SHOULD I GET THE SWISS TRAVEL PASS? ULTIMATE SWISS RAIL PASSES GUIDE - Olliechinny
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SHOULD I GET THE SWISS TRAVEL PASS? ULTIMATE SWISS RAIL PASSES GUIDE

Swiss Travel Pass Guide

One of the top questions I get asked all the time by travellers visiting Switzerland is this question: WHICH TRAIN PASS SHOULD I GET? Swiss Travel Pass…or the Half-Fare card? 0.0

No thanks to the mega-confusing Swiss transport system and the range of rail passes available out there, I could never provide a clear-cut answer to those of you who asked. Because the truth it, it really depends on your itinerary!

After days of research, I finally decided to pen down my full analysis of the few most popular train passes in Switzerland. This includes the Swiss Travel Pass, the Half-Fare Card, specific regional passes such as the Top of Europe and Bernese Oberland Regional Passes, as well as cost-saving tickets such as the Saver Day Pass and the Super-Saver ticket.

I will conclude with some general travel advice and considerations to help you make the best choice!

Quick Round-Up:

For those of you who just want a fast comparison without the full analysis, here’s a rough summary of each Rail Pass:

Swiss Travel PassRecommended for travels from 8 days and above, for travelling around whole of Switzerland.

Flexible: no need to buy tickets separately, allow for spontaneous travelling.

Flex option is more expensive, but allow for non-consecutive days of travelling.
Half-Fare Card
(My recommendation)
Most economical option, you’ll save the most money with this.

Tickets have to bought separately for train,bus,boats. Use SBB App to do so.

Discount is higher for Jungfraujoch excursion at 50%, vs 25% discount under Swiss Travel Pass.

Suitable for both long and short travels.
Top of Europe Pass:Only recommended if intending to travel up to Jungfraujoch,
with itinerary concentrated in Jungfrau-Interlaken region.
Bernese-Oberland Regional PassMost worth it option amongst all regional passes.

Recommended if travelling within central Switzerland i.e. Bern, Lucerne, Interlaken-Jungfrau, without Jungfraujoch excursion.
Saver Day PassRecommended for travel duration shorter than 3 days.

Can be purchased with or without half-fare card.

Allows for unlimited travel within a single day, perfect for daytrips.
Super Saver TicketGood combination with Half-Fare Card.

Substantial discount of up to 70%, but restricted only to specific train and duration.

Recommended for seasoned travellers or those familiar with Swiss travel system.

The Swiss Travel Pass

bernina express landwasser viaduct
Crossing the famous Landwasser Viaduct

This Swiss Travel Pass is the most marketed rail pass in Switzerland. It comes as a consecutive travel pass, meaning you use it every single day, starting from the time your pass is activated. It is also available in 3,4, 8 or 15 day durations and are available in either first or second class.

There is another option called the Swiss Travel Pass Flex, which allows you to freely choose your travelling days. Albeit slightly more expensive, the Swiss Travel Pass Flex gives you access on the Swiss Travel System network for 3, 4, 8 or 15 non-consecutive days within the same month. That means you can pause your pass’ validity on days where you think you might not be travelling so often, and then resume it after.

Where to Get the Swiss Travel Pass

You can get your Swiss Travel Pass here.

You can also buy it directly from the airport and all train stations.

How Much Does The Swiss Travel Pass Cost?

Here is the cost of the Swiss Travel Pass as of 2022:

2nd class1st class
3 daysCHF 232CHF 369
4 daysCHF 281CHF 447
6 daysCHF 359CHF 570
8 daysCHF 389CHF 617
3 daysCHF 429CHF 675

Cost of the Youth Swiss Travel Pass as of 2022: Valid for young travellers up to their 25th birthday (30% discount)

2nd class1st class
3 daysCHF 164CHF 260
4 daysCHF 199CHF 315
6 daysCHF 254CHF 402
8 daysCHF 276CHF 436
15 daysCHF 307CHF 479

Cost of the Swiss Travel Pass (Flex) as of 2022:

2nd class1st class
3 daysCHF 267CHF 424
4 daysCHF 323CHF 514
6 daysCHF 384CHF 610
8 daysCHF 409CHF 649
15 daysCHF 449CHF 706

Swiss Travel Pass: Benefits

Below are the benefits offered by the Swiss Travel Pass:

