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The Ultimate Switzerland Travel Guide

  • Post last modified:March 5, 2024
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Is it your first time going to Switzerland? Have you been to Switzerland, but want to explore more? Well, our Switzerland travel guide is here to answer any questions you may have!


We had previously traveled to Switzerland a few times in the past for layovers in Zurich, or a day trip to Geneva. But last summer we finally decided to do a proper trip there, which was a full week of the most beautiful mountain hikes, epic viewpoints, and some bucket list activities.


In our ultimate Switzerland travel guide we're going to share all of the basics for visiting, where to go, unique hotels to stay, and tips for traveling to Switzerland on a budget.

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Where is Switzerland Located?

Switzerland is located in the heart of Western Europe. It is a landlocked country that has borders with France to its West, Italy to its South & East, Germany to its North, and Liechtenstein & Austria to its North East.

Switzerland travel guide map

Switzerland is in the heart of Western Europe.


How to Travel to Switzerland

Switzerland can be reached by air or by land. Being centrally located, you can easily drive or take trains or buses from the surrounding countries. If you are coming from a bit further, then the easiest option is to fly into one of the international airports.


Can You Fly Direct to Switzerland from the US?

You can fly into either Geneva or Zurich directly from the US. Geneva has direct flights from New York and Washington DC, while Zurich has flights from Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Tampa, and Washington DC.


Direct Flights to Switzerland from Other European Countries

Being centrally located, there are pretty much direct flights from everywhere in Europe to at least one of the airports in Switzerland. You can check below by putting "from your airport" and then "to Swizerland".

Direct Flights to Switzerland from Other Countries Around the World

International cities that fly to Zurich include Abu Dhabi, Algiers, Antalya, Bangkok, Cairo, Cancun, Delhi, Doha, Dubai, Hong Kong, Hurghada, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Male, Marrakech, Marsa Alam, Montego Bay, Montreal, Mumbai, Muscat, Riyadh, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, Tel Aviv, and Tokyo.


Bern has flights from Doha, and Geneva recieves flights from Abu Dhabi, Addis Ababa, Agadir Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Casablanca, Doha, Enfidha, Istanbul, Izmir, Jeddah, Kuwait City, Luanda, Marrakech, Montreal, Port Louis, Rabbat, Riyadh, Santiago, Tel Aviv, and Tunis.


Traveling to Switzerland by Train

Switzerland is very well connected by train, and can be reached easily by cities is various nearby countries.


Here are a few popular train routes to Switzerland:

Traveling to Switzerland by Bus

There are plenty of opportunities to get to Switzerland via public transportation, and buses are typically the most budget-friendly option there is. You can take buses from many major cities, and even connect if you are coming from a smaller town.


Traveling to Switzerland by Bla Bla Car

When I was traveling solo to Switzerland, I visited by Bla Bla Car, which is a carpooling app that is popular in Europe. It's great because you can choose which driver you like at whatever time works for you, and coordinate with them for dropping you at your exact destination.


This past trip to Switzerland though, we actually decided to rent a car, and then posted the trip on Bla Bla Car to help split costs of going there on our own.


Traveling to Switzerland by Rental Car

If you plan on renting a car to visit Switzerland, make sure that you purchase your vignette, which is basically a pass that allows you to drive in the country (kind of like a toll pass). You can get one at a gas station as soon as you cross the border, and it costs 40 CHF for the year.


There are cameras everywhere in Switzerland, and many toll booths, so it's pretty crucial you get the vignette, and also that you always drive under the speed limit!

 

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Switzerland Travel Guide: Entry Requirements

Now that you know how to get to Switzerland, there is an important part of any Swtzerland travel guide that can't be missed, and it's the requirements for entering and staying in the country.


Visa Entry Requirements for Switzerland

Switzerland is part of the Schengen Zone, which means that you will need to keep the 90/180 rule in mind if you plan on visiting as a tourist to Europe for an extended period of time.


The 90/180 Rule

The 90/180 rule states that all countries who belong to the Schengen Zone have free travel amongst one another. Tourists (those not from the Schengen Zone) can visit a total of 90 days within 180 days. This is important to know, because if you go to other countries that are inside the Schengen Zone before Switzerland, you will have to subtract those days of travel allowance.


For example: you are going on a road trip, and spend 75 days traveling through Portugal, Spain, and Italy (which are all in the Schengen Zone). This means you now only have 15 days left in the Schengen Zone, or days that you could stay in Switzerland. After leaving the country, if you have used all 90 of these days, you will then have to spend 90 days outside of all Schengen countries before you will be able to re-enter.


