Located in central Europe, Switzerland is home to part of the Alps as well as many
different ethnic groups and official languages. Germans make up the majority at
65% of the population, while French and Italians make up 18% and 10%, respectively.
A trip to Switzerland is like traveling to Germany, Italy, and France without leaving
the country! For example, at lunchtime you can indulge in wiener schnitzel and beer
at a German-owned biergarten, and for dinner you have the option of enjoying fine
Italian merlot with pasta at a granite grotto. Also, Switzerland is known as a summer
and winter sports paradise, with Alpine peaks reaching more than 13,123 feet (4,000m)
and many picturesque lakes that are conducive for outdoor activities.
Although South Africa has made great strides in the last 20 years, there is still
abject poverty, racial stratification, high occurrences of HIV/AIDS, and crime.
Despite what news reports say, the majority of tourists leave the country with no
problems, however if you are traveling to South Africa (especially Johannesburg)
stay alert and use your common sense. Note that scams are usually performed by friendly,
well-dressed men and the most popular scam is the ATM hoax, which involves the thief
tampering with the machine so that your card gets jammed. Once you have realized
this, you have already entered your pin number in which the thief has taken note
of. When you enter the bank to report that your card has been eaten by the machine,
the thief will take your card along with the money in your account. So choose the
ATM that you will use carefully and avoid using them at night or in desolate locations.
Switzerland Medical Tourism Fame
There is one Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited hospital in Switzerland
located in Locarno. However, there are other major private hospitals located in
Lausanne, Berne, and Geneva. Although, prices in Switzerland are not as cheap as
other destinations, it is home to world famous cosmetic surgeons (also known as
artists) and is quickly becoming a popular place for medical tourism due to its
personalized care and world famous medical spas that are conducive to the healing
Popular procedures sought by medical tourists are medical spa treatments, cosmetic
surgery, IVF treatment, neurosurgery, obesity surgery, and orthopedic surgery. However,
Swiss hospitals also offer many other procedures including dentistry, laser eye
surgery, and laser hair removal.
The official languages of Switzerland are German, French, Romansch, and Italian,
however English is widely understood, especially in major cities.
Most of Switzerland (except for the mountainous and southern regions, which have
a colder climate and hotter Mediterranean temperatures, respectively) has a central
European climate, with summer daytime temperatures between 64.4oF and 82.4oF (18oC
and 28oC) and winter daytime temperatures between 28.4oF and 44.6oF (-2oC and 7oC).
Visa / Entrance Requirements
U.S. and Canadian citizens do not require a visa for stays up to 90 days; however
a valid passport is required. Also, you must carry identification with you at all
times during your stay in Switzerland.
Airlines Servicing this Destination
Switzerland has many airports, but the ones most pertinent to medical tourists are:
- Zurich-Zurich/Kloten Airport (ZRH)
- Geneva (also closest to Lausanne)-Geneva Cointrin International Airport (GVA)
- Berne-Berne/Belp Airport (BRN)
- Agno-Lugano Airport (40 km from Locarno) (LUG)
The following airlines have flights to Switzerland:
Swiss International Airlines
- British Airways
- Air France
- Air Canada
- Air Berlin
- US Airways
- Jet Airways
- LOT Polish Airlines
- American Airlines
A room in a budget hotel or hostel usually costs $40 to $80 USD (per person) per
night. A room in a 3 star hotel starts at $100 USD per night for a double occupancy
room and can be as high as $250 USD. There are many high-end, highly rated 5 star
hotels scattered throughout Switzerland. From lakefront to posh city dwellings,
there is a vast selection of rooms available starting at $160 USD (for smaller village
locales) and $475 USD (for larger cities).
The currency of Switzerland is the Franc (CHF).
The exchange rate of U.S. dollars to Swiss francs is $1 USD to 1.08 CHF (exchange
rate subject to change).
The international access code for Switzerland is 41.
Below are important area codes for Switzerland:
- Berne: 31
- Geneva: 22
- Lausanne: 21
- Locarno: 91
- Zurich: 43, 44
In order to call Switzerland from the U.S. or Canada you must dial 011 (exit code),
then 41 (country code for Switzerland), then the area code (two digits), and then
the phone number (seven digits).
