Switzerland Travel Guide
With snow-capped Alps, forested hills, fairytale castles,Renaissance cathedrals, shimmering lakes, stylish spas and luxuryski resorts - it's easy to see why Switzerland has been one of theworld's top tourist destinations for the past two centuries.
It is the country that fashioned tourism, so it's no surprisethat Switzerland caters to visitors all year round. In spring andsummer it offers lakeside chalets, mountain trails and spa resorts.In the sunny southern region of Ticino, near the Italian border,visitors will find palm-fringed Riviera-style resorts offering ahost of water sports. Those keen on hiking and mountaineering willfind over 31,000 miles (50,000km) of mountain and forest trailsthroughout the country.
In November the country's ski resorts begin opening, andvisitors pour in throughout the Christmas season and until the snowbegins to melt with the onset of spring. With the highest pistes inEurope, Switzerland's ski runs offer reliable snow and breathtakingviews. Most resorts also have plenty to do for those not so keen onskiing, making Switzerland the perfect destination for a winterfantasy of log fires, fondues and glistening snow.
Switzerland's cities are pristine and beautifully laid out withfamous Swiss precision. Zurich is widely held to be theintellectual and artistic centre of the country, sportingincredible architecture and more than a thousand fountains, withmany museums and galleries. Geneva is the principal city for theinternational community, and is home to hundreds of worldorganisations. Its setting on the shores of Lake Geneva give it aromantic atmosphere, and the city has an exciting, if ratherexpensive, nightlife.
Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October). Electricity:Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Plugs are of the linear, roundedthree-pin type, but rounded two-pin lugs will fit the outlet. Language:The three official languages are Swiss German, French and Italian. Afew people speak Romansch, but this is confined to the southeasterncorner of the country. Most people know at least three languages,including English. Health: Swiss medical facilities and health care are among the best inthe world, but very expensive and health insurance is recommended.Immunisation certificates are only required if the traveller hasbeen in an infected area within two weeks prior to arrival in thecountry. There is a reciprocal health agreement with the UK andmost EU countries, whose citizens are entitled to free emergencymedical treatment on presentation of a European Health InsuranceCard (EHIC). Medical insurance is advised for other nationalities.A duck on Lake Geneva was confirmed to have died from the deadlystrain of bird flu and tests are being carried out in other partsof the country on dead birds, but no human infections have beenreported. The risk to travellers from bird flu is very low, butclose contact with live birds should be avoided, and all poultryand egg dishes well cooked as a precaution. Tipping: A 15% service charge is normally included in all hotel, taxi,bar and restaurant bills, and further tipping is not necessary, butis appreciated for outstanding service. Safety: Switzerland has a low crime rate compared to other Europeancountries and is generally a safe country to travel in, howeverthere has been a recent increase in petty theft and visitors shouldbe alert to pickpockets and thieves, particularly
in the citycentres and on public transport. Be aware of robberies on overnighttrains. Business: Punctuality is vital for business meetings throughoutSwitzerland. However, styles of business negotiations vary from theSwiss-German to the Swiss-French/Swiss-Italian side. Swiss-Germanbusiness meetings are rarely over food and are often as brief aspossible with little small talk. But the Swiss-French andSwiss-Italians often meet over lunches and talk is not restrictedonly to business. But prior arrangements and preparation isessential for both and it is important to dress smartly; businesssuits are the norm for meetings. Handshakes are common foraddressing both men and women. Business hours are generally 9am to12pm and 2pm to 6.30pm Monday to Friday. Communications: The international country dialling code for Switzerland is +41.The outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code(e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). City/area codes are in use e.g.(0)22 for Geneva. Mobile phone GSM 1800 and 900 networks operatethroughout the country. Visitors who wish to use a prepaid sim cardfrom Swisscom Mobile (NATEL easy) will be required to register withthe service provider and produce identification. Internet cafes areavailable in the main towns and resorts; some public phone boothsalso have Internet and email access. Duty Free: Travellers to Switzerland over 17 years do not have to pay dutyon the following items: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250gtobacco; 2 litres alcohol up to 15% and 1 litre alcohol over 15%.The maximum allowance of wine is 20 litres, but duty will bepayable on this quantity. A reasonable amount of personal effectsand gifts (including perfume) to the value of Sfr 200 for residentsof Switzerland and Sfr 100 for other travellers. Restricted itemsinclude meat and meat products from selected countries. Prohibiteditems include firearms and ammunition without prior permission forregional police departments; also prohibited are absinth andanaesthetics.
Message Edited by LL_Editor on 05-30-2007 10:17 AM
A few years ago, my husband and I spent 4 nights at the Swiss Diamond Olivelli Hotel. What an elegant place. It is located on the shores of Lake Lugano in southern Switzerland. It belongs to the Preferred Hotels & Resorts group. Our room was beautifully decorated and had a comfortable, separate sitting area. The marble bathroom was grandiouse, to say the least, complete with tub and shower. The large balcony overlooked the lake and the village of Brusino. We were served a bottle of local wine and a wonderful cheese and fruit platter in the room, while Gault-Millau-lauded Chef Enz surprised us in their elegant roof top restaurant with innovative as well as classic international cuisine. As an extra bonus, the hotel chauffeur took us to a traditional swiss chalet restaurant on a mountain top with a roaring fire in the fire place and we were served a memorable, traditional swiss meal.
We toured the lovely lake-laced region with a visit to the nearby artist enclave of Ascona, then cross into Italy to visit beautiful Lake Como. We also toured Lake Lugano in the hotel's private boat, and we enjoyed the hotel's Venus Wellness Center, its Roman style pool and a wonderful massage.
We had so much fun at the Olivelli Hotel, that we still talk about coming back to it some day.
I have been to Switzerland on several occasions and would return in a heartbeat. The scenery is spectaclar as a the people. This truly is a spectacular place to visit. My favourite place is Zermatt. The skiing is wonderful and the food is wonderful. Bring your wallet, as this not a inexpensive place to visit.
I visited Switzerland twice last year. The first time we went to Ascona in the Ticino region, near Lake Maggiore, and stayed in a family friendly hotel called Parkhotel Delta. More recently, we visited Lausanne and stayed at the Lausanne Palace... both have been fabulous!
I just came across your post on Switzerland now. We too stayed at the Delta Park Hotel in Ascona. We found it to be a lovely place. We auctioned the hotel on e-bay for an excellent price. When we stayed in Lausanne at the Olivelli Diamond on a LL package, which was sublime, we saw the Palace Hotel being refurbished. It is too bad that LL does not offer more packages for auction in Switzerland. I would go back there in a heart beat.