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Zurich: the de facto capital of Switzerland and very expensive!

Posted by on April 20, 2019

There is one major country in Europe that I didn’t focus on which would have to be the country of Switzerland. Nestled mostly among the mountain range of the Alps, this country made its official policy to be neutral for basically forever. It got sick of all the wars that engulfed Europe for so long starting with the Romans, Barbarians, Holy Roman Empire, etc. that its neutrality stance was also backed up by its national defense military that so far, no one has tried to invade Switzerland since then. It helped the country steer clear of both World War I and II so the country has been able to focus on other aspects such as its famous Swiss watches, cheese, beer, and of course, banking.

Due to these aspects as well as the limited liveable and/or arable land there, the Swiss have grown to be very industrious so as a result, prices can only go into one direction: up. I think that’s why this mountainous country is so pricey. Nevertheless, it’s still worth a visit to take a look around.

sunny day boats lake zurich boating swiss times

Some of the boats were out on this sunny day but I can see Lake Zurich being in full blast by being overfilled with boats in the summer.

swiss capital church iglesia suiza

They built a church on a great location, right by Lake Zurich!

Switzerland technically has several capitals which is partly one of the reasons why the country has a trilingual stance on making French, German, Italian and Romansh as its official languages but realistically, its de-facto capital is Zurich even though most Swiss tend to speak their primary language of choice which is often German for most Swiss and then English, not German and then French to the dismay of many politicians. In Zurich, which also is the most populous in Switzerland, happens to be located in the north and east where German is the most used language. That’s why it’s a good idea to know some German if you’re going to hang out this area.

two views zurich swiss die Schweiz Meer lago

I was told that Zurich has two distinct views: summer and winter. Meaning that there is a sunny view and a snowy view to this city that was established on the lake. The rest of the city is pretty much like any other European city – a combination of the old, antique with the new and modern buildings.

Tip: If you going to drive in Switzerland, it’s best to look into getting a vignette also known as a sticker or road toll permit. This allows you to drive on the Swiss Highways without having to pay a big fine. Best to buy the sticker/requirement for 25 Swiss Francs (or about 30+ euros) and not pay 300 euros or worse, 300+ Swiss Francs! If you have a rental car, it’s best to ask because if you get a rental car in Switzerland, the vignette or something equivalent should already make the car okay to drive. But a rental car from another country, it would be best to ask!

Tip: Going into Switzerland, I found out quickly in a hard way that everything there is pricey. Even something as simple as a bottle of soda or bottle of water costs far more than just an arm and a leg. They want taxes paid too or something like that so everything just costs so much more. If you are driving to Switzerland, buy all your stuff such as food, fuel, etc. before going in. You can save a lot of money by this way. Try not to do your shopping in Switzerland if you can avoid it. It would be hard better to buy for simple stuff in neighboring countries of Germany, France, or Italy which would be far cheaper to obtain. Even fuel is more expensive in Switzerland so it’s best to completely fuel-up prior to crossing the border into Swiss lands.

Tip: Learn some German. I actually encountered some Swiss people who did not speak any English at all. I’ve found this out when I went to buy my vignette when I had to ask around where I could buy it. The customs guy did not speak English so I quickly figured out in my mind how to ask in buying this sticker, where I could obtain one, if I could drive into Switzerland for about 400 meters to get it without getting in trouble. He understood and allowed me to drive to the nearest store and then from there, I drove around back into Germany so I could drive on a Swiss highway at another entry point only to be met with Swiss border guards who asked me a few questions, checked my car for the sticker, checked my passport, and sent me on my way.