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Getting Around Switzerland

Air

You can book internal flights in Switzerland through Swiss (www.swiss.com). Domestic air travel is fast but expensive, and with the exception of the Geneva to Zürich flight (journey time - 45 minutes), many businesspeople prefer to travel by rail or road.

Road

Road quality is generally good. Many mountain roads are winding and narrow, and often closed in heavy winter conditions; otherwise chains and snow tyres may be necessary. Rail is often more efficient than driving.

Side of the road

Right

Car Hire

Car hire is available in all towns from hotels and airports and at all manned rail stations. All major European companies are represented, including Alamo, Sixt and Hertz.

Taxi

Registered taxis are available in most major towns and cities in Switzerland. All taxis have meters for short and long trips, although it is advisable to agree the fare for longer distances out of town.

Bike

You can rent bikes at numerous railway stations through Rent a Bike (www.rentabike.ch).

Coach

Swiss Post (tel: +41 848 888 888; www.postauto.ch) runs regular PostBus services to much of rural Switzerland.

Regulations

The minimum driving age is 18. Seat belts are obligatory and children under 12 years must travel in the back of the car. Dipped headlights are compulsory at all times.

Speed limits are 120kph (75mph) on motorways, 100kph (62mph) on dual carriageways, 80kph (50mph) on main roads and 50kph (31mph) in towns.

On minor roads, traffic going up a mountain has priority. Road numbers on green signs indicate toll expressways, where a toll vignette (sticker) (Autobahn-Vignette) must be displayed. You can order one online before you travel (http://rail.myswitzerland.com). Stickers are valid for one calendar year.

Breakdown services

Emergency breakdown help can be arranged through the Swiss Touring Club (tel: 0800 140 140, in Switzerland only; www.tcs.ch).

Documentation

A national driving licence is sufficient. Green Card insurance is advised; ordinary domestic insurance policies are valid but do not provide full cover. The Green Card tops the cover up to the level provided by your domestic policy.

Urban travel

Highly efficient and integrated urban public transport systems serve as a model for other countries. There are tramways and light rail services in Basel, Bern, Geneva, Neuchâtel and Zurich. These and a further dozen cities also have trolleybuses.

Fare systems are generally automated with machines issuing single or multiple tickets at the roadside. Tickets are also available at enquiry offices. Fares are generally zonal. There is a day ticket for travel in one or more Swiss cities on any given day at a standard fare. Taxis are widely available and drivers expect a 15% tip.

Visitors can use public transport for free with mobility tickets, if they stay in hotels, youth hostels or on camping sites in Berne and in Basel and in the canton of Ticino.

Rail

Rail transport is particularly well developed in Switzerland, with excellent services provided by Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (SBB) (www.sbb.ch) and many other operators. Using a Swiss Pass is a superb way to view the scenery, although mainline services are geared to the needs of the hurried business traveller.

Trains run at least hourly from the major centres, and there is a country-wide timetable of regular services. There are dining cars on many trains and snacks and refreshments are widely available. Independent railways, such as the Rhätische Bahn in the Grisons and the Berner-Oberland-Bahn, provide services in certain parts of the country. The SBB has introduced specialised cars for travellers using wheelchairs.

There are also a large number of mountain railways which are sometimes the only means of access to winter resorts. Some of these are attractions in their own right: the Gornergrat-Bahn in Zermatt is one of the oldest mountain railways and climbs to a height of over 3,000m (over 9,800ft) above sea level, offering a spectacular panorama of the Matterhorn and surrounding mountains. The panoramic train Gotthard Panorama Express connects Flüelen with Lugano. Starting from Lucerne you can reach Flüelen by ship while enjoying the wonderfuls sights on Lake Lucerne.

Water

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