Often called “Heaven on Earth”, Switzerland is a tiny European country, less than one-tenth the area of California. Despite its size, it’s a major tourist magnet, and its beauty remains unsullied in these increasingly polluted times.
If you’re an avid traveler, your bucket list can’t be complete without a trip to Switzerland. If you’ve finally decided you’re going to be traveling to Switzerland, congratulations! It’s an expensive trip so you need to take your time with the decision, but once the flights are booked and you’re committed, it’s time to plan the details.
Before you plan your itinerary, read through these Switzerland travel tips – they’ll save you quite a bit of time and effort!
1. Want to take your dog with you?
For pet-owners traveling can be difficult, because taking the pet with you isn’t always possible, and if you leave them with a pet sitter or neighbor you often can’t relax. If you’ve been toying with the idea of taking your dog with you on your Swiss adventures, let us be the first to tell you that it’s a great idea!
Going to Switzerland with a dog isn’t just easy – it’s actually a lot of fun. The country’s super dog-friendly, with doggie bags everywhere, and dogs being allowed in all sorts of places (restaurants, hotels, trains). In fact, your dog can even travel for free on public transport if he/she is small enough to fit in a bag. Yay for small dogs!
2. Road tripping
If you’re going on a longish vacation and want to see the country on your own terms, driving is a great idea. Get a rental car, complete the necessary paperwork, and you’re all set! Driving in Switzerland is a pretty nice experience.
The drivers in this country are very friendly, and the roads are well-made. In short, you can take it easy and drive comfortably without worrying about crazy drivers on the road. If you visit small villages and remote areas there’s little traffic, so you can drive slowly and take your time to watch the scenery around you.
3. Socket adaptors for charging your phone
When you travel to Switzerland (or anywhere overseas, really), always remember to bring a plug adapter. The sockets in Switzerland are totally different from those in America, so if you forget one you won’t be able to charge your electronics till you go out and buy one locally – which could be expensive or of low-quality. It’s best to shop around online and find a good product in advance. Take a spare in case a fellow traveler needs a loan, or if the first one malfunctions.
4. Forget about transport
When visiting Switzerland, traveling within the country will be the last of your problems. That doesn’t mean you’ll have bigger problems; just that their public transport system is perfectly amazing. While we did cover renting a car, you won’t actually need one unless it’s your preferred mode of transport or if you’re going to super remote places.
The best way to get around the country? Train. Get a Swiss Rail Pass and check your luggage in at the start of the journey. When you get back to America you’ll wonder how you we ever manage without it here. Not having to drive is blissful – driving requires a lot of energy and concentration.
5. Scaling mountain peaks without lifting a finger
Switzerland is famous for its gorgeous mountains. You probably want to climb a peak and get some cool pictures, but don’t have the energy or mountaineering experience. Who does? Not everyone’s a mountaineer or super-fit. However, you don’t need to do anything to scale the Matterhorn.
It’s not a gentle hill – it’s a great big mountain at 4,478 feet high. The good news is that there are trains to take you to the top! The trains are regular – almost like the Subway – and are very clean and pleasant. When going to Switzerland, don’t miss this ride.
6. Tipping in restaurants
How much do you need to tip in Swiss restaurants? Usually when you travel for a longish time and plan on eating out (instead of making your own meals), you need to factor tips into your budget. Not so in Switzerland!
Luckily, tips aren’t required in the country. The minimum wage is pretty alright, so you’re free to tip if the service was excellent or you’re feeling generous, but you certainly don’t have to set aside funds for it. Pretty nice, huh?
7. Vegetarian meals
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you might find it a little difficult finding vegetarian restaurants in the area – especially if you’re staying in a rural area. Larger cities are a little better, with Zurich having numerous vegetarian/vegan places and popular food outlets.
If you’re intent on visiting rural Switzerland and you’re vegetarian, you can either do some extra research in advance, or rent an Airbnb so you can cook your own meals. You’ll find the ingredients easily enough; it’s the restaurant meals that’s the problem. Once you’ve decided which hotel you want to book, look around on Google Maps for vegetarian restaurants in the neighborhood. Only book a hotel if you’re certain you’ll find a suitable eatery close by.
8. Drinking fresh mountain water
Switzerland, like many other European countries, has lovely water. Tap water is perfectly safe to drink, so you don’t have to spend any money on water. However, when going to Switzerland don’t miss the opportunity to drink some fresh, cool mountain water.
Take a reusable bottle with you (foldable, if you’ll be hiking), and fill it when you find a good spot. The mountain water is super refreshing, sweet-tasting, and clean. In fact, if you can take a few extra bottles with you bring back some to your hotel. Mountain water beats tap water every time.
9. The best time to visit
Switzerland’s an evergreen place – you can visit it in any season and enjoy it. If you like hiking and observing flora and fauna, go during the summer. If you’re taking a much-deserved Christmas vacation, go during December. If you want to go skiing, skating and snowboarding, winter time works perfectly! Just go whenever feels right.
It’ll be super cold during winter, but you knew that already. Snowsports is very exciting, and Switzerland has its own brand of unique sports that mix snow and scenery for a stunning result. From sleds on rails to assisted mountaineering, you’re in for one hell of a fun trip!
10. Saving money
Lastly, we get to the most important point of all: saving bucks while traveling. Switzerland is a beautiful country, and because of that it’s both popular and expensive. From food to lodgings to tourist attractions, everything costs a goodish amount, so you want to save a little bit here and there.
Luckily you don’t have to spend anything on water and tips. Apart from that, try renting an Airbnb instead of booking a hotel room. Eat vegetarian meals, or shop around for cheap ingredients and cook for yourself. Instead of going with pricey tourist attractions, rent a bike and go biking around the countryside – the day will fly by before you know it, and you’ll feel incredibly calm.
Another great way to save money is by visiting small, undiscovered towns and villages. You could go on a nature travel trip!
So this was a list of Switzerland travel tips. We hope you found it helpful. For more articles and travelogues, follow our blog!