Switzerland Currency Exchange Guide

Switzerland is one of the most scenic countries in the world, with towering mountains, pristine lakes, and picturesque villages. It is also home to some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the Alps, making it a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts. In addition to its natural beauty, Switzerland boasts a rich cultural heritage, with traditional Swiss folk music and dance, as well as a vibrant art scene. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing holiday or an action-packed adventure, you are sure to make your time in Switzerland an unforgettable experience.

General Switzerland Currency Information

What is the currency of Switzerland?

The official currency of Switzerland is the Swiss franc (CHF). CHF stands for Confoederatio Helvetica Franc.

What do Switzerland notes & coins look like?

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Switzerland’s ninth banknote series represents the country in a unique and inspiring way. The design for each note celebrates a different Swiss characteristic, culminating in a harmonious composition that includes visuals to represent an action, a specific Swiss location, and graphic elements. The central idea behind the new series is ‘The many facets of Switzerland’, emphasising its diverse culture and variety of experiences that one can have within this small country. From the jagged alps rising up above valleys to the rolling plains or glistening lakes – all captured with modern Swiss sophistication on crisp paper money.

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Swiss currency coins have a unique visual style, and each denomination features its own design. The 5 centimes feature the head of Liberty on one side, surrounded by a wreath of grapes. On the reverse is the numeral “5”. The 10 centimes show the head of Liberty on one side and a wreath of oak leaves with its denomination as “10”. Helvetia is featured on the 50 centimes, 1 franc, and 2 francs coins, with their respective denominations printed along with a wreath of oak leaves and gentian. For 5 francs coins, a bust of an alpine herdsman is featured on one side, whilst the Federal coat of arms is shown alongside “5 Fr.”, plus branches of edelweiss and gentian. All these elements combined combine to create an aesthetically beautiful Swiss coinage that can be treasured for years to come.

Economy

Switzerland has a stable, prosperous and high-tech economy. The country is known for its financial services, precision manufacturing and its chemical and pharmaceutical industries. It also has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. Tourism is another major source of income in Switzerland, with the beautiful scenery and numerous attractions drawing millions of visitors each year.

Brief currency history

Up until 1798, over 75 separate entities in Switzerland issued coins, resulting in a total of 860 unique denominations, weights, and monetary systems. Included were thalers from several Swiss cities such as Bern, Basel, Zurich, and Geneva.

The Berne thaler served as the basis for the new monetary system introduced in the Helvetic Republic in 1798; one thaler was worth six grams and three-quarters of an ounce of silver. Although the Helvetic Republic officially dissolved in 1803, the franc continued to be used as the basis for currency in numerous Reformed Swiss Confederation states.

In 1848, the Swiss federal government became the sole entity authorized to create money per the country’s new federal constitution. On the 7th of May 1850, the Federal Assembly passed the first federal monetary statute (Federal Coinage Act), officially establishing the franc as Switzerland’s currency. Francs from both Switzerland and France entered circulation at the same time.

Between 1865 to the 1920s, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Italy formed the Latin Monetary Union. All four nations’ currencies had pegged values to silver, including the Swiss franc in the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates. After WWII, a system was established by the Swiss National Bank and used until the early 1970s. The value of the Swiss franc was pegged to the price of gold until May of 2000.

The ninth series of Swiss National Banknotes were introduced in April 2016. The 50-franc note began circulating in April 2016, with the 20- and 10-franc notes following in May and October 2017, respectively. The 200-franc note was released in August 2018, followed by the 1000-franc bill in March 2019. The 100-franc note – the last denomination – went into circulation on September 12, 2019. These colourful notes feature designs that are meant to honour and celebrate Switzerland’s history and culture.

Today, the Swiss franc is the only official currency of Switzerland and an internationally traded currency, as it remains one of the most reliable stores of value in the world. It is also a popular choice for many investors due to its stability amidst times of global uncertainty.

Taking Travel Money to Switzerland

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What currency should I take to Switzerland?

If you’re travelling to Switzerland, you’ll need to exchange your Australian dollars (AUD) for Swiss francs (CHF) before you leave. Get information on converting AUD to CHF here.

Is it better to convert currency in Australia or Switzerland?

Converting your Australian dollars back home is generally the better option. Many foreign currency exchange companies in Australia will offer better rates than you’ll find in Switzerland, so it’s best to convert your money before leaving. Plus, it’s a huge advantage to own currency in Swiss francs before you arrive, as you’ll have access to your funds right away.

How much can I take to Switzerland?

Though there is no limit to the amount of cash you can bring into Switzerland, customs officials are allowed to seize any sum over CHF 10,000 if they have reason to believe a crime has been committed. Any transaction exceeding CHF 10,000 will also be recorded in the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security’s computer system.

Where to convert currency?

You can convert your Australian dollars for travel money to any Crown Currency Exchange store. We offer a competitive exchange rate and don’t charge any hidden fees, so you’ll get more for your money.

For reliable, safe and quick currency conversions, visit Crown Currency Exchange today. With us, you’ll get more foreign currencies for your Australian dollars and have them ready before you leave.

Is tipping customary in Switzerland? How much is expected?

In Switzerland, the tip is already built into the purchase, so there’s no need to stress about it. But if you want to put a smile on the face of the person who just delivered good service, round up to the closest franc or round amount.

Restaurant: Even if a service fee is already factored into the final bill, it’s still customary to leave an additional 8-10% tip for a job well done. Tips might be lower or more than this proportion depending on the quality of the establishment and the quality of the service you receive.

