A guide to Switzerland’s most scenic tram and bus rides

Zurich Tram 4

What is the best way to see a city? On foot, by bicycle, on an organized tour or aboard a sightseeing bus? Some of these options are too tiring, too touristy or too expensive… But is there another way?

City sightseeing does not have to be expensive - even in a place like Switzerland. (The country has a notorious rep of charging an arm and leg for people to get around.) After a few years here, I have come to realize that the efficient and punctual urban transport is a great way to see cities on a budget. Hop on, hop off and enjoy the city views while you are at it!

On the search for the most scenic tram and bus rides in Switzerland’s biggest cities, I reached out to the local tourism boards and to fellow bloggers for their expert opinion.

Basel: Tram 8 from Basel Bahnhof to Weil am Rhein, Riedlist/Kessel

"The route starts at the Basel train station and continues to the Barfüsserplatz (keep your eye out for the Tinguely fountain!). From there, it passes the theater, the toy museum and the market square where you can see the beautiful town hall building."

Basel Tram

"Shortly after, you will reach Schifflände and cross the Rhine on Mittlere Brücke. From there, you will get a glimpse of the Münster Cathedral. The tram then goes past Kaserne, the largest center for contemporary theater, dance and music in northwest Switzerland."

"As if this were not enough, the ride continues through the residential and creative areas of Klein Basel, past art galleries and cafes, before reaching the Stucko Mall and then crossing the Rhine again to Germany." (Recommended by local blogger Menorca Chaturvedi from Europe Diaries)

Basel Mittlere Brücke(Photograph copyright Wikimedia)

Check the timetable.

 

Bern: Tram 9 from Wankdorf Bahnhof to Wabern

"Start at the soccer and ice hockey stadiums, ride through the hip family district of Breitenrain with local shops and cafés. Then, soak in the panoramic view from the Kornhausbrücke, pass some highlights of Bern such as the Clock Tower (Zytglogge), some beautiful historical fountains like the Kindlifresserbrunnen and the Parliament Building, and end at the foot of the Mount Gurten."

Bern Tram

Check the timetable.

 

Bern: Bus 12 from Länggasse to Zentrum Paul Klee

"Start at the Länggasse and ride along this historic street with its beautiful shops and cozy cafés. Uni Tobler is where the Toblerone chocolate has its origin. Then, pass touristic highlights of Bern such as the Bundeshaus, the Clock Tower (Zytglogge), some beautiful historical fountains like the Fountain of Justice and the Bear Park, and ride along the Muristalden with its beautiful views over the Old Town. The bus line ends at Zentrum Paul Klee, an architectural masterpiece."

Bern Bus 12

Check the timetable.

 

Bern: Bus 28 from Wankdorf Bahnhof to Beaumont

"The bus 28 line starts at the Wankdorf train station by the soccer and ice hockey stadiums. From there, you will ride through the district Kirchenfeld where many embassies are located. Finally, you will cross the Monbijou bridge with beautiful views of the river Aare, the Parliament Building and the Marzili swimming area below." (Recommended by Bern Tourism.)

Bern Monbijou Bridge

 

Geneva: Bus 8 from Nations at the World Health Organization to Veyrier-Douane

"The bus No 8 is a good way to discover various landscapes and areas of Geneva. The bus line starts in the international district (home to about 200 international organisations!), continues in the city center by crossing the Mont-Blanc bridge over the lake Léman and afterwards takes you to the countryside of Geneva at the foot of the Mount Salève."

Geneva Pont du .Mont Blanc(Photograph copyright Wikimedia)

"From there you can take the cable car (located only 5 minutes away from the final bus stop "Veyrier-Douane") to reach the summit of the Mount Salève which offers astonishing views." (Recommended by Geneva Tourism)

Check the timetable.

 

Geneva: Bus line E from Rive to Hermance

"The bus line E is a picturesque ride from the city center along Lake Léman to the final stop – Hermance, a small countryside village at the lakeside." (Recommended by Geneva Tourism)

Geneva Hermance Beach

Check the timetable.

And don't miss this: Since December 2016, there is a barbie pink tram (line 14) rolling through the streets of Geneva! Designed by the Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist, the pink tram is part of a project called ART&TRAM.

 

Lausanne: Bus 16 from Provence Nord to Lac Sauvabelin (towards Grand Vennes)

"The bus line 16 takes you from the city center to the little, yet picturesque, forest surrounded lake Sauvabelin in less than 15 minutes." It is a beautiful area with a wooden tower, farm animals, a typical Swiss chalet and nice views over the city.

Lausanne Sauvabelin(Photograph copyright Wikimedia)

Check the timetable.

 

Lausanne: Metro line M2 from Epalinges, Croisettes to Ouchy

"Lausanne boasts the only metro system in Switzerland and one of the steepest metro lines in the world. Since there is no driver, people can stay in the front of the metro and enjoy the view, when it operates out of the ground. One of the best views is south of the train station, going down to the lake!"(Recommended by Lausanne Tourism)

Lausanne Metro(Photograph copyright bahnbilder.de)

Check the timetable.

