Transport in Switzerland

Getting There
If Switzerland is your first European stop, it is useful to note that there are air connections between Switzerland and all the major world cities. Most international flights into Switzerland will arrive at Bern, Geneva or Zurich while flights from the continent also fly into Basel airport. The country’s national carrier Swissair offers services to all the major US cities as well as over one hundred worldwide destinations

If you are travelling around Europe on a Eurail or Interail pass, however, making your way to Switzerland by train is also extremely popular among backpackers. All the major cities have rail services to and from the bigger Swiss cities so whatever part of Europe you are in, it shouldn’t be too difficult to make your way to Switzerland. There principal connections between Paris and Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich and most are TGV which means you should make it to anywhere in Switzerland within five hours. This method of transport can prove very expensive but by travelling between the destinations on the Eurail or Interail network you can cut your costs considerably. Other continental connections are between England, Germany, Holland and Switzerland.

Several European cities also offer direct bus connections to the major Swiss cities and while the service is much slower and less comfortable, it usually works out somewhat cheaper. Busabout operates to Geneva, Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen and Lucerne and Eurolines operate services to Basel and Zurich.

Finally, if you have plenty of time and money to spare and want to go for something completely different you could always travel to Switzerland by lake steamer ferries from Germany or Italy or by boat along the Rhine from Amsterdam.

Getting Around
The Swiss public transport system incorporates trains, buses, boats and cable cars but the most popular of all forms of transport would have to be its impressive rail system. One of the best in the world, it is comfortable and reliable and you can use your Interail or Eurail pass. As well as these, however, the Swiss Federal Railway also offers a number of its own individual passes. The Swiss Pass allows unlimited travel on all forms of public transport and can be purchased for use over eight, fifteen or thirty days. All passes can also be purchased for either first or second class travel and the difference between the two is substantial. The Swiss Card is a pass which is valid for one month and entitles the holder to half fare trips on all forms of public transport. Finally, another option is the Swiss Regional Pass which divides the country into a number of districts and offers unlimited travel within the region. If you hold the aforementioned Swiss Pass or Swiss Card you are also entitled to a 20% discount of a regional pass.

Bus travel in Switzerland is mainly used to travel into the mountains or to connect from one rail station to another. As well as this all passes entitle you to discounts on both bus and rail so it is more common to avail of the discount on trains rather than buses. When it comes to travel in higher altitudes, however, the yellow postal buses offer an excellent way to see the country’s magnificent scenery.

Another popular form of public transport, particularly in summer, takes place on the country’s waterways and again, you Swiss Pass or Swiss Card is valid to unlimited travel on all lake steamers.

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