  • Unlimited travel by train, bus and boat. View area of validity
  • Unlimited travel on premium panoramic trains (seat reservation fees and/or surcharges apply).
  • Unlimited use of public transport in more than 90 towns and cities.
  • Free admission to more than 500 museums.
  • Mountain excursions included: RigiStanserhorn and Stoos
  • Up to 50% discount on many other mountain excursions.
  • Up to 30% discount on SBB RailAway offers. Available at all ticket counters within Switzerland.
  • Children from their 6th up to their 16th birthday accompanied by at least one parent (holding a Swiss Travel System ticket) travel free of charge with the complimentary Swiss Family Card.
  • Children under 6 years of age who are accompanied by a holder of a valid Swiss Travel System ticket travel free of charge.

You can get your Swiss Travel Pass here.

Pros of Swiss Travel Pass

Ease of Travel:

I would say this is the main selling point of the Swiss Travel Pass: the sheer convenience. Since all the train, bus, ferry rides are already included in the cost of the pass, it saves you the hassle of checking schedules and having to buying the tickets separately.

This is a very important consideration especially for first-time travellers. Given that you will likely be travelling from one part of Switzerland to another and making many transfers, it is very common to miss a connecting bus, train or ferry, or worse, take the wrong route. With the Swiss Travel Pass, you have the ease of mind because even if that happens: you can just hop on and hop off any time and take the next one. That’s something you can’t do with especially with fixed options like the Super-Saver Ticket (see more below).

So if you want to enjoy a stress-free travel, or you just don’t wish to deal with the complexities of the Swiss transport system, then I’d say, go for the Swiss Travel Pass.

More Spontaneity

The Swiss Travel Pass also makes spur of the moment decisions much easier. Jumping on a bus, a boat, a train, and even unplanned indoor attractions is very easy. If you are the type of traveller that’s more prone to last minute planning, or just prefer to have a more flexible itinerary, then the Swiss Travel Pass will afford you a lot more freedom without having to consider the cost of travelling each time. 

Kids Travel for Free

If you are travelling with kids/youths, then the Swiss Travel Pass is an absolute must. Granted, kids under six already travel for free regardless. But if your little one is aged from 6-15 years, then this would be a great deal: When a parent holds a Swiss Travel Pass, your children get to travel free of charge! So for families, this is a no-brainer choice.

Inclusive of major paranomic train rides

Bernina Express Alp Grüm
Bernina Express

Another big plus of the Swiss Travel Pass is that it covers the cost of some of Switzerland’s most scenic panoramic train rides. If you have the Glacier Express or Bernina Express planned in your itinerary, then good news: it’s free!* In fact, I’d probably gonna yell at you for getting the Swiss Travel Pass and wasting your money for not going for either of these two classic, once-in-a-lifetime Swiss train experience!

*Take note that you still have to pay for the seat reservation cost separately, which can range from CHF8 to CHF49. The price will differ depending on the season you go.

Free Access to Museums

Aviation exhibit in Swiss Transport Museum, Swtzerland
Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne, Switzerland

The Swiss Travel Pass entitles you to free access to over 500 museums. That’s an insane number, but some of the best ones I would highly recommend to visit include the Chillon Castle in Montreux, the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne, the Olympic Museum in Lausanne and the FIFA World Museum in Zurich. Make sure you check out my detailed review of these museums in the respective linked blogposts!

However, this would not be the determining factor for me to choose the Swiss Travel Pass. First of all, having paid so much for the Swiss Travel Pass, you would get more bang for your buck by going for the most expensive special mountain excursions, trains and cable cars, rather than spending your time sight-seeing at museums…which probably cost only between 10-20 CHF anyway.

Secondly, from experience, most people would only visit no more than two museums with a Swiss Travel Pass in a 10-14 day period, and it’s usually just a supplementary part of their itineraries.

So unless you are a serious museum buff and intend to focus mainly on visiting museums during your time in Switzerland, then sure, this free museum access will be a HUGE dealbreaker. But frankly… people come to Switzerland MORE for its mountains and outdoor sceneries.So unless there’s bad weather, fog or snow…otherwise, why are you wasting your precious time indoors in museums?

Ultimately: Determine whether you should get the Swiss Travel Pass based on your travel savings only, and leave the museum factor out. It’s a nice plus, but it SHOULD NOT be the main reason for you to choose the Swiss Travel Pass Pass.

