Switzerland is a major tourist destination. It is one of the cleanest and safest places on the European continent. In addition to French and German, English is widely spoken. The public transport network is extensive, reliable and runs on a dense schedule of service connections. Even without a rental car, your travel experience in Switzerland is likely to be a pleasant one.
Below, you will find some important points and useful information:
- Transfer from Zurich Airport: Proceed to the airport’s railway station beneath Terminal 3. Located at the top of the escalator to the platform are ticket-vending machines – buy a one-way fare to Zurich-Oerlikon (about 6.50 CHF one way). Check the overhead displays for the next connection stopping in Oerlikon, and proceed to the respective track. Take any train of lines S2 and S16 or an IR train (caution: commuter trains also run in the opposite direction, so check the display to make sure the train you pick is going toward Oerlikon and Zurich).
- Transfer by cab: You will find taxi cabs waiting outside the Arrivals terminal at any time. Take the first cab in line and just give the driver your hotel address. The fare for the ten-minute ride will be 35 to 45 CHF, with all fees and tip already included.
- Transfer from Zurich Central Railway Station: There are various service connections between Zurich’s Central Railway Station (Hauptbahnhof) to Zurich-Oerlikon. Please inquire at the ticket counter or at the information booth at the head of the tracks.
- Currency is the Swiss Franc (1 CHF is roughly equivalent to 1 US-Dollar). Zurich stores and restaurants will also accept payment in Euro (1 Euro is roughly equivalent to slightly more than 1.25 CHF). However, we do not recommend paying in Euro, as exchange rates are unfavourable. Major credit cards are accepted anywhere. You will find ATMs for cash withdrawals anywhere in town. Traveller checks can be cashed at any bank and most of the hotels, as well as at the airport and all SBB railway stations.
- Prices can be high and are usually non-negotiable. Then again, they already include the added value tax (VAT) and possible other fees. So nothing should be added. Please note that prices at restaurants and bars already include a 15 percent tip (service charge), so you need not pay tips (though the Swiss will not ask for their change up to the next full-Franc amount). Switzerland does not have a tip culture like Anglophone or southern European countries.
- Please inquire about visa regulations for your country. Generally, a visa is only necessary for stays exceeding 3 months.
- There are no vaccinations required for Switzerland. There are no known health hazards. And tap water is not just potable, but actually quite tasty.
- In case of an accident or serious health problems, please dial 144. Emergency service will speak English. To call the police, dial 117.
- Line voltage is 230 Volts AC with a frequency of 50 Hertz. You may need an international adapter to operate electric devices.
- Internet in your hotel may be pricy. In Switzerland, every McDonald's restaurant has a free W-LAN zone (you do need, however, a cell phone to receive the access code via text message). There is a McDonald's right across from the congress hotel’s entrance.
- Switzerland has four distinct seasons. Summertime starts in June, with temperatures around 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) and a pleasant humidity level.
- Swiss time zone: CET, which is GMT + 1 (Switzerland does have a daylight saving time). Time differences: Sydney: + 9 h, Tokyo: + 7 h (in summer), New York: – 6 h, Chicago: – 8 h.
- Zurich has an outstanding public transportation network. The S-Bahn (urban mass transit system) serves the Zurich region with trains running frequently, while buses and trams circulate every few minutes within the city limits. Boats on Lake Zurich provide round-trip service to special destinations.
- For any public transport service in the greater Zurich area, you buy time-based tickets (valid for 30 minutes, 1 hour or 24 hours). If you take two rides or more on a given day it will already be cheaper to buy the 24-hour pass. You can get the tickets conveniently at ticket-vending machines at tram stops and railway stations. The touch screen user interface is in English, French, Italian, German. You may also be able to buy public transport passes at your hotel reception. A Swiss Travel System pass will be good for unlimited travel on a network of more than 12,000 miles served by trains, buses and boats. For details, please visit the website of Zurich Tourism: www.zuerich.com.
- The official congress hotel, Zurich Swissôtel, is situated in Zurich’s Oerlikon district. The distance between Zurich Airport and Oerlikon is 5.7 km or a 5 minute ride. Take any train of lines S2 and S16 or an IR train (taxi cabs will cost 35 to 45 CHF for the 10-minute ride.)
- The distance between Zurich’s Central Railway Station (Hauptbahnhof) and Oerlikon is 5 km or a 7 minute ride by train (take any train of the lines S2, S5, S6, S8, S14, S16, or an IR train (taxi cabs will cost 30 to 40 CHF for the 15-minute ride).
- Taxi cabs in Zurich are notoriously expensive and usually driven by immigrants who may or may not speak English. As often as not (especially during rush hour), the tram will get you there faster. However, tram service stops shortly after midnight. You can call a cab free of charge to anywhere in the city by dialling (044-222-22-22 or 044-444-44-44 or 044-777-77-77). They will not turn on the meter until you actually get in. Do not pay more than what the meter says, all fees and tips are included.
- For your postal needs, ask at your hotel reception about its postal service. Alternatively, use the Swiss post office near the congress hotel.
