Know How to Make Your Trip to Switzerland Memorable
Tips, entry requirements and places to see on a vacation to Switzerland
Where is Switzerland?
Switzerland is a small country that is located in the heart of Western Europe and is situated in some of the highest points of the Alps. Unlike most of the Western European nations, Switzerland is not part of the European Union, nor is it in the Schengen Zone.
Switzerland still has its own currency, the Swiss Franc, which is more valuable than the Euro, US Dollar or the British Pound. Switzerland’s main industries are both banking and tourism. Because of its banks, Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world.
Entry Requirements for Switzerland
For entry into Switzerland, depending on your country of origin, you may or may not need a visa to enter Switzerland. Citizens of EU member countries as well as the United States and Canada do not need a visa to enter Switzerland.
The only requirement the above mention citizens need is to have a valid passport that is valid up to three months after the end of your intended stay in the country. If you are from the United States, Canada or any of the EU member nations, you can stay in Switzerland for up to three months without a visa.
If you are a citizen of another country, but are a legal resident of the United States and hold a US Green Card, you are also not required to have a visa to enter Switzerland. You will need to follow the same requirements as those of a US citizen.
If your country of origin is not the United States, Canada, or the EU member states, check with your local Swiss consulate or embassy to find out about visa requirements for your country.
Places to See
Switzerland is a very beautiful country. You can enjoy the mountainous beauty of the Swiss Alps and visit beautiful European cultured cities with fine dining. Some of the best places to visit in Switzerland are listed below.
1. Basel is a very unique city because of the fact that it is located in such an area where there are different languages spoken. The unique thing about Switzerland is that the country has four different national languages. The northern part of Switzerland is German-speaking, the southern part of the country is Italian–speaking, and the western part of the country is French-speaking.
In a tiny area in the high Swiss Alps, there is a small group of people who speak Romanche, which is a living language that is as close to Latin as the Romance languages get. Basel is officially in the German-speaking part of Switzerland and all the street signs there are in German, but the French-speaking part of Switzerland is not far away.
Basel is also unique because of its close proximity to both the German and French borders. The center of Basel is a beautiful medieval city along the banks of the Rhine. The tiny dark green tramways can take you to all different parts of the city. Basel also offers steamer rides on the Rhine with fine dining on board.
Some of the steamers that sail along the Rhine in Basel will even take you to a section of the Rhine that allows you to see into both Germany and France. You can also arrive into Switzerland in Basel, but Basel’s airport is actually in France.
Basel’s international airport is called the Moulhouse International Airport and is in France, just outside of the Swiss border. You have the option to travel either into France and visit Dijon or go on to Basel. There are different entry ways.
2. Bern is the capital of Switzerland and is in the French-speaking part of the country. Bern is a rather small city and everything in the city center can be reached by walking. Not far from Bern, in an area where French and German Switzerland meet is Luzernne, which is on a lake and is home to the famous wooden Luzernne Bridge. The bridge was damaged by fire a few years ago, but it has been restored.
3. Geneva is Switzerland’s most famous city. Geneva is home to some of the United Nations offices, including the famous World Health Organization. Geneva is considered the international city and during the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union had many summits there.
4. Zurich is Switzerland’s business center. It is also Switzerland’s largest city and is situated in the Alps on Lake Zurich.
5. The Rhone Gletsch is a glacier in the western Alps and is the source of the Rhone, which flows out of Switzerland through France where it eventually lets out into the Mediterranean Sea. The Rhone Gletsch is a great place to visit. You can take unique tours of the glacier and go into some beautiful ice caves which inside give off a light blue light as the sun’s light is filtered through the packed ice and snow.
6. The San Bernadino Tunnel connects the northern German-speaking part of Switzerland with the southern Italian-speaking Switzerland. The San Bernadino Tunnel goes under some of the most rugged and impassible Alpine terrain and is the longest tunnel in continental Europe. South of the San Bernadino Tunnel is also the setting where a major part of Ernest Hemmingway’s Farewell to Arms took place.
For what ever reason you want to travel to Switzerland, you will discover that it is a breathtakingly beautiful country with friendly people. Switzerland also has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe. Another interesting fact about Switzerland is that it has been neutral for over 700 years and has not seen war since the times of Napoleon.
Though Switzerland is neutral, it is ready for an outside attack. All buildings in Switzerland, from businesses to residential homes are required by law to have a built in air raid shelter and every able bodied man must serve in the military for two years and then be in the reserves for forty years and are issued a rifle by the Swiss government, which they must keep in their home and be ready to be called to duty anytime. The Swiss defense system also influenced the US founding fathers to have the second amendment in the US Constitution.