NEED TO KNOW
Language: French, Italian, German, and Romanche
Capital City: Bern
Area: 16,000 square miles
Telephone Calling Code(s): 41
Electricity: 230V, 50 Hz
Currency: As of Nov 22, 2011:
1 Switzerland Francs = $1.10 US Calculate Other Amounts
Switzerland does not require visas for citizens of the United States. A valid passport is sufficient for a three-month stay.
GOOD TO KNOW
Books and Movies
For an interesting, informed study of Swiss culture, pick up a copy of Jonathan Steinberg's, Why Switzerland? A less informative, but far more charming choice is Mark Twain's entertaining classic about touring the Alps, A Tramp Abroad.
Switzerland is known for a lot of thingscheese, watches, the Matterhornbut not usually for its movies. The two most recent locally made Oscar-winners for best foreign film are Journey of Hope (1990) and Dangerous Moves (1984).
No one does fondue like the Swiss. White wine, flour, garlic, and kirsh all blend with melted vacherin and Gruyère to produce a delicious, 1970s-style concoction.
The handmade timepieces may seem unaffordable, but they do last forever. Bring Swiss chocolate or some schnapps home for friends.
By law, a fifteen percent service charge will be included on your hotel and restaurant bills. In addition to that, you may choose to "round up" as the locals often do. Unless you possess your own bulging Swiss bank account, you should do most of your shopping in the smaller villages and towns where items are more affordable.
January: 1, New Year's Day
May: 1, May Day
August: 1, Swiss National Day; 15, Assumption of Mary
September: Third Sunday, Swiss Federal Day of Prayer
November: 1, All Saints' Day
December: 24, Christmas Eve; 25, Christmas Day; 26, St. Stephen's Day
Spring: Friday before Easter, Good Friday;Easter; day after Easter, Easter Monday; sixth Thursday after Easter, Ascension Day; seventh Sunday after Easter, Pentecost; eighth Monday after Easter, Pentecost Monday