Passports and Visas
All passengers require a machine-readable passport valid for six months beyond the conclusion of their trip, with appropriate visas. You should carry your passport with you at all times to ensure against its loss or theft in hotels. Check with the Swiss Consulate to determine if any visas are needed. Securing required documents is the responsibility of the traveler. This information is a guide only and it is essential that you check all current passport and visa rules with your travel agent before departure.
Switzerland uses the Swiss franc, as the country is not a part of the European Union. Even so, many large stores, restaurants, hotels and ticket stations will accept the Euro and return your change to you in either Swiss francs or Euros. You can change US dollars at banks and currency exchange agencies for the best rates, hotels and some shops can also change them for you, but the rate will likely be much higher. ATMs, available in most cities, are also an efficient way to get money in the local currency. Credit cards are accepted by many establishments, but Switzerland is more cash-oriented than other European countries.
Switzerland has 230 V at 50 Hz, with a type J socket. America's electrical currents are 120 V at 60 Hz, with a type A or B socket, so you'll need a converter and an adapter.
Wireless and wired Internet access is widely available throughout the populated areas of Switzerland. Many of the hotels we use offer this service free or at a small charge. There are also Internet cafés in main cities that allow you access, usually for a small charge.
More than 30 Swiss railway stations also have wireless internet hotspots for WLAN-enabled devices, such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, which accept payment by credit card.
Phoning home from another country can be expensive. All hotels will add a service charge to the cost of any phone calls you make from your room. This charge can be very high. It is always cheaper for you to use public telephones (payphones) if your cell phone is not set for international calls. Your Travel Director can explain how to dial internationally if you are unsure.
Switzerland is a country of quality, precision and sensible luxury, and its retail goods reflect those values. Prices may not be bargain basement, but many Swiss-made items will last you a lifetime. Leave some room in your suitcase for a new watch, crystal, embroidered items, lace, a souvenir cowbell, trendy Swiss shoes or Swiss Army knives and cutlery. Some winter travelers even decide to buy their ski clothing and equipment in Switzerland for an extra touch of authenticity.
Few would dare to leave without a few boxes of melt-in-your-mouth Swiss chocolates and perhaps some cheese or liqueurs to pair with it. Each region of Switzerland also presents its own distinct wares. In the northern towns near Germany's Black Forest region and in Basel and Zurich, keep an eye out for that perfect chalet-style cuckoo clock. These heirlooms make a charming way to remember your time!
We suggest the following tipping rates: Taxi drivers won't expect a tip, but rounding up the fare on the meter is appreciated, Restaurants and bars 10-15% of the total bill.
As with most of Europe, traveling within cities and towns can be easily done on foot, by bus, train or taxi. In fact, public transit is especially safe, clean, efficient and abundant in Switzerland. Many reduced fare tickets are available for mutli uses or longer stays. If your travel plans include two or more cities, bus and rail networks will get you to and from. Rental cars may be also be an option.
As comfortable and convenient as the rest of their transportation system, the Swiss have a number of mountain railways to swiftly whisk you up to those storybook Alpine resorts.
Generally, casual jeans or slacks, shirts, sweaters, a jacket and comfortable walking shoes are all you'll need. Of course, bring layers and ski clothes if you are headed for the mountains. If you plan on an evening at a nicer venue, dressier clothes may be called for. An umbrella and rain jacket often will come in handy on a Swiss vacation.
Conservative yet stylish, people in Switzerland value the look of clean, nicely pressed clothing paired with a pair of well-polished shoes.