Tips on Traveling to Switzerland

Switzerland is one of Europe's most beautiful destinations with a variety of activities for everyone. Depending on the time of year, you can hike or ski in the famous Alps, visit the picturesque pastoral villages, boat on the pristine lakes or attend music festivals, all while taking in the modern and ancient architecture.

American citizens and green card holders may enter Switzerland for tourist purposes with a valid passport. If you plan to stay in the country for more than 3 months, you will need a visa and authorization from a canton authority. Temporary workers, business travelers, students and people who wish to reside in Switzerland also need to apply for a visa. The processing time depends on the type of visa. The Swiss embassy recommends that you allow at least one month advance time. Apply in person at the Swiss embassy in Washington DC and regional visa offices in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Peak Seasons

Switzerland has two distinct high seasons for travel, during which time airfares and accommodations have higher prices. The summer high season runs from June through September. This includes the traditionally crowded European summer vacation times in July and August. The winter high season is between December and February. April through May and October are low season months. Switzerland's shoulder season occurs in March and November annually. Visitors should note that small hotels in mountain villages often close during the slower seasons (April, May, October and November). The average summer temperature is 82 degrees Fahrenheit. July and August fall is Switzerland's rainy season. Winter visitors can expect highs of 45 degrees, unless visiting high altitudes.

Getting There

Swiss Airlines serves Switzerland's airports in Geneva and Zurich from major cities in North America. Zurich is the main international airport. Take direct flights to Switzerland from capitals in Germany, France, Austria and Italy. Switzerland is a short train ride from major European capitals, using the Eurail system, and the Swiss railroad offers pocket-friendly option for travel within the country. Consider purchasing a train pass for the best savings.

Carol Luther has more than 25 years of business and technical writing experience and 10 years of experience in international health project management, which includes child survival, youth AIDS and health systems information technology. Luther's work has appeared in "Diamond" magazine and online at Global Progress, Mahalo, Trazzler and Wcities. She has a master's degree in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.