5 Things to Know Before You Travel To Switzerland

Things to know before visiting Switzerland.

They do things differently in Switzerland. Maybe it’s the thin mountain air or all the international bankers, but for some reason backpacking in this country feels different from the others I have travelled through in Europe. After trekking through so many countries that ran so similarly, Switzerland tripped me up. Here’s what you need to know to before you go to avoid disappointing surprises that could ruin a trip.

 In Switzerland They Use a Different Currency….

Something In Her Ramblings travel blog shares 5 things to know before you travel to Switzerland

While it is a Schengen state, meaning you will not need to show your passport when traveling from another country in the zone, Switzerland, famous for its centuries of neutrality, is not part of the European Union. Switzerland therefore does not use the Euro as currency, but instead the Swiss Franc.

One Swiss Franc equals 0.82 Euro or 1.11 US Dollars. You will need to exchange your Euros at the airport or train station, or withdraw the currency from an ATM.

And It’s Expensive

Something In Her Ramblings travel blog shares 5 things to know before you travel to Switzerland

The exchange rate (1 Euro equals 1.36 US Dollars) is terrible for Americans everywhere in Europe, a continent in which the prices are already higher than those in the United States.

While many countries in Europe, such as Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland, are suffering from widespread economic crisis, Switzerland is sitting pretty, with one of the world’s most stable economies. With its plethora of international banks, the country is a center for global wealth. This means prices are high, but people are paid quite well.

While you may encounter many Swiss who make yearly 10-day pilgrimages to the US on holiday, you, my fellow budget travelling American, will be hard pressed to afford 3-4 days here. Eating at McDonald’s won’t help you out. The chicken strips and medium French fries I purchased one late night after a long day on the slopes cost an equivalent of eleven US dollars. Ouch.

With prices in mind, Switzerland is one place you’ll want to put Marriott Rewards, or any other reward points you’ve accumulated in your travels, to good use.

 Know “Which Switzerland” You Want To See….

Switzerland is a small country, roughly the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined, with a population of almost 8 million. For having such a small footprint, the country is incredibly diverse. In fact, the country doesn’t even have one unifying national language. Instead it has four – French, German, Italian and Romansh. It surprised me to hear testimonies from Swiss people I met that they can’t even communicate with people in different parts of the country.

With this in mind, you need to know ahead of time which Swiss culture or cultures you want to experience. Geneva has a French feel while Zurich has a German influence. Research and decide which Switzerland you want to see.

 And How To Get There

Something In Her Ramblings travel blog shares 5 things to know before you travel to Switzerland

Switzerland has an efficient rail system, famous for always running on time. However, because cities are so small, there aren’t as many direct routes as you find in other European countries. While it may only take two hours between destinations by car, it may take four or five when travelling by rail because of the connections you have to make.

If you are on a tight schedule or to minimize wasted time, look up train routes and schedules ahead of time.

Be Prepared for Hiking and Solitude

Something In Her Ramblings travel blog shares 5 things to know before you travel to Switzerland

I travel alone a lot. This does not necessarily mean that I feel alone, however. Usually it is quite easy to meet people in hostels, at tourist attractions or in transit, and this breaks up my solitude. In Switzerland, however, I spent a fair amount of time feeling alone. The Swiss are perhaps one of the most reserved cultures in Europe, and because of the high prices it is not so popular with the backpacking crowd. Outside of the major cities, there is not much to do in Switzerland besides hiking, skiing or other adventure activities. Combine these solitary activities with the lack of people and you will find yourself spending days alone in the wilderness wondering why you have no friends and what your purpose in life is.

Something In Her Ramblings travel blog shares 5 things to know before you travel to Switzerland

Switzerland is a beautiful country with many breath-taking landscapes. If you like nature and are comfortable alone, I highly recommend a visit for solo travelers. While the unexpected can make travel a joy in other parts of the world, knowing what to expect before you go to Switzerland will save you from a trip ruined by disappointing surprises.

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This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. Karen Erickson

    Great post, if you’re backpacking through London and need a place to stay look me up, I just moved here from the states and have a couch you can probably crash on.

    1. Lauren

      Hey thanks for the offer that is really nice of you. And thanks for reading!

    2. Abhi

      I stay in Berlin, Germany and planning to travel to switzerland alone. Can you please suggest how can I manage stay there and travel?

      1. Lauren

        Hi Abhi! How can I help you? Where in Switzerland are you going to?

    3. Jillian

      Would Like to visit Grisenwald

  2. Pete

    Hey Lauren!
    I found your blog because I am researching how to get the most out of a business trip to Geneva. I will be there for a little over 3 weeks and have nights and weekends alone. I am in no way a world traveler having been out of the country only twice (st. Lucia and Jamaica). I loved reading about your trip but I was wondering if you would have any other additional tips for me since I will be there for a few weeks. If you do have anything you would like to share, please feel free to send me an email.
    Thanks in advance for any assistance!

    1. Lauren

      Hi Pete! Thanks so much for stopping by. Surely I will send you an email with some more suggestions.

  3. I highly recommend you to visit Switzerland because it is one of the best places for summer as well as winter vacation. It is the most amazing place in the world that is why tourists visit there in a millions.

