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Last updated : Nov 2009
Switzerland Getting Around - Internal Travel
Switzerland Internal Travel - Getting Around Switzerland -

All services are operated by Swiss. Domestic air travel is fast but costly, and with the exception of the Geneva to Zürich flight (travel time – 45 minutes), many business people prefer to travel either by rail or road.


Rail transport is very well developed in Switzerland, with outstanding services provided by Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (SBB) and many other operators. Use of the Swiss Pass is an excellent way to view the scenery, although mainline services are geared to the needs of the hurried business traveller. Trains run at least hourly from the major centres and there is a country wide timetable of regular services. There are dining cars on many trains, and snacks and refreshments are extensively available.

Independent railways, such as Rhätische Bahn in the Grisons and Berner-Oberland-Bahn, provide services in certain parts of the country. The SBB has introduced specialised cars for the disabled people using wheelchairs. Facilities include lift for wheelchairs, a specially adapted WC and radios adapted for people with hearing difficulties.

There are also a number of mountain railways which are sometimes the only means of access to winter resorts. Some of these are attractions in their own right: the Gornergrat-Bahn in Zermatt is one of the oldest mountain railways and climbs to a height of over 3000m above sea level, offering a stunning view of the Matterhorn and surrounding mountains.

Cheap Fares

Cheap fares are available from Switzerland Tourism. The Swiss Pass gives limitless travel on rail services, those of other main regional operators, boats, an extensive network of buses and city trams, as well as discounted price travel on other mountain railways not included in the full scheme.

Tickets can be purchased either for 4, 8, 15, 21 or 28 days. An STS family card allows children up to 16 years of age to travel free when accompanied by parents. There are also regional tickets for unlimited travel in different parts of Switzerland at different rates.

Other offers include Swiss Transfer Ticket allowing return travel from a Swiss border or airport to a selected destination. A leaflet describing all the schemes can be obtaiend from Switzerland Tourism. A comprehensive timetable for Swiss public transport can also be purchased. InterRail cards are valid.


Traffic drives on the right of the road. Road quality is good. Many mountain roads are winding and narrow, and are often closed in heavy winter conditions; otherwise chains and snow tyres may be necessary. Rail is more efficient than driving.


Postal motor coaches provide services to even the furthest villages, but under the integrated national transport policy few long-distance coaches are allowed to operate.


All taxis have meters for short and long trips, although it is advisable to agree the fare for longer distances out of town in advance.

Car hire

Car hire is available in all towns from hotels and airports and at all manned rail stations. All major European companies are represented in Switzerland.


The minimum age for driving is 18. Seat belts are mandatory and children under 12 years must travel in the back of the car. Dipped headlights are unavoidable during the day. Drinking and driving fines are very heavy.

Speed limits

80kph (50mph) on country lanes; min 60kph (37mph), max 120kph (75mph) on motorways; and 50kph (31mph) in towns.


A national driving licence is adequate. Green Card insurance is advised – ordinary domestic insurance policies are valid but don't provide full cover. The Green Card tops the cover up to the level provided by the visitor’s domestic policy.


The AA and RAC in the United Kingdom are linked with TCS (Touring Club Suisse) and ACS (Automobil Club der Schweiz). Contact the Automobil Club der Schweiz (ACS), Wasserwerkgasse 39, CH-3000 Bern 13 (tel: (31) 328 3111; fax: (31) 311 0310; e-mail: Incase of emergencies, there is a breakdown service offering assistance throughout Switzerland (tel: 140).

Motorway tax (vignette)

An annual road tax of SFr40 is charged on cars and motorbikes using Swiss motorways. An additional fee of SFr40 applies to the trailers and caravans. The vignette (sticker) is valid between 1 December of the year preceding and 31 January of the one following the year printed on the vignette. These permits, available at border crossings, are valid for multiple re-entries into Switzerland within the duration of the licensed period. To avoid hold-ups at the frontier, it is advisable to purchase the vignette in advance: call the Swiss Travel Centre (tel: (00800) 1002 0030) for more details.


Well organized and integrated urban public transport systems serve as a model for other countries. There are tramways and light rail services in Bern, Basel, Geneva, Neuchâtel and Zürich. These and a further dozen cities have trolleybuses.

Fares system is generally automated with machines issuing single or multiple tickets at the roadside. Tickets are also available at the enquiry offices. Fares are according to the zones. There is a day ticket for travel in one or more of Swiss cities on any given day at a standard fare.

Taxis are widely available and drivers expect a 15% tip.

Travel times

The following chart gives estimated travel times (in hours and minutes) from Zürich to other major towns and cities in Switzerland:
    Air   Road   Rail
 Basle 0.30 hrs 1 .10 hrs 1.05 hrs
 Bern - 1.15 hrs 1.10 hrs
 Geneva 0.40 hrsn 2.45 hrs 2.55 hrs
 Lugano 0.45 hrs 3.00 hrs 3.00 hrs
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