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Swiss Rail Pass Explained

Travelling by public transport is super convenient since trains, buses and boats bring you practically to every corner of our mountainous country on time.

However, train travel in Switzerlad is expensive and can take a considerable chunk of money out of your travel budget. Therefore buying a Swiss Rail Pass that is valid on the entire Public Travel Network makes sense.

Wiesen Viaduct spans the Landwasser river in Graubünden
Wiesner Viaduct between Davos and Filisur. The single track bridge over the Landwasser river is 88.9 m high and 210 m long and is the longest stone arch bridge of the Rhaetian Railway (RhB).

What I love about the Swiss Travel Pass (as a Swiss resident I have a yearly subscription) is the fact that I can hop on the train, the tram or city bus, take a postal bus or boat without the hassle of running around for tickets or buying them beforehand online.

However, depending on how much and where you - as a visitor - travel, a Swiss Half Fare Card, a Regional Pass or a Saver Day Pass could be the better option for you.

Swiss Rail Pass Options

Swiss Travel Pass | Swiss Travel Pass Flex | Half Fare Card

Regional Rail Passes

Saver Day Pass and 1-Day Travel Pass

Free Family Card

Where are the Swiss Travel Passes valid?

Which is the best Rail Pass Option?

Where to buy

Swiss Pass Promotions

Special Bonuses for Swiss Travel Pass Holders

Train Travel Tips

Swiss Travel Pass

  • A Swiss Travel Pass allows for unlimited travel across Switzerland's public transport network on consecutive days;
  • You can choose between 3, 4, 8 and 15 days in first or second class, and they have to be used consecutively (if you buy a pass second class purchasing a class change in trains is possible);
  • Free public transport in most cities and towns (trams and buses);
  • All of the Classic Scenic Train Routes are included (except seat reservation where compulsory);
  • Free access to over 500 museums (Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne is one of the rare exceptions - 50% discount);
  • Your children between the age of 6 and 15 years accompany you for free with the free Family Card;
  • Up to 50% discount on most mountaintop excursions by cogwheel train, funiculars, and cable cars. The journey to the Jungfraujoch is an exemption: you receive a discount of 25% (more benefits explained see here).
  • Youth between the age of 16 and 26 receive a 15% discount;
  • Print @home possible.

Swiss Travel Pass Flex

  • Unlimited travel on non-consecutive days - this is the main difference between the two rail passes. The Flex Pass is very convenient if you plan on spending several days at the same destination and don't plan to travel during these days, instead you want to relax, hike or just explore the local area. If that's the case, do check the regional rail passes - it could make sense to combine both - especially if you plan on taking a lot of mountain trips during these days;
  • Valid for 3, 4, 8 and 15 days in first or second class, and they have to be used up within 1 month (again, if you are buying a second class pass you always can pay for a class change in the train);
  • The travel days have to be used within 1 month;
  • On selected travel days you enjoy the same benefits as Swiss Travel Pass Holders. For example, free admission to over 500 museums and more;
  • 50% discount on most mountain excursions on the selected Flex Pass travel days - except the Jungfraujoch (25% discount);
  • Youth between the age of 16 and 26 receive a 15% discount;
  • Cannot be printed at home - pick up fee at airports Zürich, Basel and Geneva CHF 15. If you want it delivered to your home address up to CHF 45, depending on where you reside.

Half Fare Card

  • The Half Fare Card is valid for one month;
  • You receive a 50% discount on most tickets on the Swiss Travel System Network, including up to the Jungfraujoch;
  • Your choice of travel class - a class change is always possible in the trains too as long as you have a valid second class ticket. You can buy the tickets at the ticket counter, the ticket machines or online. Do check Super Saver Tickets (only available online);
  • To save on city transportation, check city-to-city tickets as well as a regular 1-Day Pass (also allows for free city transportation - only for Half Fare Card holders) and a Saver Day pass (city transportation included);
  • Your children between 6 and 15 years of age travel for free with the complimentary Family Card;
  • Print @home possible.

Regional Rail Passes

Regional Passes are convenient if you intend on staying longer in the regions that offer local passes. They can be purchased for a number of days and offer unlimited travel on the entire regional rail, bus and boat network and some mountain excursion. For others you receive a discount.

Regional passes can be purchased upon arrival at the airport, at train stations or online.

