Printable travel guide for Switzerland
Travel Guide

Here you will find travel information and insider tips about Switzerland that has been cooperatively contributed by other friendly Hospitality Club members. Please become active as well, and share your vast budget travel and backpacking knowledge with other members and the internet community - it is very easy to edit any information here (more info in the Help File). We hope that these Travel Guides will quickly become a great and fun resource. If you want to print this guide out to take with you, we have prepared this Printer Friendly Travel Guide for you. Enjoy!
For Introduction, Top Things to See and Do, Neighboring Countries, Who is coming?, Want more guests!, Hospitality Club Meetings and the geographic navigation please see the main Switzerland Page.

Basic Facts

Official Country Name:Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (German), Confédération Hélvétique (French), Confederazione Svizzera (Italian), Confoederatio Helvetica (Romansch)
Capital:Bern
Administrative divisions: Confederation (federal state), Cantons (local states, 23, 3 of them being divided in 2 half-cantons...so 26 in total...) and municipalities (nearly 3'000). This division is used by HC to sort members by region.
Population: 7,489,370 (July 2005 est.)
International telephone code:+41
Time Zone: Central European
Area: 41.285 sq.km
Language(s):different dialects(swissgerman, but the official one remains German=Hochdeutsch), french,italian and romansch,
Ethnic Groups:
Geographical regions: Alps (60%), plateau (30%) and Jura (10% - also mountains)
Highest Mountain:Monte Rosa (Pointe Dufour/Dufourspitze) 4634 m.a.s.[12 >4000m, mainly in Wallis]
Lowest point: Lago maggiore 193 m.a.s
President/Head of State: One of the 7 members of Government, changing every year!
Government: 7 members elected by the 2 chambers
Currency:Swiss Franc
Exchange Rate: US$1=1.2645 CHF / 1 EUR=1.55-1.60 CHF
Health Risks:under cooling
Electricity:230 V 50 Hz
Weights & Measures:metric system: g,kg,t,/mm.cm.m.km
Country Name in other languages:Switzerland, Schweiz (German), Suisse (French), Svizzera (Italian)
National day: 1st of August

Attractions and Things to See and Do

Let's make it a mess:

Chapel bridge in Luzern, Matterhorn (Zermatt), Eiger-Moensch-Jungfrau and Aletschglaetscher, Jet d'eau de Geneve, old Bern are certainly amongst the most visited places.

Other nice attractions in Switzerland are the scenic trains. Why are they scenic? Just because they climb up the mountain following it as close as possible and taking their time. The most popular one is the Glacier-Express runing from Zermatt to St-Moritz through Brig, Andermatt, Oberalppass, Disentis/Muster, (Chur), Albulapass. The whole journey takes a full day, this express train going in average at 40 km/h. Runs everyday except a couple of weeks between seasons. Can be done taking local trains instead of direct express.
In the same region don't miss also the Heidi Express from Chur to Tirano (in Italy) through Albulapass, Berninapass and Poschiavo.
Certainly the last great route: the Golden Pass Line going from Luzern to Montreux through the Bruenigpass, Interlaken, Zweisimmen, Gstaad, Chateau d'Oex. This route goes over different railways and you'll have to take at least 3 different trains.(all year round)
If you prefer the south, go for the Centovalli between Locarno and Domodossola (Italy) following at first the Maggia valley before the... Centovalli (hundred valleys)(all year round)
Lot of other small lines or even main lines nearly all over the country. To be continued...
update by playschool - oct.05

List of local tourist offices:
http://www.luzern.org/
http://www.zuerich.com/
http://www.berne.ch/
http://www.baseltourismus.ch/opencms/opencms/bstour/deutsch/index.html
http://www.davos.ch/index.htm
http://www.centralswitzerland.ch/
http://www.tourismus.ch/
http://www.grindelwald.com/
http://www.ostschweiz-i.ch/
http://www.interlakentourism.ch/
http://www.sh.ch/tourismus/
http://www.zug-tourismus.ch/
http://www.zermatt.ch/
http://www.appenzell.ch/d/index.php
http://www.chur.ch
museums:
http://www.museums.ch/fuehrer/kanton.asp?sprache=

Maps

http://img92.exs.cx/img92/2237/map-swi.gif
http://map.search.ch > satellite picture of the address you are looking for!

