An Antipodean travel company serving World Travellers since 1983
This small group program explores the remote mountain plateaux, perched villages and dramatic gorges as well as the Mediterranean coastline.Travel with like-minded people on this tour especially designed for the mature traveller. The villages of Alsace provide an introduction to the diversity which is France. In Burgundy we explore the local villages. Then onto the Jura Mountains, a region rarely visited by tourists. Finally, Provence and the Côte d’Azur, regions of inspiration for artists such as Van Gogh, Cézanne and Picasso.
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Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Buses, trains and taxis are widely available.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography, Environment, & Weather
Switzerland, world-famous for the beauty and uniqueness of its landscapes, is a mountainous and landlocked country, located in Western and Central Europe. Switzerland covers and area of 41,293 square kilometres is well known for the Alps in the south and south east.
Switzerland experiences many climates due to elevation above sea-level that ranges from 193 to 4,634 metres.
Seasonal precipitation can be high in some areas, so check the weather reports and prepare accordingly depending on when you intend to travel.
World Heritage sites
Switzerland has 12 properties inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites List. You can view the official list of the sites here (https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/ch/). The current World Heritage Sites in Switzerland include:
Abbey of St Gall, The Convent of St Gall, a perfect example of a great Carolingian monastery, was, from the 8th century to its secularization in 1805, one of the most important in Europe.
Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch, with its surface area up to 82,400 ha. The site provides an outstanding example of the formation of the High Alps, including the most glaciated part of the mountain range and the largest glacier in Eurasia.
Festivals & Events
Switzerland is well-known for its music, jazz and rock & roll festivals. The International Balloon Festival is held in January every year. Château-d’Oex hosts this festival as it is the capital of Swiss hot air balloons. Geneva Motor Show is held in mid-March every year. Many well-known companies display their cars on this show for the first time before the whole world. Versoix hold the Festichoc festival every year – a “must visit” for every chocolate lover.
A Concise History of Switzerland, by Clive Church
Switzerland – Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture, by Kendall Maycock
Switzerland, by David Birmingham Swiss Watching: Inside the Land of Milk and Honey, by Diccon Bewes
Eating & Drinking
The cuisine of Switzerland tends to be made up of German, French and Italian influences. Meals tend to have an emphasis on bread, dairy and cheese with cheese being a massive part of the Swiss culture. There are more than 100 different varieties of cheese found in the country. Despite this large amount, cheese is not mass-produced; rather it is made by hundreds of dairies with very strict rules and regulations. Popular dishes include:
Fondue: This dish consists of Emmentaler and natural Gruyère cheese (either mixed or separately) mixed with other local cheese, melted over a portable stove, combined with white wine. Bread is then placed on long stemmed forks and is dipped into the cheese.
Racletteis both a cheese and a type of dish. It is heated raclette cheese in front of a fire, and once it starts to soften, it is scraped onto a plate.
Pastetli is a Swiss meat pie that often has different fillings, served with rice and peas.
Rippli are pork ribs that are popular in Bern, served with bacon, beans, and potatoes.
Health & Safety
Generally speaking, Switzerland is safe to travel in, though always exercise common sense while travelling.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. Croatia’s electricity supply runs at 230V and 50Hz. Croatia uses both the Type C and Type J electric plugs, so make sure you have the right travel adaptor with you.
Switzerland has a single time zone, Central European Time (UTC+1). Switzerland observes summer time, shifting to Central European Summer Time (UTC+2).
WiFi should be available in most hotels, cafes and restaurants when travelling in Switzerland.
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you tip an appropriate amount for services. Tipping is not customary in Switzerland, with service charges often included with restaurant bills. If you do feel the need to tip, a tip of around 5-10% would be about par.
Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in Switzerland. Many providers will allow you to pay a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.
Responsible travel tips for Switzerland
- Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although many locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
- Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Museums and galleries are often closed on Mondays. Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Consider contacting your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of Swiss Franc in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.