Switzerland travel guide, including map of Switzerland, top Switzerland travel experiences, tips for travel in Switzerland, plus the country's best treks
Visit Switzerland’s cities like swank Zurich or laid-back Bern to embrace their mix of rich history and modern culture.
Relax at lakes like Lago Maggiore or Lago di Lugano and go hiking, climbing, mountainbiking, skiing or snowboarding in the Alps. For more experienced skiers, it can be very rewarding to do your research and find a more remote area to stay in than a ski resort – far more peaceful, and you'll have a more personal experience in a smaller community than you would in a hotel.
Switzerland is generally an expensive country, but you can keep costs down by avoiding high season and pricey resorts.
If you plan to travel around a lot, buy a Swiss Pass, a ticket that allows you to use trains across the country and public transport in many Swiss cities. You will also get discount on cable cars and free entry to many museums. Find more information on the Switzerland Travel Centre website.
There is not a ‘wrong’ time to visit Switzerland. Generally, Switzerland has central European weather, which is cold from November to March and warm from April to September. But the climate is affected by altitude and varies widely.
The Jura region gets high rainfall in spring and can be very cold in winter. Ticino in the south has warm Mediterranean weather. The skiing season starts in December and higher pistes stay open till April.
The summer is good for hiking. In autumn, the rainfall is generally higher, but fewer crowds, colourful trees and clearer views make it a good time to visit.
Bern (BRN) 9km from the city, EuroAirport (Basel/Mulhouse/Freiburg) 12km from the city of Basel, Geneva (GVA) 5km from the city, Zurich (ZRH) 11km from the city
By train: Switzerland’s public transport system is excellent and trains connect most cities and towns. High-speed rails link Switzerland with France and Italy.By road: Hiring a car is usually cheaper when arranged in advance. To access Swiss motorways, you have to buy a vignette and stick it onto the windscreen. A comprehensive bus system gets to many villages and hamlets.
For more information on public transport and available travel passes see Switzerland Travel Centre.
Switzerland is full of excellent (and expensive) hotels, including lots of spas. A more rustic and cheaper option is to stay in a mountain inn (Berggasthof) or at a farm (Bauernhof).
Self-catering chalets and apartments are also widely available, but tend to be booked out early. Visit the tourist board website for reservations. The main hostel association is Swiss Youth Hostels, part of the International Youth Hostel Federation. Many hotels and inns hand out guest cards, with which visitors get discounts for local attractions and transport.
Swiss cuisine has a range of regional specialties, often using local produce and being influenced by its French, German and Italian neighbours. A number of dishes in the Alpine region feature cheese and other dairy products, such as the Suisse-Romande specialty cheese fondue or Älpler Magrone (macaroni with cheese, onions, potatoes and cream).
In German Switzerland, Rösti is very popular, a large fried potato pancake. In the Ticino canton you will find Italian dishes like risotto and gnocchi.
Exquisite restaurants cater for gourmets, especially in the major cities. But eating a hearty meal at a simple family-run inn is often the better and more authentic experience. To sample superb farm produce, head to one of the many local markets.
There are no major health hazards, but tick-borne encephalitis can occur in some areas. Consult your GP or travel health clinic about vaccination.
Good health care is readily available throughout Switzerland. EU citizens should carry a European Health Insurance Card to access free hospital treatment.
Tap water is safe to drink throughout the country.
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