Cons of Swiss Travel Pass

Additional Costs For Special Mountain And Train Excursions

This is in fact, my MAIN gripe with the Swiss Travel Pass. Despite travellers paying an arm and a leg for it, guess what? For many of the popular trains and gondolas e.g. Gornergrat in Zermatt, Harder Kulm in Interlaken, First in Grindelwald, Schilthorn in Lauterbrunnen: Even if you have the Swiss Travel Pass, you would STILL need to pay 50% of the fare – which is the same as if you were to get the Half Fare Travelcard!

What’s more ironic: For the most marketed and touristy mountain excursion to Jungfraujoch – with the Swiss Travel Pass, you only get a mere 25% discount, instead of the 50% paid by Half Fare Travelcard holders!

This main disadvantage is why it is so important for you to detail out ALL the special excursions that you intend to go during you time in Switzerland, and check the additional prices you pay for them, in addition to the price you pay for the Swiss Travel Pass vs the other rail passes e.g. the Half-Fare Card.

I know, it’s a pain in the ass to do all the calculations, but once you work out everything with your excel spreadsheet, 99% chances are: you will find that the Half-Fare Card (with the combination of Saver Day Pass or Super-Saver tickets) will end up being the more cost-effective option.

If price and budget is your most important consideration, then the Swiss Travel Pass might not be the right option for you. Consider the Half-Fare card instead.

Limited Value of Free Transportation

Just like my rationale above on the free museums, it’s best to minimise the value of free public transportation offered by the Swiss Travel Pass, for the following reasons:

  • First of all, most of the Swiss cities or towns would have already provided you with a free public transportation card, as long as you stay in one of the city’s hotel, hostel or airbnb. Which means that you don’t even need the Swiss Travel Pass to enjoy free local transportation.
  • Secondly, Swiss towns are already quite small to begin. Take Interlaken for instance: In fact it would make more sense for you to walk around to see and explore more of the surroundings. I’ve been there three times, and each time I hardly took any public transportation while I was there!

So yes, true, you might use a ride or two each day on public transport, but even that won’t add up to much in terms of value of your Swiss Travel Pass.

Not Worth it for Lesser than 8 Days

The hefty cost of the Swiss Travel Pass makes it such that it will only be worth the price if you stay in Switzerland for longer than 8 days. For the 3-5 days one, I would advise against it.

I would illustrate with a comparison of a 3 day Swiss Travel Pass vs buying a 1-month Half-Fare card, for two of the most popular excursions in Switzerland: to the Gornergrat for the Matterhorn, and Jungfraujoch Top of Europe, done on two separate days.

3-Day Swiss Travel PassHalf-Fare Card
Cost of Pass232 CHF120 CHF
Day 1: Return ticket from Interlaken to ZermattFree49CHF (assuming Saver Day Pass)
Day 1: Excursion to Gornergrat63 CHF (50% discount)63 CHF (50% discount)
Day 2: Return ticket from Interlaken to Grindelwald Terminal StationFree10 CHF
Day 2: Excursion to Jungfraujoch162.80 CHF(25% discount)110 CHF (50% discount)
Total457.80 CHF352.8 CHF

As shown, the 3 Day Swiss Travel Pass will end up being the more costly option.

In summary, for short trips to Switzerland ranging for only 1 to 3 days, getting the Swiss Travel Pass is unwise from a budget standpoint. Consider the Half-Fare Card or Saver Day Pass, and read on!

Half-Fare Card

The Half-Fare Card is the most commonly used card amongst Swiss residents. As the name suggests, it gives you a 50% half-fare discount on all public transportation and most mountain transport in the entire country.

Swiss residents like myself will usually go for the one year Half-Fare card, which costs 185CHF. Foreign tourists can buy a one month Swiss Half Fare card, which has the same benefits as the yearly half fare card.

If you happen to be staying in Switzerland for longer the maximum duration of the Swiss Travel Pass (15 days), then this will be your best option.

How Much Does The Half-Fare Card Cost?

In 2022, the monthly Half-Fare card costs 120CHF.

There is also a youth option for persons aged 25 below, at 120 CHF for the full year.

You can buy the Half-Fare Card here.

Pros of Half-Fare Card

You definitely get greater cost-savings with the Half-Fare Card. For 120CHF, it shares the same 50% for special train and mountain excursions as the Swiss Travel Pass.

