Overland Switzerland Travel
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- 1 Visiting Switzerland
- 2 Entering Switzerland with a Car or Motorbike
- 3 Driving in Switzerland
- 4 Gas price in Switzerland and Diesel price in Switzerland
- 5 Safety and Security Considerations
- 6 Camping in Switzerland
- 7 Navigation
- 8 Special Overland Travel interests
- 9 Vehicle Maintenance
- 10 Buy or sell a car or motorbike in Switzerland
- 11 References
- 12 Helpful External links
Entering the country via land: The below information assumes a visitor is entering by road therefore from a EC country (Germany, France, Austria or Italy) Entering the country and travelling in Switzerland is pretty straightforward. Main border stations (eg. entries via motorways) are manned 24h. Smaller border stations on minor might not be manned at all. If a visitor needs a visa in this case he/she would need a Shengen visa which is also valid in Switzerland.
Safety Switzerland is considered very safe. Robberies, break-ins in vehicles or any violent crime are very rare and if it would occur it would be in a larger city at night in a dubious neighborhood . Sometimes organized events with very many visitors might attract pick-pockets.
What to visit in Switzerland The country is basically divided in three regions: The Alps: Many of the famous sights are found in this region: The Matterhorn, Jungfraujoch, Grindelwald, Interlaken, St. Moritz, Zermatt, Interlaken, etc. If you like walking there are 60'000 km marked hiking trails crisscrossing the country in all directions. The use of it is free and along many of the trails you'll find simple restaurants and accommandation. The website www.schweizmobil.ch provides incredible information about where to go and how to organize a small or extended trip. Various means of transport carry visitors high up into the mountains if walking is not your thing. The cost can be rather high though. A place not to be missed if you are interested in Swiss country side culture and history is the Ballenberg open-air museum above Lake Brienz (near Interlaken) Here farmhouses from all regions show the variety of architecture and lifestyle of the past.
The "Mittelland": This is the relatively flat and low lying area between the Alps and the Jura mountains. Most historic cities are located in this area (from east to west these are: St. Gallen, Zürich, Luzern, Aarau, Bern, Thun, Aarberg, Murten, Neuchatel, Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva) There are also a number of lakes in this region yet shores are unfortunately not always easily accessable.
The Jura mountains From Zürich to Geneva runs a mountain range with elevations between 800 and 1600 masl. Although not as mighty as the alps they are far less visited and it is the least populated area of Switzerland (beside the high country in the alps) It is a great area for hiking and to get away from the crowds. Highlights are the city of Basel, the Chasseral and Weissenstein with excellent views to the alps on a clear day, the watch capital La Chaux de Fonds with its impressive watch museum. Little towns like Saint Ursanne are pleasant and quite places. Many natural sights, canyons like "Gorge d'Areuse", the amphitheater "Creux du Van", are well worth a visit if you like great landscapes.
Entering Switzerland with a Car or Motorbike
Correct as of:8.2018
(To check if you need a travel Visa for Switzerland, application instructions and fees see: Switzerland Visa online application at VisaHQ.com)
No paperwork nor formalities are needed if entering as a tourist with a vehicle
Process at border
normally most visitors are not even stopped a the border. Smaller border posts are not even manned. VISA: If you enter via road and need a visa for Switzerland you would come from a EC country and have a Shengen visa that is also valid for Switzerland
Cost of entry
No cost is involved
Permitted length of stay
Persons on a Schengen visa would have 90 days per 180 days. This visa is valid in Switzerland too.
Normally a temporary imported vehicle can remain up to 12 months. Since there is no registration of the vehicle at entry there is no record of it in the system. It will also not be linked to the owners passport.
Extension of stay
Describe the process to extend the permitted length of entry for the vehicle, if possible.
Storing a vehicle and temporarily leaving the country
See info above. The only problem could be that if the vehicle is parked somewhere for an extended time without a responsible person it would appear "suspicious" and somebody would call the police to check. Best is to park it on somebodies property out of sight. There are no fiscal implications to be expected whatsoever.
Exiting with a vehicle
No paperwork or stop at border required
Driving in Switzerland
Recommended books for Overlanding in Switzerland
Travel insurance for Switzerland
It is strongly recommended to have a good health insurance because health cost in Switzerland are very expensive. In case of an accident or the need of a hospitals the bill rises quickly into the thousands!! Medication prices are high too and a simple visit to a docter is easily >150 CHF
Vehicle insurance requirements
3rd party liability insurance is mandatory. Switzerland is one of the Green Card countries. European insurance will normally cover Switzerland. Check with your insurance company if you have one already
Cost of vehicle insurance
State the price of insurance and a time period.
Where to purchase vehicle insurance
If a vehicle enters Switzerland it comes from a EC country therefore should have already an insurance for all Europe incl. Switzerland. If an insurance is not covering Switzerland a "Grenzversicherung" (frontier insurance) can be purchased at any manned border station for up to 6 months and is extendable.
To buy an insurance for whole Europe incl. Switzerland it can be obtained before arrival. Here the link to a insurance company that insures non-european vehicles: http://www.tourinsure.de/en/international-motor-insurance-and-frontier-insurance/camper/europe
A national drivers licence is accepted as long as the information on it is in German, French, Italian or English. Any other language requires an international drivers licence which contains the translation of the information
Driving side of road
RHD vehicles can be driven in Switzerland.
Mandatory items in vehicle
safety triangle is mandatory and must be ready available (eg not in boot)
General Road quality
Give a brief description of the general road quality. Mention if one way streets are common. Speed:
- 50 km/h in the city (some areas are limited to 20 km/h and 30 km/h)
- 80 km/h out of town
- 100 km/h on semi-highways (Vignette)
- 120 km/h on the motorways (Vignette)
Road signage is excellent and easy to understand.
