STUDY IN Switzerland -
Living in Switzerland
It is customary to give unwrapped flowers to
the hostess when invited for a meal. Avoid red
roses; never give chrysanthemums or white asters
as they are considered funeral flowers.
wear is widely acceptable. First-class restaurants,
hotel dining rooms and important social occasions
may warrant jackets and ties. Black tie is usually
specified when required.
Tipping: A service charge
is included in all hotel, restaurant, cafe, bar,
taxi and hairdressing services by law: further
gratuities are not usualy required.
|Local Customs & Culture
Food & Drink: Swiss cuisine
is varied. The great speciality is fondue, a delicious
concoction of Gruyère and Vacherin cheese,
melted and mixed with white wine, flour, Kirsch
and a little garlic. Other cheese specialities
are Emmental and Tête de Moine. Regional
specialities include viande sechée (dried
beef or pork) from Valais and the Grisons where
it is called Bündnerfleisch. The meat is
cut wafer thin and served with pickled spring
onions and gherkins. Papet vaudoir is a delicious
dish made from leeks and potatoes. Geneva’s
great speciality is pieds de porc (pigs feet).
Pork sausages or salami come in a variety of local
recipes including Beinwurst, Engadinerwurst, Kalbsleberwurst
(calf’s liver pâté), Knackerli,
Landjäger and Leberwurst (pâté).
Try Rösti (shredded fried potatoes) and Fondue
Bourguignonne (cubed meat with various sauces).
Cakes and pastries are also varied: Leckerli are
Basle specialities (spiced honey cakes topped
with icing sugar, decorated in Bern with a white
sugar bear); Fasnachtküchli (sugar-dusted
pastries eaten during Carnival), Gugelhopf (a
type of sponge cake with a hollow centre) and
Schaffhausen (cream-filled cakes) are also popular.
Although there are many self-service snack bars,
table service is normal.
A great variety of Swiss wines are available throughout
the country. There are also spirits made from
fruit, the most popular being Kirsch, Marc, Pflümli
and Williams. Swiss beer of a lager type is also
available. Bottled mineral water is an accepted
beverage, with local brands including Henniez
and Passuger. Bars/cocktail lounges have table
and/or counter service.
Nightlife: Most major towns
and resorts have nightclubs or discos with music
and dancing, sometimes serving food. There are
also cinemas and theatres, and some bars and restaurants
have local folk entertainment.
Shopping: Special purchases
include embroidery and linen, Bernese woodcarving,
chocolate, cheese, Swiss army knives and luxury
handmade clocks and watches. Shopping hours: Mon-Fri
0800-1200 and 1330-1830, Sat 0800-1200 and 1330-1600.
Most shops are closed on Monday mornings.
Special Events: For more specific
details, contact Switzerland Tourism (see Contact
Addresses section). The following is a selection
of special events occurring in Switzerland:
- Jan - World Snow Festival, Grindelwald
- Jan - Inferno Race, Mürren
- Jan - Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow, St Moritz.
- Jan - Prix de Lausanne (famous dance competition),
Palais de Beaulieu
- Mar - Basle Carnival, Basel
- Mar - International Motor Show, Geneva
- Mar - Berne International Jazz Festival
- Mar - International Dog Sleigh Race, Les Mosses
- Apr - Sechselaeuten (Six Chimes festival, where
a straw effigy is burnt to ensure a good summer),
- Apr - Visions du Réel
Festival (film festival), Nyon
- Apr - Europ'art
- May - Warmer May Gay Festival,
- Jun - Art 34 Basel (International
- Jun - International Comics Festival,
- Jul - Allianze Swiss Open (tennis),
- Jul - Montreux Jazz Festival
- Jul - Swiss Alpine Marathon, Davos
- Aug - Swiss
National Day (celebrations countrywide, but particularly
- Aug - Locarno International
- Aug - Lucerne Festival
- Aug - Carhartt European Skateboard Championships,
- Sep - Omega European Masters, Sur-Sierre
- Oct - Hermäss: Basel Autumn Fair Market
- Oct - Expovina, Zürich
- Nov - Nokia
Snowboard FIS World Cup, Laax
- Nov - Santa
Claus World Championship, Samnaun
- Nov-Dec - Christmas
- Dec - Silvesterzauber (New
Year’s Eve fireworks), Zürich
ROAD: Traffic drives on the right.
