Check your cancellation options
In general, it’s good to know what happens in case you want to (or must) cancel your bookings. This applies even more so during the coronavirus period, since border closures or other travel bans can occur:
- check hotel booking policies: many hotels can be cancelled free of charge on a fairly short notice. Please find
suggested hotels here;
- check train/plane ticket cancellation options. Swiss Travel Passes are normally 85% refundable if cancelled before the start date. The rest might be covered by your travel insurance. If you're not sure you will travel, do not buy your Swiss Travel Pass until 3 business days before your trip. Most retailers deliver the pass via e-mail within 30 minutes, or 2 working days in some cases. Please find a retailer list here and more on how/where to buy here. Please find other train ticket and pass details here;
- if you have to cancel: try not to do so too early, because it may not be clear yet whether traveling will be possible during your planned dates. If you cancel closer to your trip, you'll have a better chance of special cancellation policies being in place. To cancel, please contact the company you purchased from.
Check your health and travel insurances
- make sure you're covered for any unexpected medical expenses, and check if maximum coverage is sufficient for Switzerland;
- consider a cancellation insurance, which can help if refunds are not possible through the companies you booked with. But do read the fine print. Cancellation can be done for many reasons, and not all reasons are necessarily covered. Epidemic outbreaks often are not;
- some companies offer ‘cancel for any reason’ or CFAR insurances, either as an included feature of their insurance or as an add-on option. CFAR insurances allow you to cancel no matter what reason you have, and your reason doesn’t have to be explicitly mentioned in the conditions (as is the case with most other cancellation insurances.) Mind that CFAR options are usually more expensive, and that not all travelers qualify. For example: you mostly have to request for a CFAR insurance within a limited amount of days (typically ranging from 10 to 21) after your trip booking, and cancel no less than 48 hours before the scheduled department.
Traveling in Switzerland
- wearing face masks in all types of public transportation is required. You can get face masks online or in Swiss pharmacies, supermarkets, kiosks and many other shops. Such shops are mostly available at rail stations as well. Many 'Selecta' snack vending machines offer face masks too;
- if you travel by train and bus, try to avoid rush hours. Quieter times of the day are the (very) early morning, the late morning to early afternoon, and the late evening. You’ll find useful links under ‘Coronavirus policies per train company, tour operator and product retailer’. Plan your trips in advance. Get rail passes and tickets online in advance as well. Many of them are available as e-tickets to be displayed on your mobile device. This allows you to avoid ticket purchases at vending machines or manned desks. Try to keep your distance to other travelers. For the time being, the Swiss railways and postbus companies advise to wear face masks if keeping distance is not possible. Toilet and washing facilities at major railway stations will be available free of charge;
- if you travel by cable cars and other mountain transportation, try to avoid the most popular ones and the most popular times of the day;
- you may prefer traveling by car: either by your own car or by rental car. Carefully plan which locations can and cannot be reached by car (some mountain villages such as Wengen, Mürren or Zermatt are car free for example, and many mountain areas can only be accessed by public transportation). If you want to get out along the way, do so on a quiet spot. Consider eco-friendly traveling by compensating your CO2 emission. Further tips about driving in Switzerland are available here.
Online face masks
There are disposable and washable face masks. Wash masks at a temperature of at least 60 C (140 F) to remove the virus. Face masks can be purchased online:
Be sure to wear face masks correctly, otherwise they will not work: www.who.int.
Retailers and tour operators
Be sure to check the recommendations provided by tour operators and retailers of travel products. They'll also explain about their cancellation policies.
The 'Clean & Safe' label for Swiss tourism companies
A 'Clean & Safe' label is being developed for tourism-related companies. Companies carrying this label have officially committed to stick to all Swiss safety measures that apply in their industry, such as accommodation, catering, gastronomy, mountain transport and public transportation. The label may help you choose the hotels, restaurants and day trips you feel comfortable with. Find out more at www.myswitzerland.com.
- hotels will have rules in place to ensure social distancing and they may need to adjust their catering options. You may want to look for rooms with a kitchenette, allowing you to provide for your own meals. Hotel tips can be found here;
- apart from hotels, you may look for holiday homes on quieter spots and with a private entrance. They’re mostly available for longer stays of at least one week. Find options here;
- b&b’s as well as Airbnb’s can be considered too. Please read our precautions here.
Choosing regions and base towns
- while traveling normally is part of the excitement, you’d best limit the amount of transfers if the coronavirus is still active: stay in less base towns instead of moving around, and make day trips in the immediate surroundings;
- you may prefer quieter small towns over busier tourist hubs. Do consider whether this would mean you’d be traveling towards a town center by public transportation on a regular basis. If so, a hotel in the city center and close to a rail station may be better overall. We’ve mentioned suggestions for smaller towns below:
Choosing activities and book tours under favorable conditions
- avoid potentially crowded places like popular mountains, and instead enjoy the scenery while hiking. Please find suggestions for corona-friendly activities here;
- if you want to book tours, it’s good to know that some tour operators now offer more favorable cancellation conditions, allow you to pay later or present vouchers for later travel dates. Here are some examples:
- Expedia provides these cancellation options: www.expedia.com;
- GetYourGuide offers free cancellation up to 24 hours before the booked tour: www.getyourguide.com;
- Klook’s cancellation policies differ per activity. Find their FAQ here: www.klook.com;
- TripAdvisor launched a ‘Reserve now & pay later’ option, allowing travelers to reserve activities in advance and pay closer to the planned travel date: www.tripadvisor.com;
- Viator allows free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance: www.viator.com.
Dining and shopping
If you dine out, try to find quieter locations and quieter times. You may also shop for your own food. Swiss supermarkets have a wide selection of products, suitable for nearly any taste or diet. When shopping, pay attention to social distancing rules.
Are you traveling on a budget? Find our tips to save money here.
Make sure you plan or adjust trips based on recent information:
- check this forum thread for up-to-date information;
- consult local/national news while there, for example through the SwissInfo website or app;
- you can install the Alertswiss app to get notified in case of emergencies;
- you can install the official SwissCovid tracing app issued by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH);
- travelers from abroad who log in to the Swiss mobile network for the first time, will automatically receive a push notification with links to coronavirus information and quarantine regulations, provided by the Swiss government;
- find more apps, websites and phone numbers here.