Things To Know Before Visiting Switzerland

November 22, 2022

If you are planning to visit Switzerland, here are some of the important things that you should prepare.

Sky-high drives, medieval castles, and Swiss cities crammed with culture are just a few of the reasons to travel to Switzerland. If this is your first trip to the Land of the Alps, here are some things to know before traveling to Switzerland.

A tram in Switzerland
Photo by H. Emre

Things To Know Before Visiting Switzerland

    Visa Requirements

    The first thing you should do is check visa requirements. Switzerland is part of the Schengen area and entering the country requires a Schengen Visa. Nationals from 26 countries within the Schengen region including France, Austria, and Germany will not need a visa and there is no time limit on how long they can stay.

    If you hold a passport from the US, UK, Australia, Canada New Zealand, Norway, or Iceland, you may also visit Switzerland without a visa. The maximum stay is 90 days within a 180-day period.

    Nationals from non-EU countries must have a passport or EU identity card. Americans who show up at the border will need a US passport, evidence of the trip's purpose, and proof of sufficient financial means for their trip.

    Best Time to Go

    Anytime is the best time to visit Switzerland. If you're going for winter sports and a fire in a cozy chalet, January and February are the best times. However, a few places in the higher Alps offer skiing year-round.

    To visit Switzerland's Christmas markets, go during the first weeks of December.

    To enjoy hiking without the heat, May, June, and September are perfect. If you want to play on Switzerland's lakes, July and August are the best times.

    Languages and Currency

    Switzerland is a culturally diverse country. Languages spoken depend on the part of the country you travel to. It could be Swiss German, French, Romansh, or Italian. However, about 45 percent of the population uses English regularly. English is used more in the German-speaking region than in the French and Italian-speaking regions.

    All of Switzerland uses the CHF or Swiss franc as currency. As a reference, 1 USD= .95 CHF and 1 EURO= .99 CHF. It's hard to travel comfortably in Switzerland on a budget. Iceland is the only other country where you'll find more jaw-dropping prices. In Switzerland, expect to pay around 5-8 CHF for a cappuccino. Expect to pay around 15 to 20 CHF for a take-out meal.

    Getting Around

    Getting around Switzerland is easy, thanks to one of the world's best public transportation systems. You can travel by train to anywhere in the city of the country. Trains almost always depart and arrive on time. They'll let you know even if there are only a few minutes of delay.

    Many people travel by train just for the spectacular views. You can also travel by train from city to city. With a Swiss Pass, only sold to non-residents, you can enjoy unlimited travel on the Swiss Travel System network including trains, buses, and trams. You can also buy tickets from machines at the station, from ticket centers in the larger stations, or online.

    The tickets can be used in the region they're valid and within the hours the tickets are valid.

    Accommodation Options

    Switzerland has many excellent options for accommodation. Hotels range from historic and old-fashioned to modern. Hotel prices in cities like Zurich or Geneva start at CHF 60. In the smaller towns, you may find hotel prices starting at CHF 40. You can also book a stay at an Airbnb.

    If you need to watch your budget, consider a hostel. Prices in the cities start at a minimum of about CHF 30. But in the countryside, you may find a hostel for as little as CHF 20.

    With some research, you can also find Swiss residents who offer Couchsurfing at little or no cost.

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