Visiting Switzerland

To people coming from big countries, in particular, a glance at the map of Europe gives the false impression that Switzerland is a tiny country that can be absorbed in no time flat. On the contrary, although small in geographic size, Switzerland’s topography makes traveling around here slower than one might think. Beside that, this is a country of great natural and cultural diversity, featuring three distinct cultural groups who speak four different languages.

Think of Switzerland, and the first thing that comes to mind is the Alps. And a trip to the high mountains should be a highpoint of a visit here – quite literally. But do you realize that a trip to the famous Jungfraujoch in the Bernese Oberland will take you the better part of a day? The same is true of travels to popular destinations like Zermatt/Matterhorn, Wengen, Pilatus, Rigi, or Davos.

Even if you don’t take to the mountains – which would be a shame – there are still so many destinations, that even visiting just a few would take days. This is true even if you keep to the major urban centers like Zurich, Lucerne, St. Gallen, Bern, Geneva, Locarno or Lugano.

My standard advice is, if you really want to get a true taste of Switzerland and its diversity, you need at least four to seven days, absolute minimum.

Cost-wise Switzerland is one of world’s most expensive countries, and I’m not going to pretend that this is a cheap destination. But London, New York or Tokyo are far worse. In fact, a vacation in Switzerland doesn’t have to be expensive. First of all, there are package deals and discounts available, and any good travel agent should be familiar with them. Information is also easily available through literature and the Internet, and of course, here on Switzerland in Sound.

As for getting around, the best way is by public transport. Switzerland has the world’s densest and most efficient mass transit system, and it serves literally every nook and cranny. This is a country where you don’t need a car. But if you insist on driving, bear in mind that Swiss rental car rates include all insurance, and there are no additional hidden taxes. The stated rate is what you pay.

When it comes to eating, Switzerland is known for its high standard of restaurants and cuisine. Every region of the country has its specialties, and dining out here does not have to cost the Earth. International fast-food chains and inexpensive eateries are to be found in most cities. But it would be a crime to come here without trying some of the fine local dishes. Menus are displayed outside most Swiss restaurants, so there are no surprises. And remember, tips and gratuities are always included in the price of the meal. And there are also no additional taxes to be paid.

There is so much more to be said. But I’ll end here, and invite you to navigate around Switzerland in Sound to learn more about visiting this country and some of its major attractions and destinations.

When planning a trip to Europe, give Switzerland some time. And enjoy your stay!

Bob Zanotti