Ken Baldry's Alpine Pages - Getting to the Alps


There are airports in Switzerland at Basel, Bern, Zürich, Geneva and Sion. Easyjet fly to Zürich & Geneva & are very cheap if you book well ahead. Then, proceed to your first base by train & bus. You can get Swiss Passes of various types fom your Swiss National Tourist Office in your own country. Ask them which one you need. The London one is at 30 Bedford Street, London WC2E 9ED, telephone 020 7420 4900 in GB & 00800 100 200 30, International free-phone or e-mail them. They have the timetables for trains & buses & it is very easy to work out your itinerary. Cathy Jones, the lovely lady on the desk, is extremely helpful.

For Austria, either fly to Innsbrück (see the Stübai Tour) or for the Vorarlberg, fly to Zürich & catch the train. The Austrian Tourist Office seems to have gone into hiding in London but they are in the telephone directory, so order the village brochures you will need that way.
Try this link for plenty of Austria information.

Rail:- This is the green option!

From London St. Pancras through the Channel Tunnel to Paris Gare du Nord. Take the Metro to the Gare de Lyon, changing at Le Chatelet. TGV Lyria to Basel & Zürich, Bern, Brig & see under Air above. You will probably have to change in Basel & usually, at Bern for the Berner Oberland or Brig & Visp. With the Lötschberg Basis Tunnel now open, it takes only two hours from Basel to Brig.

I don't like the Metro with a big rucksack & ice-axe, so check the timetables for trains from Gare de l'Est to Basel, changing at Strasbourg.

From Zürich, trains can be taken to points East. The farthest in Switzerland is Scuol in the Lower Engadine & the farthest practical point in Austria is really Landeck in the Tyrol. In 2011, to minimise the travel stress, I stayed overnight at Feldkirch (not far over the border from Liechtenstein) & caught the train to Landeck the next day, as I knew I could get to the Heidelberger Hut in that day, see this link.

For the westerly Rhone Valley, go to Paris, take the Metro to the Gare du Lyon (yuk) & catch a train to Lausanne.
Change for points up the Rhone Valley but note that it is probably quicker to get to Visp & Brig via Basel.
Check the timetables carefully, as you need to use the Metro for Gare du Lyon but there is hanging around time to take into account.

In 2011, the timetables had been much mucked up & I had to get the 0525 from St. Pancras. The good news is that DB (German) trains are expected to come into St. Pancras some time, which may be useful. (This was supposed to happen in 2012 but did not).

Swiss train timetables are on this link in English.


It's a Long Way & two reasonable day's driving to most mountain bases. I have never done it out but have, back.
If heading for Zermatt, you cannot drive the last bit from Täsch but must take the train (sfr3.60 in 1999 but hight now).
You will need to buy a pass to use Swiss motorways (expensive) unless you are going to struggle on the normal roads, but, using these, you can still get to Brig in two days.

When you get there... will need somewhere to stay. Out of season, (the season being ski time, when you won't be walking! and August), there is no trouble finding accommodation to your taste, from five star hotels to the camp site (but Adam & Janice Bloom say, watch out for Italian public holidays, when everywhere in the Italian Alps is booked solid). Also, watch out for masses of Japanese in Zermatt or Grindelwald. If you have to go in August, book. You can get brochures from the Tourist Office. The huts up the mountain never turn anyone away but it can become very cramped if the weather turns nasty & everyone in that area heads for the same hut. The 60 person Dent Blanche Hut once had 300 people packed into it.

Another warning if you are back-packing - don't book all your intermediate points. The weather can sabotage your plans, which should include a contingency day per week. If the weather turns out lovely, you can use your contingency day to bide a wee, e.g. going up the Brunnital from UnterSchaeschen.

My individual village pages have details of how to get to them. This includes the ski season pages.

Essential links

This link goes to Topin's web-cams.
Check before you go for a couple of weeks, to see the trend.

This link or the banner below is to 'Switzerland Tourism', the Swiss Tourist Office

This link or the banner below is to the Austrian Tourist web site

Ken & Avis' home page addresses their other interesting sites

Contact: Ken Baldry, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)20 7359 6294 or e-mail him
URL: © Ken Baldry 2004-2013. All rights reserved. Last updated 23/6/2013