Swiss Travel Pass vs Half Fare Card

Swiss travel pass vs half fare card
Last updated: July 15th, 2023

Choosing between the Swiss Travel Pass and the Swiss Half Fare Card can seem confusing. So, in this post, I am going to break it all down for you.

Which travel pass is cheaper? Which one is better for you? And a whole range of pros and cons.

Which Is Better – Swiss Travel Pass or Half Fare Card?

The Half Fare Card suits travelers that want complete flexibility and are in Switzerland for less than one month. The Swiss Travel Pass is better for travelers who plan on doing long trips in a very specific time frame that is less than two weeks and/or plan on visiting a lot of museums.

The Swiss Travel Pass also suits those who plan on doing more side trips and museum visits, as you get bigger discounts on those, with most Swiss museums being free to enter with the pass.

The exact benefit of each can only be calculated once you know your itinerary. However, here is a rough idea of how the costs may play out.

Train travel in Switzerland
Train travel in Switzerland

Example Itinerary: Zurich – Lucerne – Interlaken – Zermatt – Zurich

This 8-day itinerary is if you land in Zurich and leave from Zurich and plan on visiting the main attractions. The following are the prices for the Swiss Travel Pass vs Swiss Half Fare Card for tourists.

Swiss Half Fare Card Price

Train travel is half price with the Swiss half fare card, so be careful comparing prices. Without the half fare card the following prices are double.

  • Swiss Half Fare Card (one month) – 120 CHF
  • Zurich to Lucerne – 12.5 CHF
  • Lucerne to Interlaken Ost – 30 CHF
  • Interlaken Ost – Zermatt – 41.50
  • Zermatt – Zurich – 62.50 CHF

Total – 266.50 CHF

Swiss Travel Pass Cost

There are two types of Swiss Travel Pass, however, if you only travel 5 days in 8, then either you have the standard pass for 8 days or the flex version for 5 days (flex is only used on the travel days).

  • Swiss Travel Pass (8 days) – 389 CHF
  • Swiss Travel Pass Flex (4 days) – 323.00 CHF

Another option is to choose the Swiss Travel Pass Flex for 3 days (267 CHF) and then pay for tickets separately for the rest like Zurich to Lucerne for 25 CHF.

If you take the longer 8 days standard pass you can also use it for trips around Interlaken and Lucerne as well, which are also going to be expensive.

As you can see there are lots of options, so it just depends on how much you use each pass and how many side trips you plan on doing.

Half Fare Care Pros & Cons

A Swiss Half Fare Card for tourists will cost you 120 CHF and is valid for one month. Using the Half Fare Card you will receive:

  • half the price (50%) off train, bus and boat travel, including regional & city public transport
  • accompanying children between 6-16 travel free with the family card (which is free)
  • discounts on many mountain railways and cablecars
    • 50% off from Interlaken Ost to Eigergletscher (first half of Jungfraujoch trip)
    • Grindelwald First (50%)
    • Schynigge Platte (50%)
    • Harder Kulm (50%)
    • Mt Rigi (50%)
    • Pilatus (50%)
    • Glacier Express (50%)
    • Golden Route (50%)

This one-month Half Fare card is only available to non-residents.

The great thing about the Half Fare pass (or half tax as we call it) is that you can travel wherever and whenever you want, and you will always pay 50% less than full price when you purchase tickets.

One downside of a Half Fare Travel Card is that it is only valid for a month. Of course, if you are in Switzerland for less than that time, it is great!

Also, you don’t get all the extra benefits of the Swiss Travel Pass like access to museums.

Swiss Travel Pass Pros & Cons

The Swiss Travel Pass is a great way to cover the costs of train and regional travel if you are in Switzerland for a specific period of time. Usually 15 days or less.

This allows you to travel for free on the specific days you use it. The Swiss Travel Pass covers all rail, bus, boat and a few other mountain trips (see below). That also means you can ride on the Glacier Express for free. And, it also includes free access to over 500 museums as well as significant discounts on some big trips. This means discounts like

  • the Jungfraujoch railway is 25%
  • all other mountain excursions are usually 50%
  • free travel to Stanserhorn and Rigi near Lucerne

And like the Half fare card you can get a family card for bringing children along for free. Younger children below 6 travel free anyway.

Swiss Train Fare Examples

Here are some examples to give you an idea of what a train ride in Switzerland will cost you. They are all one-way and full price.