We spend a lot of time in Europe each year, so we always use the Schengen Visa Calculator to make sure that we are staying within the allowed time period. (It is a serious offense if you even spend 91 days within the 180-day period, so it's crucial that you make sure to stay in compliance).


What is Required for U.S. Citizens to Enter Switzerland?

US citizens do not need a visa to enter Switzerland. However, they are required to follow the 90/180 rule while visiting.


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Switzerland Travel Guide: Local Adjustments

One of the most important parts of having a full Switzerland travel guide, is making sure that you know the basics for visiting! Things such as the language, currency, and tipping culture are included in all of our guides for this reason. Here are a few things that you need to know.


What Language is Mostly Spoken in Switzerland?

Despite being a tiny country, Switzerland actually has 4 official languages! These include German, Italian, French, and Romanch, of which German is spoken in the largest amount of the country.


Is English Spoken in Switzerland?

English is not spoken in Switzerland, but you will find plenty of people that do speak English, particularly in the cities.


Currency in Switzerland

The currency used in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc (CHF). Typically, it is a very strong currency, and worth more than the euro or the dollar. Currently, (February 2024) 1 CHF is equivalent to $1.13 USD, 1.05 EUR, or .90 GDP.


Can You Use Euros in Switzerland?

Euros are typically not accepted in Swizerland. However, there are certain places that may be willing to take euros if you are luckily. Most things can be paid by credit card, but if you need cash we suggest withdrawing it from a local ATM.


Is Switzerland Very Expensive to Visit?

Yes, Switzerland is very expensive to visit. But, that doesn't mean you can't do it on a budget! We have a few tips for saving money while visiting Switzerland, and other pricey countries in one our guide "how to travel to expensive countries on a budget".


What Plug Adapter Do I Need for Switzerland?

Switzerland uses the same plug types as the rest of Europe, which are types C (2 round pins) & J (2 round pins and a third underneath). The standard voltage in Switzerland is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.


If you are coming from the US, the UK, or Australia, you will need to get a travel adapter.


Is it OK to Drink Tap Water in Switzerland?

Switzerland has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world! Bottled water is quite expensive, and is completely unecessary. There are even fountains that you can find which have free water all over, so we definitely suggest bringing a reusable water bottle with you.


Is it Customary to Tip in Switzerland?

It is not customary to tip in Switzerland, as servers actually make a regular wage. Many restaurants in Switzerland do however add a service charge on the bill, which is typically around 10%.


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Switzerland Travel Guide: The Best Places to Visit & Things to Do

Now that you know the basics for traveling to Switzerland, it's time for the fun part! This is our favorite part of the Switzerland travel guide, as it's the heart and soul of having an epic trip.

Don't have time to read the whole article and want to save it for later? Just pin it!

Switzerland travel guide pin
Switzerland travel guide pin
Switzerland travel guide pin

Switzerland Travel Guide: The Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

The most important part of any Switzerland travel guide is knowing where to visit! Here are the top places to travel in Switzerland to add to your itinerary.


Zurich

Zurich is probably the most popular city in Switzerland, as it is the most well-connected city in the country to the rest of Europe.


Despite being the business capital, the city center is actually small and charming, and there are a ton of fun acitivites that you can enjoy. We've been a few times now, and even have friend living there, so will continue to add to our guide!


Zurich, Switzerland travel guide
Zurich, Switzerland travel guide
Zurich, Switzerland travel guide

Zurich is one of the popular cities in Switzerland.

Geneva

Located right near the French border, Geneva is Switzerland's most cosmopolitan city, and one of the most politically significant. This is where Europe's United Nations, as well as the Red Cross are located, and it's a global hub for diplomacy and banking.


While that doesn't sound crazy exciting as a tourist, it still is a beautiful city located on Lake Geneva, and worth a visit, especially if you are coming from France.

Bern

Bern is Switzerland's capital, and is characterized by medieval architecture. It's famous for it's old town being an UNESCO World Heritage Site, being where the first Lindt factory stands, and home to Einstein's most famous published work.

Basel

Basel is the third largest city in Switzerland, and is located on the Rhine river, near the borders of both France and Germany. This city is known as the cultural hub of Switzerland, with having a beautiful old town, and having over 40 museums!

Vasel, Places to visit in Switzerland

Photo by Eryk Piotr Munk on Unsplash

Interlaken

Located in the heart of Switzerland, this stunning town is wedged right between two massive lakes. It is definitely one of the top tourist destinations, and most likely one you'll find in any Switzerland travel guide out there.


Despite the crowds, we have to say that it truly is a magical place, and has so many great spots to offer like waterfalls, castles, and some of the most incredible viewpoints in the country.


