Switzerland Tourism | Map Switzerland | Switzerland Information
Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe, where it is bordered by Germany to the north, France to the west, Italy to the south, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east.
The Swiss Confederation has a long history of neutrality—it has not been in a state of war internationally since 1815—and did not join the United Nations until 2002. Switzerland is home to many international organizations, including the second largest UN office, the Red Cross, the World Trade Organization, the International Labour Organization and sports federations such as the International Olympic Committee and FIFA. On the European level it was a founder of the European Free Trade Association and is part of the Schengen Agreement – although it is notably not a member of the European Union, nor the European Economic Area.
Switzerland comprises three main linguistic and cultural regions: German, French, and Italian, to which the Romansh-speaking valleys are added. The Swiss therefore do not form a nation in the sense of a common ethnic or linguistic identity. The strong sense of belonging to the country is founded on the common historical background, shared values (federalism, direct democracy, neutrality) and Alpine symbolism. The establishment of the Swiss Confederation is traditionally dated to 1 August 1291; Swiss National Day is celebrated on the anniversary.
Geography of Switzerland:
Switzerland lies between latitudes 45° and 48° N, and longitudes 5° and 11° E. It contains three basic topographical areas: the Swiss Alps on the south, the Central Plateau or middleland, and the Jura mountains on the north. The Alps are a high mountain range running across the central-south of the country, comprising about 60% of the country's total area. Among the high valleys of the Swiss Alps many glaciers are found, totaling an area of 1,063 square kilometres. From these originate the headwaters of several major rivers, such as the Rhine, Inn, Ticino and Rhone, which flow in the four cardinal directions into the whole of Europe. The hydrographic network includes several of the largest bodies of freshwater in Central and Western Europe, among which are included Lake Geneva, Lake Constance and Lake Maggiore. Switzerland has more than 1500 lakes, and contains 6% of Europe's stock of fresh water. Lakes and glaciers cover about 6% of the national territory.
The more populous northern part of the country, comprising about 30% of the country's total area, is called the Middle Land. It has greater open and hilly landscapes, partly forested, partly open pastures, usually with grazing herds, or vegetables and fruit fields, but it is still hilly. There are large lakes found here and the biggest Swiss cities are in this area of the country. The largest lake is Lake Geneva (also called Lac Léman in French), in western Switzerland. The Rhone River is both the main input and output of Lake Geneva.
A weather phenomenon known as the föhn (with an identical effect as the chinook wind) can occur at all times of the year and is characterized by an unexpectedly warm wind, bringing air of very low relative humidity to the north of the Alps during rainfall periods on the southern face of the Alps. This works both ways across the alps but is more efficient if blowing from the south due to the steeper step for oncoming wind from the south. Valleys running south to north trigger the best effect. The driest conditions persist in all inner alpine valleys that receive less rain because arriving clouds lose a lot of their content while crossing the mountains before reaching these areas. Large alpine areas such as Graubünden remain drier than pre-alpine areas and as in the main valley of the Valais wine grapes are grown there.
The wettest conditions persist in the high Alps and in the Ticino canton which has much sun yet heavy bursts of rain from time to time. Precipitation tends to be spread moderately throughout the year with a peak in summer. Autumn is the driest season, winter receives less precipitation than summer, yet the weather patterns in Switzerland are not in a stable climate system and can be variable from year to year with no strict and predictable periods.
Preparation for Switzerland:
Entry in Switzerland:
Every traveler must have a valid passport. Visa are required for a continuous stay of more than three months.
Customs Entry Regulations
Duty-and tax free imports per person
Regulations for pets
Information on the import of animals to Switzerland
Money / Duty-free:
Currency, Money, Credit cards, VAT, Money exchange places, Tax Free
Shopping, Business Hours, Public Holidays, Important telephone numbers, Post Prices, Telecommunications, Electricity, Climate, Education and Private School, Nightlife, Events, Gastronomy, Sports, Security / Health / Insurance, Criminality
Capital of Switzerland:
The capital of Switzerland is Bern City, also the capital of the canton Bern.
Facts about Switzerland:
The three official languages are Swiss German, French and Italian. A few people speak Romansch, but this is confined to the southeastern corner of the country. Most people know at least three languages, including English.
41,285 sq. km. (15,941 sq. mi.)
Bern (population about 123,000)
60% mountains, the remainder hills and plateau. Switzerland straddles the central ranges of the Alps.
Temperate, varying with altitude and season.
Annual growth rate:
Roman Catholic 42%, Protestant 33%, Muslim 4.3%, others 5.4%, no religion 11%
German 63.7%, French 20.4%, Italian 6.5%, Romansch 0.5%, other 9.4%.
The official currency is the Swiss franc (CHF) divided into 100 rappen (German) or centimes (French). Although not part of the EU many prices are nonetheless indicated in Euros and some merchants may accept Euros. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted and ATMs are widespread; many are equipped with the Cirrus or Maestro system. Banks offer the best exchange rates for travelers cheques and foreign currency, but it is also possible to exchange money at major hotels, main train stations and airports. Banks are open Monday to Friday.
Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between March and October).
Electrical current is 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are of the linear, rounded three-pin type, but rounded two-pin plugs will fit the outlet.
The international country dialing code for Switzerland is +41. The outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). City/area codes are in use e.g. (0)22 for Geneva. Mobile phone GSM 1800 and 900 networks operate throughout the country. Internet cafes are available in the main towns and resorts; some public phone booths also have Internet and email access.
