Have you ever counted the apps on your phone?
I just did. And the result was not what I expected. I guessed there’d be around 35. Maybe 40. Tops.
I have a whopping 97 apps covering the screen of my iPhone. When on earth did it become necessary to have that many apps?
It’s safe to say that smartphones have radically changed the way we live. Whatever we’re looking for, the digital universe provides us with an app to meet our needs.
- Tracking every step we take and sharing it with our friends who may or may not be interested? Check.
- Bashing up a talking cat and laughing at the funny noises poor old Tom makes? Check.
- Sending a post card to our friends when we’re on holiday? Check.
But as much as this whole age of technology is a blessing, it also comes with its burdens. With such an overflow of apps at our feet, it’s sometimes hard to forge out the ones that are worthy of our screens.
To help you equip your phone for your trip to Switzerland, I’ve put together a list with 15 must-have apps that will simplify your live considerably while you’re here.
I never leave the country without maps.me. Or the house, for that matter. It’s the best offline map I’ve come across during my travels and it’s saved my backside countless times.
Lost in the centre of Tokyo with no sense of direction whatsoever? Not a problem.
Disoriented in a swamp in Ushuaia along with four guys who promised they’d find their way back? Maps.me to the rescue.
Apart from being a highly detailed map that always tells you where you are, it also serves as a route planner, shows you points of interest and lets you tag and categorise places. It even informs you about the current traffic situation. However, that last one only works if you’re online.
If there’s one app that covers you for pretty much everything across Switzerland, it’s local.ch. This allrounder serves as a phone directory as well as a weathergirl. It helps you find restaurants, bars, clubs, wifi spots, toilets, ATMs, post offices, hair dressers, lawyers, plumbers, hotels and many more.
Not that you’d need a plumber or a lawyer, hopefully, but you get the idea of the allrounder.
Its timetable feature shows you every connection within the country. Whether you travel by train, bus, tram, ship or cable car, it shows you the fastest way to your destination. It also lets you save your journeys so you can view them offline.
With a registered account, you can buy tickets through the app or display other tickets you bought through the SBB website.
In case you’re looking for information about a train station, the search function shows you everything you can imagine. Shops, opening hours of the ticket counters, whether or not there’s a currency exchange and if the train station has free wifi. And that’s only a fraction of the information you’ll find.
The app also informs you about interruptions, construction sites, restrictions or anything else related to the operating status.
And, something you hopefully won’t need, is the lost and found feature. It lets you report lost items or find the nearest lost and found desk.
The Schweiz Mobil app helps you out with anything that has to do with hiking, biking, cycling, skating or canoeing. It shows you every imaginable route across the whole country and lets you save it in your favourites.
The app also displays points of interest like supermarkets, bus stops, accommodation, bike rental stations and so on.
Another hiking app I recommend is the Parcs Suisses app. It gives detailed information about walks, hikes, mountain bike trails, accommodation, restaurants, multi-day treks and other activities within the 20 official Swiss nature parks.
Also a creation of our tourism board, Swiss Events shows you what’s happening in Switzerland. Street festivals, musicals, shows, marathons or special exhibitions. You name it. They know it.
City Guide …
Can’t stop the Swiss tourism board, can you? They went ahead and created specific city guides for Bern, Lucerne, Basel, Zurich, Lausanne, Geneva and Lugano. Just type in City Guide followed by the name of the city you’re visiting.
The guides come with a map, points of interest, tours, restaurants, things to see and do, bike rental stations and lots of other helpful information.
Since accommodation in Switzerland is expensive, looking into Airbnb can save you a potential fortune. Especially if you’re travelling with someone to split the costs with. And using their app will definitely fast forward that process for you.
Skype isn’t just great for catching up with your family and friends back home. Presuming you’ve got wifi, it’s also a cheap way to make local phone calls. Within Switzerland, it costs 3 cents per minute to call a land line and 22 cents per minute to call someone on their mobile.
Hitting a language barrier is inevitable when you’re in Switzerland. Unless you’re fluent in German, French, Italian and Romansh, having an offline dictionary is indispensable. Dict.cc is by far the most reliable one I’ve come across in my days as a backpacker.
All you need to do is download the app and install your preferred language(s).
Google Translate is another life-saver when it comes to making yourself understood. Its only down side is the fact that it only works if you’re online. This issue brings us right to the next app.
Knowing a few sentences in the local language(s) goes a long way. Duolingo is a reliable assistant when it comes to training your language skills. Register for free, pick your daily learning goal and off you go.
Last but not least, let’s have that chat about money. Since Switzerland isn’t part of the European Union, and therefore doesn’t have the Euro, you’ll be paying with Swiss Francs (CHF) instead. To give you an idea how much that’s worth: one Swiss Franc costs roughly one US Dollar. To stay up to date with the current exchange rates, I recommend using the MyCurrency app.
Time to stock up
Installing these 15 apps will set you up perfectly for your trip to Switzerland. Without a doubt, you can extend this list if you do a little digging. But if you’re anything like me and you think that having 97 apps is slightly over the top, sticking with these 15 will cover you for the lion’s share of your needs.