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By Road

Switzerland - By Road

Switzerland's landlocked location at the heart of Europe requires extensive onward travel following a sea crossing. The closest large ports would be Marseille in France for the west of Switzerland, and Venice in Italy for the east. If relocating by car from the UK, a ferry would need to be taken to north west Europe. From south east England the quickest crossing is Dover to Calais (France), with the ferry taking 90 minutes. Dover is 76 miles from central London by road, a journey that on average would take 1 hour and 50 minutes but can vary considerably according to commuter traffic.

For northern England, overnight crossings from Hull to Zeebrugge (Belgium) or Rotterdam (Netherlands) offer access points to the continent, with ferries from Newcastle serving Amsterdam (Netherlands). From Scotland it is possible to sail to Zeebrugge, a journey taking 20 hours.

Onward travel times by car to Zurich are typically 8 hours 45 minutes (with a journey of 536 miles) from Calais, 8 hours (483 miles) from Zeebrugge, 7 hours 30 minutes (512 miles) from Amsterdam. Additional time should be allowed for leaving the port area.

The total travel time by car from London to Zurich, via Calais, could be estimated at 12 hours. This would however be need to be extended to allow for time required for connections and for rest stops along the way.

From north west Europe (e.g. Amsterdam), the travel route to Switzerland involves taking the Autobahns (motorways) 3 and 5 down through Germany, entering Switzerland via Basel. An alternative route goes via Brussels in Belgium and then south east on the E411 to Luxembourg, continuing in the direction of Strasbourg on the A4, and from there crossing into Germany and heading due south on the Autobahn 5, again crossing at Basel. This is Switzerland's busiest border crossing. The Geneva border crossing is popular with those entering via France. Both borders can be congested at peak commuter times with residents of France and Germany coming in daily to work in the Swiss cities.

In 2008 Switzerland joined the Schengen Agreement, putting an end to cross-border passport checks. The borders remain guarded, however, and checks are made for illegal items. It will also be necessary to purchase the motorway tax sticker known as the Vignette at the border if you do not already have one. You will be heavily fined if caught driving on Swiss motorways without displaying this clearly on the windscreen.

Useful Resources

P&O Ferries
Cross-Channel Ferry Transport (UK to Calais, Zeebrugge and Rotterdam)
Address: Channel House, Channel View Road, Dover, CT17 9TJ, UK
Tel: 08716 64 21 21 (international: +44 1304 863000 and then option 1)
Email: customer.services@poferries.com

Switzerland Travel Centre
For pre-purchase of Motorway Vignette for driving in Switzerland
Address: 30 Bedford Street, 1st Floor, London WC2E 9ED, UK
Tel: 0207 420 49 34

AA (Automobile Association)
For route planning across Europe
Tel: +44 161 333 0004 (international)

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