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If your ideal itinerary does not take you near those 45 stations, try an alternate luggage-forwarding service from the tour company SwissTrails. It covers even the smallest of rural villages at somewhat higher rates than the Swiss Rail service.

A pass to savings
To save money and time, rail passes allow travellers to hop on and off the trains, buses and ferries that crisscross the country on 13,000 miles of routes. Rail passes can save foreign visitors up to half of the price paid by residents, thanks to tourism-promotion subsidies from the Swiss government.

Among the various Swiss rail passes, hikers and cyclists will generally prefer the Swiss Flexi Pass, ideal when you want unlimited, spontaneous travel on a couple of days during your trip and do not need public transport on other days. A Swiss Flexi Pass sold via booking website Rail Europe for three non-consecutive days of unlimited train travel recently cost 236 Swiss francs for two people, substantially less than renting and fuelling a rental car. Passes are also sold at rail stations.

Trip-planning tools
To plot your car-free itinerary, a good starting point is the English-language version of the website for Swiss Federal Railways. Also helpful is the Bradt Travel Guides’ Switzerland Without a Car, which describes every railway line and what there is to see walking, hiking or cycling near each station.

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