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.
But actually, I have a whopping 97 apps covering the screen of my iPhone. When on earth did it become necessary to have that many apps?
I guess 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.
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 16 must-have apps that will simplify your live considerably while you’re here.
I never leave the country without maps.me. Or even 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 Tokyo with no sense of direction whatsoever? Not a problem.
Disoriented in a swamp near 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 lets you know your current position, it also serves as a route planner, shows you points of interest and lets you tag and categorise places.
If there’s an 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 during your travels, but you get the idea of its multifunctionality...
The SBB app is gold when it comes to public transport.
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 specific 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, if there's free wifi available and much more.
The app also informs you about interruptions, construction sites, restrictions or anything else related to the operating status.
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 country and lets you create your own list of favourites.
The app also displays points of interest like supermarkets, bus stops, accommodation, bike rental stations and so on.
Created by our official tourism board, Swiss Hike is designed to help you plan your hikes. It shows you the duration, distance and elevation profile for 32 popular hikes as well as restaurants spread out along the way.
Another hiking app I recommend is Parcs Suisses. It provides detailed information about walks, hikes, mountain bike trails, accommodation, restaurants, multi-day treks and other activities across our 20 official 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.
Can’t stop the Swiss tourism board, can you? They also created specific city guides for Lucerne, Lausanne, Geneva and Lugano. Just head to this website and download your guide.
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.
The Hostelworld* app is my all-time favourite when it comes to finding and booking budget accommodation. Their booking system is very straightforward and it's easy to save your favourite hostels in your profile.
They're very popular with backpackers and provide tons of reviews from other budget travellers.
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.
If you're new to Airbnb, create your profile using this link to receive free 40$ off your first booking.
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 to call a mobile number.
This can make your life a lot easier if you have to reconfirm a tour or change your flight while you're travelling.
Hitting a language barrier is inevitable when you’re in Switzerland. Unless you’re fluent in German, French, Italian and Romansh... Which most people aren't 🙂
So having a decent offline dictionary is indispensable when you leave your language area. 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) before you head out.
Google Translate is another life-saver when it comes to making yourself understood. Its only down side is the fact that you have to be online for it to work, which can suck if you don't have a special phone plan for your trip.
Which brings us right to our next app...
Knowing a few sentences in the local language(s) goes a long way. Duolingo is a trustworthy assistant when it comes to training your language skills. Register for free, pick your daily learning goal and off you go.
Now, let’s talk 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) while you're here. To stay up to date with the current exchange rates, I recommend using MyCurrency.
By the way, one Swiss Franc normally costs around one US Dollar.
Too good to go
Too good to go takes the whole stop-foodwaste movement to another level. This app lets restaurants and bakeries sell their leftovers before closing time at a reduced price.
This means you can get a plate of Indian Curry, a couple of artfully decorated cupcakes, a portion of sushi or a fresh burrito for a massive discount.
Simply download the app and look for an offer that suits your taste. You’ll need to pay for your food through the app and show up at the restaurant at the time indicated.
Time to stock up
Installing these 16 apps will set you up perfectly for your trip to Switzerland. You can easily extend this list but if you’d like to keep it simple, these 16 will cover you for the lion's share of your needs.
Let us know in the comments below if you have any additions to this list.
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