Switzerland Holiday

A Comprehensive Guide for Families Travelling to Switzerland

Ah, Switzerland! Where do we even begin? Cathedrals, old towns with chateaus, fresh mountain air, and the best chocolates in the world! It is the perfect destination for a vacation with the whole family. With a world-class rail system, you can forget about driving and just enjoy the spectacular vistas and the myriad of activities and attractions. This comprehensive guide is meant to help families make the best of their time in the country.

The Country and the People

Approximately 8 million people call Switzerland home and the country embraces multilingualism and a high proportion of foreigners who call the country home. Almost a quarter of the country’s population does not have a Swiss passport and the country’s average age is increasing as people are living longer but are having fewer children.

Languages

Four languages are spoken in the country and a wealth of other dialects. German is by far the most widely spoken with more than half of the country’s population speaking it. 19 of the country’s cantons are predominantly German-speaking.

French is mostly spoken in the country’s western part, also known as the Suisse Romande. There are four French-speaking cantons. Italian is widely spoken in the southern valleys and Rhaeto-Rumantsch is spoken in the sole trilingual canton, with German and Italian being the other two languages. The foreigners who live in the country have brought their native languages to the land.

Religion

The majority of the people in the country are Christians and the two most predominant religions are Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, accounting for almost 70% of the population. Other religions represented in Switzerland are Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism.

Economy

The country’s economy relies on highly-qualified labour performing highly-skilled work. The main industries include pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, banking, and insurance. Most workers in the country are employed by small and medium enterprises which have a vital role in the country’s economy.

Geography

Switzerland has an area of 41, 285 square kilometres and the three main geographical regions of the country are the Alps, the Jura, and the Plateau. The Alps cover more than 50% of the country, followed by the Central Plateau with a little over 30%, and the Jura with 11%.

Switzerland has approximately 1,500 lakes and together with different bodies of water, they make up 4% of the country’s surface area. The country holds 6% of Europe’s freshwater reserves too.

The People

Switzerland is a country known for neutrality, sophisticated tools, and excellent culinary fare, but let’s get to know the people better.

Respectful

The Swiss are known to respect orderliness and rules. They are serious about cleanliness and as much as possible, they avoid pollution. They respect neighbours so it’s uncommon to hear of activities that disrupt other people’s rest. The Swiss are also not afraid to call out people who deviate from social norms and guidelines.

Punctual

The Swiss value their time and for them being late for appointments mean disrespect. Apart from the people, the country’s trains are never late. It is not acceptable to be more than 5 minutes late for an appointment and if you are running late, you should notify the other party.

Private

The Swiss usually keep to themselves because they respect privacy and they can come off as stand-offish and cold to foreigners. Those who live in the big cities are usually in a hurry and are more business-oriented so they hardly have time for chats. However, the difference is noticeable when it comes to people from the countryside as they tend to be more welcoming and amiable.

Generally, it takes time to break barriers and become good friends with the Swiss. It is considered rude to stand too close to someone. During a conversation, aim to stand at least an arm’s length apart.

Multilingual

As mentioned previously, Switzerland is a diverse nation, so it follows that most of the country’s citizens speak more than a single language.

Educated

The Swiss education system is considered one of the best in the world and it ranks among the top ten in educational standards. Switzerland has some of the best and also most expensive private schools in the world. As such, the country’s citizens are highly-educated and the majority of students complete 11 years of mandatory education.

Finally, a few tips to keep in mind when interacting with the Swiss is that professional and academic titles are frequently used so remember to address them in this way. Refrain from talking too loudly on your mobile phone when queuing, in public transportation, or restaurants.

A Few More Tips for Your Trip to Switzerland

Here we have a few more tips for your trip to Switzerland that will make your time in the country comfortable and something that you will remember with fond memories.

Request for a special menu for children

If you’re travelling on Swiss Airlines, you should ask for a special children’s menu at least 24 hours before your flight. You can bring baby food and just ask the staff to help warm it to the appropriate temperature.

In addition, you should arrange for a few necessities such as a bottle warmer, crib, and a car seat. Note that car seats are mandatory for children who are 7 years old and younger.

Take a pram with you

Prams are especially helpful for families with toddlers who can’t or don’t have the energy for very long walks. The majority of places and attractions in the cities have wheelchair access, so they are pram-friendly too. Make sure that you look for the wheelchair/differently abled sign in trains, coaches, and attractions and follow directions.

Family services area

Zurich airport has an excellent family services area. There’s a playroom for children as well as other facilities including restrooms for families, changing tables, and even a microwave oven for heating food!

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