Cons of Half-Fare Card

Ticket have to be bought separately

You have to put in a bit more effort with your itinerary planning to enjoy the benefits of this card. Because unlike the Swiss Travel Pass, for your transportation on Swiss trains, buses, trams and ferries, you will have to buy the tickets separately in advance.

But personally, considering the cost-savings, I don’t find this that bad of a trade-off. Besides, it’s not THAT difficult, honestly. You can easily purchase the tickets directly on your smartphone by downloading the SBB app, and connecting your credit/debit card to it. There’s no need to waste time queuing to buy tickets at the train station! (read more below).

A second point worth highlighting because people get tricked by the Swiss Travel Pass. So you think you’re saving yourself from the trouble with the Swiss Travel Pass…but HELLO it’s not like you don’t have to do advance ticket booking too for the special mountain excursions? You still have to do it!

Misconceptions of Half-Fare Card

One common misunderstanding about the Half-Fare card is regarding its validity restrictions. People wrongfully think that with the Half-Fare Card, should you miss your connection, you have to waste money re-purchasing another ticket.

Actually, that’s only the case for a Super-Saver ticket (see below for details)

With the Half-Fare card, even if you buy in advance, you will receive a “point-to-point” ticket. This means that ticket will still be valid for the route you bought for, even in the event you boarded the wrong train/bus or missed it!

Take for example, if you missed your train from Lausanne to Geneva. It will STILL BE VALID for the duration specified (usually 24 hours). This means that you can board another connection, without repurchasing your ticket. Your next train doesn’t even have to be the same rout! For instance, instead of an IR1 or 5 train, you can take the longer regional train that comes immediately after. As long as it takes you to the same end destination!

Super-Saver Tickets

Okay, this tip is specially for you budget uncle and aunties out there…because really, you can save a GREAT TON of money if you know how to play your cards (tickets) well and if you’re savvy enough to buy the Super-Saver Ticket in advance!

Essentially, these are normal point-to-point tickets valid with or without the Half-Fare card. The earlier you buy a Supersaver Ticket, the cheaper you can travel. A ticket to/from Zurich can cost as low as CHF 29 if you book a month in advance!

I always buy super saver tickets for my daily commute to work. For instance, for me to get from Morges to my workplace in Geneva: A full-fare would have cost me 18.60CHF. Since I have a half-fare card, it’s reduced to 9.30CHF. But if I were to buy a super-saver ticket in advance, I get nearly 50% discount at 4.80CHF. Multiply it by a few more times, and the cost-savings is pretty substantial.

Pros of Super-Saver Ticket

If you are on a budget, the super-saver ticket is a godsend and your pockets will thank you for it! You can save up to 70% with the Super Saver Ticket, and this is a great combination if you are opting for the Half-Fare Card.

Cons of Super-Saver Ticket

The major drawback of the Super-Saver Ticket is its exclusive validity. It is ONLY valid for that single train and specific timing you buy for.

In the event you miss your train or board the wrong one, You will NOT be able to take another train without buying another ticket. That’s the reason why they are so cheap.

With this factor in mind, you thus have to be very stringent with your itinerary and watch your time carefully, to make sure that you catch your transportation to and from your destination, which admittedly can be quite stressful.

I will recommend the Super-Saver Ticket only if you are on a tight budget, or if you are a seasoned traveller with a good sense of planning and you’re quite confident enough with navigating the Swiss travel system.

If you are a first-time traveller to Switzerland, save yourself the stress, and skip this option.

Saver Day Pass

Saver Day Pass on SBB 2022

SBB introduced the Saver Day Pass in 2017. As the name itself suggests, it is an unlimited travel pass valid for a full day, on SBB trains or trains of other rail companies, on boats, buses, and trams.

The great thing is, you can benefit from the Saver Day Pass with or without a Half-Fare Card. And the earlier you book, the lower the price.

How much does the Saver Day Pass Cost?

If you buy the Saver Day Pass at least 14 days in advance (and up to 30 days in advance) the 2022 cost is:

  • 2nd Class (with Half Fare Card): CHF49
  • 1st Class (with Half Fare Card): CHF66
  • 2nd Class (with no Half Fare Card): CHF52
  • 1st Class (with no Half Fare Card): CHF119

This is a fantastic deal if you are only planning on traveling around Switzerland on the trains for just 1 to 3 days. You can get this ticket, and then top up with the full prices if you are visiting special mountain excursions.

