Getting round in Switzerland – Lonely Planet


The previous maxim that the journey is the vacation spot by no means rings more true than in Switzerland. This can be a nation of hairpin-bend highway journeys, practice traces that gap out the Alps like Swiss cheese, and dreamy boat journeys throughout crystalline lakes.

However journey in Switzerland isn’t solely stunning, it’s additionally environmentally sound. The eco-minded Swiss have nailed rail journey like no different nation, and climate-neutral boats, solar-powered cable vehicles, electrical buses and car-free cities and resorts additional increase its sustainable credentials. The whole nation is drivable by e-car, too, with plentiful charging stations. Journeys right here aren’t nearly getting from A to B, they’re moments you’ll be raving about for years to come back.

Prepare journey in Switzerland is solely a pleasure © Alessandro Lai / Getty Photographs


You’ve acquired at hand it to the Swiss, their trains actually are the dream: environment friendly, slickly fashionable, eco-friendly and with views that preserve you glued to the window for your entire length of the journey – come rain or shine, summer time or winter. The well-known panorama vacationer trains (with the massive home windows) are simply tip-of-the-iceberg stuff: common scheduled companies (which regularly ply the identical routes because the vacationer trains) might be simply as pleasurable and considerably cheaper.

Most main cities, together with Bern, Geneva, Zurich and Basel, are related by rail, with each day companies between them. Tickets don’t must be purchased upfront, and might be bought at stations on the day of journey, or by way of the official Swiss Railways web site. That mentioned, there are often sizable reductions obtainable for reserving “supersaver” tickets forward of journey.

Switzerland’s panoramic trains

Primarily geared toward vacationers, these named trains typically have vehicles with additional giant home windows to benefit from the unbelievable surroundings. All of them require reservation, with tickets often offered for a selected leg on the routes, moderately than the total journey.

Glacier Categorical – the wow by no means leaves your lips on this legendary Alpine practice journey between Zermatt and St Moritz. The Brig-Zermatt Alpine leg makes for fairly highly effective viewing, as does the world between Disentis/Mustér and Brig.

GoldenPass Line – skirting the shores of a few of Switzerland’s most ravishing lakes, this route hyperlinks Lucerne to Montreux. The journey is in three legs, and you need to change trains twice. Common trains, with out panoramic home windows, work the entire route hourly.

Bernina Categorical – negotiates 55 tunnels and 196 bridges because it travels between Engadine one-way from Chur to Tirano in 4 hours, hitting its excessive level at 2253m above sea degree. Between Could and October, you possibly can proceed from Tirano to Lugano by bus.

Mont Blanc/St Bernard Expresses – from Martigny to Chamonix, France, or over the sensationally wild St Bernard Go.

Voralpen Categorical – glides between Lake Constance and Lake Lucerne, by St Gallen, Rapperswil and Romanshorn.

Gotthard Panorama Categorical – this rail-boat combo begins with a beautiful 2½-hour cruise throughout Lake Lucerne to Flüelen, from the place a practice winds its means by ravines and previous mountains to Bellinzona or Lugano.

The curving Julier Go on the drive from Chur to St Moritz © Francesco Vaninetti Picture / Getty Photographs


Skirting lakes and vineyards and twisting up and over passes within the excessive Alps, Switzerland’s roads are stunning on a cinematic scale, and the nation has loads of drives which might be too darned scenic to hurry.

The headline highway journey is the 1600km Grand Tour of Switzerland, an epic, efficiently-signposted lap of the nation that hyperlinks 12 Unesco World Heritage Websites and reveals off the Alpine nation from its most flattering angles. And the environmental clincher? It’s fully driveable by electrical automotive.

You’ll discover automotive rental corporations at airports and in cities and cities. Many now lease out electrical vehicles, too. The minimal rental age is often 25 however falls to twenty at some native companies; you all the time want a bank card. In winter, rental vehicles are often geared up with winter tyres. Main automotive rent corporations together with Sixt and Europcar lease out electrical automobiles, together with the most recent Tesla fashions. To seek out charging stations en route, take a look at the Alpiq clickable map.

You’ll must pay an annual one-off cost of Sfr40 to make use of Swiss freeways and semi-freeways, recognized by inexperienced indicators. The cost is payable (in money, together with euros) on the border, at Swiss petrol stations and put up workplaces, and at Swiss vacationer workplaces overseas. Upon paying the tax, you may obtain a sticker (vignette in French and German, contrassegno in Italian) that have to be displayed on the windscreen.