Road quality is generally good. Many mountain
roads are winding and narrow, and often closed
in heavy winter conditions; otherwise chains and
snow tyres may be necessary. Rail is often more
efficient than driving.
Bus: Postal motor coaches
provide a service to even the remotest villages,
but under the integrated national transport policy
few long-distance coaches are allowed to operate.
Taxi: All taxis have meters
for short and long trips, although it is advisable
to agree the fare for longer distances out of
Car hire: Available in all
towns from hotels and airports and at all manned
rail stations. All major European companies are
represented. Regulations: The minimum driving
age is 18. Seat belts are obligatory and children
under 12 years must travel in the back of the
car. Dipped headlights are compulsory during the
day. Drink-driving fines are heavy. Speed limits:
80kph (50mph) on country lanes; max 120kph (75mph),
min 60kph (37mph) on motorways; and 50kph (31mph)
Organisations: The AA and RAC in the
UK are linked with TCS (Touring Club Suisse) (website: http://www.tcs.ch) and ACS (Automobil
Club der Schweiz).
Contact the Automobil Club
der Schweiz (ACS), Wasserwerkgasse 39, CH-3000
Bern 13 (tel: (31) 328 3111; fax: (31) 311 0310;
In emergencies, there is a breakdown service offering
assistance (tel: 140) throughout Switzerland.
Motorway tax (vignette): An annual road tax of
SFr40 is levied on all cars and motorbikes using
Swiss motorways. An additional fee of SFr40 applies
to trailers and caravans. The vignette (sticker)
is valid between 1 December of the year preceding
and 31 January of the one following the year printed
on the vignette. These permits, which are available
at border crossings, are valid for multiple re-entry
into Switzerland within the duration of the licensed
period. To avoid hold-ups at the frontier, however,
it is advisable to purchase the vignette in advance:
call the Swiss Travel Centre (tel: (00800) 100
200 30) for more details.
Documentation: A national
driving licence is sufficient. Green Card insurance
is advised – ordinary domestic insurance
policies are valid but do not provide full cover.
The Green Card tops the cover up to the level
provided by the visitor’s domestic policy.
HOTELS: Hotels are of high quality and in high
demand. Advance booking is advised. Bookings cannot
be made through Switzerland Tourism. All standards
from luxury to family hotels and pensions are
Most hotels in Switzerland are affiliated
to the Schweizer Hotelier Verein (Swiss Hotels
Association) (SHV), Monbijoustrasse 130, Postfach
3001 Bern (tel: (31) 370 4111; fax: (31) 370 4444;
Around 75 per cent of all overnight stays in the
country are at SHV member hotels. A service charge
of 7.6 per cent is included in hotel bills, and
an additional local tax may be payable (depending
on the location). Grading: The SHV classifies
all its hotels according to a 5-star rating system,
which stipulates a range of facilities as follows:
- 5-star (luxury): Very high standard
of comfort and facilities including all rooms
with private bath, colour television and 16/24-hour
room service. Minimum size of hotel: 35 rooms.
There are approximately 81 SHV-classified 5-star
hotels in Switzerland.
- 4-star (first class): High
standard of comfort and facilities including all
rooms with private bath and 16/24-hour room service.
60 per cent of rooms with colour television. Minimum
size of hotel: 25 rooms. There are approximately
436 SHV-classified 4-star hotels in Switzerland.
- 3-star (good middle-class): Very good standard
of comfort and facilities including 75 per cent
of rooms with private bath. Minimum size of hotel:
10 rooms. There are approximately 1100 SHV-classified
3-star hotels in Switzerland.
- 2-star (comfortable):
Good standard of comfort and facilities including
30 per cent of rooms with private bath. There
are approximately 382 SHV-classified 2-star hotels
- 1-star (simple): Simple, clean
accommodation offering basic amenities. There
are approximately 82 SHV-classified 1-star hotels
Note: Membership of the SHV is voluntary, and
there may be some first-class hotels which do
not have a star rating. There are 167 hotels with
no actual star classification that are recognised
by, and members of, the SHV as well as 86 Country
Inns, 22 Unique hotels, 10 Aparthotels, 18 Mountain
Inns/Traveller's Lodges and 2 Low Service hotels.
