Buy train tickets & passes for Switzerland

Buy Swiss train tickets at, or

Read these notes first!  For international tickets see here.


Book your hotels at


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.

Train travel within Switzerland

small bullet point  How to check train times & buy tickets

small bullet point  Standard fares, Supersaver fares & Saver Day Pass

small bullet point  Swiss Travel Passes & 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  Useful country information: currency, dial code...

small bullet point  Recommended guidebooks

small bullet point  Holidays, vacations & tours of Switzerland

small bullet point  Hotels 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 from the UK to 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

Station guides

small bullet point  Zurich HB station guide

small bullet point  Basel SBB station guide

small bullet point  Geneva station guide

Other train travel information

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

small bullet point  Travel insurance, mobile data, VPN & other tips

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:  All European train times:



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:




£1 = 1.1 CHF, €1 = 0.97 CHF, $1 = 0.88 CHF.  CHF = Swiss Francs.  Check exchange rates

Tourist information:    Holidays & tours to the Alps by train

Hotels in Switzerland:

Find hotels in Switzerland.   Reviews:  Backpacker hostels:

Page last updated:

15 April 2024

How to check times & buy tickets

Do you need to book in advance?

Which website to use?

Standard fares

Supersaver fares

Saver Day Pass

Another way to save...

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Swiss Passes & Half Fare Card


Switzerland is one of the few remaining European countries where expensive point-to-point fares and lack of compulsory reservations makes railpasses good value and convenient.  You can buy passes online from the Switzerland Travel Centre, a Swiss Federal Railways subsidiary.  But I'm often asked if a pass makes sense, or whether to go for a Half Fare card.  Incidentally, the Swiss Transfer Ticket was discontinued in 2019.

A Saver Day Pass is a useful one-day all-Switzerland pass, easily bought online or at the station up to the day before see the section above.

Swiss Travel Pass

Swiss Half Fare card

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What are Swiss trains like?

Classic InterCity (IC) & InterRegional (IR) trains

Classic Swiss InterCity train

Intercity or Interregional train, composed of classic Swiss Mk IV cars.

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

1st class.  More space, that's all.


2nd class.

Double-deck InterCity (IC) & InterRegional (IR) trains

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.

Double-deck Swiss InterCity train

Double-deck IC or IR train.

1st class seats on double-deck Swiss InterCity train   1st class seats on double-deck Swiss InterCity train

1st class, upper deck.


2nd class, upper deck.

ICN tilting InterCity (IC) trains

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.  When using the journey planner at these trains are shown with a TT symbol in the facilities section, for Tilting Train.

Swiss ICN tilting train

An ICN Intercity train at Zurich HB.

Seats on a Swiss ICN tilting train   Seats on a Swiss ICN tilting train

1st class.


2nd class.

Giruno Intercity (IC) & EuroCity (EC) trains

On the Basel/Zurich to Lugano route you'll find the latest Giruno trains, the international ones going through to Milan being classified EuroCity.  Giruno trains have low-floor accessible entrance doors, hence the rather strange seating arrangement inside.

EuroCity train from Zurich to Milan at Zurich HB

Giruno train at Zurich HB.

1st class on Giruno   Restaurant car on Giruno

Giruno, 1st class.  Larger photo.


Restaurant car with bar counter. Larger photo.

2nd class on Giruna   Bar counter in the restaurant car

Giruno 2nd class.  Larger photo


Level boarding. Note the destination screen in the door. 

Swiss private operators

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.  Below left, a local train run by Matterhorn-Gotthard Bahn (MGB) on the Brig-Zermatt line.  Below right, a train from St Moritz to Chur run by the Rhätische Bahn (RhB).

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



Rhätische Bahn

SOB Traverso train

SOB Traverso train, used Basel/Zurich-Gotthard-Luzern-Locarno.

Seat maps: 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 - Interlaken - Lucerne

This is a mainly narrow-gauge route from Montreux to Interlaken & Lucerne via the well-known ski resort of Gstaad.  It's slower than using mainline trains, but very scenic and marketed to tourists as the Golden Pass route.   Until December 2022 it involved 3 trains, but it can now be done with just two: Montreux to Interlaken and Interlaken to Lucerne.  The first train is a new gauge-changing service, it runs from Montreux to Zweisimmen on the standard-gauge tracks of the Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon (BLS) Railway then from Interlaken to Lucerne on the metre-gauge Brunig Railway operated by the Zentralbahn.  The new trains adjust their wheelsets at Zweisimmen.  They have 1st & 2nd class panorama cars and a new luxurious Prestige class.

