Switzerland
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Practical information Switzerland

By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile

Switzerland : Travel Information before you go!

Area

41290.0

Flights

2 hrs 30 mins London-Geneva. London is 464 mi from Geneva.

2 hrs 40 mins London-Zurich. London is 483 mi from Zurich.

Airline updates:
Easy Jet offers several flights a day, every weekday to Geneva from London Heathrow. The price of a one -way ticket starts at ?79.
www.flybaboo.com

Population

7554661

Airports

There is a direct flight from London to Basel/Mulhouse, Bern, Geneva, Lugano and Zurich. There are alos links to Geneva and Zurich from Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Nice. There is a direct railway link from Zurich and Geneva airports to the town-centre (10 mins to Zurich, 6 mins to Geneva). A coach shuttle travels to Basel and Bern (20 mins journey). Zurich airport is 7 miles from the town-centre. 70 CHF or thereabouts for a taxi. Geneva airport is 3 miles away (about 40 CHF the journey). Those travelling via Swissair and Crossair and then by train or vice versa, can have their luggage transferred directly from the airport to most train or coach stations.
Airline updates: since 1st March 2004, the Belgian airliner SN Brussels Airlines has a flight from Marseille to Geneva every day.$$$$

Security

Switzerland is well organised and highly disciplined, and is undoubtedly the safest country in Europe. Tourists only infrequently complain of theft or other forms of attack. No specific security measures are required, but you should really avoid walking around too late at night in neighbourhoods surrounding the main cities.

Languages

The four official languages in their pecking order are German, French, Italian and Rumansh.

Required travel documents for

Valid passport or identity card. A visa is not requried for a stay of less than three months. For longer stays, please contact the embassy.

Religion

46.5% of the population is Catholic and 40% is Protestant.

Currency

The currency is the Swiss franc, which consists of 100 centimes. Credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club and American Express) are accepted in most hotels, restaurants and shops, and can also be used to withdraw cash over the counter at banks as well as from cash machines. Pounds, whether in the form of cash or travellers cheques, can easily be exchanged in all banks, foreign exchange offices, post offices and large hotels. Banks are open from Monday to Friday, from 9:00am to 4:30pm.

Local transportation

By train: This is unquestionably the best means to discover Switzerland. The Swiss federal railways network (CFF) and mail coaches and boats spreads over 9940 miles. The comfort, cleanliness and punctuality of Swiss trains are legendary, and a train leaves the country's major stations for all directions every hour. You are highly advised to get a half-fare card which also allows you to get tickets for mail coaches and boats to the great lakes at half the cost, and other offers on bike rentals and on access to some museums and hotels. The Swiss Card offers a return ticket from the point of departure to the destination at 150 CHF and half the fare for one month. The Swiss Pass, valid for 4, 8, 15 or 21 days, gives you free access to the use of trains, coaches, boats and tramways and buses in town. The Swiss Flexi Pass, valid for a month, gives you a choice of 3 to 9 days to move about unlimitedly. Upon arriving at the 230 CFF stations, there are bicycles to rent to reach another station (you can also take the bicycles onto the train). Moreover, some trains take routes that offer unforgetable panoramic views: The Glacier Express linking the alpine resorts of Zermatt and St-Moritz; the Guillaume Tell Express, connection to the German central region up to Ticino; Bernina Express, the highest Swiss connection crosses the Grisons right to Italy; Golden Pass from Montreux to Lucerne, linking Lake Leman to that of the four-Cantons, or the Saint-Bernard Express, from Martigny to Orsières, and Mont-Blanc Express from Martigny to Chamonix.
By road: Car owners who intend to use their vehicles in Switzerland must have car registration documents, a driver's licence and insurance. The Swiss police are very strict on road safety and speed limits. You must have the annual windscreen licence (25 euros) to circulate on the highways and motorways. In winter, tyres with studs or chains are recommended for the mountain roads. It is possible to rent a car upon arriving (several car rental agencies are available in the major cities), or use the Mail service's coach. They travel over 700 tourist routes across Switzerland and are recognisable by their yellow colour.
By boat: travelling on the lakes and rivers is always an absolutely delightful experience. Over 170 boats travel across the country, from the majestic steamboats to modern and ultra-fast vessels. Ferries equally run across Lake Constance: between Romanshorn and Friedrichshafen, and between Meersburd and Constance; on the Quatre-Cantons (four cantons) lake: between Beckenried and Gersau, on Lake Zurich: between Horgen and Meilen, and on Lake Majeur: between Verbania and Laveno.
By air: there are several domestic flights on Swissair to Basel, Geneva, Zurich, Lugano and Berne.

Health

No vaccine is required. In Switzerland, sanitary and hospital conditions are excellent. In the case of an emergency, dial 117 (police) or 118 (fire brigade). Travel insurance, including repatriation and covering medical expenses in case of an accident is recommended.

Electricity

220 V.

Taxes and tips

Taxes are included in the marked prices. It is a custom to leave a tip in restaurants and to luggage porters in hotels.

Telephone

To call Switzerland from the UK: 00 +41 + region code without 0 (Geneva: 22, Lausanne : 2, Fribourg : 26; Basel: 61, Bern: 31, Lucerne : 41, Zurich : 1, Locarno and Lugano : 91) + number.
To call the UK from Switzerland : 00 +44 + region code (without 0)+ the number. From one city or region to the other: region or town code + 0 + number.
Within a town: number without code.

Switzerland : Useful addresses in the country

Before leaving

Swiss embassy
16-18 Montagu Pl London, W1H 2BQ Telephone: 020 76166000 01 49 55 67 00.

Swiss Tourism
Switzerland Travel Centre Ltd 30 Bedford Street London WC2E 9ED UK Telephone: 020 7845 7680 Information and mailing brochures.$$ But there is no reception on site.$$

At the destination

Swiss Tourism.
Tödistrasse 7, CH-8027, Zurich. Telephone: 01 288 11 11. Fax: 01 288 12 05. All cities and resorts have a tourism office.
British embassy
Thunstrasse 50 3005 Berne
Telephone: (41) (31) 359 7700 031 359 21 11.
British consulate
Avenue Louis-Casaï 58 Case postale 6 1216 Cointrin GE
Telephone: (41) (22) 918 2400 319 00 00.