How to get to Switzerland

If you’re wondering how to get to Switzerland — a place you voted one of the most beautiful countries in the world — you have lots of options, whether you’re travelling from elsewhere in Europe, the UK, or further afield. And the good news is, once you’ve sorted getting to Switzerland, getting around Switzerland is also a walk in a perfectly manicured Swiss park.

How to get to Switzerland

Zürich is Switzerland’s intercontinental flight hub, and largest city, with pristinely clean streets playing host to a boom in the arts. 

Being a hub, Zürich is also convenient for travelling further afield to enjoy some of the best outdoor experiences in Switzerland.

    Best places to stay in Zürich

  • Best for culture vultures: Alma Hotel. An upmarket designer hotel near the lake.
  • Best for couples: Hotel Kindli. One of Zürich’s most charming small hotels.
  • Best for nightlife-lovers: Pension Furdich. Backing onto a park, this quaint hotel is close to funky bars and clubs.

Explore more accommodation in Zürich

Things not to miss in Switzerland: Zurich city center with famous Fraumunster Church, Limmat river and Zurich lake from Grossmunster Church, Switzerland.

Wondering how to get to Switzerland? Being Switzerland's intercontinental flight hub, you may well fly to Zürich © Shutterstock

Zurich’s not the only option, though — Basel and Geneva handle dozens of European flights a day. 

    Best places to stay in Geneva 

  • Best for couples: Beau Rivage. A dreamy classical-style palace founded in 1865.
  • Best for families: Hotel Central. This affordable hotel has great-value rooms for three, four and five people.
  • Best for budget basics: City Hostel Geneva. This functional backpackers' place boasts good facilities.

Browse more of the best places to stay in Geneva, and read our guide to accommodation in Switzerland.

Aside from Zürich, Geneva, and Basel airports, the country’s three smaller commercial airports — Bern, St Gallen, and Sion — are useful entry points to specific regions.  

Milan Malpensa, Italy’s main intercontinental gateway, is only 25km south of the Swiss border, and has excellent coach links to Bellinzona, Lugano and Chiasso in Switzerland’s Ticino canton. 

Meanwhile, Friedrichshafen in Germany has flights from London and Manchester. Located just across Lake Constance, this gives you another way to get to Switzerland.

Visas and red tape

All EU nationals and citizens of the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand only need a valid passport.  

Both Switzerland and Liechtenstein are part of the Schengen Area.

Duty-free allowances are 2 litres of alcohol under 15 percent, 1 litre of alcohol over 15 percent, and 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.

How to get to Switzerland by plane from the UK

Unsurprisingly, the fastest way to travel to Switzerland from the UK is by plane, with over fifty flights a day from a dozen or more UK airports. 

Full-service carriers include British Airways and Swiss International Air Lines. No-frills airlines include easyJet, Wizz Air, Ryanair, and Jet2. Swiss leisure-operator Edelweiss Air also flies some routes. 

Flight time from London is around an hour and a half. From the north of England or Scotland, it's two to three hours.


Taking to the air is how most folk travel to Switzerland from the UK © Shutterstock

How to get to Switzerland by plane from Ireland

From Ireland, there are flights from Dublin to Zürich and Geneva on Aer Lingus or Swiss.

Ryanair currently offer only one route from Ireland — from Dublin to Basel.  

While flying to a UK airport to pick up a flight on a low-cost airline to Geneva or Zürich offers more flexibility, you won’t necessarily save time or money.

How to get to Switzerland by plane from the US and Canada

Swiss International Air Lines flies from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Montreal, New York and San Francisco nonstop to Zürich, and from New York to Geneva. 

Codeshare arrangements with Edelweiss Air and United Airlines adds Calgary, Tampa, Vancouver and Washington to the list of destinations served from Zürich. Washington is also served from Geneva on codeshare flights.

In addition, Air Canada, Delta, United, and American Airlines all fly to Zürich from North American hubs.

United also flies to Geneva from Washington-Dulles and Newark, and Air Canada to Geneva from Montreal. 

How to get to Switzerland by plane from Australia and New Zealand

There are no direct flights from Australia and New Zealand to Switzerland. 

Qantas will book you a flight from Australia to Zürich, Basel or Geneva routed either via London or the Persian Gulf, with the final leg on one of their codeshare airlines, such as Emirates or BA. 

How do I get to Switzerland by train?

Given the eco benefits, and the fact that travelling by train is scenic, relaxing and cost-effective, it's arguably the best way to travel to Switzerland from the UK. 

