Swiss Travel Pass 2024 review: Is it good value or not?

When 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.

Note: This article was last updated in February, 2024.

Disclosure: This is a reader-supported website and some of the links are affiliate links where a small commission is paid to help keep this site going, but the cost to visitors is the same. 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.

New in 2024

Prices increased an average of 5.9% from 2023 on the Swiss Travel Passes, but the Half Fare Card remains at CHF120, which is where it’s been for many years. Train fares in the country increased by similar percentages so the value is basically unchanged. There were no other notable changes to service or the included attractions and train routes.

>>>Buy the Swiss Travel Pass online

Are you 100% sure where you want to go in Switzerland? This should help

I’ve been to almost every corner of Europe and have spent a lot of time in Switzerland, so I can reveal that Switzerland is very unlike visiting almost any other country in the region. In any other country you will want to start out in the capital or largest city and then add in another place or two if you have time. But in Switzerland the big cities are strangely boring and the scenery everywhere else is magical.

Zurich and Geneva are pleasant but dull. The good news is that Switzerland is packed with amazing sights and none of them are the big cities. If you aren’t 100% locked in yet, please read the article below and I think you’ll enjoy it.

>>>Where to go in Switzerland in 2 to 10 days

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

If 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 on one or more of the famous cable cars such as Schilthorn (50% covered by the pass) 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.

First class or second class? Good news for most people

In most of Europe the Second Class trains are reasonably comfortable but they can get crowded, especially if you travel during the morning or evening commute time between large cities such as Munich and Berlin. Second Class always has plenty of legroom and reasonably wide seats, so it’s mainly just the experience of guaranteeing that you’ll NOT be sat next to a full carriage of partying backpackers or screaming kids that makes First Class potentially worthwhile.

That said, Swiss Trains are literally the nicest in Europe and even the Second Class seats and carriages are nicer and roomier than trains in neighboring countries. The First Class seats are larger and nicer with only 3 across the cabin instead of 4, but honestly Second Class is perfectly comfortable for almost everyone.

Again, First Class on European trains like this is generally popular with business travelers where the company is paying and they need to get work done during the ride, and also senior citizens who don’t want to worry about a carriage full of backpackers. For most of the rest of us, Second Class is more than comfortable enough and the seat width and legroom compare to business-class airline seats. I’m a big and tall guy and I almost always travel in Second because it’s plenty comfortable enough and all the seats arrive at the same time anyway.

The longer you'll be in Switzerland, the better deal a Swiss Travel Pass will be

Most people visiting Switzerland only stay for 3 or 4 days and in visits of that length you really have to compare the costs of the Pass to the costs of the things you’ll do. And for many of those people who aren’t doing longer train rides, the Half Fare Card (discussed below) is the best choice. It’s easy to see that the per-day cost of the Swiss Travel Pass is pretty high until you get to the 6-day, 8-day, and 15-day versions. However, the per-day prices on those longer passes are actually very low considering the price of typical train rides and mountain attractions.

In other words, if you are staying 5 days or fewer, you have to do the math to determine your best option. But if you are spending even 6 or 7 days in Switzerland then the 6-day or 8-day Pass is almost guaranteed to be a great deal and your best choice. Once you have a Swiss Travel Pass you’ll absolutely love the ability to just hop on any train (excellent trains, always on time) and most boats and cable cars without having to worry about the cost. The per-day cost of an 8-day Pass even if you only use 6 of those days is about CHF65, and Switzerland is filled with amazing train rides and boats and cable cars that can get you that much value before noon each day.

Schilthorn (50% discount) and Jungfraujoch (25% discount) are cheaper with a Swiss Travel Pass

The two most dramatic viewpoints and most beloved activities in Switzerland are Schilthorn and the Jungfraujoch tourist train that goes up the mountain across the valley from Schilthorn. Jungfraujoch is a 25% discount off the CHF224 price for Swiss Travel Pass holders. If it’s not confusing enough, the entire rail journey to the start of the Jungfrau train is covered by the pass, so prices appear to be a bit more than 25% cheaper.

Both of those peak experiences are extraordinary and different from each other. Even so, compared to Jungfraujoch, Schilthorn is also faster and more comfortable on the way up and down. You can enjoy an excellent visit to Schilthorn in 4 hours or so (or a bit longer if you eat at the spinning Piz Gloria restaurant at the top), while a visit to Jungfraujoch requires closer to 6 hours.

NOTE: Schilthorn closes for maintenance for a week or two in late November most years.

