Swiss chocolate, Swiss cheese, the Swiss Alps… Switzerland is a magical destination that’s popular for all types of travelers, especially nature-lovers. To make the most of your time in Switzerland, make sure you’re fully prepared for the trip – and fully prepared to keep your electronic devices safe and in working order. The last thing you want is for your phone to die just when you’re trying to get that iconic shot of the Matterhorn.
Which power outlets do they use in Switzerland?
Like many European countries, Switzerland has two kinds of electrical sockets, one of which is Type C. This outlet type has two round holes and is ungrounded. But Type J outlets are more common, both in cities like Geneva and Zurich and throughout the countryside. The difference is that Type J has three round holes, the third of which is for a grounding pin. Type J outlets take both Type C and Type J plugs, but the head of the plug needs to fit inside the hexagonal indentation around Swiss outlets.
Type J outlets are found almost exclusively in Switzerland and Lichtenstein. Though they look very similar to the Type N outlets in Brazil, the spacing between the holes is slightly different, meaning devices with the Brazilian plug type won’t fit. Like most countries in Europe and around the world (but unlike the U.S.), Switzerland uses a frequency of 50 Hz and a voltage of 230V.
What kind of power adapter do I need for Switzerland?
“What plug do I need in Switzerland?” is something first-time travelers will need to know. At a minimum, your US to Switzerland power adapter needs to have two round pins (Type C) that will fit into the three-pronged Type J sockets and the two-pronged plug Type C sockets found in Switzerland.
Whether you’re only visiting Switzerland or if you’re traveling to multiple countries, we recommend that you use a Universal Adapter. It includes the type C plug that can be used in Switzerland and throughout the rest of Europe in addition to other plugs, making it compatible with over 100 countries around the world.
What’s the electricity and power supply like in Switzerland?
Like other types of Swiss infrastructure, the electrical grid in Switzerland is of extremely high quality. Whether you’re in a city like Zurich or Geneva or in a more rural area, there isn’t much to worry about. While power outages occasionally occur, usually during storms, you’re unlikely to experience one during your visit.
Switzerland relies primarily on hydroelectricity. The Alps cover almost two-thirds of the country’s landmass, which provides numerous large mountain lakes and artificial reservoirs perfectly suited for hydropower.
Do I Need A Voltage Converter In Switzerland?
Because Switzerland’s electrical grid operates at a voltage of 230V, you’ll need a converter to use devices that are rated to anything below 230V at a fixed voltage. This would include high-powered appliances such as hairdryers and straighteners. However, almost all personal electronics such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops and cameras are dual-voltage and do not require a converter.
Other Switzerland Packing List Items
In addition to your US to Switzerland power adapter, these items will help you pack with intention and expand the possibilities of your getaway. Also, check out our Switzerland packing list for more inspiration and ideas.
1. Neck Wallet
Switzerland is regularly rated as one of the safest countries in the world, but pickpocketing and petty theft still happen, especially in the tourist areas of Zurich and Geneva. To make sure you don’t become a victim, bring a neck wallet to keep your valuables in. Your cash and credit cards will be much safer in this than in your pocket or bag, especially in crowded areas.
2. Packing Cubes
To stay more organized during your trip, use a set of packing cubes to pack your bag. Instead of putting every item into your backpack or suitcase individually, fold your clothes into the cubes and then pack the cubes into your bag. To make sure you always know where things are, use one cube for tops, one for bottoms, and so forth.
3. Lipstick-Sized Charger
We all used to manage without them, but a smartphone is a critical travel essential these days. It’s your map, your camera, your flashlight, and your way to call an Uber, among other things, so you really don’t want the battery to die while you’re out. Fortunately, a tiny portable charger is all you need to keep it charged throughout the day.
4. Windproof Travel Umbrella
Rainfall varies depending on what parts of Switzerland you visit, but regardless, there’s a good chance you’ll run into at least a rainy day or two. In order to arrive prepared, we suggest bringing a quality travel umbrella that’s compact enough to easily fit in your daypack. The umbrella we recommend comes with a snazzy zip case so you can store your wet umbrella in your backpack even if it’s drenched!
