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Glacier Express on the Landwasser Viaduct - Photo: Daniel Schwen






Anyone who's been to Switzerland, or even just read about it, will probably be aware of the country's incredible rail system. For such a mountainous country it's an amazing network that manages to link together so many far-flung resorts and villages that you will be unlucky if you manage to pick a resort that doesn't have a railway station.

To make the most of its network and to attract tourists to use it, the state-owned Swiss Federal Railways company (SBB CFF FFS) offers a variety of fantastic rail-passes that really help holidaymakers to get great value from using Switzerland's wonderful rail network.

Switzerland's rail passes are extremely well thought out and whilst there are some subtle differences between each of them, it does mean that there is normally a type of rail pass to suit every visitor, from the Swiss Transfer Ticket for those people who just want to get to a single resort and then stay there (e.g. skiers and snowboarders) to the full-on one month, travel-anywhere Swiss Pass.

Anyone who's previously had any confusion surrounding the differences between the various rail passes will hopefully find our guide below nice and clear...

Quick Overview of Switzerland's Rail Passes

Here's a list of all of Switzerland's rail passes and a quick overview of their main features...

Name of Rail Pass Quick Description of the Pass
Swiss Pass Unlimited travel, for a set number of consecutive days, on Switzerland's railway, bus and waterway network.
Swiss Flexi Pass Unlimited travel, for a set number of non-consecutive days, on Switzerland's railway, bus and waterway network.
Swiss Transfer Ticket Travel to and from a Swiss border railway station/airport to any Swiss destination.
Swiss Card Travel to and from a Swiss border railway station/airport to any Swiss destination, with 50% off other tickets.
Swiss Half Fare Card 50% discount off Swiss trains, buses, boats and mountain railway tickets.
Family Card Free travel for under 16s when accompanied by at least one parent holding a Swiss Travel System ticket.

Some Important Points to be aware of with all of the Swiss Rail Passes

There are a number of things you should be aware of when thinking of buying one of the passes:

  • The rail passes do not provide completely free travel on some of the small privately-owned mountain railways. See the coverage map for details of which railways aren't covered. However the rail passes do give you 50% off most of these railways.
  • The rail passes are only available to people who live outside Switzerland and Liechetenstein.
  • Whilst the rail passes may give you free travel on Panorama Routes you may still be required to pay a seat reservation charge as seats are limited in number.

Without further ado, here are the details for each of the Swiss rail passes...

Swiss Pass

The Swiss Pass is the king of the rail passes in Switzerland. It's an all-in-one ticket for use on trains, buses and boats.

Holiday-makers purchase a Swiss Pass to last for a specific amount of time.

The options are: 4 days, 8 days, 15 days, 22 days or 1 month.

Swiss Pass Key Features:

  • Unlimited travel on Switzerland's railway, bus and waterway network.
  • If you are travelling with a partner or a group then you can get the Swiss Pass at a 15% reduction (it's referred to as the Swiss Saver Pass).
  • If you are aged below 26 then you can get the Swiss Pass at a 25% reduction (it's referred to as the Swiss Youth Pass).
  • Children aged 6 to 16 can travel free if an adult has a Swiss Pass and a Family Card.
  • 50% discount off most privately-owned mountain railways.
  • Free travel on Switzerland's Panorama Routes.
  • Free travel on the public transport systems of 75 Swiss cities and town centres.
  • Free admission to more than 470 museums.

Swiss Flexi Pass

The Swiss Flexi Pass has all the advantages of the Swiss Pass but allows a traveller to use it for a selected number of days within a month.

The days don't need to be taken consecutively, so a traveller could choose a 3 day Swiss Flexi Pass and use it on any of 3 days within 1 month. This makes it ideal for tourists who are planning to visit a number of different areas within Switzerland over a longer period of time. You don't need to decide which days or where you are planning to go to until you get there - giving travellers complete freedom of travel.

The options are: 2 days, 3 days, 4 days, 5 days or 6 days within 1 month.

Swiss Flexi Pass Key Features:

  • Unlimited travel on Switzerland's railway, bus and waterway network on the days you select to use the ticket.
  • 50% off travel tickets on the other days within the one month period.
  • Children aged 6 to 16 can travel free if an adult has a Swiss Flexi Pass and a Family Card.
  • 50% discount off most privately-owned mountain railways.
  • Free travel on Switzerland's Panorama Routes.
  • Free travel on the public transport systems of 75 Swiss cities and town centres.
  • Free admission to more than 470 museums.

Swiss Transfer Ticket

The Swiss Transfer Ticket is a great option for visitors staying at a single holiday location. The holder of the ticket gets a rail journey from an airport or border railway station to the destination resort of their choice, and then back again at the end of their holiday.

The Swiss Transfer Ticket is ideal for skiing holidays.

Swiss Transfer Ticket Key Features:

  • Travel to and from a Swiss border railway station/airport.
  • Children aged 6 to 16 can travel free if an adult has a Swiss Transfer Ticket and a Family Card.
  • Swiss Transfer Tickets are valid for up to one month between the outward journey and the return.
  • Swiss Transfer Tickets cannot be bought in Switzerland, they must be purchased in a foreign country.
  • The transfer to and from the destination resort must be via the most direct route.

Swiss Card

The Swiss Card is ideal for holidaymakers who are staying in a single resort but who are thinking of doing a few excursions to other areas.

The Swiss Card has the same features as the Swiss Transfer Ticket (travel to and from Swiss border railway station/airport to your destination) but also gives you unlimited 50% discounts off train, bus, boat and mountain railway tickets during your stay.

Swiss Card Key Features:

  • Travel to and from a Swiss border railway station/airport and 50% discount off other Swiss trains, buses, boats and mountain railway tickets.
  • Children aged 6 to 16 can travel free if an adult has a Swiss Card and a Family Card.
  • Swiss Cards are valid for up to one month between the outward journey and the return.
  • The transfer to and from the destination resort must be via the most direct route.

Swiss Half Fare Card

Well, here's one rail pass that does exactly what it says on the tin !

Yes, if you are wanting rail tickets in Switzerland at half-price then the Swiss Half Fare Card is the rail pass for you !

This pass is suited to holidaymakers who are having quite a long stay in Switzerland and wanting to do some travelling around. It gives half-price travel for up to one month on Swiss trains, buses, boats and mountain railways.

Swiss Half Fare Card Key Features:

  • 50% discount off Swiss trains, buses, boats and mountain railway tickets.
  • Children aged 6 to 16 can travel free if an adult has a Swiss Half Fare Card and a Family Card.
  • Swiss Half Fare Cards are valid for up to one month from the first ticket being bought.

Family Card

The Swiss Family Card can be requested free of charge with every Swiss Travel System ticket and pass. It allows children under the of age 16 free travel when accompanied by at least one parent holding a Swiss Travel System ticket.

Family Card Key Features:

  • It's free with every Swiss Travel System ticket or pass.
  • Gives children under the age of 16 free travel when accompanied by a parent with a Swiss Travel System pass.