LET’S PRETEND YOU’RE ON YOUR TRIP TO SWITZERLAND. HERE’S A GUIDE OF THINGS YOU’LL LOVE…ANNNND THINGS YOU WON’T.
If we haven’t met, we’re Jana and Brett, and we’ve spent more than 6 months traveling Switzerland, which means we’ve had plenty of time to discover things that drive us crazy and things we can’t get enough of.
Here are 11 things we love and 5 things we don’t about traveling Switzerland, so let’s jump right in.
Prefer to WATCH instead of Read?
We LOVE how clean everything is
Let’s pretend you just landed at the airport, ready for your grand Switzerland tour. The first thing you notice is how clean everything is. You don’t see overflowing trash cans, bathrooms without soap, or litter on the ground. That’s because the Swiss appreciate their environment and work to keep it beautiful.
We LOVE Swiss francs
After relieving yourself in the bathroom (and appreciating the cleanliness even more!), you decide to stop at the ATM to withdraw some cash. That’s when you realize that Switzerland uses the Swiss Franc and not the Euro…
I mean, we understand that the Euro has simplified commerce, trade, and even traveling throughout Europe, but it’s just fun to use and collect a different currency. We love how Switzerland feels like a bit of an island in the middle of Europe, and Swiss francs are way more beautiful than the euro, in our opinion!
We DON’T like the high price tags
Now that you have some cash, you make one last stop in the airport for a quick drink and on-the-go-snack. Which is when you notice it…the sky-high price tags. Since the Swiss franc is so strong, you’ll see that a single granola bar or bag of chips may cost 4 or 5 CHF while a bottle of soda costs just as much.
You decide not to add a 3 CHF pack of gum to your order either. So you snag a snack and drink and leave about 10 bucks poorer. There are lots of ways to save money, but don’t be fooled: Switzerland is not a budget destination!
We LOVE how easy it is to use Swiss public transportation
But you’re not here to admire the airport, so you follow the signs to the train station. And that’s when you realize another thing to love about Switzerland: it’s so easy to travel here. The signs are clear and written in both the local language and English, which means you don’t get lost as you navigate to the station.
We LOVE that the Swiss (usually) speak English
And once you make it to the station, you’re loving Switzerland even more, since the friendly, helpful staff speak English. Now we know that not every traveler speaks English and that not everyone will speak English throughout the country of Switzerland, but they usually do in the touristy areas, especially in the train stations or tourist offices.
We DON’T like how complicated Swiss train tickets can be
However, your joy at speaking the same language quickly disappears when you realize that it’s not always simple to purchase a train ticket. Well, it’s easy to buy a single ticket, but sometimes the options and choices are overwhelming.
I mean really, how many different Swiss train passes are there?!? And with so many potential places to visit in Switzerland, how do you know which one is right for you? Of course the staff can help you make a decision, or you can use our free Swiss Train Pass Checklist to make sure you’re saving the most money!
You may also like: Swiss Train Pass FAQ
We LOVE that everything runs on time
With your train pass in hand, you venture to the platform to wait on your train. And a weird thing happens—it arrives exactly on time! We love love love the Swiss transportation system because it runs on time (most of the time) and basically goes everywhere in the country.
There are super helpful apps to find time tables and see where your train pass will take you. And as your trip goes on, you’ll love the Switzerland train system even more with incredible engineering and infrastructure that makes it easy to get to any city, lake, valley, or mountain top.
We LOVE the natural beauty of Switzerland
As you ride along and gaze out the windows, keep your phone handy. Because you’re gonna want to snap pictures of all the natural beauty. Obviously the Alps are stunning, but so are the lakes, waterfalls, rivers, countryside, and Swiss villages.
In our experience, the transportation seems to be built to appreciate the natural beauty, not destroy it. This is especially evident with the handful of scenic, panoramic trains like the Bernina Express or the Glacier Express.
If you can’t wait to truly experience the beauty of Switzerland on your next trip, subscribe to our email list for even more helpful trip-planning resources!
We LOVE that Switzerland is like multiple “countries” in one
Even if you’re only venturing a few hours from one of the Swiss airports in Zurich or Geneva, chances are high that you’ll eventually cross from one linguistic region to another. Which feels like you’re visiting another country altogether!
That’s because Switzerland has 4 national languages—German, French, Italian, and Romansh. And beyond just changing languages, each region has totally different geography, culture, food, and more!
