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Travel to Switzerland
Getting here by all means of transportation

No matter where you live, travel to Switzerland is pretty easy. Conveniently located in the heart of Europe, you can visit Switzerland by practically any mode of transportation, even on foot if that is what you desire :)

Following a few things that are important to consider when you travel to Switzerland:

Border Crossings | Air | Private Airport Transfers | Train

Car/Motorbike | By Bus | Ship/Boat/Ferry | Bicycle

Border Crossings

You are probably aware that Switzerland is not part of the European Union and therefore, border control is still in effect, and duties and taxes are applicable at all borders, no matter the mode of transportation you choose to travel to Switzerland. Often the border police only takes a quick glance at your documents, but they do have the right to search you, your luggage and your vehicle without explanation. You have to declare taxable goods without being asked. If you get caught, the fine can be steep.

For a list with goods that you are allowed to import please check the official Government website.

Though we are not part of the EU, the Schengen Visa does apply when you visit Switzerland.

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By Air

Many airlines fly non-stop to the main airports Zürich (ZRH) and Geneva-Cointrin (GVA) from overseas and Europe.

Basel-Mulhouse (EuroAirport)(MLH), Bern-Belp (BRN), and Lugano-Agno (LUG) are frequented by European flights, local and business airlines, and air taxis.

The Airports in Samedan (EngadinAirport) (SMV), Grenchen (ZHI), Lausanne (QLS), Sitten/Sion (SIR), Locarno (ZJI) and St.Gallen-Altenrhein (ACH) are open to private and business jets, taxi flights and helicopters for local and cross border flights.

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Transfer from the Airport to your Destination

Thanks to the excellent Swiss transport system, transfer is easy, convenient and reliable. Train, bus and/or taxi bring you quickly from the airport to downtown and beyond, no matter where you arrive.

  • Airport Zürich: The train station is conveniently located at the lower level of Check-In 3;
  • Euroairport Basel: A bus connects you with downtown Basel and the train station;
  • Geneva Aéroport: Access by public transport (bus and train). You can buy train tickets in the baggage claim area upon arrival. If you stay overnight in Geneva you are eligible for free transport into the city. Show your hotel reservation at the info booth and they will hand you out the ticket.

If you continue your travel by train, you often can send your luggage directly to your destination, and back home - Fly-Rail-Baggage - which means you don't have to wait for checked luggage at the airport carousel and lug it to the train. Check with your airline though. Not every airline accepts check-in's from train stations.

Private Airport transfers

You prefer private airport transfer? For example, you travel in a group, with family and kids in tow or have a ton of luggage? Then, a private transfer might be a convenient option for you to get easy and quickly to your hotel. Prices are usually per group and not per person.

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By Train

Trains arrive from all parts of Europe daily and often in hourly intervals. International trains are:

  • TGV (high speed) from France several times daily to Geneva, Basel and Zürich
  • ICE (high speed), EuroCity (EC) trains from Germany hourly to Basel and Zürich.
  • Railjet, IC (InterCity) from Austria to Buchs, Sargans and Zürich
  • EurostarItalia/Cisalpino and EuroCity (EC) from Italy to Lugano/Bellinzona and Zürich

Night trains link Europe with Switzerland. They offer comfortable sleeping bunks/couchettes and compartments (reservation necessary):

  • EuroNight (EN)
  • CityNightLine (CNL)

More about Train Travel in Switzerland:

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By Car, Motorbike and Caravan

To be able to drive on motorways (Autobahn/Autoroute/Autstrada), you need to purchase a Swiss Motorway Vignette (Tax Sticker), mandatory for all motorized vehicles and trailers up to a weight of 3,5 t (Vehicles weighing more will have to be assessed).

The sticker costs CHF 40.00 and can be purchased on gas stations and Autobahnraststätten (motorway service stations and kiosk) shortly before the Swiss border (coming from Germany, France, Austria, Liechtenstein and Italy), at German post offices, from your automobile club, at the Swiss border directly or online from the Switzerland Travel Centre.

Don't forget to stick it on the inside of your windshield (motorbikes on unmovable parts of the bike), or you will risk a fine, even if you have the sticker with you.

Stickers are valid for a calendar year, more precisely from December 1st to January 31st the following year (14 month), and are non-transferable and non-refundable, even if not used. If you bring a trailer or caravan you need an extra sticker.

Speed Limits, even if not particularly marked:

  • 120 km/h (74 mph) on motorways
  • 80 km/h (49 mph)on normal roads and inside tunnels
  • 50 km/h (31 mph) (or less, depending on the signs it can be 30 km/h (19 mph) and/or 20 km/h (12mph) inside cities, towns and villages
  • Vehicles unable to travel 80 km/h (40 mph) are not allowed on motorways

Traffic rules are strictly enforced, and if you get fined, be prepared to pay it on the spot. Approx. 20 mph too much on motorways can easily rid you of CHF 300.

Blood alcohol level: 0.05%. You can loose your drivers' license immediately.

Cell phones are not allowed to use unless you have a hands-free device (fine CHF 100).

Trailers, Caravans and Motor-Caravans can't exceed certain limits:

  • Height 4 m
  • Width 2,55 m
  • Length (incl. Shaft) 12 m
  • Overall length (car and trailer or caravan) 18,75m
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By Bus

Travelling to Switzerland by bus is easy peasy if you don't mind to sit for hours on the same spot, whereas in trains it's possible to walk around, stretch your legs or even take a sleeper coach.

Buses are running on a regular schedule from major European cities to Switzerland. Bus trips to Switzerland tend to be a little cheaper than travelling by train

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By Ship, Boat and Ferry

Technically you can travel to Switzerland by ship, boat and ferry:

  • Rhine cruises to Basel
  • On boundary waters from Germany, Austria, France and Italy

Anyone who arrives on a boat must report to the customs dock to declare boat (if private) and goods. All passengers must have valid travel documentations.

The Federal Customs Administrations has offices in:

  • St. Gingolph, Lausanne-Ouchy and Geneva for arrivals on Lake Geneva (Lac Léman)
  • Rorschach, Romanshorn and Basel-Kleinhüningen (border crossing at Basle North) for travels on Lake Constance (Bodensee) and Rhine. The ferry between Friedrichshafen and Romanshorn transports vehicles too.
  • Gandria, Ponte Tresa and Brusio for travels on Lake Lugano
  • Verbano for travels on Lake Maggiore
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By Bicycle

Wearing a bicycle helmet is not mandatory, but recommended. Security through visibility: Reflectors front, rear and on pedals are mandatory, and so is a round light for after sundown, night and in tunnels as well as a bell.

The bicycle tax sticker (Velo Vignette) was abolished for 2012 and onward. Make sure your personal liability insurance includes accidents by bicycle.

All you need to visit Switzerland by bicycle (or on foot) is your personal travel documentation.

Switzerland Advisor Certificat

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Train Travel Tips

Switzerland train travel tips Katja (Managing Clerk Raetian Railway)
The Train Travel Specialist

The extensive network of train and busses connects the remotest village with the big city on regular intervals. Train Travel in Switzerland is convenient and reliable as clockwork. Need some help in getting around? Check out our train travel tips.

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