Switzerland Insider

Driving in Switzerland

Driving in Switzerland is wonderful because you can access the country in a way that public Swiss transportation is not able to. Also using a car in Switzerland is not difficult. Although some roads are narrow and others are really twisty you should not be afraid. Just make sure your car has the highway toll sticker (Vignette) if you want to use the highway, or use rural roads and enjoy the landscape around you.

A few facts about driving in Switzerland:

  • Driving happens on the right hand side of the road.

  • Carry your driver’s license with you and an official translation if necessary.

  • Speed limits are 120 kph highway, 100 kph expressway, 80 kph country roads (rural area), 50 kph urban areas, 30 kph residential areas (special sign).

  • Make sure that you got winter tires mounted during winter.

  • Blood alcohol level maximum is 0.05%.

Swiss drivers are sticking to traffic rules more diligently than in other countries and some just simply cannot take a foreigner or a rental car in front of them. So, if you get honked at don’t worry too much if you’re not doing anything wrong. This even happens to the Swiss visiting another region.

Driving a car in Switzerland

Trains in Switzerland

Switzerland is famous for its trains and it is worthwhile to experience a scenic train ride in Switzerland at least once. For many this is the favourite way to use Swiss transportation. As a traveller you need to know that there are different kind of trains in Switzerland. There are larger trains that operate between bigger cities, there are regional trains that are smaller and slower and operate usually as feeders for the larger trains and then are commuter trains in cities. On top of that there are many train routes that are intended for tourism such as Glacier Express, GoldenPass Line, Bernina Express or Voralpen Express. These trains though run on the same rail network other trains in these regions.

Trains in Switzerland pride themselves as being among the most punctual in the world. In order to maintain that it is mandatory to have a valid ticket before you board.

You have the following options to get a train ticket in Switzerland:

 

How to ride Swiss trains stress-free:

  • Check the timetable over at SBB because the train really run on time.

  • Seat reservations are not common unless you take the tourist trains where they are mandatory.

  • On most trains there are English announcements at least for stops that are interesting for travellers.

  • You don’t need to request a stop except on some smaller regional trains usually running in the Alps.

  • You can always ask train staff any question even if you make your connecting train.

  • In Switzerland we let the people get off the train first, before we get on.

  • There are dedicated spaces for large suitcases and they will be safe there.

  • You can eat and drink on the train but the codex is that the food has no smell.

  • Your bicycle and your dog need a special ticket 🙂

Insider Tip

There are sometimes discounts if you book tickets online, however you need to take the specific train you book where as normally the ticket is valid for the day.

Also, if you want to have a cool view from the train, it matters what side you sit on. If you travel from Zurich to Lucerne, try to sit on the left. Travelling to Geneva from Berne sit on the left. From Berne to Interlaken sit on the left. From Lucerne to Interlaken sit on the right.

Switzerland by Bus

Although Buses play an integral part of public transportation, buses play a different role in Switzerland. Either they are for short distance or commuter transport in cities ans suburbs or they are the only means of transportation in remote regions. In both cases buses serve as a means to cover the last couple of kilometers of your trip i.e. there will not be a bus from Zurich to Lucerne for example.

If you travel in remote areas of Switzerland the buses will be yellow and called PostAuto. They are famous for their distinct horn to signal their presence behind sharp corners. Usually the routes they have are an adventure so try to get a ride at least once in Switzerland.

Walking/ hiking

Hiking is probably the most popular pastime in Switzerland. Therefore we do have the best maintained hiking routes in the world. They are well indicated and lead through stunning landscapes. If you want to go on a tour in the Alps you can rent your hiking gear on site and talk to locals about what to look out for or hire a guide.

When you go on a hike it’s the time to bring a packed lunch and you Swiss Army knife so you can cut up an apple or so.

Hiking in Switzerland

Cable cars and cogwheel trains

Although they also seem like they are only built for tourism, they are a lifeline for many Swiss. If you want to have the real Swiss experience you need to have travelled at least once on cable car or cogwheel train (such as the Wengernalp Railway). They are all usually quite slow so you will get really get a chance to sit back and relax. Some of them also accept your travel pass like on Mt Rigi (photo).

Switzerland by ship

Although it seems like that ships are only there for sightseeing purposes, they are actually a part of the public transportation system and often used for that. Most ship companies accept the travel passes or offer reasonable ticket prices.

Switzerland by bicycle

If you love cycling then Switzerland is the perfect country to be explored on two wheels. There is a near perfect network of bike lanes and because the country is small you actually get around easily. If that’s too much, then why not renting a bike for a day in a city and immerse in local life?