When you want to travel by train in Switzerland, your best option is the Swiss Travel Pass. This travel pass covers all forms of travel (Swiss trains, buses, trams and boats) in Switzerland for a variety of different timeframes.
So, if you want some flexibility in your travels through Switzerland then the Swiss Travel Pass is the perfect travel pass for you.
You can choose from a range of travel times from 3, 4, 6, 8 or 15 days. And on those days you can travel for “free” using any form of transport except for most mountain gondolas and cable cars.
Now, if you think that is the perfect way to travel around Switzerland for you, then read on for more details.
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Pros And Cons Of A Swiss Travel Pass
A Swiss Travel Pass has a boatload of benefits but also some cons. So, before making a decision about this travel pass you should check out the pros and cons below.
Swiss Travel Pass Pros
There are so many benefits to the Swiss Travel Pass it is hard to list them all. Here are the main ones:
- unlimited travel by train, bus, and boat
- unlimited travel on most panoramic trains (eg. Glacier Express, GoldenPass)
- unlimited use of public transportation in over 90 cities & towns and cities
- 500 museums you can enter for free (and a few discounted)
- free travel on these mountains: Mount Rigi, Stanserhorn and Stoos
- 50% off travel on many popular mountains
- children under 6 travel free
- children between 6 and 16 travel free if they get a Swiss Family Card
Swiss Travel Pass Cons
There are also some downsides you should be aware of. And although most are not a big deal, it pays to be informed about travel in Switzerland before you go. Here are some cons I think you should know:
- Many mountain trains and cable cars are not included, and they are expensive
- It only makes sense to use the Swiss Travel Pass on big trips (otherwise buy the ticket separately)
- The exact number of days you need might be complicated to work out (you might over- or underpay)
- The Swiss Travel Pass is expensive (but if you use it correctly it will save you lots of money)
- You will need to pay for smaller trips when you are not using the Swiss Travel Pass (if you choose Flex)
Swiss Travel Pass Prices
Of course, you want to know the the Swiss Travel Pass costs. Here is a breakdown of the pass by number of days and classes.
Swiss Travel Pass
The standard Swiss Travel pass is valid on consecutive days of travel. This means your pass is valid for this many days from when you use it. You cannot pause it.
2nd class (CHF)
|1st class (CHF)|
Swiss Travel Pass Flex
The Swiss Travel Pass Flex is a more flexible option, but also a little more expensive. You can use it for specific days of travel within a one month period, from the start date you specify. So, if you only plan to travel large stretches on specific days of your trip then this is the option for you.
|Days in 1 Month||2nd class (CHF)||1st class (CHF)|
Swiss Travel Pass Youth
The Swiss Travel Pass Youth is for under 25-year-olds. You get the same Swiss Travel Pass with the same benefits only at a 30% discount.
Here are the prices for the Swiss Travel Pass Youth:
|Days in 1 Month||2nd class (CHF)||1st class (CHF)|
Panoramic Trains Included in the Swiss Travel Pass
As the Swiss Travel Pass includes almost all public transport in Switzerland, you might be wondering what panoramic train rides are included too. There are certainly quite a lot, so it is hard to list them all, but here are the main panoramic trains you can ride while using your Swiss Travel Pass:
- Glacier Express
- Golden Pass Line
- Bernina Express
- Gotthard Panorama Express
- Rigi Cogwheel Train
Free Museums With The Swiss Travel Pass
I have created a post listing many of the best free museums you get access to with the Swiss Travel Pass, as there are around 500 of them. This means that many of the things you want to visit and would otherwise spend money on while traveling in Switzerland are also free with the Swiss pass. Just to give you an idea of what is included here are a few:
- Landesmuseum in Zürich
- FIFA Museum
- Olympic Museum in Lausanne
- Matterhorn Museum in Zermatt
- Château de Chillon (Castle) in Montreux
- Maison Cailler in Broc (Chocolate tour)
- Museum Tinguely in Basel
- The Castles in Bellinzona
Swiss Travel Pass Cancellation Policy
It is possible to cancel your Swiss Travel Pass before the first day of usage.
If you have already started using your Swiss Travel Pass, you may be eligible for a partial refund:
- in the case of accident or illness (with supporting documents)
- If you return it to the place of purchase
- if you return it to an SBB railway office
There are no guarantees of refunds, however, if you have not used it for the full time you paid for, just go to your local SBB railway office wherever you are in Switzerland and see what they can do for you. In my experience over 20 years, they are usually very helpful and will do whatever is possible within the rules.
Swiss Travel Pass versus SwissPass
The SwissPass is a digital public transport card used by locals in Switzerland while the Swiss Travel Pass is a pass meant for tourists and travelers. The SwissPass is the basis for purchasing tickets on public transport while the Swiss Travel Pass offers free travel on all public transport and discounts on most mountain transport.
Frequently Asked Questions
How To Activate the Swiss Travel Pass?
There is no specific activation of the Swiss Travel Pass. It is valid from the date you choose when you purchase the pass. However, for Swiss Travel Pass Flex users you do have to activate the individual dates on the app or website using a login you have to organize on the site.
Can you buy the Swiss Travel Pass in Switzerland?
Yes, you can buy the Swiss Travel Pass inside Switzerland. You can make the purchase at any Swiss railway station office. The only limitation is that you cannot be a Swiss resident.
In practical terms, this means that when you arrive in Switzerland at, say, the Zurich Airport, you can go straight to the SBB railway ticket counter and get the Swiss Pass there. The only disadvantage is the waiting time in line.
What is not included in the Swiss Travel Pass?
The Swiss Travel Pass does not include travel on the majority of mountain railways and cable cars. There are a couple included like Rigi and Stanserhorn, however, for the rest you get a discount of 25-50%.
Is it cheaper to buy a Swiss Travel Pass in advance?
This Swiss Travel Pass is the same price if you buy it ahead of time or when you arrive in Switzerland. However, there are sometimes discounts on the Swiss Travel Pass website many months in advance. This is not predictable or on every pass type though.
Can you get a refund on the Swiss Travel Pass?
Normally, you can only get a full refund on the Swiss Travel Pass when you cancel one day before or earlier. You must do so at the same place as you purchased the ticket.
If you are already using the Swiss Travel Pass, the only way to get a refund is if you provide proof of illness or accident to a Swiss Railway ticket office in person.