Switzerland: detailed travel guide

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Switzerland: detailed travel guide

Switzerland, or the Swiss Confederation, is a state in Western Europe, bordering Germany in the north, Italy in the south, France in the west, and Austria and Liechtenstein in the east.

The state has no legal capital; the actual capital is the city of Bern. Other major cities are Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Lausanne.

Switzerland has a population of 8,508,898 (2018 data). The official languages ​​are German, French, Italian, Romansh (Romansh).

Switzerland is landlocked. Geographically, the country’s territory can be divided into three natural regions: the Jura Mountains in the north, the Swiss plateau in the center and the Alps in the south (occupy 61% of the country’s territory).

The name of the state comes from the name of the canton of Schwyz, (a territory within Switzerland), formed from the ancient German word “burn”. The Latin name of the country is also common – Confoederatio Helvetica or Helvetia (Helvetia in Russian), which can be seen in the abbreviation of the Swiss currency, on car numbers, on postage stamps and in the name of the Swiss Internet domain (.ch).

Today’s Switzerland is a recognized center of tourism. It attracts guests with a developed tourist infrastructure, a high level of service, an advantageous geographical location, and excellent opportunities for practicing winter sports. Picturesque landscapes have become the visiting card of the country: small picturesque cities, clean lakes and high snowy mountains.

How to get there

Aircraft

The most common way to get to Switzerland is by plane. The main air gates of the country are Zurich and Geneva. Airports in Basel, Bern and Lugano also host some international flights.

In addition to direct regular flights, there are flights to Switzerland with connections in European cities.

Various European airlines fly to the cities of Switzerland with connections at their home airports. Below we list these airlines (the cities of connections are indicated in brackets).

Connecting Flights to Zurich

  • Czech Airlines (Prague)
  • Lufthansa (Frankfurt am Main)
  • Austrian Airlines (Vienna)
  • Finnair (Helsinki)
  • AlItalia (Rome)
  • Air France (Paris)
  • KLM (Amsterdam)
  • Air Malta (La Valletta)
  • SAS (Stockholm and Copenhagen)
  • Air Baltic (Riga)
  • Turkish Airlines (Istanbul)
  • Germanwings (Cologne)
  • Air Berlin (Berlin)
  • Niki (Vienna)
  • Ukraine International Airlines (Kiev)
  • LOT (Warsaw)
  • British Airways (London)

Flight to Switzerland from the CIS

In the vicinity of Lake Geneva

In the vicinity of Lake Geneva

UIA (Ukraine International Airlines) flies from Kiev to Zurich and Geneva, and Swiss Airlines operates a Kiev – Zurich flight. Also Austrian Airlines flies from Odessa to Geneva via Vienna and LOT via Warsaw.

From Minsk to Geneva, Belavia and LOT airlines jointly operate flights, as well as Lufthansa) flies through Frankfurt twice a week. You can get to Zurich from Minsk by Belavia codeshare flights with LOT (via Warsaw), Czech Airlines (via Prague), Austrian Airlines (via Vienna).

Bus

You can also get to Switzerland from Russia by bus. The flight Moscow – Zurich is operated by Ecolines. Flights with a transfer in Europe of the same company Ecolines, serving the Kiev (Ukraine) – Zurich (Switzerland) route, are also possible.

A train

Another way to get to Switzerland is by train. There are no direct trains from Russia to Switzerland, you can get there with a change in Germany. The trip will take about one and a half days, its cost will be comparable to the price of an air ticket.

Ukraine also does not have a direct railway connection with Switzerland, you can get there with a transfer in European cities. Such a trip is only justified if you are traveling in one direction only, or if you have tickets for transport within the EU zone, which give a significant discount.

You can get to Switzerland by international train (TGV, ICE, Cisalpino, City Night Line) from almost any European country.

Auto

Getting to Switzerland by car is quite easy, as many high-speed, well-equipped highways connect the country with neighboring European states. The distance by road from Moscow to Zurich is 2650 km. The route will run through the territories of Belarus, Poland and Germany, or through the territories of Belarus, Poland, Czech Republic and Germany.

Water transport

The waterway to Switzerland is far from the most popular, but quite possible. So, you can get to Switzerland by boat from Amsterdam along the Rhine, by ferry from Germany through Lake Constance, from Italy through Lake Maggiore and from France through Lake Geneva. The transport is carried out by a number of private companies, among which, for example, the Compagnie Generale de Navigation (CGN), which provides the possibility of travel by steamer between the main French and Swiss ports on the shores of Lake Geneva.

Swiss history

Archaeological research has proven that the first settlements of ancient people on the territory of present-day Switzerland appeared about ten thousand years ago. From 58 BC e. the territory was owned by the Romans, who drove out the Helvetians, the descendants of the Celtic tribes who once came to these places from the middle Rhine. It was the Romans who became the founders of a number of settlements, on the site of which the Swiss cities are now located – Nyon, Lausanne, Bern, Basel, etc.

