Switzerland: Local Travel Info
A summer and winter sports paradise
Internal flights and major international airports
The two busiest international airports in Switzerland are Zurich and Geneva, and most of the major international airlines fly there, along with budget airways.
Getting to and from the airport
From Zurich Airport the visitor to Switzerland can choose to get a train to the centre of Zurich (a journey time of 10 minutes) from the station under Terminal B. The trains also run to many city and tourist destinations across Switzerland. The bus terminal at Zurich Airport is home to several regular bus routes to towns and villages, as well as a coach network to destinations all over Switzerland, including ski resorts. There are several major car hire companies located at the airport. There are good train services from Geneva airport to the city centre, as well as to other destinations in Switzerland. Buses stop outside Departures and Arrivals at Geneva Airport. Unireso bus 10 goes to the centre of Geneva. Bus services from Geneva Airport also connect to French services and international routes to Spain, Portugal and Eastern Europe. Taxis are available from Arrivals, and there are separate Swiss and French services.
Public transport in Switzerland is clean and efficient but can be quite expensive. For a holiday in Switzerland it’s worth looking at the Swiss Pass, which will give unlimited travel on Swiss federal trains, boats, alpine postbuses, trams and buses in 35 towns. A four-day pass costs around £229, an eight-day pass around £332 for travel during your holiday in Switzerland. There are other options such as half-price cards, so it’s worth thinking about how much train travel you are planning to do while in Switzerland. It’s worth booking your pass online at www.swisstravelsystem.com.
Driving in Switzerland offers the chance to enjoy spectacular views and visit out-of-the-way places, but be aware that there are narrow and winding roads, and in some areas in the busy summer and winter seasons traffic can be heavy in Switzerland. To rent a car in Switzerland you must be at least 20 and have held a licence for a year. Drivers under 25 renting a car in Switzerland may incur extra charges. Swiss rental cars will have a motorway vignette (which allows you to drive on the motorways in Switzerland) attached. Prices start from around £130 for a small car for three days. A four-wheel drive (for anyone going skiing for instance) will cost three times as much.
To book car rental in Switzerland online, view our Car Hire section for Switzerland . We offer Ok Alpha users the latest special offers and best rates available for car hire in Switzerland . We advise you book your Switzerland hire car in advance so you can pick it up and drop it off directly at the airport.
Drivers licences requirements?
Drivers from abroad are permitted to drive a motor vehicle for a year in Switzerland, provided they have reached the minimum required age to drive (18 for motorcycles, light motor vehicles and trucks; 21 for commercial vehicles) and they have a valid national or international driving licence. Drivers who have an international driving licence may drive in Switzerland as long as they also have a driving licence from their country.
They drive on the right on Switzerland, and seatbelts are compulsory. If you have young passengers, be aware that child seats must be used in cars in Switzerland up to the age of 7. Speed limits are 49kph in cities, 80kph on open roads and 120kph on motorways in Switzerland. You’ll need a Motorway Vignette to drive on the motorways in Switzerland. This sticker is valid for a year and costs £40. If you come across trams while you’re driving in Switzerland, remember that trams always have right of way. When parking in cities, remember that most places have blue zones, were you will need a parking disc on your dashboard. Make sure your rental car has one, or find out where you can obtain one – usually in petrol stations or police stations. The minimum driving age in Switzerland is 18, you must wear seatbelts and children under 12 must travel in the back of cars in Switzerland. Dipped headlights are compulsory during the day in Switzerland.
Trains are the main form of transport in Switzerland, with buses acting’s as feeder services, linking train station and the more inaccessible places in Switzerland. The yellow post buses run on 685 schedules routes, carrying 91 million passengers a year. There are also PostCars, luxury coaches that conduct day trips and tours. Most bus tickets are issued at vending machines at bus stops or at train stations. In many cities in Switzerland you must buy a ticket from a machine and there is a large fine for getting on the bus without a ticket, so beware! Price varies around the country, but a journey of up to five stops in Zurich will cost around £1.25. Geneva offers a very reliable tram service that runs throughout this city in Switzerland. Tickets can be purchased from kiosks at most stops and prices are based on a zonal system. Multi-day passes are also available.
You’ll find all taxis in Switzerland have meters for short and long trips, but it is advisable to agree a fare if you take a taxi in Switzerland for longer distances out of town. Taxis are plentiful in Swiss cities and drivers expect a 15% tip. Taxi fares in Switzerland start from CHF 6.30 plus CHF 3.20 per km and there is an additional charge of CHF 1.50 for luggage.
Given the nature of the landscape of Switzerland, cycling is not the easiest way of exploring the country, but the scenery more than compensates for the extra effort required. Cycle routes – in the cities too – are plentiful in Switzerland.
You can rent a seven-gear country bike or a quality 21-gear mountain bike from Rent-A-Bike (www.rent-a-bike.ch), located at 200 SBB-CFF-FFS train stations in Switzerland, and a majority of the larger stations on the routes of the smaller train companies. If there’s no dedicated bike office in the station, you normally rent from left-luggage counters. Expect to pay CHF 25 for a day’s hire of a bike in Switzerland. Discounts are available for Swiss Pass holders. If you hire a bike for more than a day from a station in Switzerland you can usually drop it off at another location. Bike hire is very popular in the summer in Switzerland so you may want to reserve your bike in advance. Hostelling International hostels in Switzerland also offer bike hire, and you don’t need to be staying in the hostel to rent a bike. It will cost around CHF15 a day.
There are also free bike-rental schemes year-round in Swiss cities such as Zurich and Bern, usually near the train station. You’ll need to leave a deposit and some ID.
In the Swiss city of Geneva there are a number of boat tours and excursions for both Lake Geneva and the River Rhône. There are three different ferry services to transport visitors to Switzerland around the lake area at a cost of CHF 3.00 per trip. Switzerland's lakes are all crossed by ferry services of one sort or another, but most are restricted to the summer season and are primarily tourist oriented, duplicating routes which can be covered more cheaply and quickly by rail. Only on lakes such as Luzern and Lugano, where hilly coastal terrain makes other forms of transport difficult, do ferries run throughout the year (with limited services in winter). Holders of the Swiss Pass are entitled to free travel on all lake ferries.
Hitch hiking is quite common in Switzerland, particularly as the public transport can be quite pricey. It is forbidden to hitchhike on the motorway so you need to hitchhike at the off ramps – some even have designated hitchhiking pickup points. As in any country, follow the usual guidelines for safe hitchhiking in Switzerland and use your common sense. It is useful if you can speak German, as many German speakers, especially lorry drivers in Switzerland, may not speak English.