What to Expect

Switzerland in brief

Capital: Bern

Cantons: 26

Surface area: 41,200 km2

National borders: total 1852 km/Austria 164 km/France 573 km/Germany 334 km/Italy 740 km/Liechtenstein 41 km

Distance north-south: 220 km

Distance east-west: 346 km

Highest point: Punta Dufour in the Monte Rosa Massif 4634 m

Lowest point: Lake Maggiore (Ticino) 193 m

Lakes: 1’484

Glaciers: 140

Total population: 8 million

Main cities (inhabitants, approximate data):

  • Zurich: 376’990
  • Geneva: 188,234
  • Basel: 164’516
  • Bern: 125,681
  • Lausanne: 129’383
  • Winterthur: 103,075
  • St. Gallen: 73,505
  • Lucerne: 78,093
  • Lugano: 55’151

Climate

A mild climate prevails in Switzerland with moderate hot and cold temperatures and low air humidity.

From July to August the daytime temperature ranges from 18° to 28°C, from January to February it varies from -2° to 7°C. In spring and autumn the daytime temperature ranges from 8° to 15°C.

Depending on the altitude, the temperature may vary. For October’s AdventureWEEK, it is advisable to pack a pullover, heavy shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses, an umbrella or a light raincoat and plan on having layers. In Ticino, we expect to be warmer, so lighter clothes will be useful.

Seasons

The seasons are clearly distinguished from each other. In autumn (September-November) the fruits ripen and the leaves of the deciduous trees change color.

While winters used to be generally cold and snowy, today sub-zero temperatures and snowfall are no longer guaranteed, especially in the lowlands. Many ski resorts could not survive without artificial snow.

In spring (March-May) the trees blossom and the meadows turn green. It can happen that in April it is briefly back to winter or that in May summer already breaks out.

In summer the temperature rises to 25 – 30 °C; in hot summers temperatures can even exceed 30 °C.

Languages

Switzerland has four languages and a rich heritage of dialects.

German (63.5 %)

German is by far the most widely spoken language in Switzerland: in 19 of the 26 cantons of the Confederation the most common language is the Swiss German dialect.

French (22.5%)

French is spoken in the western regions of the country, the so-called “French-speaking Switzerland” or “Romandie”. Four cantons are completely French-speaking: Geneva, Vaud, Neuchâtel and Jura. In three cantons French and German are spoken: Bern, Fribourg and Valais.

Italian (8.1%)

Italian is spoken in the canton of Ticino and in four valleys of the canton of Grisons: Mesolcina, Calanca, Poschiavo and Bregaglia.

Rhaeto-Rumantsch (Rumancio) (0.5 %)

Romansh is only spoken in the trilingual canton of Graubünden together with German and Italian. Romansh, like Italian and French, is a language with Latin roots. It is spoken by only 0.5% of the entire Swiss population.

Other languages (6.6 %)

The many foreigners who live in Switzerland have brought their own languages with them, which, added together, have now surpassed both Romansh and Italian. The 2000 census showed that, with 1.4%, Serbo-Croatian was the largest foreign language group.

Population

Switzerland has about 8 million inhabitants.

Multilingualism, an increase in the average age and the high proportion of foreigners in the total population characterize the development of the population in Switzerland.

More than 22.7% of the approximately 8 million inhabitants do not have a Swiss passport.

Swissness

The language communities also differ in their culinary habits, traditions and customs. Their common history dates back no more than two centuries. The Swiss themselves sometimes have doubts about what unites them besides their passports and what actually makes them Swiss. What they say about themselves is that it binds them together. The general attitude can be summed up in one phrase: “unity, not uniformity”.

Time Zone

In Switzerland, Central European Time is standard time (“winter time”). The time difference to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is UTC+1 – so here it is one hour later than UTC.

When daylight saving time comes into effect, Central European Summer Time (CEST) applies. This is two hours ahead of UTC (UTC+2). During October’s AdventureWEEK, Switzerland will still be under Daylight saving time.

Currency

Payments are made in Swiss Francs (CHF). The main tourist hotspots will also accept Euros. Cashless payments are also widely used with the Swiss often using Maestro cards in addition to the usual credit cards.

Prices

The cost of living in Swiss cities is quite high, but so is the quality of life. According to a 2006 study by Mercer Consulting, the cities of Zurich and Geneva occupy the top two places when compared with 350 other international cities. The study takes a total of 39 criteria into account, including political, economic and social life as well as various public services in the areas of ecology, personal safety, health, education and transport.

How much does it cost? (average prices)
1 cup of coffee = 4 CHF
1 ticket for public transport = from 2.50 CHF
1 night in a double room with breakfast = from 120 CHF (economy)
Three-course menu = from 35 CHF
Cinema ticket = 18 CHF
1 l petrol (unleaded 95) = 1.70 CHF

Electricity

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.)

Most power sockets are designed for three pin round plugs. The standard continental type plug with two round pins, applied for many electrical travel products, may be used without problem. Adaptors are available in most hotels.

Cell phones & Internet: 

Wireless internet is available in all hotels, oftentimes at restaurants and sometimes on trains. Switzerland is not part of the EU roaming area but operators often have special packages – make sure to find the best option before you arrive as the prices for data are extremely high.

Health Tips

Personal travel insurance is required from each participating buyer and media representative , including coverage of personal accident, COVID-19, sickness, loss or damage to luggage and personal effects and cancellation charges. Switzerland is not part of the European Health System, therefore European Health Insurance Card is not valid there.

Water

The water distributed in Switzerland meets very high quality standards. Eighty percent of the water comes from underground sources, the rest is taken from lakes. With the establishment of groundwater protection zones, half of this water can be distributed without the need for treatment. It can be drunk from every tap without danger to health. In Switzerland, tap water also has a much better eco-balance than bottled mineral water and we highly advise you to bring your own water and try it.

Tipping

You don’t have to worry about leaving a tip: it is included in the price. You can of course decide to round up the bill if you are particularly satisfied with the service: the waiters will be grateful.

Public Transportation

Public transportation is highly reliable and will take passengers to even the most remote valley, quickly, in comfort and right on time. All participants are given a Swiss Travel Pass, which allows free travel within the Swiss public transport network, including trains, busses, some cable cars, and even free entrance to some cultural attractions, practically around the clock.

Clean and Safe

The tourism trade associations have launched a “Clean & Safe” label. Service suppliers are responsible for ensuring that the safety protocols are implemented and complied with. These concepts are based on rules for hygiene and behaviour, as well as public health and employee protection guidelines issued by the Federal Office of Public Health and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. All event organisers and businesses must plan and implement the necessary social distancing and hygiene measures. The aim of these safety concepts is to protect customers and participants to the greatest degree possible against infection with the Coronavirus.

   
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