It's also a great way to get around once you've arrived, as revealed in our run-down of the most scenic rail trips in Europe.


Switzerland's transport network is superb © Shutterstock

If you’re travelling from London or southeast England to one of the big Swiss cities (Zürich, Basel, Geneva, Lausanne, Bern, Lucerne), and you compare door-to-door timings, you may even find that flying is only barely quicker, if at all. 

Eurostar runs high-speed trains from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord (2hr 15min). Trains also depart from Ebbsfleet and Ashford.

Check timetable information from London to any station — or bus stop, cable car or ferry halt — in Switzerland.

From Paris, many TGV high-speed trains serve Switzerland from Paris Gare de l’Est (located beside the Gare du Nord) to Zürich (4hr 25min), after stopping in Basel (3hr 25min). 

    Best places to stay in Basel

  • Best for weekend-break luxury: Teufelhof. An outstanding boutique hotel in the heart of the city.
  • Best for big occasions: Trois Rois. Founded in 1681, this is one of the grandest hotels in Europe.
  • Best for couples: Au Violon. Set on a small hill, this has cosy rooms above a courtyard. 

Discover more of the best places to stay in Basel.

Different train routes also run from Paris Gare de Lyon — to Geneva (3hr 25min), Lausanne (3hr 50min), Neuchâtel (4hr) and Bern (4hr 35min). 

    Best places to stay in Bern

  • Best for luxury-lovers: Innere Enge. A fine old building with Art Nouveau styling and Alpine views.
  • Best for history buffs: Hotel Landhaus. Overlooking the river, these are Bern's best mid-range rooms.
  • Best for budget travellers: Bern Backpackers/Hotel Glocke. An Old Town charmer with excellent facilities.

Explore more great places to stay in Bern.

Bernina Express in Switzerland ©  Peter Stein/Shutterstock

Bernina Express, Switzerland © Peter Stein/Shutterstock

Sleeper trains from northern Europe to Switzerland are now few and far between, though the German Railways website gives details on the City Night Line service from Köln (Cologne) to Basel and Zürich. 

Another option for overnight travel is to take a Thello service from Paris (Gare de Lyon) to Milan (10hr 30min) and on to Lugano by fast train (1hr 20min).

    Best places to stay in Lugano, Ticino.

  • Best for couples: Hotel Federale. An atmospheric, good-value old town hotel in a leafy district.
  • Best for families: Lugano Dante. A quality four-star in a converted townhouse.
  • Best for five-star spenders: Splendide Royal. A classic hotel with traditional public spaces and rooms.

Explore more places to stay in Lugano, and read up on the canton's excellent regional food in our guide to eating and drinking in Switzerland.

How to get to Switzerland by car from the UK

Switzerland is just about within reach of the UK on a day’s drive — the Swiss border is very roughly 850km from the Channel coast and, given an early start and clear autoroutes, you could be in Basel, or even Bern or Lausanne, by sundown. 

    Best places to stay in Lausanne

  • Best for couples: Angleterre & Residence. A classy waterfront hotel occupying eighteenth-century mansions.
  • Best for luxury: Beau-Rivage Palace. Set in ten-acre waterside gardens, this is one of Switzerland’s finest.
  • Best for families: Elite. Lausanne's best mid-price hotel.

Browse more of the best places to stay in Lausanne.

When driving, aim for Calais, Reims then Dijon, as this route benefits from rapid cross-Channel service and avoids Paris.

Eurotunnel runs frequent, round-the-clock car-carrying trains from Folkestone to Calais via the Channel Tunnel (35–45min). 

Though booking is advisable, you can turn up and go. Ferries and catamarans from Dover to Calais are currently operated by P&O, DFDS Seaways, and Irish Ferries.

How to get to Switzerland by coach from the UK

While travelling by coach won’t get you there fast, it’ll often be the cheapest way of getting to Switzerland. 

The journey takes around 20 hours and can be booked through National Express.

A ferry crossing Lake Zurich © Switzerland Tourism

A ferry crossing Lake Zürich © Switzerland Tourism

Given that getting to Switzerland is so easy, you may well be ready to book your trip — The Rough Guide to Switzerland and our run-down of things not to miss in Switzerland will help you plan. 

Not a fan of planning? Book a hassle-free tailor-made trip to Switzerland, with customisable itineraries curated by local experts covering everything from unforgettable highlights of Switzerland, to touring the Grand Circle

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Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 31.08.2022

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