As with other tourist trains, reservation is necessary if you want to travel in the panoramic tourists cars, but regular trains run frequently over the same route and these need no prior reservation.

The website for the joint service is  But I find it easier to find Montreux-Lucerne Golden Pass times using the journey planner at - 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 1 or 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:

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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

Or buy in the USA from

Lonely Planet Switzerland - buy online at   Rough Guide to Switzerland - buy online at   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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Holidays, vacations & tours of Switzerland

Railbookers logoRailbookers,

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 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,

US flag  US call free 1-888-829-4775,

Canadian flag  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910,

Australian flag  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526,

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

Tailor Made Raill logoTailor Made Rail,

Tailor Made Rail can arrange tours of Switzerland by train including the Glacier and/or Bernina Expresses based on your own requirements, they welcome complex itineraries.  As it's a package, they'll take care of you if anything happens on one part of the trip, for example, a national strike.  They're TTA-protected - like ATOL, but not only for agencies that sell air travel.

Call their dedicated seat61 phone line 020 3778 1461 and quote seat 61 when booking.  From outside the UK call +44 20 3778 1461.  Lines open 09:00-17:30 Monday-Friday.  Their website is


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Hotels & accommodation in Switzerland

Personal recommendations

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search: is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally use it to book all my hotels in one place.  I've come to trust's review scores, you won't be disappointed with any hotel that scores 8.0 or more.  Crucially, usually lets you book with free cancellation, which means you can confirm accommodation risk-free before train booking opens and/or you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when planning a trip.  I never book hotels non-refundably!

Backpacker hostels:  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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Travel insurance & other tips


Staysure travel insurance


Columbus Direct logo

Always take out travel insurance

You should take out travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  These days, check you're covered for covid-19-related issues, and use an insurer whose cover isn't invalidated by well-meant but excessive Foreign Office travel advice against non-essential travel. An annual policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy with myself.  Don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, I get a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback always welcome.

UK flag offers enhanced Covid-19 protection and gets 4.7 out of 5 on Trustpilot.

UK flag is also a well-know brand.

US flag  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA. logo

Get an eSIM with mobile data package

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a European mobile data package and stay connected.  Most newer mobile phones can download a virtual SIM including iPhone 11 & later, see device compatibility list.  There's no need to buy a physical SIM card! is a reliable eSIM data retailer with a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and a range of packages including unlimited data.


Curve card

Curve card

Get a Curve card for foreign travel

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate then add a foreign transaction fee on top.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The money you spend on your Curve card goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:  1. Download the Curve app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to the UK and most European addresses.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app, you can link up to two cards with the free version of Curve, I link my normal debit card and my normal credit card.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, exactly like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance in your own currency onto whichever debit or credit card is currently selected in the Curve app.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself, it means I can buy a coffee on a foreign station on a card without being stung by fees and lousy exchange rates, just by tapping the Curve card on their card reader.  The money goes through Curve to my normal debit card and is taken directly from my account (in fact I have the Curve card set up as payment card on Apple Pay on my iPhone, so can double-click my phone, let it do Face ID then tap the reader with the phone - even easier than getting a card out).  I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I recommend it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card, they'll give you £5 cashback through that link.


Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  Why you need a VPN

When travelling you may use free public WiFi which is often insecure.  A VPN encrypts your connection so it's always secure, even on unsecured WiFi.  It also means you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geoblocking which a surprising number of websites apply.  See VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy with a 4.7 out of 5 Trustpilot ranking which I use myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with using this link you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription.  I also get some commission to help support this site.


Anker Powerrbank

Carry an Anker powerbank

Tickets, reservations, hotel bookings and Interrail or Eurail passes are often now held on your mobile phone.  You daren't let it run out of power, and you can't always rely on the phone's internal battery or on being near a power outlet.  I always carry an Anker powerbank which can recharge my phone several times over.  Buy from or Buy from

Touring cities?  Use hill walking shoes!

One of the best things I've done is swap my normal shoes for hill-walking shoes, in my case from Scarpa.  They're intended for hiking across the Pennines not wandering around Florence, but the support and cushioning for hiking works equally well when you're on your feet all day exploring foreign cities.  My feet used to give out first and limit my day, now the rest of me gives up before they do!

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