Swiss Travel Pass 2017 review: Is it good value or not?

InterlakenViewWhen it comes to city passes and travel cards, it’s usually fairly easy to figure out whether they would be worth it for you or not. For things like the Paris Pass or London Pass, they have a list of the most popular attractions and how much they cost, right there for you to see. The Swiss Travel Pass, however, is shrouded in mystery, or at least it was until I spent several days tracking down all of the prices and benefits.

A great many of the visitors and commenters on my popular page about where to go in Switzerland on a short visit are wondering whether the Swiss Travel Pass is a good deal. Embarrassingly, I’ve always had to answer that I found the pass too confusing to confidently advise people on. Now that has all changed, after literally days of research.

The Swiss Travel Pass seems quite expensive at first, so it felt like it might be hard to get your money’s worth out of it. As it turns out, it’s pretty easy to get good value, and it’ll be a good deal for many visitors.

Is the Swiss Travel Pass a good deal? Here’s the short version

CogwheelTrainIf you plan on taking at least 2 of Switzerland’s famous scenic train rides within a 3 or 4-day period, a Swiss Travel Pass can easily pay for itself. If you take 3 or 4 scenic train rides, as well as use the pass for a 50% discount on one or more of the famous cable cars such as Schilthorn or 25% off the mountain train up to Jungfraujoch, the pass is definitely worth it.

The bottom line is that the scenery, train journeys, and cable car rides in Switzerland are stunning and not found anywhere else in the world. They are also quite expensive if you pay for them one at a time. So no matter how you visit Switzerland, you are going to be paying quite a bit, or skipping the absolute best things that you’ve come there to see.

With good planning it’s quite easy to get great value out of a Swiss Travel Pass, but it might be a poor choice for those who don’t like to plan ahead. You can easily do a scenic train ride and a cable car in the same day, and still have time to do a scenic hike in the process.

Consider the Swiss Half-Fare Card instead

If you AREN’T going to be doing two or more of the long (and expensive) scenic train trips, you will get much better value out of the Swiss Half-Fare Card, which is explained a bit below.

Is a Swiss Travel Pass right for you?

GimmelwaldCowDetermining whether a Swiss Travel Pass is a good deal for you is simply a matter of figuring out which of the scenic rail and cable car journeys you plan on doing while in Switzerland, and seeing whether the price of the pass will cover the benefits. Below in this article you’ll see a long list of every one of the most expensive and most popular scenic journeys and cable cars, along with how much they cost without the pass, and how much you can save.

Most people only visit Switzerland for 5 or 6 days at most, so the 3-day and 4-day passes are the ones to focus on. But if you are staying for 8 days or more, those longer passes are almost certainly a great deal for you.

Long story short, if you plan on doing 2 of the more expensive scenic trains and the Jungfraujoch railway or the Schilthorn cable car, then the pass will save you money. Switzerland is expensive, but it’s worth it, and the travel pass can help make it a bit more affordable.

What the Swiss Travel Pass includes

  • Free rail travel on normal trains and most scenic trains
  • Discounted travel (about 50%) on popular tourist mountain trains
  • Discounted travel (about 50%) on popular tourist cable cars
  • Free travel on public transport in 75 towns and cities
  • Free entry to around 500 museums in Switzerland

The Swiss Travel Pass covers the fare on the most popular scenic and panoramic trains. You can choose a normal seat in a regular carriage for no additional cost, but there is a supplement of CHF8 to CHF49 for a reserved seat in one of the special panorama carriages on these routes.

Prices of the 2017 Swiss Travel Pass

1st Class

  • Adult 3-day Pass: CHF351
  • Youth (4 to 25) 3-day Pass: 176
  • Adult 4-day Pass: 421
  • Youth (4 to 25) 4-day Pass: 211
  • Adult 8-day Pass: 608
  • Youth (4 to 25) 8-day Pass: 304
  • Adult 15-day Pass: 737
  • Youth (4 to 25) 15-day Pass: 369

2nd Class

  • Adult 3-day Pass: CHF220
  • Youth (4 to 25) 3-day Pass: 111
  • Adult 4-day Pass: 263
  • Youth (16 to 25) 4-day Pass: 132
  • Adult 8-day Pass: 380
  • Youth (16 to 25) 8-day Pass: 190
  • Adult 15-day Pass: 461
  • Youth (16 to 25) 15-day Pass: 231

Where to buy the Swiss Travel Pass

>>>Buy the Swiss Travel Pass online

The Swiss Half-Fare Card – A better option for many visitors

Far less confusing than the Swiss Travel Pass, you can instead get a Swiss Half-Fare Card, and it will be a better deal for many travelers. The price is lower and it’s much easier to do the math, and the discounts are greater on some things as well.

  • Swiss Half-Fare Card for 30 days: Adults – CHF120 or US$122

What you get:

Those who buy the Swiss Half-Fare Card will get 50% discount on all trains, buses, and boats in Switzerland for up to 30 days, as well as 50% off all public transportation in 75 cities and towns.

>>>Buy the Swiss Half-Fare Card

Why the Half-Fare Card is a better deal for many

While the Swiss Travel Pass is a great deal for those doing many of the expensive scenic journeys and mountain sights within a few days, it’s not good value for those who are doing fewer of the expensive trips and/or those who are staying longer. Also, the Swiss Travel Pass only provides a 25% discount on the amazing Jungfraujoch Railway, which costs between CHF120 and CHF205 return depending on your starting point, while the Half-Fare Card provides a 50% discount.

The math is simple as well. You can just add up the cost of the trains, boats, and buses you’ll be taking while in Switzerland, and if the total is more than CHF240 or so, the Half-Fare Card will save you money.

Example itinerary:

  • Zurich to Interlaken train (2nd Class): CHF50
  • Schilthorn Cable Car: CHF105
  • Jungfraujoch railway from Interlaken: CHF205
  • Interlaken to Lucerne train (2nd Class): CHF33
  • Mt Rigi roundtrip from Lucerne: CHF84
  • Engelberg (near Lucerne) to Mt. Titlis Cable Car: CHF92
  • Lucerne to Zurich train (2nd Class): CHF25

Total per person: CHF594
Total with Half-Fare Card (including price of card): CHF417

It would be tough to do all of those things in 4 days, although it is possible. If you bought a 4-day Swiss Travel Pass here is how it adds up:

4-Day Swiss Travel Pass: CHF259
Supplements for Schilthorn, Jungfraujoch, and Mt. Titlis: CHF252.25
Total cost: CHF511.25

Bottom line on the Swiss Half-Fare Card

Since the Half-Fare Card lasts 30 days and provides a larger discount on Jungfraujoch, it is better value for visitors who want to include that scenic top-of-Europe rail journey on their trip. The discounts also add up more quickly on Schilthorn and Mt. Titlis trips, just to name two examples, and you don’t have to take many longer rail journeys to get value out of the Half-Fare Card.

Popular Swiss panorama scenic trains

ScheideggViewThe 5 train routes listed below are the best and most popular of Switzerland’s scenic train routes. With a Swiss Travel Pass, you can ride for free in normal carriages or pay a small supplement for a reserved seat in one of the special Panorama carriages. If you are going to do one of these as a journey unto itself, the Panorama carriages are highly recommended, and worth the supplement.

  • Glacier Express
  • Route: Zermatt to St. Moritz
  • Train type: Panorama
  • Journey time: 8 hours 3 minutes
  • Distance: 291km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF298
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF170
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 13 to 33 for panorama carriage
  • Bernina Express
  • Route: Chur to Tirano and Lugano
  • Train type: Panorama and bus
  • Journey time: 4 hours 13 minutes and 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Distance: 148km and 90km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF138
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF88
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 10 to 14 for panorama carriage
  • GoldenPass Line
  • Route: Lucerne to Montreaux
  • Train type: Panorama
  • Journey time: 5 hours 8 minutes
  • Distance: 191 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF125
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF71
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 8 to 15 for panorama carriage
  • Gotthard Panorama Express (formerly Wilhelm Tell Express)
  • Route: Lugano or Locarno to Lucerne
  • Train type: Panorama and boat
  • Journey time: 5 hours 21 minutes
  • Distance: 182 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF197
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF115
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 39 to 49 for panorama carriage
  • Swiss Chocolate Train
  • Route: Montreux to Broc round trip
  • Train type: Panorama or First Class
  • Journey time: X hours X minutes
  • Distance: 82 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF89
  • 2nd Class fare: N/A
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 39

Popular Swiss scenic and theme trains

The scenic trains below are also extremely popular as sightseeing journeys rather than just as transportation, but can be used as both.

  • Jungfraujoch round trip
  • Route: Interlaken to Jungfraujoch
  • Train type: special mountain train
  • Journey time: 4 hours 41 minutes, round trip, plus time on top
  • Distance: 73 km
  • 1st Class fare: N/A
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF204.40
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 128 (so, a saving of CHF76.40)
  • Gornergrat Railway
  • Route: Gornergrat Railway
  • Train type: Cog railway
  • Journey time: 44 minutes return
  • Distance: 10 km
  • 1st Class fare: N/A
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF90
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 45
  • Rigi round trip
  • Route: Lucerne to Rigi
  • Train type: Cog railway
  • Journey time: 3 hours 25 minutes, plus time at the top
  • Distance: 58 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF84.40
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF74
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: None (this one is free with the pass)
  • Mt Rigi Excursion (one-way and walk down)
  • Route: Lucerne to Mt Rigi
  • Train type: cogwheel train and/or cable car
  • Journey time: 45 minutes up
  • 1st Class fare: N/A
  • 2nd Class fare: 50
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 0
  • Lotschberg Mountain Route and Centrovalli
  • Route: Bern to Locarno
  • Train type: Narrow gauge
  • Journey time: 4 hours 40 minutes
  • Distance: 212 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF158
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF90
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 5
  • Jura round trip (Watchmaking Tour)
  • Route: Neuchatel through Jura
  • Train type: Regular
  • Journey time: 3 hours 0 minutes
  • Distance: 143 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF168
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF108
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 0
  • Pre-Alpine Express
  • Route: St. Gallen to Lucerne
  • Train type: Regular
  • Journey time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Distance: 146 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF83
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF47
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 0
  • Jura Foot Line
  • Route: Basel to Geneva
  • Train type: Regular
  • Journey time: 2 hours 40 minutes
  • Distance: 248 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF132
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF75
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 0
  • Lavaux-Simplon-Centrovalli Line (Wine Route)
  • Route: Geneva to Brig to Locarno
  • Train type: Regular
  • Journey time: 5 hours 20 minutes
  • Distance: 317 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF132
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF75
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 0
  • Three City Line
  • Route: Lucerne to Zurich to Chur
  • Train type: Regular
  • Journey time: 2 hours 1 minutes
  • Distance: 174 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF69
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF59
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 0

Popular Switzerland cable car rides

CableCarThese are the two most popular cable car rides to obvservation peaks in central Switzerland. The Swiss Travel Pass offers a 50% or more discount, but not the whole fare.

  • Schilthorn
  • Route: Stechelberg (Lauterbrunnen) to Schilthorn
  • Train type: cable car
  • Journey time: 1 hour
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF112
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 40
  • Engelberg to Mt. Titlis cable car
  • Route: Engelberg to Mt. Titlis
  • Train type: cable car
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF92
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 46

Popular general train line routes for tourists to Switzerland

LauterbrunnenTrainThe following train routes are the ones that most tourists to Switzerland will be using. They are all free with a Swiss Travel Pass.

Note: In some cases, a Supersaver fare might be available, which can be a savings of up to 50% off the regular fare. However, they are for a fixed journey at an off-peak time, and they are non-changeable and non-refundable.

