For all the perks and benefits that being a tourist allows, it undeniably has a few limitations. Mostly, it’s the fact that you’re confined to a ‘looking in from the outside’ perspective, and so never feel truly part of the culture that’s happening around you. Every visit is fleeting, almost like a teaser trailer to a full motion picture that never seems to release.
For example, you may have a checklist of all the things you’d like to do, but it’s worth asking the question; can you experience everything a country has to offer from a to-do list? Are countries just an amalgamation of famous landmarks, or is there more to see and do?
Consequently, here’s how to have a non-tourist experience in Switzerland.
Typically, tourists flock to the urban areas. This is where most of the landmarks will be found, and also most of the places like museums, top-tier restaurants, high grade hotels and more. Obviously, cities are just busier, but with that busyness comes a lot of tourist legwork; taking pictures of everything in sight and stopping by hotspots for an hour or so.
While you can still have a tourist experience away from the city, the countryside provides a more natural offering. For example, you could book a holiday to Switzerland and aim for a remote area instead, getting to know the locals and enjoying the more rural aspects of the land. You can windsurf, go canoeing, undertake an extensive hike through the hills and valleys; all of which are more ‘normal’ activities that will really bring you down to earth with Switzerland instead of, say, taking a picture outside of a landmark for a fleeting moment.
Tourists are renowned for simply asking questions time and time again in what is often a broken variation of the native language. They’re often in need of help. Of course, they’re not hurting anybody or doing anything wrong, but they will struggle to lead conversations and fully engage with the locals. This is mostly down to the fact that tourists often have a limited understanding of everything, from the language to the culture.
While most tourists will try to learn a few basic sentences or two before heading off on their adventures, you should try to get more out of yourself here. Switzerland has four national languages; German, French, Italian and Romansh. Obviously, learning any of these languages is a huge undertaking, but try at least somewhat. The more you know, the better your chances of going from muddled tourist to a true friend of the Swiss peoples!
If you can engage with the locals about anything Switzerland related, whether it’s local news or the weather climate, you’ll integrate far better and be less a tourist in need of help and more just a passing, friendly stranger. Google is your friend, so look up anything you’re uncertain about! The more informed you are, the less you’ll feel like an awkward guest.