If you plan a holiday in Switzerland you are a very lucky man or woman. Switzerland is beautiful indeed. The Alps are spectacular, the lakes are a dream, during winter the snow is perfect, and people here love to make chocolate and cheese. Switzerland was neutral during World War II, it is a model of democracy, the man who invented The International Committee of the Red Cross was Swiss and so was Audrey Hepburn. But still, this isn’t everything to know before going to Switzerland. Here are some more interesting facts.
Switzerland does not belong to the EU
Switzerland is not a European Union member. The currency in Switzerland is not euro, but Swiss franc. Still, Switzerland is included in the Schengen Area and you can travel from EU countries to Switzerland with no border headache.
Furthermore, you can pay in euro in many places in Switzerland, especially near borders or in touristic areas. Even The Swiss Federal Railways accept euro. If you are traveling from EU, you’ll have no problem accommodating in Switzerland. If you are not an EU citizen, you’ll have to check the traveling conditions at the Swiss embassy in your country.
There are four national languages
Switzerland is one of the few countries in the world where there are four national languages. French, German, Italian, and Rhaeto-Romanic are spoken here. German is the most popular of them, but don’t be afraid you’ll not be able to communicate.
In Swiss schools, the study of languages is very well put together, so many of the people here know at least two or three languages. And because they have to learn a foreign language like any other student in the world, they also speak English.
Trains are the best way to travel around
Take your time when you visit Switzerland. Open any travel book you want and you’ll find hundreds of reasons to visit this country. It is worth walking, so pretty it is. For our modern times, walking it is a courageous option, but driving or taking the train isn’t.
The Swiss Railway will offer you any connection you want, will take you any place you need and will operate like a Swiss clock. It is the world’s most dense railway network and the average of kilometers traveled in a year per inhabitant is over 2, 400. Well, it is not hard to be so good when you’ve started in 1847 (the first internal railway was open in 1847, between Zurich and Baden).
The railway will not let you miss any lake. Switzerland has over 100 lakes, some of them amongst the largest and the most beautiful in Europe (Lake Geneva, Lake Constance, Lake Maggiore, Lake Lucerne, and Lake Zurich). Don’t be afraid you’ll not see the Alps. The first Alpine railway is dated in 1882 and the second in 1906. Many others followed them. The train stops in small villages and towns, letting you discover the heart of Switzerland.
Furthermore, Swiss railway was mentioned even in the XIXth century travel guides. Definitely, the best Swiss perspective is from a train.
Fondue is a Swiss experience
You have to eat fondue! It’s a must! Fondue is a Swiss dish with melted cheese. It contains several types of cheese and some alcohol and it is served on a heated device. Cold fondue is a sin.
Now, fondue comes with some kind of bread which has to be soaked into the cheese. The rule is to use very small pieces of bread and as much cheese as you can get. The waiter will notice that you are a foreigner after the way you eat your fondue.
Leaving the joke aside, fondue is the best Swiss food (besides chocolate) and it became famous all over the world. The first recipe is dated in 1699. Fondue became popular in the 1930s as a measure of increasing local cheese consumption. You cannot miss so many centuries of food history.
You can picnic how and where you want
If you get tired of sightseeing you can always take a break and go for a picnic in a park. Swiss parks are beautiful, full of colored flowers, with green lawns, and quiet people. Most of them have no regulation against picnics. Bring your blanket and basket, take your time and relax. You can even drink a glass of wine. There is no law to forbid drinking in public spaces and if the park has not other rules, you are free to do it.
Leave no garbage behind. Even if picnics are allowed, there are extremely large fines for throwing garbage in the park.
Before going to Switzerland, you must know that your goal is not to complete a travel guide or a list of things to do. Your goal is to find that peaceful moment just for you. It might be a beautiful Alpine panorama, a boat trip on a lake, an off-piste snowboarding day, a picnic in the park, a minute in front of a Fabergé egg or a forkful of melted cheese. It is your moment and you must find it. Switzerland is offering you almost everything.
Chime in below: What other Swiss facts can you add?