Travelers to Switzerland over 17 years do not have to pay duty on the following items: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco; 2 liters alcohol up to 15% and 1 liter alcohol over 15%. The maximum allowance of wine is 20 liters, but duty will be payable on this quantity. A reasonable amount of personal effects and gifts (including perfume) to the value of Sfr200 for residents of Switzerland and Sfr100 for other travelers. Restricted items include meat and meat products from selected countries. Prohibited items are absinth and anaesthetics.
As of 2006, tourism accounted for an estimated 3.6% of Switzerland's gross domestic product.
The Chillon Castle:
Located on the shore of Lake Geneva, the Chillon Castle is one of the most famous castles in Switzerland. Consisting of 100 buildings, it dates back to the 11th century and is the former residence of the Savoy nobility. It also has three courtyards and four great halls which offer magnificent views of the lake beyond.
Geneva Jet D'eau:
This fountain in the heart of one of Switzerland's major cities is one of the tallest fountains in the world, projecting water up to 140 meters high. Built in 1891, it is also considered one of the symbols of the city of Geneva.While in Geneva, you might want to see other tourist spots, too, particularly the museums. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum is one of the most popular museums in Switzerland, and is definitely worth a visit, along with the Cathedral de St. Pierre and other historical buildings.
Swiss National Park:
Although you cannot pitch a tent and spend the night at Swiss National Park, you can certainly appreciate the different views of the Alps as you go hiking, which is why it is one of the Switzerland tourist attractions worth seeing. It is also Switzerland's only national park, covering almost half the area of the entire country. It is a sanctuary for various wildlife such as elks, marmots and eagles, as well.
Swiss Transport Museum:
Located in Lucerne, the Swiss Transport Museum is home to an exhibit of locomotives, ships, aircraft, automobile and other modes of transport and communication. It also houses an extensive collection of the works of Hans Erni, a Swiss painter and sculptor. You're sure to enjoy the Planetarium and the IMAX theatre, too.
Rock climbing the Swiss Mountains:
Switzerland travel is never complete if you don't go for Hiking on the Swiss Mountains. Must suitable time for hiking activity is when snow melts and wind blow powerfully in late autumn. People head towards the country's alpine chain to hike its beautiful expanses.
Castles & Cathedrals:
Visitor's main goal of Switzerland trip is to take part in outdoor activities, but the country also offers great Castles and Cathedrals. These monument are of both historic and religious importance. St. Nicholas's Cathedral, located in the ancient city of Fribourg near Bern, is one of the most important among all. The cathedrals in Bern and Basel are also the ones to watch.
Carnival in Basel:
If you are visiting Switzerland in late February or in early March you must not miss this Carnival. The horsedrawn and motorized parades with great music from drums, trumpets, and trombones provides great entertainment to the visitors. This Carnival has origins dating back to the Middle Ages.
Lakes of Central Switzerland:
Switzerland is basically a landlocked country and blessed with great lakes in central parts. Exploring the lakes of Switzerland through William Tell Express is a lifetime experience.
Wandering in Ticino:
Wandering in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, Ticino, is also good pleasures. The palm-lined promenades along with best resorts are found at Ascona, Locarno, and Lugano.
Indeed, Switzerland has many sights waiting to be discovered. Aside from visiting Switzerland tourist attractions, don't forget to immerse yourself in the country's rich culture, too by participating in festivals or simply mingling with the Swiss. You're sure to have a wonderful time and many golden memories to take home with you. These activities make your Switzerland Trip not only memorable but also complete.
Tourist Places in Switzerland:
The Major Tourist Places in Switzerland
The Godfather of the city is the Reformer Jean (or John) Calvin, the inspiration behind Puritanism and Presbyterianism, who turned Geneva into a "Protestant Rome" in the 16th century. His parsimonious spirit made Geneva one of the richest cities in Europe. "The Republic and Canton of Geneva" is only nominally (4 kms) within Switzerland's borders, sharing a large territory (108km) with France all around. Most of the French residents get benefited from both a high Swiss salary and relatively low French living expenses, whereas the Genevois save money by doing their shopping in France.
Instead, Geneva has nowadays become the businessperson's city par excellence, unrufflable, efficient and tightly packed with hotels. The cobbled Old Town, standing high on its central hill, is atmospheric but strangely austere. At the heart of the city is the huge Cathédrale St-Pierre, and an array of museums, including the giant Musée d'Art et d'Histoire and an impressive gallery of East Asian art, the Collections Baur increasingly visited by the tourists. The residential lanes on both the banks of the Rhône, such as Les Pâquis and Plainpalais, offer more appealing wandering. A short way south of the centre is Carouge, an attractive 18th century suburb built in Sardinian style to be a place of decadence and freedom beyond Geneva's control; its reputation lives on in its high population of artists and designers. Last but not least, Geneva is the headquarter of many of the international organizations. Two of them - the United Nations' European headquarters and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the latter with an award-winning museum - allow visitors a glimpse of the veiled charisma of the city, the diplomatic and administrative confidence that has made Geneva the world capital of bureaucracy.
Heritage sites of national significance in Geneva:
There are 82 buildings or sites in Geneva that are listed as Swiss heritage site of national significance, and the entire old city of Geneva is part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.