  4. Joseph

    Hello, I will be staying in Murten for two weeks on business and would like to know if there is anything within range for me to see. I will probably have one weekend free. Luckily all my expenses are taken care of outside of my free time.

    1. Lauren

      Hi Joseph! I did not personally go to Murten but several of my friends have and have said that it is a beautiful and charming Medieval town. I have also heard it recommended to take a boat tour of the lake as well as to the wine-growing region of Vully. I hope you have a wonderful trip. Switzerland in summer will be incredible!

  5. ASHUTOSH KUMAR

    lauren how can i contact with you
    please reply

  6. Kari Mathis

    This is such an useful information. I am going to visit Switzerland next month. I can`t wait to see this gorgeous nature. I feel like I am going to spend time of my life there. Greetings!

    1. Lauren

      Hi Kari! I’m so glad you found this article useful. Have an amazing time in Switzerland!

  7. JS

    I agree with the solitude.. I’m here for studying and still I feel so lonely here.. I have friends and stuff but it’s dificult to meet sb to date with. But the nature is beautiful, indeed.

    1. Lauren

      It can be difficult to meet people while living abroad- I know it! Enjoy all the beautiful nature and solitude. I want to go back to Switzerland!

  8. Rei

    Hi Lauren,
    I’m planning to go to Switzerland sometime this year and it would be the first time I’ll be traveling alone. I want to go to mount titlis. Any suggestions? I am just concerned of not being able to find my way around. Any advise?

  9. Orlan

    Hi Lauren,

    Thanks for the tips. I’ll be visiting for the first time (hopefully by September 2016) the Swiss Alps and Switzerland itself. Your tips are so great for me as a solo traveller, all the way from the Philippines.

    Looking forward to your other blogs. God bless and enjoy life.

    Orlan

    1. Lauren

      Hey Orlan, thanks for stopping by! Wishing you a great trip to the Swiss Alps!

      Cheers from Los Angeles,
      Lauren

  10. Bhaskar

    Hi Lauren, I am from India. I will be travelling to Switzerland on vacation with my family. I will be travelling to Zurich, Champoussin and Geneva. Came across your really useful blog. Looks like i need to get ready for a solitary time in Champoussin. Thanks for all the inputs. Di share if you have any insights on how you to got access to train timings on the net in English? Thanks. Bhaskar

  11. Monika

    Amazing article with great info! Actually, i am planning to visit the top place in Switzerland like:
    1. Lugano
    2. Chateau de Chillon, Montreux
    3. Swiss National Park, Zernez
    4. Fasnacht Spring Carnival, Basel and more
    Thanks dear for your helpful information.

    1. Lauren

      Looks like a great trip! Have fun.

  12. deba

    Hi, thinking of a visit to Switzerland but dont know much about the country. we are looking for somewhere BUSY with LOTS of shopping, sightseeing, daytrips that type of thing. HELP

    1. Lauren

      The major cities of Geneva and Zurich will probably be your best bet. Have a great trip!

  13. Mary

    Hi…Lauren…. It seems we both share a common interest for travelling.
    I’ve been to Swiss twice, but would like to see it again on various trains like chocolate express, bernina etc.
    Yes alone… is it convenient to explore through these trains?
    Would like to go for 2 weeks from London.
    Ur reply will be appreciated.
    Kindest regards

    1. Lauren

      Hi Mary! Glad to connect with a fellow travel enthusiast. Yes the trains in Switzerland are excellent. Rail travel is a great way to explore the country!

  14. Cassie

    “Combine these solitary activities with the lack of people and you will find yourself spending days alone in the wilderness wondering why you have no friends and what your purpose in life is.”

    I pulled this out from your post. It was interesting. I think most of us wonder the same things surrounding with people every day.

    1. Lauren

      Haha… Cassie that is very true!

  15. Rose Harris

    I will be traveling to Geneva for the first time as a guest of an older woman I am also a woman by the way. I have so many question s lime what kind of clothing do I take with me and what should I wear? I am going around the end of August. Also how much money should I take With me, as I will be there about 10 days. What shoes should I wear as I only have sandals and what other items should I bring? What type of lugguage? Please help me with as much information as you can. Thank you in advance.

  16. Sophear

    Hi Lauren,
    Thank you for providing some great insights. We will be traveling to Geneva in June and can’t wait. Staying in the downtown area, please provide any additional suggestions of eateries and sightseeing.
    Thank you again for sharing your trip with us!
    Sophear

  17. Brandy

    I’m being sent for work from USA.. Solothurn I believe. Love ur post. I’m scared to death but hey Hallow is coming soon huh? Lol This will be the trip of my life.. Any advice? I’m not a traveler.. Born and raised in Missouri USA

    Thanks for any advice

  18. Edward Wesley

    I found this much useful information. Switzerland is really beautiful place. Thanks a lot for this beauty Enjoying article with me. I appreciate it very much!

  19. Candace

    Hi Lauren. The last 5 years of non-stop work travel in the U.S. has me exhausted and I have booked a flight into Zurich for Christmas this year. I have not found a place to stay yet but alone with my stack of novels, mountain views, real hot chocolate and a roaring fire is exactly what I am looking for. Any suggestions you have are very much appreciated.

    1. Lauren

      So glad to hear you enjoyed!

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