Switzerland’s roads are effectively signposted and maintained, however it’s best to all the time test situations earlier than heading up into the Alps, particularly in winter. The very best passes are solely open from June to October and, relying on the climate, you could want to make use of a tunnel as an alternative.


In case you are in no hurry, Switzerland’s brilliant yellow postal buses could be a enjoyable approach to attain the distant mountain areas. The nation’s PostBus service is synchronised with practice arrivals, and bus stops are handily situated proper subsequent to railway stations.

Journey is one class solely and fares are comparable to coach fares. Swiss nationwide journey passes are legitimate, however just a few tourist-oriented Alpine routes levy a surcharge. Tickets are bought from the motive force, although on some scenic routes over the Alps (for example the Lugano to St Moritz run) reservations are mandatory.

A cable automotive dangles excessive above the Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland © Pete Seaward / Lonely Planet

Mountain Railway

What a approach to commute! The cable vehicles, funiculars, cogwheel railways and gondolas that climb as much as the nation’s highest Alpine reaches are an absolute pleasure to expertise, and a spotlight of travelling in Switzerland (as long as you might have a head for heights!).

True marvels of engineering, the mountain gondolas graze treetops, the rail-bound funiculars shimmy precariously near rock faces, and cable vehicles wobble throughout valleys (don’t fear – they’re secure and topic to common checks), earlier than all emerge at a spectacularly snowy summit or glacier. It’s effectively price trying out what money-saving passes can be found regionally as they invariably work out cheaper than particular person tickets and prices can rapidly mount up in a rustic with a lot vertical.

A phrase of warning: all the time test what time the final cable automotive goes down the mountain – in winter it is as early as 4pm in mountain resorts.


There’s no sea for miles, however boats ply all of Switzerland’s bigger lakes, serviced by steamers operated by Swiss Federal Railways, or non-public corporations for which nationwide journey passes are legitimate.

Passenger boats might be discovered operating on Lake Geneva, Constance, Lucerne, Lugano, Neuchâtel, Biel, Murten, Thun, Brienz and Zug. Travelling by boat here’s a gradual and delightfully scenic approach to get round.

Lugano is only one of many very good locations to cycle in Switzerland © Skymilky / Shutterstock


Whether or not you’re seeking to crawl up hills on a highway bike, tear down trails on a mountain bike or just fancy a delicate pedal alongside one in all Switzerland’s shimmering lakes, Switzerland is brilliantly arrange for cyclists. Many cities have free or cheap bike-hire schemes, and bicycle and e-bike rental is often obtainable at practice stations.

This can be a unbelievable nation for two-wheel escapades, with many well-signed and extremely scenic cycle routes heading alongside rivers or lakeshores. For particulars on nationwide, regional and native routes, rental (together with e-bike rental), bike-friendly lodging, guides and maps, go to SwitzerlandMobility.

Bikes might be taken on slower trains, and typically even on InterCity (IC) or EuroCity (EC) trains, when there’s room within the baggage carriage. Advance reserving is typically mandatory.

Accessible transportation in Switzerland

Switzerland ranks among the many world’s most simply navigable international locations for travellers with bodily disabilities. Most practice stations have a cellular raise for boarding trains and metropolis buses are geared up with ramps. Nearly all of fashionable accommodations even have wheelchair entry (though funds pensions have a tendency to not have lifts).

Switzerland Tourism has glorious journey suggestions for folks with bodily disabilities. Or get in contact with Procap, who’re an authority on barrier-free journey in Switzerland.

For extra data, obtain Lonely Planet’s free Accessible Journey information.

Transport passes

Although journey in Switzerland is environment friendly and handy, it can be costly, and guests planning to make use of inter-city routes ought to think about investing in a Swiss Journey Go. Timetables typically confer with Werktags (workdays), which implies Mondays to Saturdays, except ausser Samstag (‘besides Saturday’) is said. For timetables and tickets, go to SBB.

The Swiss Journey System is an interconnected internet of trains, boats, cable vehicles and postal buses that places nearly your entire nation inside straightforward car-free attain – and, naturally, with its well-known precision you possibly can set your watch by it. The web site is a good one-stop store for passes and tickets.

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