Religious Buildings:Cathedral St-Pierre et Chapel des Macchabés, Notre-Dame Church, Russe Church, St-Germain Church, Temple de la Fusterie, Temple de l'Auditoire
Archeological Sites:Fondation Baur and Museum of the arts d'Extrême-Orient, Parc et campagne de la Grange and Library (neolithic shore settlement/roman villa), Bronze Age shore settlement of Plonjon, Temple de la Madeleine archeological site, Temple Saint-Gervais archeological site, Old City with celtic, roman and medieval villages
Museums, Theaters and other Cultural Sites:Conservatoire de musique at Place Neuve 5, Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques, Fonds cantonal d'art contemporain, Ile Rousseau and statue, Institute and Museum of Voltaire with Library and Archives, Mallet House and Museum international de la Réforme, Musée Ariana, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Museum d'art moderne et contemporain, Museum d'ethnographie, Museum of the International Red Cross, Musée Rath, Muséum d'histoire naturelle, Salle communale de Plainpalais et théâtre Pitoëff, Villa Bartholoni et Museum d'Histoire et Sciences
International Organizations:Geneva is the seat of the European headquarters of the United Nations. It is located in the Palace of Nations building (French: Palais des Nations) which was also the headquarters of the former League of Nations. Several agencies are headquartered at Geneva, among which the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Apart from the United Nation agencies, Geneva hosts many inter-governmental organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Economic Forum (WEF), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Organizations on the European level, include the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) which is the world's largest particle physics laboratory.
The Geneva Environment Network (GEN) publishes the Geneva Green Guide, and extensive listing of Geneva-based global organisations working on environment protection and sustainable development. A website (by the Swiss Government, WBCSD, UNEP and IUCN) includes stories about how NGOs, business, government and the UN cooperate. By doing so, it attempts to explain why Geneva has been picked by so many NGOs and UN as their headquarters location.
Geneva in popular culture:
- Belle du Seigneur by Albert Cohen, ISBN 2-07-040402-1
- Nuages dans la main, Comme le sable, Le Creux de la vague, Jette ton pain by Alice Rivaz
- Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Politics and the Arts by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
- Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
- Daisy Miller by Henry James
- This Perfect Day by Ira Levin
- His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
- The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
- "Generation A" by Douglas Coupland, 2009
- Doctor of Geneva by Wallace Stevens
- Doctor Fischer of Geneva by Graham Greene
- The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
- Asterix in Switzerland by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo
- The Calculus Affair by Hergé
- The Chicago band Russian Circles 2009 album is entitled Geneva
- The song "Goin' Down Geneva" by Van Morrison opens his 1999 record Back on Top
- The song "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple describes an incident the band had, playing at Lake Geneva
Lucerne has also pioneered the café culture within the country, treasured by the youth of the city. At midnight on a weekend night, the main Pilatusstrasse boulevard has the feel of any European capital, with people bar-hopping, waiting for the last bus, or hanging out deciding where to go. Whether it is the history and tradition, the misty lake at its doorstep, the snow-capped peak of Pilatus, or its nightlife, Lucerne hypnotizes the tourists by its magic for long.
Zurich Switzerland Attraction:
Most of Zurich's sights are located within the area on either side of the Limmat river, between the Main railway station and Lake Zurich. The churches and houses of the old town are clustered here, as are the most expensive shops along the famous Bahnhofstrasse. The Lindenhof in the old town is the historical site of the Roman castle, and the later Carolingian Imperial Palace.
- Grossmünster (great minster) (near Lake Zurich, on the Eastern side of the Limmat River in the old city), where Zwingli was pastor; first built around 820; declared by Charlemagne imperial church
- Fraumünster (our lady's minster) first church built before 874; the Romanesque choir dates from 1250–70; Marc Chagall stained glass choir windows; (on the opposite side of the Limmat). During 2004 the Fraumünster was fully renovated. During this period the installed scaffolding went above the tip of the tower allowing a unique and exceptional 360° panoramic view of Zurich.
- St. Peter (downstream from the Fraumünster, in the old city); with the largest church clock face in the world.
- Zurich Museum of Art – The Museum of Art, also known as Kunsthaus Zürich, is one of the significant art museums of Europe. It holds one of the largest collections in Classic Modern Art in the world (Munch, Picasso, Braque, Giacometti, etc.). The museum also features a large library collection of photographs.
- Swiss National Museum – The National Museum (German: Landesmuseum) displays many objects that illustrate the cultural and historical background of Switzerland. It also contains many ancient artifacts, including stained glass, costumes, painted furniture and weapons. The museum is located in the Platzspitz park opposite to the Hauptbahnhof.
- Centre Le Corbusier – Located on the shore of the Lake Zurich nearby Zürichhorn, the Centre Le Corbusier (also named: Heidi Weber Museum), is an art museum dedicated to the work of the Swiss architect Le Corbusier, inside the last house he designed.
- Rietberg Museum – The Rietberg Museum, situated in Gablerstrasse, is one of the great repositories of art and culture in Zurich. The museum also displays exhibits gathered from various corners of the world: bronze artifacts from Tibet, ceramics and jade, Indian sculpture, Chinese grave decorations, masks by African tribes etc.
- Museum of Design – The Museum of Design is a museum for industrial design, visual communication, architecture and craft. It is part of the Department of Cultural Analysis of the Zurich University of the Arts.
- Haus Konstruktiv – The Haus Konstruktiv is a museum with Swiss-wide and international recognition. The museum is about constructive, concrete and conceptual art and design. It testimonies to Zurich’s industrial architecture in the immediate vicinity of the Main Station.
- Uhrenmuseum Beyer – The Uhrenmuseum is located in the heart of the city. Documenting the history of timekeeping and timekeepers, the museum is home to a large collection of mechanical timepieces as well as a collection of primitive time keeping devices such as water clocks, sundials and hourglasses
- Guild houses – The Guild houses (German: Zunfthaus) are located along the Limmat river (downstream from the Grossmünster): Meisen (also a porcellan and fayence museum), Rüden, Haue, Saffran, Schneidern, Schmiden, Zimmerleuten, and some more.
- Tram Museum - The Tram Museum is located at Burgwies in Zurich's eastern suburbs, and chronicles the history of Zurich's iconic tram system with exhibits varying in date from 1897 to the present day.
