Tip to plan a trip to Switzerland

Useful Guide to Plan a Trip to Switzerland

A trip to Switzerland can be an experience of a lifetime; however, planning the same involves thorough research and attention to detail. This write-up will help you plan the vacation you have been longing for.
Quick Tip
While there are numerous flights to Switzerland from many parts of the world, it is a good idea to check if it will be cheaper to fly to the country via a European gateway, such as Frankfurt or London. Visitors traveling from outside Europe may be able to save some money this way.

Landlocked on four sides by Germany in the north, Austria and Liechtenstein in the east, France in the west, and Italy in the south, Switzerland is one of the smallest countries in Europe. Known the world over for its unparalleled beauty and serene attitude, the country boasts of hallucinatory landscapes, imposing mountains, and pristine lakes and rivers. But that's not all that the country has to offer. Tourists from across the globe flock to the Confoederatio Helvetica (the Swiss Confederation―the country's official name) for plenty of other reasons, apart from just scenic beauty. Besides being a haven for adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies, it is also a dreamland for foodies, especially the chocolate and cheese lovers. Plus, from urban hustle and bustle to rural quiet, the country's offers never seem to cease.

Planning a Swiss Vacation

Switzerland is one of those destinations, which is definitely on the wish list of all travel enthusiasts from across the world. Millions of tourists travel to Switzerland each year and return after having an extremely fulfilling experience and bagging wonderful memories to cherish for the rest of their lives. However, for a first-time visitor, planning the Swiss vacation may seem to be a tedious and confusing process. This write-up is Buzzle's attempt to sort out your confusion, and help you plan the most fulfilling vacation of your life. Here's a brief guide to plan your holiday to Switzerland.

Best Time to Visit

Switzerland is equally beautiful all through the year; however, the best time for your visit will largely depend on your itinerary. Nevertheless, it is always better to keep your travel dates a little flexible to get the best possible deals.

The country experiences summer from about June to September. This is when the climate is pleasant, especially for those who wish to indulge in outdoor pursuits and adventure sports.

Even in summer, the months of July and August are when most tourists tend to travel to Switzerland. In other words, these two months make up the peak period of travel when, owing to the large tourist influx, both the airfares and accommodation prices are sky high. If you plan to visit during the peak season, ensure that you make all your bookings well in advance.

Note: If you want to avoid crowds, but don't want to compromise on the climate, visit during the shoulder seasons, which are immediately before and after the summer months. In the months of April, May, and October, you'll find fewer tourists, and accommodations and airfares at reasonable rates.

In the Alpine resorts, winter begins in about the middle of December and lasts until the middle of April, when the snow starts melting. This is the time when most Alpine resorts literally go into the hibernation mode. They close down almost entirely, except where glacier skiing is offered all through the year. Consider this factor, and plan your visit accordingly.

Note: If your plan is to travel across the entire country, make a list of places where you intend to spend most of your time, and book your dates accordingly. Switzerland, although a small country, experiences diverse climates in different parts. For instance, while the Alpine regions have the extremes of summer and winter, Ticino (in the south of the country) has a rather hot, Mediterranean climate. So, be prepared for such climatic disparities, while you are on the move.

Travel Documents

First and foremost, ensure that you have a passport that will be valid until the end of your trip. According to Lonely Planet, the validity of your passport should be at least six months from the date you book your tickets.

Note: If you are a citizen of one of those European countries that do not require a passport to travel to Switzerland, your National ID Card may suffice. Consult your travel agent or the Swiss consulate in your home country regarding the same, before you embark on your journey.

It is vital to note that it is mandatory for Swiss citizens to carry a valid proof of their personal identification at all times. So, while you are in the country, even you will need to abide by this rule. Owing to this, it is always better to carry your passport and/or your National ID Card, whenever you travel anywhere within Switzerland.

As far as visas are concerned, you won't need one if you are a national of the US, the EU countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, or South Africa.

However, if you belong to Asian, African, or Arab countries, you will require a valid visa to travel to Switzerland. This also applies to people traveling from Eastern Europe and the Balkan states.

