When people ask about transportation in Switzerland, they will hear a lot of praise about its public transportation system. And, indeed, the most popular travel mode in this country is public transportation. All trains, buses, and trams are always on time and run in every city. The time table is available at every station. There are trolleybuses in large cities, such as Zurich, Bern, Lugano, Geneva. Lausanne has a subway which opened in 2008.
It is safe to say that Switzerland’s public transport network is safe and efficient. Covering the entire country. It is possible to book a taxi or a limousine service everywhere or take a boat ride on one of the country’s many rivers and lakes. There is a good network for air travel too. The planes operate internationally as well as internally. This all sounds great on paper but in real life, it is not perfect.
Yes, supreme public transportation is available throughout the country but the high standard it holds comes with high prices. Rail travel between big cities is a bit costly. There are transportation passes that can be purchased but you have to do some investigation which one is good for you. It can be a bit confusing thing to do.
Buying tickets, changing transportation, finding connections and not forgetting the luggage can sometimes be overbearing. You can miss the right stop and end up being late for the connection or get lost. To rent a car you must be older than 20 and the price is higher for people under 25.
Even though Switzerland is not a big country, air transport is developed there. It is easy to reach it from all over the world. There are plenty of international and domestic airports. The busiest of them all are the airports in Zurich, Geneva, and Basel.
The most popular flights are those to mountain regions. The biggest airport is the one located in Zurich. It serves about 25 million passengers a year. Also, it is good to know that companies from Europe, as well as America and Canada, fly to this airport. It has started to appear on the radar of the Middle Eastern and some Asian airlines.
The second most important airport is the one in Geneva. The biggest chunk of flights from and to this airport is aimed at the interregional movement. Basel Airport is a place to go if you are flying to Germany and France. Very popular among the mountain skiers is Sion airport. It is located in the heart of the Alps and therefore it doesn’t surprise that the busiest time of the year in this military and civilian airport is the season of winter holidays.
Samedan Airport is located the highest in the mountains. It chiefly serves the most expensive resorts in the country. As Switzerland is a small country commercial air travel to other cities is extremely limited and expensive.
Trains in Switzerland
The country has developed rail network with over than 5000 km of railroad track. It is very convenient, well organized and reaches almost every part of Switzerland. The major train company is called Swiss Federal Railways also known as SBB in German, SFF in French, and FFS in Italian. It is important to note that you cannot buy a ticket on the train. It has to be purchased before boarding. If you don’t have the ticket you will have to pay a steep fine.
There are two types of tickets the first and second class. Different options are available for you depending on your needs. You can buy a single short journey ticket which is usually only valid for an hour. You can also buy a day pass, weekly pass, monthly pass or a prepaid discount card. Together with previously mentioned passes, there are several different types of discount cards you can purchase. Those are the Swiss Pass, Half-Fare pass, GA pass, and track 7.
As its name tells it halves the price you have to pay to travel by using the Swiss public transport network. It is worth purchasing if you plan to stay in the country for a longer period. It can be valid for one, two, or three years. The half-fare pass includes all routes of the major rail company, many private and mountain railways, post -busses, ferry and boat crossings. You can buy it online or at the train station. Make sure to bring a valid passport or identity document as well as a recent photograph.
The GA Pass
This pass is recommended to those who use public transport frequently. When you get it, you have unlimited rides on public transport in almost all Switzerland, including some cable cars and funicular mountain railways. You can choose between several options. Those are annual, monthly and daily. You get a discount when renting a car in Switzerland and car-sharing schemes with this pass.
This card unites the Half-Fare card and the GA card. It was introduced in the summer of 2015. It is a plastic card which has two electronic RFID chips. The chips do not have any customer data on them. They store a personal SwissPass number so that your name and travel card can be checked. One of the chips is used for public transport services and the other reads ski passes. Aside from uniting previously mentioned Half-Fare and GA cards, it provides access to partner services. Those are Mobility Carsharing, PuliBike, and SchweizMobil together with services in winter sports facilities.
It is designed with young people under 25 at mind. The holders of Half-Fare pass who don’t mind traveling from 7 pm to 5 am can travel for free through the entire SBB/CFF/FFS public transport system in the second class.
Negative sides of the train travel
Trains are a very popular means of transportation in Switzerland. They offer spectacular views which include the Glacier Express and Bernina Express routes which are considered to be the most scenic train routes in the world. The view, though, comes with the price. To have a better view you have to pay more.
As rail travel is very popular there have been complaints that it is getting more and more overcrowded. This can be a very big problem, that is plausibly the reason why the Track 7 pass offers free rides during the non-peak hours.
The train ticket guards now have the liberty to upgrade passengers from the second to first class for discounted prices. They can save you money but only if they notice you at all. Also, keep in mind the fact that smoking is not allowed in the trains which can be a problem for an avid smoker.
Renting a car
You may feel that renting a car is a great option since Switzerland is not a big country. It is a good choice if you have a lot of luggage since luggage transport services in trains can be expensive when you have big amounts of it. You should rent a car if you intend to visit remote areas that do not have access to public transport or have a limited one. One more reason to go for it is when you want to explore the pass roads.
To rent a car in Switzerland you have to be older than 20. The price is higher if you haven’t turned 25. If you can drive a stick you will be able to save money, since these cars are less expensive to rent.
When you are making a budget for a rental car you should take different variables into account. You may feel that it is not expensive but it quickly adds up. The daily rental fee is first on your checklist.
If you are a party of four the economy four-seater is not sufficient for you and your luggage. Toll roads are common in Europe and are not cheap. Fuel and parking can be a bit pricy. When you are traveling in a car you have to pay a motorway vignette.
If you aren’t used to driving in winter conditions in steep and winding mountain roads it is not advisable to drive. You can get yourself and your loved ones in danger. It is safer to let someone else take over.
You can opt for a taxi or ride in style with a limousine. When you are traveling long distance it is better to choose to rent a limousine. You will be comfortable and able to enjoy your ride.
People may feel that limousine service is very expensive. But that doesn’t have to be the case. When there are more of you renting it, it can be quite affordable. You can even book an organized tour for a bigger group of people and not worry about parking, or which transportation pass is perfect for all of you.
Your chauffeur is an experienced driver who is used to driving in winter conditions, therefore you will be able to enjoy the amazing scenery this country abounds in.
Other forms of transportation
Traveling by bus through the country is not as efficient and comfortable as taking a train. Nonetheless, busses are necessary to get to some places that the trains don’t reach. It is good to know that the bus stop is always close to the train station.
Ferryboats are available on all main lakes and it is easy to rent bikes at almost all train stations. Motorcycle rentals are also available. In the mountainous regions, funiculars and cable cars are very common. They are a part of daily living for the locals and are very punctual and clean. All in all, Switzerland has a very good public transportation system.
Trains are the most popular and, as a result, are sometimes very crowded. The high standards the public transportation holds comes with the prices that follow. You can get some of the discount passes but it can sometimes be quite a hustle to choose between the variety and decide is the pass worth what it costs.
Taxis can be expensive and for the price, it is better to rent a limo. Busses will take you to remote areas. If you want to rent a car, factor in the price of fuel, parking, vignette, and toll road. You will pay less if you know how to drive stick. Whichever means of transportation you choose you will be able to enjoy in glorious beauty the nature in this country proudly presents.