  • Basel to Zurich (for trips to or from Paris)
  • 1st Class fare: CHF58
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF33
  • Geneva to Zurich
  • 1st Class fare: CHF153
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF87
  • Bern to Zurich
  • 1st Class fare: CHF88
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF50
  • Zurich to Interlaken
  • 1st Class fare: CHF88
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF50
  • Zurich to Lucerne
  • 1st Class fare: CHF44
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF25
  • Bern to Interlaken
  • 1st Class fare: CHF49
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF28
  • Bern to Lucerne
  • 1st Class fare: CHF67
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF38
  • Interlaken to Zermatt
  • 1st Class fare: CHF142
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF81
  • Lucerne to Lugano
  • 1st Class fare: CHF105
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF60

The Swiss Travel Pass also includes free museum admission, but…

SchilthornViewWhile it’s true that the Swiss Travel Pass includes free admission to around 500 museums all over Switzerland, it’s probably best to just ignore that when you are determining whether to buy a pass or not. Most of the included museums cost between CHF5 and CHF10 without the pass, although a few are closer to CHF20.

The problem is that the museums are only free on valid travel days, and almost no one would visit more than one or two museums with a Swiss Travel Pass. The trains and cable cars are so expensive that the pass gives very good value to cover those, so you don’t want to waste precious sightseeing time walking through a museum that only costs CHF10 anyway.

In other words, calculate the value of a Swiss Travel Pass on the travel savings only, and if you visit a museum here or there, then great. Most people are better off trying to squeeze in an additional train ride each day, and ignoring the museums. Switzerland is all about the outdoor scenery. As nice as the museums may be, they are not why you are there.

The pass includes free public transport in most Swiss cities

Similar to the free museum part of the offer, it’s best to ignore or minimize the value of free public transportation. It could be helpful in Zurich, but in most other Swiss tourist towns you won’t need much public transport. In fact, in Interlaken, each hotel or hostel guest automatically gets a card for free public transportation within the town (including between the two train stations).

So you might use a ride or two each day on public transport, but that won’t add up to much in terms of value of your Swiss Travel Pass.

Where to buy the Swiss Travel Pass

>>>Buy the Swiss Travel Pass online

122 Responses to “Swiss Travel Pass 2017 review: Is it good value or not?”

anne Pounds says:

At your website, the price for an 8-day Swissflexipass is $363 per person. When Iclick on the link to RailEurope, the price jumped up to $429 per person. Why? I have not found the sme price twice, and every time I go to a website, the price seems to go up. I need help!

    Roger Wade says:


    For one thing, this site lists prices in Swiss francs (CHF) and Rail Europe shows them in US dollars for US citizens. Still, those currencies are similar so that only accounts for about US$15 of the difference. It appears that Rail Europe (which is owned by the French and Swiss railways) adds in the service charge early in the process, while on the main site they add it in later. Try another site and hopefully you can find a lower price. I’ll look into this. -Roger

SylviaJ says:

Hi Roger, would appreciate your input on my trip planner.

Basically, my mum and I will be based in Lauterbrunnen for 4 nights, we’ll be coming from Salzburg. Ideally we’d like to take a day trip to Lucerne besides sightseeing in Murren, Gimmelwald and Schilthorn.

I’m probably getting too overwhelmed with flows of information and cannot seem to work out which Pass to purchase. I thought about purchasing 4dys Jungfrau/Schilthorn Holiday Pass and then pay single tickets for all other destinations.

In your opinion, would you recommend I purchase combined passes of Half Fare Pass & Holiday Pass or stick with above plan.
thank you in advance!


Zhi Hao says:

Hi there,

Me and my wife will be travelling to Switzerland for 5 days 4 nights, but not sure which pass (swiss travel pass or half fare travel pass) we should get for better deal. Below are our itinerary:

Day 1 – Zurich airport – Interlaken Ost

Day 2 – Interlaken Ost – Murren – Gimmelwald – Lauterbrunnen – Interlaken

Day 3 – Interlaken Ost – Jungfraujoch – Interlaken Ost

Day 4 – Interlaken Ost – Lucerne

Day 5 – Lucerne- Zurich airport

Thanks a lot for the advise. 🙂

    Roger Wade says:


    For the train journeys on your list, just buying tickets as you go will be your best option. The Swiss Travel Passes are really only good value for people who want to do at least two of the long scenic rail journeys. Jungfraujoch is a private railway and you could get a discount for that, but not a free ride. And all your others are fairly short (2 hours or less) normal train rides. The fares in Switzerland aren’t exactly cheap, but they are always the same price and the distances are mostly short so they aren’t too expensive either.

    The cable car from Lauterbrunnen up to Murren is only about CHF10 each way. If you want to go all the way up to Schilthorn and the observation deck, it’s around CHF150 return, and it’s highly recommended and worthwhile if the weather at the top is good. But even on that, you also only get a discount with the Swiss Pass.

    If you are sure of your travel days you can check the website for the train fares. In some cases they’ll show a “supersaver” price that is about half the normal price, but those are rare. Otherwise, just buying the tickets as you go will be the cheapest way. The trip is going to be amazing and the trains are incredibly nice, so it doesn’t feel like a ripoff when you are there. Have a great trip. -Roger

Steven says:

Hello there,

Me and my partner are intending to travel to Switzerland in mid Feb next year and the good thing here is Australia promoting 8 days Swiss Pass plus 2 bonus days free so we have 10 days/9 nights and going to take advantage of it and this is the following intinerary we plan to do and I would like to ask your comment of what you think of it?

Feb. 13 – Arrival Zurich Airport 10 AM, transfer to Lucerne, check -in at hotel and then Mt. Rigi excursion, overnight in Lucerne
Feb. 14 – Excursion to Mt. Titlis (morning) and Mt. Pilatus (afternoon), overnight in Lucerne
Feb. 15 – Transfer from Lucerne to Interlaken Ost in early morning, check-in at hotel, then Schilthorn excursion, overnight in Interlaken Ost
Feb. 16 – Transfer from Interlaken to Montreux via Golden Pass. Promenade and Water Castle, possibly Roche de Naye. overnight in Montreux
Feb. 17 – Transfer from Montreux to Zermatt, rest of day at leisure, overnight in Zermatt
Feb. 18 – Excursion to Gornergrat and Glacier Paradise, overnight in Zermatt
Feb. 19 – Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz, overnight in St. Moritz
Feb. 20 – Transfer from St. Moritz to Appenzell, overnight in Appenzell
Feb. 21 – Transfer from Appenzell to Zurich. Check in hotel & drop baggage. Visit Berne for the day. Overnight in Zurich
Feb. 22 – Sightseeing in Zurich. Flight back home in the evening for 7pm

Thank you once again and great blog you have =)


    Roger Wade says:


    Thank you. Your itinerary looks fantastic and filled with nearly every highlight in Switzerland that I am aware of, except for perhaps Jungfraujoch. Since you have enough time to do all of this, and you will be doing so many of the more expensive scenic train rides and attractions, the Swiss Travel Pass will be a great deal for you. I envy this trip and I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic time. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Steven says:

Hi Roger

Thank you very much! I would love to do the Jungfraujoch like you said but unfortunately, as you can see they are filled pretty full, and i have to choose one or the other, can’t do both so maybe will go next time!

Oh sorry Roger for envying me because i thought you had been there before! But I beieve you will have this chance later on so hopefully this day will come to you soon =)

Thanks once again



    Roger Wade says:


    I understand that you can’t do it all. And I have been to almost all of the places on your list. It’s just that Switzerland is one of those places where you can go back again and again and enjoy it each time. Have a great trip. -Roger

Jeannie says:

Hello Roger,

First thing first, thank you for such a generous blog! It answered most of my questions. I just wanted to share our itinerary to get your expert advice.

Aug 13th – landing in Geneva and spending the night in Montreux
Aug 14th – take the Golden Pass train from Montreux to Interlaken and transferring to Gimmelwald
Aug 15th – Staying in Gimmelwald & exploring the area
Aug 16th–Schilthorn
Aug 17th – reaching Lucerne – spending the day exploring Lucerne
Aug 18th – Taking the day trip to Mt.Titlis
Aug 19 – reaching Bern
Aug 20th – catching the train to Paris rom Bern

Most of the time people are starting their journey from east and going to west where as we are landing in Geneva and then trying to make our way to Bern. We still have to decide which Travel pass to go for. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

    Roger Wade says:


    Thank you for the kind words. Your itinerary looks fantastic and very well balanced. Montreaux has a gorgeous location so it should be a nice quick stop.

    One comment I’ll make is that as long as the weather is clear, which it usually is in August, then you can easily do Schilthorn and the walking tour of Gimmelwald and Murren in the same day. If you are staying in Gimmelwald then it takes about 60 minutes to be up top of Schilthorn. Even if you have lunch there (the revolving restaurant has normal prices and good food in spite of the amazing location), and you spend 30 minutes in the James Bond attraction, you can be back in Murren by 2pm. You can spend two hours walking around that town and then 15 minutes walking down the hill to Gimmelwald. Gimmelwald itself is a gorgeous place that you’ll never forget, but you can literally walk the whole town in 20 minutes. It will be nice to walk around and see it before having dinner at one of the restaurants up there. After that, you’ve seen the whole area and you could spend the other day exploring something else in the Lauterbrunnen or Interlaken area.

    As for the Swiss Travel Pass, it looks like you are borderline for it being good value. If you add another train ride or the Jungfraujoch train, it’s probably good value. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      Jeannie says:

      Fantastic :-)! Thank you for the valuable and quick response :-)!
      We are going to take your advice and combine the activities for Aug 15th & 16th into one day and do Jungfraujoch on Aug 16th. I still have one question though, Should we go in for the Golden Pass train while going from Interlaken to Lucerne or just stick to the normal train?


        Roger Wade says:


        If you are referring to the special panoramic carriages, they are nice but the normal carriages are also really nice and the views are great from them as well. If you can get a reservation for a special carriage it would be fantastic, though I’m not sure how much extra they are worth. Have a great trip. -Roger

Meenakshi says:

Hello Roger, this is really a nice blog. I can plan a good trip now. Me and my friend will be reaching Geneva airport on 2nd Dec afternoon and our return flight from Geneva is on 4th dec, evening.
Can you please assist us in planning what best we can see in this short period?
Also, please suggest should we buy Swiss travel pass then or not?

    Roger Wade says:


    If you only have two days I’d definitely recommend spending them in the Interlaken area, as mentioned in the article above. Many of the hotels in the Gimmelwald and Murren area are closed until the snow season begins in mid December, but some will still be open. If the weather is clear you should go up to Schilthorn or do the Jungfraujoch railway, or both. They are expensive but you’ll never forget them. If you don’t want to do those or if the weather is cloudy you should still go up to Gimmelwald and Murren for a look around, and you can do some of the other walks and see the Interlaken sights.

    I wouldn’t recommend a Swiss Travel Pass unless you want to do at least two scenic rail journeys, and you don’t have time for those. -Roger

Angelo says:

Wilhelm Tell Express
Route: Lugano or Locarno to Lucerne
2nd class not available;
Does it mean I have to buy the 1st class swiss pass in order to have acess to the Wilhem Tell??

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ve just looked this up and it turns out that the journey is changing names to Gotthard Panorama Express starting in 2017. It also looks like they have added a 2nd Class coach option to it as well, so it’s all good news. I’m going to update the article thanks to this.

    However, even with the previous version you’d still be able to access it with a 2nd Class pass. You’d probably have to pay a supplement for a 1st Class seat, but that would typically only be the difference between a 2nd Class seat and a 1st Class one. In other words, you might have to pay CHF20 to 40 for that one train, and ride 2nd Class everywhere else. Looks like you won’t need a supplement though. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Kenny says:

Hi Roger,

I’m traveling to Switzerland in between 19-23 of December, and I’m planning to go to Lucerne and Zermatt.
1. 20/12/16, Zurich > Lucerne > Zurich
2. 21/12/16, Zurich > Zermatt
3. 22/12/16, Zermatt > Zurich
Do you recommend me to buy a Swiss Travel Pass or buy the tickets individually? Note: I’ve got one youth age 12 traveling with me, so it’s free with a Swiss travel pass (accompanied by parents)
The individual price tickets I got from the train line is 1488 euro for the trips I mentioned above and the total price for the travel pass is just CHF 928. I’m just wondering and could you please give me an advice.
Your help is very much appreciated!

    Roger Wade says:


    You sound like the classic example of someone who would get great value out of the Swiss Travel Pass. The one thing I would check first is the price of those same tickets on the official Swiss train website. TheTrainLine is a really helpful website, but in some cases they seem to quote fares from ticket re-sellers with inflated prices.