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.

Mt Rigi, near Lucerne, is 100% covered by the Swiss Travel Pass

While most of the famous mountain excursions are only discounted 50% by the Swiss Travel Pass, the famous excursions to Mt Rigi, near Lucerne, are still 100% covered by the pass. This is one of the best mountaintop experiences in Switzerland and reaching the top involves a combination of cog railways and cable cars. There are multiple ways of reaching the mountain and all of them are fairly close to Lucerne. Most people prefer getting there by taking one of the frequent boats leaving from across from the railway station in Lucerne and then jumping off at one of the cog rail departure points. Needless to say, if you buy a Swiss Travel Pass, the Mt Rigi excursion should be a priority when you visit Lucerne.

Is a Swiss Travel Pass right for you?

Determining 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 2024 Swiss Travel Pass

1st Class

  • Adult 3-day Pass: CHF389
  • Youth (4 to 25) 3-day Pass: 274
  • Adult 4-day Pass: 469
  • Youth (4 to 25) 4-day Pass: 330
  • Adult 6-day Pass: 602
  • Youth (4 to 25) 6-day Pass: 424
  • Adult 8-day Pass: 655
  • Youth (4 to 25) 8-day Pass: 469
  • Adult 15-day Pass: 723
  • Youth (4 to 25) 15-day Pass: 512

2nd Class

  • Adult 3-day Pass: CHF244
  • Youth (4 to 25) 3-day Pass: 172
  • Adult 4-day Pass: 295
  • Youth (16 to 25) 4-day Pass: 209
  • Adult 6-day Pass: 379
  • Youth (16 to 25) 6-day Pass: 268
  • Adult 8-day Pass: 419
  • Youth (16 to 25) 8-day Pass: 297
  • Adult 15-day Pass: 459
  • Youth (16 to 25) 15-day Pass: 328

Swiss Travel Pass Flex

This version costs a bit more, but you don’t have to use the travel days consecutively. It’s a great option for anyone who won’t be taking longer train rides each day.

  • Adult 3 Flex days in 1 month (1st Class): CHF445
  • Adult 3 Flex days in 1 month (2nd Class): 279
  • Adult 4 Flex days in 1 month (1st Class): 539
  • Adult 4 Flex days in 1 month (2nd Class): 339
  • Adult 6 Flex days in 1 month (1st Class): 644
  • Adult 6 Flex days in 1 month (2nd Class): 405
  • Adult 8 Flex days in 1 month (1st Class): 697
  • Adult 8 Flex days in 1 month (2nd Class): 439
  • Adult 15 Flex days in 1 month (1st Class): 755
  • Adult 15 Flex days in 1 month (2nd Class): 472

Where to buy the Swiss Travel Pass

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$129

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 CHF224 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: CHF112
  • 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: CHF601
Total with Half-Fare Card (including price of card): CHF420.50

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: CHF203.25
Total cost: CHF462.25

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.

Swiss Saver Day Pass (A one-day unlimited travel pass)

As if the Swiss travel situation wasn’t already complicated enough, they also offer a 1-day version of a Swiss Travel Pass and it can be very cheap, but it’s also a bit complicated. They only sell these Saver Day Passes starting 60 days out (so you can buy a pass for May 1 starting on March 2 etc), and the prices goes up quickly the more of them they sell. If you buy them right away you can get them as cheaply as CHF29 (in 2nd Class) if you have a Half Fare Card, which is an amazing deal. But after they sell the first batch the price jumps up to CHF39 and then CHF49. In other words, if you want the cheapest price you should book exactly 60 days in advance, or generally as soon as possible.

If you buy the Saver Day Pass at least 21 days in advance (and up to 60 days in advance) the 2023 cost is:

  • 2nd Class (with Half Fare Card): CHF29
  • 1st Class (with Half Fare Card): CHF82
  • 2nd Class (with no Half Fare Card): CHF52
  • 1st Class (with no Half Fare Card): CHF97

Once you research the normal cost of Swiss train fares you’ll see that the above prices are a very good deal for anyone riding more than 150 kilometers or so in a day. If you are just going, for example, from Zurich to Lucerne or Interlaken on a day, it’ll be cheaper to just buy that ticket individually. But if you are going from Geneva or Montreux to Interlaken or Lucerne then the Saver Day Pass will be much cheaper. Better still, you can use a Saver Day Pass to go from Interlaken to Geneva and back on the same day on the Goldenpass line and returning on the faster train through Bern, and it will still all be included for free.