Zurich Parks and Nature:
- Zoological Garden – The zoological garden holds about 260 species of animals and houses about 2200 animals. One can come across separate enclosures of snow leopards, India lions, clouded leopards, Amur leopards, otters and pandas in the zoo.
- Botanical Garden – The Botanical Garden houses about 15,000 species of plants and trees and contains as many as three million plants. In the garden, many rare plant species from south western part of Africa, as well as from New Caledonia can be found. The University of Zurich holds the ownership of the Botanical Garden.
- Chinese Garden – The Chinese Garden is a gift by Zurich's Chinese partner town Kunming, as remiscence for Zurich's technical and scientific assistance in the development of the Kunming city drinking water supply and drainage. The garden is an expression of one of the main themes of Chinese culture, the «Three Friends of Winter» – three plants that together brave the cold season – pine, bamboo, and plum.
- Üetliberg – Located to the west of the city at an altitude of 813 metres (2,667 ft) above sea level, the Üetliberg is the highest hill and offers views over the city. The summit is easily accessible by train from Zurich main station
Compared to other cities, there are few tall buildings in Zurich. The municipal building regulations limit the construction of high-rise buildings to areas in the west and north of the city. In the industrial district, in Altstetten and Oerlikon, buildings up to 80 metres (260 ft) in height are allowed (high-rise area I). In the adjacent high-rise areas II and III the height is limited to 40 metres (130 ft). Around the year 2000, regulations became more flexible and high-rise buildings were again planned and built. The people's initiative "40 meters is enough," which would have reduced both the maximum height and the high-rise buildings area, was clearly rejected on 29 November 2009. At this time in Zurich about a dozen high-rises buildings were under construction or in planning, including the Prime Tower as the tallest skyscraper in Switzerland.
Zurich World heritage sites:
The prehistoric settlements at Enge Alpenquai and Grosse Stadt Kleiner Hafner are part of the Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The name 'Interlaken' implies "between the lakes" - as it lies between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz , with water omnipresent throughout the area with idyllic clear mountain streams and waterfalls running off the hills and into the lakes. The resort therefore offers a number of water sports too, throughout the year. If you ever got bored of sliding and skiing, you can always enjoy anything from a cruise on a lake steamer to just feeding the ducks or even watching the frogs! Tourists first started arriving at Interlaken long before the downhill skiing was conceived here. The first hotel was opened in 1806, complementing the existing monastery hospice (now the four star hotel Interlaken) with the boom years beginning in the 1860's. These hotels in Interlaken are a blend of traditional architecture and modern amenities.
The town is a base from which to explore the surrounding areas by train or bus. One of the main attractions is the Jungfrau, (4,158 m (13,642 ft)) and the Jungfraujoch railway station (3,450 m (11,320 ft)). Many hotels are located along the Höheweg. Mystery Park, a paranormal-based theme park owned by Erich von Däniken, was closed in 2006 after three years because of financial difficulties but re-opened in 2009.
Interlaken is a destination for backpackers throughout the year. Interlaken has numerous backpacker-friendly hostels and companies providing guided services in skydiving, canyoning, hang gliding, paragliding, and skiing.
More Tourist Places in Switzerland:
The city's tourist attractions while on Switzerland Tour include the Munster (9th-century red sandstone cathedral), the 11th-century cathedral (which holds the tomb of Erasmus), University of Switzerland (the oldest in the country), Three-Country Corner and Market Square (with its surrounding medieval-era houses). Drei Konige, or the "Three Kings on the Rhine," is Europe's oldest hotel.
There are a number of museums: the Kunstmuseum (one of the country's best fine arts museums), Antikenmuseum (ancient Greek and Roman artifacts), a small Jewish Museum and the Paper Museum (covers the history of printing). The Museum Jean Tinguely offers a sampling of the Swiss sculptor's delightfully whimsical mechanical contraptions. The Fondation Beyeler contains works by Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh and other well-known artists.
If the time permits, you can also enjoy a dinner cruise on the Rhine in the evening. If the date of your Switzerland Tours is likely to coincide the city's Carnival, make the accommodation arrangement in advance in Zurich or Bern from where you can get special morning trains for Basel.
The red sandstone Münster, one of the foremost late-Romanesque/early Gothic buildings in the Upper Rhine, was badly damaged in the great earthquake of 1356, rebuilt in the fourteenth and 15th century, extensively reconstructed in the mid-nineteenth century and further restored in the late twentieth century. A memorial to Erasmus lies inside the Münster. The City Hall from the 16th century is located on the Market Square and is decorated with fine murals on the outer walls and on the walls of the inner court.
Basel is also host to an array of buildings by internationally renowned architects. These include the Beyeler Foundation by Renzo Piano, or the Vitra complex in nearby Weil am Rhein, composed of buildings by architects such as Zaha Hadid (fire station), Frank Gehry (design museum), Alvaro Siza Vieira (factory building) and Tadao Ando (conference centre). Basel also features buildings by Mario Botta (Jean Tinguely Museum and Bank of International settlements) and Herzog & de Meuron (whose architectural practice is in Basel, and who are best known as the architects of Tate Modern in London). The city received the Wakker Prize in 1996.
Heritage sites of Basel:
Basel features a great number of heritage sites of national significance.