To call a cell phone in Switzerland from the U.S. or Canada you must dial 011 +
41 + area code (two digits starting with the number seven) + phone number (seven
In order to call the U.S. or Canada from Switzerland you must dial 001 + 1 + area
code + phone number.
Cyber-cafes are widely available in major cities and towns. Many hotels and private
hospitals throughout the country offer Broadband Internet connection.
Emergency Telephone Numbers
U.S. Embassy in Berne: (31)357-7011; emergency: (31)357-7218/7777. Calling from
within Switzerland: (031)357-7011; emergency: (031)357-7218/7777.
Outdoor activities change depending on the season. The winter season of Alpine resorts
begins in mid-December and closes down in mid-April when the snow melts. Summer
lasts from June to September and many adventure sports such as canoeing are only
offered during this time. Be aware that July and August is the high season in which
prices are at their highest and accommodations are often fully booked.
Geneva is one of Europe’s most pricey cities, but what you will receive in return
is an amalgamation of urban sleekness and a city rife with governmental establishments
such as The Red Cross, The United Nations, and The World Health Organization. Geneva
is also on the shores of the largest Alpine lake in Europe: Lake Geneva. The city
of Lausanne is also on the coast of Lake Geneva and both cities offer picturesque
rooms-with-a-view and boat rides for tourists. In Geneva, the highly rate open-air
cinema: Cinelac offers patrons a rare chance to watch a movie against the backdrop
of the legendary lake.
The city of Berne is home to a medieval town center that is also a World Heritage
Site, and the city of Lausanne is home to the (arguably) finest church in Switzerland:
The Cathedral of Notre Dame. Another popular site in Lausanne is the Castle St.
Maire that once housed the bishops of Lausanne.
The city of Locarno is located close to the Italian border at the northern tip of
Lake Maggiore and is close to the foot of the Alps. It has the mildest climate in
Switzerland with 2,300 hours of sunshine every year. Film buffs will enjoy the famous
Locarno International Film Festival that is held annually. For a magnificent view
of the city, go to the Madonna del Sasso Sanctuary, and for a trip to medieval times,
check out the 12th century castle: Castello Visconteo.
A trip to Switzerland is not complete until you purchase the world famous Swiss
Army knife for yourself or as a gift. The basic model is usually around $14 USD,
while the Cyber Tool XL model will cost you a whopping $162 USD. Although Switzerland
is a comparatively pricey country and is popular for luxury goods, Swatch Shops
offer quality goods such as watches and fashion jewelry at a reasonable price. For
chocolate fiends, Swiss chocolates are (arguably) the best in the world and you
can find them everywhere is Switzerland, however Migros and Coop stores offer a
range of varieties at competitive prices.
Nightlife and the Arts
Nightlife in Geneva usually caters to the visiting business crowd and wealthy locals
with limited bands and visiting DJ’s. As a result many head to Lausanne for their
club experience, but what Geneva lacks in the club scene, it definitely makes up
for in classical music performances, dance performances, and operas in which a visit
to the Grand Theater of Geneva is a must. Some orchestras divide its time between
Geneva and Lausanne and the annual arts festival, which is held in early August
on the Geneva waterfront, offers a range of music, theater, and street entertainment.
Like Geneva, Lausanne has many theaters and operas, and is home to the world famous
Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne and the Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne.
Bern, like Lausanne, has a rich nightlife with neighborhood bars and pubs being
the popular spots for tourists and natives alike. Also, Berne’s theater and musical
landscapes are impressive. Popular spots include the Berne Puppet Theater, the Dampfzentrale,
the Katakombli Cellar Theater, and the Narrenpack Theater. Also, the Berner Kammerorchester
and the Camerata Berne are popular orchestras.
Switzerland has many museums, but the most popular ones are the Kunstmuseum (Fine
Arts) of Berne, Le Musée d’Art et d’Histoire (Art and History Museum) of Geneva,
the Rietberg Museum of Zurich (art), and the Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum)
There are a few English language print and online newspapers in Switzerland including
the BBC News, Basler Zeitung, and the Swisster.
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