If you don’t buy a Saver Day Pass at least 14 days in advance it’s more expensive, and if you only buy 1 to 3 days in advance it’s VERY expensive, so the key is to buy early. This is all confusing, but the Saver Day Pass should be a great option for many people only in Switzerland for one to three days.

Popular Swiss panorama scenic trains

The 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: CHF272
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF159
  • Compulsory seat reservation fee: CHF44 or 49
  • 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: CHF113
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF66
  • Compulsory seat reservation fee: CHF32
  • 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
  • Prestige Class fare: CHF131
  • 1st Class fare: CHF96
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF56
  • 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: CHF164
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF135
  • 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: CHF99
  • 2nd Class fare: 89
  • 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: CHF224
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 147 (so, a saving of CHF77)
  • 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
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF78
  • 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: 49
  • 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

Popular Switzerland cable car rides

These 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: CHF108
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 54
  • Engelberg to Mt. Titlis cable car
  • Route: Engelberg to Mt. Titlis
  • Train type: cable car
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF96
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 46

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

While 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

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All Comments

  1. Kia says:

    Dear Roger,
    many thanks for your well-detailed response.the amount of time and effort u put for each and every comment is unbelievable and this is why ur page is so precious. I really appreciate that
    I didnt realize how unreasonable my plan was until u mentioned the doha-dubai trip so we totally will remove the Geneve -lausanne-bern trip from the schedule. and focus on booking a small hotel for Interlaken or lauterbrunnen as u suggested for a night and maybe jungfrau or Sth near the next day and then back to Zurich.
    just a question , saver day pass also include all boat , train and cable trains at the mountains or its only for regular train trips? if we add mountain cog trains at rigi or/ ….or cable trains or even boat trips for a span of 2-3 day trips (removing the whole Geneve trip) I guess a travel pass / half-fare card would be more economical (maybe even gets cheaper all around) if a saver day pass doesn’t cover them, what do u suggest? I lost track of what would be the math with the new trip plan honestly

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Kia,

      I’m glad you found that helpful. And I’m glad you asked. I just saw that with the Saver Day Pass: Cable cars, cogwheel trains and funiculars are not included, which I think is a new development. So it DOES cover trains and boats, but it won’t fully cover going up to Mt Rigi, for example. Still, you’ll get 50% off everything with your Half Fare Card.

      I think if you don’t get a full Swiss Travel Pass that getting a Half Fare Card is a must. It even saves you quite a bit on the Saver Day Passes as well, and it gets you half price on pretty much everything else. -Roger

  2. Kia says:

    Dear Roger
    perfect article which answered many of our questions. me and my wife are choosing Switzerland for our honeymoon in June 1-8th with a tour from Dubai. we will be staying 4 nights in Zurich hotel and 3 nights in Lugano hotel , and 1 night in Milan,Italy on the way home to Dubai. while we planned to spend 1.5 days in Zurich , for the next 2 days , we thought one day visit from zurich to luzern early morning , then to Interlaken, grindenwald and Lauterbrunnen by train, and maybe one of the cable trains up to the mountain in the same day, and at night take a train back from interlaken back to hotel in Zurich. and another day trip from zurich to bern early in the morning stopping in bern for breakfast and Kapellbrücke and head to lausanne, montreux , castle chillon, lake geneva by train after that , having dinner late at geneva and taking a train back to zurich at midnight ,
    for June 3rd and 4th for days mentioned
    on 5th we will be in Lugano with the tour , we were wondering that on June 6th for a day trip to locarno , bellinzona and ticino and come back at night to our hotel in Lugano
    and the 7th June to Milan
    while we will have 3 flex day on our own, do u suggest travel pass or 3 separate saver day pass, or a half fare card? I calculated the travel pass for us would be 534 CHF and 3 saver day pass for our dates 402 CHF for us total having a 135 CHF difference
    I did not think a half fare card to be reasonable as it adds another 240 CHF to us and not much adds maybe
    are we be able to use boats , cable trains and panorama and etc with saver day pass? is saver day pass possible for international tourists from middle east? also do you think our schedule is reasonable or u suggest other places closer which might be more beautiful while considering our base would be Zurich hotels and Lugano hotels as mentioned and we have to be back there every night. what do u suggest for travel cards or saver day pass or half fare…would be thankful of your valubale response and comments

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Kia,

      That is a lot. First off, the only considerations for eligibility are that there are certain products meant for Swiss residents, such as the annual Half Fare Card, and certain products meant for visitors and tourists. The Swiss Travel Pass and 30-day Half Fare Card and Saver Day Passes are available to any visitor who doesn’t live in Switzerland.

