Swiss Travel Pass: Switzerland First Class
Europe’s rail network continues to make great advances in speed and convenience for travellers on the continent, and nowhere are they more evident than in Switzerland, a country long lauded for its excellent rail system. As if using Swiss trains weren’t already straightforward enough, the Swiss make things even easier for visitors by offering the Swiss Travel Pass, which allows unlimited travel both on the national rail network as well as on urban transport systems in more than 75 towns and cities across the country.
While the decrease in airfares of European low-cost carriers often makes the news, less commonly reported is the increase in comfort, services, and frequencies of rail travel on the continent. At the advent of the jet age, it was air travel that was the choice for affluent travellers, but now the trend is reversing in Europe where busy people prefer the speed, reliability, and convenience of rail travel city centre to city centre. Switzerland is the perfect country in which to enjoy a variety of landscapes, languages, cuisines, and cultural experiences within a relatively compact area, all of it covered by efficient rail links.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the Swiss Travel Pass is the spontaneity it offers. Oftentimes, interesting museum exhibitions or special events in foreign countries are not known to visitors until after their arrival. A Swiss Travel Pass puts nearly all of Switzerland’s attractions within reach as it also includes a component known as the Museum Pass. With its high density of cultural institutions offering exceptionally sophisticated exhibitions in a land where high quality is the expected norm, the return on investment of the Swiss Travel Pass cannot be overstated with regard to its value as a golden key to the country’s many impressive museums and art galleries. Swiss museums house eclectic collections of Western and Eastern art across the country, sometimes in tiny towns where a wealthy benefactor’s private villa has been turned into a museum.
Basing oneself in a city such as Lausanne, rail hub in the French-speaking part of the country, provides the opportunity to explore beyond the city itself on daytrips to places such as the city of Montreux with its palm trees along the shores of Lake Geneva; Gstaad and its après-ski social scene; Martigny-la-Romaine, where the exceptional Pierre Gianadda Foundation hosts fine exhibits and concerts; and even to Evian across the lake in France. The Swiss Travel Pass also includes travel on Lake Geneva’s Compagnie Générale de Navigation’s fleet of boats stopping at towns on both sides of the lake.
From Zurich, daytrips to the Abbey of St Gall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to the Paul Klee Foundation in the Swiss capital of Bern, and to the shores of scenic Lake Luzern are all very feasible and easily undertaken. As on Lake Geneva, travel on vessels on Lake Luzern are also included in the Swiss Travel Pass.
Swiss Travel Passes are available in Australia through Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, and Rail Plus.