Swiss Travel - Getting There


Getting to Switzerland, either with or without your own bike, is going to involve one or more of:
See the map showing the principal options.

Planes

Flying to Switzerland from outside Europe, possible arrival airports include:

If you are flying from within Europe then the obvious options are:

There are many sources of cheap flights but we have found that cheapflights.co.uk offers consistently low prices. 

If you are flying with your bike, check the airline's terms of carriage (many budget airlines disclaim liability for bicycles), Bikes on Planes and your travel insurance.  We don't recommend transporting an expensive bike by plane.  Also, choose a direct flight wherever possible, as the more your bike is handled, the greater the chance it will be damaged.  Advice on packing your bike for a flight is to be found in the Guide. 
 
Don't forget to book an airport car park in advance, it will be much cheaper than just turning up.   Purple Parking has better coverage than most, with car parks at over 20 UK airports.
  
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Trains

Unless you want to cycle from your arrival airport, the logical route is to take a train.  If you take the Paris option then you need to schlep across Paris and then catch a train to Zurich or Geneva.  Just to give you a flavour:

  • Paris to Zurich takes 6.5 hours and at least two changes
  • Paris to Geneva takes takes 4.5 hours and at least one change

The following should allow you to plan the journey:

  • The Man in Seat 61 gives by far the best, independent explanations of all things rail-related and we can only recommend that you check out his views on bike travel.
  • For information, train times and ticket purchases, we find that trainline is better than most of the other commercial sites. 
  • Note that the London Underground (the Tube) does not take bikes, unless they are bagged and do not look like bikes.
  • Crossing the Channel by train means using Eurostar (St Pancras, Ebbsfleet or Ashford to Brussels, Lille, Paris or Calais).  Tickets can be ordered from trainline.
  • A core tool for research from St Pancras (London) to the continent is the German Railways site.  
  • Bikes are seldom allowed on TGV, Thalys or ICE unless they are in a bag.  ICs and below need bike tickets and sometimes bike reservations.
  • Tandems are tricky things to transport, they are just too long.  If you are tandem riders you will need to do more research on the transport possibilities or, more simply, hire a tandem when you get to Switzerland.
The map below shows the the route, key airports and ferries.

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Airports in yellowSwiss key points of travel

  1. Zurich
  2. Paris
  3. Geneva

Bike route in green

The green markers show the line of our Swiss bike route between Zurich and Geneva.

 

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Ferries

There are many ferry options from the UK and the Republic of Ireland.  However the drive from say Calais to Zurich will take 9 hours without any stops.  If you really do want to use this route have a look at our Alsace Travel page.

We like travelling by P&O and DFDS Seaways and booking direct often gives you a good price.  For other routes we have found Direct Ferries to be a reliable ferry booking agent. 

If you want to take your car in the tunnel under the Channel then use Eurotunnel.

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Driving

The rules vary by country and you should double check current requirements before setting off.  If you are a member of a motoring organisation, it should be able to provide up to date information, as should the national tourist board web sites, or see here.  At the time of writing, the most stringent requirements required for all of France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are:
  • carry your passport, driving licence, vehicle registration documents and certificate of insurance
  • display a country of origin sticker (GB etc) on the back of the car
  • use mobile phones only with "hands free" kit
  • children should sit in the back
  • all passengers should wear seat belts
  • fit beam converters to the head lights of a right hand drive vehicle
  • carry a warning triangle and spare light bulbs.
Just so you are aware, the motorways in Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Germany are free to use while in France there are tolls.  It is mandatory in France (and spreading to other countries) to carry a reflective vest, fire extinguisher, first aid kit and at least two breathalyser tubes.
 
Switzerland is not in the EU but the rules are basically very similar, see Switzerland rules. A  vignette needs to be bought if you want to use a motorway.  The Swiss police are very efficient (as you would expect).  Fines are levied on the spot and must be paid in cash (Euros).

For further details, click here.

 

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