Visiting Switzerland

Do I need a visa?

This depends on your nationality and the purpose of your visit. An overview of visa provisions is available on the web, as is a downloadable visa form in several world languages.

Since December 12, 2008 Switzerland is part of the Schengen Area. As a consequence of this agreement, Schengen visas are now accepted to enter the country.

Please note that you should submit your visa application to the embassy or consulate covering your place of residence. It may be turned down if you submit it elsewhere.

How easy is it to travel round Switzerland?

Public transport is well-known for its reliability. The train and regional bus services are timetabled to provide the best possible connections with each other.

The Swiss Federal Railways have an excellent on-line timetable which covers not only trains, but also buses and boats. For our guests from abroad Swiss Travel System has a wide range of offers.

If you plan to travel by car, there is an efficient motorway network. You will need a “vignette”: a sticker which must be fixed to the windscreen of your car. It costs 40 francs, and is valid from January to January. You can buy this before you arrive from a Swiss tourist office or from many motoring organisations. Otherwise they are sold at the border, in post offices and service stations.

Please note that if you are driving in winter, using winter tyres is highly recommended for insurance reasons. For some roads you will even need chains. Many of the passes are closed for several months because of snow. Since 1 January 2014, driving with daytime running lights or dipped beam headlamps during the daytime has been obligatory for motor vehicles (incl. two-wheeled vehicles) in Switzerland. Children under 12 years who are under 150 cm tall must use a child car seat in a car. Children over 12 and over 150 cm tall must wear a seatbelt. The latest traffic information for Switzerland is available from Viasuisse. Additional information about travelling by car or camper is available from the Touring Club Switzerland (TCS). Additional general information and tips for travellers with disabilities or for people travelling with animals is available from the Automobile Club of Switzerland (ACS).

If you want to cycle, there is a clearly marked network of cycle tracks for standard bicycles and for mountain bikes. You should obtain a bicycle insurance sticker (vignette), which you can buy for about five francs at a post office, railway station etc. This is not obligatory for foreign cyclists making occasional visits, but it is highly recommended.

What’s the best time of year to visit Switzerland?

Switzerland offers a wide variety of things to do and see, whatever the season. Summer lasts roughly from June until September, and offers the most pleasant climate for outdoor activities.

If you visit during the spring (April to May) or the autumn (September to October), you’re likely to find fewer tourists and special deals in hotels and resorts.

Winter sports venues begin operating in late November and close down when the snow begins to melt in spring.

The website of the Swiss tourist organisation provides an idea of average temperatures. However, the weather can vary considerably from year to year. Furthermore, because of the mountains Switzerland is a country of micro-climates: in particular the weather can be quite different north and south of the Alps.

What currency is used in Switzerland?

The currency is the Swiss franc (CHF), which is unique to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. In larger towns and tourist areas, the euro is often accepted. You can usually withdraw euros from ATMs.

Do I need special plugs and adapters in Switzerland?

The voltage in Switzerland, as in most of Europe, is 230V/50 Hz.

Switzerland uses type C (2-pin) and Type J (3-pin) plugs. (Type C 2-pin plugs also fit J sockets.)

Type C is used in many countries (although not in most English speaking ones). Most “universal” adaptor sets include this plug.

Type J is otherwise used only in El Salvador, Ethiopia, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, the Maldives and Rwanda.