- As far as dress code goes, Zurich is a cosmopolitan city, open to all sorts of fashion trends and life styles. Locals dress up in the evening or for cultural events, but favour a bohemian style in the trendy western districts of Zurich.
- The city is one of the safest in Europe. Still, beware of pickpockets in public transportation or stores. After midnight, certain neighbourhoods are frequented by young revellers you may want to avoid.
General Information on Switzerland
The “Confoederatio Helvetica” (Switzerland’s official name) lies in the heart of Europe.
It is famous for the Alps, whose peaks rise to 4,650 meters (15'000 feet) and more, among them the famous Eiger, Jungfrau and Matterhorn.
Its lovely lowlands with their green hills and blue lakes are just as beautiful.
The country is small in size (41,000 square kilometres or 15,800 square miles, comparable to the Netherlands or Denmark) and divides into 26 “cantons.”
Together, the cantons make up the Federation of Switzerland. They are represented by delegates to the Parliament in the Swiss capital Bern. The government is made up of a multi-party coalition of seven ministers, with the cabinet presidency rotating annually.
Switzerland is a so-called “direct democracy.” Citizens have their say on nearly anything. Frequent referendums on anything from tax hikes to air defence call citizens to the polls every other week. The Swiss take pride in having opted out of joining the European Union.
The multi-ethinic nature of Switzerland shows in the number of languages spoken here. There are four official languages alone: German (native tongue of 70 percent of the population), French (30 percent), Italian (9 percent) and Rumansh (1 per cent).
Zurich, the city hosting the 2012 World Congress, is located in the German part and represents the country’s economic powerhouse, not least because of its financial industry.
Notwithstanding its small size, Switzerland is a major economic power. It is considered one of the richest countries in the world, and the inflated price level suggests as much. The Swiss Franc is one of the most stable currencies anywhere.
Switzerland is a clean and safe place. It has one of the lower crime rates in Europe. Landlocked in the European heartland, it is also quite international in character. In cities like Geneva or Zurich, every other person you see in the streets will be a foreign national. The booming economy has led to a significant rate of immigration, nowadays mainly from surrounding European Union countries. There are eight million people living in Switzerland, about one million of them in the greater Zurich area.
The climate is defined by the Atlantic Ocean and the Alps, with a high level of precipitation. Of its four distinctive seasons, late spring and early summer are considered the nicest time of year. You will get an average temperature of 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) and eight hours of sunshine during that time – unless it is raining. The months between June and September are the best time to travel in Switzerland, especially if you are into mountaineering and alpine hiking, whereas there is no better place to spend the wintertime than the country’s alpine ski resorts.
Indeed, tourism is a major economic factor in Switzerland. You will find an amazing cultural diversity and breathtaking sights in any part of the country, any time of year. With its impressive scenery of mountains and lakes, its efficient public transport system, its rich culture and famous cuisine, Switzerland makes for an unforgettable travel experience.
General Information on Zurich
Zurich has repeatedly been cited for its high quality of living. Safety, cleanliness, its superior public transport system, cultural and gastronomic variety, scenic lake and mountain panorama are some of the reasons that explain why.
The city is uniquely situated between two hill chains at the tip of Lake Zurich with the River Limmat running right through it.
Settled since the Bronze Age, the location went on to become a major Roman outpost 2000 years ago, while the historic part of town dates back around 700 years.
Halfway between the Central Railway Station and the lakefront, you will find tiny historic buildings and narrow alleyways, dotted with any number of sights, shopping venues, restaurants and attractions.
For after-hour excitement, be sure to visit the former industrial areas , which have been redeveloped into cultural event and nightlife hot spots.
The city’s multi-cultural side is most conspicuous on Langstrasse, where people from more than 50 nations live side by side.
Zurich’s high-street shopping boulevard is Bahnhofstrasse. Around Paradeplatz you will find the financial and office district.
Last but not least, there is the Oerlikon district where the congress hotel is located. Oerlikon surrounds Zurich’s second most important train station and has a city centre of its own, with plenty of retailers, restaurants and large-sized, easily accessible cultural venues that host major events. Its friendly and familial atmosphere will make you feel right at home. If nothing else, it is only a 7-minute train ride to downtown Zurich.
Zurich has a population of 365,000 but actually feels like a much bigger city with all its suburbs, which are home to a million people.
Places worth visiting in Zurich include:
- Bahnhofstrasse for shopping sprees
- the medieval town centre
- the Zurich Kunsthaus art museum
- Promenade, parks and beaches along the lakeshore
- Fraumünster Church with its stained-glass windows by Marc Chagall
- the renowned Zurich Opera House
- international musicals or other shows are featured at "Theater 11," very close to the congress hotels
- the beautiful and truly animal-friendly Zurich Zoo
- Uetliberg, the mountain overlooking the city and commanding a fantastic view across the valley and all the way to the Alps (a short 20-minute train ride from the Central Railway Station)
- the lake boats, which serve food and drinks
Zurich is located in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. English and French are widely spoken in hotels, restaurants and stores, though.
- June 13–18, 2012