A Swiss Pass, good only for trains in Switzerland, is available for three days (travel any three days within a 15-day period), $199 first-class, $129 second-class; eight days, $239 first-class, $159 second-class; 15 days, $289 first-class, $189 second-class; and one month, $389 first-class, $269 second-class. Ask a ticket agent at a station to validate the pass before you board a train for the first time. Purchase your Swiss Pass from a travel agency in the U.S. or at a train station in Switzerland.
EuRail passes are also valid in Switzerland.- You may buy tickets to individual destinations at stations throughout the country. Conductors will validate them once you're on board.
- Luggage: I take my luggage with me on the train, leaving my suitcase on the floor or in a baggage rack near the door and placing my carry-on bag next to my seat. Switzerland is a reliable country in which to check your bags. The advantage is you don't have to carry them from one train to another when you're making connections. The disadvantage is the bags must be at the train station early. How early depends on your destination and the number of times you'll be changing trains. Check with the baggage attendant at the local station.
I forget all that, sleep late and lug my luggage around.
- Swiss efficiency is nowhere more apparent than on trains. For the most part you can set your watch by their arrivals and departures. A distraught woman from Malta sat next to me on the short trip from the Zurich airport to the city's main station. Her cousin with whom she was staying had missed the train because she had turned away for just a moment to greet a friend.
Yes, Swiss trains come and go that fast!
I had a close encounter when I was changing trains in a small town near Lake Constance. I had four minutes to make my connection and four trains to choose from. Luckily, a Swiss businessman showed me the way. Otherwise I would have had to consult a schedule posted on the wall and probably missed my train.
- Luggage carts at Zurich and Geneva airports have tracks on the bottom that attach to escalator stairs. They allow you to take your luggage up and down escalators. Yet another example of Swiss ingenuity and efficiency.
- Locate the car you want to be on before boarding the train. First-class cars have a yellow stripe along the top. Cars are numbered, useful only if you have a reserved seat.
- Meals are available in the dining car or you can purchase snacks and soft drinks from carts that attendants push through the aisles.
- When I'm taking a day excursion I check my luggage at a train station and pick it up on my way out of town at the end of the day. The cost is minimal.
- For information about travel to Switzerland contact the Swiss National Tourist Office at 260 Stockton St., San Francisco, CA 94108-5387, (415) 362-2260, or 222 No. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 1570, El Segundo, CA 90245, (213) 335-5980, or your travel agent.