  • Lake Geneva Region, Regional Bernese Oberland Pass and the Tell Pass (Central Switzerland - Lucerne) can also be purchased online from the Switzerland Travel Center;
  • The Graubünden Pass is sold online by the Rhaetian Railway (RhB) - covers the Bernina Express to Tirano too;
  • The Easy Card covers part of the Canton Valais, between St-Gingolph (Lake Geneva) and Fafleralp (Lötschen Valley). Included are, just to name a few: Champéry, Grand St-Bernard Pass, Verbier, Dixence, Evolène, Crans-Montana, Grimentz, Leukerbad. However, Brig, Zermatt, the Aletsch Arena, Ernen, Binn - the upper Valais is not included. Please check the flyer for the Easy Card geographic scope.
  • The Upper Valais Adventure Card covers all of upper Canton Valais (between Salgesch and Gletsch) and more: The 2-, 3- or 5-day pass is valid between Interlaken, Spiez and Brig (Lötschberg train), Leukerbad, Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Brig, Domodossola (Lötschberg train), Andermatt, Disentis and Chur, between Visp and Sierre only the local bus is covered. The days are freely selectable within a one-month period.

Saver Day Pass / 1-Day Travel Pass

  • If you only visit for a day or two, a Saver Day Pass could be the answer. It can be purchased with or without a Half Fare Card..
  • A 1-Day Travel Pass can only be purchased in combination with a Half Fare Card.
  • Details for both travel passes see here.

Free Family Card

  • When you purchase one of the Swiss Rail Pass options (not valid with a Saver Day Pass* or the 1-Day Travel Pass*), you can request the complimentary Family Card and your children between the age of 6 and 15 (one day shy of their 16st birthday) travel for free if accompanied by at least one parent.
  • Request the free Family Card upon ordering any Swiss Rail Pass online;
  • Children up to the age of 6 travel for free. No Family Card is needed.

*If you buy a Saver Day Pass or 1-Day Travel Pass you can purchase a Junior Card.

Where is the Swiss Rail Pass valid?

The map below shows you where you are eligible for unlimited trips on the Public Network with any of the passes, and where you receive a discount.

Train routes are marked with red lines, postal bus routes yellow (there are many more - the map is too small to mark them all - but no worries, you can travel on all of them for free with the Swiss Travel Pass - 50% with the Half Fare Card), mountain transportation black and boat lines are white.

  • Unlimited travel with the Swiss Travel Pass on all uninterrupted red, yellow, black and white lines;
  • Where lines are dotted (not dashed = tunnels), you receive a discount between 25% and 50%;
  • No reduction on the greyish/bluish lines.

How to choose the right Swiss Rail Pass

It's quite a bit of a task figuring out which pass is right for you. If you need help, here is an example of how to do it.

If it is too confusing and timeconsuming for you, I can help you with it.

Where to buy a Swiss Rail Pass?

  • Swiss Travel Passes and Half Fare Card

    You can buy the any Swiss Rail Pass from your travel agent, upon arrival at any Swiss Airport, any staffed train station or online directly from the Switzerland Travel Centre.

    When you buy online through the Swiss Travel Centre, you will receive an email confirmation within 5 minutes and can print the Swiss Travel Pass and the Half Fare Card at home. No delivery charge applies and no waiting time in long lines upon arrival (especially the case during the touristy season).

    However - at this time - the Swiss Travel Pass Flex cannot be printed out at home - you can pick it up at the airports Zürich, Basel and Geneva (pick-up fee of CHF 15 applies) or the pass can be sent to your home (delivery fee between CHF 12 and 45 applies).

Payments are accepted in CHF (Swiss Francs), EUR, GBP and USD.

  • Point-to-Point Tickets and City-to-City Tickets

    Regular tickets can be purchased at any staffed railway station, at the ticket machines or online from the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB/CFF/FFS).

Swiss Rail Pass Promotions

  • Jungfrau Promotion valid through June 30, 2019

    If you purchase a Swiss Travel Pass and a ticket to the Junfraujoch at the same time until June 30th 2019 (you can travel later) you receive a free seat reservation between Kleine Scheidegg and Jungfraujoch as well as a Swiss Coupon Pass valid for discounts throughout Switzerland (details about the Coupon pass offer see here).

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Prices are subject to change without notice.
This page was last updated April 2019.

Disclosure: The above links are Affiliate links. I receive a small fee with no additional cost to you. The prices are the same as if you would buy that stuff at the train stations directly or through the Swiss Railway online shop. I appreciate your support very much. It keeps the website alive.

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