In the 8th century, Charlemagne defeated the Lombards, and the lands of Helvetia were ceded to the Franks. From the middle of the 9th century, the East Frankish Empire was established here, then – Burgundy, and from the 11th century Switzerland was under the rule of Germany. In the XIII century, the Habsburgs became interested in the lands of Helvetia and started a war for them. On August 1, 1291, the three cantons (Schwyz, Nidwalden and Uri) sign the so-called “Eternal Alliance”, which guarantees mutual support in the struggle against external enemies. This treaty marked the beginning of the creation of the Swiss Confederation.

At the beginning of the XIV century, Switzerland, having defeated the army of Leopold of Habsburg, forces Austria to recognize the independence of the Alpine communities, while the Habsburgs renounce their claims to Swiss lands in favor of Burgundy. In the second half of the 15th century, the Swiss repeatedly fought for their right to independence. Soon new cantons joined the Confederation – Solothurn, Basel, Appenzell, Schaffhausen.

At the beginning of the 16th century, the Confederation was forced to sign an unprofitable treaty with France. And at the end of the 18th century, Napoleonic troops invaded Switzerland, some cities were reassigned to the French crown. But Napoleon’s failures subsequently led to the entry of new cantons into the Confederation and the strengthening of the country on the political map of Europe.

In 1848, the Swiss constitution was adopted, a version of which, updated twenty-six years later, is still the country’s main document.

For about 200 years, Switzerland has been one of the main diplomatic centers of the world; in all European and world military conflicts, the country has remained neutral.

Climate and weather in Switzerland

Lucerne. View of the Reuss embankment and the Chateau Gutsch hotel.

Lucerne. View of the Reuss embankment and the Chateau Gutsch hotel

Despite the fact that Switzerland has a continental climate typical of Central Europe with significant fluctuations in temperature and humidity depending on the altitude, the landscapes in the country are quite diverse: from the Arctic plateaus covered with moss and lichens to Mediterranean palm groves and mimosa thickets.

The winters in the country are cold, and if in the valleys the temperature barely reaches 0°C in the winter months, then in the mountainous regions it is -10°C and below. The average temperature of the summer months in the valleys is + 18–20°C and somewhat lower in the mountains. A special quality of the Eastern Alps, which attracts a lot of tourists, is that even in May-June, at an altitude of more than 1500 m, precipitation falls in the form of snow pellets. Some areas are permanently under ice.

Cities and regions

Switzerland is composed of 26 administrative units – cantons (more precisely, 20 cantons and 6 semi-cantons) (German Kantone, French cantons, Italian cantoni, Romish chantuns). Each canton has its own constitution, parliament, government and is completely independent in solving internal problems. The central government decides international issues, deals with the federal budget and is in charge of the issue of money. Cantons, in turn, are divided into communities (Gemeinde). There are over 2000 communities.

It is worth noting that some cities in Switzerland have different names in different languages. In addition, the country can be geographically divided into 5 parts.

Western Switzerland

Western Switzerland is a French-speaking region of the country, covering the territories of several cantons (Vaud, Geneva, Neuchâtel, Jura, Solothurn, Friborg, partly Valais and Basel-Land). Western Switzerland stretches from Lake Geneva in the south to the Rhine Valley in the north. This picturesque region is distinguished by deep canyons, slopes of low mountains, planted with vineyards, green forests and clear lakes (Neuchâtel, Biel, Geneva, etc.).

Northern Switzerland

Northern Switzerland is the northern sloping part of the country, occupying the Swiss plateau (Plateau suisse, Schweizer Mittelland, Swiss plateau), stretching from the shores of Lake Geneva to Lake Constance. It consists of the territories of the cantons Basel-Stadt, Argau, Zurich, Thurgau, Schiffhausen, Appenzell-Ausserrhoden, Appenzell-Innerrhoden. This area is the most densely populated region of the country, its economic and political center. In addition, Northern Switzerland is a very picturesque region: with the Jura Mountains in the north and north-west, with the foothills of the Alps in the south, with clean lakes, powerful waterfalls and vineyards.

Eastern Switzerland

Eastern Switzerland is the eastern part of the country, which has long been chosen by tourists. It is made up of the cantons of St. Gallen, Glarus, and partly Graubünden. It is in the local mountains that many famous resorts with boarding houses and hotels are located; on the shores of the lakes, there are pastoral villages with cozy chalets. In addition, this region is the main sports center of the country, attracting outdoor enthusiasts at any time of the year.

