Country Guide – Switzerland

The below guide has been written based on our experiences in Switzerland and will hopefully give you an idea of what it’s like to travel there. However, things do change, so before you set off it’s worth checking for up to date travel information from the Foreign Office website, and the latest driving regulations on the AA website. At the bottom of the guide we’ve added links to our daily updates while we were in Switzerland, so you can live the adventure with us.

So far we have only spent a couple of days in Switzerland,
we’ll add more information when we next visit the country.

General Information

Country – Switzerland
Capital city – Bern, 506 miles from Dover
Currency – Swiss Franc (SFr/CHf) 100 Centimes (French)/Rappen (German) = one Franc
Languages – French, German, Italian, Romansch
Visa requirements – Not part of the EU but visas not required for EU citizens staying less than 3 months.
Borders – Not part of Schengen zone so passports and documentation (V5 or hire agreement and insurance certificate) needed for borders (although we were waved through without showing ours).
Telephone country code – 41
Emergency numbers – 117 Police, 118 Fire, 144 Ambulance

Our visits

May 2012
Duration – 2 days
Route – Drove north along east coast of Lake Maggiore in Italy, then south and across Lake d’Lugano at Lugano, stopping off in Meride then south back into Italy at Como.
Miles driven – 37
Average daily spend – €55.07 – skewed as we were only there two nights and filled up with diesel
Average spend on overnight stops – €17.99 (2 nights on camping cheque site – €15 for camping cheque, €2.99 for local taxes)


1.91CHf (€1.59) was cheaper than in Italy so we took the opportunity to nip across the border and fill up.

Did not fill up with LPG

Eating out
We’ve only spent two days in Switzerland so far and both were on a campsite in the countryside, so we didn’t have the opportunity to eat out.

Supermarkets – supermarket used local store.

  • Loaf of bread 1.80CHf (€1.47)


Unleaded and diesel were widely available with many fuel stations, possibly due to the close proximity of the Italian border.

Tolls / Vignette
Vignette is required for the autobahn, priced around €33 for a year – for vehicles up to 3.5t. We were only in the country for two days so stayed off the motorways so we didn’t buy a vignette or pay any tolls.

Road regulations – the ones we know of!
Traffic drives on the right and overtakes on the left, so you need to ensure your headlights are deflected either with stick on adapters or duct tape. You must carry an emergency triangle and it is recommended that you carry a high visibility jacket for each person, a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher.

You’ll see yellow diamond-shaped signs, these mean that you have priority. If you see one with a black line through it, you no longer have priority, traffic from the right does – this is usually on approaches to roundabouts. Sometimes drivers entering the roundabout have priority, if we’re not entirely sure we just take our time and give way to anyone who looks like they aren’t stopping. Downhill traffic must give way to uphill traffic in mountain areas and on narrow roads heavy traffic has priority – although we never encountered this so are not sure how it works in practice.

Distances are all in kilometres, and so are speed limited. As you enter a town the urban speed limit of 50kph applies, unless otherwise stated, until you are out of the town. Seatbelts must be worn by driver and all passengers in front and rear seats. Studded tyres are allowed between 24 October and 30 April.

Road conditions
We didn’t travel far in Switzerland and the roads we used were of good quality, in often better than those in the UK. When we got into the countryside our satnav managed to take us through some pretty narrow villages, but we made it through going slowly.

Standard of driving
It is difficult to judge the standard of driving as many of the drivers in the area we were in were Italian (see our country guide to Italy!).

Overnight stops

Aires/Service points
We didn’t use any aires or service points.

The campsite we stayed on was in the countryside at Meride and accepted camping cheques. It was a small site with good clean facilities and helpful staff who spoke a bit of English.

Free / wild camping
We did not try to free camp in Switzerland

Contact with home

Our mobile phone generally found a signal in Switzerland, however we had to walk up a hill out of a valley in the countryside. Call charges were around 30p to make and 10p to receive (per minute). Text messages are free to receive and around 10p to send.

We didn’t try to find free wifi hot spots. We had a data allowance with our mobile contract and used this while in the country. This did mean that we had to climb up a hill in order to connect to the network, however once out of the valley we were stopping in the signal was good.

We didn’t use a post office.

Read our daily updates

At the bottom of each daily update there is a link to take you forward to the next day or back to the previous. The links below will take you to the first day of that part of our tour.

Switzerland – May 2012