These include the entire Old Town of Basel as well as the following buildings and collections:
Basel Churches and monasteries:
Old Catholic Prediger Church, Bischofshof with Collegiate church at Rittergasse 1, Domhof at Münsterplatz 10–12, Former Carthusian House of St Margarethental, Catholic Church of St Antonius, Lohnhof (Former Augustinians Collegiate Church), Mission 21, Archive of the evangelischen Missionswerks Basel, Münster (Cathedral), Reformed Elisabethenkirche, Reformed Johanneskirche, Reformed Leonhardskirche (former Augustinians Abbey), Reformed Martinskirche, Reformed Pauluskirche, Reformed Peterskirche, Reformed St. Albankirche with cloister and cemetrery, Reformed Theodorskirche, Synagoge at Eulerstrasse 2
Basel Secular buildings:
Badischer Bahnhof (Train Station) with Fountain, Bank for International Settlements, Blaues Haus (Reichensteinerhof) at Rheinsprung 16, Bruderholzschul House at Fritz-Hauser-Strasse 20, Brunschwiler House at Hebelstrasse 15, Bandesbahnhof SBB (Train Station), Bürgerspital, Café Spitz (Merianflügel), Coop Schweiz Company's Central Archive, Depot of the Archäologischen Bodenforschung des Kantons, Former Gallizian Paper Mill and Swiss Museum of Paper, Former Klingental-Kaserne with Klingental Church, Fasnachtsbrunnen (Fountain), Feuerschützenhaus (Fire Station) at Schützenmattstrasse 56, Fischmarktbrunnen (fountain), Geltenzunft at Marktplatz 13, Gymnasium (School) am Kohlenberg (St Leonhard), Hauptpost (Main Post Office), House zum Raben at Aeschenvorstadt 15, Hohenfirstenhof at Rittergasse 19, Holsteinerhof at Hebelstrasse 30, Mittlere Rhein Brücke (Mid-Rhine Bridge) Music Hall at Steinenberg 14, Ramsteinerhof at Rittergasse 7 and 9, Rathaus (Town Hall), Rundhof Building of the Schweizerischen Mustermesse, Safranzunft at Gerbergasse 11, Sandgrube at Riehenstrasse 154, Schlösschen (Manor House) Gundeldingen, Schönes Haus and Schöner Hof at Nadelberg 6, Wasgenring Schoolhouse, Seidenhof with painting of Rudolf von Habsburg, Spalenhof at Spalenberg 12, Spiesshof at Heuberg 7, City Walls, Townhouse (formerly Post Office) at Stadthausgasse 13 / Totengässlein 6, Weisses House at Martinsgasse 3, Wildtsches House at Petersplatz 13, House Zum Neuen Singer at Speiserstrasse 98, Wolfgottesacker at Münchensteinerstrasse 99, Zerkindenhof at Nadelberg 10
Basel Archaeological sites:
The Celtic Settlement at Gasfabrik, Münsterhügel and Old City (Late La Tène and medieval settlement)
Bassel Museums, archives and collections:
Anatomical Museum of the University Basel, Berri-Villen and Museum of Ancient Art and Ludwig Collection, Former Franciscan Barefoot Order Church and Basel Historical Museum, Company Archive of Novartis, House zum Kirschgarten which is part of the Basel Historical Museum, Historic Archive Roche and Industrial Complex Hoffmann-La Roche, Jewish Museum of Switzerland, Caricature & Cartoon Museum Basel, Karl Barth-Archive, Kleines Klingental (Lower Klingen Valley) with Museum Klingental, Art Museum with Copperplate Collection, Natural History Museum of Basel and the Museum of Cultures Basel, Museum of Culture and Natural History, Museum of Modern Art Basel with the E. Hoffmann collection, St. Alban-Rheinweg 60, Museum Jean Tinguely Basel, Music Museum, Pharmacy Historical Museum of the Universität Basel, Poster Collection of the Schule für Gestaltung (School for Design), Swiss Business Archives, Sculpture Hall,Sports Museum of Switzerland, Archives of the Canton of Basel-Stadt, UBS AG Corporate Archives, University Library with manuscripts and music collection, Zoologischer Garten.
Bern's 11th-century arcaded streets provides wonderful opportunities for tourists for sightseeing and shopping. Mountains around Bern provides a beautiful backdrop - the northwest is dominated by the Jura and the Alps and their foothills provides a wonderful backdrop to the south. The city centre with its beautiful medieval architecture is located on the Aare River between the the striking copper spire of the Nydegg church (Nydeggkirche) and the 13th-century clocktower (Zeitglockenturm). Vegetable and flower markets are held everyday during the summers. A celebrated onion market is also held here on the fourth Monday of November.
Since the 16th century, the city has had a bear pit (the Bärengraben). The extended and renewed pit off the far end of the Nydeggbrücke actually contains four bears, including two young. During his visit in Bern in 2009, the Russian president and his wife gave two more young bears as a private present. They are actually in Dählhölzli, Bern's zoo.
The Federal Palace (Bundeshaus), built from 1857 to 1902, which houses the national parliament, government and part of the federal administration, can also be visited.
The Rose Garden (Rosengarten), from which a scenic panoramic view of the medieval town centre can be enjoyed, is a well-kept Rosarium on a hill, converted into a park from a former cemetery in 1913.
Bern's most recent sight is the set of fountains in front of the Federal Palace. It was inaugurated on August 1, 2004.
Bern features many heritage sites of national significance. Apart from the entire Old Town and many sites within it, these include the Bärengraben, the Gewerbeschule Bern (1937), the Eidgenössisches Archiv für Denkmalpflege, the Kirchenfeld mansion district (after 1881), the Thunplatzbrunnen, the Federal Mint building, the Federal Archives, the Swiss National Library, the Historical Museum (1894), Alpine Museum, Museum of Communication and Natural History Museum.
The Universal Postal Union is situated in Bern.
- Bern Theatre
- Narrenpack Theater Bern
- Tojo Theater
- The Theater on the Effinger-Street
- Theater am Käfigturm
Bern has several dozen cinemas. As is customary in Switzerland, films are generally shown in their original language (e.g., English) with German and French subtitles. Only a small number of screenings are dubbed in German.
