Prepaid GSM
Getting around


Map of trip to Switzerland

13.8: Lyon -> Geneva
14.8: Geneva
15.8: Geneva -> Zurich
16.8: Zurich
17.8: Zurich -> Liechtenstein -> Munich

Overview and overall impression
Somehow Switzerland is different from other European countries. The Swiss have their own style, their own architecture, their own way of organising things. Not being an EU member means that they are not involved in the EU wide harmonisation process.

I had the impression that Switzerland is not as modern as the other European countries. They used to be on a pretty high standard, but it seems that the Swiss have kind of missed the modernisation wave which swept through the EU over the past years. To make some examples, the infrastructure in Switzerland is aging. Motorways are not up to the standards of an advanced European country, streets in the cities are confusing.

There was a large number of Arab tourists in Geneva. Nowhere else in Europe have I seen such a concentration of tourist of Middle Eastern countries. The city must be very popular with Arab tourists. It feels like Dubai.

Switzerland is more expensive than other European countries, but not too expensive. The Etap hotels where we stayed cost 100 CHF (=60 Euro) vs. 40-48 Euro in France. The price of food in restaurants is on the same level or slightly higher priced than food in France or Germany (but of course in Geneva you should avoid the lakeside area, where restaurants are 2-3 times as expensive as elsewhere. The lakeside area of Geneva is a luxury area, with five star hotels, expensive restaurants and lots of luxury goods shops. Prices for supermarkets are probably on the same level as in Munich, although we didn't compare exactly. Petrol is substantially cheaper (1.17 Euro vs. 1.50 Euro) than in neighbouring countries, probably because the tax on petrol is lower.

We ate mostly in unconventional places (twice in the restaurant of the Migros supermarket, once in a McDonalds restaurants, once in a Chinese restaurant etc.), so can't really comment on the Swiss cuisine. The restaurant of the Migros supermarket is good value and offers a large choice of meals at very reasonable prices. The Swiss cuisine seems to be influenced to a certain extent by the French.

Hotels in Switzerland are not cheap if you travel with two small children, as you need a larger room and not all hotels allow you to stay in a room with two children. We stayed in Etap hotels (100 CHF = 60 Euro/night), where you can stay in one room with two small children below the age of 12. Overall hotels in Switzerland are more expensive than in other European countries.

Money  / Exchange rate (August 2008)
1 Euro = 1.67 CHF
For current exchange rates check the Universal Currency Converter.

I withdrew cash with an ATM card from ATMs.

Mobile phones and prepaid cards
Due to new EU-wide regulations the cost of roaming has substantially decreased over the past year. Making international calls (to another European country) and receiving calls when roaming is now not too expensive. For this reason and due to the short duration of our stay in Switzerland we didn't buy Swiss prepaid cards.

Internet access
I didn't see any Internet cafes in either Geneva or Zurich. To check my mails I bought airtime in a Swisscom WLAN hotspot and used the GSM data services of my mobile phone. McDonalds restaurants in Switzerland offer WLAN access.


Quite fresh and a mix of overcast days and rain and sunny days while we were in Switzerland. We only had one nice sunny day.

Health / Vaccinations
None required for Switzerland.

VISA / Entry requirements
None required for visitors of developed countries (EU, USA, Canada etc.).

No issues here.


Getting around
We travelled across Switzerland by car. Getting around by car in Geneva and Zurich is a bit confusing, because there are everywhere lanes dedicated to buses and these are not well marked. However getting around by car in Zurich and Geneva is a viable option, as these cities are not too big and parkings are available.

The motorways are toll-free but you must purchase a vignette. Motorways are not that good, as they have mostly only two lanes each way (in Germany most motorways have three lanes per direction). Heavy traffic jam on the motorway between Bern and Zurich while we drive there.

Copyright 2008 Alfred Molon