Known for its pristine cities, gorgeous Alps and rich, diverse culture, Switzerland embodies the best of Europe! Have your ticket booked, but don’t know where to begin with packing? Check out a few of our tips to best prepare for the Swiss trip of your dreams!
Switzerland Packing Guide for Women
While clothing doesn’t necessarily need to be conservative in the conventional sense, your travel wardrobe should be tasteful and presentable. The notion of jeans being frowned upon in Switzerland might be a little bit outdated, but by no means should you bring anything even closely resembling a “distressed” look!
Generally speaking, Americans’ “nice” clothing is likely normal, everyday attire for the Swiss — and that goes for both men and women. Jeans can be appropriate if they are dark or black, and it hardly ever reaches temperatures warm enough to necessitate shorts.
While muted colors may be the norm, don’t feel confined to wearing black. Just try to steer clear of anything too gaudy! An evening out is an appropriate time to dress a little nicer — swap the daytime dark denim for a nice dress or maxi skirt, and pair with a comfortable pair of sandals or loafers.
Spring and autumn are almost entirely unpredictable; anyone will tell you that layers are a must, which shouldn’t be hard with rather neutral packing. Aside from your basic layering essentials, be sure to also pack gloves, a warm scarf, and comfortable walking shoes (or comfortable boots) appropriate for any weather (i.e. rain)!
Portable Power Bank
Switzerland was meant for long days exploring, which also means a dead phone battery three hours after leaving your accommodation. If you have the space in your backpack, carry a charged portable power bank to keep your GPS and music source alive all day! Download new playlists, audiobooks and podcasts beforehand, and do not forget your headphones.
For most, the draw of Switzerland lies in the towering Alps and all of the ways to explore them! Skiing in summer, kayaking, hang gliding, and river rafting only scratch the surface of the fun possibilities. Regardless of your itinerary, you’ll most definitely want to prepare for a few good hikes!
Leave the heavy-duty outdoor equipment at home — there are plenty of places to rent any gear you need, so don’t lug around bulky skis or waste luggage space with your insulated ski-wear. I would, however, make sure you bring some basics — comfortable hiking shoes, multiple pairs of thick socks, and a rain-resistant jacket — for hiking. A collapsable, reusable water bottle can also be filled with high-quality Swiss water at water fountains, natural spring water drinking fountains, and anywhere you can find a tap.
Small First Aid Kit
To accompany your hiking attire, you’ll also want to keep a minimal first aid kit in your bag when you venture out beyond city streets. Outdoor activity, no matter how vigorous, means you runs the risk of a few cuts and scrapes — so don’t get caught mountainside without a few basics to keep you covered.
A compact kit that can fit in the palm of your hand is small enough that it shouldn’t be inconvenient to carry, but you’ll very thankful you did!
Sunscreen is expensive — like $20 USD expensive!! — so this is one commodity you won’t want to forget at home. Make sure the sunscreen you bring has a high SPF and is easy to apply (think the clear spray kind) so you can re-apply throughout the day; bright sun, especially reflecting off snow, can result in serious burns if not prevented by protection! This may be redundant, but sunglasses are also a necessity.
Additional Packing Tips for Switzerland
Download helpful apps
Before your arrival, I’d highly recommend downloading a few apps that will help make your travel within Switzerland much smoother. Language apps — a convenient alternative to full-size phrase books — will serve you well when confronted with German, French and Italian (depending on the region), though it’s much appreciated by the locals if you learn a few common phrases beforehand. Don’t have the time? Google Translate has saved me multiple times.
You may also find the app for SBB, Switzerland’s public transportation, useful as well. You can purchase a Swiss travel pass which will allow you access to all rail, road and waterway transport for a designated amount of days, should you choose to forego the awesome opportunity of renting bikes!
Buy travel insurance
Aside from obligatory plug adapter and voltage converter, don’t forget to buy travel insurance! If you’re headed to the Alps, you’re undoubtedly going to engage in an adventurous activity or two. If you’re partaking in winter sports like skiing and snow trekking, this may cost more than your standard -run-of-the-mill travel insurance, but that doesn’t mean you should go without. We use and trust World Nomads for our travel insurance needs.
The Swiss franc is the national currency, but exchanging dollars for them — especially at the airport — will seriously gouge you. Whatever fee your bank charges for withdrawing money internationally (from an ATM) is going to be much less than bringing cash and exchanging it.
Switzerland is notoriously expensive, so no need to add more unnecessary expenses to the bill! Only take out as much as you need; since Visas are accepted nearly everywhere, and with minimal foreign transaction fees, using a credit card is going to be your best option.