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Travel: How tourists can save money on rail travel in Switzerland

A train pulls into the station in Sachseln, Switzerland.  ​Photo by Frans Van Heerden from Pexels
A train pulls into the station in Sachseln, Switzerland. ​Photo by Frans Van Heerden from Pexels
Whether travelling alone or with your family, train travel is perhaps the best way to get around Switzerland. Here's how you can save.

From convenience to cleanliness – and of course punctuality – rain travel in Switzerland has an array of positives. 

It can however be expensive, particularly if you’re visiting from elsewhere and are not earning Swiss francs. 

Here are some great ways to save on rail travel if you are visiting Switzerland. 

If you are travelling in Switzerland, be sure to check out our summary on how to save money while visiting

Please note: this summary is primarily for tourists and visitors to Switzerland. If you live in Switzerland and want to save on rail travel, check out the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How to find cheap train tickets in Switzerland

Swiss Half Fare Card

Like the Supersaver, the Swiss Half Fare Card does exactly what the name suggests – it gives you a 50 percent discount when booking fares. 

These are sold on a monthly basis and costs CHF120 for adults. 

Your card will also get you a discount on Supersaver fares, making them super-half-fare-saver tickets, which is all the words you like to hear on a holiday. 

The one caveat is that the Swiss Half Fare Card is only available to people not resident in Switzerland, thereby meaning it’s most valuable for tourists and cross-border workers. 

Swiss Travel Pass 

The Swiss Travel Pass is a good way to save on rail in Switzerland, although by and large it is only useful for tourists (although it might have other applications if you travel irregularly).  

The Swiss Travel Pass gives you free travel over certain periods of time, in a similar (but not identical) way to the Eurail pass. 

It is available for 3, 4, 8 or 15 days. In addition to free travel, you’ll get entry to around 500 museums, galleries and cultural exhibitions across the country. 

In many cases, accompanying children will travel free with a Swiss Travel Pass. 

Travel: How to save money while visiting Switzerland

The Swiss Travel Pass should not be confused with the SwissPass, which is the red chip card that Swiss residents use for discounted rail. 

This is particularly confusing as before 2014, the Swiss Travel Pass was called the Swiss Pass – and some tourism operators and tourists still know it by that name. 

An SBB train speeds through the station

Use these tips to save money on train travel when visiting Switzerland. Photo by Kajetan Sumila on Unsplash

Day trips and offers

The SBB offers a number of day trips and specific offers at heavily discounted prices. 

In addition to discounted fares for the day trip, you’ll also get discounted entry to museums and other cultural venues. 

They are usually sold as a package. 

These vary and might not be exactly what you had planned on – i.e. you might need to alter your travel plans somewhat – but they cover some of the best experiences on offer in Switzerland. 

Obviously this is particularly good for tourists rather than work commuters, but in addition to the savings they can sometimes highlight a fun or interesting experience that you might have otherwise missed. 

Public transport is cheaper – and often a better way to see the sights

For visitors from the US, Australia and plenty of other countries, the first instinct is often to rent a car while on holiday. 

While that can be easier – especially with kids – it will end up more expensive and will often deprive you of the best sights. 

In cities, public transport is actually quite reasonable – and will save you the inevitable stress of parking. 

READ MORE: What is actually ‘cheap’ in Switzerland?

In Zurich, a 24-hour ticket starts at CHF5.40, in Basel it will cost CHF9.90 while in Geneva it’ll set you back CHF10. 

In Bern, you will get a free public transport ticket for your entire stay with your tourist accommodation, which includes “the famous Gurten funicular, the funicular Marzilibahn, and the elevator to the Minster terrace, as well as travel to and from Bern Airport.”

In fact, many of Switzerland’s stunning gondolas, funiculars and cableways are counted as public transport, meaning they’re a great way to see some spectacular sights on the cheap. 

Many other towns and villages have similar cards, so be sure to do your research before you go. 

When travelling further afield, tickets on public transport through the mountains are also surprisingly reasonable. 

The Swiss Travel Pass gives you unlimited travel by train bus and boat for three days for CHF232. 

Better yet, the three days are out of a total of 15 days, so you don’t need to take them consecutively. 

You’ll also get free admission to museums and a range of mountain excursions, as well as a range of other discounts and bonuses. 


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