Interlaken, Switzerland travel guide
Interlaken, Switzerland travel guide
Harder Kulm, Interlaken, Switzerland travel guide
Interlaken, Switzerland travel guide

Interlaken is one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland.

Lucerne

Just a half hour outside of Zurich is one of Switzerland's most beloved lakeside towns. Lucerne is 44 square miles, and is dotted with adorable villages and incredible boutique hotels, making it the perfect place to spend a night or two.

Lucerne, places to visit in Switzerland

Photo by Aswathy N on Unsplash

Lugano

Located all the way in the south near the Italian border, Lugano is another pictureque lake worth adding to your Swiss bucket list. Truthfully, as soon as we arrived we felt like we had already arrived in Italy! With its beautiful architecture and delicious Italian cuisine, it's the perfect place to experience Italy before hopping the border.

Lugano, Switzerland travel guide

Zermatt

Zermatt is one of the most picturesque places in Switzerland. The mountain village with views of the iconic Matterhorn peak is a scene straight from a fairytale, and a top destination on any Switzerland travel guide.


This town is car-free, and the only way you can get there is by train! It's great for hiking in the summer, and for its ski resort in the winter, which is the highest in Europe!

Grindelwald

Grindelwald is the perfect village to go if you want to experience some of the most breathtaking mountain landscapes in Switzerland. Like Zermatt, it's great for hiking in the summer, as well as skiing in the winter, and regardless, is gorgeous to experience year round.


Grindelwald, Switzerland travel guide
Grindelwald, Switzerland travel guide
Grindelwald, Switzerland travel guide
Grindelwald, Switzerland travel guide


Lauterbrunnen

This may just be one of the most charming places you'll ever encounter. The adorable village of Lauterbrunnen is tucked away between the mountains, and is scattered with waterfalls. This place seriously looks like it's out of a fairytale, and is a must-visit for your trip to Switzerland.


Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland travel guide
Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland travel guide
Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland travel guide

Ticino

Ticino is the Italian region of Switzerland, and it is full of quaint villages, rolling green hills, and gorgeous mountains surrounding it.


It is probably one of the least visited areas of Switzerland for tourists, but we feel it deserves a spot on our Switzerland travel guide, as it truly is magical.


While it is a little less connected than the other areas of the country, it's a beautiful area to check out if you rent a car.


Ticino, Switzerland travel guide reocmmendations
Ticino, Switzerland travel guide reocmmendations
Ticino, Switzerland travel guide reocmmendations

Ticino is full of great nature.

Switzerland Travel Guide: Fun Things to Do in Switzerland

Now that you know the best places to visit in Switzerland, it's time to explore all of the fun things to do around the country! Switzerland is full of bucket list activities, so it's important to put some extra money aside to tick a few of them off. Here are some of our favorites.


Have Fondue

Fondue is one of the most special culinary experiences, and a must-mention for any Switzerland travel guide.


You can find fondue in many restaurants across the country, and it is perfect for groups.


I was dying to have fondue in Switzerland, but you need at least two people in order to order fondue, and Fede is not a cheese lover. Luckily we met the loveliest Swiss couple though that invited us over for a traditional fondue in their home!

Swiss fondue, Switzerland travel guide

One of our favorite memories of Switzerland was havin fondue with locals.

Bonus: Do a Fondue Making Class

Not only do we suggest trying fondue, but you can actually join a class to learn how to make one and eat it too! It's the perfect way to truly immerse in Swiss culture and enjoy the flavors at the same time.

Taste Swiss Chocolate

Switzerland is known for having the most incredible chocolate, and it would be a sin not to try some. Whether it's having a cup of hot chocolate in a cafe, visiting a chocolatier, or simply grabbing a Swiss chocolate bar from a shop, make sure to add all things chocolate to your Switzerland itinerary!


Go Hiking

Switzerland is known for its incredible nature, and is a hiking-lover's paradise. Be prepared though- this country doesn't play around with its mountain hikes. There are tons of them, and some of them only for the faint of heart. 


Switzerland is special because the hiking destinations are typically set up with guest houses and restaurants at the top, meaning you can almost always find ways to wake up right in the mountains!


Here are a few of our favorite hikes that you should add to your list:
  • Stoos: an incredible ridge hike with views of several lakes near Lucerne
  • Schafler Ridge: a full region of several trails leading to an iconic ridge, cute guest house, and a beautiful lake
  • Saxer Lucke: a stunning ridge walk with incredible views
  • Adelboden: known for it's giant swing at the top
Schafler Ridge
Saxer Lucke hike, Switzerland travel guide