Switzerland - rail and bus pass guide by Mark Sukhija

The Swiss transportation system is an efficient, extensive and highly punctual affair. In addition to the standard single and return tickets theres a selection of both national and regional rail passes to help you keep costs to a minimum. Without a pass, the train and bus network can be very expensive - so if you're planning to use public transport more than a couple of times, it's probably worth picking up one of the passes.

National passes

  1. Swiss Pass - The Swiss Pass entitles you to unlimited travel on 4, 8, 15 or 22 consecutive days or one month throughout the rail, bus and boat Swiss Travel System network. The Swiss Pass covers scenic routes, local trams and buses in 37 cities. Most mountain railways and cable cars offer 50% reduction. The Swiss Pass includes the Swiss Museum Pass which gives free entrance to 400 museums and exhibitions. Only available to non-residents of Switzerland or the Principality of Liechtenstein. You can by the Swiss Pass at Geneva or Zurich airports and main railway stations on presentation of a foreign passport.

  2. Swiss Flexi Pass - The Swiss Flexi Pass allows for travel across the whole Swiss Travel System for 3, 4, 5 or 6 non-consecutive days of your choice within a month. On these days, you have the same benefits as the Swiss Pass (see above) For the remaining days, you are entiled to a 50% discount on train, (postal) bus and boat rides, as well as on most mountain-top excursions including mountain-top railways and cable cars. The Swiss Flexi Pass also includes a Swiss Museum Pass, allowing you free entrance to over 400 museums and exhibitions.

  3. Swiss Transfer Ticket - The Swiss Transfer Ticket is a return ticket from the Swiss border or one of Switzerland’s airports to your destination. The ticket is valid for a month but you must complete each journey in one day by the most direct route possible. If you're staying in one location for your holiday, this is a great ticket to have.

  4. Half-fare card - The Half Fare Card entitles you to a 50% discount on individual tickets. The Card is available for durations of 1-month, 1-year, 2 or 3 years. It is valid for all trains, buses and boats and many mountain railways. Most city networks give a discount - but the discount may be be less than the 50% depending on the ticket you want.

  5. Swiss card - The Swiss Card is a cross between the Swiss Transfer Ticket (i.e. it includes a return to / from your airport or border station) and the Half Fare Card (it includes half-price fares for the remaining days.) Perfect if you plan to spend your holiday exploring a region of Switzerland.

  6. Gleis 7 - If you're under 25 you can obtain the "Gleis 7" card ("Track 7") which entitles you to a years free travel nationwide after 7pm. For an extra charge it can be upgraded to include half-price travel before 7pm.

Regional rail passes

There are other regional passes available which I can currently researching and will add them here when I find out more.

  1. Bernese Oberland Regional Pass - The Bernese Oberland Regional Pass is only available from May to October. The Bernese Oberland Regional Pass offers either 3 free days plus 4 half-fare days or 5-free days and 10 half-fare days. Childrens tickets (6 years old to 16) are half price of the adult fare.

  2. Lake Geneva-Alps Regional Pass - The Lake Geneva Regional Pass is available all year round. The offer is for 2 free days plus 3 half-fare days or for 3 free days and 4 half-fare days. Childrens tickets (6 years old to 16) are half price of the adult fare.

  3. Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn Adventure Card - The Adventure Card from Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn works slightly differently from the other passes we listed here. The Adventure Card gives 2, 3 or 5 free days within a month but no discounts at any other time. However, you can use these free days at any time within the month.

  4. Graubünden Regional Pass - The Graubünden Regional Pass has a summer and winter version. The summer version (May to October) offers 2 free days plus 5 half-fare days or 4 free days and 11 half-fare days. Applicability for the winter version (November to April) is only available in the 2 free days plus 5 half-fare variety. As with other regional passes, children (6 to 16) versions are available at half the price of the adult ones.

Related Posts

Lucerne - interior of the Jesuit Church Baroque interior of the Jesuit Church in Lucerne
Lucerne - 7 things not to miss What not to miss in Lucerne
Lucerne - Water tower and bridges Water tower and bridges across the River Ruess in the Luzerner Old Town
Lucerne - Chapel Bridge across the Ruess River View of Kappelbrüke in Lucerne with the Hofkirche in the background
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Further reading

Ballenberg Open Air Museum - a day trip - Travelogue from a day trip to the Ballenberg Open Air Museum near Brienz in Canton Berne, Switzerland

Switzerland - sacred destinations - Nine of the finest churchs, cathedrals and monastries in Switzerland

Lucerne - interior of the Jesuit Church - Baroque interior of the Jesuit Church in Lucerne

Switzerland - Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau - The Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau seen from Bergrestaurant Harder Kulm

Lucerne - 7 things not to miss - What not to miss in Lucerne

Lucerne - getting around - How to get around Lucerne in central Switzerland

Lucerne - getting there - How to Lucerne in central Switzerland

Switzerland - places not to miss - Sixteen places not to miss around Switzerland

The Jesuit Church of Lucerne - Historical notes on The Jesuit Church (Jesuitenkirche) of Lucerne

Zürich - day trips out of town - Suggested day trips and excursions from Zurich

Switzerland Tourism - Official website of the Switzerland Tourism Office

About Mark Sukhija

Mark Sukhija is a travel and wine blogger, photographer, tourism researcher, hat-touting, white-shirt-wearing, New Zealand fantatic and eclipse chaser. Aside from at least annual visits to New Zealand, Mark has seen eclipses in South Australia (2002), Libya (2006), China (2009) and Queensland (2012). After twelve years in Switzerland, Mark moved back to London in 2012. You can follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook