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TRAIN TRAVEL

Five European cities you can reach from Zurich in less than five hours by train

Switzerland is a beautiful country, but it also has a great location right in the centre of Europe, making it an ideal starting point for train travel. Here are five destinations you can reach in less than five hours from Zurich.

Switzerland train
A train drives through Switzerland (© SBB CFF FFS)

As summer is still in full swing and there are many vacation days (or free weekends) to enjoy the sunny weather, it’s not the wrong time to do some travelling. Switzerland is a beautiful country, but it’s also centrally located in Europe. This means that many major European cities are reachable in just a few hours.

If you are located in Zurich, for example, then you are very near Germany, France, Italy, Liechtenstein and Austria. In less than five hours, visiting beautiful cities in these five countries is possible by taking a comfortable train ride.

So, select your final destination, get your ticket, and enjoy the ride.

READ ALSO: Switzerland’s ten most beautiful villages you have to visit

From Zurich to Strasbourg

It will take you just about 2 hours and 30 minutes (including time to stop and change trains in Basel) to get from Zurich’s mains station to the beautiful and historical city of Strasbourg, in northeast France.

Prices vary depending on several factors, but we found one-way tickets for just around CHF 23 on a Friday.

From Zurich to Munich

The capital of Bavaria can be reached from Zurich’s central station on a direct train in just 3 hours 30 minutes, allowing for short stays.

Munich may seem quite far away on a map, but the fast trains without stopovers actually make the journey quick and pleasant. We found one-way tickets for around CHF 70 on a Friday trip.

From Zurich to Vaduz

The capital of Liechtenstein is easy to reach in less than 2 hours from the Zurich central station. In fact, some journeys will take just about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

The lovely town bordering Switzerland has many tourist attractions, from its pedestrian historical centre to castles and parks. Train ticket prices always vary, but we found tickets for a one-way journey on a Friday costing CHF 20.

READ ALSO: Travel: What are the best night train routes to and from Switzerland?

From Zurich to Milan

Depending on the train you take, you can get from Zurich to Italy’s fashion capital in three to four hours with a direct train.

Before 2016, when the Gotthard Base Tunnel was opened to rail traffic, a trip from Zurich to Milan took an hour longer. It’s possible to find tickets for about CHF 70 for a one-way trip on a Friday.

From Zurich to Innsbruck

From Zurich, it is possible to hop on a direct train and, in just over 3 hours and 30 minutes, arrive in the beautiful town of Innsbruck, in the mountains of Tyrol.

Ticket costs vary, but we found tickets for a relatively short-notice one-way trip on a Friday (without discounts) for CHF 84.

READ ALSO: Five beautiful Swiss villages located near Alpine lakes

Cost:

Fares depend on several factors, such as time of the day and day of the week when you travel.

While a rock-bottom cheap fare may be available one day in the morning, it won’t necessarily be offered the next day (or week) in the afternoon, or vice-versa.

Prices also depend on whether you are entitled to any discounts and which wagon you choose.

If you are interested in travelling farther afield, including with night trains, or if you are in other Swiss cities, these articles provide more information:

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TRAIN TRAVEL

Zurich to Baden: Switzerland mark 175 years since first train service

Switzerland -- famous for its punctual railways -- celebrated the 175th anniversary of passenger train services in the country on Tuesday with a re-creation of the first journey featuring a steam locomotive.

Zurich to Baden: Switzerland mark 175 years since first train service

The first train service on August 9, 1847 linked Zurich with Baden, 23 kilometres to the northwest — a trip which took 33 minutes.

Transport minister Simonetta Sommaruga and around 150 guests boarded the special train to Zurich to mark the anniversary, which involved historic carriages and a steam locomotive.

“The train is part of our basic service. It brings people together and strengthens cohesion in our country,” Sommaruga said, according to the ATS national news agency.

The line between Zurich and Baden was built in 16 months. One of the original bridges is still in use.

The journey now takes 15 minutes and trains run every quarter of an hour.    

Swiss Federal Railways chief Vincent Ducrot said there were “many new chapters” to be written in the “success story of the Swiss railways”.

READ ALSO: Five European cities you can get to from Zurich by train

“Building on our current strengths, we want to make rail and public transport even more flexible and efficient,” ATS reported.

The Swiss rail network features several impressive engineering feats, including tunnels under the Alps.

Few countries have a rail network as dense as Switzerland.

Ducrot said the main challenge now was to run more trains on the existing network.

READ ALSO: How Switzerland aims to improve its regional rail links

“Today, digitalisation and technology occupy us more than building new infrastructure,” he told national broadcaster RTS.

Ducrot also stressed the importance of improving international rail links “if we don’t want to remain an island in the middle of Europe”.

For more on train travel in Switzerland click here

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