St. Bernard - icon of Swiss mountain rescue
© AA Photo Library
Keep more money available than you think you will need; cash seems to be spent alarmingly fast throughout Switzerland. Credit cards are widely accepted.
Although most Swiss are excellent linguists, it's polite to ask if they speak English before starting a conversation or asking a question.
Be polite to everyone - bitte, prego or je vous en prie is the equivalent of “you're welcome,” and it's important to use one of these expressions when you're thanked. When you use public transportation, it's customary to give up your seat for elderly people, pregnant women and people with disabilities.
Be punctual; if you're likely to be arriving later than planned at your hotel, let them know you've been held up.
It is considered rude to eat or drink on the street. If you purchase food to go, find somewhere to sit down and eat it.
Don't drop litter; it is a finable offense. When getting rid of trash, make sure you put it in the compartment designated for that particular type of waste.
Although informality is the norm in active, health-conscious Switzerland, very casual clothing - such as beachwear - isn't usually seen in cities.
There is no state medical health service in Switzerland; treatment must be paid for on the spot. Therefore, it is very important to carry medical travel insurance valid in Switzerland. Many drugs can be bought over the counter. If you need a prescription drug, the prescription must be written by a Swiss doctor.
In large towns and cities, stores are often closed on Monday mornings. Museums are usually closed on Mondays.
Always cross the street at designated crossings, and wait for the green man symbol.
Each canton and community is responsible for its own laws and law enforcement. The police uniform differs widely from place to place, as do local bylaws. Respect authority at all times, even if you see no point in what you are being requested to do.
Use the superbly efficient public transportation system rather than the inordinately expensive taxis.
You'll save money by eating and drinking in smaller establishments away from the more upscale areas.
There is no need to tip in Switzerland; a service charge is automatically added to all bills.