Travel Tips for Switzerland
 
      Weather | Currency | Language | Food | Tipping | Transport | Hiking
| Some notes... | Shopping | Safety | Health | Holiday Sick

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The Alps, picture-perfect sceneries, the chime of church bells and chirp of cuckoo clocks, colorful markets, chocolates, cheese, medieval monuments, museums, pretty parks and lakes dotted with swans...Goodness, is this place for real ?!!

 
Weather Tips

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Extremely varied ! Summers are very hot and dry. Temperatures soar up to as high as 34°C. Lakes in Switzerland tend to make it humid. Funnily though, drive up some of the Alps and you'll see snow, ice and rain ! The lower mountains around Lake Geneva can be a relief - go up a couple of thousand feet and enjoy cool temperatures. Summer lasts from June to September. There are better deals in store and less crowds too in April-May or late September-October.

Winters are harsh though they make the Alps a great place to ski and for a long time too. So, lots of outdoor sports are in full swing from November to March.
 
Currency Money Handling Tips
Prices in Switzerland are in Swiss francs (Schweizer Franken, francs suisses or franchi svizzeri). The most common abbreviation is Fr. but you may also see fr, sFr, Sfr, SF, FS or the official bank abbreviation CHF. Each franc is divided into 100 and these are called Rappen (Rp.) in German-speaking areas, centimes (c) in francophone areas and centisimi (also c) in Italian-speaking areas. There are coins of 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, Fr.1, Fr.2 and Fr.5, and notes of Fr.10, Fr.20, Fr.50, Fr.100, Fr.200 and Fr.1000.
Language Tips

It's a mini-Europe as far as the language goes. In different areas here, German, French and Italian are widely spoken. French tends to be concentrated around the west of the country and the culture is decidedly French too. South is Italian, closer to the Italian border. The bulk of the country is German in style and most signs and markings change to German. What complicates this is that the population reads and writes.

German but speaks Schweiz-Deutsch (Swiss-German), a dialect that even Germans don't understand ! Thankfully though Swiss-German speakers can understand German. Finally, Romansch is spoken in isolated pockets.

Luggage Packaging and Safety Travel Tips for Switzerland
Yet, if you know English, you shouldn't worry. English is also spoken in most shops.

Culture is laid-back and informal in most areas and people are friendly and helpful everywhere
 
Food Tips

Food and eating Travel Tips for Switzerland

Like the languages spoken here, the food is as diverse and interesting. There are some local favorites too are rooted in dairy products - cheese, milk, cream, butter are ingredients of most dishes. Vegetarian options are far and few. Veggies need to inquire about the veg receipes that they find - the tomato soup can have bacon and fresh salads can be layered with salami !

Eating out can knock a
big hole in your budget. Avoid this by msaking lunch your main meal of the day - lunch menus are the least expensive. Even gourmet restaurants serve multi-lunches for Fr.25–40 (minus wine).

course. The same meal in the evening doubles up. Pizza / pasta joints and simple eateries can fill your stomach for Fr.15–20. For the less experimental, there are Turkish, Arabic and East Asian eateries. These are the fast-food types for a quick bite and not the places to enjoy home-like flavors. There's quality international cooking in Geneva, Zürich and Bern.

Needless to say you can always munch on some of the best chocolates in the world here and nibble on some fine cheese too. Chocolates come in lots and lots of flavors and sizes. There are chocolate bears and watches too ! And Swiss cheese is an institution by itself. As varied as the chocolates.

Swiss cafés open at breakfast time and often sell alcohol too. They might also be called bars although the latter tend to open their doors for late afternoon and evening business. Otherwise, places for tea and cakes are 'Tearooms'. Both tea and coffee come in a myriad styles - some local and others international. Take your pick !
Tipping Tips
Tipping is pretty regional here - practiced mostly in the larger cities. Restaurants include service charges of 15% along with the taxes in bills, yet a small tip is still expected - 1 SF (one Swiss franc) or 2 SF per person for a modest meal, 5 SF for a first-class meal and 10 SF at a swanky joint.

Elsewhere, give bathroom attendants 1 SF and hotel maids 2 SF. Theater and opera-house ushers get 2 SF. Hotel porters and doormen should get about 2 SF per bag in an upscale hotel, 1 SF elsewhere. Airport porters receive 5 SF per bag.
 
Transport Tips

Without a doubt, transport is as easy and lovely an experience as it can be. Fast, convenient and . To make it cheaper, get hold of a Swiss Card that'll give you unlimited train travel, a free transfer from any Swiss airport or border town to any city or town in Switzerland + 1 free transfer from any Swiss city or town to any Swiss airport or border town + 50% off all other rail, steamboat, bus and mountain excursions. That's a pocket-full of savings!

