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Ultimate Comparison Of The Most Popular Swiss Train Tickets

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I think it’s safe to say the Swiss federal railway system is one of the most reliable public transportation systems in the world. Trains in Switzerland are generally very punctual, comfortable, and clean. And most Swiss people, including myself, love it. Many don’t even own a car because the next bus, train, boat, or tram is never far. On average, every person travels a whopping 2.400km by train per year! 

One thing that is often confusing for visitors and sometimes even locals alike is the jungle of ticket types and rail passes. But, once you know how to navigate it there is actually some good saving potential. To help you find the ideal ticket is what we are trying to achieve with today’s comparison of the most popular Swiss train tickets. Here are the  ticket types we are going to take a closer look at in this article:

  • Point-to-Point tickets 
  • Day Passes
  • Rail Passes
  • SBB Discount Cards 

Most main ticket types have multiple subcategories, so feel free to skip to the appropriate section if needed!

key takeaways

🚂 The Swiss train system offers a wide selection of ticket types, such as point-to-to-point tickets, day passes, rail passes, and discount cards.

🚂The Swiss Travel Pass is the most popular ticket for guests from abroad and is offered in different variations.

🚂 Depending on your needs and budget, alternatives such as the Swiss half-fare card, city tickets, or an Interrail Pass are also worth a thought.

🚂 To find the most suitable ticket for your situation, it’s best to map out your journey so you have a better understanding of your needs and can then compare the different offers.

The Most Popular Point-to-Point Train Tickets

SBB single point-to-point ticket in the app
Point-to-point ticket in SBB app

The first category of point-to-point tickets is ideal for occasional journeys within Switzerland, day trips, (one-day) excursions, or very short stays when a rail pass or Swiss Travel Pass is not quite worth it. Plus, you can always combine all those tickets with a Swiss half-fare card for an additional 50% discount. The prices depend on the distance, travel class, and travel date. 

Within this ticket category, the following ticket types are the most popular:

🎫Ticket Type
💸Price Range
📍Where To Purchase
🚀Best For
Standard Outward and Return Tickets
Varies Depending on Distance & Travel Class

Train Stations, SBB App, SBB website Trainline.com, SBB Travel Center

Flexible point-to-point trips
Saver Tickets
Up to 70% Cheaper than Regular Price
Trainline.com, SBB Website, SBB App
Bargain hunters and travelers with fixed travel plans
Multiple-Journey Tickets
Varies Depending on the Number of Journeys & Travel Class
SBB Ticket Machine, SBB Travel Center
Mid-Size Travel Groups and multiple Trips between two fixed Destinations
City-Tickets
Depends on Distance & Travel Class
Trainline.com, SBB Website, SBB App, Travel Center, and SBB Ticket Machines
One-day City Excursion in Switzerland 
Class Upgrade & Seat Reservation
Varies Depending on Class Upgrade & Train

SBB App and SBB Website 

International Trips or Travelels during Peak Hours 

Standard outward and return tickets

Standard outward and return tickets offer a fuss-free way to travel between two Swiss stations on the same day. Standard tickets never sell out and always have a fixed price, irrespective of the expected occupant or train type. Standard tickets are easy to buy and purchasable via a third-party provider, the SBB app or website, at the ticket machines in the train stations, and even at travel centers.

Pros

  • Non-personalized tickets & cash payments at the SBB ticket machines
  • Valid for any connection on the respective day
  • Offers great flexibility and eligibility for rebookings & refunds (depending on the vendor’s terms & conditions)
  • Can be purchased up until the minute of departure
  • Swiss Pass not required 

Cons

  • Not always the cheapest option

Saver tickets 

Saver tickets are special types of train tickets that give savvy travelers a hefty discount discount of up to 70% on the regular ticket price. In fact, if you go for a saver ticket, check the prices for both, first and second class tickets, because I noticed the savings are often even bigger with first class tickets.

The catch is that those tickets are attached to one specific travel date & train connection. Because the idea of those saver tickets is to relieve train connection with a high occupancy rate during peak hours, you will almost never find those tickets available between 07:00-09:00 am and 04:00-07:00 pm or on weekends. But in all fairness, Avoiding these hours, if possible, is far more convenient anyway!

How to spot a Saver Ticket 

If you are booking your ticket on an external booking platform like trainline.com check out the ticket type, on the SBB app and website, train connections with saver tickets available are marked with a %-symbol.

screenshot discounted ticket on SBB website

Pro Tip: Saver tickets are often sold out quickly on the Swiss railway website & app but there is far less competition and more availability on an external ticket broker like trainline.com so I recommend you search for it there first. 