    Assuming the Swiss rail site is showing those same fares that you saw, then the Swiss Travel Pass will be great for you. Not only can you use it on those scenic journeys, but also on some cogwheel trains and big discounts on the amazing cable cars. Have a great trip and let me know if you have any other questions.

    By the way, you might want to have a quick look at my article on where to go in Switzerland. Zurich is really expensive and there isn’t much to see there, so you might consider not spending so much time there. But if you have specific things you want to see in Zurich, and you can afford the hotels, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. -Roger

Vivian Lo says:

Hi Roger,

I’m planning to travel to Switzerland next week on December 27th for 3 days. If i buy the 3 day Swiss pass online today, would it be too late for them to send me the file to print by the time I leave? I don’t know if I would receive it on time since the ticket is nonrefundable. Thanks for all the info or else I wouldn’t know if Swiss Pass was a good choice right now…

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m not sure about this. I just went through the process and it appears that I am able to buy that 3-day ticket beginning on 27 December. Since it allows it I assume that it’s possible to get the ticket. So it may be a ticket that you can print at home, or it may be a voucher that you hand to someone at a ticket office once you get to Switzerland, and they give you your pass then. So it DOES seem like it will work, though I’m not sure exactly how without completing my purchase.

    The Swiss train company is VERY well organized so I don’t believe they would sell a ticket like this and then not have a way for the buyer to use it. Good luck and have a great trip. -Roger

Jennifer says:

Hi Roger,

I was seeking your advice on me and my sister’s upcoming 7day/6 night trip to Switzerland. Our train itinerary once we arrive is:

-Day 1 Zurich Airport to Lucerne
-Day 2 trip to Mount Pilatus

-Day 3 Lucerne to Grindelwald
-Day trip to Lauterbrunnen & Gimmelwald
-Day 4 trip to Jungfraujoch
-Day 5 trip to Schilthorn

-Day 6 Grindelwald to Zurich city centre

-Day 7 Zurich city center to Zurich airport

Do you think it makes sense to get the 8 day Swiss pass, or the 4 day Swiss pass for days 3-6, and pay individual tickets for days 1-2 and 7?

Also, Is the pass valid only for a particular day or is the day considered a 24 hour period from the time you begin to use it?


    Roger Wade says:


    It looks like the train trips you are planning are not very lengthy or expensive. As such, the Swiss Travel Pass probably wouldn’t pay off for you. You’d get discounts on those summit attractions, but I don’t think that would make up for the cost of the pass.

    Your itinerary looks quite good. The trip up to Schilthorn takes a bit over an hour from Lauterbrunnen, and after an hour or two up there you’ll be ready to come back down. If you exit the cable car in Murren on the way down and then walk down the hill to Gimmelwald (in 30 minutes or so), you could see both of those towns on that same trip. And you’d still have half the day to do something else. Gimmelwald is wonderful, but it’s tiny and since it’s on the way to Schilthorn, I think it’s best to visit on the way down.

    These passes all work on calendar days rather than 24-hour periods, unfortunately. Have a great trip. -Roger

      Jennifer says:

      Hi Roger,

      Thanks so much for the info. Two last questions:
      1. If you had to choose between Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn, which one would you recommend?
      2. Is Mount Titlus worth seeing when we’re staying in Lucerne? And if you had to choose Titlus or Pilatus, which one would you recommend?


        Roger Wade says:


        1. Jungfraujoch is more dramatic because it involves a long train ride (round-trip), but it also takes much longer. And Schilthorn is amazing as long as the weather at the top is fairly clear. In other words, both are excellent sights (and both are expensive). If you don’t have as much time and are in or near Lauterbrunnen then do Schilthorn. But if you have most of a day to spare then Jungfraujoch might be even better. Whichever you do, you’ll never forget it.

        2. Again, both of these are really wonderful. If you definitely want to be surrounded by snow then Titlus is the better choice as it’s a higher peak. But Pilatus is perhaps a bit nicer when you are up at the top. Again, either one will be fantastic. Have a wonderful trip. -Roger

Dorakana says:

Hello Roger,

We have a plan to visit Switzerland in May 14 to 18. Could you please help us the highlight place that we must visit? We prefer with outdoors scenic. Should we buy swiss travel pass? Which place would be the best as the base? And which hotel or hostel would you recomended due of our low budget?



    Roger Wade says:


    All of your questions are actually answered in this other article here about where to go in Switzerland. The short version is that in 4 days you should spend at least 2 or 3 days in Interlaken, and 1 or 2 days in Lucerne. If you prefer you can spend all 4 days in Interlaken, but Lucerne is also wonderful and quite different. The article linked above should answer your questions. Let me know if you are still unsure of anything. -Roger

Sarah says:


I’m planning a solo trip to my first visit to Switzerland this summer but I’m undecided on how many nights I should stay in each city.

I’m going to be using Swiss pass of 10 days I think based on my current plan but if I can shorten it I would change it.

Day 1: Arrival at Zurich around noon & go to Lucern.

Stay in Lucern for 2 nights

Day 3: Interlaken to Jungfraujoch –> I need advise here as to whether stay 1 night in Interlaken or make a day trip from Bern

Day 4: Bern – stay 1 night

Day 5: Montraux – 1 night or day trip & transit to Zermatt ?

Day 6: Zermatt – planning to stay 2 nights

Day 7: St Moritz through Glacier express – stay 1 night

Day 8: Appenzell – stay 1 night

Day 9: Zurich to LAX

Also a friend told me that driving is also easier but would you drive or take the train?

Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


    Roger Wade says:


    Your itinerary looks really nice. My one main tip would be to spend more time in the Interlaken area and probably less time in Zermatt. Zermatt does have that one excellent view of the Matterhorn, but the Interlaken area has many views and experiences that are at least as good, and it’s easier to reach.

    I’ve only passed through Montreaux rather than stayed there so it’s hard for me to say on that. It’s a lovely looking city on a lake, but it’s also much more typical of things you’ll see elsewhere in Europe, while those Alpine experiences are unique. Still, I think you’d enjoy Montreaux for a night if you go there.

    Switzerland is actually a fairly auto-friendly country, but I’d absolutely take the train. If you can afford that 10-day Swiss Travel Pass and use it the way you have in mind, you’ll get a LOT out of it and it’ll be amazing. Renting a car and having to focus on the roads instead of the scenery would be stressful at times, and parking in cities is difficult and expensive.

    With the travel pass you can even make plans as you go. In some cases it might be a bit tough to find a good hotel at the last minute, but it still might be worth it and I’m sure you’d always find something. It looks wonderful. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Caroline pibworth says:

Hi, my husband and I will be staying in lucerne for 5 days. We intend to do the jung fraujock trip also Mt titles,Mt Pilates and Mt rigi ,this will be in august. Would the Swiss travel pass be o k for us, and can you use it on boat trips thank you

    Roger Wade says:


    It sounds like that would be a close call if those are the only trips you’d do. It would cover Rigi and Pilatus, and save you 50% off Jungfraujoch and Titlis. It also covers the boat trips on Lake Lucerne. I’d say that if you also do at least one scenic rail trip then it would be great value. Or if you can do all of those things for the cost of a 3-day Pass it would be good. For a 5-day pass you might not save enough. Have a great trip. -Roger

Madhur says:

Hi Roger,

Me and my wife are planning to travel from Geneva to Interlaken in mid of April for 3 days and 2 nights also we are planning to visit Jungfraujoch and other surrounding areas of Interlaken.
Will the return journey from Geneva to Interlaken will be free with Swiss travel pass ? And from the above information I got it I will get 50% discount on journey to Jungfraujoch.

Can you please confirm the same.

Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


    Roger Wade says:


    Yes, you are correct. All travel on normal trains in Switzerland is covered by the Swiss Travel Pass on valid days, and Jungfraujoch tickets are 50% off with the pass. The Jungfraujoch train is one of only a very few special private trains that is offered at a discount rather than being covered completely. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

david says:

DO you have any thoughts regarding the Regional Bernese Oberland Pass? I am planning on a 7 day Switzerland trip: I will be staying in Murren for 6 nights and transporting to Murren and back from Zurich airport at the conclusion of the trip.

    Roger Wade says:


    I wasn’t aware of the regional pass, but looking at it the thing does look like it could be a good deal for someone like you. It should be pretty simple to add up the normal fares on the trains you plan to take and see if the pass is cheaper than the individual tickets. However, if you are based in Murren you might want to take many shorter rides in the Interlaken area, so it really depends on how much train travel you’ll want to do. Thanks for the info and I hope it works out for you. -Roger

Ankit says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for the excellent information.
Is April a bad time for visiting these places ?

I am planning to do it in mid April.

Please advise.


    Roger Wade says:


    April is a fine time to visit Switzerland. As I mentioned just above, the weather at high altitudes can be unpredictable at any time of the year, and the summer months are some of the wettest. The temperatures in the towns of Interlaken and Lucerne (and all the others) will be warm enough that you won’t need to bundle up during the day.

    The other thing to consider is that there can be fog or cloud covers at high altitudes almost any time, even during summer, but it rarely lasts too long. So you might find that Schilthorn or Jungfraujoch are cloudy or foggy in the morning, but clear in the afternoon, or vice-versa. So allowing yourself some flexibility on your exact visiting times is ideal, and hopefully you can stay at least 2 or 3 days so you can do all of the best things in good weather. Have a great trip and let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

Nidhi says:

Hello Roger,
I and my husband are visiting Switzerland for 4 days during early May with itenary as below:
Day1 – Reaching Lauterbrunnen from Venice(via Spiez,Interlaken)
Day2 – Staying in Lauterbrunnen(covering Jungfrau and other attractions)
Day3 – Going to Lucerne
Day4 – Reaching Zurich and starting for Amsterdam
During these days, we would love to take at least one scenic train ride and cable car rides.
Please advice whether a Swiss travel pass will be value for money for our trip.

    Roger Wade says:


    The Swiss Travel Pass starts at 3 full days, and it looks like you’ll only have 2 full days to use it. That ride from Lucerne to Zurich should only cost about US$25, so you won’t get much use out of the third day.

    Still, the pass covers train rides, and only covers a 50% discount on Jungfraujoch. It covers all of the cable car or cogwheel train up Mt Rigi, but that only saves about US$50. If on Day 3 you take a large section of the GoldenPass line towards Montreaux and back to Lucerne then the pass WILL save you more money than it costs. It’s a spectacular ride and I’ve done all of it, but it will take most of that day, so you wouldn’t have much time to visit Lucerne itself.

    So in other words, if you are more interested in doing a scenic train ride then a 3-day Swiss Travel Pass could be good value. But if you are more interested in spending most of that Day 3 exploring Lucerne, then it probably won’t. Have a great trip and let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

      Nidhi says:

      Hi Roger, Thanks a lot for your helpful response. We’ll go ahead with the pass as we intend for those scenic rides. Thanks a lot 🙂

Sal says:

Hi Roger, thanks for your write up – by far the most comprehensive guide I found on the net. Me and my wife with our 8 months old daughter planning for our first trip Switzerland from April 9th to 12th. Below is our tentative plan. We’ll be taking flight from Istanbul but haven’t decided which airport yet.

9th: Arrive from airport (most likely Zurich), go straight to Rhine Fall before check in to Grindelwald / Murren. Then we plan to do Jungfraujoch before back to hotel.

10th: Trip to Schilthorn before we tour around Interlaken area (Wengen, Grindelwald). Overnight at the same hotel.

11th: Morning trip from Interlaken to Zermatt before we take Glacier Express to St. Moritz. Overnight in Moritz before find our flight out on 12th back to Istanbul. Another option is to travel from Interlaken to Lucern, and take GoldenPass to Montreux. Overnight here before our flight on 12th back to Istanbul.

So my question:
1. Your comment about my plan. Is it too much? Not sure which is better either Glacier Express or GoldenPass.
2. We’re planning to get Swiss Pass. I think it worth the purchase. What about hotel stay? Should we book in advance or just find it overthere.
3. Is our airport arrangement ok? We’re very flexible as long as we have to be back to Istanbul on 12th.

Your advise greatly appreciated.

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m glad you found this useful. It took DAYS to research all of it.

