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19 Ways to Please the Swiss

Swiss First Names - Hansueli

Once you have introduced yourself to your new neighbors, it is time to master the more subtle ways of integrating in Switzerland.

Granted, no matter how much common sense you think you have, the Swiss tick differently. Or have you ever been to a country where they carry "Freitag" bags every day of the week? For the first time ever, we will let you in on the secret ways to get into the heads of the Swiss. If you apply our tried and tested wisdom with your colleagues, friends-to-be and neighbors, we will short of guarantee that you will please those Swiss...

Here are 19 ways to please the Swiss:

1. Always (always!) say "Grüezi" when hiking the Swiss Alps, even if you are totally out of breath. Swiss will consider you as one of them - otherwise, you identify yourself as a foreigner.

2. But even if you could pronounce "Grüezi" perfectly – resist. Use your accent as an advantage - the Swiss will find it very likable!

3. Say that the Swiss Alps are the most gorgeous mountains you have ever seen. Austrians will tell you that their mountains are at least as beautiful (and considerably cheaper for skiing).

4. Praise cheese fondue on any occasion, even if you absolutely hate melted cheese and the awful odor that sticks to your clothes for the next two weeks...

5. If you are invited for dinner, don't leave by 9 PM. Try to be the last one to leave (say, at 2 AM), and your hosts will consider you a local.

6. Say that you love the punctuality of Swiss trains. The Swiss are proud to have the best public transportation system in the world. (That's a fact and we apologize to our Japanese readers.)

7. Remember first names and use them often in conversation (but pronounce them correctly...)

8. On your birthday, bring a home-made cake to the office - or Weggli buns and chocolate bars!

9. Buy your Swiss neighbors a snack or a box of chocolate when you go to the bakery. You will be surprised how much this is appreciated. In the end, a good neighbor is worth a lot...

10. When you get a gift from a Swiss, always ask whether it is hand-made. If it is hand-made, you will be admired for having an eye for details. If not, at least you have asked...

11. Say that you prefer Swiss apples over imported bananas. Although the myth that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" has long been disproved, the Swiss still perceive apples as a staple food.

12. Do not stress a Swiss by pushing them. In any situation. Swiss love it their way, at their speed. Besides, even though they are told not to be fast, they actually work extremely hard!

13. Be punctual. When you agree to meet at 10 PM, be there between 10:00 and 10:05. Don't show up before, and especially not after! If stuck in traffic, give a call.

14. Invite your Swiss neighbors or friends for dinner at your place. They are very excited to visit you and see how you live.

15. Allow for breaks in conversations. The Swiss love this as a way of thinking through what has just been said. You will notice that it is actually quite a nice habit - the Swiss have known it for a long time.

16. Pronounce the word Chuchichäschtli to perfection and watch your Swiss conterpart's face light up.

17. Ask: "What are the local specialties in your region? Where can I find that?"

18. Don't ask Swiss for their position on joining the European Union. The EU is the most delicate topic you could stumble upon, as Swiss are divided exactly 50/50 on this.

19. And don't bring up the banking system in Switzerland. Just don't.

Can you say "Hansueli"? Good. Now learn how to piss off the Swiss...

Dimitri Burkhard

As the founder, editor, and community manager of Newly Swissed, Dimitri owns the strategic vision. He is passionate about storytelling and is a member of Swiss Travel Communicators. Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.


  • This may be rude to ask here, but I can think of no better place and your site is so helpful: I am a creationist. In America a creationist will be met with some derision but accepted (though I don’t like talking on the subject, it is just what I believe. I have many friends here in America and am well-liked). Will I have no friends in Switzerland while I have these beliefs? Consider that I love almost everything about the Swiss and will constantly praise the country if I am fortunate enough to live there.

    • Just. Don’t. Tell. Anybody. Say rather something like “you have your own kind of spirituality” and then skip over to other topics.. since you don’t like to talk on the subject either, it shouldn’t be difficult. With all respect, 99% of the population would think that there’s something massively wrong with you, and the 1% who doesn’t – well, you wouldn’t like him/her ;-)

    • You will be fine. As long as you have manners and your polite anyone Swiss will be happy to be your friend. Just make sure not be bring up that topic

  • Have you been to the non-German parts of CH? It seems not, because you would have some problems (e.g. when saying Grüezi instead of Bonjour) :-D

  • 6. Good and punctual trains in Switzerland??? Since I travelled by train in Japan, I enviously hate our public transportation system (btw called “öV”) in Switzerland! Or don’t you know the word “Stellwerkstörung” ?

    • Yes, the Japanese are way ahead when it comes to the punctuality of public transportation. Could it be because the station platforms are marked, speeding up the process of getting on/off the train?

      And yes, “Stellwerkstörung” is the un-word of the decade. But have you noticed that lately, stations have been announcing a multitude of reasons for delays – except “Stellwerkstörung”? ^Dimitri

      • It is not only the platform marks but as well the discipline of Japanese people who strictly follow them. But the essential advantage of the Shinkansen are their separate tracks. In Switzerland all rails are communally used for express, local and even cargo trains.
        Another frequent reason for delays is called “Personenunfall” which is meant to be a suicide (statistically each engine driver is confronted with this case 1.7 times in his carreer).

Dimitri Burkhard

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