You may also like: 17 Things To Know Before You Visit Switzerland
We DON’T like how necessary it is to plan well
Alright, let’s say you finally arrive at your destination, a quaint little mountain town. You’re obviously excited to hit the ground running, so you drop your bags and head out to explore, maybe somewhere like Murren or Grindelwald First.
After a few hours of fresh alpine air, you’re getting hungry…that’s when you learn an important lesson which is also one of the things we don’t like: Switzerland is tough for those who don’t plan well.
- For example, if you don’t check the weather you may be stuck in a pop-up rain shower without an umbrella or on a freezing mountaintop without a jacket.
- You may want to visit 5 different places in one day, but don’t plan ahead to estimate just how long it takes to travel between places by train.
- Or maybe it’s 6:30pm and you missed the last funicular down the mountain because it stopped running at 6pm!
- Or you head to the grocery store at 7pm to save some money on tonight’s dinner, but the grocery store is already closed, so you’ll have to eat out.
- I think you get the idea!
We DON’T like eating out
Speaking of restaurants, eating out is one thing we don’t love doing in Switzerland. We know that you’re on vacation and don’t want to cook. And don’t get us wrong, we’re foodies and Switzerland food can be really good, but it’s an absolute budget buster.
Restaurants in Switzerland can be outrageously expensive, and we feel they lack value for the money. The quality is often really good, but food just isn’t the reason to visit Switzerland in our opinion. And if you’re not careful, this could easily balloon into one of the biggest expenses in your budget. So thinking back to our last point, make sure you plan well for your food!
We LOVE how accessible the mountains are
Day one of your Switzerland vacation was long, but you slept well and wake up on day two ready to go. The sun is shining and the mountains are beckoning, so you make a beeline to the cable car station. You’re about to experience something else we absolutely love: the mountains are accessible to everyone!
Most lifts are handicap and stroller accessible. There is usually a restaurant with a panoramic terrace at the top, and often a playground as well. You can take in the views by just enjoying the ride or along walking trails. In fact, there are plenty of hikes for all ability levels, including multi-day hikes and cross-country routes with mountain huts in between. Often it’s just you and mother nature in the Swiss Alps…and usually some cows too.
We LOVE how family friendly Switzerland is
While you’re chilling in the mountains taking in the view or relaxing in a village (drinking a beer or coffee or course), you realize that Switzerland is a great destination for families.
Yes, lodging can be expensive. But last night before bed you caught up on some Aplins in the Alps videos and learned that kids under age 6 travel for free throughout the entire country, and kids ages 6-15 travel for free with a parent with the complimentary Swiss Family Card. Oh, and they get discounted or free tickets to a ton of attractions as well.
But it goes beyond money. By now you’ve already noticed the abundance of playgrounds. And if you’re like Jana, then you’ve already glided down at least one slide. You’ve probably been inspired by the casual attitude of Swiss parents too, who don’t hover like a helicopter to protect their child from every potential germ or scraped knee.
Switzerland just might be the most awesome place on earth to be a kid.
We LOVE farm fresh Swiss food
Next you’re walking through a village and stumble upon a cute little farm fridge. Yes, that’s a mini refrigerator stocked full of local cheese, sausage, milk, eggs, butter, and jam.
We don’t know all the ins and outs, but farmers are well supported by the government, and traditional farming methods seem to be alive and well. For example, cows graze at different elevations, in different meadows, on different wildflowers, which produces cheese that tastes slightly different everywhere you go. And that makes sampling local produce a ton of fun.
Since the farmers are working their land and animals during the day, they can’t work a farm shop, so they set up these mini farm fridges based on the honor system.
On top of that, it’s easy to buy local as well. Swiss products are clearly indicated in the grocery stores with the ladybug symbol, and farm fridges are a great way to support farmers while enjoying a fun experience.
We LOVE the healthy, active lifestyle in Switzerland
And it’s a beautiful walk to those farm fridges, which brings us to our next point. While you’re here on your Switzerland vacation, you’ll notice how easy it is to be active and outdoors. You can walk just about anywhere, and you actually want to be outside in nature, on the mountains, by the lakes. The pace of life and quality of food will simmer down your stress levels and amplify your relaxation.
We DON’T love leaving!
But before you know it, your Switzerland vacation will be over. Which is one of our least favorite things about Switzerland: having to leave Switzerland! But here’s one thing we’ve noticed personally and among our audience: most people return to Switzerland again!
So if you’re ready to start planning your next trip to Switzerland, we’ve made tons of resources about when to visit, when to go, and what to do. Check them out next, and we’ll see you in Switzerland!