European guide title

Germany, Switzerland & Austria Tourist Information

Germany is a land of vineyards, forests and picturesque towns with historical landmarks.

Austria is famous for its snowy peaks and delightful valleys, crystal-clear streams and lush meadows.

Snow capped mountains, flowering meadows and clear blue lakes make Switzerland ideal for walking & cycling.

Eurocamp Independent's guide to Germany Tourist Information includes links to the best campsites in the area, with details on German, Swiss & Austrian tourist attractions and sightseeing suggestions to make the most of your tent, motorhome and caravan holiday experience.

Shopping and Eating out in Germany, Switzerland & Austria

Germany
You will not need to take much in the way of food to Germany, although it might be useful to take a few basic items. On the whole prices are higher than they are at home. Supermarkets are generally the easiest and cheapest places for food shopping and most are well stocked with separate counters for meats, cheeses, etc. Apart from bakers (‘Bäckerei’) and butchers (‘Metzgerei’), small food shops are fairly few and far between. For general shopping the department stores (‘Kaufhalle’/’Kaufhof’) which are found in most of the larger towns, stock a much wider variety of goods. Many towns now have pedestrian precincts where it is not unusual to find small markets, particularly fruit markets and flower markets, a good example of which is in Freiburg.  Empty bottles of beer/coke can be taken back to the supermarket and a small refund is given.

What to Buy - The great gastronomic speciality is sausage (‘Wurst’) and the range can be bewildering. Some of the more common varieties are: ‘Blutwurst’ (blood sausage), ‘Leberwurst’ (liver sausage), ‘Knackwurst’ (saveloy), ‘Bratwurst’ (a pork sausage from Nuremberg), and ‘Bierwurst’ (beer sausage!). A good variety of hams (‘Schinken’), often smoked, are widely available. German cheeses come in some delicious spiced and smoked varieties, and include some excellent blue-veined varieties such as the smooth and mild ‘cambozola’. Bread comes in a wonderful variety of flavours, shapes and forms. Bread rolls (‘Brötchen’) are very popular, as is rye bread (‘Roggenbrot’) and black bread (‘Schwarzbrot’), generally preferred to white bread. ‘Pumpernickel’, is well worth tasting for the experience. Cream features heavily in all sorts of cakes and pastries, such as ‘Apfelstrudel’ and ‘Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte’ (Black Forest gâteau). Dark fir honey is an essential part of a Black Forest breakfast - you will probably want to take some home with you!

Shopping Hours - Shops are usually open from 9.00 a.m to 6.00/6.30 p.m, although many close for two hours at lunchtime from about 12.30 p.m. onwards.  Most shops close on Saturday afternoons at 1.30/2.00 p.m. Very few shops open on Sundays and public holidays except some souvenir shops and petrol stations.

 

Switzerland
The cost of living is undoubtedly higher than in Britain, but not exorbitantly, so you should buy wisely. It is a good idea to take a few basic items with you, such as tea, coffee and tinned or packet goods. Supermarkets are the most economic places to do your food shopping, among the most common are the ‘Migros’ and ‘Co-op’ chains. For general shopping, most larger towns have department stores. Goods are expensive but the quality is usually very high.

Shopping Hours - Shops are generally open from 8.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon and again from 1.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. on weekdays, with early closing on Saturdays at 4.00 p.m. Some larger stores may stay open at lunchtime. Shops are very often closed on Monday mornings.

 

Austria
You will not need to take much in the way of food, although it is a good idea to take a few basic items such as tea, coffee, tinned and packet goods.  Prices are higher than in Britain, though not exorbitantly so, and the easiest place to shop is in the supermarkets. As part of the environmental programme Austria operates a ‘bottle return policy’making it possible to obtain money back on returned bottles.