Sign colors for road signs (differs from most other European courtries): GREEN > (Nationalstrasse) National highways / Motorways (annual sticker required) BLUE> (Kantonsstrasse) Regional highways WHITE> (Nebenstrasse) Minor roads
The most road signs are the same/similar as the ones used in other European countries
The only roads (no tolls for tunnels, bridges, etc.) with toll are the motorways (Nationalstrassen) The sign posting is with GREEN signposts. There is a annual fee of 40 CHF. You will get a sticker valid for the current year including January of the following year. Stickers are available at any border station if you enter the country via motorway. Otherwise most gas stations sell them too. DO NOT drive on motorways without it the fine is 200 CHF plus the 40 CHF for a sticker!
CAMPING VEHICLES, TRAILERS and TRUCKS >3.5 t Heavy vehicles must pay the PSVA , a daily rate of 3.25 CHF/day (min. 25 CHF) and is payable at the border. These vehicles must enter via a manned border station.
Bribery in Switzerland
Travellers will NOT meet any bribery
There are only rarely routine check on the road and if the police checks technical condition of the vehicle and/or breath testing the driver. More often the are mobile speed checks. Fines are hefty
Traveling with pets
List the entry requirements and anything else required to travel with a pet.
Gas price in Switzerland and Diesel price in Switzerland
Last updated: October 2012
Currency and unit to display:
|Unleaded||€1.55 EUR per Liter|
|Diesel||€1.62 EUR per Liter|
Use this link to get a general overview of actual fuel prices and comparison with neighboring countries: https://www.globalpetrolprices.com/
Gas and Diesel Availability / Frequency
Gasoline and diesel is always available without restrictions. Be aware that most gas stations are self-service. Means of payment are credit and debit cards (check first if your card works in Switzerland) and bills. Fuel along motorways tend to be more expensive than other stations.
Gas and Diesel Quality
Gasoline and diesel are generally of high quality (European standards)
Safety and Security Considerations
Driving at night
No particular danger when driving at night needs to be considered. Avoid night driving in snowy conditions in areas with little traffic
Discuss if vehicles can be parked on the street, if they are considered "safe" at night. If vehicles can not be parked on the street, list the other options that exist.
Special driving considerations
Be aware of speed/redlight traps in certain regions and in particular in larger cities. Fines are hefty
Security advisories and information
- Country Specific Information - U.S. Department of State
- Travel Reports and Warnings - Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
- Travel advice by country - Foreign and Commonwealth office (U.K.)
- Travel Advice for Switzerland - Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Camping in Switzerland
Formal campgrounds are readily available all over Switzerland. In holiday areas (Tessin in particular) the campgrounds are rather expensive and wild camping often prohibited (signposted). In less traveled areas the campgrounds are much more affordable. Standards are usually good and the facilities clean. See sources below for prices and amenities
Wild camping is generally not prohibited yet most of the land is privately owned and requires the owners permission. In particular on mountain passes it is easier to find wild camping spots. Parking areas and truckstops on motorways are OK for a night . There are reports that police checked on wild campers in the middle of the night and sent them away but usually they are willing to accept if it is for a night only. It is not known that anybody ever paid a fine since there is no law prohibiting camping. In some cantons (regions) the communities are given the right to prohibit camping on their land. See below links to free and cheap overnight options. Safety is not an issue.
Camping guide books
List and link to books specifically for camping.
Free or cheap and legal overnight places for camping vehicles (covers whole Europe) Unfortunately only in German and online https://stellplatz.info/reisemobilstellplatz/schweiz -
Tapwater is always safe and mostly of very high quality. Even water of public fountains is of drinking quality (if not there will be a sign)
Reise Know-How are amoung the best paper maps. Purchase paper maps before arriving in Switzerland
GPS Maps of Switzerland
Switzerland is covered in most TomTom and Garmin map packages covering central Europe. No particular Swiss map is available
OSM maps of Switzerland are very detailed and reliable including walking trails
For outdoor sports the following online topo map is very informative: https://www.schweizmobil.ch/en/summer.html (sections of it can be saved for offline use or printing)
GPS co-ordinates for camping, propane, gas, repairs, etc. in Switzerland
- iOverlander is a website and iPhone application designed by Overlanders, for Overlanders. It contains GPS co-ordinates and reviews for camping, hotels, propane, water, mechanics, borders and much more.
Link to sites that have a list of GPS co-ordinates (or directions) for camping locations (including "wild" campsites), propane filling, gas stations, repair shops, places of interest, etc.
Special Overland Travel interests
List any special items / places that are popular with Overlanders
4x4s / Trucks
- Toyota Global Dealer Locator
- Land Rover International Dealer Locator
- Mercedes Benz International (select country on bottom right)
- Jeep International site locator
Add known good mechanics here.
Buy or sell a car or motorbike in Switzerland
Describe how a foreigner can buy a vehicle. List any difficulties or limitations on where the vehicle can be driven.
Describe how a foreigner can sell a foreign-plated vehicle, or list not possible.'
One needs a Swiss residency to be able to register a vehicle in Switzerland!! If one is registering a vehicle first time the authorities (Strassenverkehrsamt) will ask for prove of residency. To register a vehicle prove of insurance is also required.
Links to the source of any information - blogs or discussion forums, etc.
Add any helpful external links here.
https://www.schweizmobil.ch/en/summer.html - Access to free topographical map with hiking trails/routes and a lot of other useful information for outdoor activities in Switzerland. Segments of the map can be printed or saved as .pdf for offline use. Also available as app.
http://grandtour.myswitzerland.com/ - A great interactive website with an excellent proposal how to see the most highlights of Switzerland
https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-ch/home.html - The official website of the Swiss tourism organisation. Contains a lot of useful information about visiting Switzerland