There’s hardly another European destination offering as much in terms of natural wonders as Switzerland.
The Swiss, too, love their nature and strive to preserve it as best as they can with various protection programs, education, and, of course, investing in public transport.
Learn 5 tips for sustainable travel in Switzerland from the Swiss themselves.
Sustainable Travel In Switzerland - ECHO Rails Tips
1. Travel With Public Transport
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Switzerland has one of the best public transport systems in the world.
Its dense, integrated network includes trains, trams, buses, boats, cable bars, and funiculars, allowing passengers to seamlessly change between the means of transport. Regular investments in new technologies, infrastructure, and maintenance make Swiss public transport punctual, efficient, and comfortable.
Adding a high frequency of trains, buses, and boats, Swiss public transport makes it possible to reach even the most remote spots in the country quickly and comfortably.
By choosing to travel by public transport in Switzerland, you reduce your carbon footprint and add comfort and a sense of uniqueness to your travels. Not having to worry about tolls and parking spots, you get to admire the views and interact with fellow passengers freely.
ECHO Rails Tip: Swiss Pass Flex makes traveling around Switzerland even easier. Book your travel pass via Switzerland Travel Centre and discover unique car-free destinations on board Swiss panoramic trains.
2. Walking and hiking
Switzerland is a 100% walkable country. In cities, all main attractions are within walking distance (10-15 minutes of an even-paced stroll), the same as hotels and train stations. Walking around Swiss cities is very pleasant – the sidewalks are even and well-finished, the traffic is not too overwhelming, and there are plenty of benches to sit down and relax
Swiss countryside and the mountains and are covered with a dense network of comfortable and well-maintained walking and hiking trails. Many villages have their own sightseeing or nature trails, equipped with educational boards focusing on the local flora and fauna.
Well-signposted and picturesque, Swiss walking paths are also equipped with benches, firepits, and barbecue spots, inviting visitors to take advantage of the great outdoors.
Swiss alpine hiking trails are slightly more demanding and require slightly more stamina. Still, they allow you to explore the Swiss Alps’s magnificent beauty safely.
While enjoying sustainable travel in Switzerland on any of the natural trails, remember to follow the Leave No Trace rules. Bring all your trash down to the valley, stay on the trail, and use only dedicated picnic spots to sit down and eat.
ECHO Rails Tips: Enjoy a drink and a snack at ubiquitous mountain huts scattered along hiking trails. Some mountain huts are famous for their amazing location around summits and vantage points, such as Monte Rosa hut. Most of them offer food and drink, as well as a cozy place to stay for the night.
3. Eat seasonally and regionally
The Swiss are very patriotic regarding the choice of food. It’s not a surprise: Switzerland is mostly self-reliant when it comes to agricultural produce and meat.
Most supermarkets offer a wide selection of regional and seasonal produce from local organic farms. A great way to explore Swiss eating habits is to visit a local farmer’s market. Swiss cities and bigger villages hold such markets weekly, bi-weekly, or even every day. You can even book a guided tour around Lucerne’s farms to have a peek at the organic production process.
Here you can meet the local producers of cured meats and cheese typical for the mountain areas of Switzerland, as well as fresh fruit and veg. Don’t miss out on seasonal products such as cherries, tomatoes, and pumpkins!
When dining during your sustainable travel in Switzerland, feel free to ask where particular ingredients of your dish come from. Many restaurants offer a full disclosure of their sources of meat, dairy, and vegetables.
ECHO Rails Tip: Many restaurants in Switzerland offer menus based on produce from the immediate neighborhood. Try sweet-water fish dishes around Lake Lucerne, and game in the mountains of Grisons.
4. Sleep in sustainable hotels
Another way to make your next voyage a bit more sustainable is to choose an earth-conscious hotel. How?
Sustainable tourism is a big topic in Switzerland. In 2022, the Swiss Federal Statistical Office accounted for over 55 million overnight stays in tourist areas – a whopping 6.8 times the population of the whole country. No wonder that with such a turnaround of visitors, Swiss hotels strive to be a bit more sustainable.
They do so first and foremost by investing in new sustainable technologies. For instance, Hotel Kempinski Palace in Engelberg is connected to the local heating network, meaning the building is heated by burning local wood. They also offer free charging stations for electric vehicles and tap into hydroelectric power sources.
On another note, hotels also strive to preserve the local environment and sustainably promote natural and cultural attractions. They source their produce from local farms, including dairy farms, and reduce waste by introducing circular economies.
Their priority is to still offer a first-class, luxury experience while reducing environmental impact.
ECHO Rails Tip: When looking for an accommodation for a sustainable travel in Switzerland, try Responsible Hotels. These hotels prove that sustainability and quality go hand in hand.
5. Travel slower, stay longer, experience deeper
When traveling, we never seem to have enough time to see and experience everything we would like to.
We pack our schedule tight until it bursts, striving to get the “full” and “authentic” experience in just a few days. Slow traveling proposes a different perspective: how about we cross out fewer items and enjoy them deeper?
Immersion, connection, and mindfulness: three cornerstones of slow travel help you experience more by doing less. Sustainable travel in Switzerland will allow you to experience the everyday life of Alpine villages and buzzing Swiss cities by connecting with people and the environment. Slow down and take in your surroundings with all your senses.
Notably, trains are a wonderful place to connect with people, the environment, and oneself – for instance, while traveling with the slowest express train in the world, the Glacier Express.
12-Day Grand Train Tour of Switzerland
ECHO Rails & Trails 12-Day Grand Train Tour of Switzerland ticks all the boxes for a perfect escorted rail tour in Switzerland.
- Explore this magnificent country from a first-class window seat on one of the world’s most famous panoramic trains.
- Enjoy the assistance of a local English-speaking guide who will share their knowledge of history, nature, and culture to help you immerse yourself in your Swiss voyage.
- Travel light with dedicated luggage transfers (included in the price) and enjoy a slower pace of travel with two nights in each location.
- And let’s not forget about the food – complimentary breakfasts and dinners will let you try the best of Swiss cuisine with its hearty soups, pies, and seasonal vegetables.
Prepare for an adventure of a lifetime with ECHO Rails & Trails.