Buy tickets for trains in Germany

Switzerland by train.  There's no check-in, you walk straight from the city centre into the station, glance at the indicator board to find your train & hop on, any time before departure...

 
Check Swiss train times & buy print-at-home tickets at Swiss Railways www.sbb.ch...

For international trains to or from Switzerland, see here.

 

Swiss tickets, Swiss Passes & Swiss Transfer Tickets explained...

Swiss trains run like clockwork, so they say...  And they pretty much do.  The whole of Switzerland is covered by a frequent, punctual and efficient integrated train network that's really easy to use.  In most cases you can just turn up, buy a ticket and hop on.  Swiss Federal Railways (= SBB in German, CFF in French or FFS in Italian) runs most mainline trains, but there are many smaller private operators running local & regional routes.

Train travel within Switzerland...

  Swiss train times, fares & how to buy tickets

  Map of the Swiss rail network - download a PDF map

  Swiss Pass, Swiss Transfer Ticket, Half Fare Card - explained!

  What are Swiss trains like?

  Travel tips: Luggage, food & drink, bikes, dogs, 1st class lounges...

  Useful country information: Time zone, currency, dialling code...

  Recommended guidebooks

  Hotels & accommodation in Switzerland

Swiss scenic trains...

  The Bernina Express - Switzerland's most scenic train?

  The Glacier Express - Another candidate for most scenic train!

  The Golden Pass route - scenic route Montreux-Interlaken-Lucerne

  The Jungfraubahn - up the Jungfrau to the Top of Europe...

International train travel to & from Switzerland...

  Train travel from the UK to Switzerland

  Train travel to Switzerland from other European cities

  Train travel from Switzerland to other European cities

  TGV-Lyria high-speed trains between Paris & Switzerland

Train travel information on other pages...

  Train seat numbering plans

  Luggage on trainsLeft luggage at stations

  Eurail passes &  InterRail passes

  General European train travel information

  Taking bikes   Taking dogs   Taking your car - Motorail


Useful country information

Train operator in Switzerland:

SBB-CFF-FFS (Swiss Federal Railways) & many private operators.

For train times & fares within Switzerland see www.sbb.chMap of the Swiss rail network.  Eurostar times & fares: www.eurostar.com.  All European train times: www.bahn.de

 

 

   

 

Swiss railpasses:

 

Buy Swiss Travel Passes - See the advice here

Swiss transfer ticket:

 

Swiss Transfer Ticket (one round trip from point of entry to any Swiss destination, see the advice here)

International railpasses:

 

Beginner's guide to European railpasses

Time zone:

GMT+1 (GMT+2 from last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

Dialling code:

 

+41

Currency:

£1 = 1.26 Swiss Francs, $1 = 1.01 Swiss Francs  Check exchange rates

Tourist information:

www.myswitzerland.com    Escorted tours to the Alps by train

Hotels in Switzerland:

Find hotels in Switzerland.   Reviews:  www.tripadvisor.com  Backpacker hostels:  www.hostelworld.com

Page last updated:

2 January 2017.


Swiss train times, fares & tickets

Do you need to buy tickets in advance?

How to check train times & prices and buy tickets online...

Regular fares...

Supersaver fares...

Another possible way to save money on Swiss train fares...


Swiss Pass, Transfer Ticket, Half Fare Card...

   

What are they & should you buy one?  If so, which one?  Let me explain...

Switzerland is one of the few remaining European countries where relatively expensive point-to-point rail fares and the lack of compulsory reservations & supplements makes railpasses both good value and convenient.  You can buy your passes online from the Switzerland Travel Centre, a subsidiary of Swiss Federal Railways.  The Swiss Travel System people can also make the seat reservations necessary for the few panoramic sightseeing trains that require them, such as the Glacier Express or Bernina Express.  But I'm often asked if a pass makes sense, or to help people decide between a Swiss Transfer Ticket, Swiss Travel Pass or Swiss Half Fare card.

(1)  The Swiss Transfer ticket:  Your transfer within Switzerland on arrival & departure...

 

(2)  The Swiss Travel Pass & Travel Pass Flex:  Unlimited travel during your stay...

(3)  The Swiss Half Fare cardHalf-price train travel in Switzerland for a month...


What are Swiss trains like?

Classic Swiss InterCity (IC) or InterRegional (IR) trains ....

Classic Swiss InterCity train
     
Swiss InterCity train, 2nd class   Swiss InterCity train, 1st class

2nd class seats...

 

1st class seats.  What you see is all you get, nothing more.

Double-deck InterCity (IC) trains...