Now, let’s move on to the pros & cons:

Pros

  • Up to 70% discount on regular ticket prices
  • No Swiss Pass required 
  • Most of the time not as crowded; therefore high comfort factor
  • Tickets are bookable  up to 90 days in advance

Cons

  • Cancelling or rebooking tickets is usually not possible (depending on the vendor’s conditions)
  • Limited availability & same-day travel not possible

Multiple-journey tickets

Multiple-journey tickets are an interesting innovation from the Swiss railway network. Unlike traditional tickets, these give you the flexibility to embark on six separate journeys between two Swiss destinations at a discounted rate. Multi-trip tickets only exist in paper format, but the Swiss railway company has very recently announced they will no longer sell them as of December 2024. So make use of them as long as you can!

The multi-journey ticket is always cheaper than the six individual tickets. And, because they are not personalized, you can even buy one ticket for six people, for instance.  

 Unfortunately, they are currently only available in paper format. However, don’t let that fact diminish their value. Offering substantial versatility for your travel plans, these long-lasting tickets might just be the convenient solution you’ve been seeking.

Just a heads up here, tough: You need to activate your ticket at one of those attention-grabbing (kind of old-looking) orange machines spread across the platforms in all Swiss train stations (one time per traveler and trip). 

Orange ticket machine to validate multi-trip tickets

Pros

  • Swiss Pass not required
  • Good value for money
  • A lot of flexibility due to 1-year validity
  • Available for point-to-point connections between all train stations in Switzerland

Cons

  • Only available as a physical paper ticket

City-Tickets

Are you based in Zurich but have a city trip to Bern on your bucket list, for example? A City ticket provides you with the flexibility you need. Unlike other tickets, they include local public transportation in the city of origin and/or destination and are valid for one full day. So you can use as many buses, trams, and even boats as you like once you arrive and don’t need to worry about an additional ticket. 

Pros

  • One-way or return tickets in first or second-class 
  • Unlimited local public transportation in the city of origin and/or destination
  • Available in 30+ cities in Switzerland 

Cons

  • Limited flexibility, you can’t change your plans during the day

Class upgrade & seat reservation

When discussing Swiss train tickets, we must also briefly mention class upgrades and seat reservation options. If you choose to upgrade your class or reserve your seat, you are treating yourself to an enhanced travel experience.

I would mainly recommend considering seat reservations & class upgrades on designated scenic routes and a few international trains where seat reservations are a must-do. Remember, Swiss trains do their best to ensure comfort for your journey.

Pros

  • Guaranteed reserved seat & increased comfort 
  • Seat reservations are relatively inexpensive
  • Class upgrades purchased in the SBB app or on the website are valid for an entire day

Cons

  • Seat reservations reduce flexibility

The Most Popular Day Passes in Switzerland 

The next category of popular ticket types is day passes. They offer unlimited travel within Switzerland on all trains, buses, trains, and boats; only some mountain railways and touristic trains are excluded. Multiple types of day passes are available: 

🎫Day Pass Types
💸Prices
📍Purchase Location
🚀Best For
Saver Day Pass
From CHF 29.- 
Train Stations, SBB App, SBB website, Trainline.com, SBB Travel Center
Early bookers 
Standard Day Pass
From CHF 78.- 
Train Stations, SBB App, SBB website, Trainline.com, SBB Travel Center
Those planning extensive travel on a specific day
Day Pass for Children (6-16 years)
From CHF 19.-
Train Stations, SBB App, SBB website, Trainline.com, SBB Travel Center
Families traveling with kids
Friends Day Pass for Youth
From 80.-
Train Stations, SBB App, SBB website, Trainline.com, SBB Travel Center
Groups of youths traveling together

Safer Day Pass 

The Saver Day Pass, like the reputable Swiss knife, gives you full access to public transportation within Switzerland. The ticket offers a lot of value, especially for greater distances within the country and extensive traveling on a specific day. In fact, you can even use public transportation until 5 a.m. the next morning, so even if you decide to party hard, you will still get home. 

Safer day passes are available in first—and second-class coaches, and the pricing structure is simple: The earlier you book, the better your chances of availability, and the more you will save. 