    1. I think you might be trying to fit in too much. Zurich Airport to Rheinfall takes an hour by train, and then it’s 3 hours more to Interlaken and another hour up to Murren. Jungfraujoch railway takes at least 4 hours from where you’d stay and to return.

    By the way, the wonderful village just below Murren is called “Gimmelwald,” which is easily confused with the larger ski town in the next valley over called “Grindlewald.” Both are lovely and different. Grindlewald is on the way to Jungfrau and Gimmelwald is on the way to Schilthorn. Just be sure you are booking the one you want.

    2. If you are doing most of the things on your list then I think a 3-day Swiss Travel Pass will pay off. As mentioned in the article above, they are good value for those doing at least one or two scenic trains and also using the 50% discount on attractions such as Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch. Those two things are quite expensive but also quite amazing so they are worthwhile splurges. If you can get the 50% discount that helps a lot.

    I’d book your hotel as soon as you are sure of your dates and schedule. Many of the best hotels and guesthouses in these areas are quite small and they book well in advance. If you read my article on where to go in Switzerland you’ll notice that I mention a few specific places such as Esther’s Guesthouse in Gimmelwald. It is always sold out in advance, so booking early is key.

    I haven’t taken the Glacier Express but I have taken the GoldenPass. The Glacier Express takes a bit over 7 hours and I’m sure it’s amazing. One nice thing about the Goldenpass is that you can take whatever portion of it that you want. The section between Lucerne and Interlaken is very nice, but the most dramatic views are all in the section from Interlaken to Montreaux. You don’t have to go all the way to Montreaux to see many outstanding views, so it’s easier to fit into a day.

    Your airport arrangements look okay. One very nice thing about Switzerland is that both the Zurich Airport and Geneva Airport have stations on the main train lines, so you don’t have to go into the city and change for a special airport train. And the trains run from like 5am until late, so there is always a train running before or after a flight.

    If I were you I think I’d save Rheinfall for another trip. Aside from that I think you can fit everything in. Have a great trip. -Roger

Jennifer says:

We will be arriving on train Munich to Interlaken west on may 19. We will spend 4 nights in Interlaken and then 2 nights in Lucerne. Then we will leave to the Zurich airport on May 25. Do you suggest we buy the Swiss pass?

Also, my parents will be arriving at Zurich airport on may 21 and spending 2 days in Interlaken and two days in Lucerne then going back to Zurich airport on may 25. Would the Swiss pass be worth it for them?

    Jennifer says:

    Does the Swiss travel pass include train from Zurich airport to Interlaken, from Interlaken to Lucerne or from lucerne to Zurich airport? And do you suggest we make these reservations in advance? I used the Trainline EU app to buy our train ticket from Munich to Interlaken west, but some routes such as Interlaken to Lucerne or Lucerne to Zurich were not available on the app.

Shafiq says:

Hi roger,
I plan to visit Switzerland for 3 days this april for my honeymoon. Will arrive Zurich on 28april afternoon until 30april.1st may i will travel to milan or venice Italy from zurich. Please suggest itenary start from zurich where to stay and is it worth buying swiss pass 3 days validity?

    Roger Wade says:


    I get this question so often that I wrote a post to answer it in detail. Have a look at my where to go in Switzerland post for the specifics.

    The short version is that if you have 3 days you are best off spending them in the Interlaken area, which has the most dramatic Alpine sights and scenery in one small space. There are recommendations for small towns and even hotels in that article.

    It’s hard to get good value out of a Swiss Travel Pass if you only have 3 days in the country. You’d need to take 2 or 3 of the long scenic rides in order to save anything, and that would literally take your whole visit. You’ll get more impact from doing the Schilthorn or Jungfraujoch plus some general sightseeing in the Interlaken area. Let me know if you have any other specific questions. -Roger

Charissa says:

Hi Roger

Thank you for your very informative blog. We are a group of 4 adults and 4 kids (below 14 years) visiting Switzerland end of March. Could you please let us know whether a Swiss Travel Pass is worth buying for the itinerary below?

Zurich – 2 nights (visiting Rheinfall and Old Town)
Lucerne – 3 nights (Jungfraujoch, Pilatus and Bern)
Lausanne – 3 nights (Lausanne Wednesday market but not sure what else we can do while in Lausanne – suggestions please?)

We fly out from Geneva.


    Roger Wade says:


    The Swiss Travel Pass is really meant for visitors who want to do at least 2 of the longer scenic rail journeys and also some of the expensive cable cars or special trains (that are either covered or at a 50% discount). So it would cover your train journeys plus Pilatus and give you 50% off Jungfraujoch. But those wouldn’t add up to the cost of the pass.

    You might look into one or two of the train journeys such as the GoldenPass, or just pay as you go for the trains.

    As for your itinerary, you might want to have a look at my article on where to go in Switzerland. Most people want to see the amazing Alps views and sights, and I explain where to do that. Also, Switzerland’s cities are really not very interesting, at least when compared to the natural sights. So I really don’t recommend staying in Zurich or Lausanne for any longer than you really need to. Lucerne is lovely and Bern is the best of the actual cities if you want to see one. Really, Interlaken is where most of the action is, so you might want to consider that.

    You can take a train from Interlaken or wherever you are straight to the Geneva Airport on the main rail line. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Nataraj says:

Hi Roger,
Your blog is very informative. Can you please suggest us whether following itinerary is good for me and my wife.
Day-1: Frankfurt to Interlaken reach at 6:00PM
Day-2: Schilthorn, Birg, Stechtelberg
Day-3: Check out hotel, Meiringen, Reach Lucerne in evening, Local Lucerne sight seeing
Day-4: Mt Titlis
Day-5: Mt Rigi, Lake Lucerne and leave for Frankfurt from Lucerne in night.
Thank you

Sorry I forgot to ask you one more thing,
Is tell pass better or Swiss Travel Pass for above Itinerary.

    Roger Wade says:


    Yes, I think your itinerary looks quite good. The only potential problem I see is that the peaks can be foggy or cloudy at times, even during summer, so if you are visiting at a very specific time then you might get unlucky and have poor visibility. But hopefully it will be clear most or all of the time you’ll be there.

    But as far as the timing is concerned, I think as long as you start early each day, you’ll be able to do all of the things on your list and have a very enjoyable visit.

    A Swiss Travel Pass probably won’t save you money unless you are going to do at least one additional scenic train ride. I think if you just buy all of your tickets individually, they’ll be a bit less than it would cost with a Swiss Travel Pass. But you should probably add it up because it might be close. -Roger

Xinyi says:

Hi Roger,

It mustve taken you forever to come up with this comprehensive information for us! So very grateful.
My husband will be arriving to interlaken by train from paris in the evening in late march and will stay 2 nights near interlaken west station before we go on to lucerne for 1 night. So technically we only have 1 full day in interlaken, which we were thinking of visiting lauterbrunnen/gimmelwald and then going up to the schilthorn observation deck if the weather allows.
Decided not to consider jungfraujoch as I read in your other article that it will take a much longer time to get there compared to schilthorn.

For Lucerne, we were wondering if we should try to squeeze in the lake cruise-rigi trip for that 3 quarters of a day we have there, or just spend it exploring the city. The next day we have an 11am train to catch to venice.
What is the difference between the rigi round trip and the mt rigi excursion? Is it that one is round trip and the latter one-way?

Based on what we were thinking of doing, is it advisable to buy the swiss travel pass? Or just get the individual tickets as we go?

    Roger Wade says:


    I think buying individual tickets as you go will be cheapest, since you won’t be doing any of the longer scenic trips. Your plan looks very well thought out and I’m sure you’ll love it.

    Jungfraujoch really is a whole day from start to finish, while Schilthorn is a 1-hour (and wonderful) cable car ride each way, and then as much time as you want to spend up there. It seems that 60 to 90 minutes is typical, or longer if you want to have lunch. The views from the revolving restaurant are excellent, and the food prices are typical for Switzerland (expensive for anywhere else), so enjoying a meal up there is nice if you have the time.

    The Mt Rigi round trip and excursion are the same thing, as far as I’m aware. It’s a boat ride from Lucerne to a cogwheel train and then a cable car back down. If you see something that doesn’t sound like that, it could be something else. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Bobby Boswell says:

Hello Roger, Thank you for all of the information you have shared regarding the Swiss Pass and other options. My wife and I will be traveling to Switzerland as I work with USA teams and will be working at the World Cup Championships in Geneva in May. After the team leaves back to the USA My wife and I are staying to see the wonderful sites. We will be leaving Geneva on the 28th of May. No plans or reservations for the 28 Looking into maybe 1 night in Lausanne. We have the 29th through June 1st in Murren. Staying at the Hotel Alpina and am very excited to travel to Schilthorn, Gimmelwald, maybe Jungfraujoch. Hiking, bicycle rides etc…On the first we are headed back to Geneva, spend the night then fly out on the 2nd. Questions: 1 .Is Lausanne a good place to spend the night (sites, Olympic headquarters etc…) then heading to Murren…. is the Swiss pass the best bet for us? We will leave on the 1st back toward Geneva as we fly out from there. Do you have any suggestions regarding what we should include in this trip? And is the Swiss the best for us?Thanks for your help.

    Roger Wade says:


    That sounds like a great situation to be able to add on extra Switzerland days after an event.

    1. Lausanne is perhaps a bit more interesting than Geneva, but I still think you get WAY more out of focusing on the scenery than the cities in Switzerland. I’d head to the Interlaken area for that night, which will give you more options for things you can do before you head up to Murren. Or if you really DID want to see another city I’d recommend Bern, which is closer to Interlaken and also more interesting in general.

    It doesn’t look like a Swiss Travel Pass would be good value for you, mostly because a 4-day Pass wouldn’t cover it all, and an 8-day Pass would be too expensive. It would give you a 50% discount on Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch, and of course it would cover your train rides, but those shouldn’t add up to enough to justify the cost of the 8-day Pass. If you were also going to squeeze in 1 or 2 of the longer scenic railroad journeys such as the GoldenPass, the Swiss Travel Pass might make sense. It sounds like you’ve got a really nice itinerary planned and that you are going to try to include the main blockbuster sights. I don’t have anything else specific to recommend, although there are plenty of good hiking and sightseeing options in the Interlaken area, and of course in Lucerne as well.

    Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      Bobby Boswell says:

      Thanks so much for the information. I really appreciate your help. Looking at Interlaken vs. Lauterbrunnen instead of the 2 days 1 night in Lausanne. which would be the most rewarding for the different sites possible in either town? As we will be spending 4 days in the Murren area and we want to get as much of the Swiss flavor in this trip, which would you recommend for greater sites? Interlaken or Lauterbrunnen? Ou yeah, If we would not benefit financially from the Swiss Pass, is there another card that might be to our advantage while traveling to Schilthorn, Jungfrau, and other sites up in the mountainous area to save some money? You are so helpful, thanks again for your help!

        Roger Wade says:


        Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen are connected by a special train that takes 15 minutes and leaves every 30 minutes. Lauterbrunnen is deeper into the mountains and it’s a hub for trips to several mountain towns in the area, but still I think I’d recommend staying in Interlaken because it’s a much larger town with many more options for activities and restaurants and such. There are also many things to see and do that are in Interlaken or in other directions than Lauterbrunnen.

        If you stay close to the Interlaken Ost train station, you can get to Lauterbrunnen very quickly anyway, and the train fare isn’t too much.

        I’m not aware of any other discount cards aside from the Swiss Travel Pass. Those attractions such as Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch are really expensive, but definitely worth it. There just aren’t things like that anywhere else at any price, so at least the splurge will feel worthwhile when you are there. Have a great trip. -Roger

Akash says:

Hello Roger,

First of all i would like to thank you for such an elaborate and detailed report. Appreciate your work and wish you the best forward.

I would like to take your expert advice to help me create a day wise itinerary for my 4 days stay in Zurich and Luzern.
My itinerary is reaching Zurich on 15th April late night and staying in Zurich for a night and then from 16th to 19th April stay in Luzern.

We are a couple and love traveling and site seeing, would love to take some scenic train route along with one or two mountain trips based on time.

Request you to please help in this regards.