Any SHV hotel can apply for a maximum of three
of the following specialist categories: Family
Hotel, Historic Hotel, Bike Hotel, Golf Hotel,
Congress Hotel, Eco Hotel, Health Hotel, Drive-in
Hotel, Holiday Hotel, Tennis Hotel, Business Hotel,
Seminar Hotel and Wellness Hotel. Prices vary
slightly according to the popularity of the resort.
The SHV (see above for address) issues an annual
guide of around 2500 member hotels and pensions.
This shows the rates, addresses, telephone/fax
numbers, opening dates and amenities of the various
hotels. Also included are lists of spas, resorts,
sports facilities and climate. A list of hotels
and restaurants catering for Jewish visitors is
available from the SHV, as well as a hotel guide
for the disabled, the elderly and a list of hotels
especially suitable for families. All lists are
available from Switzerland Tourism.
CHALETS & APARTMENTS: Information
regarding the rental of chalets, houses, flats
and furnished apartments is available from local
tourist offices and estate agents in Switzerland.
A list of contacts is available from Switzerland
SPAS: Switzerland has about
22 different mineral springs for the treatment
of various health conditions. A guide to Swiss
spas, including hotels, is available from Switzerland
PRIVATE CLINICS: Details of
accommodation in private sanatoria and clinics
is included in the publication Private Clinics
in Switzerland, available from Switzerland Tourism.
CAMPING: There are approximately
450 campsites in Switzerland. Camping on farmland
is not permitted. Local area laws and fees vary.
It is advisable to make advance reservations in
the summer. Camping guides published by the Swiss
Camping Association and the Swiss Camping Federation
can be purchased from Switzerland Tourism. The
Swiss Camp Site Owners Association (VSC/ASC) can
be contacted at 3800 Interlaken-Thunersee (tel:
(31) 852 0626; fax: (31) 852 0627; e-mail: email@example.com;
website: www.swisscamps.ch). A list of campsites
(produced in conjunction with the Swiss tourist
board) is available online (website: www.camping.ch).
YOUTH HOSTELS: Visitors holding
membership cards of a national organisation affiliated
to the International Youth Hostels Federation
are entitled to lower prices. To avoid disappointment,
wardens of youth hostels should be given prior
notice (at least 5 days) of arrival. An International
Reply Paid Postcard (Youth Hostel Edition) should
be used if confirmation is required. For further
information, contact Swiss Youth Hostels, Schaffhauserstrasse
14, 8042 Zürich (tel: (1) 360 1414; fax:
(1) 360 1460; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
A list of Swiss youth hostels is obtainable from
Switzerland does not have a centralized health
care system. Individual cantons are responsible
for determining levels of service and administering
and delivering health care services. The private
sector also plays a significant role in providing
Most hospitals in Switzerland are public institutions
that receive public funding. There are also about
100 private clinics that receive little or no
public funding. Non-hospital health care facilities
include spas, homes for the elderly, institutions
for those with addictions or disabilities, convalescent
and dietetic clinics, and preventive and psycho-social
treatment centres. Home care is also an important
component of the Swiss health care system.
Hospitals and medical home care services are
highly subsidized by the municipalities and cantons.
The purchase of health insurance is compulsory
for all Swiss citizens. Subsidies are available
for those with low incomes. Approximately 70%
of the cost of a visit to a physician is covered
by insurance and 30% by the patient. Nearly all
dental costs are directly paid by individuals.
As a result, most Swiss families spend about 10%
of their budget on doctors, dentists, health insurance
and medicine. The Swiss social welfare system
for the poor includes subsidized health care,
old age pensions and long-term nursing care.
Alternative forms of health care, including acupuncture,
homeopathy and Shiatsu massage are popular. People
can pay an additional insurance fee to cover these
|General emergency calls
|REGA (helicopter rescue service)
|Vehicle breakdown service
|Toxicological Institute (in case of poisoning)
|Toxicological information centre
||044 251 51 51