Central Switzerland

One of the first psychiatric clinics in Europe in Montreux

One of the first psychiatric clinics in Europe in Montreux

Central Switzerland, or Zentralschweiz, Innerschweiz is one of the most popular parts of the country among visitors, which has shaped its tourist appearance. The cantons of Lucerne, Schwyz, Zug, Uri, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Bern are located here. On the territory of Central Switzerland are the northern slopes of the Alps and Lake Lucerne. All local lakes are elongated and very deep, they were formed in the basins of ancient glaciers. The local landscapes are mountain peaks, green valleys and alpine meadows of the Bernese Highlands, pristine lakes and mountain rivers originating in glaciers, ancient castles and modern hotels.

Southern Switzerland

Southern Switzerland is a region of the country located on the territory of three large cantons. Valais canton (in the west, mostly French-speaking) and the canton of Graubünden (in the east, German-speaking) are famous for their ski resorts. Canton Ticino – Italian-speaking, the most southern, offers tourists rest on the shores of large lakes, as well as walks in the mountains.

What to see in Switzerland

Castles of Switzerland:

  • Chillon Castle
  • Habsburg castle
  • Castle Gruyeres
  • Castelgrande castle
  • Montebello castle
  • Aigle Castle

Natural attractions of Switzerland:

  • Mount Matterhorn
  • Mount Pilatus
  • Beatus Caves
  • Rhine Falls
  • Reichenbach Falls
  • Lauterbrunnen
  • Salt mine in Be

Sights of Switzerland:

  • Zurich landmarks
  • Attractions in Geneva
  • Bern landmarks
  • Lausanne landmarks
  • Lugano landmarks
  • Attractions Locarno
  • Ascona landmarks
  • Lucerne landmarks
  • Attractions Vitznau
  • Attractions Bürgenstock
  • Attractions Montreux
  • Attractions Vevey
  • Attractions Yverdon-les-Bains
  • Attractions St. Moritz
  • Davos landmarks
  • Engelberg landmarks
  • Attractions in Zermatt
  • Attractions Jungfrau
  • Interlaken landmarks
  • Winterthur landmarks
  • Sights of Appenzell
  • Attractions Martigny
  • Attractions Hergiswil

What to do for a tourist in Switzerland

Skiing

Cable car to climb Mount Pilatus

Cable car to climb Mount Pilatus

With two thirds of the country’s territory covered by mountains, Switzerland has become a real Mecca for skiers and climbers. The Swiss Alps are considered the birthplace of mountaineering and skiing. Local resorts are distinguished by a high level of service and comfort, and the Swiss tracks are probably some of the best in the world. Swiss slopes are unlikely to be suitable for beginners and intermediate tourists, but they will bring a lot of pleasure to professionals.

The most popular ski resorts: Murren, Grindelwald, Wengen, Gstaad, Engelberg, St. Moritz, Zermatt, Verbier, Davos.

The skiing season lasts from November to April, and in some places (on glaciers) even in summer. Read more about skiing in this alpine country in the article “Ski resorts in Switzerland”.

Rest on the lakes

Switzerland is famous for its abundance of lakes. Tourists choosing a vacation on the lakes are guaranteed to receive peace, tranquility, picturesque landscapes and high-quality service. The beaches on the lakes are usually grassy, ​​free and municipal, there are no paid and private hotel beaches. Sun beds and umbrellas are located only at the hotel pools.
The swimming season on the lakes lasts different times. So, on Lake Geneva, the largest in Europe, the water is cool, and is suitable for swimming only in July – August. Tourists are attracted here not so much by the beaches as by the clean air, the combination of subtropical vegetation and snowy peaks. In Lake Lucerne, the water is even colder than in Lake Geneva. Lake Luhansk and Lake Maggiore have the warmest water in Switzerland, which is due to their geographic location. The swimming season lasts from June to September. The local climate is subtropical, not at all typical for the rest of Switzerland.

The ten largest lakes in Switzerland:

  • Lake Geneva (582.4 km2)

    View of Lake Geneva in the area of the town of Co

    View of Lake Geneva in the area of the town of Co

  • Lake Constance (539 km2)
  • Lake Neuchâtel (217.9 km2)
  • Lake Maggiore (212.3 km2)
  • Lake Ferwaldstät (Lucerne) (113.8 km2)
  • Lake Zurich (88.4 km2)
  • Lake Lugano (48.8 km2)
  • Lake Thun (48.4 km2)
  • Lake Biel (40 km2)
  • Lake Zug (38 km2)

Wellness

You can go to Switzerland for anything, but not for cheapness, and medical services in this situation are an excellent illustration of how the highest standards of treatment and, at the same time, solid prices are met. Switzerland is well known for the quality of its specialized clinics, employing the highest level of professionals in their specific field. In particular, among wealthy citizens, plastic surgery is especially in demand. The service and treatment of patients in Swiss clinics deserves five points out of five. Naturally, such standards will have to fork out a lot. If serious treatment in a hospital ward is not necessary, then you can combine a pleasant Alpine vacation with wellness procedures.

