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SWITZERLAND

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Gimmelwald, Swiss Alps
Gimmelwald, Switzerland

Switzerland is officially the Swiss Confederation and it was established in 1291. The Latin phrase Confoederatio Helvetica, results in its abbreviation as CH. Switzerland has a population of about 8 million. It is bordered by Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein.  The official languages are German, French, Italian and Romansh.  Switzerland is well known for its neutral stance on politics since 1815 and more notably for its ability to remain neutral throughout World War II.  The capital is Bern and the two most prominent cities are Zurich and Geneva.  Geneva is the home of the second largest office of the United Nations.  Switzerland is the origin of the Red Cross, which carries the same logo as the Swiss flag. One of the main attractions in Switzerland is the Alps. Interlaken and Zermatt are the two main locations to ascend into the Alps by cog trains, funiculars and cable cars. Switzerland is also known internationally for high end banking, chocolate, Swiss Army Knives and, in days gone by, for its watches.  There is an excellent train system.  Tourists will find that Switzerland's high standard of living makes it one of the most expensive locations to visit in Europe.

Climate:

Its high alpine geography gives Switzerland two distinct seasons for tourists.  Winter is a popular time for skiing at numerous resorts, including many popular destinations such as Zermatt and St Moritz.  The short summer months provide excellent weather for hiking and viewing the landscapes via gondolas and cog trains at locations like Interlaken.

Transportation:

The transportation system in Switzerland is exceptional.  The rail system is extensive and prides itself for maintaining on-time service.  In addition to Eurail passes, consider several options of the Swiss Travel Pass for rail travel restricted to Switzerland.  The Swiss Travel Pass includes variations that cover buses, boats and trams, plus discounts on museums and cable cars.  Several web sites sell Swiss Travel Passes, including SwissPasses.com.

Visa Requirements:

Switzerland participates in the Schengen Zone and Schengen Visa requirements.  That means there are no border controls between members and no border inspections by rail or vehicle when traveling from Switzerland to Germany, France, Italy, Austria or Liechtenstein.  Some countries that are not members of the Schengen Zone require a Schengen Visa to enter Europe.  More than 40 countries outside the Schengen Zone do not require a visa.  Exemptions include citizens of Australia, Canada, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.  Check your specific country at VisaHQ.  For a list of exempt countries, visit Project Visa.

Currency:

Switzerland's official currency is the Swiss Franc (CHF).

Savor the Tastes of Switzerland:

  • Swiss chocolate

  • Fondue - dip a long stemmed fork with bread into a pot of melted cheese.  The fondue experience has expanded far beyond its origins in bread and cheese.

  • Schnitzel - pounded meat coated in flour, beaten eggs and bread crumbs, which comes from German influence.

Best Time to Visit Switzerland:

City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

 Basel

             X  X        

 Interlaken

 Ski  Ski        X      X      Ski

 Lucerne

             X  X        

 St Moritz

 Ski  Ski          X  X        Ski

 Zermatt

 Ski  Ski        X  X  X        Ski


View Switzerland map