Buy train tickets & passes for Switzerland

Switzerland by train.  There's no check-in, you walk straight from the city centre into the station, glance at the indicator board to find your train & hop on, any time before departure...

 
Check Swiss train times & buy tickets at Sbb.ch or Thetrainline.com or Omio.com...

Read these notes first!

For international trains to or from Switzerland, see here.

 

Book a Railbookers holiday to Switzerland by train

Swiss tickets & passes explained...

Swiss trains run like clockwork, so they say...  And they pretty much do.  The whole of Switzerland is covered by a frequent, punctual and efficient integrated train network that's really easy to use.  In most cases you can just turn up, buy a ticket and hop on.  Swiss Federal Railways (= SBB in German, CFF in French or FFS in Italian) runs most mainline trains, but there are many smaller private operators running local & regional routes.

COVID-19 update See COVID-19 travel information.

Train travel within Switzerland...

small bullet point  How to check train times & buy tickets

small bullet point  Regular fares & Supersaver fares,

small bullet point  Swiss Day Pass, Travel Pass & Half Fare Card

small bullet point  Map of the Swiss rail network - download PDF

small bullet point  What are Swiss trains like?

small bullet point  Travel tips: Luggage, food & drink, bikes, dogs...

small bullet point  Zurich HB station information

small bullet point  Useful country information: currency, dial code...

small bullet point  Recommended guidebooks

small bullet point  Holidays, vacations & tours of Switzerland

small bullet point  Hotels & accommodation in Switzerland

Swiss scenic trains...

small bullet point  Bernina Express - The best Alpine train ride!

small bullet point  Glacier Express - a great Swiss scenic train.

small bullet point  Golden Pass route - Montreux-Interlaken-Lucerne

small bullet point  Jungfraubahn - to the Top of Europe...

International trains to & from Switzerland...

small bullet point  Train travel between the UK & Switzerland

small bullet point  Trains from other European cities to Switzerland

small bullet point  Trains from Switzerland to other European cities

small bullet point  TGV-Lyria high-speed trains Paris - Switzerland

Train information on other pages...

small bullet point  Train seat numbering plans

small bullet point  Luggage on trainsLeft luggage at stations

small bullet point  Eurail passes &  Interrail passes

small bullet point  General European train travel information

small bullet point  Taking bikes   Taking dogs


Useful country information

Train operator:

SBB-CFF-FFS (Swiss Federal Railways) & many private operators.

For train times & fares within Switzerland see www.sbb.chMap of the Swiss rail network.  Eurostar times & fares: www.eurostar.com.  All European train times: www.bahn.de

 

 

Swiss railpasses:

 

Buy Swiss Travel Passes - See the advice here

Time zone:

GMT+1 (GMT+2 from last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

Dialling code:

 

+41

Currency:

£1 = 1.26 Swiss Francs, $1 = 1.01 Swiss Francs  Check exchange rates

Tourist information:

www.myswitzerland.com    Holidays & tours to the Alps by train

Hotels in Switzerland:

Find hotels in Switzerland.   Reviews:  www.tripadvisor.com  Backpacker hostels:  www.hostelworld.com

Page last updated:

9 November 2020


How to check train times & buy tickets...

Do you need to book in advance?

Which website to use?

Regular fares...

Supersaver fares...

Another possible way to save...

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Swiss Passes & Half Fare Card...

   

Switzerland is one of the few remaining European countries where relatively expensive point-to-point rail fares and the lack of compulsory reservations & supplements makes railpasses both good value and convenient.  You can buy your passes online from the Switzerland Travel Centre, a subsidiary of Swiss Federal Railways.  The Swiss Travel System people can also make the seat reservations necessary for the few panoramic sightseeing trains that require them, such as the Glacier Express or Bernina Express.  But I'm often asked if a pass makes sense, or to help people decide between a Swiss Travel Pass or Swiss Half Fare card.

The Swiss Transfer Ticket was discontinued in January 2019, incidentally - this used to give one round trip from point of entry to any destination within Switzerland.  However, ordinary tickets were usually a better bet.

(1)  Saver Day PassUnlimited travel for one day...

(2)  Swiss Travel Pass & Travel Pass Flex:  Unlimited travel for a period...

(3)  Swiss Half Fare card50% off Swiss train travel for a month...

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What are Swiss trains like?

InterCity (IC) & InterRegional (IR) trains...

Classic Swiss InterCity train
     
Swiss InterCity train, 2nd class   Swiss InterCity train, 1st class

2nd class...

 

1st class.  More space, that's all...

Double-deck InterCity (IC) trains...

2nd class seats on double-deck Swiss InterCity train   Double-decker Swiss InterCity train

You'll find double-deck InterCity trains on various routes, with 1st & 2nd class sections on both upper & lower decks and a restaurant or cafe car.  I recommend an upper deck seat for the best views - the stairs are shallow and easy, even with luggage, and there are luggage stacks both upstairs and downstairs.  You'll find these double-deck trains on many IC routes including Zurich-Bern-Lausanne-Geneva, Zurich-Bern-Spiez-Brig, Zurich-Lucerne, Basel-Zurich-Chur.

