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What You Need to Know Before Traveling to Switzerland

Undoubtedly, Switzerland is one of the most beautiful country in the planet. Though often considered as one among the European countries, Switzerland certainly has it’s unique things – start from “culture” to “currency”, and there are some crucial things you need to know before you plan your trip. 

#1: LANGUAGE:
Switzerland has four different languages. Yes, in Switzerland they speak German, French, Italian, and Romansh. And in different parts of the country they speak different languages.

So, in Zurich and Lucerne you'll find people speak German. In Geneva, they speak French. The south speaks Italian, but almost everybody speaks English too, so if you're an English-speaker, your chances of getting lost in Switzerland is almost nil😉.

What I also observed is: most of the time, you don’t have a need to speak to the locals at all. When you have to chat up with a store clerk, restaurant waiters and waitresses, they're pretty good about being efficient; they just want to finish the transaction and so you'll find you don't need to make even a small talk. If your home is the States or places where small talk is popular, you may find their behavior bit weird😀!

#2. TIMINGS:
Switzerland is an early country. Cafes open early, stores close early, so when you're here you will want to start, and likely end, your days early.

Most stores open between eight and 10 in the morning and they close between six and 8 p.m. in the evening. On Saturday, most shops close around four or 5 p.m. and on Sunday almost everything is closed.

There are some cities that have a thing called evening shopping and they'll have one day a week where the shops will be open a bit later. In Zurich this happens on Thursdays, and on Thursdays the shops are often open until 9 p.m.

Switzerland has pretty strict laws to have a good quality life so things aren't too noisy or too busy, but that means that, when it becomes night time, there's not much to do. So just kinda plan your days that way. Don’t dream of any night life😉.

#3. TRANSPORTATION:
Switzerland has really good public transportation. It's pretty similar to Japan in that context.

Public transportation here is always on time. If your train leaves at 12:02, Oh god, it's gonna leave at 12:02. If you see another one that's leaving at 11:58, that is a different train/bus. I have seen many lazy ones like me missing and running behind their buses, even for a few seconds delay.

Something to know if you're coming to Switzerland and you'll be traveling a lot on the train, there's this thing called the Swiss Travel Pass and you can get unlimited transportation on trains, buses, trams, everything like that.
  • We had our trip by our own transportation; but if you’re planning to use public transport then the Swiss Travel Pass is a pretty good deal. 
  • Also, if you are doing a lot of train travel, make sure on your mobile device that you download the SBB app. SBB is the Swiss Railways and their app tells you lots of great stuff about where you're coming, where you're going, platforms it goes on, so that's a handy thing to have with you.
  • There's two main classes of train travel in Switzerland. First class and second class.
  • The second class is actually pretty good. I think second class in Switzerland is almost as good as first class in a lot of other countries. So, don't feel bad if you're taking a second-class train, it’s a good saver for your budget.
#4. CURRENCY & EXPENSE:
In Switzerland, they don't use the euro and they're not part of the European Union either. They are part of the Schengen Agreement that allows visa-free entry so the money they use here is the Swiss franc, abbreviated CHF, but you can exchange euros at any bank, many hotels, a lot of stores will accept euro, but then you'll get change back in francs.

If you're looking to save money I'd say skip Switzerland completely. It is a beautiful and very interesting place but when people say it is expensive, they are NOT kidding😛. It’s is really expensive.

Pizza probably cost you about 20 Swiss francs at Vapiano's, which is a pizza chain that we tried, but that was a bit of shocker when it was 20 francs for a pizza. A Big Mac meal at McDonald's will cost 12 francs.Starbucks coffee, five Swiss francs. And don’t forget 1 Swiss franc is approx..1.2 USD, is the rate many shops follow. Nothing is cheap here!

#5. FOOD:
When you are in Switzerland, the things to eat are "Chocolate and Cheese". You will find chocolate shops almost on every block in major cities in Switzerland.And there's over 400 varieties of cheese in Switzerland.Those are two of the things they're most famous for.

Something to also know about food, and I just talked about things being expensive, food is expensive. If you're trying to get some cheaper eats, go to restaurants that have lunch specials, you might find those to be about 20 francs, go to some of the cafeteria restaurants that are in department stores, or, if you want the cheapest eats, check out the ethnic restaurants.

Kabobs are always cheap so you can find a kabob, maybe for 10 francs. Last thing to know about food is if you have a reservation, don't be late. If your reservation is at 7 p.m. and you get there at 7:15, well you might as well forget you had that reservation.

#6. THE WEATHER:
The weather in Switzerland can be quite varied because of the Alps, the mountain range that runs through the middle of Switzerland.

On the west side it can be windy, on the south it's significantly warmer, but the thing to know is that in the summer time, here in Zurich, it can be quite warm. During day time in the summer here , it can be about 80-85° in Fahrenheit and can go up to 95 degrees (35° C). So be informed that the Switzerland can be quite warm, which is something that most of us don't really take into account! .  Make sure you bring, if you're coming in the summer, definitely short sleeves and shorts. You will want it. It's also humid here cos there's so much water out and about and around.

Another thing to know if you are going up to the mountains, the mountains are cold and the weather at top can change every hour. Each mountain will typically have its own website, so check the weather on the mountains. Even though it's 85 Fahrenheit at the bottom, up on top of the peak it may be nearly freezing!.

#7. WATER:
Skip the bottled water. Bottled water is heck expensive. What really bothered me was: you don’t pay for the water, but for the bottle. They have a high tax on these plastic bottles which makes these plastic bottles 2, 3 francs to purchase them.

Pick up one or bring one with you from maybe the airport you're flying from and refill it as you get here. Switzerland cities are full of public fountains that the water is cold, delicious, and healthy for you as well to your wallet.

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Well, that brings us to the end of my list and I we hope you enjoyed it. I’ll be glad if you got something useful out of it. Please feel free to share the link if you like it!. 
Have a great trip to the Switzerland.
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This post first appeared on Schipol Panorama Terrace - A Perfect Place For Plane-Spotting, please read the originial post: here

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What You Need to Know Before Traveling to Switzerland

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