Internet & Wi-Fi
Switzerland has an abundance of good Internet, and more and more businesses offer free Wi-Fi. Most hotels have it, too, but if it’s absolutely essential to be connected during your stay, check in advance to be sure.
Wherever you go, bring a connection kit with the power and phone adapters you need, a spare phone cord, and a spare Ethernet network cable—or find out whether your hotel can lend them to guests.
The three letters that define much of the world’s wireless capabilities are GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), a big, seamless network that makes for easy cross-border cellphone use throughout Europe and many other countries worldwide. (In the U.S., some service providers use a different technology—CDMA—and phones on those networks also need GSM and/or 4G/LTE compatibility to work in Switzerland. Most current, high-end models do; older phones may not work.) GSM phones function with a tiny, removable plastic SIM card that’s encoded with your phone number and account information. If your cellphone is on a GSM system, and you have a world-capable multiband phone, you can make and receive calls across much of the globe. Just ask your wireless for “international roaming” to be activated.
The bad news is that roaming charges can be very high, especially if you use the Internet. But you can solve this problem by buying a Swiss SIM card when you arrive so you pay local rates (the shop can usually help you insert it). It can save you a ton, especially if you’re staying more than a few days. The main service providers are Swisscom (www.swisscom.ch), Salt (www.salt.ch), and Sunrise (www.sunrise.ch), but you can also buy phones and SIM cards at electronic shops like (www.interdiscount.ch) or MediaMarkt (www.mediamarkt.ch). Note: U.S. contract cellphones are often “locked” and will only work with a SIM card provided by the service provider back home, so check before leaving home that you have an unlocked phone.
Buying a phone is also an option. You can buy a very cheap one and a starter data package for as little as 35CHF, then donate it before flying back. There are a couple of stores selling mobile phones in Zurich Airport, and such stores are often in or near larger train stations.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.