Regardless of whether you require a visa or not, you can stay in Switzerland for a maximum duration of three months.

Note: Switzerland is currently not issuing any tourist or business visas to the citizens of Libya, owing to tensions between the two countries.

Immunizations

Traveling to Switzerland does not require any special vaccinations; however, it is a good idea to be updated on the routine shots that the WHO recommends. These include the ones for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), polio, tetanus, diphtheria, and Hepatitis A and B.

If you intend to travel to the rural areas of Switzerland, consider taking a shot for tickborne encephalitis, which you may be otherwise prone to.

Also, if you are traveling from any of the countries that fall under the yellow fever zone, you will be required to produce a valid proof of your vaccination against the disease. Switzerland, otherwise, does not have any threat of yellow fever.

Note: Make sure you get your vaccinations at least six weeks prior to the date of your departure, in order to avoid last-minute hassles.

Travel Insurance

Buying a good travel insurance is vital, no matter which overseas destination you are traveling to. While it should cover for all sorts of worst possible scenarios such as theft/loss of luggage, cancellation of journey, and other contingencies, a good and adequate health coverage is the most important aspect.

Health insurance is basically more important while traveling to Switzerland because the country has no free state health service, which means that each and every consultation/treatment must be paid for―and it's a hefty sum.

Note: Switzerland bears a reciprocal agreement with the EU with regards to the provision of basic healthcare facilities. However, it is better for citizens of all other countries to have their private health insurance so that their medical emergencies can be tackled with ease.

Talking of healthcare, it is also vital that you carry all your necessary medications, along with your doctor's prescription. It is better to know the generic names of your medicines, provided you need to purchase them in Switzerland.

Budgeting Your Trip

Europe is expensive, and Switzerland is no exception. The biggest expenses incurred in Switzerland pertain mainly to accommodation, restaurants, and long-distance public transport.

If you are traveling on a budget, however, there are ways to cut down costs, although you can't expect your Swiss vacation to be too cheap.

As far as accommodations are concerned, you can opt for some other, cost-effective choices. These include, apart from youth hostels, private homes, apartment rentals, B&Bs, etc.

Note: A great way to learn about the local life and culture of Switzerland is to stay with a Swiss farming family in a rural area. It is a unique experience in itself that also gives you the opportunity to participate in the day-to-day activities of farmers, and taste fresh homemade food.

If you are traveling in summer, you can also consider camping and sleeping in local barns.

With regard to food, avoid eating in sit-down restaurants as far as possible. These are always more expensive.

If you are camping and/or have access to a kitchen, consider cooking your own food. Eating at supermarket eateries or self-service restaurants are also cheap(ish) options.

Alcohol is very expensive throughout Switzerland. So, avoid buying it as far as possible.

Petrol is cheaper in Switzerland than most of its neighboring countries; however, transport still tends to be on the expensive side for a budget traveler.

The best way to cut down on your transport costs, while in Switzerland, is to get travel passes. These will provide you good discounts on your bus, train, boats, etc. There are different types of travel passes available, so make sure you buy one that best suits your needs.

Most attractions in Switzerland charge a fee, especially the mountain resorts that can be reached by cable cars are very pricey.

Note: Cable car expenses are rarely covered by travel passes, and more often than not, you have to pay the full price for a ticket, even if it seems extravagant.

However, if you are an international student, you can avail great discounts at many attractions on producing your student card.

Lastly, while you pack for your trip, make sure that you have done so wisely, and with utmost care. While it is a good idea to travel light, it is vital that you do not leave out any of the essential items, such as warm clothes, or an extra pair of trekking shoes. If you have to buy these in Switzerland, the prices are sure to blow out your budget.

Switzerland will offer you innumerable options if you want to get outdoors. From balloon rides, skiing, mountaineering, and hiking to biking, skating, fishing, and golfing, you can indulge in anything you like, and much more. Plus, there are so many beautiful places to see in Switzerland that you can only but admire. So, what are you waiting for? Pack up and head off to one of the most mind-blowing countries on the planet!
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