We are staying in Gimmelwald for three nights. This is our only Swiss destination. Our hotel will accept dollars, Euros or Swss Franc. Will we need to exchange our dollars or euros for SF or will most restaurants (or the store in Murren) and purchasing lifts accept euros or dollars?
Just so you know when you are looking at exchange rates, it is CHF not SF. Most places in Europe will NOT accept dollars, there is no reason for them to. I would never count on using them anywhere in Europe. As far as Euro vs Swiss Franc: When I was in Zurich, some of the places offered to accept either currency, ATMs definitely offered to give either. However, when I was in Baden for a few days (a smaller town north of Zurich) I really don't believe any would have accepted euros and I just used francs the whole time. You will get the best deal if you use local currency. Sure, in Tijuana, Mexico, right across the border they take dollars at the markets, but they're not giving you a proper exchange rate. They are making a lot of money off of taking dollars. I would bet that it is the same with your hotel. They will accept USD or Euro as well as CHF, but you will very likely pay the least if you pay in CHF. I cannot speak specifically on Gimmelwald, but I would not expect every restaurant and ski resort to accept Euros. I would suggest using CHF or a debit/credit card. Take out enough francs from an ATM to last you the three days considering restaurants and shopping. If you need to, convert leftover francs into Euros, but remember that whenever you convert you will always lose money. On a last note, Swiss money is so colorful and beautiful! You may want to keep some anyways!
Can you buy lifts with credit or debit cards? Does anyone know if there is an ATM in Gimmelwald? I think you are right about using CHF rather than euros, I just don't want to get too many and end up losing exchanging them back to euros. Thanks for the help!
We were in Kandersteg in January, the next Oberland valley over. The cafe receipts were in Francs with tiny print at the bottom saying they would take Euros. Dollars are just not an option. The Swiss can get testy about taking Euros, so ask before you pay, but they've had to adjust to the fact that they're surrounded by it and really have no choice to deal in the Euro currency as well.
I do not know if you can buy lifts with credit or debit cards. (I would think yes but hesitate to say it in case it's wrong! Do you know which lifts you will be taking? You can visit their website and that will probably tell you). Also, make sure you have a Visa or Mastercard for Europe, as AmEx and Discover are very rarely accepted. Looking on some posting boards from 2006, there was not one, you had to go to Murren to use an ATM. One may have been put in by now. How are you arriving in Gimmelwald? Most train stations tend to have ATMs, so that is one option. If you are taking the train to Interlaken, pick up some CHF there. If you are arriving by car, you can also stop in a city before you arrive. If there is an ATM, you can even just take out CHF daily so you can avoid taking out too much. If there is not one close by, make a note of how much you plan to pay for meals, lift tickets, and your hotel if you will be paying cash, and then take out that amount plus a little extra.
Three days seems like quite a long time to try to get around with no local currency. Use your ATM card and take out some CHF. Even if a store accepts foreign currency, you will likely get a terrible exchange rate. I would suggest that you get some local currency from an ATM. I always get some local currency ... even if I am only in a country for a single day. If you have a small amount left over, most airports will let you buy things in foreign currency, so buy something at the duty free shop on your way back to the States and pay in CHF.
Ooh good note from Laura. That's what I did with my extra euros at Rome's airport. Splurged and bought some duty free Prada.
Speaking of using US dollars in Europe, have you tried to use Euros to pay for anything here in the US?
Almost like the old days before there were Euros. At each border crossing there seemed to be a shop selling local chocolates which was glad to allow you to use up all your spare change from the country you were leaving. Swiss chocolate is wonderful, so stock up on your CHF
Susan and Monte, I wouldn't suggest trying to use US dollars anywhere in Europe. Many places simply won't accept them, and those that do usually provide dreadful exchange rates. This is not hard to understand as it costs the merchants time and money to exchange foreign currency, which is probably not something they want to do with currency they don't deal with too often. Some merchants and Hotels in Switzerland will accept Euro's but again the exchange rates aren't always too favourable. They got lots of visitors from Euro countries, so I'm sure they try to "cater to them" as much as possible. Some locations in Switzerland simply DON'T accept Euro's, so it's best to have Swiss Francs on hand when travelling there. One example is the McClean coin-operated washrooms in the station in Basel. As far as I could determine, those are the ONLY washrooms in the station, so travellers that don't have Swiss coins on hand will be "out of luck"! There are no ATM's in Gimmelwald, but there are in Mürren which is the next town up the hill. You can either walk up the paved trail from Gimmelwald (takes about 30-minutes at a brisk pace) or about 5-minutes on the Cable Car. As I recall, there's one outside the Co-Op Grocery Store. Happy travels!
You do realize that Gimmelwald is a crossroads of a couple of footpaths, don't you? No ATM. In the days BR (Before Rick) there was practically nothing there for a tourist.
Yes, I realize Gimmelwald is a tiny village, just didn't know if anything had changed since I was there in 2005. I figured I'd have to go to Murren for an ATM. When we were there last time we bought most of our food from locals in town and went to one restaurant and the hostel to eat. So, I was just thinking that we really won't need much money so maybe euros would be ok if accepted, especially since we could use a credit card for lifts. But, I guess that is a silly idea. We'll get some CHF at the border like we did last time. Don't want to have to head to Murrren just to get cash. Thanks for the help.
Susan, I can't remember if you are coming into Switzerland from the South or North. If from the South, you will change trains at Spiez. At the Spiez train station, in the middle of your 11 minute or so train change, run around the back of the small train station there and there is an ATM on the backside. (at least there used to be). You will quickly have Swiss Francs. If you are still in possession of Euros in the Lauterbrunnen area, one suggestion is to have a nice lunch or dinner at the Hotel Silberhorn near the Lauterbrunnen train station. Their menu, which you can see at www.silberhorn.com, shows prices in both Swiss Francs and Euros. They will also accept your credit card. The food is very good as well (we've stayed there).
Thanks Larry. Actually we will be driving a car coming from Lake Como. Last time we stopped at the border to buy the Swiss driving pass and got CHF at that time. After Switzerland we will be back to Euros for another two weeks, so we'll just have to plan our ATM withdrawals so we don't end up with excessive CHF's to have to change back into Euros. No big deal...it's just money! But the restaurant sounds good!