Pros of Saver Day Pass

Unlimited Travel in Single Day

This option is great if you are not staying in Switzerland long enough to warrant a 8 or 15 day Swiss Travel Pass, but you’re planning long daytrips out. Take for example, if you are heading from Zurich to Lucerne, and back on the same day, your entire return transportation cost is all covered!

Suitable for Short Travel Time in Switzerland

If you are staying in Switzerland for shorter than 3 days, the Saver Day Pass will work well too since you can just purchase it independently even without the Half-Fare Card.

TIP:I always recommend people to go to Mt Rigi with the Saver Day Pass, because the boat trip and the cogwheel train up to the top is also included by the Saver Day Pass. It’s one of the rare few mountain excursions that are covered.

Cons of Saver Day Pass

Need to buy way in advance

Nevertheless: For the Saver Day Pass to be cost-effective, you MUST buy it at least 14 days in advance. It is way more expensive if you buy it last minute, and won’t make sense compared to buying just a regular ticket.

Overall, the Saver Day Pass is recommended for people who are in Switzerland for a short time e.g. 1-3 days, but still doing country-wide travelling.

Top Of Europe Pass

The Top of Europe Pass is a regional pass that covers any train, bus, boat rides within the Jungfrau-Interlaken region. The best part is that it covers the full cost of your ride up to the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe. Without a train pass, a journey to the Jungfraujoch from Interlaken would set you back by nearly 200CHF! But with the Top of Europe Pass, this is completely free. So the cost of the pass itself just about cover the cost of a single ride to the Jungfraujoch. This itself makes it worth purchasing!

Think of it as the “Swiss Travel Pass (Jungfrau region)”.

How much does the Top Of Europe Pass cost?

Here is the cost of the Top of Europe Pass as of 2022:

AdultAdults Reduced
(with Swiss Travel Pass or Half-Fare Card)
Children (6-15 years)
3 daysCHF 249CHF 159CHF 30
4 daysCHF 269CHF 179CHF 30
5 daysCHF 289CHF 199CHF 30
6 daysCHF 309CHF 239CHF 30
7 daysCHF 329CHF 259CHF 30
8 daysCHF 349CHF 279CHF 30

You can buy the Top of Europe Pass here.

Top Of Europe: Areas of Validity

You can check the full area of validity here.

But in summary, it will covers the transportation costs to key regions and attractions e.g. Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Kleine Scheidegg, Harderkulm, Schynige Platte.

Pros of Top Of Europe Pass

Cost-Savings for Jungfrau-Interlaken region + Jungfraujoch excursion

If you are gunning for a trip to the Jungfraujoch, and majority of your time is concentrated in the Jungfrau-Interlaken region, then the Top Of Europe Card will be your best option. The price point is very much similar to the Swiss Travel Pass, but what’s better about it is that it further includes the cost of going up to Jungfraujoch itself and other special excursions e.g. Grindelwald-First, Harder Kulm etc.

In contrast, if you were to get the Swiss Travel Pass, you still have to top up an additional 50% for these excursions, and I don’t find that worth it.

Cons of Top Of Europe Pass

Limited area of validity

This being a regional pass itself, the downside of the Top of Europe pass is that its area of validity is limited only to the Jungfrau-Interlaken region. That means if you are planning to travel elsewhere to other cities like Zurich, Lucerne, Lausanne and Zermatt, your transport costs would not be covered.

In most instances, I would not recommend the Top of Europe Card to first time travellers to Switzerland, this considering that you will most likely want to visit different regions, and you need a travel pass that covers a wider area of validity.

I will recommend the Top of Europe pass more for travellers who want to go to the Jungfraujoch, and are spending most of their itinerary within the Interlaken-Jungfrau region for a longer period. Buying this past itself would have already covered the full cost of a single ticket up to the Jungfraujoch.

If you wish to do regional travel in Interlaken-Jungfrau but intend to give the Jungfraujoch a miss, then CONTINUE READING down below, because the next rail pass will be even more relevant!

Bernese Oberland Regional Pass

The Bernese Oberland Regional Pass is the one that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. I don’t know why not many people know of this regional pass, it’s so underrated but in fact, I would go as far as to consider this as the most worth it rail pass option for travelling in Switzerland!

