Switzerland Travel Tips

Traveling in Switzerland is Easy, Fun, and Worry-Free

Here are things you'll need to know once you're there to make your Switzerland travel or tour as enjoyable as possible. 

What’s the Best Way to Change Money?

The Swiss love their banks, and such an abundance of banks means that it’s easy for visitors to find ATM machines and change money anywhere in the country—even in small towns of just a few hundred residents. Credit cards are widely accepted throughout Switzerland, so you’ll have no trouble using them in hotels, restaurants, and shops. But be aware that most US credit card companies tack on a 3% foreign transaction fee, so it can be a more expensive transaction for you. Chip-and-pin credit cards are standard in Europe and just becoming available in the US. Don’t be too worried because most retailers in Switzerland are still taking regular credit cards. It is a good idea to make sure you know the pin numbers on all of your credit cards before traveling because many machines will require this too.

Is Tipping Expected?

Tipping is not expected in Switzerland as it is in the US. You may see a service charge included for most hotel, restaurant, taxi, and hair salon services. For this reason, tip only if you’ve had exceptionally good service. You can always round your tab up to the nearest franc, but lavishly dropping a large tip is considered ostentatious and not in good taste.

Electrical Adapters  

There are two basic standards for electrical voltage and frequency around the world: Switzerland operates on the European standard of 220-240 volts at 50 Hz and uses a plug with two round prongs which is popularly known as the Europlug. A simple adapter will enable you to easily charge your phone, camera batteries, or laptop. Today, most appliances are dual voltage so no other adapter is needed. Alpenwild guests will find a free adapter included with their travel documents and on guided tours the trip leader or hotel generally have extras to share.

Will there be WiFi in my Hotel Room? 

Nearly all the hotels on Alpenwild tours include free Wi-Fi in your room or in public areas of the hotel. This is true even in small inns located in remote mountain settings. If you plan to bring a laptop or wireless device and want to verify if the hotel has free wireless, please call our office. Most mountain huts and many of the classic Berghotels, such as Obersteinberg and Faulhorn do not have Wi-Fi (which is often the very reason many of our guests love these traditional old hotels). But more often than not, they will have good cell service.

Cell Phone Use

If you want to use a cell phone while in Switzerland there are many options. You should check with your service provider to find out what the international rates are for making calls and texting and just use your own phone. Keep in mind that it will likely be expensive with extra charges for roaming. You can also get your phone “unlocked” so that you can purchase a European SIM card in Switzerland to use during your trip which will give you better rates for calling. Another inexpensive option is buying a prepaid phone which are for sale at many locations such as train stations and post offices. Keep in mind that it is possible to bring your own phone and make calls for free by using WiFi calling options such as Skype, Google Voice, WhatsApp or FaceTime.

Making Phone Calls

  • Calling Switzerland from North America: Dial 011 41 and then the local number without the 0 at the beginning.
  • Calling to North America from Switzerland: Dial 001 and then the number you want to call (without the 0 in front of the local number.
  • Calling within Switzerland: always use the entire number, even for local calls. 0 41 --------

 

 

Packing Light 

It is important to pack light when traveling in Switzerland when most travel is done by train or walking. You should be able to walk with your luggage comfortably and ideally all packed in just one suitcase/bag. Be sure to bring a backpack for day trips and bring layers rather than take a heavy coat. Think in terms of what you can do without — not what you think you might need on your trip. Pack lightweight clothing that can be rolled up tightly or put into Ziploc bags with the air compressed. Most hotels have laundry service available or wash your clothes in your room so you can pack less clothing. Make sure to bring necessities and keep it simple. Most tourists who don’t pack light, wish they had.

What is the Most Important Item to Take? 

A pair of good walking shoes. Switzerland has an astonishing 37,000 miles of walking paths, or Wanderwege, marked with the familiar yellow signs. This network of footpaths is nearly as extensive as the nationwide system of paved roads.  About one-third of the walking paths are classified as mountain trails and are marked with a red and white stripe on the yellow sign. Do all of these walking trails get used by the Swiss? You bet. In Switzerland walking is a way of life. Swiss average 9650 steps per day; Americans just 5117. And all that walking seems to pay off. Obesity is relatively rare in Switzerland, and they have the 2nd longest life expectancy of any country in the world. Join friends and family in the vacation of a lifetime in the Swiss Alps. Discover the options available on our Swiss Bliss, Scenic Alps by Rail, or Cheese, Chocolate, and the Scenic Alps