5. Jet Lag Relief Pills
Switzerland is six hours ahead of the East Coast of the U.S. and nine hours ahead of the West Coast – that means you’re likely to suffer from jet lag at the beginning of your trip. Bring some jet lag relief pills to help you cope with the time difference and avoid falling asleep before dinnertime.
6. Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Internet security and privacy is always important, and it’s especially a concern when you’re traveling and using different public Wi-Fi networks all the time. Getting a VPN will keep you and your information safe from hackers, no matter where you’re using the Internet.
7. Travel Insurance for Switzerland
An emergency situation during your trip is unlikely, but you don’t want to be caught unprepared. If you get sick or injured in Switzerland, your U.S. health insurance most likely won’t cover any of the costs. A travel insurance plan will pay for your medical expenses and will even reimburse you for things like a trip interruption. To be on the safe side, it’s always best to have travel insurance when going abroad. We like to use TravelInsurance.com to compare policies from top companies to find the best option for us. There are a variety of plans but we like to always make sure that we’re covered for cancellations, theft, lost items, and unexpected medical expenses.
Other FAQs about traveling in Switzerland
1. When to Travel to Switzerland
Switzerland’s main tourist season runs from May to September, when the days are longest and the weather is warmest. However, that’s also when prices climb and things book up early. If you visit in the spring or fall instead, you’ll still be treated to mostly pleasant weather, but there will be fewer crowds and lower prices. If you’re planning a ski trip, ski season lasts from December to March (if you’re not skiing, try to avoid the resort towns during that time). Be sure to check current Swiss travel advisories before you go.
2. What’s the weather like in Switzerland?
Though mountains cover two-thirds of its land, Switzerland generally isn’t as cold as people think. The weather mostly varies by elevation, and the valleys in southern Switzerland tend to be the hottest parts of the country. During the summer, average highs in the main cities are in the upper-70s, and rain is common.
Wintertime is generally chilly, and the snowfall at higher elevations is heavy. Many areas also experience intense fog during the coldest months.
3. What’s there to do in Zurich?
Zurich isn’t the capital of Switzerland, but it’s the country’s largest city and a major global financial center. No surprise, it’s full of things to do and see. Visit the Swiss National Museum and the Museum of Art, as well as the FIFA World Football Museum if you’re a soccer fan.
To get some fresh air, head to Lake Zurich or Uetliberg Mountain, or take a bike tour of the city.
Zurich is also home to the world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant (it’s even Guinness-confirmed!), Hiltl, which serves over 500 meat-free dishes.
4. What’s there to do in Switzerland?
Switzerland is a small country (only slightly bigger than Maryland), but it packs a punch. A nature lover’s paradise, the mountains are definitely Switzerland’s biggest attraction. You can hike one of the thousands of marked trails, take a cable car up to one of the many accessible peaks, or hit the slopes if you’re there in the winter.
Other top sites include the CERN research center, the United Nations Office at Geneva and castles like Chateau Chillon. Switzerland has plenty for gastronomically inclined travelers to enjoy as well, including sampling local wines, learning to make cheese fondue, and touring chocolate factories.
5. How to get around in Switzerland?
Switzerland is a country known for precision and organization, and it shows. The transportation infrastructure is extremely well-developed, and public transit options are plentiful.
All of the major towns have extensive public bus systems, and the larger cities have convenient train and tram networks as well. Uber is also available in the main cities.
Most of Switzerland is connected by an inter-city rail network, with trains operated by the government-run Swiss Federal Railways and by several private companies. The trains are comfortable and efficient, but tickets are pricey, so a Eurail pass could save you a lot of money.
There are also long-distance buses in Switzerland, which reach some corners of the country not served by the train. They are slower and less comfortable, but also cheaper. BlabBaCar is very popular in Switzerland as well and can be a cheaper way to get where you’re going. Lastly, renting a car is fairly straightforward, and driving is easy thanks to the well-maintained roads and clear traffic laws.