The purest mountain air, combined with healing thermal waters and a high level of Swiss medicine, makes the country attractive for treatment and recovery. Switzerland, on the territory of which about 250 healing springs have been discovered, is famous for its clinics equipped with the latest technology and highly qualified specialists. Due to the mountainous landscape, Swiss thermal springs contain highly concentrated sulfur, magnesium, calcium and other active ingredients that are effectively used in the treatment of diseases of the musculoskeletal system, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, diseases of the nervous system, as well as for post-traumatic rehabilitation and restoration of tone and immunity. The most famous of the spa resorts are Baden, Bad Ragaz, Be-les-Bains, St. Moritz, Schintznach. The main healing factors here are mineral waters used for baths, irrigation, bathing, drinking cures, and mud treatments.

Among the mountain-climatic resorts, it is worth noting such resorts as Arosa, Davos, Interlaken, Leysin, Pontresina, St. Moritz, Zermatt. The main therapeutic factors in these resorts are clean, dry, ozone-rich air and a mild climate. Recuperation there is recommended for patients suffering from lung diseases, anemia and functional disorders of the nervous system.

The country has a developed network of private clinics that are members of the Swiss Leading Hospitals association of medical institutions.

The most famous clinics in Switzerland

Clinics Montreux

  • Health Center Clinique Lemana

    Lake Geneva embankment overlooking La Cite du Temps, a public exhibition center dedicated to the world of time, with a permanent exhibition of Swatch watches

    Lake Geneva embankment overlooking La Cite du Temps, a public exhibition center dedicated to the world of time, with a permanent exhibition of Swatch watches

  • Center Biotonus Clinique Bon Port
  • Clinique valmont-genolier
  • Center Cambuzat
  • Swiss Antiage Group
  • Clinique la prairie
  • Clinique laclinic

Clinics in Geneva

  • Clinique Gеnеrale-Beaulieu
  • Сlinique Genolier
  • Clinique des grangettes
  • Private clinic “De la Tour”

Clinics Lausanne

  • Clinique de montchoisi
  • Clinic Lemanic

Clinics in Zurich

  • Clinique pyramide am see
  • Hirslanden private clinic network
  • University Hospital Zurich

Davos Clinics

  • Hochgebirgsklinik Davos-Wolfgang

Wellness centers in Bad Ragaz

  • Baths of Tamina
  • Wellness complex Grand Hotel
  • Medical Center Bad Ragaz
  • Wellness-studio “Ad Fontes”

SPA in Scuol and Leukerbad

  • Bon Engadine Thermal Complex
  • SPA center Burgerbard
  • SPA center Alpenterm

Getting around the country

Switzerland trains

The main type of intercity transport in the country is trains. The busiest rail network in Europe is operated by the Swiss State Railways (SBB).

Train station in Switzerland

Train station in Switzerland

The railway system in Switzerland works exactly like a Swiss watch. The staff is competent, friendly, speaks several European languages. Trains are on schedule despite the difficult terrain. Train schedules are well coordinated with bus and river transport.

At any station, you can buy a ticket to any destination in Switzerland, you can also do this in advance online.
Swiss trains have dining cars, children’s playgrounds. The train schedule is very convenient for passengers: trains depart hourly in all directions across the country, and to major cities – every half hour.

In the Swiss Alps, there are many narrow-gauge railways, often private, which, during the winter snowfalls, are the only transport arteries connecting high-mountain villages with the rest of the country. Moreover, many trains are equipped with special platforms on which tourists can take a rented car with them.

Among such branch lines, it is worth noting the Jungfrau railway (Interlaken Ost – Lauterbrunnen / Grindelwald – Kleine Scheidegg – Jungfraujoch), located at an altitude of 3454 m, and is the highest railway branch in Europe; the railway of the Chablais region (Aigle – Leysin, Aigle – Le Diablerets, Aigle – Ollon – Monte – Champery / Morgan, Be – Villard (- Breteillet)); railways of the Swiss Riviera (Montreux – Co – Roche de Naye, Vevey – Blonie – Pleiades, Vevey – Mont Pelerin).

