Wednesday, June 4, 2014

It pretty easy to travel within Switzerland, whether its by flight, train, bus, car. But in almost every case you will be better off taking the train as it is in budget and save hell lot of time. Below are the various ways one can travel within Switzerland.
 
By Flight - The following carriers offer domestic flights within Switzerland:

1. SWISS - (Basel/Mulhouse (EuroAirport Swiss), Geneva (Geneve-Cointrin Airport), Lugano Airport, Zurich Airport)
2. Darwin Airlines - (Berne (Belp Airport), Geneva (Geneve-Cointrin Airport), Lugano Airport)
3. FlyBaboo website - (Geneva (Geneve-Cointrin Airport), Lugano Airport)

Public transport - The Swiss will spoil you with fantastic transportation - swift, disturbingly punctual trains, clean buses, and a half dozen different kinds of mountain transport systems, integrated into a coherent system. The discount options and variety of tickets can be bewildering, from half fare cards to multi-day, multi-use tickets good for buses, boats, trains, and even bike rentals. In general there's at least one train or bus per hour on every route, on many routes trains and buses are running every 30 min, but as with everything in Switzerland the transit runs less often, or at least for a shorter period of the day, on Sundays. Authoritative information, routes, and schedules can be found at, or from a ticket window in any train station.

Ticket Service in Switzerland - Almost nobody in Switzerland pays full fare for the transit system. At the very least they all have a Half-Fare Card (Demi-tarif/Halbtax) which saves you 50% on all national buses and trains and gives a discount on local and private transit systems. Press the '1/2' button on the ticket machines to indicate you have this card, and be prepared to hand it to the conductor along with your ticket on the train. Children between ages 6 and 16 pay 1/2 price for travel around Switzerland.

The next step up from a half-fare card is a Swisspass, which grants you access to all national bus and rail, all city transit systems, and hefty discount on privately operated boats, cable cars, and ski lifts. Like the half-fare, you can buy this from any train station ticket office.

By Train - Only two trains in Switzerland require reservations: Bernina Express, running daily between Chur and Tirano and the Glacier Express running from St. Moritz to Zermatt.

On most trains in Switzerland, tickets can no longer be bought on board, so it is recommended to buy tickets before hand. You'll get fined if you haven't got a ticket. Swiss Rail kiosks accept credit/debit cards, although they require that a PIN be entered. You can also buy a ticket on the Swiss Federal Railway website or on the SBB iPhone app.

You can bring your bicycle on every train in Switzerland, with two provisos: you must have a ticket for it (available from the ticket machines, CHF 10 for a day pass), and you must get on at a door marked with a bicycle. On ICN trains and some IR trains this is at the very front of the train.

Here is short list of the most remarkable railway lines:

1. The Glacier Express from St. Moritz to Zermatt, a 8 hours travel in the Swiss Alps.
2. The Bernina Express from Davos / Chur to Tirano, the highest transversal in the Alps, high mountain scenery.
3. The Jungfraujoch railway, from Interlaken (560 meters) to the Jungfraujoch station (3450 meters) in two hours. Definitely the most impressive journey in the Alps.
4. The Gornergrat railway, departure from Zermatt to the 3090 meters high Gornergrat.
5. The Mount Rigi railway, oldest mountain train in Europe.
6. The Mount Pilatus railway, from Lucerne to the top, the steepest railway in the world.
7. The Lotschberg is a line connecting Berne and Brig, not considered as a mountain train but still impressive scenery.
8. The Gotthard with its many spirals connecting Lucerne and Bellinzona

By Walk - As good as the Swiss train system is, if you have a little time, and you only want to travel 1-200 miles, you could try purchasing the world's best footpath maps and walk 10-20 miles a day over some of the most wonderful and clearly-marked paths, whether it is in a valley, through a forest, or over mountains.