Off the Beaten Path and Insider Tips

Suggested Itineraries

1 Day, 1 Week, 2 Weeks, 1 Month ...

Transport

Public transports in Switzerland are frequent and well organized, as well as gorgeous for the mountain trains... but very expensive!

If you plan to travel a bit by public transports in Switzerland, a part from european tickets, consider getting one of these:
Swiss transfer ticket allows you to go from the border (or airport) to your destination and back within 1 month.
Swiss card is a swiss transfer ticket plus half price on nearly all transports in Switzerland for a month.
Swiss pass exists in 4,8,15,22 days or a month. This pass allows you to travel for free on trains (except some very touristic trains in mountains), regional buses, boats and on the public transports of 37 cities. It is usually possible to get 50% off where not fully accepted.
Swiss Flexi Pass works like the Swiss pass except you can use it any of the 3,4,5,6 or 8 days of validity through a month.

These cards or pass are not sold within Switzerland, so you have to buy them before coming or on the website of the main railway company (www.sbb.ch)
More informations on www.sbb.ch >travel >ticket shop >guests from abroad.

To plan your journey in Switzerland, use www.sbb.ch. It offers information for all trains, regional buses, boats and even door to door planing for the main cities for all companies... certainly one of the best web planer in the World. It also can inform you on international trains to/from Switzerland and trains on main routes for the neighbouring countries (it is sometimes more up to date for France than is the french railway website!)

>> www.sbb.ch

Note that SBB, CFF and FFS stand out for the main railway company, but in German, French and Italian.

Hitchhiking is not as common as in other countries, but still possible. It can be hard to get out of some cities, as usual. I guess there is nearly no problem on the Germany-Italy north-south route. Remember also it is forbidden on motorways and their entrances; police is watching you! They'll normaly just ask to go away but can congratulate you with a fine.

You can also be tempted to try ridesharing(also called carpooling or liftpooling) using internet:

>> www.mitfahrezentrale.ch
is originally a german website and now offers a swiss branch, but only in german. Very good to travel between Switzerland and Germany

>> www.e-covoiturage.ch
the new one, swiss based, in french and german, mainly made for regular journeys inside Switzerland and boarder regions, it offers also some international journeys. Funny feature: special section for easy searches for rides to/from festivals

>> www.liftpool.ch
should be the most international of the three. Available for many west european countries and in various languages.

or you can also rent a car ...

Airports
The three main airports are:

Zürich Kloten
Basel - Mulhouse (in France, nearby Basel)
Geneva Cointrin

update by playschool - july 06

Accommodation

If you do not want to stay with other HC members, or none is available, here is what other members suggest.
Hostels: In Switzerland are a lot of really great hostels visit them on: http://www.youthhostel.ch/ or http://www.backpacker.ch/ Those two will give you an overall view of hostels in Switzerland...and also their prices!

Hotels: well... you can visit: www.myswitzerland.com ;)

Camping Camping is also good in Switzerland, visit: http://www.camping.ch/

Other Options Just to know it is forbidden to camp outside official places in Switzerland. Still, if you do it properly, like hikers rather than like tourists, it should be possible in more remoted regions (meaning mainly in moutainous regions).

Food and Drinks and Local Specialties

Restaurants, Supermarkets, Street Food, Local Specialties ...

Money and Costs

Currency: Swiss Franks (CHF)
Exchanging Money: Every bank and some private dealers. Some shops/restaurants also accept Euro (€)
Credit Cards:
All major ones Tipping: Noone refuses a tip, but it's not usual in Switzerland (I'd rather say: Not necessary, not expected, but common.)
Bargaining
Costs: expensive, expensive, expensive - Switzerland one of Europe's most expensive countries dsf 2

Visa and Documents and Embassies

Who needs a visa? How to get it? Embassies & Consulates, of the country abroad and in the country... Switzerland will enter the european "Schengen zone" from june 2007. From then no specific swiss visa will be needed, you'll just have to have any visa from any other country from the Schengen zone (obviously for those who need visa...)

Borders and Customs

Post and Communications and Internet

Post offices in almost all villages ,
You can phone with a phone card, purchase at the post office or newsagents
Fax you can send from the post office ,
in all bigger cities there are internet cafes
...