- Queersicht – gay and lesbian film festival, held annually in the second week of November.
- SHNIT International Short Film Festival
- BeJazz Summer and Winter Festival
- Buskers festival
- Internationales Jazzfestival Bern
- Queersicht – Queer Filmfestival, annually held second week of November.
- SHNIT International Short Film Festival
- Zibelemärit – The Zibelemärit (onion market) is an annual fair held on the fourth Monday in November.
- Bernese Fassnacht (Carnival)
Make sure that you visit the Rhone Glacier which lies nearby when you're in Brig. Ypu can also visit the resorts of Saas Fee and Zermatt which are near to Brig as well as Italy via a major tunnel through the Alps.
One of the oldest city in Switzerland, Chur has been inhabited since at least 3000 BC. Chur is the capital of the canton of Graubunden (or Grisons in French). A Stone Age relics which was found here has been displayed in the splendid archaeological museum in the Old Town.
The main tourist attractions at the city are the Rhine River and spectacular mountains and valleys in the area. The world famous ski resorts of St. Moritz, Arosa and Davos are also nearby. A special treat in Chur is the Romantik Hotel Stern, with its impressive collection of old coaches and sleighs.
Fribourg is the Swiss region where the French and German languages and cultures merge together. Fribourg is a beautiful little town built on a hillside. Red-tiled buildings in the old section lead your way up from the Saane River to the Gothic St. Nicholas Cathedral. It also has a pretty Town Hall and a Museum of Art and History.
Horse Drawn Sleigh,Bernese Oberland - SwitzerlandThis town in the Jungfrau region offers winter horse-drawn sleigh rides and good skiing. Be sure to visit one of the nearby glaciers (the higher one, Obergletscher, is the best). The ideal route is via train from Interlaken. The trip turns spectacular - if you go all the way up to Jungfrau Station, the highest railway in Europe.
Chalets in the mountains, ski lodges and horse-drawn sleigh rides that portray Switzerland can be seen live at the Bernese Oberland, and the Heidi Area near Chur in eastern Switzerland. Alphorn blowers, beautiful hilly pastures, waterfalls, glaciers and detailed wood carvings on houses and bridges is something not to be missed.
A truly sparkling little city (its yellow sandstone buildings glitter in the sun), Neuchatel, is situated at the foot of the Jura Mountains on the largest lake in the entire Switzerland. The city is acclaimed academically because of its outstanding prep schools and universities.
The Art and History Museum and Swiss clocks and watches that are made in the city tempt the tourists to be a part of the city for long.
This typical Swiss town is near Lucerne in central Switzerland. The surrounding canton of Schwyz (pronounced shfeetz) was one of three founding members of the Swiss Confederation and gave its name to the rest of the country (Switzerland is called "Schweiz" in German). The Victorinox factory, where the original Swiss Army knives are made are also available for sale. Travel by a train up to the resort town of Stoos which is worth watching.
At St. Gallen (pop.73,000), visit St. Gallen's town square, the baroque cathedral and the world-renowned Abbey Library with an excellent collection of medieval manuscripts.
Zermatt - Switzerland Thun is a well-established market town, which explores the Bernese Oberland Mountains well. Thun is one of the Switzerland's largest military training bases, and relics of the town's early military origins. Thun Castle built in 1190 is a classic monument. A stroll from the medieval Rathausplatz to the lakeshore provides wonderful views.
This area is home to some of the most dramatic Alpine sceneries in the country, including the town of Zermatt. The Matterhorn, Eiger and Mt. Blanc can all be seen (on clear days) on a trip via bus and cable car along the Pillon Pass. Other sights in the canton include a fresco that tells the story of William Tell (it's painted on a house in Ernen/Muhlebach) and Grand St. Bernard. Sion has enough old cathedrals and interesting buildings to justify an overnight.
This city (pop. 85,000) is quite famous for its artwork. Visit the Oskar-Reinhart Foundation Museum, where paintings by Swiss, German and Austrian artists are on display. There is also a nice fine arts museum in town, as well. The Collegium Musicum (founded in 1629) stages wonderful concerts. Nearby is the Kyburg Castle that is worth watching.
Tourist Office in Switzerland:
Swiss Tourist Office
Zurich: +41 (0)1 288 1111
Emergencies: 117 (Police); 144 (Ambulance).
- Swiss Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 745 7900.
- Swiss Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7616 6000.
- Swiss Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 235 1837.
- Swiss Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6162 8400.
- Swiss Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 452 0660.
- Swiss Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 218 6382.
- Swiss Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 472 1593/4.
- United States Embassy, Berne: +41(0)31 357 7011.
- British Embassy, Berne: +41 (0)31 359 7700.
- Canadian Embassy, Berne: +41 (0)31 357 3200.
- Australian Consulate-General, Geneva: +41 (0)22 799 9100.
- South African Embassy, Berne: +41 (0)31 350 1313.
- Irish Embassy, Berne: +41 (0)31 352 1442.
- New Zealand Embassy, Berlin, Germany (also responsible for Switzerland): +49 (0)30 206 210.
Language Spoken in Switzerland:
- German 65%
- French 18%
- Italian 12%
- Romansh 1%
- other 4%
Swiss nationals only:
- German 74%
- French 20%
- Italian 4%
- Romansh 1%
- other 1%
Even though Switzerland is a small country, its people do speak no less than four different languages. Everything from the list of the ingredients on the package of the groceries to the manual of the most complicated TV set has to be printed in three different languages (german, french and italian).
The so called "german speaking" Swiss don't speak the same german as the Germans or the Austrians do, but what is known as "Swiss-German". To make it even worse, each state has its own dialect, but there is no written "Swiss-German" at all ! Fortunately, the Germans, the Austrians and the Swiss-Germans use the same written german language which in turn is close to the so called "high german", a "quasi-standard" of the german languages.