In addition, train rides along the famous panoramic routes are very popular among tourists:

Glacier Express

  • Route: Zermatt – Brig – Andermatt – Chur – St. Moritz
  • Travel time: 7.5 hours
  • Valid: all year round
  • Website: Glacier Express

Bernina Express

  • Route: Chur – St. Moritz – Bernina Pass – Poschiavo – Tirano (Lugano)
  • Travel time – 4 hours
  • Valid: all year round
  • Website: Bernina Express

Golden Pass

  • Route: (Zurich) Lucerne – Brunig Pass – Interlaken – Zweisimen – Montreux (Geneva)
  • Travel time – 5.5 hours
  • Valid: all year round
  • Website: Golden Pass Line

San Bernard Express

Route: Martigny – Orsier – Grande San Bernard
Travel time is 1 hour. 2-3 flights per day
Valid: year-round, but in winter it is planned to change to a bus in Orsiera
Website: Sankt Bernhard Express

Express Mont Blanc

  • Route: Martigny – Chatelard Frontier – Chamonix (France)
  • Travel time – 1.5 hours
  • Valid: all year round, several flights a day
  • Website: Mont-Blanc Express

Wilhelm Tell Express

  • Route: Lucerne – Lake Lucerne – Flüelen – St. Gotthard – Bellinzona – Lugano (Locarno). Train ride combined with a boat trip on Lake Lucerne
  • Travel time: 5 hours
  • Valid: from May to October
  • Website: Wilhelm Tell Express

Chocolate Express

  • Route: Montreux – Gruyeres – Brock and back. Ride in the historic Belle Epoque carriage (1915) or in a special modern panoramic carriage of your choice. The price includes a visit to the
  • Château de Gruyères, the cheese factory in Gruyères and the Nestle confectionery factory
  • Travel time: from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm
  • Valid: from June to October
  • Website: Train du chocolat Suisse

Buses

All cities in Switzerland have a very convenient public transport bus system. Some cities have trolleybuses and trams. Intercity bus transportation is carried out by the Swiss Post, therefore intercity buses are Postbus “post buses” of bright yellow color. Like all other transport in the country, buses are very punctual.

Bus tickets are sold from vending machines at every stop (they only accept coins!).
All urban public transport is subject to the unified travel cards of the “Swiss travel system” – Swiss Pass.

As with the railway system, the Swiss bus network has several panoramic routes, among which the most popular are:

Romantic Route Express

  • Route: Andermatt – Furkapass – Glech – Grimselpass – Meiringen – Grosse Scheidegg – Grindelwald

Palm Express

  • Route: St. Moritz-Lugano, with a visit to Lake Como (Italy)
  • Travel time – about 4 hours

Swiss Travel System passes are also valid on panoramic trails, but they require a surcharge of around CHF 20. Reservations for buses are mandatory and can be made at any train station in Switzerland or at a travel agency.

Taxi

Taxis in Switzerland are quite an expensive form of transport. All cars are latest models, licensed and well equipped. Typically, the cost of travel varies from city to city. The basic fare for boarding on average in the country is 5 CHF for 1 person, then 2 CHF is charged for each kilometer of travel. In the evenings and on Sundays, the fare is increased. The trip to the airport most often has a fixed cost.

Car

In the Alps on the way to the Saint Gotthard Pass

In the Alps on the way to the Saint Gotthard Pass

Getting around Switzerland by car is very convenient, despite the rather difficult mountainous terrain. The roads are excellent even in the most remote corners of the country. The country spends a significant part of the budget annually on maintaining and improving roads.

There are about 600 tunnels in the Alps to facilitate travel in the mountains, as well as a large number of bridges erected over the gorges. Headlights are mandatory in tunnels. In winter, it is advisable to use anti-slip chains (they can be rented from service points).

To travel on highways (marked with green signboards) you need to purchase a vignette coupon (price – 40 CHF). It is placed in the lower left corner of the windshield. You can buy a coupon at border checkpoints, post offices and gas stations.

Speed ​​limit: in cities – 50 km / h, on main highways 80 km / h, on highways – 120 km / h. Children under 12 years old must sit in the back seat of a car. The use of seat belts is mandatory for those in the front seat.

In the event of the slightest traffic accident, contact the police.
Emergency assistance should be called by calling 140 (ask Autohilfe). Information on the condition of Swiss roads is available by calling 120 or 163.

Lead-free petrol (“sans plomb”, “bleifrei”) costs about CHF 1.20, premium petrol – CHF 1.31. Prices are higher in mountainous areas. Many gas stations are equipped with petrol vending machines that accept 10 and 20 CHF notes.

You can rent a car in Switzerland at all airports, large train stations and cities in branches of all major car rental offices. To rent a car, the driver must be at least 21 years old (for some car models – from 25 years old), the driver must have an international driver’s license, at least three years of driving experience and a valid credit card (in some cases, even two) …

Water transport

Water transport is part of the general transport system in Switzerland. Water communication is organized on all major lakes of the country (Geneva, Maggiore, Constance, Neuchâtel, Lugano, Lucerne), routes connect all coastal settlements. Transportation is carried out by ships and steamers, trips are most often of an entertainment and excursion nature. Crossings from one coast to another are carried out by car and passenger ferries.

