Australian, Canadian, Japanese, New Zealand and US citizens can stay for a period of up to ninety days with a valid passport without a visa, as can residents of EU countries. If you intend staying for over ninety days you will need to obtain a visa before travelling.
If you are in any doubt as to whether or not you may need a visa to enter the country, you should contact the Swiss Embassy in your home country.
The currency used in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc (CHF). One Franc can be divided into 100 centimes. Notes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 francs. Coins are available in 1, 3, and 5 francs, as well as 5, 10, 20 and 50 centimes.
The official language in Zürich is German, with French and English also widely spoken.
Zürich has a humid continental climate, which means that it has four distinct seasons. Summers are warm, winters are cold, and both spring and autumn are quite mild. July sees both the most sunlight and also the highest temperatures, averaging out at around 19.5˚C. December is the coldest month with temperatures sometimes dropping before zero. During the summer, Zürich sees most of its rain with around 136mm falling during July.
Visitors from EU countries are entitled to medical treatment under the EU Reciprocal Medical Treatment agreement. Before you travel you should collect an E111 form from your local social security office. This form may also be obtained in post offices also.
Zürich is located in the Central European Time (CET) zone which is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and six ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Zürich's main tourist office is located inside the Hauptbahnhof. Its opening hours are as follows: Nov-Apr – Mon-Sat 8.30am-7pm, Sun 9am-6.30pm; May-Oct Mon-Sat 8am-8.30pm, Sun 8.30am-6.30pm.
Banks and currency exchange offices will change your currency for you when you arrive. Please note they will charge a commission fee. Travellers cheques can also be used in a lot of places, but not everywhere. ATMs are also quite visible throughout the city, and many credit and debit cards can be used in these machines to withdraw cash.
The electrical current in Zürich is 220 volts AC, 50 cycles.
The country code for Switzerland is 41 so if you are calling from abroad you need to dial 00, followed by 41, the local area code and the local number. The local area code for Zürich is 043 or 044.
Post offices in Zürich are usually open from around 6.30am to 10pm on weekdays, with shorter but still pretty extensive hours on both Saturday and Sunday. The main post office is Sihlpost, located at Kasernenstrasse 95-97.
Because the service charge is normally included in most bills, tipping is not compulsory. If the service you receive is particularly good, however, it is customary to leave a small additional amount.
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel to a country as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day. In Switzerland they take place on New Year’s Day, January 2nd (Berchtold’s Day), Good Friday, Easter Monday, Ascension Thursday, Whit Monday, August 1st (National Day), Christmas Day, and December 26th. It is a good idea to check the particular area too as certain towns and cities also shut down during special events.