Switzerland Travel Facts

The Basics

Country: Switzerland

Where is it: Switzerland is located in central Europe, east of France, north of Italy.

Why do people go here: Switzerland’s biggest draw are the dramatic Swiss Alps. Those that can ski do so in excess, and everyone else goes to Interlachen, the adventure capital of Europe. Interlachen brims with backpackers willing to splurge on bungee jumping, canyoning, and other extreme sports. Once travelers get tired of the fun (or run out of money), some of the numerous hiking trails are a popular way to spend a few days. An added bonus: you can practice your German, French and Italian without leaving the country. All three are official languages, as different parts of the country tend to speak the language of its closest neighbor.

What are the main entry points: Bern, Lausanne and Zurich are all popular entry points for train travel. Flights, although available, are not common for backpackers.

Currency used: Swiss franc

Country Code for Phones: 41

Area codes for Major Cities: Bern 31

Religion:v Roman Catholic 46.1%, Protestant 40%, other 5%, none 8.9%

Population: 7.7 million

Ethnic Breakdown: German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other 6%

Government: Direct democracy Federal parliamentary republic

Languages: German (official) 63.7%, French (official) 19.2%, Italian (official) 7.6%, Romansch (official) 0.6%, other 8.9%

Travel Information

Major Cities: Bern

Attractions: Skiing, Extreme Sports, Hiking

Accommodation: Switzerland Hostels, Switzerland Hotels

Tourism Office locations and links: Switzerland- Swiss National Tourist Office Bellariastrasse 38 P.O Box 695 Zurich,, 8027, Switzerland +41-1-288-11-11;; FAX 41-1-288-12-05;//www.SwitzerlandTourism.ch //www.swissinfo.ch/

Off-the-Beaten-Path: Vigne a Farinet, Vineyard Walk, Fribourg

Health Issues: No vaccines are required to enter Switzerland. Health care is on par with the rest of Europe and the U.S.

Tips for Visiting

When to go: November through April draws ski fans to the Alps, while less-adventurous tourists wait for the slightly warmer and sunnier summer season.

Common Phrases: Yes = Ja, No = Nein, Please = Bitte, Thank you = Dank, Do you speak English? = Macht sie sprechen Englisch?

Specific Events/Holidays: Founding of the Swiss Confederation, 1 August (1291)

Getting Around: Trains run frequently and connect most towns. Eurail is valid in Switzerland. Government-operated buses will get you to more rural areas. If you rent a car, note that many small towns still do not allow them to pass through, or require special permits.

Good to know: Shops close EARLY in Bern, and are not open on Sundays. Do your grocery shopping before then!

Cheapest airport to fly into: The cheapest airport to fly into Switzerland is the Zürich Airport.

Need more information?: Check out the Switzerland travel guide for more on what to see, where to stay, and how to get there.

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