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Traveling Through Switzerland

A Look at How to Get Around Switzerland

Palm Express Scenic Route
Palm Express from St. Mortiz to Lugano

Where else but Switzerland can you find yourself transported from crisp, cool Alpine peaks to sultry Mediterranean heat and palm trees in a matter of several hours? I marveled over this several times as a shiny yellow Postbus took me from St. Moritz to Lugano, Switzerland one day this past summer.

The Palm Express scenic route was not high on my list of routes to travel on while in this tiny country - as diverse in landscapes as in possibilities for the traveler. I preferred to try the fabled train travel, yet convenience had me on a traditional postal route where the only thing traditional besides a portion of the route (only part of it is actually to deliver mail) is the three-note horn that sounds as the bus rounds the hairpin turns.

As the bus left the lakes of the Upper Engadine, traveling past forests and mountains, the driver managed to hug the road over the Maloja Pass and during the descent into the villages along the Swiss/Italian border. As the bus temporarily traveled into Italy we were greeted with madcap driving and a cacophony of horns, and the smooth roads and even smoother Swiss driving were doubly appreciated. When I could tear my eyes off the road to glance out at Lake Como, and then at Lake Lugano, we returned to Switzerland and arrived in the shopping mecca of Lugano, and I knew the trip had been worth the ride. The other routes would still be there for another time.

There are so many possibilities for the traveler in Switzerland, it almost seems a shame to rent a car, although that too is made simple. Driving is on the right, and distances are marked in kilometers. Speed limits translate to 75 mph on freeways, 50 mph on highways and 31 mph in cities and towns. Maps and signs are clearly marked and roads are clear - even over mountain passes - or they are closed and traffic is rerouted.

Still, while driving you miss lingering over the incredible scenery. If you choose to drive, elect to experience the other modes of travel as well. There are more than 13,000 miles of train, bus and boat routes across the country. These make up the Swiss Travel System - STS. The system has special offers available to make traveling through Switzerland economical and efficient. These offers include passes of different durations that allow travel on a variety of transportation. The passes are available at travel agencies, railway stations and at Switzerland Tourism Offices. For information call 011-800-100-200-30 toll free or visit or

The Glacier Express
The Glacier Express

One of the best ways to enjoy Switzerland's travel network is by taking one of many scenic routes throughout the country. The popular Glacier Express train (linking Zermatt and St. Moritz), William Tell Express (a lake cruise and train ride starting on Lake Lucerne and ending in Locarno or Lugano), Bernina Express (a train and bus journey from Chur to Tirano), and Golden Pass train (from Lucerne to Montreux) are just four of the possibilities. Seat reservations are required in advance for these scenic journeys.

Of course, the rest of the trains in Switzerland are equally remarkable. Trains run frequently on a regular schedule. In addition to the trains running from the Geneva and Zurich airports into the cities, there are direct trains to other Swiss cities leaving from the airport stations. With Switzerland's Fly/Rail Baggage Service you can check your luggage at your home airport and have it delivered by train to your end destination. To make things even more convenient this can also be done in reverse, from a train station to the Swiss airport where it will be put on your flight home (U.S. carriers excluded).

Trains are modern, with air-conditioned cars, either dining cars or traveling snack food carts, and many are equipped to provide passengers with enhanced cell phone reception. Many trains feature special compartments to transport bikes - which can be rented from many of the stations if you don't happen to have your own. The rental bikes are transported for free, while others are stashed for a minimal charge.

Biking is another great way to transport yourself in Switzerland - at a much more leisurely pace. There are over 9 national bike routes comprising 2000 miles of groomed and well-marked trails. In addition to train stations, there are other locations to rent bikes, and if you rent a bike at one train station, you can drop it off at another during working hours. There are also 50,000 kilometers of walking paths in Switzerland.

With 700 scenic Postbus routes, 170 vessels serving 20 Swiss lakes and rivers, countless mountain railways, aerial cableways, funiculars and ski lifts, there really is no end to the ways you can travel through and explore Switzerland. Where else but in this tiny country, known for its transportation, would you find the highest railway station in Europe, the oldest mountain railway in Europe, the world's first revolving aerial cableway, and the steepest cogwheel railway in the world?

Swiss Transport Museum
Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne

If getting there and back isn't enough to impress you, pay a visit to the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne, presenting transportation and communication in the past, present and future. Swiss Travel System ticket holders receive a 35 percent discount on admission, making it even easier to love transportation Swiss style.

For more information on all of the above and more visit or call Rail Europe at 800-4-EURAIL.