Switzerland overland travel guide

Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva

Landlocked Switzerland isn’t the place for beach lovers, but if you’re into lakes and mountains it’s pretty much the dream destination. The scenery’s awesome (as is the skiing), and the cities are also great (though a bit expensive!) for exploring.

Travel to, from, and within Switzerland overland

Switzerland has well-developed road and rail networks, both of which are easy ways to get around the country, with high speed TGV connections to France from Geneva and high speed ICE connections from Zurich to Germany. An Interrail pass (for Europeans) or a Eurail pass (for non-Europeans) is a good way to travel to Switzerland overland as part of a wider European trip (as I did the second time I went Interrailing).

As a member of the Schengen Area, and being surrounded by fellow Schengen countries, border crossings aren’t something you have to think about too much when overlanding through Switzerland, but police sometimes do check IDs. Also be aware that Switzerland is in Schengen but is not a full EU member which means that while there are no immigration controls with Italy, France and Germany, there are customs controls so your bags could potentially be checked.

Things to do in Switzerland

The Alps. In winter, go skiing; in summer, go hiking or ride one of the sightseeing trains such as the Glacier Express.

Stroll along the shores of Lake Geneva.

Admire the architecture and explore the old towns of whichever cities you visit.

Ride the train from Zurich to neighbouring Liechtenstein (or Austria beyond). While this isn’t officially a “scenic train”, it’s the most scenic bit of rail I’ve ever travelled along, taking you along the shores of the Zurichsee, Obersee, and Walensee lakes, the mountains reflected in the surface of the still lake waters. Poorly photographed, but here’s one of the lakes from the train window:

Resources and Useful Links for Visiting Switzerland

Official website for the Interrail pass

Official website for the Eurail pass

World Nomads offer flexible travel insurance you can buy even if already overseas (this can be a key point, as I once found out when I got pickpocketed). Also check out their winter sports cover if you’re hitting the slopes.

Lonely Planet: Europe on a Shoestring

Seat 61 has the schedules & fares for London to Switzerland by train

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