Pendolino tilting InterCity (IC) trains...

Swiss pendolino (ICN) train   Seats on a Swiss ICN tilting train

These ICN Pendolino trains can tilt, enabling them to go round curves faster than normal trains.  They have cut journey times on several curvaceous Swiss InterCity routes.  Designed by Pininfarina, they feature a restaurant car and can reach 200km/h (125mph) although they don't often reach that speed in service.  You'll find these trains operating IC trains on these routes Geneva-Basel, Geneva-Zurich, Lausanne-Basel, Lausanne-Zurich, Basel-Lucerne-Lugano-Chiasso and Zurich-Lugano-Chiasso.

Swiss private operators...

Local train on the Matterhorn-Gotthard Bahn   Local train on the Rhatische Bahn

Swiss local trains are run by SBB or a plethora of local private operators.  The trains come in all shapes & sizes, some old, some new.  Above left, a local train run by Matterhorn-Gotthard Bahn (MGB) on the Brig-Zermatt line.  Above right, a train from St Moritz to Chur run by the Rhätische Bahn (RhB).  Expect the seats to look very similar to the classic SBB IC/IR train shown above.

Seat numbering plans: Click here...

You'll find seat numbering plans for European trains on the Train seat numbering page.

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Travel tips...

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Swiss scenic trains...

Bernina Express:  More information

Glacier Express:  More information

Jungfrau Bahn More information

Golden Pass Line Montreux - Lucerne...

This is a mainly narrow-gauge route from Montreux to Lucerne via the well-known ski resort of Gstaad.  It's slower than using mainline trains between Montreux, but very scenic and marketed to tourists as the Golden Pass route.  It's actually three separate trains, all connecting with each other and each run by a different private operator:  Montreux to Zweisimmen by the Montreux-Oberland Bernois Railway (metre gauge), Zweisimmen to Interlaken on the Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon (BLS) Railway (standard gauge) and Interlaken to Lucerne on the Brunig Railway operated by the Zentralbahn (metre gauge).  As with other tourist trains, reservation is necessary if you want to travel in the panoramic tourists cars on the key departures, but regular trains run frequently over the same route and these need no prior reservation.

The website for the joint service is www.goldenpass.ch.  But I find it easier to find Montreux-Lucerne Golden Pass times using the journey planner at www.sbb.ch - just make sure you put 'Zweisimmen' in the via box, click 'advanced options' and put Interlaken Ost in the second via box before running the enquiry.  Then it will find journeys with 2 changes via this slower scenic Golden Pass route, rather than the faster mainline route.

Seats on a Golden Pass train   Golden Pass panoramic train

Panoramic car on the Montreux-Zweisimmen section of the Golden Pass route.

Gornergrat, Matterhorn, Mt. Pilatus, Mt. Titlis, Schilthorn...

If you live in the UK, you can buy excursion tickets up these mountains here:  www.swisstravelsystem.com

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Recommended guidebooks

Amazon logo

Invest in a good guidebook, even in the age of the internet.  For the independent traveller, I think this means either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  Both guidebooks provide the same excellent level of practical information and historical background. You won't regret buying one!

Click the images to buy at Amazon.co.uk

Lonely Planet Switzerland - buy online at Amazon.co.uk   Rough Guide to Switzerland - buy online at Amazon.co.uk   Click to buy - Lonely Planet Western Europe

Alternatively, you can download just the chapters or areas you need in .PDF format from the Lonely Planet Website, from around £2.99 or US$4.95 a chapter.

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  Railbookers logo

Holidays, vacations & tours of Switzerland...

Railbookers are a train travel specialist who can put together a tour or short break for you as a package, including rail travel, hotels & transfers.  On their website you'll find a range of suggested tours & holidays which can be varied or customised to your own requirements.  And as you're booking a package, they'll take care of you if anything happens to one part of the itinerary such as a strike or delay.  They now have offices in the UK, USA & Australia.

Check out their 8-day Switzerland's Lakes & Mountains tour (link to their UK site) or Swiss Lakes & Mountains tour (link to their US & Canada site) which includes both the famously scenic Glacier Express and Bernina Express trains.  Also see their 5-day Classic Bernina Express & Glacier Express tour (link to their UK site) or Classic Bernina Express & Glacier Express tour (link to their US & Canada site) which also combine these two classic Alpine routes.

UK flag  UK call 0207 864 4600, www.railbookers.co.uk

US flag  US call free 1-888-829-4775, www.railbookers.com.

Canadian flag  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, www.railbookers.com.

Australian flag  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, www.railbookers.com.au

New Zealand flag  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website.

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Hotels & accommodation in Switzerland

Personal recommendations...

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Backpacker hostels: www.hostelworld.com...

www.hostelworld.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in Paris and most other European cities at rock-bottom prices.


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