Switzerland Travel Guide: Travel tips for foreigners & backpackers, Bern tourist information, Switzerland food average prices, eating on a budget, accommodation in Bern Find discount hotels, cheap accommodation, vacation deals, holiday packages.
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Switzerland Travel Guide

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Full country name: Swiss Confederation
Area: 41,277 sq km
Population: 7,6 million (July 2010 est.)
Capital City: Bern
Languages: German, French, Italian, Raeto-Romance
Religion: Roman Catholic 41.8%, Protestant 35.3%, Muslim 4.3%, Orthodox 1.8%, other Christian 0.4%, other 1%, unspecified 4.3%, none 11.1%
Government: Federal Republic
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +1
Dialling Code: 41
Electricity: 230V, 50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric

Money & Costs:
Currency: Swiss Franc
Average yearly salary: USD 41,400

Budget: Swf6-12
Mid-range: Swf12-25
High: Swf25-45
Top: Swf45+
Budget: Swf20-180
Mid-range: Swf180-260
High: Swf260-420
Top: Swf420+

Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, and is actually more expensive that most other countries in Europe. Budget travellers can get by on around US$40 a day after buying a rail pass if they stay in hostels and prepare their own food. If you stay in pensions, enjoy eating out and want to sample the nightlife, count on spending around $100/day.

All major travellers' cheques and credit cards are accepted. Commission is not charged for changing cash or cheques, but shop around for the best rates (hotels usually have the worst rates). Tipping is usually not expected as hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars are required by law to include a 15% service charge. Also taxi fares usually have a service charge included.

Geography: Switzerland, in central Europe, is bordered by France to the west, Germany to the north, Austria to the east (as well as the tiny country of Liechtenstein) and Italy to the south. It is the land of the Alps, and the highest peaks are Dufour Peak, 4634m (15,217ft), on the Italian border; the Dom, 4545m (14,912ft); the Matterhorn, 4478m (14,692ft); and the Jungfrau, 4166m (13,669ft). The tallest peak in all of the Alps, Mont Blanc (15,771 ft; 4,807 m), is actually in France. Most of Switzerland is composed of a mountainous plateau bordered by the great bulk of the Alps on the south and by the Jura Mountains on the northwest. The country's largest lakes - Geneva, Constance (Bodensee), and Maggiore-straddle the French, German-Austrian, and Italian borders, respectively. The Rhine, navigable from Basel to the North Sea, is the principal inland waterway.

The largest cities in Switzerland are Zurich, 972,000 (metro. area), 350,000 (city proper); Geneva, 180,000; Basel, 165,000;  Bern, 125,000; Lausanne, 118,000

Climate: The Alps cause many climatic variations throughout Switzerland. In the higher Alpine regions temperatures tend to be low, while the lower land of the northern area has higher temperatures and warm summers.

Recommended clothing: Warm clothes and rainwear; lightweights for summer.

Social conventions: If invited for a meal, it is polite to bring flowers to the hostess, however, you should avoid chrysanthemums or white asters, as they are considered to be funeral flowers only. Posh restaurants, hotel dining rooms and other important social occasions may require one to have jackets and ties, however black tie, if it is required, is usually specified in the invitation.

Health: Swiss medical facilities and health care in general are considered to be the best in the world, however, it is very expensive, therefore, health insurance is strongly recommended. European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) holders, are entitled to free or low-cost emergency medical treatment.

Food & Drink: Swiss cuisine is unique, but at the same time varied, since the influences from the neighboring countries, such as Italy, France and Germany. Since historically Switzerland was a country of farmers, many dishes include potatoes and cheese. The most popular traditional Swiss dish is fondue - a delicious mix of Gruyère and Vacherin cheese, which is melted and mixed with white wine, flour, Kirsch and a little garlic. Other very tasty cheese varieties are Emmental and Tête de Moine. Pork sausages or salami are often used in local recipes, including Engadinerwurst, Beinwurst, Knackerli, Leberwurst and Landjäger. There are various delicious regional dishes in Switzerland, for example, Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (thin strips of veal with mushrooms in a cream sauce served with rösti) or Papet vaudois (leeks with sausage). You will have a chance to taste a great variety of Swiss wines, that are widely available. Swiss beer, both lager and dark beer, is also very popular. The most popular local bottled mineral water brand is Henniez.

Public Holidays:
Jan 1 New Year's Day
Varies between Mar 22 & Apr 25 Good Friday
Aug 1 National Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Dec 26 St Stephen's Day

(a) *These holidays may not be observed in certain cantons.
(b) There are additional regional holidays which are observed in certain cantons only.

Disclaimer: The above information is for reference purposes only. The content of this page is not intended to substitute for advice given by the user's own government travel departments or a licensed travel health advisor. The viewer/user of this web page should always contact the user's own government representatives in that area for the most up-to-date information at that time, before making a final decision to travel to that country or destination.

Study in Switzerland: Below are the latest German language schools, art schools, business schools & colleges to join our directory.

Schools & colleges listing on Learn4Good:Location
Glion Institute of Higher Education, Online MBA & Hospitality Postgraduate ProgramsMontreux, Switzerland
Aiglon CollegeMontreux, Switzerland
Glion Institute of Higher Education, Online MBA & Hospitality Postgraduate ProgramsMontreux, Switzerland
IMI University Centre – International Management Institute SwitzerlandLucerne, Switzerland
Aiglon CollegeMontreux, Switzerland
EU Business School - Geneva & MontreuxGenève, Switzerland
Business & Hotel Management School (BHMS), LuzernLucerne, Switzerland
IMI University Centre – International Management Institute SwitzerlandLucerne, Switzerland
EU Business School - Geneva & MontreuxGenève, Switzerland

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