Please note that Switzerland remains with the Swiss franc, usually indicated as CHF. While Switzerland is not part of the European Union and thus is not obliged to convert to the Euro, many prices are nonetheless indicated in euros so that visitors may compare prices.
Merchants may accept euros but are not obliged to do so. Change given back to the client will most likely be in Swiss francs.
The Swiss franc comes in the following denominations:
Coins: 5, 10, 20, 50 Cents and 1, 2, 5 Francs
Bank notes: 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 1000 Francs
The safest and easiest form of money are traveler's checks and credit cards. The cards most used are Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Many banks in Switzerland have equipped their ATM machines with the CIRRUS or MAESTRO system. Many other Swiss banks offer ATM machines for cash advances with your credit card. For payments with credit card it is advised to use Global Blue Currency Choice. Therewith the bills can be paid in the settlement currency of the credit card. It is recommended to have a small amount of cash on hand upon arrival in Switzerland for immediate expenses, i.e. taxies, city transportation etc.
Cities in Switzerland:
Switzerland has a dense network of cities, where large, medium and small cities are complementary. The plateau is very densely populated with about 450 people per km2 and the landscape continually shows signs of man's presence. The weight of the largest metropolitan areas, which are Zurich, Geneva–Lausanne, Basel and Bern tend to increase. In international comparison the importance of these urban areas is stronger than their number of inhabitants suggests. In addition the two main centers of Zurich and Geneva are recognized for their particular great quality of life.
Switzerland is home to many notable contributors to literature, art, architecture, music and sciences. In addition the country attracted a number of creative persons during time of unrest or war in Europe. Some 1000 museums are distributed through the country; the number has more than tripled since 1950. Among the most important cultural performances held annually are the Lucerne Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival and the Locarno International Film Festival.
Alpine symbolism has played an essential role in shaping the history of the country and the Swiss national identity. Nowadays some concentrated mountain areas have a strong highly energetic ski resort culture in winter, and a hiking (wandering) or Mountain biking culture in summer. Other areas throughout the year have a recreational culture that caters to tourism, yet the quieter seasons are spring and autumn when there are fewer visitors. A traditional farmer and herder culture also predominates in many areas and small farms are omnipresent outside the cities. Folk art is kept alive in organizations all over the country. In Switzerland it is mostly expressed in music, dance, poetry, wood carving and embroidery. The alphorn, a trumpet- like musical instrument made of wood, has become alongside yodeling and the accordion an epitome of traditional Swiss music.
The cuisine of Switzerland is multi-faceted. While some dishes such as fondue, raclette or rösti are omnipresent through the country, each region developed its own gastronomy according to the differences of climate and languages. Traditional Swiss cuisine uses ingredients similar to those in other European countries, as well as unique dairy products and cheeses such as Gruyère or Emmental, produced in the valleys of Gruyères and Emmental. The number of fine-dining establishments is high, particularly in western Switzerland.
Chocolate had been made in Switzerland since the 18th century but it gained its reputation at the end of the 19th century with the invention of modern techniques such as conching and tempering which enabled its production on a high quality level. Also a breakthrough was the invention of milk chocolate in 1875 by Daniel Peter. The Swiss are the world's largest consumers of chocolate.
The most popular alcoholic drink in Switzerland is wine. Switzerland is notable for the variety of grapes grown because of the large variations in terroirs, with their specific mixes of soil, air, altitude and light. Swiss wine is produced mainly in Valais, Vaud (Lavaux), Geneva and Ticino, with a small majority of white wines. Vineyards have been cultivated in Switzerland since the Roman era, even though certain traces can be found of a more ancient origin. The most widespread varieties are the Chasselas (called Fendant in Valais) and Pinot Noir. The Merlot is the main variety produced in Ticino.
Sport in Switzerland:
Skiing, snowboarding and mountaineering are among the most popular sports in Switzerland, the nature of the country being particularly suited for such activities. Winter sports are practiced by the natives and tourists since the second half of the 19th century with the invention of bobsleigh in St. Moritz. The first world ski championships were held in Mürren (1931) and St. Moritz (1934). The latter town hosted the second Winter Olympic Games in 1928 and the fifth edition in 1948. Among the most successful skiers and world champions are Pirmin Zurbriggen and Didier Cuche.
Many Swiss are fans of football and the national team or 'Nati' is widely supported. Switzerland was the joint host, with Austria, of the Euro 2008 tournament. Many Swiss also follow ice hockey and support one of the 12 clubs in the League A. In April 2009, Switzerland hosted the 2009 IIHF World Championship for the 10th time. The numerous lakes make Switzerland an attractive place for sailing. The largest, Lake Geneva, is the home of the sailing team Alinghi which was the first European team to win the America's Cup in 2003 and which successfully defended the title in 2007. Tennis has become increasely popular sport, and Swiss players such as Martina Hingis and Roger Federer have won multiple Grand Slams.
Motorsport racecourses and events were banned in Switzerland following the 1955 Le Mans disaster with exception to events such as Hillclimbing. However, this ban was overturned in June 2007. During this period, the country still produced successful racing drivers such as Clay Regazzoni, Jo Siffert and successful World Touring Car Championship driver Alain Menu. Switzerland also won the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in 2007–08 with driver Neel Jani. Swiss motorcycle racer Thomas Lüthi won the 2005 MotoGP World Championship in the 125cc category.
