Eurail Pass in Switzerland: Your Ticket to Scenic Railways Journeys

eurail pass

Discovering Switzerland by train is the dream of any serious traveler. Stare outside the window while the landscapes in front of your eyes change from pastures to peaks and from forests to lakes – who wouldn’t enjoy that?!

But the trains in Switzerland are expensive. Try booking two or three panoramic train tickets and you’ll see the cost skyrocket. The good news is that you don’t have to go broke from train travel because the Eurail Pass is dirt-cheap compared to what individual train tickets could cost you!

Below is a detailed overview of everything you need to know about using the Eurail Pass in Switzerland!

Quick Overview

Let’s start with a few key things to know about the Eurail Pass:

  • Only for non-Europen residents
  • Global and One-Country passes
  • Flexi passes (valid for a certain amount of days in a specific time period)
  • Continuous passes (for consecutive travel days)
  • Free travel on regional and panoramic trains in Switzerland
  • Discounts for mountain trains
  • Discounts for youth & seniors
  • Children (under 11) travel for free when accompanied by adults

Benefits of Eurail Pass in Switzerland

bernina express
The Bernina Express panoramic train is free with the Eurail Pass

Having a Eurail Pass in Switzerland is excellent for saving money on train rides. Switzerland has an extensive railway network and you can travel from one end of the country to the other by train, but it will cost you an arm and a leg. With the Eurail Pass, you can get around for free and enjoy discounts on many of the mountain trains.

  • Some of the benefits of the Eurail Pass in Switzerland are:
  • Free travel on regional trains
  • Free travel on panoramic trains (seat reservation not included)
  • Discounts for mountain trains
  • Cheaper than the Swiss Travel Pass
  • Longer validity periods compared to the Swiss Travel Pass

If you’re wondering whether or not it makes sense to buy the Eurail Pass in Switzerland, the answer is a resounding yes. Especially if you want a pass that’s valid for longer than 15 days.

Eurail Pass Inclusions

gotthard train eurail
Gotthard Panorama Express is free with the 1st class Eurail Pass

The Eurail Pass includes free travel on all regional trains. If you get a global pass, you can travel for free on trains in 33 countries in Europe. If you get a one-country pass, you can travel for free in the country of your choice.

A 1st Class Eurail Pass might even get you some free food and drinks, but only on specific trains. I don’t think it’s worth it to pay extra for a 1st class pass if you’re hoping to save money on meals since food is so rarely included in the pass. But a first-class ticket will get you comfier seats with more room, and usually even more luggage storage than is offered in the second class.

A Eurail pass doesn’t include seat reservations, which might be required on certain train lines. These reservations can usually be made online or at train stations.

Types of Eurail Passes

eurail paper pass
The old-school Eurail paper pass, image courtesy of Eurail

There are several ways to categorize Eurail Passes, but the main one is by how many countries you can travel to with the pass. The two main types of passes are:

A one-country pass allows you unlimited travel for a specific amount of time in a single country. A global pass lets you travel through 33 countries in Europe, and it’s the best option for travelers who want to visit multiple countries.

Every Eurail pass is available in 1st and 2nd class options. The first class pass lets you ride in the first class on trains, while the other one only allows access to the second class. It’s worth noting that, if you buy the second class pass, you can always pay extra to access the first class on any train.

Duration & Validity

Eurail passes can be valid anywhere from one day up to three months. It depends on the type of pass you’re purchasing; there’s a pass for France that’s valid for just 24 hours, and there’s also a Global Pass that allows travel for three consecutive months, so there are truly many options to choose from.

Global Eurail passes have two types of duration – Flexi and Continuous. Flexi passes allow you to travel for a certain number of days during a specific time period, while Continuous passes are valid for a certain number of days in a row. More details are in the next section.

Eurail Pass Prices

Swiss trains
Travel free on the Swiss trains with the Eurail Pass

How much does the Eurail Pass cost? Well, that depends on the validity of the pass and the allotted time period for the travel. Let’s start with Global Flexi Passes:

ValidityYouthAdultsSeniors
4 days/1 month$208$276$248
5 days/1 month$239$317$286
7 days/1 month$282$377$339
10 days/2 months$338$450$406
15 days/2 months$416$554$499
The price of Global Eurail Flexi Passes

Flexi Passes allow you to travel for a select amount of days during one or two months, and they’re the best option if you’re planning a longer trip that includes visits to several different countries. On the day of travel, you can take as many trains as you can manage within 24 hours.

The Global Continous Passes are valid for a certain amount of consecutive days:

ValidityYouthAdultsSeniors
15 days$373$498$448
22 days$437$582$523
1 month$565$753$677
2 months$615$822$739
3 months$761$1013$913
The price of Global Eurail Continous Passes

The continuous passes are significantly more expensive and only make sense if you are actually planning to travel by train every day of your stay in Europe.

Additionally, it’s important to note that there is not a uniform pricing scheme for one-country passes. For Italy, the pass starts at $150 (big country, large railway network) but for Portugal, it’s $95 for the same validity period.

Discounts

Discounts are available to people younger than 27 and those older than 60. Kids under the age of 11 can travel for free (if they are accompanied by an adult). Only adults aged 28-59 are stuck paying the full price of the pass. It sucks to be old, but not old enough for a senior discount.