 

Lausanne: Bus 2 from St-François to Ouchy (towards Maladière-Lac)

"Bus 2 from Saint-François to Ouchy is one of my favorite rides in the city. Hop on at the charming Saint-François square in the center of town, and then ride past the historic Capitole movie theater and down through the elegant neighborhoods of Sous Gare."

Lausanne Ouchy(Photograph copyright Wikimedia)

"The bus then takes you to the Ouchy lakefront and leaves you just beside the Chateau d'Ouchy. From there you can continue your journey on foot or by boat. Or, if you just want to enjoy the scenery, grab a pizza and a cocktail at Le Lacustre." (Recommended by Sarah from The Lausanne Guide)

Check the timetable.

 

Luzern: Bus 21 from Luzern Bahnhof to Kriens, Busschleife

Luzern has been tram-free for more than 50 years, yet some of the trolleybus and bus lines show some of Luzern's highlights just within a short ride. Locals especially enjoy the bus line number 21.

Luzern Kriens Wallfahrtskirche(Photograph copyright Wikimedia)

"During this ride, which starts at the heart of the city at the main train station, you will enjoy nice views on Lake Lucerne surrounded by a serene mountain landscape. Then, you will pass some beautiful villages in the outskirts of Lucerne. Keep an eye out for the part between Stutz and Felmis towards Kastanienbaum - it is not to miss as it offers the best views!" (Recommended by Lucerne Tourism)

Check the timetable.

 

Zürich: Bus 31 from Hegibachplatz to Schlieren

If there was a route that showed how multifaceted the city of Zurich is, that would be the bus line No 31. The route, going from Hegibachplatz to Schlieren, passes through different areas, showing Zürich's various landscapes: from rich and poor to old and new, as well as the busy downtown and the more relaxed suburbs.

Zürich Langstrasse

Check the timetable.

 

Zürich: Tram 4 from Tiefenbrunnen to Altstetten

Peek into Zürich-West, one of the most exciting parts of the city, by taking tram number 4. It is a brand new line that exists only since 2011 and goes from Bahnhof Tiefenbrunnen in Seefeld all the way to Altstetten.

Along the way, it passes by some fresh architectural masterpieces, as well as former industrial areas rebuilt for residential and commercial purposes. Think , the lively Toni Campus, the Prime Tower and Hardturm Park.

Zürich Toni Areal ZhdK

Wherever you get off, explore hip shops built under a railway viaduct (Dammweg) or head out for a drink to the always lively Frau Gerolds Garten.

Zürich Dammweg Viadukt

Check the timetable.

 

Zürich: Tram 6 from Bahnhof Enge to the Zoo

This tram line is the ultimate ride for soccer lovers (and not only)! It begins at the monumental Enge train station next to the FIFA museum and stops at one of Switzerland's most popular squares, the Paradeplatz.

Bahnhof Enge, Zürich(Photograph copyright Wikimedia)

From there, the tram continues through the famous Bahnhofstrasse shopping district, further on crossing the river Limmat. Then it goes through some residential areas of the city and ends at the city's zoo. Near the zoo, you will also find the FIFA headquarters and Restaurant Sonnenberg with a panoramic view of Zürich.

Restaurant Sonnenberg Zürich

Check the timetable.

 

Zürich: Polybahn from Central to ETH

"Taking the Polybahn is always an exciting experience. Even if the ride is quite short, the funicular railway that transports passengers from Central to the ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) never disappoints. Everyone can use the Polybahn and the mix of people on board always makes the ride interesting." (Recommended by Zurich Tourism)

Zürich Polybahn

Check the timetable (not operating on Sundays).

For even more insights, check out ZURICH BY TRAM. The blog provides interesting descriptions and historical backgrounds on points of interest of different tram lines in Zurich.

 

Urban transportation is one thing. But more than 140 million passengers annually cannot go wrong with the PostBus.

The iconic yellow buses take you to towns and villages - and sometimes even to most remote places in nature. Ticino Tourism highlights the following regional bus routes in Lugano and Locarno:

 

Ticino: Bus 434 from Lugano to Carona

"Apart from the fact that Carona is an incredibly beautiful village and that on the ride from Lugano you will come across some spectacular views to Lake Lugano - the most interesting part of the ride comes when the bus reaches Carona."

"To enter the village, the bus must go through an extremely narrow arch. To be able to do that, the buses are equipped with special rear-view mirrors and the air conditioning unit is not mounted on the roof, as in other vehicles, but built into the engine compartment. Just to give you an idea, look at the picture above..."

Carona Postal Bus(Photograph copyright André Breutel, Bus-Bild.de)

Check the timetable.

 

Ticino: Bus 321 from Locarno to Tenero and Sonogno ("Verzasca Route")

"Here is a very good description of what you can see during the ride. To me it feels like a ride into the past: I am always impressed both by the beauty of the valley and its river and by the fact that the people were able to live and sustain themselves in such a narrow and steep sided valley." (Recommended by Ticino Tourism)

Ticino Verzasca Valley

Check the timetable.

Do you know of other beautiful tram or bus rides? Feel free to share a note in the comment section below.

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Kristīne

Kristīne is a Tourism Organisation and Management graduate from Latvia, currently living in Bern.

She is into travelling, photography, handicrafts and online marketing. She doesn't spend the weekends home, and she will never say "no" to an invitation to go hiking in the mountains.
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