Our trip to Switzerland – Tips and Ideas
This September I took a trip to Switzerland with my daughter and my partner, and it was great! All the wonderful things that you’ve probably heard about it are true, and then some! If you’ve been you’ll know what a wonderful place it is, and if you’re yet to go you’re in for a treat! Switzerland offers a great mixture of cities, beautiful mountains, picturesque villages, lakes and vineyards – in all, a grandiose package.
On a trip that lasted four days, we managed to visit Geneva, Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux and Gruyeres.
The weather was amazing for mid-September – it was sunny and perfect for t-shirts and light clothing, and although it got chillier in the evenings it wasn’t something a jacket couldn’t deal with.
So, it was a great experience – but there are a few things we wish we’d known before we went. All the travelzines, blogs and websites do a great job of describing where to go and what to look for, but there were things that nobody warned us about – like the prices of taxis, for example. If you are going to visit on a budget, I would wholeheartedly suggest that you avoid using taxis!
Another thing that few foreigners realise is how dog-friendly Switzerland actually is. We didn’t bring a dog along but were pleasantly surprised by just how widely accepted the man’s best friend is around there. We found dog owners almost everywhere – from the hotels and restaurants to the smaller shops and stores. So, if you are someone who enjoys travelling with their pet, you can rest assured that both of you will be well accepted there!
Transport options for your trip to Switzerland
Switzerland offers a lot of convenient ways to travel and get around, some of which are more accessible than others.
The public transport system is very well designed with metro cars and buses that are quite spacious and rarely crowded, even at peak times. There’s a plethora of trains available for travelling between distant in-country locations, some of which are as frequent as every ten minutes. And as far as in-city transportation goes, metro cars arrive in 2 to 5-minute windows.
Landing at Geneva airport we took a taxi to Lausanne, which ended up costing us about 240 franks. In hindsight, I wish we’d done our research beforehand!
On our way out, though, we opted for a train. The Lausanne Gare (the Lausanne railway station) has a direct train to Geneva airport and the non-stop trip takes about 40 minutes. Not only is this a much more affordable option, it also allows you to enjoy the picturesque countryside in peace. There’s just something special about trains
In Switzerland, the ticket prices go toward the pay of railway staff and there are hefty fines for those who try to cheat their way to their destination. If you are to get caught without a ticket, you will be immediately fined for 100CHF, with repeat offences significantly increasing the fine amount.
Hiring a car is also an option. For our vehicle hire, we used Aloc cars. The owner was very outgoing and helpful, giving us ideas on what we should visit and instructing us on some of the finer points of the country’s etiquette.
We stayed at Chateau d’Ouchy – a simply brilliant location, with quick metro and bus access. The metro station was merely 2 minutes away, and the bus stop was right outside. On top of that, the hotel provided us with free bus and metro passes for our stay. And although we had to pay taxes on departure, it was well worth it! For a rough guide to Switzerland, I’d recommend reading this book.
Geneva Train Station
Places to visit in your trip to Switzerland
We kicked off our vacation with a walk around Lausanne, taking in the local sights. Then, we hopped on a sightseeing bus and visited the old town and the local chocolate and cheese factories before heading off to Gruyeres, Vevey and Montreux. We had breakfast every morning at Fleur bakery in Lausanne right next to Château d’Ouchy, where the owner was very kind and friendly. Their chocolate croissants are to die for, and the fresh orange juice and lattes are just amazing!
With all of this in mind, I’d recommend you do the following things for your trip to Switzerland:
- Get on a train from the airport station – not only is it much more budget-friendly, but you also get to enjoy the view!
- Have a walk around Lausanne – take your time and have a look around. There’s great architecture and everything is clean, neat and tidy. An overall blast to walk around!
- Visit the old town – if you thought the modern buildings are beautiful, you’re in for a treat! The old town is a sight to behold and will allow you to experience that peculiar, nostalgic feeling of a bygone age.
- Definitely visit the Cailler & Nestle chocolate factory and La Maison du Gruyere cheese factory – if you’re a chocolate lover (and let’s be honest here – who isn’t?), you’ll definitely love your visit. They offer free samples of all kinds of chocolates for you to try and you can also sit down at a café or restaurant and order some delicious treats!
- Go shopping – if your budget allows it, Switzerland offers a wide variety of brand stores and shops with high-quality products, from Gucci, Hermes, Prada and Louis Vuitton, to high street fashion – Zara, Mango, Bershka and more.
If you aren’t careful, you might end up spending a lot of money, but with smart planning, the entire trip can also be enjoyed on a budget as well. Luckily, I found a very useful travel guide for Switzerland on Amazon – check it out here.
Cailler & Nestle Chocolate Factory
La Maison du Gruyere Cheese Factory
The environment in Switzerland
The Swiss take outstanding care of the environment in their country. Not only are the towns all well taken cared for, but the surrounding areas we passed through were also all immaculate as well. Everything is just so green and tidy – and even the public toilets were spotless!
A trip to Switzerland
- Picturesque views – both the towns and countryside and marvellous
- Happy animals – with everything so well taken care of, it’s no wonder that even their farm animals are very happy! We passed by multiple cowherds on the pastures between towns.
- Cats, cats, cats! Cats everywhere! If you think Switzerland is dog-friendly, wait until you see the cats! They were simply everywhere – on every field with a cowherd, there was always a cat!
Words of wisdom about for your trip to Switzerland
I can’t stress just how important doing your own research is. Make sure to read up on as much information as you can about the places you plan to visit. Or, if you’re still undecided on where exactly you’d like to go while you’re in Switzerland, look into the different towns, villages and exciting tourist locations.
But whatever you do, don’t leave without a plan. Decide everything before booking your flight or you’ll risk wasting precious time instead of enjoying yourself!
Oh, and as always with vacations abroad – bring a map! If you end up getting lost, you can always use the map app on your phone or ask the helpful locals for directions, but being prepared never hurts and a map will also offer you ideas on sights to see. Have fun and happy trip-planning!
I recently took a trip to China as well. If you’re planning to have a trip to China, you should definitely look into it.
Have you ever been on a trip to Switzerland? Which places did you enjoy the most? Do you think we missed out on anything important? Leave your thoughts, ideas and tips in the comments below!