In addition, there are river routes along the Rhine, which separates the territories of Switzerland and Germany. The Rhine is navigable from Basel all the way to the North Sea. The Swiss river port of Basel is considered to be the main transshipment point where cargo is redistributed from river routes to land routes and vice versa.

Tickets for water transport in Switzerland can be bought both at the ticket offices at the berths and on board. With the Swiss Travel System (Swiss Pass), water transport is free.

Vessels’ timetables are present at most public transport stops (including ship berths). The internet timetable can be viewed on the SBB website. It is valid for all modes of transport and helps tourists plan the best travel itineraries in Switzerland.

A bike

In Zurich and Geneva, in addition to public transport, it is possible to rent a bike for free. At the rental point, you only need to leave an ID and a 20 CHF deposit per day (in Zurich) or 50 CHF (in Geneva).

Everything about renting bicycles in Switzerland (rental points, rates, routes) on this website.

Tickets

Tickets for travel in Swiss transport are the same for all types of transport. In addition to regular tickets for 1 trip, there are roundtrip tickets on the same route, travel passes lasting from one day to one month. In addition to them, there are tickets for travel in the transport of cities in Switzerland. Their cost varies from city to city and ranges from 2 to 7.5 CHF.

However, tourists in Switzerland are better off using a specially created, very convenient system of payment for travel in transport – “Swiss Travel System” (Swiss Travel System). This is a system of travel cards, valid for all types of regular transport, giving discounts on many types of tourist transport. Also, the Swiss Pass is a subscription for free admission to about 450 museums in the country, and the holders of such a ticket receive discounts on excursions to mountain peaks and many other services.

If you make at least two long trips around the country, buying such a pass will pay off. In the case of a large number of trips, they simply cannot be done without them.

Passes are of the following types:

Swiss Pass – allows you to move freely an unlimited number of times throughout the railway network, by bus and by water transport. There are periods of 4, 8, 15, 21 days or 1 month. Swiss Passes are also available for youth. They provide young people under 26 with a significant discount.

Swiss Flexi Pass – allows you to move freely an unlimited number of times on all vehicles for 3, 6 or 8 days within one calendar month.

Both tickets also include tram and bus travel in 36 cities across the country, as well as discounts on many funiculars in the mountains. If there are more than two passengers, the Swiss Pass and Swiss Flexi Pass provide each subsequent passenger with an additional 15% discount.

Swiss Transfer Ticket is a special travel card that allows you to travel in both directions from the Swiss border or the airport of arrival to your destination. Valid for one month.

Swiss Card – provides the same opportunities as the Swiss Transfer Ticket, plus the opportunity to travel for one month on all types of transport in the country at half price.

In the case of both passes, travel from the Swiss border or from the airport to the destination or back must be carried out on the same day.

Swiss Family Card (family pass) – issued free of charge with the purchase of any of the passes described above. This is an additional service provided by the Swiss Travel System to its customers. The pass enables children under the age of 16 to travel free of charge with a parent who bought a ticket.

Children between the ages of 6 and 16 who do not belong to your family are eligible for a 50% discount on all passes listed above.

Travel tickets are regularly checked by controllers. A large fine is imposed for travel without a ticket.

Travel passes can be purchased at most train stations and major train stations in Switzerland. The Swiss Cards ticket is only sold at airports and border railway stations. Tickets can also be obtained by mail. Within Switzerland, the above tickets are delivered free of charge within 3 days. The travel card is sent abroad by mail or DHL, the cost of delivery is from 8 to 42 CHF, the parcel will arrive in 4-14 days.

Swiss cuisine

Today’s Swiss cuisine, formed from a mixture of French, Austrian-German and Italian culinary traditions, is recognized by gourmets around the world.

Each part of Switzerland has its own national cuisine. For example, on the shores of Lake Geneva, delights are prepared from local perch, in Zug, a specialty is cherry cake, in Graubünden – barley soup, in Zurich – fried potatoes Resti (Roesti) with chopped veal in wine sauce, in St. Gallen – veal sausages, in Ticino – Minestrone vegetable soup, polenta, saffron risotto and ravioli. Schaffhausen is famous for its onion pie, and Neuchâtel is famous for its cheese fondue.

Swiss cheese

Swiss cheese

Swiss cheese

Cheese is the symbol of Switzerland, the main supplier of protein to the table of local residents, and cheese fondue is the hallmark of Swiss cuisine. According to the classic recipe, this delicacy is made from a mixture of Gruyere and Vacherine cheeses, melted and mixed with white wine, flour, cherry vodka and garlic. Also, far beyond the borders of the country, such brands of cheese as Emmental, Appenzellern, Tete de Moine are known.