SBB saver day pass pricing overview
Saver day pass pricing overview

Pros

  • Unlimited travel in the entire country on the validity date
  • Valid for scenic trains
  • Best prices for early-bookers
  • No Swiss Pass is required 
  • Available with any vendor 

Cons

  • Strict cancellation & ticket exchange policies

Day Pass for the Half Fare travelcard

If you decide to combine a day pass with that half-fare card (with one-month validity and specifically designed for visitors), the actual ticket price is probably cheaper than that tempting restaurant visit at the train station. But don’t forget to consider the initial investment of 120 CHF in your calculations. You will usually make up for it again within 1-3 trips. 

Pros

  • Cost-effective for frequent travelers & longer stays
  • Day Passes start at 29 CHF
  • Purchase is fast, hassle-free and easy
  • Unlimited trips throughout Switzerland 

Cons

  • None

Day Pass for children 

Although I don’t have any kids myself (yet), I am sure you want to know more about the Day Pass for children. With it, your kids aged between 6 and 16 can travel with you or even on their own. 

As they say, the early bird catches the worm. That’s especially true for the Day Pass for children, which is valid for travel throughout the day from the moment the first train leaves until the last one calls it a night.

Whether your kiddos prefer a taste of luxury in the first class or are happy nestling in the second class, both tickets are quite affordable: CHF 19 per day in the second class and CHF 33 per day in the first class. 

Info: No ticket for kids under the age of six needed

You’ll be thrilled to hear this sweet piece of info – kids under 6 can ride free on Swiss trains. And guess what? It’s not ‘just’ trains! This golden ticket rule applies to many mountain railways, groovy museums, and a bunch of other attractions, too. Small kids get to experience Switzerland’s amazing sights, all for the fabulous price of zero. Yes, zip, nada, nil! Now, that’s a steal!

Pros

  • Unlimited traveling on all trains, buses, and boats in Switzerland
  • Affordable prices
  • Starts at CHF 29.- per day
  • Easily purchasable at all ticket-selling points

Cons

  • None

Friends Day Pass For Youth 

The Friends Day Pass for Youth has a special place in my heart. I have UNFORGETTABLE memories of going to festivals, concerts, and soccer games throughout the country with some of my friends. You can take advantage of this and explore Switzerland with your travel companions, too!

The ticket was specifically designed for groups of young travellers under the age of 25 (and really all members of the group need to be under that magic age).  What’s really making it a great deal is the fact that up to four people can travel on the same ticket. If you divide with three other friends, all you have to pay is 30 Swiss francs per person for a first-class ticket day pass

Pros

  • Up to four people under the age of 25 can travel on the same ticket
  • Half-fare card or Swiss Pass is not required
  • Sold online, at SBB ticket machines, and SBB travel center
  • Valid on all trains, buses, and boats in Switzerland on the validity date and until 5 am the next morning

Cons

  • Not purchasable via app

Most Popular Rail Passes 

Rail Passes are the equivalent of the Swiss GA, valid for multiple days. The Swiss Travel Pass is specifically designed for visitors from abroad (which also means you need a permanent address outside Switzerland and Lichtenstein to qualify for a purchase). 

Depending on your itinerary and how long you plan to travel around the country, you will often make up for the investment quite quickly, especially if you count on the various other benefits that come with it. 

Unlimited travel on trains, buses, and boats across Switzerland,  free use of public transportation in more than 90 Swiss cities – free admission to more than 500 museums and exhibitions, and up to 50% discount on mountain railways and cable cars are just a few of the added benefits. 

However, if pricing is your main concern and you are not planning on visiting many museums and mountain excursions, there are also some alternatives (mainly an Interrail Pass or a Swiss Half-far card) worth a thought. 

🎫Rail Pass Types
💸Prices
📍Purchase Location
🚀Best For
Swiss Travel Pass
From CHF 244.- 
Trainline.com, SBB Travel Center, SBB Website 
For short visits between 3-15 days 
Swiss Travel Pass Flex 
From CHF 279.- 
Trainline.com, SBB Travel Center, SBB Website 
Flexible travel days within one month 
Swiss Travel Pass Youth 
From CHF 172.-
Trainline.com, SBB Travel Center, SBB Website 
For travellers between 16 and 25 years 
Swiss Travel Pass Youth Flex 
From 197.- CHF
Trainline.com, SBB Travel Center, SBB Website 
Flexible travelling for young adults between 16 and 25 years
Interrail Pass 
From 283.- EUR
Trainline.com, interrail.eu, SBB Travel Center
Multi-country trips in Europe (but a one-country pass for Switzerland is also available)
Regional Pass
Depending on location
Trainline.com, local tourism offices 
Regional travel within one destination in Switzerland 

Swiss Travel Pass 

The classic Swiss Travel Pass is the most convenient and most sold Swiss Travel Pass. It is available for 3, 4, 6, 8, or 15 consecutive travel days in Switzerland. In my opinion, it is the best “buy once and never worry about it again” solution. It is also great for first-time visitors and people who don’t want to spend a lot of time comparing and figuring out different ticket options. 

