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Lowdown on Swiss trains

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A view from a Swiss train

If it’s one thing that the Swiss are known for, its trains. For centuries, they’ve built railways that not only bring people between villages, but also to the tops of soaring mountains. In between, they’ve engineered spiralling tunnels through the Alps and bridges that span deep gorges, taking passengers through landscapes more scenic than a Ricola ad.

Swiss Pass
It’s no surprise that one of the best ways to experience the Swiss spirit is to explore the country by rail. The best part? Just one Swiss Pass allows you unlimited rides – not only on trains, but on every public transport available. Right from the airport, you can board a train to almost anywhere – hop onto a rural train, enjoy a scenic cable car journey (with an addition of the Swiss Peak Pass), jump aboard a ferry, or ride on a random bus or tram. In fact, if it moves people, you can pretty much ride it.

Even better news: the Swiss Pass also allows you to travel on most of its scenic trains including the Glacier Express and Wilhelm Tell Express. These take you through some classic handpicked Swiss panoramas (viewed through extra large windows) which include snowcapped mountains, lush valleys and scenic lakes. And there’s no need to pre-book your seats, either – just show up and sit down.

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A steamer ride, part of the Wilhelm Tell Express

The Swiss Pass is available as consecutive or non-consecutive days of travel (min. 4 days), and even gives you free entry to 470 museums plus deep discounts on mountain railways.

Getting Around
Travelling around Switzerland is pretty simple and convenient – download the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) timetable app, and it’ll instantly whip out the next timings and connections for your preferred mode of transport.

Those who prefer to travel with wheeled luggages will appreciate the fact that almost all Swiss railway stations are built with ramps or escalators, so there’s no need to frantically search for the elevator for that connection.

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Mountain scenery

Baggage Issues?
If you’re travelling to multiple locations and can’t be bothered to lug all your heavy luggage with you, you can take advantage of SBB’s baggage forwarding service. Just drop your stuff off at your departure station in the morning, and you can pick it up at your end destination (usually) by the evening. This leaves you free to travel light and enjoy the journey.

If it’s your last day in Switzerland, you can even check-in your baggage and get your boarding pass for your flight (if you’re flying Swiss or Lufthansa) at any train station the night before, so you can just show up at the departure gate at the airport an hour before departure. It’s ideal if you’ve got to check out in the morning and are only flying out on a night flight.

Check out Swiss Travel System for more.

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