First-timer’s Guide To Switzerland – Useful Tips & Things To Consider For Your Trip

Switzerland travel tips

Switzerland is Heaven on Earth. Switzerland is beyond beautiful. Switzerland is forever and always our favourite holiday destination.

No amount of time spent in Switzerland is ever enough; there is just so much to explore. While the city is quiet and peaceful in its own way, the countryside is what we love. Of mountains and lakes, ski slopes and charming villages, Switzerland is a travel destination that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

To add on, Switzerland has the lowest crime rates in the world, making it even more attractive as a destination. It is also very pet-friendly, and you would see many locals bringing their dogs along with them just about anywhere.

Whether you are after a ski trip of your lifetime, a sports trip to feed your inner dare-devil, or a respite in the villages, Switzerland has it all. If it is going to be your first trip, this basic guide will help you get started and perhaps make your planning slightly easier.

Panorama Bridge Sigriswil Switzerland

Switzerland is a mountainous country in Europe. Not going to give you geography lessons here, but for starters, know that while it is huge, it is also largely connected to France, Italy and Germany because of its proximity. You can fly in to its various cities, with Zurich being the largest and most popular “terminal”.

The various parts of Switzerland are also closely linked to the bordering countries, and hence its identities may differ from one part to another, e.g. Lugano is close to Milan, so that part of Switzerland would be heavily influenced by the Italians – in terms of food, language and all the in-betweens.

Bern City Switzerland

City or Countryside Holiday?

Make a choice and this will help you decide where to stay when in Switzerland. The larger and most popular cities where tourists would choose are Zurich, Lucerne and Bern.

We very much prefer the countryside for its scenic landscapes and peacefulness. And there are endless places to check out. You can drive around for a month and spend a day or two at each place, and probably still have a long list of villages/ lakes/ ski slopes to tick off.

Lauterbrunnen waterfall

The popular countryside destinations include Interlaken, Grindelwald, Verbier, Lauterbrunnen, Iseltwald, Vevey, Lungern and Thun. These are just the tip of the ice berg, by the way. So it further boils down to the activities you are keen on, and the experience you are after.

Winter holiday in Switzerland

Seasons in Switzerland

Spring sometimes starts as early as mid-March. The snow clears up, flowers start to bloom, trees start turning green, the lakes shine in a bright azure shade… Summer is typically from June to mid-September, and Fall is from mid-September to early December. Winter season in Switzerland is usually from mid-December to March, sometimes till end of March.

The different seasons make a huge difference to what you can do during your trip, especially if you are traveling for sports-related activities.

Driving in Switzerland

Getting around Switzerland

It is best to rent a car and to drive your way around Switzerland. It is the most convenient and parking places are aplenty and mostly free, unless you are parking in the towns or city centres. Otherwise, you are only looking at your car rental fees and fuel.

For car rentals, just go with the car rental company you have loyalty with or just pick the one that offers the best rates.

Switzerland Train

If you are not fond of driving, there are public buses and trains you can take too, but that would also mean you cannot stop anywhere you like, and you may have to walk a great deal to get to the more obscure spots and vantage points.

Some would cycle their way around; it is like an expedition and an activity on its own.

Switzerland Lauterbrunnen

Languages in Switzerland

Apart from their native language, most people can speak English quite fluently. And depending on where you are, the locals may also speak French, German and Italian.

Switzerland skiing

Sports in Switzerland

Sports In Switzerland’s countryside makes up a big bulk of its visitors. There are just so many things you can do – paragliding, skiing, ice hockey, tobogganing, trekking… just to name a few.

Depending on the season you visit Switzerland, the activities available are aplenty. So if you are a thrill-seeker, Switzerland is just the place for you. But if you are one who enjoys the art of doing nothing, Switzerland is also the right place for you because you can simply enjoy the slow life in the beautiful countryside.

Switzerland cheese fondue

Food in Switzerland

This is probably the part we like least about Switzerland. Food is boring, and we always end up with pizza takeouts. Swiss people eat a great deal of potatoes and bread, and that’s pretty much their staple. Paired with lots of cheese in the form of raclette or fondue, Swiss cuisine can be pretty boring after a while.

But the availability of Italian food makes things better. You can always find restaurants that serve pasta and pizza, which are always reliable right?

When all else fails, coop is everywhere so you can pick up fresh groceries and whip up your own meals in your apartment.

Switzerland interlaken

The most beautiful places in Switzerland

How do we even begin? For starters, perhaps Interlaken is good. Sitting in between the stunning Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, its strategic location makes it accessible to many small villages and towns. Surrounded by mountains and alpine meadows, there are lots to explore within Interlaken. There is also a huge town which makes it very convenient should you require just about anything at all.

Switzerland Iseltwald CLOY Filming Scenes

Switzerland Iseltwald CLOY Bridge

CLOY fans must visit the quiet village of Iseltwald which is one of the most iconic filming scenes in the Kdrama.

It is a tiny village that overlooks Lake Brienz. It is charming and tranquil. Take a stroll along Lake Brienz while admiring the beautiful scenary.

Lake Lungern

We absolutely love Lake Lungern – probably the most charming lake in Switzerland. It may be small, but it is breathtakingly beautiful. So pristine, so clean and so peaceful; Lake Lungern is a pit stop we must make every time we travel in the countryside of Switzerland.

Switzerland Grindelwald

There is also Grindelwald that we love, and it is also quite a self-sufficient village. Whether it is summer or winter activities, you’ll never be bored at Grindelwald. It is also the base for mountain climbers.

Switzerland Verbier

Verbier is a dream for everyone who skis. This Alpine village is the gateway to the 4 Vallées ski area, and every winter, it sees countless skiers from all over the world.

Gruyere Switzerland

Gruyères is a medieval town in the Fribourg canton of Switzerland, and is known for their cheese production. This is where all cheese connoisseurs have to go. It. is also nice to take a nice walk along the cobblestoned streets with views of rolling hills and mountains that surround the tiny town.

Still not sure where to start?

Here’s our family-friendly itinerary for a 7D6N trip to Switzerland. We took it slow, because we are all for enjoying the day as it is. To us, the drive from one village to another is very often the activity itself and we love stopping our car at beautiful spots for a photo or two.

Disclaimer: this itinerary was done in Winter, with a toddler in tow.