As a country which borders 5 (!) countries – France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria and Germany, Switzerland is a wonderful place to spend a few nights. It is not too large, yet holds a lot of beauty. No matter if you are in one of the elegant cities, bathing in a magnificent lake or wandering the Swiss Alps, the inhabitants are always extremely friendly. They greet you with a smile and are also very posh. You will find it a country which is European, yet somehow different. A bit more reserved (but not when it comes to spending money 🙂 ) but surely interesting. Somehow, just special.
Switzerland is divided into several cantons and is home to three (or rather four) languages: in 19 of the 26 cantons, German is the official language. French is spoken in the western regions of the country and Italian in the south. Various versions of the Romansh language are practiced especially in the canton of Graubünden. It surely is very interesting to travel to on the basis of the variety of languages alone. One might think that due to this, the Swiss character cannot really be merged into a few words. Yet, I think that is partly true. Of course, you can find some differences in the German-Swiss and the Italian-Swiss. But on the otherhand, the inhabitants are also quite similar. The country is exclusive and so are the people. In my eyes, the Swiss are not snobby (the exception proves the rule). They are very posh and polite people who behave neatly and are a bit more quiet than other countries.
And well….Switzerland is – excuse my language – bloody expensive. It is not only often skipped by budget travelers, but even we, as Europeans living next to Switzerland, tend to drive around the country when traveling rather than driving through, although it might be faster. Furthermore, it does not belong to the European Union but to the Shengen region. So you can move as freely around as in (nearly) all of Europe, but things are…well…more expensive.
Hotels are very high-priced. Rooms range from 140 – 200 CHF. If you are only searching for a place to sleep, hostels are a good alternative. Dorms start at about 30 – 50 CHF and 80 – 120 for a room where two sleep in. And, last but not least, come sour savior AirBnB with rooms for about 40 CHF and apartments for 70 CHF.
Food in Switzerland = chocolate. No, just joking. Eating out is pricey, you can expect to spend at least 40 CHF for a dinner, yet it can also happen that an Italian restaurant will want 30 CHF for just pasta. Pizza costs around 20 CHF. If you want to save some money, go to the locals supermarket. The weekly shopping is around 130 CHF for he basics. And do not forget to buy that chocolate 😉 Seriously, the Swiss are famous for their absolutely delicious chocolate – such as Lindt – try it (and allow yourself that cheat day)!
Getting around in Switzerland is a bit tricky. Local buses get you around cities and towns easily, costing as low as 2,50 – 5 CHF. Yet, the inter-city bus system is not very developed – at least at the time when I was there. Therefore, traveling by train would be good opportunity, yet it is more expensive. A e.g. two-hour train ride from Bern to Geneva starts at 50 CHF. You are able to spend less on train tickets though if you book them days, if not even weeks, in advance. Instead of ordering a taxi, use BlaBla car, which is very popular in Europe. You will not only get to know friendly locals, but also save a lot of money.
It is also a very safe country to travel to. It even is among the top 10 safest countries worldwide. Yet, larger cities always hold a little danger and pickpocketing such as thefts of vehicles are on the rise in Switzerland. The overall risk is extremely low and terrorism is barely a threat. Although the right-wing party is quite strong there, you never feel threatened or uncomfortable. Multiple nations live together in Switzerland and respect each other’s customs.
In total, Switzerland has two sides which I both always enjoy: the posh and noble way of living in the cities, such as Zürich or Bern; and the peaceful quiet and serenity you are allowed to witness and be part of in tiny villages in the Swiss Alps. I recommend staying in the country for approximately 10 days and spending each 2 days in the city and each 2 days in the Alps, making your way through the 3 major languages. It is the best way to explore all of Switzerland with all the wonderful effects. – And take a bar of chocolate back to your loved ones! 🙂
- Restaurants: None (or at least not expected)
- Taxi: None (or at least not expected)
- Guides/Staff: None (or at least not expected)
- Be on time. Punctuality is highly valued in Switzerland.
- Proper table manners are expected.
- Avoid stretching, shouting, littering, chewing gum etc. in Switzerland. It is a very noble country.
- Do not keep your hands in your pockets when talking to someone.