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Switzerland ditches some travel restrictions to save its ski season

Dec. 09, 2021
7 min read
The Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland (Photo courtesy Swiss Tourism)
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If you’re craving a vacation in a European winter wonderland but travel restrictions have left you grounded, Switzerland is making it easier to visit with fewer travel restrictions.

On Dec. 4, the Swiss government ended the 10-day quarantine requirement it had placed on some foreign visitors in an effort to try and combat the COVID-19 omicron variant.

That makes Switzerland the first country to lift restrictions imposed after the world first learned of the new coronavirus variant.

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Ice skater on the frozen Lake Sils. (Photo courtesy of Switzerland Tourism/Martin Maegli)

But before grabbing your skis, snowboards and sleds, it’s important to note that while Switzerland’s 10-day quarantine requirement is now over, the government is still buckling down in other areas to try and keep visitors and residents as safe as possible while dealing with the omicron variant.

What’s changed? You need to plan on more COVID-19 testing and mask-wearing, and additional places are now requiring you to show your vaccination card.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest travel rules for Switzerland. As always, requirements and regulations can change fast, so be sure to also check the Swiss government website and the links we've provided below for more information.

Swiss travel restrictions for Americans

  • All travelers need two negative test results. The first test, not older than 72 hours, is needed before entering the country. The second test needs to be taken between four and seven days after arriving in Switzerland.
  • All travelers must check the latest travel rules on Travelcheck.
  • Some travelers from high-risk countries, including Americans, are required to be fully vaccinated.
  • All travelers must fill out an entry form.

Related: Country-by-country guide to reopenings

Switzerland mask requirements

Masks are mandatory in all public indoor spaces and on all public transportation including:

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  • Trains, trams and buses.
  • Mountain railways and cable cars.
  • Ski lifts and chair lifts.
  • Ships and boats.
  • Aircraft (all scheduled and chartered flights taking off or landing in Switzerland).
  • Enclosed and underground railway stations, airports and other public transport access areas, and enclosed waiting areas.

Switzerland COVID-19 vaccine requirements

  • A valid COVID-19 vaccine certificate is required for public restaurants, wellness facilities and museums.
  • A valid COVID-19 vaccine certificate is required for indoor hotel restaurants, bars, etc.

Other travel restrictions

For the most recent information on traveling to Switzerland, you can use the country’s Travelcheck portal set up by Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health. After asking what country you’re flying in from, why you’re visiting and your vaccination status, it is designed to detail what pandemic-related measures you need to take to visit.

Swiss Travelcheck website tentative approval page. (Screenshot courtesy of travelcheck.admin.ch)

For frequently asked questions about travel restrictions and pandemic-related issues in Switzerland, be sure to check out the website of the State Secretariat for Migration, where information is updated often.

Planning a trip to Switzerland

Another good resource to help you plan your trip to Switzerland, listing everything from the latest travel restrictions to the top hotels and restaurants, is this link on Switzerland Tourism’s website.

After the holiday rush you can score some decent prices on nonstop flights from the U.S. to Switzerland. As of this writing, flights ranged between $580 and $900 round-trip.

To fly into Zurich (ZRH) and Geneva (GVA), you’ll find the most nonstop options (and delicious Swiss wine and chocolates) on the country’s national airline Swiss Air.

(Photo copyright: KMB courtesy of Switzerland Tourism)

Some of the most popular nonstop options include flights from New York City (JFK), Newark (EWR), Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Miami (MIA) and San Francisco (SFO).

Related: How Swiss business class manages to remain excellent — even during a pandemic

The Lufthansa Group owns Swiss so they share the Miles & More frequent flyer program, but you can also book award flights on Swiss using United MileagePlus or any other main Star Alliance transfer partner.

You can also use American Express Membership Rewards partners like Air Canada Aeroplan, ANA Mileage Club or Avianca LifeMiles to book flights on Swiss.

Also, starting Dec. 13, you can fly Swiss nonstop once again from New York’s JFK to Geneva with four weekly flights.

Related: I burned 130,000 Aeroplan points for a weekend in Switzerland

Several U.S. airlines also fly to Zurich, and you can find nonstop flights from the U.S. to Switzerland on United, Delta and American Airlines.

Related: Switzerland is reopening, and you can fly there with wide-open business-class award space

If you are looking to burn some Delta SkyMiles, you can fly from New York to Zurich for 148,000 miles round-trip in business class with several connections. Check out this post for details. The cash price for a similar itinerary with fewer stops is $2,871. A similar flight using American Airlines AAdvantage miles to fly British Airways would be about 45,000 miles in coach or 198,000 miles in business class.

Delta SkyMiles award to Zurich. (Screenshot courtesy of Delta)

A critical time for Swiss tourism

Switzerland’s more relaxed travel restrictions come at a critical time for the country’s economy.

Switzerland Tourism told TPG that before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, tourism brought almost $18 billion into the Swiss economy. Last year, in 2020, that number was almost cut in half.

The winter season traditionally brings close to 8 million visitors. The number of Americans visiting last winter was down more than 94%.

The message right now from Switzerland Tourism? The more than 200 world-class ski regions like Zermatt, St. Mortiz and Verbier are open and more than ready for business.

The Eiger Express in Grindelwald, Switzerland. (Photo courtesy Swiss Travel Systems/David Birri/Switzerland Tourism)

Bottom line

The Swiss say the beloved Matterhorn, a jaw-dropping 14,692 feet high, is the most-photographed mountain in the world and that this majestic beauty is waiting to welcome everyone again.

The Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland. (Photo copyright: Gornergratbahn courtesy of Switzerland Tourism)

Personally, of the 68 countries I’ve traveled to, Switzerland is one of my favorites for its breathtaking scenery, award-winning resorts, hotels, spas, wineries and culinary experiences. It's particularly magical during the winter months. And yes, I’ve taken a picture or two, or 100, of the Matterhorn and I’m looking forward to going back to Zermatt and taking more.

Featured image by Gornergrat Bahn
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023