2nd class seats on double-deck Swiss InterCity train   Double-decker Swiss InterCity train

You'll find double-deck InterCity trains on various routes, with 1st & 2nd class sections on both upper & lower decks and a restaurant or cafe car.  I recommend an upper deck seat for the best views - the stairs are shallow and easy, even with luggage, and there are luggage stacks both upstairs and downstairs.  You'll find these double-deck trains on many IC routes including Zurich-Bern-Lausanne-Geneva, Zurich-Bern-Spiez-Brig, Zurich-Lucerne, Basel-Zurich-Chur.

Pendolino tilting InterCity (IC) trains...

Swiss pendolino (ICN) train   Seats on a Swiss ICN tilting train

These ICN Pendolino trains can tilt, enabling them to go round curves faster than normal trains.  They have cut journey times on several curvaceous Swiss InterCity routes.  Designed by Pininfarina, they feature a restaurant car and can reach 200km/h (125mph) although they don't often reach that speed in service.  You'll find these trains operating IC trains on these routes Geneva-Basel, Geneva-Zurich, Lausanne-Basel, Lausanne-Zurich, Basel-Lucerne-Lugano-Chiasso and Zurich-Lugano-Chiasso.

Swiss private operators...

Local train on the Matterhorn-Gotthard Bahn   Local train on the Rhatische Bahn

Swiss local trains are run by SBB or a plethora of local private operators.  The trains come in all shapes & sizes, some old, some new.  Above left, a local train run by Matterhorn-Gotthard Bahn (MGB) on the Brig-Zermatt line.  Above right, a train from St Moritz to Chur run by the Rhätische Bahn (RhB).  Expect the seats to look very similar to the classic SBB IC/IR train shown above.

Seat numbering plans: Click here...

You'll find seat numbering plans for European trains on the Train seat numbering page.


Travel tips...


Swiss scenic trains...

The Bernina Express:  See the Bernina Express page

The Glacier Express:  See the Glacier Express page

The Jungfrau Bahn See the Jungfraubahn page

The Golden Pass Line Montreux - Lucerne...

This is a mainly narrow-gauge route from Montreux to Lucerne via the well-known ski resort of Gstaad.  It's slower than using mainline trains between Montreux, but very scenic and marketed to tourists as the Golden Pass route.  It's actually three separate trains, all connecting with each other and each run by a different private operator:  Montreux to Zweisimmen by the Montreux-Oberland Bernois Railway (metre gauge), Zweisimmen to Interlaken on the Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon (BLS) Railway (standard gauge) and Interlaken to Lucerne on the Brunig Railway operated by the Zentralbahn (metre gauge).  As with other tourist trains, reservation is necessary if you want to travel in the panoramic tourists cars on the key departures, but regular trains run frequently over the same route and these need no prior reservation.

The website for the joint service is www.goldenpass.ch.  But I find it easier to find Montreux-Lucerne Golden Pass times using the journey planner at www.sbb.ch - just make sure you put 'Zweisimmen' in the via box, click 'advanced options' and put Interlaken Ost in the second via box before running the enquiry.  Then it will find journeys with 2 changes via this slower scenic Golden Pass route, rather than the faster mainline route.

Seats on a Golden Pass train   Golden Pass panoramic train

Panoramic car on the Montreux-Zweisimmen section of the Golden Pass route.

Gornergrat, Matterhorn, Mt. Pilatus, Mt. Titlis, Schilthorn...

If you live in the UK, you can buy excursion tickets up these mountains here:  www.swisstravelsystem.com


Guidebooks

Click to buy - Lonely Planet Western EuropeRough Guide to Switzerland - buy online at Amazon.co.ukLonely Planet Switzerland - buy online at Amazon.co.ukInvest in a good guidebook, even in the age of the internet.  For the independent traveller, I think this means either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  Both guidebooks provide the same excellent level of practical information and historical background. You won't regret buying one!

Click the images to buy at Amazon.co.uk

Alternatively, you can download just the chapters or areas you need in .PDF format from the Lonely Planet Website, from around £2.99 or US$4.95 a chapter.


Tours of Switzerland by train

 

Custom-made tours of Switzerland by train...

If you want to tour Switzerland by train, with all your train tickets and hotels sorted for you to your own specification, contact train tour specialists Railbookers and they'll create the best rail holiday for you, hassle-free.  Unlike some overseas travel agents, they really do know all about train travel in Italy and right across Europe, and they know some excellent hotels, too.  They take good care of their clients and it's not surprising they get a lot of repeat business, so I have no hesitation in recommending them.

  UK call 020 3327 0761, www.railbookers.co.uk

  US call free 1-888-829-4775, see website.

  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, see website.

  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, see website

  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website.


Find hotels anywhere in Switzerland

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Personal recommendations...

Backpacker hostels: www.hostelworld.com...

www.hostelworld.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in Paris and most other European cities at rock-bottom prices.


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