    Roger Wade says:


    I really don’t like to create full itineraries for people because there are so many variables, including budgets. I give many options and my best advice in my main article on where to go in Switzerland. As mentioned, the top sights such as Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch each cost around US$150, and many people are understandably unwilling to do both on a short visit.

    If you come up with your own plan I will be happy to answer specific questions about it. You might also try to look at their Interlaken and Lucerne pages, as they do a very good job of summarizing all the main options. Have a great trip. -Roger

Navin says:

Hi Roger,
First of all, wonderful article & very informative & prompt replies.
We need some help as well, We are a family of four(41, 40, 10 & 4)
We would like to stay at Lauterbernnen for 3 days. Will like to go to jungfraujoch, Schilthorn(Cable Car) and short visits around to Murren, Stechelberg, wengen & Grindelwald…..
– Do you think we should get a pass OR pay as we go?
– Will Swiss Family card be beneficial (I Guess we get it only if we buy one pass)
– Any Other suggestions??

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m glad to hear that this research helped.

    If you do the itinerary you mentioned, a Swiss Travel Pass would probably be good value, but it will be close. It provides free train trips but only 50% discount on Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch. If you both of those, the 50% off will be worth about CHF120 per adult. Your other train trips will probably total around CHF100 or a bit more per adult, so that pays for a 3-Day Swiss Travel Pass. It also means that you can ride the trains all over without worrying about the cost, while if you didn’t have a pass you might see fewer things because each journey is so expensive. So I think I would buy a pass.

    Alternatively, you could buy a 30-day Swiss Rail half-fare card, which would give you those same discounts for CHF120, and then obviously give you 50% off all of your normal train trips.

    The Swiss Family Card, as far as I know, is a complimentary card that allows family members 16 and under to ride for free with adults using passes. So yes, I think it will be necessary if you buy a pass.

    Those mountain-top attractions are quite expensive, but they are amazing and you will be happy that you did them. I don’t have any other advice. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Jennifer says:

Hi Roger, I found both this article and your main one about Switzerland extremely helpful as this is very difficult to plan compared to most trips I’ve taken. I posted above but did not receive a response so I am posting again.

My husband and I will be arriving on train Munich to Interlaken west on may 19. We will spend 4 nights in Interlaken and then 2 nights in Lucerne. Then we will leave to the Zurich airport on May 25. Do you suggest we buy the Swiss pass?
Also, my parents will be arriving at Zurich airport on may 21 and spending 2 days in Interlaken and two days in Lucerne then going back to Zurich airport on may 25. Would the Swiss pass be worth it for them?

Does the Swiss travel pass include train from Zurich airport to Interlaken, from Interlaken to Lucerne or from lucerne to Zurich airport? And do you suggest we make these reservations in advance? I used the Trainline EU app to buy our train ticket from Munich to Interlaken west, but some routes such as Interlaken to Lucerne or Lucerne to Zurich were not available on the app.

While we are there we will likely want to do many of the popular tours you mentioned, some hiking and anything you suggest to see the beautiful views. I am not sure which tours exactly we plan to take. With the Swiss pass do we have to reserve transportation or tours ahead of time?

    Roger Wade says:


    I apologize if I missed your other question. I try to answer all of them within 24 hours or so, and usually less. I’ll answer your questions in order…

    The Swiss Travel Pass will be a good idea if you plan on doing enough of the scenic rail journeys (which would be fully covered) and the mountaintop activities such as Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch, which you get a 50% discount on. If you are just going from Munich to Interlaken to Lucerne to Zurich, then it would be cheaper to buy the tickets individually. In other words, if you want to do the Golden Pass or another of the longer train rides, the Swiss Travel Pass can quickly pay for itself. The same math would apply to your parents. The pass is only a good deal for people who are taking some longer train rides and also doing the expensive attractions that are included (Mt Rigi) or discounted like those two I mentioned.

    The Swiss Travel Pass DOES cover all trains, including those to the airport. The tricky thing is the pass only comes in 3-day, 4-day, and 8-day versions, and the pass obviously has to be valid for the days you travel. So if you bought an 8-day pass you could even use it for the portion of your Munich trip inside the Swiss borders AND for the airport trip on the way out. But if you only got a 4-day pass, it wouldn’t cover your whole trip.

    The normal Swiss trains between cities are only available 30 days in advance and the fare is the same no matter when you buy them. So you can buy them in advance or wait until you get there.

    Based on your final comment, it sounds like you DO want to do at least a few of the big attractions like Rigi, Titlis, Schilthorn, and Jungfraujoch. The Pass covers some of them and offers a discount on the others. You can usually book those on travel day. The scenic train journeys with the Panoramic carriages should be booked in advance, however, because there are limited seats in the Panoramic carriages. One reason to book your mountaintop visits at the last minute is that those peaks can be foggy or cloudy at almost any time, including in summer. It’s advised to book Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn when you know it’s sunny up top, so many people book as they go.

    Another option that I didn’t include in the article but I will add soon is the Swiss Half Fare Card. You can buy a 30-day version of that online or when you get there for CHF120 per person. If you are going to do at least CHF240 worth of train rides, cable cars, and such, it pays off. That might work for your parents, although a 3-day or 4-day Swiss Rail Pass might also work, depending on how many things you want to do. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

Cicilia says:

Hi Roger thanks so much for writing all of these! I truly feel this is very helpful. I have put down a list of itinerary but really wanna consult it first with someone who knows Swiss better than me:

1. 24 June 2017 evening – Arriving Zermatt from Brig, strolling around, staying over at Zermatt

2. 25 June 2017 – I have only one day to explore so I’m thinking to go to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. I am really confused about this place, is it the same with The Matterhorn? Or are they in the same area but different in altitude? Can I do both place (the peak and glacier on the same day?)

I learned that there are two ways of going to the Matterhorn: by cable car (we can stop by lake Schwarzsee a long the way) and train to Gornergrat, is this correct? I have read a lot of comments on the Tripadvisor but still fail to understand this 🙁 Are the train and cable car leading to the same place?

3. 26 June 2017 – Leaving Zermatt to Interlaken. I saw your suggestion to go to Gimmelwald, it’s pretty but I am afraid it will be too tiring for me to go there in a very short time. I look up the train ticket online and they don’t have the price as well. Do you have any recommendation of things to do in Interlaken city?

4. 27 June 2017 – Still planning to stay in Interlaken, but I looked up Tripadvisor and there’s nothing much to do there. Is 2 days too long in Interlaken?

5. 28 June 2017 – Leaving to Zurich, explore the city

6. 29 June 2017 – Explore Zurich, fly back home

I have bought the train ticket from Milan to Brig, so I can’t cancel on Zermatt (plus my partner really want to see snow. Swiss is my 4th and last Europe country to visit before heading back home). Also I tried to do the math about travel expenses, and if I am right, normal train and cable car tickets for above itinerary (not including buses / train in Zurich / Interlaken city) is 214.5, with 4 days flex travel pass is 284, and with half fare pass is 201.25. I will still ride bus / train in Zurich, so should I take the 4 days flex pass instead of the half fare?

Thanks so much in advance! I hope this isn’t confusing and if you have any suggestion that is different than my itinerary, I would very much love to hear it. Thanks so much! Appreciate your help.

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ll be happy to try to help. I’ll answer your questions in order…

    2. I haven’t done the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, but I can see that it’s a cable car ride up to another peak near the Italian border that offers a different view of Matterhorn. The Rothorn peak is the famous view of the Matterhorn. Both trips take about half a day, and because they aren’t close together, it could be tough to do both of them in the same day.

    Gornergrat is a train ride and it’s not the same place as the two cable car views, but it is the most popular.

    3. Zermatt to Interlaken takes only 2 hours and 20 minutes by train, leaving once an hour. You’d have plenty of time to not only get to Gimmelwald but to look around and go somewhere else to sleep if you wanted. It’s an unbelievably charming little village with amazing views and I recommend staying there or in Murren (just above Gimmelwald) if you can.

    Interlaken is a nice town and the views around it are lovely, but it’s really more of a transit hub for all of the best views and experiences in the mountains just above. There is a LOT more to do in Interlaken (the area) than there is in Zermatt. Have a look at my main article on what to do in Switzerland, including in the comments, for some ideas. The Schilthorn cable car and Jungfraujoch railway are perhaps Switzerlands (and all of Europe’s) most dramatic sights.

    If you are concerned about your budget you might not want to get to Zurich until the day of your flight. Hotels there are crazy expensive (even more so than the rest of Switzerland), and it’s not a very interesting city compared with the amazing sights of nature in the Alps and such.

    I’m not sure which travel pass you are referring to. If you mean the 4 Days in One Month version of the Swiss Travel Pass, it sounds like it could be a great deal for you. But if you are referring to a normal Eurail Pass it could be tricky because they don’t cover all of the trains in Switzerland, including the Zermatt trains. It sounds like you’ve got the math right and that the pass would be best, but just be aware of what it does and does not cover. Even if you go to Zurich, most of the interesting part of town is walkable, so you won’t spend much on transit there. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      Cicilia says:

      Thanks so much for your suggestion! I will definitely check on Gimmelwald / Murren again and reconsider about Zurich. I have decided to get the half fare pass instead as well. Thank you once again 🙂

Nawal Gupta says:

Hello Roger, since i have two kids below the age of 16, would it mean that if we as parents buy either the Swiss Pass or the Swiss Half Fare Card, our kids also get to enjoy 50% off without having to pay. Meaning to say they get entitled to same benefits with two adults buying either of those cards ?

    Roger Wade says:


    From the looks of it, the children would be able to travel for free with an adult with a valid ticket, and that is with either the Swiss Travel Pass or the Half Fare Card. You pick up a Swiss Family Card and that allows the kids to go free with you. -Roger

Shifali says:


Myself and my spouse are planning to visit Switzerland in june from India. we will reach 10 pm on 10th june and overnight stay in zurich.
and departure from Zurich airport on 14th june 13:10 pm.

please provide itinerary for these 4 days which includes Mt. titlis, Jungfrau,Rhine falls and 1 scenic journey.

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m happy to help answer questions about itineraries that people are putting together, but I really don’t like to write an itinerary from scratch. I put most of my top suggestions on my main article on where to go in Switzerland. I think after you read that and look at the map, it will be pretty easy to put together an itinerary that includes the things you want to see and do. Have a great trip. -Roger


hello, i need some advise on the swiss pass.
i will be in switzerland for 10 days from 7 April

Below is my itinerary
Day 1 – Mt Pilatus
Day 2 – Mt Rigi/Lake Lucerne/Lucerne City
Day 3 – Zermatt
Day 4 – Zermatt (Ski)
Day 5 – Zermatt (Ski)
Day 6 – Glacier 3000
Day 7 – Jungfrau – Schynige Platte
Day 8 – Schilthorn/Murren
Day 9 – Bern
Day 10 – Bern to Zurich Airport for departure

May i ask if i should get the 8 days or 15 days swiss pass? As i noticed its just an incremental cost to get the 15 days but i’m not sure if it is worth it.

Or should i just get a half fare card for this trip?

Would appreciate any advice/suggestions

Many thanks

    Roger Wade says:


    It looks like you could get an 8-Day Swiss Travel Pass and use it on your first 8 days, and the only thing you’d miss is the train from Interlaken to Bern and to Zurich. And with the Half-Fare Card, it’s good for 30 days so it would cover your whole trip. It looks like you won’t be doing too many train rides, at least not according to what you’ve written, and if that’s the case the Half-Fare Card is probably the better deal.

    If you think you might want to do at least a couple of those scenic train rides, the main Swiss Travel Pass would save you more. And having the full pass would be fun because you can basically just hop on trains and do as you please. But if you think you are mostly going to be following this schedule and staying in those areas for several days at a time, I think the Half-Fare Card is probably better. Have a great trip. -Roger

      Chermaine says:

      Dear Roger,

      thanks for your reply, i really appreciated it.
      would it be a hassle to queue up to buy tickets for the half fare pass or is it relatively easy? Would i be wasting time on it buying tickets everytime?

      Also, does the half fare card also provides discount on the scenic train rides?

      Is there any scenic rides that you will particularly recommend?