What to buy - The best fresh produce to buy will no doubt vary somewhat from region to region but the Austrians are particularly fond of meat dishes and desserts. Pork and veal are the most common meats. As for sweet treats, it is well worth tasting a few of the scrumptious cakes and pastries on offer. However, they can be quite stodgy and are more often than not served with additional cream in cafés, so buying them from the cake shop may be a slightly healthier option!

Shopping Hours - Shops are usually open from 8.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Monday to Friday and until 1.00 p.m. on Saturdays. On the first Saturday of every month shops will often open until 5.00 p.m. There is normally a break for lunch of one or two hours, though some shops in the cities will be open all day.

Germany, Switzerland & Austria Sightseeing and Culture

GERMANY
Freiburg
A beautiful old city with a magnificent Gothic cathedral located in the heart of the Black Forest.

Europa Park
Travel through Europe on the exciting rides at this unique theme park at Rust in the Black Forest.

SWITZERLAND
Wengen
A famous ski resort above Lauterbrunnen, ideal for many fine walks and served by the mountain railway.

AUSTRIA
Innsbruck
Traditional Tirolean architecture and typically Austrian domes can be found in the lovely old quarter.

Salzburg
A beautiful old city famed as Mozart’s birthplace and the setting for The Sound of Music.

Transportation & travelling around Germany, Switzerland & Austria

Germany
Motorways - The German ‘autobahn’ system is very extensive. However, it is very heavily used in places and traffic also travels very quickly. Traffic jams do sometimes occur especially around major cities. If you understand German it is worth tuning in to the local radio station to obtain information. Frequencies are marked on the side of the motorway and the keyword to listen for is ‘Stau’ (traffic jam). 

Trams - These are common in German towns, and overtaking must be done on the right (if there is sufficient room) except on one-way streets. You may drive on tramlines. Priority At junctions of two major or two minor roads, traffic from the right has priority, unless the contrary is indicated. Trams do not have priority; buses have priority when leaving bus stops.

 

Switzerland
Buses, Trains and Steamers The numerous mountain railways and lake steamers provide an interesting alternative form of transport. Cards and passes are valid on most national and private railways, steamers and postal coaches. Children under 6 years travel free. Family Card This entitles children aged 6 to 15 years, accompanied by at least one fare-paying parent, to travel free. The Family Card can be obtained free of charge from ST only in conjunction with a Swiss Travel System product (eg. Swiss Pass). Otherwise, it can be purchased at any Swiss railway station.

Swiss Half-Fare Card This card entitles the holder to around a 50% reduction on scheduled services of the railways, mountain railways, buses and lake boats. Available from ST or in Switzerland itself.

Regional Passes These are issued for specific areas during the summer months. Holders of the Swiss Half-Fare Card, Swiss Card and Swiss Pass can obtain Regional Passes in Switzerland with around a 20% reduction.

Swiss Pass This offers unlimited travel on most steamers, coaches and railways, and up to 25% reduction on excursions to mountain peaks. It also allows travel on trams and buses in 36 towns and cities, and can be combined with the Family Card in the free travel area. Swiss Flexi Pass Similar to the Swiss Pass and valid for 15 days, during which time you are entitled to 3 days unlimited travel on the Swiss Travel System.

 

Austria
Trains - There is an hourly or two hourly service on all major routes. Children under 6 years old travel free as long as no seat is claimed for them. Children aged between 6 and 15 pay half fare, and there are various reduced price passes available. Rail enthusiasts can ride on narrow gauge railways through picturesque Alpine scenery, with some trains steam powered - check at a local station for details.

Buses - These are run by both local authorities and by private companies. Some train passes may also be valid on buses, and bus routes often begin and end near railway stations.

Traffic news - ‘Blue Danube Radio’ broadcasts traffic news in English. The Austrian radio station ‘Ö3’ also broadcasts traffic news after the hourly news bulletin.

How to get to Germany, Austria or Switzerland

A morning crossing to Calais leaves a drive of between 8 and 14 hours, depending on your final destination.  An overnight stop en route is recommended.

Campsites around Germany, Austria and Switzerland