Few places on earth can come near Switzerland’s beauty. The green hills, huge mountains covered with snow, adorable villages, and breathtaking lakes are hard to beat. I had the pleasure of visiting Switzerland a few years ago and here is a little guide if you are thinking of going.
Places To Go
I would suggest spending at least a week in Switzerland and hitting two different locations while you’re there. There are just so many wonderful spots that will give you a different feel of the country. The Alps are to the south and southeast and are great for hiking and skiing. The Swiss Plateau is filled with charming cities like Geneva and Zurich which have wonderful historical sights and tourist attractions. Small Swiss villages located in the mountains or along lakes each offer their own unique feel and also make wonderful places to stay.
If you go to the Alps, renting a chalet in Switzerland is the way to go. Staying in a little cottage is the perfect way to spend a vacation in the Alps. They are just so cozy and adorable. The larger cities have hotels and hostels depending on what your budget is. Small villages typically differ in their lodging options but many have affordable hostels with friendly hosts.
Food To Eat
The food in Switzerland is delicious! It has its own unique flavor with influences from French, German, and Italian food. And hey, you’re burning all those calories skiing and hiking, so you can live a little right? Here are a few things you have to try:
Each area of Switzerland has cheese that it is known for so be sure to find out what is the local delicacy. Other than that, be sure to try Gruyère – a hard yellow cheese, Emmentaler – a cheese with big holes, and Vacherin – which is soft and melty. There are more than 400 types of Swiss Cheese, so I recommend getting a tasting platter somewhere so that you can try as many as possible. The country does have many cheese cellars and dairies that offer tours if you’d like to see how it is made!
While cheese fondue could easily just fall in the “cheese” category, it’s so good I’m giving it its own. You haven’t had fondue until you’ve had Swiss Fondue. I think they probably put a couple dozen types of cheeses in each bowl, and that’s why it tastes so good. You can easily make a whole night of enjoying cheese fondue. Just head to a restaurant, kick back, and enjoy dipping into a nice hot bowl of cheese over a bottle of wine and good conversation. You could even head to the grocery store and attempt to make your own Swiss Fondue (good luck) if you’re looking to save a few bucks.
Swiss chocolate is beyond addicting, so be careful. One bite into a chocolate bar can send you into a depression looking at the the five empty chocolate bar wrappers that you seem to have emptied within five minutes.
Swiss chocolate is incredibly smooth and creamy. It has a higher milk content and lower cocoa content than most American chocolates. It comes in many varieties and is available all over the country.
Papet Vaudois is a dish made up of mashed leeks and potatoes. It is usually cooked with onions and makes a delicious side. It is often served alongside a sausage or different meat dish.
Roasted Flour Soup
This soup is found all over the country and generally consists of beef stock, water, flour, butter, and onion. It is a simple soup, but still delicious. The soup is very famous at the annual Basel Carnival, a large carnival that attracts many people from around the world.
Raclette is a dish that contains a mix of potatoes, onions, dried meat covered in melted Swiss Cheese. Generally, the cheese is heated and then scraped onto the mix. Occasionally this dish is topped with fruit. Raclette is particularly famous in Geneva and surrounding cities.
Ways To Save Money
Visiting Switzerland on a budget can be tricky. The country isn’t a cheap place to visit. But there are are few tricks to help you save a buck here and there.
Visit The Grocery Store
Restaurants in Switzerland are pretty pricey, so it’s a great idea to cook when you can. Swiss supermarkets offer tons of local items at a much more reasonable price. You can still eat the wonderful Swiss food, without paying the hiked up prices at restaurants. Alcohol especially is expensive in Switzerland, so buying a bottle or two of wine at the grocery store is a great idea.
Go 2nd Class
The main way to get from city to city is by train, and the trains are pretty expensive. The 2nd class tickets are a bit cheaper and the seats are just fine. You get the same beautiful view of the countryside, and the trains were never very crowded when I was on them.
Use BlaBlaCar And Uber
When traveling in the cities, use ride-sharing websites/apps BlaBlaCar or Uber to get around. The sites are generally pretty reasonable, and it’s fun to meet the local drivers.
Bring Your Student ID
If you have a student ID, bring it. A lot of attractions including museums and historical sights offer discounts to students. This actually goes for all of Europe. Your student ID can save you a lot of money across the continent.
Switzerland’s majestic quality can only fully be experienced in person, so be sure to add it to your bucket list!