      Many thanks Roger

        Roger Wade says:


        Switzerland is very well organized so it shouldn’t be much trouble to buy those passes in person at ticket counters. The larger stations will be able to handle large crowds, and tickets for domestic Swiss trains are the same no matter when you buy them (on sale 30 days out).

        As for scenic rides, my advice is to take trains to whichever places in Switzerland that interest you, and the train rides will all be scenic. My guess is that they package those special scenic trains just as suggestions to first-time visitors. The ones with names also have special panorama carriages on certain departures each day, and the Half-Fare Card covers all of them. The trains through the Alps into Italy are wonderful as well. Really the only non-scenic trains are the ones in the Zurich area, and they are still not bad. It’s a gorgeous country all over. Have a great trip. -Roger

Chermaine says:

Hi There,

can you advise the best pass to purchase for below itinerary?

7 to 9 April – Zurich to Lucern (2 nights in lucern)
9 to 12 April – Lucern to Zermatt (3 nights in Zermatt with ski)
12 to 13 April – Zermatt to Les Diablerets (1 night)
13 to 15 April – Les Diablerets to Interlaken (2 nights in Interlaken)
15 to 16 April – Interlaken to Bern (1 night in Bern)
17 April – Bern to Zurich Airport

i’m not sure if a swiss pass of half rate pass is suitable for this itinerary.
Also, the 8 days pass and 15 days pass seems only to be an incremental increase.
Which should i get?
Any advise would be appreciated!

    Roger Wade says:


    This itinerary seems to be a bit different from the one I responded to elsewhere in this thread. But really my advice is the same. The Half-Fare Card is probably your best bet unless you are going to be adding in at least a couple of the longer scenic train rides. I’m sure you are going to have an incredible trip. -Roger

tina says:

hi roger,

thanks a ton for this amzing post. great help !

also putting down my itinerary here, any help be apprecited 🙂
we are a group of 5 (3 adults, 2 youth) planning this trip to Switzerland for may2017.

day 1: Fly into Zurich – take the train to lucerne directly
- spend the day in lucerne, overnight in lucerne

day 2: “- from lucerne, take train to andermatt & board Glacier express until st.moritz. overnight in moritz.

day3: next day, board the bernina express , head to lugano

day 4: sight seeing in lugano .

day 5: “- leave from lugano (bellinzona) early morning, take the gotthard express to lucerne. continue to interlaken on glacier express. reach lauterbrunnan

day6 : sight seeing (lauterbrunnen,murren, schilthron, gimmelwald )

day 7 : day trip to jungfrau

day 8: relax in lauterbrunnan (skydive/atv/activities)

day 9 : board the glacier express down to montreux, lavaux winery

day 10: day trip to gstaad + glacier 3000 +chateau di chillion

day 11 : choc factory + la gruyeres cheese factory

day 12: fly out

is this all doable ? we are planning on taking the swiss pass for 8 days and them may be rent a car for last 2 days in montreux .

thanks much.

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m happy to hear that this information is useful. Your trip looks amazing and well planned out. You will be spending quite a bit of time on trains for those first 5 days or so, but it’s definitely doable, and the Swiss Trains are very comfortable and famously punctual. And since you are slowing down on the trains once you get to the Interlaken area, I think you’ll be fine.

    The Swiss Travel Pass should really pay for itself on a trip like this. I’ve not rented a car in Switzerland, but I think that should be simple enough because the roads are all in good shape, the signs are all international, and there will be parking lots at all of the attractions. I don’t recommend renting cars to visit cities, but for the sights you mention, a car should work well. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Nawal Gupta says:

Hello Roger, From the inputs it seems the Half Fare card is the best for me. So considering the fact that we are a family of four ( two children below the age of 16), do I have to buy the Half fare card for all four of us ? Or we need to buy just for the two adults ? Cos it seems that we would get the Family card based on which the kids can travel free.

Janette says:

Hi Roger,

I am traveling in Switzerland flying in/out of Zurich May 19-28 with my husband, 3-year old son, and my mother/father-in law.

We are figuring out if the full Swiss pass is worth it vs. the half pass, as we’re only planning one major scenic train ride. However, at each location, we’re expect to use local trains for basic excursions or do a gondola or cogwheel to a mountain top/scenic overlook and aren’t sure how savings on those plays into our bottom line.

Our itinerary is as follows:

May 19: Arrive @ Zurich airport, train to Lucerne
May 20: Train to Grindelwald, stay in Grindelwald for 4 days. Hike, possibly do Jungfraujoch, other daytrips.
May 24: Train from Grindelwald to Montreux (possibly via the Goldenpass from Interlaken).
May 24-27: Montreux – plan to visit Lavaux wine area one of the days we’re there.
Ma7 27 – train back to Zurich for flight back the next day.

Appreciate your input!

    Roger Wade says:


    It looks like your options would be an 8-day Swiss Travel Pass or a 30-day Half Fare Card because you are staying so long. It seems that a Half Fare Card would be more economical, and you’d definitely save much more than the price of the thing. Unless you do more scenic train rides, I think the Half Fare Card is your best option. Have a great trip. -Roger

Anna says:

Hello Roger,

How are you? My name is Anna. First of all, thank you for sharing your insights. This is one of the few informative and useful blogs I’ve read regarding Switzerland.

Me and my friends (5 Adults) will be travelling to these European countries: Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Italy. We plan to take an overnight bus from Paris going to Switzerland which will be arriving at Geneva or Bern. Do you have any insights or helpful information about this route?

From Bern or Geneva, depending on which bus we take, our first destination in Switzerland is at Interlaken. This is our itinerary:

Day 1: From Paris by bus to Geneva/Bern — train to Interlaken —- check in hotel — Harder Kulm
Day 2: Jungfraujoch—Gimmewald—Interlaken
Day 3: Lucern — Mt. Pilatus — Lucern
Day 4: Zurich
Day 5: Zurich — Italy

We’re not taking any scenic trains (Do you consider trains to Jungfraujoch a scenic train? I’m still really confused), so from what I’ve read here, point to point tickets would be more advisable than the Swiss Travel Pass?

Another question, would you recommend the swiss half fare card for us?

Thank you again for this post. I’m hoping to hear from you soon! Cheers!



    I’m glad you find this useful. I’ll answer your questions in order…

    Bern is a nicer looking city and it’s more interesting than Geneva, so I’d go there if I were you. It’s also mostly flat, unlike Geneva which is very hilly, so it’s easier to get around.

    Your itinerary looks really good and I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time.

    Jungfraujoch is considered more of a “tourist train” because it simply goes up to the peak and back. The “scenic trains” are the ones with names such as Golden Pass and Glacier Express. Those trains offer special Panoramic carriages on several departures each day, while the Jungfraujoch is an older train without special windows.

    If you’ll be doing Jungfraujoch and those other train rides, the Half Fare Card should more than pay for itself on your trip.

    The last thing I’ll mention is that Zurich isn’t really much of a tourist city. In case you haven’t already, have a look at my main article on where to go in Switzerland. Zurich is a nice enough place, but it’s incredibly expensive and it’s quite dull compared to cities such as Amsterdam and Paris. Unless there are things in Zurich that you are specifically going to see, you might stay another day in the Interlaken area and then go straight to Italy from Lucerne. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Janette says:

Thanks so much for the quick reply!

Jacqueline says:

Hi Roger,
Wow! So fantastic of you to provide such detailed information!

My husband and I , and our 3 children (11, 14, 16 yrs) are going to Switzerland in August for 8 days. We will be flying to Zurich, and from airport taking the train to Lucerne. Staying 4 nights in Lucerne, we will hopefully do Mount Rigi, Mount Pilatus, Fortress Furiigen and general exploration by foot of old Lucerne.

From Lucerne, taking train to Lausanne for 2 nights. While there, would like to do explore the old town and do a day trip to Montreax and Chateau de Chillon.

Finally,we’ll take a train from Lausanne back to Zurich for 2 nights, then we fly home. I was not planning on doing the longer scenic rail rides because I think our kids will get drive each other (and us) nuts! So, will likely get on express trains between towns, which I believe are less expensive.

I feel like we are borderline in terms of the Swiss Travel Pass being a deal . I think our two younger children would travel free if my husband and I have a Swiss Travel Pass. So, will I only have to buy 3 STPs? Or, do you think we are just better off paying as we go?

Your insight is most appreciated!



    Most of the special scenic train routes have panoramic carriages, and those cost a bit more to reserve than a normal seat. Aside from that, it’s a normal train and normal prices. However, a line like the Golden Pass, for example, has you go through slower mountain passes that are more scenic, instead of faster trains that go around the valleys, but they aren’t necessarily more expensive because of it.

    I’m going to write a full article about the Half Fare Card because more and more I’m seeing that it’s the best choice for so many visitors, including your family. From what I can see, if the adults buy one each, then two of the children would travel for free on the Family Card that they will also give you. I guess you’d have to buy a third Half Fare Card for the 16-year old, but still it should pay for itself because the train rides you’ll be taking will add up to more than CHF240 per adult, including Rigi and Pilatus etc. The Half Fare Card costs CHF120 each, so it should pay for itself quickly and then save you money overall.

    The scenery on those special train rides is quite spectacular, but I agree that it also requires patience to behave on a 6-hour ride, so I think just taking the fast trains from place to place will be better, and those are also very scenic as well. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Liv says:

Hi Roger,

I’m glad I came across your article!
I will definitely get the half pass.

On top of that, I realized many hotels offer free local public transits…

Basically I’m planning a trip this summer with my mother that includes the jazz festival in Montreux…

Here’s what I have so far:

Day 1: Arrive Zurich to montreux
I would like to stop at Bern and gruyere on the way and send our luggage to the station in montreux if possible*

Day 2: montreux

Day 3: Interlaken (I want to visit The lake in Kandersteg but I’m wondering if I should stay there or make my way to Interlaken and stay there instead)

Day 4: interlaken-Zurich (there’s a show we are going to see so I would have to stay here…)

I’m debating the day 3 part just cause I do wanna go on at least one of the scenic rides but at the same time we want to stay overnight somewhere scenic and relaxing and less touristy just for that night…



    I’m glad you found the article as well. I’m not sure about Montreaux, but if you stay at any hotel or hostel in Interlaken, it comes with a public transit card good for free bus rides and even a free ride on the train between the two major train stations. But Interlaken is pretty small and you can walk between the stations in 30 minutes or so as a nice stroll, so you won’t need too many rides.

    You carry your own luggage on trains in Europe, so I don’t think there is a way to send your bags on ahead. You can leave the bags in a luggage locker at the stations though.

    I haven’t been to the lake in Kandersteg. I’d pass on that and go to Interlaken, which has so many top sights that even 3 days is just hitting the highlights.

    You’ll enjoy one evening in Zurich as long as you can afford a hotel there.

    As for Day 3, I highly recommend you consider staying in Gimmelwald, which is a tiny farming village above Interlaken, and on the cable car that goes up to Schilthorn. I discuss all of that in my main article on where to go in Switzerland. Have a look at that and hopefully you’ll find it helpful. -Roger

Jacqueline says:

Thank you Roger! Extremely helpful, and reassuring as it confirms what I was thinking. – Jacquie

Paresh says:


This is really very useful information. I am visiting mid-April and will be staying at Lucerne for 4 days. I need to decide if to take Golden Pass journey or not. If I understand the train would be covering same route to and fro. So is it worth if I take this journey and return back to Lucerne the same night ? Also does the panoramic train and normal train have different routes? Thanks !



    The Golden Pass has you transfer to a smaller train that goes through a very scenic valley. You can get from Lucerne to Montreax faster by going around that valley and staying on the high-speed tracks, so you can take two different routes for at least part of the way. There are a few panoramic carriages on a few morning departures each day, but they aren’t different routes. You can take the Golden Pass route at any time of day, but you don’t get the option of panoramic carriages except in those special departures.

