Located in central Europe, Switzerland is home to part of the Alps as well as many different ethnic groups and official languages. Germans make up the majority at 65% of the population, while French and Italians make up 18% and 10%, respectively. A trip to Switzerland is like traveling to Germany, Italy, and France without leaving the country! For example, at lunchtime you can indulge in wiener schnitzel and beer at a German-owned biergarten, and for dinner you have the option of enjoying fine Italian merlot with pasta at a granite grotto. Also, Switzerland is known as a summer and winter sports paradise, with Alpine peaks reaching more than 13,123 feet (4,000m) and many picturesque lakes that are conducive for outdoor activities.
There is one Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited hospital in Switzerland located in Locarno. However, there are other major private hospitals located in Lausanne, Berne, and Geneva. Although, prices in Switzerland are not as cheap as other destinations, it is home to world famous cosmetic surgeons (also known as artists) and is quickly becoming a popular place for medical tourism due to its personalized care and world famous medical spas that are conducive to the healing process.
Popular procedures sought by medical tourists are medical spa treatments, cosmetic surgery, IVF treatment, neurosurgery, obesity surgery, and orthopedic surgery. However, Swiss hospitals also offer many other procedures including dentistry, laser eye surgery, and laser hair removal.
The official languages of Switzerland are German, French, Romansch, and Italian, however English is widely understood, especially in major cities.
Most of Switzerland (except for the mountainous and southern regions, which have a colder climate and hotter Mediterranean temperatures, respectively) has a central European climate, with summer daytime temperatures between 64.4oF and 82.4oF (18oC and 28oC) and winter daytime temperatures between 28.4oF and 44.6oF (-2oC and 7oC).
U.S. and Canadian citizens do not require a visa for stays up to 90 days; however a valid passport is required. Also, you must carry identification with you at all times during your stay in Switzerland.
Switzerland has many airports, but the ones most pertinent to medical tourists are:
The following airlines have flights to Switzerland:
A room in a budget hotel or hostel usually costs $40 to $80 USD (per person) per night. A room in a 3 star hotel starts at $100 USD per night for a double occupancy room and can be as high as $250 USD. There are many high-end, highly rated 5 star hotels scattered throughout Switzerland. From lakefront to posh city dwellings, there is a vast selection of rooms available starting at $160 USD (for smaller village locales) and $475 USD (for larger cities).
The currency of Switzerland is the Franc (CHF). The exchange rate of U.S. dollars to Swiss francs is $1 USD to 1.08 CHF (exchange rate subject to change).
Outdoor activities change depending on the season. The winter season of Alpine resorts begins in mid-December and closes down in mid-April when the snow melts. Summer lasts from June to September and many adventure sports such as canoeing are only offered during this time. Be aware that July and August is the high season in which prices are at their highest and accommodations are often fully booked.
Geneva is one of Europe’s most pricey cities, but what you will receive in return is an amalgamation of urban sleekness and a city rife with governmental establishments such as The Red Cross, The United Nations, and The World Health Organization. Geneva is also on the shores of the largest Alpine lake in Europe: Lake Geneva. The city of Lausanne is also on the coast of Lake Geneva and both cities offer picturesque rooms-with-a-view and boat rides for tourists. In Geneva, the highly rate open-air cinema: Cinelac offers patrons a rare chance to watch a movie against the backdrop of the legendary lake.
The city of Berne is home to a medieval town center that is also a World Heritage Site, and the city of Lausanne is home to the (arguably) finest church in Switzerland: The Cathedral of Notre Dame. Another popular site in Lausanne is the Castle St. Maire that once housed the bishops of Lausanne.
The city of Locarno is located close to the Italian border at the northern tip of Lake Maggiore and is close to the foot of the Alps. It has the mildest climate in Switzerland with 2,300 hours of sunshine every year. Film buffs will enjoy the famous Locarno International Film Festival that is held annually. For a magnificent view of the city, go to the Madonna del Sasso Sanctuary, and for a trip to medieval times, check out the 12th century castle: Castello Visconteo.
A trip to Switzerland is not complete until you purchase the world famous Swiss Army knife for yourself or as a gift. The basic model is usually around $14 USD, while the Cyber Tool XL model will cost you a whopping $162 USD. Although Switzerland is a comparatively pricey country and is popular for luxury goods, Swatch Shops offer quality goods such as watches and fashion jewelry at a reasonable price. For chocolate fiends, Swiss chocolates are (arguably) the best in the world and you can find them everywhere is Switzerland, however Migros and Coop stores offer a range of varieties at competitive prices.
Nightlife in Geneva usually caters to the visiting business crowd and wealthy locals with limited bands and visiting DJ’s. As a result many head to Lausanne for their club experience, but what Geneva lacks in the club scene, it definitely makes up for in classical music performances, dance performances, and operas in which a visit to the Grand Theater of Geneva is a must. Some orchestras divide its time between Geneva and Lausanne and the annual arts festival, which is held in early August on the Geneva waterfront, offers a range of music, theater, and street entertainment. Like Geneva, Lausanne has many theaters and operas, and is home to the world famous Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne and the Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne.
Bern, like Lausanne, has a rich nightlife with neighborhood bars and pubs being the popular spots for tourists and natives alike. Also, Berne’s theater and musical landscapes are impressive. Popular spots include the Berne Puppet Theater, the Dampfzentrale, the Katakombli Cellar Theater, and the Narrenpack Theater. Also, the Berner Kammerorchester and the Camerata Berne are popular orchestras.
Switzerland has many museums, but the most popular ones are the Kunstmuseum (Fine Arts) of Berne, Le Musée d’Art et d’Histoire (Art and History Museum) of Geneva, the Rietberg Museum of Zurich (art), and the Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum) of Zurich.
There are a few English language print and online newspapers in Switzerland including the BBC News, Basler Zeitung, and the Swisster.