  • Zurich to Lucerne – 25 CHF
  • Geneva to Lucerne – 76 CHF
  • Zurich to Interlaken Ost – 70 CHF
  • Lucerne to Interlaken Ost – 45-60 CHF
  • Lucerne to Zermatt -117 CHF
  • Geneva to Zermatt – 98 CHF

Also keep in mind that if you have younger children, you can always get the Swiss Family Card for free, which enables your kids to travel with you free of charge. There always needs to be at least one parent with them for this card to be valid.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Half Fare Travel Card the same as The Swiss Travel Pass?

The Half Fare Travel Card is vastly different from the Swiss Travel Pass. It gives you half-price travel on the Swiss travel system and some discounts on a few participating mountain trips. The Swiss Travel Pass includes all public transport and many larger discounts on mountain trips.

Is Swiss Half Fare Card Better Than Swiss Travel Pass?

No, whether you prefer the Half Fare Card or the Swiss Travel Pass depends on how often you wish to travel and how flexible you wish to be on your trip.

What Is The Swiss Half Fare Card?

The Swiss Half Fare Card is a pass that allows you to save 50% on all public transport in Switzerland. It also provides some smaller discounts on most mountain railway and cable car travel.

More On The Swiss Travel Pass

Mountain Trips

Jungfraujoch,   Pilatus,   Mount Rigi,   Mount Rigi

Pass Comparisons

Jungfrau Travel Pass,   Interrail,   Car Rental

Plan Your Trip to Switzerland

Accommodation: I always book my hotels via They have some of the best rates, longterm deals, easy cancellation and more
Transport: Train travel is one of the best ways to explore Switzerland. Buying a Swiss Travel Pass is a great way to save money on travel and museums.
Car Rental: Having a car gives you flexibility on your travels. I use and Discover Cars to get the best deals on car rentals in Switzerland.
Luggage Storage: Find out where you can store your store your luggage while you are visiting various places in Switzerland.
Trips & Tours:Viator and Get Your Guide are the best places to find local tours and trips for your adventures in Switzerland.
Packing: Here are my recommendations for what to pack for a trip to Switzerland. As someone who has lived half their life in Switzerland, I have a good idea of what you need to bring!

9 thoughts on “Swiss Travel Pass vs Half Fare Card

  1. We are traveling 5 in the family, all adults, we are planning Zurich,Lucern,Interlaken and Zermat, around 10 to 12 days. We debaiting if the swiss or half card will be better. Alfo we planning Pilatus, Joungfrau and moother horn mountains.
    We need your advice with one is better.

    1. In your case i believe that half fare card is better, the pass works for 30 days, give you 50% discount in any ride since you are not going to mountains too much.

  2. Hi, we are planning for 15 days trip and heading from Zurich to Zermett, Lauterbrunnen, interlaken and Bern and back to Zurich again, covering a few mountains link Titlis, Rigi, Matterhorn, Murren. Many reviews suggested to buy the Swiss half fare card, but was wondering will it be easier to just buy the Swiss Travel Pass.

    1. Hard to say. The half-fare just gets you 50% off the train/bus tickets. So, you still need to book the tickets and sometimes seats on busy legs. The Swiss Travel Pass is easier in that you only have to choose what day you want to use it (if you have the flex version). The rest of your activities are booked/paid separately in both cases.

  3. hi, I am planning 9 days trip with my partner. We land in Zurich and go straight to Montreux. we visit Glacier 300 the next day along with Gstaad and then next day go to Interlaken via Golden pass. during our few days stay there we will visit Lauterbrunnen, Gimmelwald, Jungfrao, Grindelwald and Bern. We then travel to Lucern and while there we visit Mt Titlis/Mt Pilatus. Finally, we travel back to Zurich and return. What pass will be best for this?

    1. Sounds like the Swiss Pass will be best. Half fare only gives you 50% off train/bus while Swiss Pass gives you free travel on the days you use it (so best for long trips) and also big discounts on mountain trips (Glacier 3000, most around Interlaken etc) and free entry to most museums.

  4. Hi! My husband and I are traveling from Trento, Italy, to Zermatt, then to Lauterbrunnen, Jungfraunoch, and Geneva via Lausanne and Montreux over June 11-15. Is the travel pass or half fare card better? We are considering doing Eurrail from June 5-11 since we will be flying into rome and traveling to Positano, Rome, and Trento. Thank you for any help you provide!

    1. The Swiss Pass is best for the days you want to do longer train journeys. Half tax just gives you 50% off transport. You also have to consider that the Swiss Pass also gives you 50% off most mountain transport (cable-cars, gondolas, etc) and free entry to most museums. So, if you do a lot of sightseeing in Zermatt and Interlaken/Grindelwald the Swiss Pass will help a lot.

  5. With either pass, do we have to reserve travel times for the train or can we jump on whenever we’re ready to move on to the next town?

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