    I’ve done the whole Golden Pass and it’s really beautiful, but almost every train ride in Switzerland is beautiful. So if you are short on time you could just take the fastest trains between the cities you want to visit, and you’ll love the views. If you want to experience the panoramic carriages, which I haven’t, then you have to take the special departures. You’ll have a great time no matter what you choose. -Roger


Hello Roger,
I am glad that I came across your blog.Very informative.I am staying 4 nights in Zurich and 2 nights in Geneva.I will be staying at AIRBNB residences with Strict Cancellation Policy.
As the situation is I will have to do all my trips from Zurich for 3 days and Geneva for 2 days.
Please advise me on the Pass and the Scenic train rides that I can do staying at the locations.
Please include Jungfraujoch and the Golden Pass.
I don’t mind spending my entire Swiss holiday on the train.I may be able to spend one night in Lugano if the journey needs.Thank you,Jeet.



    I do try to answer questions about these articles, but I’m not really a travel agent or trip planner. It’s a bit of a shame that you are staying in the cities because the smaller towns such as Interlaken and Lucerne are nicer and cheaper as well. Jungfraujoch is a special tourist train that leaves from the area just above Interlaken, and it’s quite expensive. A Swiss Travel Pass only gives you a 25% discount on that. But the pass allows free travel on all regular trains, and they are all very scenic in Switzerland.

    I wrote about all of the scenic trains and their routes in the article above. From Zurich you can get to any of them in a couple hours, and the Swiss Travel Pass would cover everything except for your seat reservation on the special panoramic carriages if you want to take one of those. It’s probably easiest to look at a map of the scenic train rides and choose the ones that are easiest to reach from Zurich and Geneva. The trains in Switzerland are all very nice and punctual. If you have specific questions, let me know. -Roger


Thanks Roger,
Can I do the Bernia Express and the Gotthard Express simultaneously.Should I spend the night at Lugano?I will start from Zurich and end up in Zurich.
As the situation is I plan to do at least 3 Scenic trains and Jungfraujoch. In such a scenario should I go for a 4 day pass or a Half fare pass?
Appreciate is you can advise me as a travel expert and a fellow traveller.Thanks.Jeet.



    It does look like you could do one of those scenic trains and stay in Lugano and do the other one the following day, reaching Zurich. You’ll probably want to enter the trips into to get the times and make sure it works in the way it looks on the map.

    As for which pass to get, a Swiss Travel Pass would cover the train rides, although you’ll have to pay a seat reservation supplement on the panoramic carriages and some others, and also a 25% discount on Jungfraujoch. A Half Fare Card is obviously cheaper but it covers half the cost of each ride and half of Jungfraujoch. Since each scenic train has its own price depending on starting location, you’ll have to run the numbers. My hunch is that a 4-day Swiss Travel Pass would probably save you more because you’ll be doing extra train rides to and from Zurich as well. -Roger

Kelvin says:

Hi Roger,
Me and my girlfriend are planning to visit Jungfrau.
We will reach to Frankfurt on 29/4 and travel to Grindelwald on the next day by train.
We plan to have 3 days stay in Grindelwald, before travel to Venice. Could you please recommend us where should we visit, and is it advisable to buy swiss travel pass or half-fare pass? and what is the fare from Grindelwald to Jungfau? Thanks.



    The two best attractions in the Interlaken area are Jungfraujoch and the Schilthorn Observation Deck, which is reached by cable car. Aside from those things there are scores of hikes and other things to see and do, and it’s just a matter of taste. I’m not sure of the fare from Grindelwald to Junfrau, but it’ll be around CHF190 return. Schilthorn is a bit cheaper but also expensive and also very much worth it. If you are going to do one or both of those attractions then a Half Fare Card is probably the better choice. The Swiss Travel Pass allows for free train travel on the regular trains, but only a 25% discount on Jungfraujoch. Since it doesn’t look like you are going too many regular or scenic trains, the Half Fare Card should easily pay for itself and save you more. Have a great trip. -Roger

Kelvin says:

Hi Roger,
Firstly thanks for the information here.
Me and my girlfriend are going to Grindelwald from Frankfurt on 30/4 by train and plan to stay there for 3 days before travel to Venice.
Could you advise any interesting place or iternaries for this? and is it advisable to buy swiss travel pass or halffare pass?
I am also confused with the train ticket to Jungfrau, should we buy the return ticket as well?and can you advise how much is the price if without the travel pass? Thanks.



    I answered what I could in the other question. The fares from Interlaken to Jungfrau and back are in the article above. It’s CHF205 or so from Interlaken, so it’ll be a bit less leaving from Grindelwald, but not much less because the expensive part is going high up in the mountain. You should think about buying your ticket just before you want to go. Those peak attractions can be rainy or foggy, even during the summer, so it’s ideal if you know it’ll be clear up there when you go. If you lock in a time and it’s really foggy up there, it’s barely worth going. Best of luck with this. -Roger

Heather says:

Hi Roger,

Thank you so much for doing all of this research and putting everything together! I’ve gotten so much out of both this article, and your other about where to stay for short visits.

I am traveling with my aunt from Germany to Switzerland, arrive June 30th, depart July 4th. We are planning to stay in Murren (your other article helped us decide this!) Based on what I have read so far, I don’t think a pass will save us any money, but I’m not sure. Would you mind giving some advice based on our itinerary? Thanks!

June 30: Flight arrives in Zurich airport around 8 AM. Transfer from Zurich Airport to Murren. Go up Schilthorn Observation Deck. Overnight in Murren.
July 1: Transfer to Junfraujoch (day trip). Overnight in Murren.
July 2: Transfer to Meiringen to see Reichanbach fall (day trip). Overnight in Murren.
July 3: Day hikes around Murren. Overnight in Murren.
July 4: Transfer Murren to Zurich Airport. Might make stops along the way. Flight departs 9 PM.

The order for July 1-3 may change depending on weather.




    I’m very happy to hear that my research and advice has been helpful. Your itinerary looks wonderful and well planned. Murren will be a good base and it’s a lovely little town, but you might also consider staying there only one night and then moving to Interlaken or Lauterbrunnen, both of which are transit hubs in the area. Murren is 2 short cable car rides up the mountain towards Schilthorn, so it’s ideal for visiting Schilthorn, but it means taking those two rides down and then back up to see anything else around. The cable car runs every 30 minutes and it will cost around US$10 each way at full price. It’s a lovely ride, but after the first couple times the novelty will wear off.

    If you stay in Lauterbrunnen or in Interlaken itself, you’ll already be closer to everything except Schilthorn. Oh, and I highly recommend walking down the hill from Murren to Gimmelwald at least once, as Gimmelwald is a very different little farming village that is worth a stroll.

    Either way, I think you’d save money with a Half Fare Card, as described in the article above. It’ll give you 50% off all of your train rides, cable cars, and Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch, for US$120. Those last two are so expensive that the Half Fare Card will pay for itself on those two alone. They are also spectacular and worthwhile, so being able to save money with the Half Fare Card makes it even better.

    As always, let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Rajib says:

Hi Roger,
Day 1 (15th May) : We (me and my wife) will reach Geneva airport at 9 AM. Go to the Airport station, keep the suitcase in the station locker and take a bus/tram for old town. Explore Geneva for 2/3 hours and come back by 1 PM to the station. Take train to Lauterbrunnen, check in hotel in Lauterbrunnen, explore the area.
Day 2 (16th May): Start early morning do the Jungfraujoch and come back and explore Interlaken area.
Day 3 (17th May): Explore Interlaken more and come back to hotel by 12 noon. Take luggage and go to Murren. Stay in Murren and explore the village, explore Gimmelwald as well.
Day 4 (18th May): Do something in the 1st half and at noon go to Interlaken station and from there to Lucern. Check in Lucern hotel. Explore Lucern.
Day 5 (19th May): Excursion to Mt. Titlis (morning) and Mt. Pilatus (afternoon). Explore Lucern in evening.
Day 6 (20th May): Leave for Zurich by train, reach Zurich at 9 AM, store the luggage in the locker and just walk around to have a brief feel of the city by bus/tram. Leave Zurich to Innsburg at 3 PM.

This is my plan. Now I need your help in below. I am a nature lover but cannot do too much hiking (1 hour max) but Can walk for 7/8 hours a day. On below questions you just say it, I trust your judgement and follow it blindly.

1) Please tell me if there is any issue you are finding in the plan, can you suggest anything so that I can fine tune it? Something like visit Lucern, or Stay in Interlaken not in Lauterbrunnen, or from Geneva go directly to Murren and then next day come down. I am staying in Lauterbrunnen because one of friend told me when you can stay in the Alps why to settle for entry point of Alps which is Interlaken.
2) On day 2nd half what to do exactly? So please suggest me what to do exactly?
3) On day 4th can you please suggest what exactly to do in the first half of the day?
4) What would you suggest to visit in Zurich in 4/5 hours? I know it’s too less but just to have a feel of the city. How would you want us to go there (bus/train/trum).
5) On Day 5th, Are these both on the same direction or I will have to come back to Lucern and start the 2nd Excursion?
6) Now the most important question: I shared with you all the train/boat/ Excursion we are doing. Considering all these will you suggest us to buy ‘4 day Swiss Travel Pass’ or ‘Swiss Half-Fare Card”? I know I am not doing any scenic train trips, seeing the itinerary do you still recommend to include a ‘scenic train trip’? If yes then exactly which day and from where.

I know I have asked too many questions and you will have to spend a good amount of time in calculation to answer me question 6. But I will be very very grateful to you for this.




    I’ll try to help.

    1) Your plan looks quite good. I think doing Titlis and Pilatus on the same day might be challenging because each of them is normally a half-day attraction and it takes time to get from one to another. I think staying in Lauterbrunnen is a good idea, but you could also stay in Wengen or Grindlewald, which are both part of the way to Jungfraujoch. All of them are lovely mountain towns, with Lauterbrunnen being more on the valley floor. Also, Geneva has a nice location along the lake, but the town itself is quite dull. It’s very famous because of all the organizations that are based there, but it’s not really a tourist town, so you might even want to skip it.

    2) and 3) I really prefer not to make a firm suggestion of exactly what you should do. There are many wonderful views and hikes, and just wandering around those smaller towns is quite nice for a few hours. I’d suggest buying a guidebook or going to a website with Interlaken activities so you know what the options are and you can choose among them.

    4) Zurich is very expensive, but it is a nice town for a few hours. If you can join one of the free walking tours, which encourage you to tip them at the end if you like it, I think it would work out well. The tour is mostly flat, and goes mostly alongside the river on both sides. I think there are also tour buses, but you can see more on a walking tour, and the main center of town isn’t very large.

    5) Pilatus is just above the town of Lucerne, while Titlis is about 30 km to the south. You have to go through Lucerne main train station to get from one to the other, so it would take well over an hour.

    6) I think the Half Fare Card would be better value for you, since it gives you 50% discount on Jungfraujoch compared to 25% off with the Swiss Travel Pass. And since you aren’t doing any of the longer scenic train trips, the savings would add up faster with the Half Fare Card. Sorry I couldn’t answer all of them for you. Have a great trip. -Roger

Hal Post says:

Hi Roger,
My wife and I are planning a month long trip to Switzerland to celebrate our 50th anniversary. Our itinerary includes arriving in Zurich airport in late September 2017, travelling to Luzerne for 3 nights, staging out of Lauterbrunnen for 5 nights, working in a 3 day side trip to Venice, taking the Bernina Express for 2 nights in St. Moritz, adding the Glacier Express to Zermatt for 2 nights, going by train and bus from Zermatt to Chamonix for 3 nights, travelling by train to Montreux to catch the Golden Pass and heading to Bern and then Basel before returning to Zurich in late October for a return flight back to the US. We may try a side trip for 3 days to Paris from Bern but not sure. I’ve learned quite a bit from your article and guidance. We plan to take cog railways, lifts and other mountain trains in the Alp locations where we stay. I already plan to purchase a Swiss Travel Pass flex for 15 days for each of us. I’m concerned that we will use up the pass with several days still for travel in Switzerland. I’ve read about a flex/half fare card combi but have not seen where to buy it nor its cost. Would you suggest we buy the combi pass? Do you have any suggestions about the itinerary? Appreciate your help and advice.



    Congratulations! This sounds like an amazing trip, and I think I see your issue. If you are in Switzerland for 20 to 22 days, obviously not counting your time in Italy or France, it would be pretty easy to burn through those 15 days with a few days still left.

