8 key things happening in Switzerland in May 2024

8 key things happening in Switzerland in May 2024

With springtime reaching top gear, the weather warming and a pair of public holidays coming down the tracks, the residents of the alpine nation will likely want to know what changes are coming to Switzerland in May 2024. From speeding fines to cannabis and new flights abroad, here are eight important things to know:

1. German speeding tickets will be valid in Switzerland

From May 1, 2024, drivers from Switzerland who are caught speeding on Germany’s roads and autobahns will no longer get off largely scot-free. Thanks to a new treaty, Swiss police will now assist the German authorities in issuing fines to Swiss drivers caught speeding in the federal republic and vice versa. 

Now, anyone in Switzerland issued with a speeding fine of 70 euros or more in Germany will have to pay it, even if they cross back into the alpine nation. Fines of over 80 francs issued to German drivers in Switzerland will also be enforced.

Blick noted that the agreement will likely benefit Switzerland more, as Swiss fines are much more expensive than German ones. For instance, motorists in Germany have to drive at least 21 kilometres an hour above the speed limit to receive a fine over the 70-euro minimum limit. In Switzerland, German motorists need only stray 6 kilometres an hour over the limit to receive an 80-franc fine.

2. Swiss banks begin to lower interest rates

With the Swiss franc remaining strong, annual inflation dropping to 1,3 percent in February 2024, and the Swiss National Bank recently cutting the key interest rate by 0,25 percentage points, some Swiss banks have taken their cue and started to lower interest rates on accounts. From May 1, Appenzeller Kantonalbank will cut interest rates by 0,2 percentage points, meaning savings accounts will receive 0,8 percent interest, while private accounts will earn just 0,1 percent.

At the same time, the Obwaldner Kantonalbank will cut the interest rate on savings accounts for balances of up to 100.000 francs, from 0,9 to 0,75 percent. The interest rate between 100.000 and 250.000 francs will fall from 0,4 to 0,25 percent, and there will be no interest on any savings beyond 250.000 francs.

At the Nidwaldener Kantonalbank, Savings Account Plus balances up to 100.000 francs will be given an interest rate of 1 percent, while larger amounts will be given interest at 0,2 percent. Basic savings accounts will be given less interest - between 0,5 and 0,1 percent. 

Finally, online bank Neon will cut interest rates from 0,9 to 0,75 percent on savings up to 25.000 francs and from 0,65 to 0,5 on all balances above the amount.

3. Canton Zurich cannabis trial gets the green light

Following the example set by Basel, Lausanne and the city of Zurich, on May 2 Canton Zurich will launch its own cannabis trial. Under the trial, two-thirds of volunteers will be able to purchase cannabis at specialist shops in Zurich, Winterthur, Schlieren and Horgen, and Adliswil, Wädenswil and Uster at some point in the future. The remaining third will continue to purchase cannabis through the black market.

The trial itself will last for five years and cost 1,5 million francs. With around 7.500 people signed up, it is expected to be the largest cannabis pilot ever held in Switzerland.

4. RailCoaster train between EuropaPark and Switzerland to launch

Those seeking an adrenaline thrill can look forward to May 18, when the new direct rail service between Switzerland and EuropaPark will launch. The service will run in the morning from Basel SBB direct to Ringsheim, where a bus will transfer thrill-seekers to the theme park. A return service will then run back to Basel near closing time.

The train will run on every Saturday and Sunday, public holidays, May 20, National Day and November 1. The so-called “RailCoaster” ticket offered by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) also includes entrance to the park, and is available from 89 francs.

5. SBB wages to increase

Speaking of SBB, May 2024 will see the salaries of federal rail workers rise, according to a statement from the company. The increase totals 1 percent on average for full-time workers

SBB revealed that it also paid staff a one-off inflation bonus at the beginning of 2024. This totalled 1.000 francs for those who work full time, down to 500 francs for those who work 50 percent of full-time hours or less.

6. SWISS to launch direct flights to Seoul

Travellers from Switzerland will soon get a chance to add a new destination to their list of favourites, with flag-carrier airline SWISS confirming that flights from Zurich to the South Korean capital Seoul will begin on May 7. Three weekly flights are planned between the two destinations every week.

This isn’t the only expansion that graced Swiss airports this spring: in late March, SWISS started to fly direct between Zurich and Washington DC and is expected to launch Zurich-Toronto flights from mid-May.

7. Labour Day and Ascension holiday

In what will bring a smile to the face of every employee in Switzerland, May will also see its fair share of public holidays. First, the residents of 10 Swiss cantons will get a full or half day off on May 1 to celebrate Labour Day, also known as May Day. It is a full holiday in Zurich, Basel-Stadt, Basel-Land, Jura, Neuchâtel, Schaffhausen, Thurgau and Ticino, while those in Aargau and Solothurn are usually given a half-day off.

Then, all Swiss cantons will give residents a day off on May 9 to commemorate the Ascension. With the holiday falling on a Thursday, many take an extra day of paid leave to make it a four-day weekend, while some charitable businesses choose to simply return to the grind on the following Monday.

8. End of the spring school holidays in Switzerland

Finally, May will see the end of the school holidays in Graubünden, Schwyz, Uri, the German-speaking part of Valais and Zurich. By May 13, all students should be back in class, studying, preparing for exams or perhaps dreaming about the summer holidays that lie ahead.

Whether you got a chance to go on holiday at the beginning of May or spent the time exploring all that Switzerland has to offer, we wish you a great month!

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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