By Epoch Time Staff
Hoping to maximise your leave this year with seven long weekends?
Want an all-inclusive tour where the transport is a dream destination?
Head to Switzerland, where you can embark on a spectacular Grand Train Tour with the all-in-one Swiss Travel Pass.
Perfect for travellers hoping to tour the Swiss Alps or explore the remotest corners of the country, Switzerland’s 26,000 km of rail, road and waterway routes have coordinated connections linking more than 150 public transport services.
Rest your mind with regular and reliable rail services, with train departures every half hour or hour. Travel in comfort on trains, buses and boats, with the densest public transport network in the world connecting 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and world famous alpine scenery.
The Swiss Travel Pass
With the Swiss Travel Pass, you can have it all—and more.
Starting from just S$282 for a 3-day (continuous) adult pass, you can also opt for flexible passes that allow you to travel anytime within a month. Both types of passes have 3-day, 4-day, 8-day and 15-day options.
Complete and convenient, the Swiss Travel Pass grants tourists all-in-one unlimited travel. You can hop on and off trains, buses and even lake ferries to any Swiss destination, including popular cities like Bern, Geneva, Locarno, Lausanne and Zurich. You can also take a scenic train to the top of Europe at Jungfraujoch, where the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For ultimate luxury, travel first class, which offers more legroom, greater quiet and comfort, and special business zones. First class is usually on the upper deck, with exceptional views of scenic panoramas. You also have a choice of first or second class on Swiss boats.
The Swiss Travel Pass is also packed with attractive bonuses and discounts. Free public transportation in main Swiss cities, free admission to over 450 Swiss museums and exhibits, discounted city tours, free ferry trips and more are included in your pass. There is also a 50 percent discount with the Swiss Travel Pass on cable cars and mountain trains not included in the Swiss Travel System range of passes.
Tourists can rejoice with special transfer tickets covering travel from Swiss airports and border railway stations to their holiday destination— and back again. Regional passes are
available for unlimited travel by public transport in various Swiss regions.
The Swiss Travel Pass is also ideal for families. A Swiss Family Card will be
given to families travelling together, which allows children aged 6 to under 16 to travel for free when accompanied by at least one parent. Youths under 26 years old also enjoy discounted rates.
All-in-One Trains & Railway Stations
And that’s not all. The Swiss Travel System includes a range of attractive extras that live up to Swiss service standards.
With Fly Rail Baggage, your luggage will be transported directly to your Swiss travel destination from any airport in the world. Simply pay CHF22 (S$34) per baggage for this service, and you can collect your belongings from one of the 81 designated railway stations upon your arrival. Luggage lockers are also available at all main railway stations in Switzerland.
Cyclists on Hub & Spoke tours will rejoice with 80 railway stations offering bike rental services. Staying at one place and doing day excursions is now in vogue, and with the Swiss Travel Pass, you have the tool to do so. You can also bring your bike on board with a bike ticket, or have it shipped from and to any Swiss railway station.
Tickets for many top events throughout the country, including concerts and sports shows, can be purchased at multifunctional rail ticket counters. At Swiss stations, you can also change currency. At the main railway stations, RailCities are one-stop shopping malls offering everything you need, from food to specialised services.
For families, it is child’s play to travel in the family coach with themed playgrounds. All double-deck InterCity trains on long-distance routes include a Ticki Park family coach, while the single-deck InterCity and InterCity tilting trains contain family zones with game tables. There is also ample room for pushchairs, suitcases and more.
Most trains also offer culinary delights, ranging from simple snacks to dishes of distinction. Many InterCity and InterCity tilting trains include a restaurant serving freshly prepared delicacies. Dining cars are also included in some international trains, the Glacier Express and in several trains of the Rhaetian Railway.
The Grand Train Tour of Switzerland
There is something magical about trains, and in Switzerland, you can ascend to a majestic mountain paradise by rail.
The Grand Train Tour of Switzerland represents the very best of Swiss public transport and can be enjoyed all year round.
With 10 world-famous panoramic routes to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
The Alps cover 65 percent of Switzerland’s surface area, and the highest concentration
of glaciers in the Alps is also found here. Get ready for the day trip of your life with the Glacier Express. At 7.5 hours, the world’s slowest express train wows travellers with observation carriages that open up vistas of unique landscapes—for example, the 400-metre deep Rhine Gorge, the 2,033-metre high Oberalp Pass and the mighty Matterhorn in Zermatt.
Expect a spectacular setting of rugged cliff faces, crystal-clear mountain lakes and unspoiled villages through 91 tunnels and across 291 impressive bridges.
Dubbed the most spectacular Alpine crossing, the Bernina Express seamlessly
connects the cool North with the warm South. Near Filisur, the train traverses an
awe-inspiring landmark—the 65-metrehigh Landwasser viaduct. The cross-border Albula and Bernina Lines between Thusis and Tirano owe their 2008 inscription into the UNESCO World Heritage list to stunning scenery such as the Schyn Gorge, Morteratsch Glacier and Brusio spiral viaduct.
The Wilhelm Tell Express combines travel by rail and waterway—first a train trip along the old Gotthard route, then a cruise on Lake Lucerne—in two of Switzerland’s most beautiful regions. Board a historic steamer at Lucerne’s quayside and
enjoy a three-course meal while gliding past ancient Swiss sites such as the Rütli Meadow, Schiller Stone and Tell’s Chapel.
At Flüelen, change to a first class panorama car for the rail journey to Canton Ticino.
If you love impressionistic beauty, the Pre-Alpine Express is for you. Behold gently undulating hills, picture-perfect villages and mellow orchards through your panorama windows, with the peaks of the Churfirsten range adorning the backdrop.
Travel through the Toggenburg region past Rapperswil, an attractive old town, and via the Rothenturm upland moor to lakeside Lucerne.
The Grand Train Tour of Switzerland also features top excursion attractions and can be booked at any time throughout the year.
At Lucerne, Titlis (the only glacier in Central Switzerland) provides panoramic views of the surrounding snow-capped summits and unspoiled Alpine landscape.
The trip to the top is by the Titlis Rotair—the world’s first revolving cable car.
From Zermatt, ascend the Gornergrat and be greeted by a panorama with more 4,000 metre peaks than anywhere else in the alps. For the finest views of the mighty Matterhorn, one of the Alps’ highest peaks on the Swiss-Italian border, take the trip by cogwheel railway from Zermatt to the Gornergrat. The observation platform located at 3,131 metres offers a spectacular vista of 29,4000 metre summits.
Other excursion options include Appenzell (the smallest Swiss canton that looks like a winter fairytale), Bern (a historic UNESCO World Heritage site with six km of shops), Jungfraujoch (Top of Europe), the Arosa Line and the Centovalli Express, which brings you to the northern Italian city of Domodossola located at the foot of the Italian Alps.
What’s more, you can start the Grand Train Tour from any point; there is no
prescribed travel direction or duration.
Best of all, the entire tour can be travelled with a single all-in-one ticket—the Swiss
Travel Pass. A 4-day pass starts from S$337 (after a 25 percent discount with
tickets bought online).
For the ultimate rail experience, embark on the full 8-day Grand Train Tour,
where you can travel on half of the 10 world-famous routes and go on the recommended excursions. An 8-day pass starts from S$487.
Just reserve your seats in advance on the special panorama trains (except PreAlpine Express), and you’re ready to go!
The Swiss Travel Pass can be purchased via Dynasty Travel (6532-0031) or PriceBreaker (6317-2888). For more information, visit www.myswitzerland.com/rail. Terms and conditions apply.