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Best Swiss Pass or Card Option

by Sadeev Kang
(Mumbai, India)

We are 4 adults, 2 senior citizens and 2 kids below 12 (family outing).

This is my itinerary:

Arrival : 11 May Zurich
May 12: Leave for Grindelwald
Stay there and travel all across to Lucerne, Zermatt, Interlaken, Mount Pilatus
So we are gonna be out every day.
May 16: Leave for Geneva-onwards to Nice

Just need to understand if we should take a Swiss pass/Bernese Oberland pass in combo with others.

Am tired of searching please help.


Answer to

Best Swiss Pass Option

Hello Sadeev,

I understand your frustration. It can be daunting to evaluate Rail Passes. The better you plan your itinerary the easier it will be.

Just a few suggestions: Consider choosing Interlaken Ost instead of Grindelwald as a base to explore the Jungfrau Region. Then, no matter which Swiss Pass or Card you choose, you'd profit from seeing more of this absolutely stunning region on a round trip.

Depending on the time of travel, you could either get a "Good Morning" / "Good Afternoon ticket" or the "Connecting Jungfrau Ticket" (more about these options here). That way you can have both: sightseeing in Grindelwald but then also see Wengen and Lauterbrunnen (Roundtrip: Interlaken - Grindelwald - Jungfraujoch - Wengen - Lauterbrunnen - Interlaken). You can interrupt your trip at any destination as long as you return to Interlaken on the same day, and this trip is easily done in one day.

According to your Itinerary, most of your travel days are not spent in the Bernese Oberland Region (Canton Bern): Lucerne and Mount Pilatus are located in the Canton Luzern and Zermatt in the Canton Valais, therefore a regional pass is not the best option. The way I understand your itinerary, you won’t stay longer than one whole day in this Region. So, unless you plan to stay at least 3 days, you don’t profit from a regional Bernese Oberland Pass. For the portion Grindelwald – Jungfraujoch – Wengen you will have to pay an extra ticket, no matter which pass you choose:

- Swiss Pass Holders receive 25% discount
- Half Fare Card and Bernese Oberland Pass Holders receive 50% discount.

Your itinerary could possibly look like this:

  • Travel from Zürich to Luzern and from there up to Mount Pilatus.

  • Proceed from Luzern to Interlaken Ost via Brünig-Hasliberg (more info on that route see here)

  • Stay in Interlaken and visit the Jungfrau Region

  • Proceed from Interlaken to Zermatt via Spiez - Visp

  • Continue to Geneva and from there to Nice

When you figured out your itinerary, refer to my help page to find out the best rail pass option for your needs.

Are France and Switzerland the only countries on your Itinerary? If not, do check RailEurope passes too, for example EuRail Select and/or Global Pass, depending on how many countries you will visit.

I hope this helps,

PS: Adults 26+ and Seniors pay the same price, but you are all eligible for the Saver Passes. Your children will travel for free with the Family Card.

PSPS: Please do share a few photos of your Swiss experience. I'd be delighted to hear from you.

Comments for Best Swiss Pass or Card Option

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Which rail pass is best for a short visit
by: Danial

Dear Fida,

Planning a 3-day visit to Lucerne and Pilatus.

We are 2 adults and our 2 children are 11 and 14 years old. We will be in Switzerland for a short visit in March 2016. Our plan is as follows :

Day 1 :
Arrival from London at Zurich Airport at 9.15am.
Plan to head for Lucerne and stay for 2 nights.
Explore Lucerne (whole day) with kids.

Day 2 :
Explore Kriens and travel up to Pilatus by cable car (whole day).

Day 3 :
Leave for Basel Mulhouse Airport (BSL) to catch early flight at 6:50am to Amsterdam.

Please advise which type of card or pass is the most suitable and economical for this memorable trip.

Thanks so much for your understanding. Really appreciate your time and kindness.


Hello Daniel,

Most often, the shorter the trip the least economical any card will be. If you are doing what you pan out in this post, then buying a Half Fare Card for you and your wife is slightly cheaper than pay full price tickets for you and half price tickets for the children. You'd save approximately CHF 30 (all in all). However, as soon as you add a boat trip on Lake Lucerne, then it definitely is worth buying a Half Fare Card and your children travel for free with the Family Card. You also get a reduction on city transportation. The more excursion you add, the better you are off with a Half Fare Card on this short visit.

Both, Swiss Pass and TellPass will be more expensive.

In case you choose to do something else, here's a templatethat shows you how you can find out the best option.

There's not much to see in Kriens, unless you are interested in art (Bellpark), in the history of the Swiss Armed Forces (Militärmuseum), or in churches. The stunning pilgrim church of Hergiswald is worth a visit, though it's situated high above Kriens.

To get the most out of your stay in Lucerne, I would explore the city on your arrival day, and - weather permitting - do a cruise in the afternoon (bad weather option: visit the Swiss Transport Museum. I am sure the kids will love it.)

Next day go early up to Mount Pilatus via Kriens (you can buy the ticket at the train station in Lucerne) then return to Lucerne and consider travelling to Basel for the last night since you will have no connection this early in the morning. The first train leaves Lucerne shortly after 4am and arrives at the "Basel EuroAirport" shortly before 7am (change of trains in Olten and Basel - there's a bus to the airport).

Basel is a wonderful and underrated city. Definitely try "Baslerläckerli" (Läckerli Huus, Gerbergasse 57 - there's also a small café upstairs where you'll be served with this hard spicy biscuit with each drink). Close to the Town Hall and Spalentor. Oh, and there's year-round Christmas at the "Wanner Weihnachtshaus" (Spalenberg 14 - in the middle of the old town). Quaint little square to relax and have a drink or a bite to to eat: Andreasplatz (very close to the Town Hall).

Enjoy your visit!

Switzerland Rail Passes
by: Danial

Dear Fida

Thanks so much for your prompt reply. Your info is very useful and important to us in planning wisely for our short visit to Switzerland.

A lot of people said self-driving in Switzerland is so memorable and incomparable experience... just like this note by someone....*"Majestic Swiss Alps, crystal blue lakes, sparkling glaciers and quaint villages – if this is not paradise, then what is?"*

I will definitely give it some thought!
Thanks again Fida.


Thank you for your kind words Daniel.

As for self-driving, it definitely can be a wonderful experience if you plan to drive through the countryside and the Alps and stop in small villages for an overnight. However, if you only plan to spend time in and around cities, I would not recommend renting a car. Twisty, small streets - often one way - limited parking, and traffic jams could make you pull your hair and swear at the less than paradise-like conditions ☺

I wish you a wonderful time exploring our country!


Travel in Switzerland for two days
by: Hazlin

Hi Fida

We plan to travel through Switzerland in May for 2 days. Which Swiss Travel Pass should I buy?

Thanks in advance for your reply.

Hello Hazlin,

That really depends on the amount of travel you plan to do. However, Swiss Travel Passes start with 3 travel days, and that might be too expensive for what you are planning to do. You might be better off buying regular train tickets. The options are listed here.

In case you are going to stay longer - Switzerland might be small but the options are endless and you don't see much in two days - and you need help figuring out the best Swiss Travel Pass for your needs, this manual should help you with that.

Happy planning,

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