Questions and Answers or Forum

Here anything goes, you can post questions you have, and other members will answer you. If you do answer, please send the reply directly to the asking member as well, and try to integrate the information into the categories above. If too difficult to do, just answer right here and a volunteer will integrate in the future. Also, you can put thanks notes in here. Add new questions on top so they show up on the Travel Guide page. Please post messages not related to traveling or the aim of the Hospitality Club into the category Offtopic Messages.

Hospitality Club Meetings

Use this section to add more info if you organize meetings and events (you can add a short note on the main country page). You can also invite other members to parties, sports events, whenever you would like to meet up with someone.

Travelogues

Have you written a story about a trip to this country? Just paste your text in here and share your experience with other members.

Photos

Here you can include photos that are hosted somewhere on the internet. As with maps, you have to make sure that it is ok for us to use the photos here (so they should be either your photos, or you should ask the owner), and that it is allright to call them up from here.

Activities and Sports

Zürich: have a look at www.bodyflying.com.There are just a few places in the world you can do this kind of thing... So take the chance when you happen to be in Zürich. Reservation is recommended.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Bars, Cafes, Discos, Cinemas...

Population and People

Culture and Conduct or Local Customs

Language and Useful Phrases

Events and Holidays

This should be in links... but for a start it'll be here. Switzerland hosts quite a lot of different festivals (like many other countries btw).

Here are the main "general" events:


www.paleo.ch in Nyon, between Geneva and Lausanne, 6 days in late july, has a free campsite. Tickets are sold in april. Tend to be sold out in 2 weeks.
www.festivalcite.ch in Lausanne. all events free: all kinds of music, dance, theatre, etc.. a very nice free festival held in the streets of the old town. ~2 weeks, first half of july.
www.montreuxjazz.com. Once this festival inspired Smoke on the water from Deep Purple. Main events are expensive (but it can be it), and you can still go to the off festival for its ambiance. beginning of july
www.fornoise.ch a true small rock festival nearby Lausanne. First half of august.
www.gurtenfestival.ch the "big" festival in the Bern area
www.rockozarenes.ch middle size one, but not always for the artists. The festival is held second half of august in a roman theatre
www.openairgampel.ch close to the Alps in Wallis
www.greenfieldfestival.ch related to big Rock am Ring & Rock im Park in Germany if I remember well
www.openairsg.ch...in the Sankt Gallen region, far east of Switzerland...
www.moonandstarslocarno.ch the only "big" main music festival I've found for Ticino, in the South...
www.tufertschwil.ch


and also: festival de la bâtie, Vernier sur Rock, Metropop,...

& more to come
Festivals, Sports, Concerts, Public Holidays...

Climate and When to Go

Geography

Environment and Flora and Fauna

Dangers and Warnings

Tourist Traps

Health

History

Government and Politics

Economy

GDP, GDP per head, Annual growth, inflation, Major Industries, Major trading partners...

Arts

Music, Literature, Theater, Movies ...

Media

Newspapers, Radio and TV, Magazines ...

Religion

Volunteer Opportunities and Work

Organized Tours

What to Bring or Packing List

Shopping

Books and Further Reading

Guidebooks, Travel, History and Politics
Please enter Amazon links to the books - we will put info on how to do this here shortly. This way we hope to get a bit of funding for the running of the club, if someone buys the books you recommend.

Other Information

Could not fit it into any of the categories above? Put it here...:-)

External Links

Official website of Swiss Confederation: www.admin.ch
Official information about entering Switzerland (visa): www.bfm.admin.ch/index.php?id=22&L=3&S=0 (in english, also exists in the national languages)
Official website of Swiss Tourism: www.myswitzerland.com
Main railway website: www.sbb.ch
interesting indepant ressources: www.about.ch

Switzerland Travel Guide (L) 


UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Switzerland (L)

Offtopic Messages

Here you can add messages that are not exactly related to the aims of the Hospitality Club (but related to the country). Do you need a visa invitation? Looking for an internship, job or a flat to rent? Just add this here, and if you are lucky other members will read it and contact you. Remember: do not send messages like this directly to members - after giving you this space here, we will fight spam even more strictly!
Disclaimer: The Hospitality Club has no control over the information above and accepts no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by anyone using this website. Please correct false information or send us feedback about it.
Copyright: Feel free to use the text on your website as long as you notify us and include a clearly visible link to www.hospitalityclub.org above the text.