The trails are well-planned (after a number of centuries, why not?), easy to follow, and the yellow trail signs are actually accurate in their estimate as to how far away the next hamlet, village, town or city is--once you've figured out how many kilometers per hour you walk (easy to determine after a day of hiking).

By car

To use the motorways (known as Autobahnen, Autoroutes, or Autostrade, depending on where you are), vehicles under 3500 kg weight need to buy a "Vignette", a sticker that allows you to use the motorways as much as you like for the entire year (more precisely, from 1 December of the preceding year to 31 January of the following, so a 2012 vignette is valid from 1 December 2012 until 31 January 2013). Trailers must have a separate vignette. Avoiding the motorways in order to save the toll price is generally futile; the amount is well worth it, even if you are only transiting. Failure to possess a valid vignette is punishable. Sharing vignettes is, of course, illegal and subject to the same fines as not having one.

Rentals will have the vignette paid for that vehicle, but ask.

Vehicles larger than 3500 kg have to pay a special toll assessed through special on-board units that is applied for all roads, not just the motorways.

Speed Limits: 120 km/h on motorways, 80 km/h on normal roads and inside tunnels and 50 km/h inside villages. Vehicles unable to travel at 80 km/h are not permitted on the motorways. Whilst driving "a wee bit too fast" is common on motorways, people tend to stick pretty closely to the other two limits. Fines are hefty and traffic rules are strictly enforced. If stopped by Police, expect to pay your fine on the spot.

Don't Think You'll Speed Undeterred

If you get fined but not stopped (e.g. caught by a Speed Camera) the police will send you the fine even if you live abroad. In Switzerland, speeding is not a violation of a traffic code but a Legal Offence, if you fail to comply there is a good chance that an international rogatory will be issued and you have to go to court in your home country. This is enforced by most countries, including all of Europe, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many countries in South America and Asia. Failure to comply can result in a warrant being issued for your arrest by your home country.

The blood alcohol concentration limit is 0.05%. As in every country, do not drink and drive, as you will lose your license for several months if you are cited and a heavy fine may be imposed.

If you like cars, Switzerland can seem like a bit of a tease. They feature some of the greatest driving roads in the world, but can literally throw you in jail for speeding, even on highways. If you stick to the limits, the back roads/mountain roads will still be a blast to drive on, while still maintaining you are not excessively fined/arrested.

Be aware that the 'priority to right' rule exists in most major cities, as well as towns and village centres. Dipped headlights are strongly recommended at all times.

Driving is on the right side of the road in most parts of Switzerland, just like in most of Europe, but occasionally there are roads in which the driving is on the left. If so, they are clearly marked.

Driving is the best way to see a wonderful country with outstanding roads.

Bicycle - Veloland Schweiz has built up an extensive network of long distance cycle trails all across the country. There are many Swiss cities where you can rent bicycles if that is your means of travelling and you can even rent electric bicycles. During the summer it is quite common for cities to offer bicycle 'rental' for free!

Cycling in cities is pretty safe, at least compared to other countries, and very common. If you decide to bicycle in a city, understand that (in most cities) you will share the road with public transport. Beware of tram tracks which can get your wheel stuck and send you flying into traffic, of the trams themselves which travel these tracks frequently (and may scare you into getting stuck into the track as just noted), and the buses, which make frequent stops in the rightmost lane.

In-line Skating - Besides the main types of transportation, the adventurous person can see Switzerland by in-line skating. There are three routes, measuring a combined 600-plus kilometers designed specifically for in-line skating throughout the country. They are the Rhine route, the Rhone route, and the Mittelland route. These are also scenic tours. Most of the routes are flat, with slight ascents and descents. The Mittelland route runs from Zurich airport to Neuenburg in the northwest; the Rhine route runs from Bad Ragaz to Schaffhausen in the northeastern section of the country. Finally, the Rhone route extends from Brig to Geneva. This is a great way to see both the country-side and cityscapes of this beautiful nation. 

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