What to Know Before You Visit Switzerland

Updated August 15, 2020.

Happy Travel Tip Tuesday! If you’ve been following along on Instagram or Facebook, you know my sweet husband and I just got back from a whirl-wind trip in Switzerland and Liechtenstein! This was not the first time in Switzerland for either of us; in fact, we got engaged here in December 2013! This was our first time back in over four years, so we needed a little reminder of what to expect. In case you are visiting for the first time, or the first time in a while, here are a few things you might need to know!


The Swiss have four official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansch. Since German is the most widely spoken official language in Switzerland, the terms below are in German. But be aware! Swiss German is distinctively different from High German, so if you are familiar with the German spoken in Germany, you will notice a few differences. Don’t speak any of those languages? No worries! English is widely spoken as well, especially in large cities and resort towns.

  • Gute Morte (Pronounced “goot-a mor-ga”): Good morning
  • Halo (“hall-o”): Hello
  • Bitte (“bit-ah”): Please and you’re welcome
  • Danke (“dan-kah”): Thank you
  • Ja (“yah”): Yes
  • Nein (“nine”): No
  • Enschule (in-shool): Short for “excuse me”
  • Flughafen: Airport
  • Bahnhoff: Train station
  • Gleis: Platform (important for getting on the right train!)
  • WC (shvayt-say): Bathroom (from the English term “water closet”)
  • Wo ist (“vo-ist”): Where is…?
Gleis 3: Platform 3–don’t want to get on the wrong train! 
More here: Solo Travel: Switzerland

Money Matters

  • Currency: Swiss Franc (sFr or CHF)
  • Check the exchange rate before you go using xe.com or the XE app (during our visit, the CHF and USD were almost exactly the same)
  • Credit cards are widely accepted, but it’s wise to keep some cash on hand as well, especially in smaller villages
  • The Euro is typically not accepted, as Switzerland is within the Schengen area but not in the EU
  • Switzerland is world-famous for being expensive, so be prepared for a bit of sticker shock until you get used to it

Getting Around

  • Train travel is the best way to get around on your visit to Switzerland
  • Need help figuring out what train ticket is best for you? Check out How to Plan Train Travel in Switzerland, coming this Thursday!
  • Public transportation, including buses, are comprehensive in scope and widely used by locals and tourists alike
  • You will enter any building on the ground floor, or Floor 0; If you go up one flight of stairs, you will be on the first floor; this is common in Europe but different from the U.S. where we enter on the first floor!
Ready for our special train ride through the Alps! 
Essential info: How to Plan Train Travel in Switzerland

Swiss Cheese and More

  • The Swiss have the best cheeses. Period.
  • The Swiss have the best breads. Period.
  • The best Swiss breakfast is bread drizzled with honey, with a piece of Brie, topped with jam. Give it a try. You’re welcome!
  • Looking for a grocery store? Look for Migros (pronounced “Mee-grow”) and Coop (pronounced “coop,” not “Co-op”)
  • Not all fondue involves cheese or chocolate; sometimes it is hot broth used to cook raw meats such as veal, beef, chicken, pork, etc.
  • Don’t miss the chocolate!
Decisions, decisions!
Keep eating: What to Eat in Switzerland

I hope you love Switzerland as much as we do! And I hope that you found this guide helpful in making your plans and preparing for your trip. If you did, tell me in the comments section!

Want more? Check out my Switzerland Page!

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7 responses to “What to Know Before You Visit Switzerland”

  1. I love it there too.

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  3. wow! hope to visit one day and enjoy the cheese.

    1. Awesome! I hope you love it and that this post is helpful for you!

  4. […] this your first time in Switzerland? Be sure to check out What to Know Before You Visit Switzerland for important terminology and other useful information for your travels around the country! And […]

  5. […] For more, check out What to Know Before You Visit Switzerland! […]

  6. […] Liechtenstein and Switzerland share so many elements of their language and culture, check out What to Know Before You Visit Switzerland for more useful terms and […]

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