    I’ve also seen mentions of a Swiss Travel Pass flex combined with a Half Fare Card, but it seems like they aren’t actually bundled anywhere, so it would be a matter of buying one of each. As you’ve probably seen, the Half Fare Card costs CHF120 per person for 30 days. My hunch is that it would be a wise purchase for you. For one thing, if you plan on doing the amazing Jungfraujoch railway, the Half Fare Card provides 50% off, while the Swiss Travel Pass only provides 25% off. Since it costs about CHF200 return per person, that is a savings of CHF50 right there, which almost pays for half of the Half Fare Card.

    So if you bought both you’d be at around CHF620 per person and it would cover all of your train trips and allow you at least a 50% discount on the private railroads and cable cars. It seems like a worthwhile splurge, to allow you to freely do everything you want and keep costs down a bit. The other option would obviously be to just get the 15 Days Pass and white-knuckle it, hoping that you’ll build in enough days when you aren’t riding trains or doing major sights. If it were me, the extra CHF120 is a small price to pay to allow you guys to just do whatever you want, without worrying about having to pay for very expensive trips in the last few days. .

    I think your itinerary in general looks great and very well planned. You’ll have plenty of time while you are there to learn about other attractions and options, and with the Travel Pass you’ll be able to do most of them for free. My only other comment is that my brother lives in Germany, just over the border from Basel. I’ve visited the city a few times and find it quite boring compared to even other Swiss cities, and especially compard to Venice or Paris. In other words, if you don’t have anything in particular you are going to Basel to see, you might skip it. Bern is lovely though, so go there for sure. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Rajib says:

Thanks a lot. You are awesome. I will buy Half rate card then. Can you please tell me from where I should buy this.

One more question – Is there any scenic train trip that starts from Lucern or Interlaken area and not much time consuming and can be finished in half day.

Toral says:

Hi Roger, thank you for such a useful blog.

I would love to know your thoughts on which is the best pass or tickets to buy for my upcoming trip.

Friday to Sunday – In Zurich
I will then catch a train from Zurich to Interlaken
I will spend Sunday to Wednesday in Interlaken.
Whilst in Interlaken, I would like to do Jungfraujoch railway and also an observation deck maybe Schilthorn.
I would also like to take a train from Interlaken to Kandersteg to do the mountain coaster.
Then I will return to Zurich on Wednesday.

Can you advise if the Swiss Pass is the best option for the above?



    I’m glad you find it helpful. Since it looks like you are doing more mountain attractions than longer scenic train trips, I think a Half Fare Card would be better value for you. It provides a 50% discount on Jungfraujoch railway as well, while the Swiss Travel Pass only gives you a 25% discount. The train rides on your list don’t look like they’ll be enough to justify the higher cost of the Swiss Travel Pass. Have a great trip and let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

Hal Post says:

Thanks Roger. I will buy both passes. It would be a real bummer to restrict what we do because our Swiss flex pass only covers half the days. Thanks again.

Toral says:

Hi Roger,
Thank you for your quick response.

In your blog you mention that the train cost of zurich to Interlaken is approx 50CHF however when I have used the SBB mobile app to check my train costs it is showing 140CHF for this specific train from Zurich to Interlaken only.
Which is why I am considering the Swiss travel pass.
Would you suggest it is cheaper to buy the train tickets on the day of travel instead?



    I just checked again and the slower trains (2 hours 51 minutes) from Zurich to Interlaken are CHF51 each way in 2nd Class. The faster trains (1 hour 55 minutes) are CHF70 each way in 2nd Class on the website. If you book a return ticket on the fast train it is CHF140. Or 1st Class one way is CHF123.

    Unlike virtually every other European country, Switzerland puts its domestic tickets on sale only 30 days out, and the fares are the same no matter when you buy. Pretty much every citizen owns an annual Half Fare Card, so the trains for them are fairly cheap. You can buy a Half Fare Card for 30 days for CHF120 or so, and that will be a good deal for many travelers who are also doing Jungfraujoch and Schithorn etc. I’d think the SBB mobile app is the same prices as everything else. A Swiss Travel Pass could be worth it to you if you are taking several expensive trips in a few days. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Kelvin says:

Hi agaon Roger,
I would like to know among Wengen,Lauterbrunnem,and Grindelwald,which would you highly recommed to stay overnight? I would be going to Jungraujoch,and i would need some place that easily can find restaurants and groceries,and have a great view of the mountain. 🙂



    All three towns are nice. I’d probably pick Wengen or Grindelwald. All 3 of them are at the base of mountains in the Alps, but Wengen is at the highest altitude, and Grindelwald is second. Honestly, they are all gorgeous, so you might just pick the one with the best hotel deal within walking distance of the train station. They are all fairly small villages of about 2,000 to 4,000 residents.

    The large supermarkets in all of those towns is called Coop, and it’s bigger than you’d expect for towns that small. Each of them is located literally across from or next to the train station, and that’s also true of both of Interlaken’s train stations. There are also small restaurants near each of those train stations, so you’ll be fine at any of them. Most locals take the trains themselves, so the villages are built around the train stations. Long story short, any of them would be great. Lauterbrunnen is a bit easier to reach, but also a bit farther from Jungfrau. Best of luck with this. -Roger

Said Zaman says:


Does the 3-day Swiss pass includes the transportation from airport to Interlaken, if I want to stay at interlaken?

Once I am at Interlaken, does the swisspass includes all the regional transportion cost within interlaken?



    The Swiss Travel Pass covers all normal trains in Switzerland, and this includes all the trains that go from the Zurich or Geneva Airports to anywhere else in the country. Both airports have stations on the main line, so you don’t even have to go into the city to change trains to get somewhere else.

    Once you are in Interlaken you will receive a card from your hotel that allows free public transportation, which includes riding the normal trains between the two stations there, for the duration of your stay. A Swiss Travel Pass also allows for free travel on the normal trains to get to the mountain attractions, but it only allows a 50% discount on some cable cars (some are 100% included) and a 25% discount on the Jungfraujoch tourist train.

    So yes, it does cover all regional transportation, but only a discount on the private cable cars and tourist trains in the mountains. -Roger

Toral says:

Hi Roger,

Many thanks for your detailed responses thus far. I am unsure what so many of us would do without your expert knowledge!

A few further questions for me before I begin my travels in 2 weeks.

Is the best way to travel from Interlaken to Schilthorn by getting a train from Interlaken to Stechelberg and then getting the cable car up from there? Also on the Schilthorn website it gives me two options. One being a single trip and one being a roundtrip – which would need to be booked if I arrive to Stechelberg?
Also is the revolving restarant very busy on Schilthorn, should we pre book or can we book on the day?

I will also be visiting Kandersteg to go on the Mountain coaster at Oeschinen. I have tried to book the train from Interlaken to Oeschinen. Would you say it is easier to book the cable car up to Oeschinen on the day and just book the train from Interlaken to Kandersteg before hand?
Do you have any views on what the hike would be like from Oeschine down to Kandersteg?

Do you think that it would be easy to cover Interlaken to Schilthorn to Oeschine on one day or is it best to do Schilthorn on one day and Oeschine on the other day?

In regards to the travelling I will be doing in Switzerland:
Zurich to Interlaken
Interlaken to Schilthorn
Interlaken to Kanderstg
Interlaken to Zurich Airport
Would you say that the above train journeys will be the same fare if I book it now or if I book it on the day of travel from a ticket machine?

Thank you



    I’ll try your questions in order…

    Yes, the best way to Schilthorn is Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen by train, then the bus to the cable car station in Stechelberg, then the cable car up. It’s all described in my article about what to do in Switzerland.

    It’s technically possible to hike all the way up to Schilthorn and walk back down, so they sell cable car tickets for only the portions you want. You can buy a round-trip ticket when you get to Interlaken or Lauterbrunnen or anywhere else in Switzerland, unless you want to walk part of it.

    The revolving restaurant at Schilthorn is quite big. It might fill up on the busiest days of the year, but I’d think on most days you can just get a table once you get there. Seriously, it holds several hundred people.

    I’m not familiar with the mountain coaster, but I’d say it’s safe to book it when you get there. Switzerland is one of the rare countries where tickets are the same price no matter when you book. I doubt it would sell out, but maybe Tripadvisor reviews would mention that. I’m also not familiar with the hike from Oeschinen to Kandersteg, unfortunately. If it’s a popular downhill hike then I have a feeling it’s fairly easy and in very good shape. Switzerland keeps things in top condition in general.

    If you start early you should be able to do Schilthorn and Oeschinen on the same day. If you start in Interlaken it will take about two hours to get to the top of Schilthorn, and two hours back. If you spend an hour up there it’s still only 5 hours, so you’d have half a day left. If you are in town for two days it might be better to do one each day, but you should be able to do both on the same day if needed.

    Those domestic train tickets are the same no matter when you buy them. Since Schilthorn alone costs about CHF110 return, you could probably save money with a Half Fare Card for CHF120, but it will be close. You should be able to get the current fares on right now. They only sell them one month in advance. Have a great trip. -Roger

Jeeazi says:

Hi Roger,

Appreciate your advise on my plan for 18 to 29 Dec 2017 trip:
1. 2 Adults, 2 youth and 2 Kids under 14 yrs old
2. 18th Dec – Zurich to Lucerne (Lucerne base for next 5 nites)
3. 19th Dec – Lucerne area sights
4. 20th Dec – Mt Rigi or Pilatus
5. 21th Dec – Mt Titles – Snow Park
6. 22th Dec – Lugano (not sure yet)
7. 23th Dec – Lucerne to Interlaken (base for next 5 nites)
8. 24th Dec – Zermatt Matterhorn
9. 25th Dec – Bern
10. 26th Dec – Montreux or Lausannne or Geneva
11. 27th Dec – Ski Experience by Outdoor Sport Interlakeno
12. 28th Dec – Interlaken to Zurich (stay for 1 nite) – Go Rhine Falls
13. 29th dec – Depart from Zurich airport

We plan to buy 15 day Swiss Travel Pass for Adult, youth and family card (worth?).Looking to stay at apartments or hotels with kitchenette.

Any advise much appreciated.




    Your plan looks really good and I think the Swiss Travel Pass will be good value for you. On shorter trips it can be hard to get enough benefit out of it, but on a longer trip it’s fairly cheap on a per-day basis, so it should work well. You’ll even have time to do more than is on your list on many of those days.

    The Zermatt day will be a long one, however, as it takes a bit over 2 hours from Interlaken to Zermatt before you can get on the scenic train there. But as long as you start early, you’ll be fine and it will be gorgeous.

    The Swiss Family Card is free and it will allow one child to ride for free with an adult using a Swiss Travel Pass. You can get it once you get to Switzerland, or they may send them to you with your Swiss Travel Pass. This looks very well planned and I don’t really have anything else to say. Bon voyage. -Roger

Pipes says:

Hello! I am very confused about passes! Ive tried and tried to work tge costs out!
9 june geneve aeroport- montreux
10 june golden pass montreux – lauterbrunnen
Already reseved VIP seat
11 jun maybe boat thun or first
12 june lauterbrunen – jungfraujoch – grindewold – interlarken lauterbrunnen
14 jun lauterbrunen – zermat
14 jun gorgernat
15 jun glacier express zermatt-chur
Reserved seat already purchased
16 jun bernina express chur – tirano -milan centrale
Reserved sewt already purchased
I figure the 8- day pass is about 250chf more with mountain trains than the half fare. Though i havent thought of a 2-day pass (glacier/bernina) and hslf fare for the start of the trip???

Oh its so hard! Really really appreciate your help!



    I agree that it’s confusing and I’ve even written to the Swiss Travel Pass people to explain why it’s confusing. I think the 8-Day Pass will be a good buy for you since you are doing so many longer and more expensive train journeys. It can be hard to get good value out of the shorter ones, but once you get to 8 days it’s easier.

    You’d have to look up those train prices on to see if the Half Fare Card would save you money. Have a great trip. -Roger

Kelvin says:

Hi Roger,

My plan is started from Frankfurt to Bern, and from Bern to Wengen.
Then Wengen to Milan though Spiez/Brig.
Do you think half fare card or swiss travel pass is better for this case?
Do you have any alternatives from Wengen to Milan?



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