If you look at the pricing, it has its costs, but it is definitely a very good product for extensive traveling during your stay in my opinion. 

Swiss Travel Pass Pricing Structure

Pros

  • Great for extensive travels
  • Highly convenient
  • Additional benefits like discounted entries for museums, mountain excursions, etc. 
  • Specifically designed for visitors
  • Easy & convenient to use 

Cons

  • Can get pricy for multiple people

Swiss Travel Pass Flex

The Swiss Pass Flex is a variation of the Classic Swiss Pass and comes with all the same benefits. Instead of being valid on consecutive days, you can activate it for 3, 4, 6, 8, or 15 days within one month. These days don’t have to be consecutive to each other. Therefore you can effectively choose the days you really need it most and travel a lot. 

Here is the pricing overview: 

Swiss Travel Pass Flex Pricing Structure

Pros

  • Comes with the same increased flexibility compared to the classic Version
  • Only use the ticket when you really need it
  • Ideal for longer stays, up to 30 days

Cons

  • Requires more planning efforts

Swiss Travel Pass Youth

The Swiss Travel Pass Youth is easy to explain. It’s a variation for travelers between 16 and 25 years at a discounted rate. 

Swiss Travel Pass Youth Pricing Structure

Children between 6 and 16 years travel free of charge if accompanied by at least one parent with a valid Swiss Travel Pass. Children under six can travel for free without any conditions. 

Swiss Travel Pass Youth Flex 

It offers the same flexibility as the Swiss Travel Pass Flex, with a discount for young travelers between 16 and 25. 

Swiss Travel pass youth flex pricing structure

Interrail Pass 

The Interrail Pass is comparable to a Swiss Travel Pass but on a European level. There are two different types of Interrail Passes. Let’s first look at the one-country pass for Switzerland. In my option, it is comparable with a Swiss Travel Pass Flex. You can choose your one-country pass for Switzerland to be valid for 3,4,5,6, or 8 days within one month.

Prices start at 164 Euros per adult in second class and 210 Euros in first class, which makes it considerably cheaper than the Swiss Travel Pass at first sight, but keep in mind the validity is strictly limited to trains. Boats, mountain railways, and local public transportation are not included. 

Pricing Structure Interrail one country pass

A real plus, on the other hand, is the discounted fares for young adults (12-27 years) and seniors (60+ years).

Pros

  • Attractive pricing with great flexibility 
  • Additional discounts for young adults and seniors
  • Valid for most trains in Switzerland 
  • Up to 50% discount on selected mountain excursions and boat trips

Cons

  • Strictly limited to trains
  • Only very limited discounts on leisure activities 

Next up is the Interrail Global Pass, which is perfect for entire trips through Europe if Switzerland is only one stop on your itinerary. Flex passes, usable for up to 15 days within two months, and continuous passes for up to three months are available. 

Pros

  • Valid on all trains in 33 countries across Europe
  • Special prices for young adults and seniors are available

Cons

  • Additional fees for seat reservations on international trains may apply
Side Note

If you are visiting from outside Europe, keep in mind that you will need a European passport to purchase an Interrail Pass. Guests without a European passport will have to purchase a Eurail Pass instead, which is essentially the same offer but specifically for visitors from outside Europe. 

Regional Passes in Switzerland 

Regional passes are almost like the secret magic pill nobody talks about. But let me tell you, they are really great for exploring one specific destination in Switzerland. By destination, I don’t specifically mean one city; that wouldn’t make sense because everything is so close here. 

Instead the country is divided in different tourism regions like the Lucerne-Lake Lucerne Region or the Lake Geneva Region in the west.

tourism region overview in Switzerland
Image source: https://swissfamilyfun.com/

Unfortunately, only a few destinations offer Regional Passes so far; here are the ones that you can currently choose from:

Pros

  • Buses, trains, mountain railways, and boats are included (depending on the ticket)
  • Great to explore a destination in more depth

Cons

  • Limited availability of regional passes 

Most Popular SBB Discount Cards

Let’s examine some additional discount cards and whether they are available for visitors from abroad. 

Swiss half-fare card

Swiss half fare card

Swiss Half Fare Card for tourists is a perfect add-on if you are exploring the country for a couple of weeks, in my opinion. This gem allows for a month’s worth of travel at half the price on trains, buses, and boats throughout Switzerland. 