Online Travel Safety Tips for Switzerland
A Swiss Pass in hand, there's more unlimited travel on the entire network of the Swiss Travel System. This includes the Swiss Federal Railways, most private railroads, lake steamers, postal coaches and the urban transit system in most cities. On most excursions to mountain tops a discount of 25% is granted. Remember though that all Swiss Passes are valid on consecutive days. Pass options include 4 days, 8 days, 15 days and 1 month.

The Swiss Flexi-Pass, valid for 3 days, (additional days, up to 9, can be purchased too) offers the same benefits as the regular Swiss Pass. However you can chose your 3 days of travel during a 30 day period.

Swiss Family Cards are available free of charge for children under the age of sixteen to parents holding a Swiss Flexi- Pass, Swiss Card or Swiss Pass. A train every hour seems to be the motto of the Swiss Railways - from early morning to midnight. What's more - the train stops in the middle of enchanting villages and cities throughout Switzerland. Infact, many a times the train itself becomes the journey like the famous Glacier Express between St. Moritz and Zermatt that twists and turns over 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels and over the 2,033 m Oberalp Pass. It's difficult to hold those oohs and aahs back !
Hiking Tips
Unless you think you are fit or hike often, you must take it easy up in the mountains. There's a aplenty of hiking in store in the lovely Swiss lands. Up and down the steep mountains can be strenuous. Take small and light steps. Don't run - remember you aren't hurrying to work but on a holiday ! Carry your joggers or any pair of light shoes.
 
Some more tips...
Passports....
Everyone needs a valid passport. Visas are required for a continuous stay of more than 3 months. This applies to citizens of the American Continent (except Belize, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Peru), Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Customs...
Duty free limits say that visitors from non-European countries may import 400 cigarettes, 100 cigars or 500 grams of pipe tobacco. The allowance for alcohol is the same for everyone - 1 liter of spirits plus 2 liters below 15% volume. Tobacco and alcohol may only be brought in by people aged 17 or over. Gifts up to the value of SFr. 100 may also be imported, and food provisions for a day.

Banking / Post Office hours....
Banks are usually open from Monday to Friday, between 8:30am to 4:30pm and are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and on public holidays. Once a week, they extend their hours. Check this locally. Post offices in large cities are open from Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 12 noon and from 1:30pm to 6:30pm. On Saturdays, they work 7:30 to 11am.

Telephone Calls....
Simple. Call any country in the world from private or public telephones (coins, phone or credit-cards). To find a number in Switzerland, check the phone book or dial 111. For any other country except Germany (192) and France (193) call 191. Dialing 114 will connect you with the international operator. The country code for the USA is 001. Omit the first 0 of the local area code. To find out other country codes or the cost of domestic and foreign calls, consult the first pages of any Swiss phone book.
Shopping Tips

Shopping Travel Tips for Switzerland

This one's a killer. There's so much irresistible stuff around that you'll find your wallet becoming light in minutes. It's a shopper's paradise.

There are fine watches in a mind-boggling variety and are generally less expensive than in other countries. Who doesn't know about the divine Swiss chocolates? Many sizes, shapes and mouth-watering flavors. Textiles, embroideries, fine handkerchiefs, linen, precision instruments, drafting sets, multi-blade pocket knives, music boxes, woodcarvings, ceramics and other handmade items, antiques and art books are worth it.

All major credit cards are accepted in big shops and department stores. Shops stay open between 9am to 6:30pm on weekdays and from 9am to 4pm on Saturdays.
Ask for your tax-free shopping cheque and reclaim the VAT if your purchase costs at least CHF. 500. Europe tax-free shopping offers a swift cash refund system at Zurich and Geneva airports and at all major airports in Europe.
Safety Tips
No problem ! Switzerland is safe. Needless to say, though, that it is smart to practice common sense tactics. The usual rules still hold - avoid "bad" areas of cities, don't venture out alone in deserted areas or at night, take care with wallets, cash etc. especially whilst on public transport. Pick-pocketing can happen. Stay alert.
 
Health Tips
Good news again ! There are no major health risks in Switzerland except a 'little' problem - mosquitoes. They thrive in the low-lying areas, especially around lakes. They aren't deadly but just plain irritating. Remember to carry repellents. You need no vaccinations either.
 
Holilday Sick
A trip to stunning Switzerland is sure to make the Swiss hangover last for some good time. After an exciting trip, you will be talking about it to friends, relatives and others and will bore them with your photos and tales. Here's a simple remedy:
 
Share your experiences with makemytrip.com. We will even preserve them by posting your story and pictures on the site.
 
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