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Facts and Figures
Population: 6,900,000 approx.
National Capital: Berne.
Religions: Roman Catholic (46%), Protestant (40%), Others (14%).
Land Area: 41,293 sq.km (15,942 sq.miles).
North-South 220 km (137 miles). East-West 348 km (216 miles).
23, with 3 of these divided into half cantons.
Dufour Peak in the Monte Rosa massif (Valais) 4634m (15,203ft).
Lowest Point: Lake Maggiore (Ticino) 193 m (633 ft).
Facts and Figures
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Banking and Business Hours
Swiss Transfer Card
Swiss Family Pass
Fly-Rail Baggage Service
More about Switzerland
Languages in Switzerland
Many Swiss speak several languages. The national languages are German (central and north-eastern Switzerland), French (western Switzerland), Italian (southern Switzerland) and Rhaeto-Romanic (south-eastern Switzerland).
Banks are usually open to the public from Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm (closed on Saturday, Sunday, public holidays). In larger cities and in shopping centres, shops are generally open from 9am to 8pm on weekdays and from 9am to 4pm on Saturdays (closed on Sundays everywhere, except at airports, some railway stations and motorway stops).
Switzerland is undoubtedly one of the most scenic countries in Europe. The Swiss Travel System provides convenient and coordinated travel on all public transport in major cities, local postal buses servicing regional areas and boat trips on the lakes. Discounts are also provided on many of the privately-owned mountain railways and cable cars as well as the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne. The two main airports, Zurich and Geneva, each have their own railway stations with regular connections to all major destinations throughout Switzerland.
This pass offers unlimited travel on the entire network of the Swiss Travel System, including the Swiss General Railways, most private railways, lake steamers, postal buses and the urban transit system in most cities. The Swiss Pass for 4, 8, 15, 22 days or 1 month, in first or second class, can be purchased through Switzerland Holidays with any holiday booking or purchase of Swiss accommodation, before departure from Australia
Travel to or from your destination and get 25% or 50% off additional journeys. The Swiss Card entitiles you to a return ticket from any station or airport, travelling for one full day to your destination and one full day back, within a one month period. As a Swiss card holder, you are entitled to 25% to 50% reduction on all other tickets (railroad, boat, postal bus services, and many privately-owned mountain trains).
Valid for one inbound rail journey from any Swiss airport or border rail station to any single Swiss Destination, and for one outbound journey from any single Swiss destination to any Swiss border or airport station. Each journey must be completed in a calendar day. Stopovers are allowed during the journey.
Parents purchasing the Swiss Card or any other pass may take their accompanying children up to 15 years of age FREE of charge on all system network services.
Important: Family Pass must be requested at the time of booking.
Children age 6 to 15 years inclusive, not travelling with their parents, pay 50% of the adult rate for all passes (excluding Swiss card first-class: 60% of adult fare).
No youth fares are available.
Swiss Federal Railroads (SBB/CFF) and Swiss International Air Lines offer a unique baggage service for air travellers in and out of Switzerland. Check your baggage through to one of 115 Swiss rail stations from any airport in the world, and reverse applies. Better still, at 24 Swiss rail stations, you can fully check-in for your flight before you depart for the airport.
Temperatures in Switzerland generally do not reach extremes of hot or cold. In the cities, summer temperatures seldom rise above 30°C and the humidity is fairly moderate. In winter, temperatures in the north and in the mountains often fall below 0°C, accompanied by snow and ice.
Any country can be called from private or public telephones by using phone cards. To find a number in Switzerland, check the phone book or dial 111. For any other country call 1159, except Austria (1151), Germany (1152), France (1153), Italy (1154). Dial 114 to connect with the international operator. Australia's country code is 61.
Service charges are included in the price, but a small additional tip to round off the amount is customary, though by no means compulsory, in restaurants, taxi, etc. Porters in hotels: 1 or 2 francs per item of luggage. No tipping of ushers is expected in theatres or cinemas.
Top Places in SwitzerlandInterlaken
Interlaken, meaning ‘between the lakes’, is the tourist capital of the Bernese Oberland. As a popular holiday spot it is superbly situated between the lakes of Thun and Brienz, offering a variety of water-based activities during summer, and access to an endless amount of winter sports in the surrounding mountains of the Bernese Alps and its valleys.
Set on the northwestern end of Lake Luzern and surrounded by mountain views, Lucerne is split by the River Reuss. On either side of the river lie atmospheric medieval squares, cobbled alleys, quaint frescoed houses, churches and public buildings. Surprisingly the historic setting attracts many young people, who ensure that nightlife is a lively affair. Just outside the city limits the attractions of every Swiss picture postcard beckon, from alpine villages to meadows where lazy cows toll their bells with the backdrop of snow-covered mountains. There is plenty to enjoy in this tourist city, from taking out a pedalo on the lake, to posing for photographs on the famous wooden Chapel Bridge, exploring museums and admiring the sad Lion Monument carved into a natural rock wall.
Lugano, the largest town in the holiday region of Ticino, is not only Switzerland’s third most important financial centre and a conference, banking and business centre, but also a town of parks and flowers, villas and sacred buildings. With Mediterranean flair, Lugano offers all the advantages of a world-class city, combined with the cachet of a small town.
St. Moritz is the original Swiss winter resort, an extravagantly fashionable mountain resort world famous for its skiing, fantastic scenery and the social life. Consisting of two villages, St. Moritz-Bad on the lake and St. Moritz-Dorf on the hillside above, its romantic setting in the wildly beautiful corner of the southeastern Swiss Alps is a combination of forests, mountain and lake. It is also the beginning of a fantastic rail journey with the Glacier Express.
The charming town of Zermatt is Switzerland’s best-known ski esort. Nestled on a high plateau, it sits at the foot of the highest and most photographed peak in the country, the Matterhorn at 4,478m. The resort is a picturesque old mountain village with Swiss-style chalets. Zermatt is a world without cars. Electric-cars and horse-drawn sleighs and carriages are the only transport allowed.
Set beneath snow-clad peaks on the shores of a glittering lake, Zurich is the global financial centre of Switzerland and the world's banking capital. The exacting order of the Swiss, with their passion for neatness and precision may create an impression of rather a prim and staid society, but visitors will discover quite the opposite when exploring Zurich's nightlife which has multitudes of bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as a calendar full of street parades and festivals.