Many travellers in London are moving on to other destinations in mainland Europe, such as Switzerland. British citizens regularly travel to Europe for business and pleasure, and have paved the way for other tourists travelling to Swiss destinations. Getting there from London is not difficult, and several options are available. However, there are a few things you should know before you plan your trip so you can avoid as much hassle as possible and fully enjoy your trip to Switzerland.
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Things you need
- International driving permit (optional)
Fly. Four main airports in London service major cities throughout mainland Europe, including Switzerland: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton. Catch a flight from any one of these airports to the Swiss cities of Geneva, Bern, Zurich or Sion. You can also fly into Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg airport, which is located in France, about four miles north of Basel, Switzerland.
Take the train. Eurostar services Switzerland from London. From St. Pancras train station in London, the Eurostar train travels through the English Channel tunnel or "Chunnel" and stops in several French cities: first to Lille, and then to Paris. From Paris, the Eurostar stops at several cities in Switzerland: Bern, Geneva, Basel, Zurich and Lausanne. Ticket prices and routes from Paris vary according to the Swiss destination city. You may have to change trains, depending on your destination.
Drive. If you have access to a car, you can drive from London to Switzerland. From London, drive to Folkestone, in Kent County, England. Because the English Channel is only crossable by boat or train, from Folkestone you must catch a ferry across the channel or use the Eurotunnel Shuttle, which is a train. Ferries and the Eurotunnel Shuttle accommodate passenger vehicles. Either method will take you to Calais, France, and from Calais, you can drive to Switzerland.
Tips and warnings
- If you don't want to pay the money for a taxi, all London airports can be reached by train. The Gatwick Express leaves regularly from London Victoria Station. The Standsted Express leaves from Liverpool Street Station. The Heathrow Express leaves from Paddington Station, and trains to Luton Airport leave from St. Pancras station in London. Heathrow Airport can also be reached using the London underground via the Piccadilly line.
- Don't forget to bring your passport. Your passport will be requested at every border.
- If you are a U.S. citizen and plan to stay in Switzerland for more than three months, you must get a visa before arrival in Switzerland. For stays shorter than three months, no visa is necessary for tourist trips.
- If you plan to drive in the United Kingdom and Europe, you should have an international driving permit, which can be acquired through the American Automobile Association (AAA). Although several companies offer the international driving permit, AAA is the only company actually allowed to issue them. No test is required, only a photo and a fee. You do not need to be a member of AAA to get an international driving permit.
- When driving to Switzerland, many Brits take a northern route through Belgium to avoid costly tollways and traffic in Paris, France.
- If you are renting a car in London, ensure the rental company allows international travel to Switzerland.
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