Lavaux train.
Photograph: Schweiz Tourismus

5 reasons why a sustainable Swiss holiday is the way forward

Written by Time Out. Paid for in partnership with Switzerland Tourism.

Whether you’ve been living in Switzerland for years, are a new arrival or just visiting, you don’t have to spend much time here to work out that it’s a country blessed with more than its share of stunning landscapes. So, it makes sense to protect all that natural beauty by being as sustainable as possible in day-to-day life.

This, of course, includes when you’re travelling around Switzerland on holiday. Thankfully, this is a country where sustainability is often at the forefront of the conversation – as proven by a recent public vote backing a climate bill to cut carbon and become carbon neutral by 2050. It’s now easier than ever to holiday sustainably around Switzerland, and a fantastic way of doing so is by utilising the country’s superb public transport system.

Read on for our tips on making your holiday more environmentally friendly and gloriously simple at the same time, all thanks a few simple transport switches. And remember that you can find more information on sustainable holidaying across the country at

Rhaetische Bahn. Weltrekordversuch / World Record Attempt
Photograph: © SchmidliThe Rhaetian Railway.

You can mix things up
Travelling sustainably doesn’t mean limiting your options. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at the wealth of choice when it comes to Switzerland’s range of environmentally friendly transport. For starters, there’s the mighty SBB (the country’s biggest transport company), which generates a whopping 90% of the electricity for its trains from hydropower, with plans to make that number 100% by 2025. Rhaetian Railway is also on-top of harnessing hydro, with 100% of its electricity for locomotives and buildings sourced through this method. Then there’s the E-PostBus, which runs on renewable energy, the ‘Funi’ in Freiburg (Switzerland’s last water-powered funicular railway, operating without electricity or emissions from fumes since 1899), Brunni-Bahnen Engelberg (Switzerland’s first climate-neutral cableway), the MNE Ceresio 1931 (the country’s first all-electric motor cruiser, ferrying passengers on a daily basis) – the list goes on.

Chur bus station.
Photograph: Schweiz Tourismus/Beat Mueller

It’s super-simple
If you’re worried about the logistics of using public transport for your holiday, we have two words for you: don’t be. Switzerland’s public transport system is blissfully and refreshingly easy. This is a country which houses around 29,000km of transport network and works to ensure regularly scheduled timetables – whether you’re travelling by train, bus, boat or even cable car – meaning you won’t be left hanging around for hours waiting for the next ride or trekking miles to find the nearest station. Buying tickets is also a breeze, and once you’re on your chosen mode of transport, be prepared for a comfortable and scenic journey – this is public transport done properly.

Bernina Express.
Photograph: Switzerland Tourism

It’s beyond beautiful
As something of a huge bonus, travelling on Switzerland’s brilliantly sustainable train network also means you get to enjoy some unparalleled scenery along the way. For starters, there’s the Bernina Express, a train that travels on the historic Rhaetian Railway route, part of which just so happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Bernina carriages have also been built with panoramic viewing windows, designed to let passengers soak up the lakes, rolling hills, palm trees and even glaciers you’ll pass along the way. Then there’s the Glacier Express, which runs through the Alps from Engadine to the famed Matterhorn, passing through an impressive 91 tunnels and over 291 bridges. Don’t miss the mighty Rhine Gorge (you won’t, as it’s unsurprisingly huge) and the unforgettable mountain views of the Matterhorn and other peaks. For a countryside escape, try the Luzern-Interlaken Express, which connects two hugely popular tourist destinations via some quintessential Swiss countryside. If it’s history you’re after, the Gotthard Panorama Express delivers plenty of it, passing the famous Kirche von Wassen (church of Wassen) and travelling through the Gotthard Tunnel, built way back in 1882.  

Schloss Wartegg hotel.
Photograph: Switzerland Tourism/Giglio Pasqua

You can combine it with a sustainable stay
If you’re travelling sustainably, then it makes sense to factor-in the environment when it comes to your accommodation, too. Luckily, Switzerland has many excellent options when it comes to sustainable hotels. Zurich’s five-star Dolder Grand is one such example, where work to reduce carbon emissions is being undertaken across numerous areas. These include energy usage, food preparation and waste, water management and paper consumption. Similarly, ecological principles inform how Schloss Wartegg, near St Gallen, operates in many areas, including sourcing from suppliers, cultivation of its substantial gardens, using natural building materials and producing energy via its own hydro power station. As well as being set amongst breathtakingly gorgeous mountains near the Obersee lake, stylish Valsana Hotel in Arosa is known for its forward-thinking technological innovations, which have been used to increase the hotel’s sustainability. The venue’s heating system runs on ice-based heat exchange technology (don’t worry about how it works, just know that it’s a good thing), and its rooms and suites are decorated with natural materials, amongst many other measures.

Luggage service on Swiss SBB trains.
Photograph: Switzerland Tourism/Jasmin Frei

It’s a weight off your mind – and your arms
Luggage can be a drag when on holiday – literally – so ease the burden when you’re journeying by public transport with a brilliantly handy luggage service. You don’t even need to get your bags to the train station, as everything gets picked up from your home and delivered straight to your destination by train – and then back home again at the end of your trip. No more struggling under heavy bags and rucksacks. You can even get your bike transported if you’re planning on doing some cycling through all that marvellous landscape.

So there you have it. Holidaying sustainably is a good thing for the environment and a good thing for you, the holiday-maker. Find more ecological travel inspiration and start mapping-out your sustainable holiday at

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