Most people working in the tourism and service industries speak English, either fluently or well enough that there were no misunderstandings.

Travelling by Train in Switzerland

  • There are many railway companies in Switzerland but they work together to form Switzerland’s rail network. The main company is Swiss Federal Railways, referred to by its initials SBB in German, CFF in French, and FFS in Italian.
  • Announcements in stations and onboard trains are made in the local language. Long-distance trains at major stations in popular tourist areas also have announcements in English.
  • The trains were always clean, but not as timely as I was expecting. On more than a few occasions, trains were 5-10 minutes late arriving at the station. One time a train I was on was late enough to make me miss my connection. I even had a train cancelled completely for track maintenance. Luckily trains are frequent so disruptions to my travel schedule were minimal.

Tickets and Reservations

  • Train tickets can be purchased at machines or ticket counters in railway stations, online, or in the SBB Mobile app. Rail passes can be purchased online or at Swiss railway stations.
  • It’s not necessary to make reservations for most trains in Switzerland. Simply board the train with your rail pass or ticket and choose any open seat. Exceptions are international trains and scenic trains, like the Glacier Express and Bernina Express, which require seat reservations for an extra fee.

Seat Types- First and Second Class

  • Trains in Switzerland have first and second class cars. First-class cars are marked with a 1 and yellow stripe on the outside of the car. Signs above the station platform indicate which sector the cars will stop at (first class were usually at the front and back of the train). Sometimes first-class seats are in the same car as a second class but in their section.
  • Most people travel in second class, so those cars were noticeably more crowded and noisy. First-class seats are a bit roomier. Apart from that, there wasn’t much difference in comfort between first and second class. I travelled with a first-class Swiss Travel Pass and loved having space to spread out and keep my luggage close.

On-Board Services

  • InterCity and EuroCity trains have a restaurant serving snacks, meals, and drinks. Some other trains have a minibar/catering cart that comes around selling snacks and drinks.
  • Some trains have electrical outlets, but not all.

Using Buses in Switzerland

  • Depending on what city you’re in, sometimes you can buy tickets from a machine onboard, sometimes at the bus stop.

Currency, Credit Cards, ATMs

  • Currency in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc (CHF).
  • Credit cards are widely accepted in Switzerland.
  • ATMs are common in Switzerland. Even though I didn’t have to use one, I noticed that not all were connected to the Plus System (interbank network).

Electricity

  • The voltage in Switzerland is 230 V.
  • I came across a variety of electrical sockets in Switzerland, sometimes even in one hotel room! Type J (3-pin) sockets (both recessed and flat) were most common, but I also saw types C and F (2-pin).
  • I had to buy a type J adapter in Switzerland because my 2-pin one with the rectangular casing wouldn’t fit into most of the 3-pin sockets since they were hexagonal and recessed into the wall. Some bad advice on the Internet said these 2-pin plugs would work in Switzerland, but they don’t fit into the sunken outlets.
  • I was able to borrow an adapter for Swiss sockets from my hotel until I found one to buy at the post office, of all places.

Weather

  • Overall, Switzerland has a mild climate, but it varies a lot between regions. In September, I experienced snow and 0 °C high in the mountains, then saw palm trees and 25 °C in Ticino. I made use of all the clothing layers I brought!
  • Switzerland has four distinct seasons. In the winter, temperatures can range from -2 to 7 °C. Spring and autumn temperatures are usually 8 to 15 °C. Summer sees temperatures of 18 to 28 °C, but it can get hotter than that.

Safety

  • I always felt safe travelling in Switzerland, even as a female solo traveller. Switzerland has one of the lowest crime rates of industrialized countries, but thefts can still occur so don’t leave your belongings unattended.

Public Restrooms

  • I saw a mixture of paid public toilets and free ones.

Other Tips and Observations on my First Trip to Switzerland

  • The public water fountains in town squares have safe drinking water. Bring a reusable water bottle and fill up at the fountains to save money and avoid waste.
  • Some destinations issue a guest card to anyone spending a night (or two) in the city/region. These cards give free use of local public transportation and often discounts on attractions.
  • There are many helpful apps for travelling in Switzerland. My favourites were SBB Mobile for transportation planning, Switzerland Mobility for hiking and biking routes, and Swiss Travel Guide for attraction highlights.

Accommodations in Switzerland

For your convenience, here is a list of HOTELS IN SWITZERLAND. Please consider booking your Switzerland accommodations through the included link. It costs nothing extra and helps support this website. Thank you!

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