Taxi driver: Taxi fares in Switzerland are notoriously pricey, with the city of Zurich boasting the highest average fee in the world. While a 3-kilometre trip will cost you 17,40 Swiss francs, you may as well pay 18 CHF in cash and ask them to keep the change.

Salon: Tipping at a salon is not common, but you can choose to give an extra 5-10% off if you are pleased with the service.

Bartender: If you’re ordering a few drinks at a bar, it’s common to round up the total amount to the nearest 5 or 10 CHF and leave the difference as a tip. For example, if your bill came to 15.50 CHF, you might leave 20 CHF in cash and tell them to keep the change.

Hotel staff: It’s customary to tip bellhops and cleaning staff 2-5CHF per day and the concierge 4-6 CHF. The same goes for porters, valet drivers, and room service staff.

Tour guides: 10-15% is expected of tour guides after a successful outing. For example, if the guide charged you 50 CHF for the tour, a 5 CHF tip will suffice.

Can you bargain in Switzerland?

Bargaining in Switzerland is not a common practice. However, you may be able to find discounts or deals if you know where to look and are prepared to politely inquire. Showing respect for the merchant and their services is key; keep your tone businesslike, cordial and amiable. Make sure to research prices beforehand so you have a general idea of the market rate, as trying to excessively haggle will likely result in leaving empty-handed. Being patient and friendly can go a long way.

What is ATM access like in Switzerland?

Switzerland’s financial system is designed for convenience, with a wide range of ATMs accessible throughout the nation. It has been estimated that over 90% of residents live within a 2.7 km radius of an ATM and 3.7 km from a bank branch, meaning access to cash is usually straightforward.

Additionally, the introduction of digital banking, mobile phones and internet access in Switzerland has greatly added to the already robust infrastructure which supports convenient cash withdrawal solutions. This means that finding nearby ATMs is not only easy but often quick and straightforward as well.

What should you budget per day?

Budget

If you’re travelling to Switzerland on a budget, we suggest allocating 90-100 CHF (AUD $141-157) per day. This is enough for accommodation in a hostel dorm, meals cooked at home, using public transit, limiting alcoholic beverages and taking advantage of the country’s many free activities such as sightseeing and going on walking tours. All of this can be done without compromising your experience.

Moderate

For those who are travelling to Switzerland and wanting a mid-range budget, an estimate of 200-220 CHF (AUD $314-346) per day should cover accommodation in an Airbnb rental, basic meals at restaurants, drinks, transportation via taxi or public transportation, as well as some tours and activities that incur an additional fee. With this budget range, travellers can find the perfect balance between cost savings and experiences in Switzerland.

Luxury

Budgeting at least 400 CHF (AUD $630) or more per day is recommended for an optimal luxury experience. This amount of spending money would cover a night in a hotel, all of your meals while dining out, beverages, transportation costs such as car rentals or taxis and any touristic activities desired. With this level of budget allocation, you will be certain to craft a surprise-filled and luxurious itinerary. And if you wish for your experience to extend beyond the ordinary, there is no limit to what you can enjoy with a daily budget like this.

Currency details

Currency:

Swiss franc

Currency code:

CHF

Currency symbol:

CHF

Central bank:

Swiss National Bank

Nickname:

Swissie

Currency sub-unit:

Rappen (German), centime (French), centesimo (Italian), rap (Romansh) = 1/100

Bank notes:

10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 1,000 francs

Coins:

5, 10, 20 centimes, 1⁄2, 1, 2, 5 francs

Must-do's while you are in Switzerland

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1. Take a Ride on the Glacier Express Train 

The Glacier Express train has been running through the Swiss Alps since 1930, and it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. The journey takes about seven hours and goes through 91 tunnels and over 291 bridges—making it one of the most scenic train rides in Europe. You’ll be able to take in incredible views of snow-capped mountains, glacial valleys, picturesque villages, and dramatic gorges as you ride through some of Switzerland’s most spectacular landscapes. 

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2. Visit Lucerne 

Lucerne is one of Switzerland’s most popular cities, thanks to its unique blend of old-world charm and modern amenities. It’s situated right on Lake Lucerne, with stunning mountain views all around. Some must-see attractions include the Chapel Bridge—the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe—and the iconic Lion Monument carved into a sandstone cliff face. Make sure you also take time to explore Old Town with its cobblestone streets and colourful buildings housing an array of shops, restaurants, galleries, and more! 

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3. Explore Interlaken

Interlaken is another popular destination for tourists visiting Switzerland—especially those who love outdoor activities like skiing, hiking, biking, paragliding, rafting and more! Not only does this city offer access to some of Europe’s best skiing areas, but it also provides visitors with a unique opportunity to explore two very distinct regions — Jungfrau (mountains) and Thun (lake). Spend your days exploring Interlaken’s many trails or hop aboard one of their cable cars for a birds-eye view of everything this region has to offer!  

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4. Take a Cruise on Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva is one of the largest and most spectacular lakes in Europe, and taking a cruise on it is one of the best ways to experience its beauty. From the comfort of your boat, you’ll get stunning views of snow-capped mountains, terraced vineyards, quaint villages, and grand chateaus. Cruises depart from the picturesque city of Geneva and take you all around the lake, giving you plenty of time to soak in the scenery.

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5. Try Swiss Fondue

No trip to Switzerland is complete without trying a traditional Swiss fondue! This classic Swiss dish consists of melted cheese served with crusty bread for dipping. While there are many variations of fondue, the most popular is a blend of Gruyère and Emmental cheeses. There are plenty of restaurants in Switzerland that offer fondue, so make sure you sample some for an authentic Swiss experience!

Other helpful guides & resources on travel in Switzerland

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