Priced at CHF 120 for adults, it quickly becomes a wise investment after just 5-6 train rides in second-class intercity trains. In the first class, the breakeven point is even faster. Let’s look at an example: 

Route 
One-way second Class Ticket without half fare card in CHF
One-way second Class Ticket with half fare card in CHF
Savings in CHF
Zurich Airport to Bern 
59 CHF
29.50 CHF
29.50 CHF
Bern to Geneva
53 CHF
26.50 CHF
26.50 CHF
Bern to Lucerne 
41 CHF
20.50 CHF
20.50 CHF
Bern to St. Gallen
75 CHF
37.50 CHF
37.50 CHF 
Bern to Lugano 
92 CHF
46 CHF
46 CHF
Total Savings 
 
 
160 CHF

Pros

  • Gives 50% discount on any train, bus, boat and most mountain railway tickets
  • Easy to purchase as an e-ticket
  • Quick to make up for the initial ticket costs
  • Ideal to combine with any kind of single-ticket

Cons

  • You still need a separate ticket for each journey  

GA

GA is the equivalent to the Swiss Travel Pass but valid for one year. Due to this limitation is is only an option for Swiss residents. 

Tips to save money while traveling on Swiss trains 

Before we conclude the article, I like to share with you my two favorite tips to save money. 

Make a travel plan, compare and choose the best ticket type 

My first piece of advice is to meticulously map out your journey. I’ve found that a well-thought-out travel plan is the cornerstone of an unforgettable trip. Start by asking yourself: How many destinations are on your wish list? Are day trips and excursions part of your dream itinerary? What about leisure activities that might catch your fancy along the way?

Once you have a clear picture, you’ll find it remarkably easier to make a rough estimation of your travel needs.

This exercise isn’t just about listing places; it’s about understanding your travel style and what you want to focus on during your trip.

For instance, if you’re keen on exploring the vibrant museums and attractions in Zurich, Geneva, and St. Gallen and taking a few day trips to each destination, a Swiss Travel Pass might be your best companion.

Conversely, if you’re focusing on the Lake Lucerne region only, a regional pass could offer more bang for your buck.

Here’s how to approach it:

  1. List Your Destinations: Every city, town, or mountain you wish to visit.
  2. Count Day Trips: Note how many separate outings you’re planning.
  3. Identify Leisure Activities: Whether it’s museum hopping or a scenic boat ride.
  4. Compare Ticket Types: Based on your plan, weigh the benefits of a Swiss Travel Pass, a Half Fare Card, or a regional pass.

This methodical approach has always steered me towards making cost-effective and convenient travel decisions, ensuring I enjoy every moment in Switzerland without worrying about spending way to much on public transporation. 

Look for discounted supersaver tickets

The second piece of advice would be to look out for supersaver tickets. These gems are a game-changer for budget-conscious travelers, offering considerable discounts on standard point-to-point tickets. The catch? They’re mostly available outside peak travel hours. However, isn’t one of the joys of vacation the freedom from the nine-to-five schedule? 

Super saver tickets must be purchased at least 12 hours in advance and are only available online, not at the ticket machines. If you look for this discount sign, you can easily spot them. 

How to spot super saver swiss train tickets

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to a list of the most Frequently Asked Questions.

The most popular Swiss train tickets include the Swiss Travel Pass, the Half Fare Card, and point-to-point tickets, including Supersaver tickets. Each offers unique benefits, whether it’s unlimited travel or discounts on journeys.

Consider your itinerary, the number of days you’ll be traveling, and the regions you plan to visit. A Swiss Travel Pass is ideal for extensive travel across multiple days, while the Half Fare Card may be more suitable for those planning fewer, specific trips.

Yes, Swiss train tickets can be purchased online via the SBB website or through various travel agencies. A side from a few expectations, most ticket types are available online. Buying online is convenient and allows you to compare prices and special offers.

Absolutely! Look for Supersaver tickets for discounts on point-to-point travel, consider traveling outside peak hours, and check for seasonal promotions or special deals for tourists.

The Swiss Half Fare Card allows you to travel on trains, buses, and boats throughout Switzerland at half price. It’s valid for a month and is a cost-effective option if you plan to make several trips during your stay.

The Swiss Travel Pass offers unlimited travel on consecutive days across the Swiss Travel System network. It includes trains, buses, boats, and even some mountain railways, making it perfect for those wanting to explore extensively without the hassle of buying individual tickets.

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