With its snow-capped Alps, emerald green forests, fairy-tale castles and shimmering lakes, it’s easy to see why Switzerland has been one of the world’s top tourist destinations for the past two centuries. It is an outdoor lover’s paradise with thousands of kilometres of mountain and hiking trails throughout the country.
Switzerland Facts & Tips
Did you know?
- The first bar of chocolate was produced in Switzerland by François Cailler in 1819 and on average the Swiss consume approximately 10.5kg of chocolate per person per year!
- Geneva is the seat of the European headquarters of United Nations (UN), World Health Organization (WHO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), World Economic Forum (WEF), Airports Council International (ACI), International Organization for Standardization (ISO) & World Wide Web Virtual Library.
- Most homes have bunkers, a result of Cold War concerns about nuclear war.
- Albert Einstein was working as a clerk in a Swiss Patent Office when he proved his Theory of Relativity.
- The Swiss are famous for the Swiss Army knife, Swatch Watches, Victorinox, Nestle and Fondue.
Visas & Passports
Australian passport holders travelling to Switzerland do not need a visa at this time.
We require that your passport is valid for travel for at least six months from the date you are planning to return to Australia. Your passport must be valid to travel internationally and must be machine-readable. You also need to carry a valid return ticket on you.
Whether travelling on an Australian passport or the passport of another country, all travellers require visas for a number of countries, and it is your responsibility to secure what may be required before departing Australia. You can consult with your travel agent, but it is also recommended that you check the foreign embassy website for your respective destination as it can also provide you with useful information.
Australian Consulate-General in Switzerland:
Chemin des Fins, 2
Case postale 102
1211 Geneva 19
Ph. +41 22 799 9100
Fax. +41 22 799 9178
The official currency of Switzerland is the Swiss Franc. Notes come in denominations of ChF1,000, 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10.
Advise your bank of your travel plans so that they can make a note of it, otherwise they may cancel your credit card as a safety measure due to the overseas transactions. Also make a note of the 24-hour emergency contact number of the bank or building society which issued your credit card in the unlikely event that your card is lost or stolen.
Whenever possible use ATMs when the banks are open (Mon – Fri) so that if a machine ‘eats’ your card you can then deal with it straight away. It is always advisable to carry a supply of cash in addition to your credit card.
If you don’t have Euro’s with you on arrival, we advise you to exchange some money into the local currency at the airport even if the exchange rate is not the best, this way you’ll have money to get a drink, snack or give a tip during those first few hours of arrival. Your guide will be able to advise you on the best places to exchange money.
Small change is also useful for paying for toilets while on tour which is customary in many places outside of Australia.
- The price of a cappuccino in Zurich is approximately ChF3-4.
- The price of an inexpensive lunch is approximately ChF25.
- The price dinner in a moderate restaurant is approximately ChF50.
- The price of a beer in a local pub is approximately ChF7-8.
Swiss cuisine is varied. The great specialty is fondue, a delicious concoction of Gruyère and Vacherin cheese, melted and mixed with white wine, flour, Kirsch and a little garlic. Other cheese specialties are Emmental and Tête de Moine. Pork sausages or salami come in a variety of local recipes including beinwurst, engadinerwurst, knackerli, landjäger and leberwurst (liver pâté). A great variety of Swiss wines are available throughout the country. Swiss beer is also popular - both lager and dark beers. Bottled mineral water is an accepted beverage, with local brands including Henniez.
Important: When dining at buffets (i.e. breakfast) please refrain from taking food away with you to ‘save’ for later! If you feel that you’ll need snacks between meals, pack some dried fruit, nuts, muesli bars etc.
If you have specific food allergies and/or preferences, we highly recommend you take every precaution before your tour, including carrying a small card with your food allergy listed in each language of every country you are travelling to show to table staff when ordering. Whilst we take all dietary requirements seriously, due to the serious nature of potential allergic reactions, it is your responsibility to be as prepared as possible.
The climate in Switzerland is moderate and a great place to visit any time of year. Average temperatures range between -3°C to 2°C in January, and 13°C to 24°C in July. Summer, from about June to September, is usually warm and this is a great time to enjoy the many outdoor activities on offer. Ski resorts open their doors in late November and remain so until the snow starts to melt, usually in April.
Want to get out and explore on your own?
The public transport system in Switzerland is one of Europe’s best. Trams, buses and trains are inexpensive and generally run on time. Taxis can be expensive and also slower than the trains or trams if you get stuck in traffic and, of course, walking is a must in Europe’s finest cities.
When catching taxis, have small change on you and choose one with a meter, if it doesn’t have one then negotiate the price before getting in. Also, ask your guide or hotel staff the names of reputable taxi companies.
So, you’d love to bring home a special souvenir from Switzerland…
Shopping in Switzerland is a great experience altogether. You can buy amazing items such as chocolates, cheese, the famous Swiss army knives, watches and fashionable clothes. There is a lot to see and shop for. It is possible to spend hours in the boulevards and shopping arcades!
The Swiss always appreciate polite manners and punctuality.
It is common to share tables with strangers in busy restaurants and pubs.
Celebrations & Public Holidays
Switzerland has many events and festivals happening throughout the year.
Other national public holidays to be aware of include:
- New Year’s Day
- Easter Friday and Easter Monday
- Labour Day (May 1st)
- Ascension Day (40 days after Easter)
- Swiss National Day (1 Aug)
- Christmas Day
- Boxing Day
Balanced on the northern tip of Lake Zurich, Zurich is the financial hub of Switzerland. It is home to the largest stock exchange in the world, but once you take a step back from the sterile business environment and get out and about, Zurich is a fascinating place. Many of the attractions are located in the Old Town area where the River Limmat flows into Lake Zurich and feature many fine old churches and museums. On a nice day, the Lake Promenade is a great place for a meal or for a stroll along the lakefront.
Interlaken is a small, pretty city in the Jungfrau Region of central Switzerland. Located between two alpine lakes (Brienz and Thun), Interlaken is a popular base camp for outdoor sports and travel in the surrounding Bernese Oberland Alps. Interlaken itself is a lovely holiday destination. The Hoheweg is Interlaken’s main street, running between Interlaken West and Interlaken Ost Railway Stations. Here, you will find lots of shops, bars and restaurants. Well worth a visit is the 150-year old Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel and don’t miss the beautiful view of the famous snow-covered Jungfrau Mountain from “Höhematte”.
Underneath the peak of the famous Matterhorn Mountain, Zermatt is a picturesque alpine town in southern Switzerland. Primarily an exciting winter sport area, many of Zermatt’s attractions are outdoors! There are many spectacular hiking trails dotted through the town and countryside, with cable cars taking hikers in the summer months (and skiers in the winter months) up several of the surrounding peaks.
An hour south of Basel and Zürich, and boasting invigorating mountain views, lake cruises and a picturesque old quarter, Luzern (Lucerne in French and English, Lucerna in Italian) has long been one of Europe’s most popular visitor destinations. With a century of steady growth, this town now attracts five million admirers passing through each year. Due to its location on the shore of Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee) within sight of Mount Pilatus and Rigi in the Swiss Alps, Lucerne is traditionally considered first and foremost as a tourist destination. One of the city’s famous landmarks is Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), a wooden bridge first built in the 14th century.
Nestled high in the Swiss Alps, St Moritz is a well know resort town of the rich and famous. It’s gorgeous picture-perfect setting on Lake St Moritz, with the many layers of mountains as the backdrop make it a sought-after destination all year round. Most well known as a winter sport destination, in recent times St Moritz has, during the summer months, become a high-altitude training destination for distance athletes. The town itself is lovely, and home to many high-quality shops and restaurants.
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