Additionally, the Eurail Pass can get you all sorts of discounts for trains and attractions in various countries throughout Europe. There are certain train lines (e.g., the Jungfraujoch Bahn in Switzerland) that are never free, no matter which travel pass you have.

But discounts are offered to travelers in possession of the Eurail Pass, so it’s a great way to save money while exploring Switzerland.

Panoramic train rides are free in Switzerland with the Eurail Pass, so don’t waste any time reserving your seat on the Bernina Express, the Glacier Express, or the Gotthard Panorama Express Train!

Seat Reservations

swiss train seats eurail
Inside a Swiss train

Seat reservations are necessary only on the panoramic trains in Switzerland, and the usual fee is 10 CHF per reservation. The SBB website and app are great for reserving seats with just a couple of clicks, and it’s also possible to make seat reservations at the train stations prior to departure.

There are no seat reservation requirements for the regional trains in Switzerland, only for the night trains and international trains. For cogwheel trains to popular tourist destinations (Jungfraujoch, Rigi, etc.) it is possible to reserve a seat but it is not obligatory, and usually, it’s not necessary either.

Where to Buy the Pass

Eurail website
Buy the Eurail Pass on the Eurail website

The best place to buy the Eurail Pass is on the Eurail.com website. You can easily choose from a variety of different options and even shop for special sales. Other vendors authorized to sell Eurail passes are RailPass and Rail Europe. 

You will have the option of a paper or mobile pass. The mobile pass is much more convenient since you can’t really lose it, plus you don’t have to select a start date. But it does mean that you need to pay attention to the battery life on your phone whenever you’re about to board a train.

An old-school paper pass is also an option, but it offers no real benefits. You must choose a start date for the pass while you’re buying it, and if you lose it no replacement is available.

How to Activate and Use the Pass

Zurich HB
Zurich HB is one of the places where you can activate your Eurail Pass

After you purchase a Eurail Pass, you have 11 months to activate and start using it. It’s possible to activate the pass at some train stations in Europe, or even while you’re placing the order on their official website. The activation service is free of charge for all travelers.

Activating the pass at a train station is a little tricky because it’s only possible at a large train station in a country that is a participant of the Eurail program. Another way is to activate the pass while you’re placing the order. This is super convenient if you already know when you will be traveling because your pass will arrive pre-activated and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

If you want to buy the pass but you’re not sure about travel dates, that’s okay. It’s possible to activate the pass online whenever you want, just know that you will need to fill in your passport number so that the pass can be linked to you. That also means that you need to have your passport when traveling with the Eurail pass.

Eurail Global Pass vs. Swiss Travel Pass

Harder Bahn
Harder Bahn; Swiss Travel Pass offers better discounts for mountain trains

There is no one-country Eurail Pass for Switzerland. A Global Eurail Pass allows travel in the Alpine country, but how does it compare to the Swiss Travel Pass?

The Swiss Travel Pass is issued by SBB. It’s a local travel pass that allows unlimited train travel in Switzerland for certain validity periods. Just like the Eurail pass, the STP can be Flexi or Continuous. 

However, the validity periods for the Swiss Travel Pass are different from those of the Eurail Pass so it’s very hard to compare the two. The STP is valid for 3,4,6 days, while the Eurail pass is valid for 4,5, and 7 days. What I did notice is that the Eurail Pass is generally cheaper than the Swiss Travel Pass, especially in the Flexi version.

As for the continuous passes, the Swiss Travel Passes are valid for a maximum of 15 consecutive days, while the validity of the Eurail pass starts at 15 days. In this category the STP is actually the more affordable option, but only by $10.

If you are looking for consecutive travel passes for Switzerland with validity periods of less than 15 days, it makes sense to purchase the Swiss Travel Pass.

Eurail Global Pass vs. Interrail Pass

What’s the difference between the Eurail Global Pass and the Interrail Pass? It’s super simple really: the Eurail Pass is only for non-European residents, while the Interrail Pass is only for European nationals.

Everything else about the passes is the same. The Interrail Pass is also available in the Flexi and Continous options, and the validity periods are identical. You can choose from paper or mobile pass and the activation process is the same.

There are some differences in pricing, but it’s negligible – $5-$30 from the cheapest to the most expensive Interrail Pass. The Interrail Pass is priced in Euros, and I’m pretty sure that the difference in pricing is mostly because of the floating exchange rates.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Mount Titlis included in Eurail Pass?

A discount of 25% is applicable for gondolas to Mount Titlis with the Eurail Pass. A discount of up to 50% is applicable with other travel passes in Switzerland.

Does Eurail pass cover Jungfrau?

The Eurail Pass includes a discount for Jungfrau. Anyone in possession of this (or the Interrail pass) can get a 25% discount on the tickets. 

What countries are covered by the Eurail Global Pass?

The Eurail Global Pass covers 33 countries in Europe. All the countries covered with the pass are Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Wales.

Is Eurail Pass worth it? 

The Eurail Pass is worth it if you travel enough. Plan out a rough itinerary, see how much individual train tickets cost, and compare them against the Eurail Pass pricing to see whether it’s worth buying it for the trip you have in mind. 

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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