Despite the fact that animal husbandry in Switzerland is very developed, they eat little pure meat here, but they use many types of pork sausages and sausages, for example, “Beinwurst”, “Engadinerwurst”, “Kalbleberwurst” (veal liver pate), “Knakerli” , “Landieger” and “Leberwurst” (pate).

Vyande seche (beef or pork jerky) from Valais, served with green onions, is also a national delicacy; Resti – fried potatoes; meat fondue Bourguignon.

Switzerland has no equal in terms of the number of types of bakery products in Europe: the Swiss bake about 300 types of bread. Along with the varieties familiar to the regions and cantons, there are also types of flour products that are baked only on special occasions.

For dessert in Switzerland, you can try Lekerli – spicy honey cakes with sugar glaze, which are usually decorated in Bern with a white sugar bear. It is also worth trying the Basel Brunel and Lotus Petals, and in Zurich, the sweet flour dishes hühli and krepfli.

Swiss chocolate

Do not forget that the sights of Switzerland are not only natural beauty and architectural structures, but also the famous Swiss chocolate!

Switzerland has long vied with Belgium for the title of the best chocolate producer in the world. Be that as it may, but without a doubt – Swiss chocolate is incredibly tasty. Chocolate production in Switzerland has a long tradition. Thus, the world-famous Nestlé company, based in Switzerland, is one of the largest chocolate manufacturers. In addition to her, there are a large number of other manufacturers in Switzerland who make excellent chocolate, including by hand. Only high quality ingredients are used in the Swiss chocolate recipe, most of which are imported. The milk that is part of the chocolate is only local, obtained from cows that are grazed on green alpine meadows.

The production of chocolate is different in each region, you can find chocolate that differs not only in taste, but also in shape: chocolate bears, clocks, Easter bunnies in spring, chocolate mushrooms and chestnuts in autumn. So, in Zurich, two varieties of traditional chocolate are produced: Teuscher and Sprüngli, as well as Pamaco sweets from noble varieties of cocoa beans, which are considered one of the best in Switzerland. Other varieties of Swiss chocolate known all over the world are Frey, Lindt, Maestrani, Schmerling, Nestle, Toblerone.

Chocolate connoisseurs can be advised to visit the very first Cailler chocolate factory in Broc with a guided tour, where chocolate is produced according to original recipes developed by the founder François-Louis Killer. Founded in 1819, the Cailler factory is the pioneer of chocolate production not only in Switzerland, but also in the world.

National spirits are Kirschwasser (a transparent fruit brandy with a cherry aroma and a strength of 40 degrees), Pflumli plum schnapps and Williams pear brandy.

There is also a wide selection of local wines throughout the country. Among the white wines it is worth noting “Johannioberg”, “Ferdan”, “Lavu”, among the red ones – “Lamey”, “Coron” and “Dol”.

Also very tasty Swiss beer. The most famous local brands are strong Rheingold (produced by the Cardinal brewery), golden Ittinger Klosterbier (Actienbrauerei Frauenfeld), Barbara-Brau De Luxe (Eichhof Luzern), as well as two varieties of corn beer from Interlaken and Einsiedeln.

Tourists in Switzerland can eat at one of a variety of catering outlets, of which there are a huge number in the country – for every tourist taste and budget: from expensive French, Italian and Swiss gourmet restaurants to cheap pizzerias, Mexican eateries and self-service canteens. Most restaurants and cafes have a “menu of the day” called “Tagesteller” or “Plat du Jour”. This is a full lunch that costs between 15 and 25 CHF. The cost of service in bars and restaurants in Switzerland is included in the cost of services, so you do not need to leave a tip.

Shopping in Switzerland

Switzerland and shopping are not exactly compatible, they are rather inseparable like Siamese twins. It is unforgivable to be in Switzerland and not buy something of the country’s symbols. Yes, there is a partly true stereotype about the high cost of Swiss goods. But if you do not have the funds to buy a Swiss watch, then you can always take with you Swiss chocolate, or Swiss cheese.

You can read more about shopping in this alpine country in the article “Shopping in Switzerland”.

Shops in Switzerland

  • A L’Emeraude watch boutique (Lausanne)
  • Bucherer Watch Store (Lucerne)

Zurich shops

  • Sihl City Shopping Center
  • Globus Shopping Center
  • Company`s store
  • Globus outlet
  • Bag outlet
  • Shop-Ville HB Shopping Center
  • G-Star Outlet Zürich

Geneva shops

  • Bon Genie Department Store
  • Globus department store
  • Department Store Manor
  • Bucherer watch house

Communication

Telephone booths in Switzerland can be found everywhere, often they are located at post offices, bars, cafes and restaurants, shops, directly on city streets (calls from post offices are cheaper). Payphones operate on telephone cards, which are sold in hotels, post offices, newsagents, railway stations, gas stations, etc. Cards are available in denominations of 10 and 20 CHF. It is worth remembering that the cheapest calls will be on weekdays from 18:00 to 8:00, as well as on weekends and holidays.