The Bernese Oberland Regional Pass covers the entire region of central Switzerland. It is a consecutive pass, meaning it is available for 3, 4, 6, 8 or 10 days without interruption.

How Much Does The Bernese Oberland Regional Pass Cost?

Here is the cost of the Bernese Oberland Regional Pass as of 2022:

AdultAdults Reduced
(with Swiss Travel Pass or Half-Fare Card)
Children (6-15 years)
3 daysCHF 230CHF 15030
4 daysCHF 270CHF 17530
6 daysCHF 330CHF 21530
8 daysCHF 370CHF 24030
10 daysCHF 399CHF 25930

You can buy the Bernese Oberland Regional Pass here.

Bernese Oberland Regional Pass: Areas of Validity

In case you haven’t realise, but the Bernese Oberland is freaking HUGE. From this picture, you will see how vast it is, covering the whole area from Lucerne, to Bern, Thun, Spiez, Interlaken, all the way down to Brig!

Pros of Bernese Oberland Regional Pass

Huge area of validity

The best part of this regional pass is that it spans over such a huge area of Switzerland.including all your popular destinations Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Interlaken, Lucerne, Bern, Blausee, Oeschinensee.You can even reach Brig, which is the gateway to Zermatt and Matterhorn in Valais.

This factor alone makes it MUCH more attractive as compared to the Top of Europe Regional Pass which is confined only within Interlaken-Jungfrau region.

Free/ Discounted Travel on Special Mountain Railways and Boat Cruises

But more than just the coverage, it’s the experiences offered by the Bernese Oberland Regional Pass that makes it so damn worth it.

With this pass, it also allows you to travel for free on some really fantastic scenic cablecar/ mountain railways, including Brienz Rothorn Bahn, the Grindelwald First, the cablecar at Oeschinensee, and the Lucerne-Interlaken Express.

Also, unlike the Top of Europe Pass which does not provide any discount on the Schilthorn (where the James Bond “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was filmed), the Bernese Oberland Regional Pass provides a 50% discount to reach here.

What’s even special, is that it even includes two boat cruises on Lake Thun and Brienz respectively, which is excluded from the Top of Europe Pass!

You can still go up to the Jungfraujoch with this pass, you just have to top up an additional 99CHF.

This regional is comparatively cheaper than the Swiss Travel Pass, and yet the coverage is no less, if not even better. If your itinerary is focusing on central Switzerland, and you don’t plan to visit the Jungfraujoch, mark my word, THIS rail pass will be your best choice!

Cons of Bernese Oberland Regional Pass

Summer in Ascona, Ticino

Similar to the cons for the Top of Europe pass, as this is a regional pass, it might be less effective for those of you thinking to travel further and all around Switzerland. Specifically, if you are planning to go to Lausanne, Geneva, Zurich, or down south to Italian-speaking Ticino, then the Swiss Travel Pass or Half-Fare card would be more feasible.

General Travel Advice

Download the SBB App

This is the #1 MUST download app when travelling in Switzerland. It makes your travelling so much easier. Especially if you are a Half-Fare Card holder and fear having to queue up to buy tickets, with the app: you can buy your tickets straight from your phone. Just download the app, create an account, link it to your credit card and you’re set to go.

What I LOVE about the app is the timetable schedule, which shows ALL the transport timings in Switzerland. You just have to enter your starting point and destination and it will give you the various train timings, the connections available and the corresponding prices. This is a life saver when you have to check your train times and plan your journey!

Once you buy your tickets, a QR code will be shown and you only have to show it to the conductors on trains for verification.

Note: Even if you buy your half-fare card separately from other websites e.g. Klook or KKDay, take note that your purchase won’t be “linked” to the app, you have to verify you half-fare card separately by showing your physical ticket of the half-fare, but most of the time your soft-copy provided by where you purchase the half-fare would do.

Be strategic with your itinerary

Harder Kulm Funicular

If you are considering regional passes like the Top of Europe Pass or the Bernese Oberland Regional Pass, you should aim to more targeted with your travel itinerary and travel within the area of validity. The whole point of these regional passes is for travellers to explore the region itself, and it would be most value-for-money for you to spend 3 or more days in the same region.

A big advantage of doing so is that it reduces your travelling/transfers time in between regions. I get that there’s so much to see and do in the whole of Switzerland…but sometimes, it can feel very rushed to go from one city to another and you just end up feeling exhausted instead. By opting for a regional pass, and choosing to focus only on a specific area e.g. Jungfrau-Interlaken, not only is it economically cheaper, you also travel slower and get more time to really immerse in your local sights and sceneries.

