Switzerland — The Basics
Switzerland is truly unique. Hanging high in the Alps, this multilingual marvel of a country is truly a one of a kind place. No European tour is quite like it! With beautiful summer landscapes and some serious slopes in the winter, Switzerland is open year-round, so why not come and check it out!
Sights and Attractions
As Switzerland is an Alpine country, it comes as no surprise that Switzerland is full of piercing peaks and beautiful villages. A prime example of this is the mountain of Jungfrau , which translates as virgin or maiden. Standing at 13,642 feet, this maiden is not too timid. While few reach the peak, most of the mountain can be safely ascended.
As you grow tired, you’ll probably want to rest. Waiting until you’ve completely descended or ascended is not an appealing prospect. Luckily, the creatively named town of Interlaken — between lakes — is located partway up the mountain. The town’s beautiful lake is surrounded by a variety of old buildings, many of which date back to the 18th century.
Numerous restaurants can be found in the town. Interlaken has a hotel, and homestays are often available for the weary traveler. A railway is located in Interlaken which can take travelers through the saddle of Jungfrau to the municipality of Fiesch. The railway offers a picturesque view of Jungfraujoch, and It passes by the Sphinx Observation Tower, from which stunning views can be witnessed.
Does Switzerland have castles? Of course! No European tour would be complete without old fortifications and castles! Chillon Castle , an official Swiss Cultural Property of National Significance, is a must-see for any lover of medieval castles, shimmering lakes, or imposing mountains. While this castle is an attraction by itself, the beauty of the local view cannot be overstated.
Switzerland Travel Tips
Switzerland Currency Considerations
The Swiss currency is called the Swiss Franc. Dollars, pounds, and euros won’t cut it in Switzerland. Generally, you will get a better rate if you opt to exchange your currency back home. If you wait until your Geneva Switzerland travel plans commence, you will find that you will get a lousy rate when you try to exchange your money for Swiss currency. Airport kiosks and tourist hotspots are the worst for ripping people off.
Switzerland is very safe, but you should always be on your guard in your Switzerland travel adventure. Crowded areas like tourist attractions and public transit are the most common places to have your valuables stolen. To mitigate the risk of being pickpocketed, keep your wallet in your front pocket instead of the back pocket.
Your spine will thank you, and the pickpocketers will curse you under their breath. It’s a lot harder to reach into someone’s pocket from the front, and it’s much more awkward for everyone involved. Keep purses and bags in front of you when possible. Do not set these items down.
As with any European tour, try to book ahead and mull over your options well in advance of your departure date. If you wait to book a hotel until after a long day of travel, then you are likely to miss out on a better, less expensive option. Outside the general tourist season, as well as during some weekdays, you may find that homestays are discounted. Take advantage of this if your trip allows it.
Flights and Transportation
Your European tour will probably start Zurich — home of the most important international airport in Switzerland. For those with Geneva Switzerland travel plans, Geneva also has a major international airport.
Switzerland has an extensive railway system. You will have no problem getting around on your Switzerland travel adventure.
Switzerland has four official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. About 64 percent of the country speak German, 20 percent speak French, 7 percent speak Italian, and less than 1 percent speak Romansh. The elephant in the room — what is Romansh? Romansh is a romance language spread throughout a few areas of Switzerland. About 60 thousand people speak Romansh, and it still has a thriving literary tradition, radio and television programming, and a couple of daily newspapers.
Most Swiss have at least some knowledge of English. On your Switzerland travel journey, you are much more likely to find more advanced English in German-speaking areas. French, Italian, and Romansh regions are not as proficient in English.
As with any destination on your European tour, carrying a phrasebook or translation app is super helpful. Knowing basic travel phrases, transaction phrases, greeting, and farewells is a good idea. It’s better to need it and not have it, than vice versa. The phrases you may want to know depends on the area, though almost all Swiss can speak German to some degree, even in the French and Italian areas.
Along your Geneva Switzerland travel journey, you may sometimes feel that people seem rather short with you, almost like they don’t like you! You try to initiate a conversation about the weather or current events, you know, just to pass the time, but no one’s really interested. Weird. You showered. Just had a breath mint. You came off pretty polite, right? So what’s the deal? Don’t worry. They (probably) don’t dislike you.
It’s just that Swiss folks aren’t into small talk. When Swiss people talk, it’s either amongst friends and family, or it’s functional. To many cultures, small talk is a waste of time — a pointless exercise in acting ingenuine. Some would even call certain cultures’ propensity towards talking about nothing obnoxious. Don’t hold it against the Swiss. That’s just their culture. Try to keep it in mind when you talk to Swiss people. To a Swiss waiter, hearing someone going on about how their dog would just love swimming the local pond is not endearing, it’s annoying.
Try to keep your volume down. Swiss people tend to like quietness and harmony. Loud, boisterous joking and banter is just not for them. Don’t joke about Switzerland either. While Switzerland may have been neutral in many world conflicts, the locals are not neutral when it comes to what they think of the tired old Swiss neutrality jokes! Seriously, they’ve heard them all.
Swiss folks tend to be pretty private. Try not to go too deep with what you say about yourself and what you ask about them. When speaking to a Swiss person, don’t chew gum or keep your hands in your pockets; it is considered highly disrespectful, and you won’t make friends that way.
Swiss service workers get paid a normal wage, so you don’t need to worry about tipping.
Your European tour is not complete without seeing Switzerland. Although caught between some of the most iconic countries of Europe, Switzerland should not be overlooked! Beautiful cities and a wealth of natural beauty are what make Switzerland something unique and special. That and the chocolate! So book that flight, stock up on Swiss currency, go to the most charming chocolatier you can find, and take a rich, flavorful bite of what this legendary landlocked nation has to offer!
At xTend Travel, we have the knowledge and expertise of a seasoned international commuter and the passion of an innovative tourist. We use this know-how to provide you with travel currency for your journey and exclusive travel guidance.
The result is a rare balance in the travel industry — a customer focused company that supports and inspires world exploration.