To call Switzerland from Russia from a landline phone: 8-10-41- (area code) – (phone number)

To call Switzerland from Russia using a mobile phone: + 41- (area code) – (phone number)

International calls can be made from any pay phone by dialing 00, followed by the country and city code (for Ukraine +38, for Russia +7).

The international country dialing code is +41.

Switzerland city codes:

  • Geneva – 22
  • Zurich – 1
  • Lausanne – 21
  • Basel – 61
  • Lucerne – 41

Emergency telephone numbers in Switzerland:

  • Police 117
  • Ambulance 14
  • Fire brigade 118
  • Emergency Service 144
  • Car Accident Assistance 140
  • Weather Forecast 162
  • Avalanche Bulletin 187

Cellular

If visitors to Switzerland are going to make a lot of calls on its territory, it is worth using the mobile communication provided by local operators.

Now there are 3 large mobile operators in the country: Swisscom (operator code – 79), Orange (operator code – 78), Sunrise (operator code – 76).

Swisscom has the best coverage (about 99% of the country). Orange and Sunrise offer prepaid mobile packages for 30 CHF (Orange) and 19.90 CHF (Sunrise). It should be remembered that not all packages offered by Swiss mobile operators are available to foreigners – many of them are designed for Swiss citizens and are released only upon presentation of a passport. Therefore, it is better to find out in advance with the operator what package will be available to guests of Switzerland during their stay in the country.

The Internet

Most of the Wi-Fi hotspots are owned by Swisscom and are chargeable. Payment is made with plastic cards or provider cards. Regular access can be obtained from dedicated Swisscom telephone kiosks and Internet cafes. Free Wi-Fi internet access is available at McDonald’s and Starbucks. Remember that you need to order something at Starbucks, only then you can ask for a card that will allow you to connect to the network. The card is valid for 30 minutes.

Safety

Despite the fact that Switzerland is a very calm country, and the crime rate in it is one of the lowest in Europe, tourists should still be careful in crowded places, as well as during evening walks in urban areas inhabited by immigrants from Africa and the Middle East.

Medicine in the country is extremely expensive, so before a trip, especially to a ski resort, it is worth taking out medical insurance, which would stipulate the risk of injury while skiing on the slopes.

Where to stay

A huge number of hotels are at the service of tourists in Switzerland: from luxurious “five-star” hotels of famous world hotel chains to modest cozy family boarding houses. Switzerland is home to both the world’s major hotel brands (Accor, Best Western, Crown Plaza, Hilton, Leonardo, Moevenpick, Radisson, Ramada Worldwide) and European brands such as Iglu-Dorf. Most Swiss hotels are classified according to the European Hotelstars. The staff of all hotels speaks English.

Hotel on the way to Saint-Gotthard

Hotel on the way to Saint-Gotthard

The level of service offered in hotels in Switzerland is extremely high, however, the cost of accommodation in them is more expensive than in neighboring countries by 20-30%. For example, a 3 * hotel in Geneva will hardly cost less than 100 euros per room.

Switzerland has a developed network of campgrounds, which, as a rule, are located on the shores of lakes or rivers, and have cafes, restaurants, swimming pools and playgrounds on their territory. In summer, campsites are very popular, so it is advisable to book places in them in advance.

Hostels are one of the most economical accommodation options in Switzerland. They have family rooms for 2-4 people with a shower and toilet, family rooms without a shower and toilet (common facilities for the entire floor or for a block of several rooms), separate beds in a room for 6-8 people (shower and toilet on the floor).

The winter resorts have their own type of accommodation – ski hotels (Ski hotels, chale & resorts), on the territory of which there are swimming pools, saunas, ski equipment rental points. A ski pass is often included in the room rate. Such hotels, as a rule, also provide a free transfer to the ski lift.

Sanatorium hotels of the thermal resorts of St. Moritz, Bad Ragaz, Leukerbad and Yverdon-les-Bains offer health-improving rest to the guests of Switzerland. You can also improve your health in Lausanne and Montreux hotels, which have their own SPA-complexes. In such hotels, wellness and treatment are not included in the price.

You can book hotels in Switzerland on our website. Don’t forget that by booking a hotel on Booking.com using the links above, you are taking part in a great prize raffle!

A new trend in the Swiss hotel industry is the Iglu-Dorf hotels, built in the mountains of snow and ice. They receive visitors from late November to mid-April (depending on the weather conditions in the mountains), then melt and rebuild every fall.

It is possible to rent an apartment in Switzerland in any large city or in a ski resort. Most often, apartments are rented out for at least a week – from Saturday to Saturday.