Don’t Buy More Than Two Passes

Some people ask if it make sense to buy two different passes on the same trip e.g. Swiss Travel Pass + Half-Fare Card, or a regional card plus Half-Fare card. This is likely for instances where your regional pass only covers a certain region and you are travelling elsewhere that is not covered by your pass’ area validity.

Take for instance: you bought a Top of Europe pass, but your cost of coming to and from Zurich/Geneva airport is excluded.

In this case, either you buy the full-fare ticket (most likely 80CHF), but the smarter option would be to buy Saver Day Pass in advance at 52CHF to cover this leg of your journey. In any case, that will still be cheaper than you buying an additional half-fare card at 120CHF.

Overall, I will not recommend combining two passes for a trip. Try to cost-save with saver-day passes instead.

Consider the season/weather

Except for the Swiss Travel Pass (Flex), the various train passes are valid for consecutive days, meaning you cannot terminate it in between. This could pose a problem in the event of bad weather and rainy days (especially in May and November)which could limit your travels, and your cost of travel per daywould creep up.

While with the Swiss Travel Pass, you would have alternatives like indoor activities and museums, unfortunately there are lesser of such substitutes for regional passes.

Travel in Switzerland by train or by car?

A frequently asked question: Should I travel in Switzerland by car? Some people may say yes, but if you were to ask me (who also happens to be a bad driver haha), I will not recommend travelling by car in Switzerland, for the following reasons:

  • Swiss train travel is an experience of its own. Switzerland has arguably one of best public transport systems in the world, and Swiss trains are well-reputed for being clean, efficient, and reliable and its clockwork punctuality.
  • With train travel, you can enjoy the beautiful sceneries without frustrating road jams, traffic accidents, neither do you risk getting a speeding ticket.
  • If you are parents travelling with young kids: Train-travel saves you more money, since children travel for free. And what’s more: there’s even indoor playgrounds inside most Swiss trains, and I think your little one would probably prefer that way more than being strapped in a child-seat inside a car!
  • Some Swiss cities are notoriously difficult to navigate in peak hours (Lausanne and Bern), and parking is crazy expensive (case in point: we parked for 2 hours once next to Bern train station and it cost a whopping 30CHF. We swore never to drive ever again).
  • Driving on Switzerland is on the right side, and this could be slightly unfamiliar for those of us in Singapore used to left-side. In winter: you also have to take extra precautions like getting tire chains for driving through snow. Driving up mountain passes or at night can also be very mentally stressful.

Consider driving in Switzerland ONLY for the following reasons:

  • you want to visit places or stay at chatlet/ airbnb accommodations that are off-the-beaten track
  • you have children or elderly and multiple train transfers, long distance walking can be challenging
  • you are the rare few people that actually enjoys driving on long road trips
  • you don’t like carrying your bulky luggage
  • You are travelling across multiple countries by car e.g. France, Germany, Italy

For the last point i.e. when you are travelling over different countries. While yes, it might make logistical sense for you to then travel by car, take note that you should ALWAYS try to return your car in the same destination that you have rented it. E.g. if you start your travel in France, don’t try to return your car in Switzerland. Instead, do a round trip and go back to your original city. Rental companies absolutely HATE it when you rent a car and return it in another country/city, because it causes them so much hassle to get the car back, and you will definitely end up with a horrendously expensive bill for it.

Ultimate Guide to Swiss Travel Pass

And there you have it! My comprehensive guide to the Swiss Travel Pass.

Travelling in Switzerland can be a logistical challenge given its very complex transport system, but I really hope this post was informative and at least helped you to clear some confusions on the differences between the various passes. Hopefully you now have a better idea on which pass would best suit your itinerary!

As usual, feel free to drop me a comment down below if you have any further questions not answered in the post. The wider community can benefit from your questions posed too.

Have fun travelling in Switzerland!

All my love,

Ollie

This post is an independent review and is not sponsored.

1 Comment
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July 23, 2022

1 Comment

  • Linda @thefitty

    Very detailed, very cool! I’ll have to remember to link to this article in my upcoming one on How To Save Money In Switzerland (I just drafted it!)

    Well written, great job! I think you covered it all.

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