Whether you visit in summer or winter, there is so much to experience when you visit Switzerland. There are a few things we have learned on our travels that may save you time, money and make your trip more enjoyable the next time you visit Switzerland.
- Italian, German and French and Romansch are spoken, depending upon the region you are visiting.
- A German dialect was spoken in the Jungfrau-Eiger region we visited during our week in Grindelwald. English is spoken in the main tourist centres, but it would have been useful to have a little more German in the restaurants and cafes.
- Swiss Francs CHF is the currency in Switzerland.
- Either purchase your Swiss Francs before you leave, or use an ATM with your travel money card. Changing money at the airport or at cash exchanges can be very expensive.
- Some retailers will accept Euros, however you will receive your change in CHF
- Credit cards, debit cards and travel cards are widely accepted.
- The Swiss take recycling very seriously. Pre-taxed garbage bags can be bought at supermarkets and must be used when placing your non-recylable garbage in one of the many rubbish recycling depots. Bottles, cans and bottles must also be sorted and placed in the correct recycling bin. Huge fines apply if you don’t comply.
- Be wary of purchasing over-packaged items for this reason. You will have to pay to dispose of this waste as outlined above.
- Plastic shopping bags do not exist in Switzerland. You will need to pack your own tote bag to carry your shopping.
- Trains transport is incredibly easy in Switzerland, with a very efficient, punctual and extensive rail network.
- Accommodation providers usually provide guests with a free pass for use on the local transport system.
- If self driving, check to see if your hire car has a vignette to pay for motorway tolls. If not you will need to purchase one at the border if you intend using the motorways. These can also be purchased online. They must be attached to the inside of your windscreen before you cross the border.
- A Swiss Pass is available to provide you with discount train travel, free local transport, cable cars and entry into museums
- If you are not planning to use the rail system, a Swiss Half Fare card may be a cheaper option. It gives you a 50% discount on trains, buses, ferries and cable cars, however you do have to purchase a discount ticket for every journey.
- A Swiss family card will give you free travel for 6-15 year olds, including many cable cars.
Food and Drink
- Eating out in Switzerland is very expensive. Self catering is a very economical option, otherwise opt to eat out for lunch and have a light dinner.
- The type of cuisine will be influenced by the region you are visiting. The Grindelwald region had a very German flavour.
- Try the Swiss cheese and swiss chocolate.
- Raclette, a fried cheese dish is something you must try at least once in Switzerland
- The legal drinking age for beer and wine is 16. If you are travelling with a teenager it may be worth having a discussion before you go.
- Restaurants can be found along most hiking trails in the Swiss Alps, where you can find a good meal and refreshments.
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