Traditional sports include Swiss wrestling or "Schwingen". It is an old tradition from the rural central cantons and considered the national sport by some. Hornussen is another indigenous Swiss sport, which is like a cross between baseball and golf. Steinstossen is the Swiss variant of stone put, a competition in throwing a heavy stone. Practiced only among the alpine population since prehistoric times, it is recorded to have taken place in Basel in the 13th century. It is also central to the Unspunnenfest, first held in 1805, with its symbol the 83.5 kg stone named Unspunnenstein.
History of Switzerland:
The English name Switzerland is a compound containing Switzer, an obsolete term for the Swiss, in use during the 16th to 19th centuries. The English adjective Swiss is a loan from French Suisse, also in use since the 16th century. The name Switzer is from the Alemannic Schwiizer, in origin an inhabitant of Schwyz and its associated territory, one of the Waldstätten cantons which formed the nucleus of the Old Swiss Confederacy. The toponym itself is first attested in 972, as Old High German Suittes, ultimately perhaps related to suedan "to burn", referring to the area of forest that was burned and cleared to build. The name was extended to the area dominated by the canton, and after the Swabian War of 1499 gradually came to be used for the entire Confederation.
The Swiss German name of the country, Schwiiz, is homophonous to that of the canton and the settlement, but distinguished by the use of the definite article (d'Schwiiz for the Confederation, but simply Schwiiz for the canton and the town).
The Neo-Latin name Confoederatio Helvetica was introduced gradually after the formation of the federal state in 1848, harking back to the Napoleonic Helvetic Republic, appearing on coins from 1879, inscribed on the Federal Palace in 1902 and after 1948 used in the official seal. It is derived from the name of the Helvetii, a Gaulish tribe living on the Swiss plateau before the Roman era. Helvetia appears as a national personification of the Swiss confederacy in the 17th century, with a 1672 play by Johann Caspar Weissenbach.
Modern history of Switzerland:
Switzerland was not invaded during either of the world wars. During World War I, Switzerland was home to Vladimir Illych Ulyanov (Lenin) and he remained there until 1917. Swiss neutrality was seriously questioned by the Grimm-Hoffmann Affair in 1917, but it was short-lived. In 1920, Switzerland joined the League of Nations, which was based in Geneva, on the condition that it was exempt from any military requirements.
During World War II, detailed invasion plans were drawn up by the Germans, but Switzerland was never attacked. Switzerland was able to remain independent through a combination of military deterrence, concessions to Germany, and good fortune as larger events during the war delayed an invasion. Under General Henri Guisan, a massive mobilisation of militia forces was ordered. The Swiss military strategy was changed from one of static defence at the borders to protect the economic heartland, to one of organised long-term attrition and withdrawal to strong, well-stockpiled positions high in the Alps known as the Reduit. Switzerland was an important base for espionage by both sides in the conflict and often mediated communications between the Axis and Allied powers.
Switzerland's trade was blockaded by both the Allies and by the Axis. Economic cooperation and extension of credit to the Third Reich varied according to the perceived likelihood of invasion and the availability of other trading partners. Concessions reached a peak after a crucial rail link through Vichy France was severed in 1942, leaving Switzerland completely surrounded by the Axis. Over the course of the war, Switzerland interned over 300,000 refugees and the International Red Cross, based in Geneva, played an important part during the conflict. Strict immigration and asylum policies as well as the financial relationships with Nazi Germany raised controversy but not until the end of the 20th century, carrying on to this day with some Swiss banks and entities still refusing to surrender the assets deposited by victims of Nazi persecution.
During the war, the Swiss Air Force engaged aircraft of both sides, shooting down 11 intruding Luftwaffe planes in May and June 1940, then forcing down other intruders after a change of policy following threats from Germany. The fact that the Swiss Air Force consistently beat the Luftwaffe was a recurring embarrassment for Hitler in World War II. The Allies acknowledged this, but the Allied Air Forces also many times intruded Swiss Air Space and made raids on several cities during the War. Over 100 Allied bombers and their crews were interned during the war. During 1944–45, Allied bombers mistakenly bombed a few places in Switzerland, among which were the cities of Schaffhausen, Basel and Zurich.
After the war, the Swiss government exported credits through the charitable fund known as the «Schweizerspende» and also donated to the Marshall Plan to help Europe's recovery, gestures that proved very profitable to the Swiss economy.
Women were granted the right to vote in the first Swiss cantons in 1959, at the federal level in 1971 and, after resistance, in the last canton Appenzell Innerrhoden in 1990. After suffrage at the federal level, women quickly rose in political significance, with the first woman on the seven member Federal Council executive being Elisabeth Kopp, who served from 1984–1989, and the first female president being Ruth Dreifuss in 1999.
Switzerland joined the Council of Europe in 1963. In 1979 areas from the canton of Bern attained independence from the Bernese, forming the new canton of Jura. On 18 April 1999 the Swiss population and the cantons voted in favour of a completely revised federal constitution.
In 2002 Switzerland became a full member of the United Nations, leaving the Vatican as the last widely recognised state without full UN membership. Switzerland is a founding member of the EFTA, but is not a member of the European Economic Area. An application for membership in the European Union was sent in May 1992, but not advanced since the EEA was rejected in December 1992 when Switzerland was the only country to launch a referendum on the EEA. There have since been several referenda on the EU issue; due to a mixed reaction from the population the membership application has been frozen. Nonetheless, Swiss law is gradually being adjusted to conform with that of the EU, and the government has signed a number of bilateral agreements with the European Union. Switzerland, together with Liechtenstein, has been completely surrounded by the EU since Austria's membership in 1995. On 5 June 2005, Swiss voters agreed by a 55% majority to join the Schengen treaty, a result that was regarded by EU commentators as a sign of support by Switzerland, a country that is traditionally perceived as independent and reluctant to enter supranational bodies.