We hope the following information will be useful to you in preparing for and during your trip.
Climate and wearing apparel: Switzerland enjoys a temperate climate with distinct winter, spring, summer and fall seasons with lower temperatures at high altitudes. In spring (from March 21 to June 21), temperatures range from the mid 30’s to mid 50’s during the day. We suggest medium heavy apparel and hats for early morning and evening. In summer (from June 22 to September 22), temperatures range from the mid 40’s to mid 60’s during the day. We suggest medium to light apparel for early mornings and evenings. In fall (from September 23 to December 22), temperatures range from the low 30’s to high 40’s during the day. We suggest medium apparel with sweaters or light jackets. In winter (from December 22 to March 20), temperatures range from the low 20’s to mid 30’s during the day. We suggest heavy apparel, warm jackets, hats and gloves during the day and evening. In all seasons, it would be wise to pack a travel umbrella for an occasional shower that may occur.
Cuisine: The Swiss start the day by eating a hearty breakfast even though their main meal, the Swiss equivalent of dinner, is eaten at midday. A typical menu would bring to the table vegetable or cheese soup, followed by a dish of poultry, beef, or fish, served with Rösti in the German or French regions but with pasta in the Italian ones. Swiss people like to take a break around four o’clock for coffee, desserts, and pastries; finishing off the day with a light supper as their evening meal – with omelets as the preferred option in the French speaking regions, antipasto in the Italian ones, sausages and cold cuts of meat where the German influence weights. A fondue is more likely to be the choice for a meal to share with friends.
Currency: The local currency is the Swiss Franc (CHF). Coins are issued in 5 centime, 10 centime, 20 centime, ½ Franc, 1 Franc, 2 Franc, and 5 Franc and paper bills are found in denominations of 10 (yellow), 20 (red), 50 (green), 100 (blue), 200 (brown), and 1000 (purple) Francs. Please visit Bloomberg’s website for the current exchange rate. Credit cards are accepted, at the hotels and some stores/restaurants. Traveler’s checks are a safe solution for cash necessities. They are often accepted for payment. However, for a better exchange rate, they can be easily exchanged at local banks or exchange offices (you need to have your passport with you, at the time of exchange). If you intend using your bank card, consult your bank before departure to ensure that your ATM (“Geldautomat”) card is internationally compatible.
Dress code: Casual and comfortable are key words especially in footwear as there will be a lot of walking to do.
Hair dryers/Irons: Please note that the hotels are equipped with hair dryers. Irons/ironing boards are not provided.
Itinerary: Exact departure times can be found on the bulletin board that your tour escort will post each day, at your hotel.
Flights: Enclosed with your final documents, you will find a detailed flight itinerary. Please note that you will not receive an actual flight ticket, but an e-ticket receipt. All flight tickets are electronic and you will receive your boarding pass after checking in with your passport at the airport. Check-in time varies from carrier to carrier. We suggest to check in at least two hours prior to departure.
Hotels: You will find the name/address/phone/fax numbers of your hotels, following your tour itinerary, in your final documents. Hotel rooms are available for check in after 2:00 pm. Check out time is 12 noon.
Insurance: Switzerland has a socialized medicine system. Anyone requiring emergency treatment or hospitalization will be accepted in public hospitals. We suggest checking personal insurance coverage, while traveling abroad.
Language: Switzerland comprises three main linguistic and cultural regions: German, French, and Italian, even though English is commonly spoken in hotels, some restaurants and stores. Useful words to know are “bitte” (please) and “danke” (thank you).
Linen: General bed and bath linen are provided in your hotels. However, you will not find washcloths, as it is not customary.
Luggage: For convenience and faster handling during your trip, the baggage handling on tour is limited to one piece per person. Baggage allowance regulations limit the weight of the checked in luggage to 50 lbs. with linear dimensions (W+H+D) not to exceed 62 inches. The carry-on weight limitation is 40 lbs. with linear dimensions not to exceed 45 inches. In addition to the carry on, you may bring with you a personal item such as a purse, briefcase, or laptop computer. Cellular phones may be carried on board. You will find a travel belt pouch included in your final documents of a convenient size for the secure transportation of your personal items. For more information about U.S. carry-on baggage restrictions please read the complete details on the U.S. government airport regulations website, www.tsa.gov.
Mail: You may buy stamps for your postcards at any post office. The cashier will be able to tell you the necessary postage for your mail. However, if the post office is closed, you can often find stamps at vending machines in front of post offices or train stations.
Medical: No special vaccinations are required for travel to Europe. Anyone taking prescription medicine should be careful to bring an adequate supply for the entire trip and should remember not to pack it in check-in luggage. It is advised to leave it in the original container.
Passport and Visa: All U.S. citizens are required to have a valid passport, with an expiration date of no less than six months from the date of return. A visa is not required to enter Switzerland for U.S. citizens. Non U.S. citizens must check requirements with their respective consulate.
Phones: It is possible to make calls from all of your hotels with a service charge. Remember when you call the States to dial 001 followed by the area code and phone number you are trying to reach. You can also utilize your calling card. Check with your calling card company to obtain toll free numbers to call from Switzerland and further instructions.
Shopping: Starting with traditional pottery and cutting-edge art plus ceramics, continuing on with fabulous watches, hand-carved crystal, embroidery, woodcarvings, and bizarre cuckoo-clocks, Switzerland will not disappoint. You can purchase Williamine liquors, music boxes, delicious Swiss cheeses, antiques, sports items, clothing, shoes and excellent chocolates. Shopping takes place in large department stores, small family owned-shops, or directly on the street.
Time difference: Switzerland is 6, 7, 8 and 9 hours ahead of Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific Time, respectively.
Tips: General tips to porters at the hotel and waiters at the restaurants are included. It is customary to leave small change for restroom attendants, during your en route stops, and also at the café’s when consuming a beverage or snack. Personal tipping to guides, tour escorts, and drivers are not included.
Transportation: When taking public transportation, please be sure to put anything valuable in a safe place, out of reach of pick pockets that thrive in any large, tourist filled city. You may wish to make a copy of your passport to have with you and leave the original at the hotel. If taking a taxi, take only the official ones bearing the sign “taxi” on top and meters that should be turned on, as you enter the cab.
Voltage: The voltage is 220. Appliances you bring should have dual voltage and be equipped with the adapter from the two flat prongs to two round ones. It would be beneficial to purchase this adapter before leaving the U.S.