      It sounds like you’ve got all the math done properly so I think you can decide on which pass combination will save you the most. However, your schedule for those busy days visiting Lucerne, Interlaken, and Bern to Geneva sound like you are going to be attempting too much. The train from Zurich to Lucerne is almost an hour and then Lucerne to Interlaken is 2.5 hours and then 2 hours back to Zurich. Once you get to Lucerne you’ll want to walk around town and do a 90-minute lake cruise at the minimum, and even that would be the absolute minimum visit and barely worth it. From the Interlaken Ost train station to Lauterbrunnen and then Grindelwald and then up a cable car or train would take 90 minutes or more each way if you rushed. It would be a bit like flying from Doha to Dubai in the morning and then trying to see Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Al Ain in one day and then flying back to Doha. It’s technically possible, but it wouldn’t be much fun.

      It’s also worth mentioning that the Swiss trains are probably the best and most comfortable in the world, but it still somehow gets tiring riding for hours and looking out the windows. I’d try to keep train rides at 5 hours per day or less if possible, although sometimes you have to do more in order to see some far-flung places.

      It would be ideal if you are flexible with the Zurich stay. Honestly, Zurich is a nice city but the hotels are priced for bankers so the cost a fortune for a basic room. Zurich is also fairly boring compared to other European cities. If you could start out in Zurich and do a whirlwind visit to Lucerne and then head to Interlaken for the night and divide up your sightseeing including the following morning, it would be much more enjoyable. Also, the hotels in Interlaken are better value and nicer, and the small hotels in the Lauterbrunnen Valley are magical.

      If you are locked into Zurich and Lugano hotels I’d do a day trip to Lucerne and take a lake cruise and go up a mountain, and then the following day I’d do a day trip to the Lauterbrunnen Valley, which is arguably the most beautiful place in Europe. I’d save Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, and Montreux for another trip. Bern is quite nice and the train ride along the lake is very scenic, but the other cities are a bit dull to be honest. You’d be happier staying in Interlaken for another day or even doing a day trip to Zermatt and back.

      I hope this helps. Again, it looks like you’ve got the calculations down properly so it’s just a matter of deciding what you really want to do and then buying the combination that saves the most. Keep in mind that those Saver Day Passes go up in price as the day approaches so you’d probably want to buy them soon. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  3. Ling says:

    Loved this article. Thank you for putting all the info together. Please do help: A mom traveling with three kids ,18, 16, and 14. Arriving Zurich on 06/12 in the morning. Plan to get on train to Lucerne (1 night). Leaving Lucerne at night on 6/13 to Interlaken by train (2 nights), leaving Interlaken by train back to Zurich on 6/15. With 1 night in Lucerne and 2 nights in Interlaken and using Zurich as a hub (2 nights on 06/15 and 06/16), what would be a good option for me, Half Fare Cards, or Swiss Travel Cards? Thank you so much in advance.

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Ling,

      I’m glad you found it useful. It’s hard for me to offer advice without knowing more about your plan. If you are simply going to take those train rides between Zurich, Lucerne, and Interlaken, then a Half Fare Card should pay for itself and a bit more. But if you are going to take the train to Lucerne and then do a lake cruise and then take the cable car up Mt Rigi and the train back down and then finish your cruise, the Swiss Travel Pass would be better because all of those things are fully covered. So it all depends on what you will be doing while there. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      1. Ling says:

        Roger, thank you so very much for taking the time to reply. I really appreciate you and your advice. You are right on not having the details, because I have no details. I feel way behind! But, yes, I will likely do the lake cruise and going up Mt. Rigi. Based on your reply, it does sound like the I should go for the Swiss Travel pass. My concern is I do not want to pack too many things and ended up just sitting in the train most of the time. So, with that being said, we should have full 4.5 days in the country. We arrive the morning of June 12 and we leave the morning of June 17. What would be the must-sees you suggest that we should not pass and also fully take advantage of the Travel pass? Should we consider Jungfrau? (June 12-13 in Lucerne, 6/14-15 in Interlaken but need to leave time for travel inter-cities). I look forward to hearing your additional advice. Ling

        1. Roger Wade says:

          Ling,

          I’m glad it was a help. It’s worth mentioning that one of the wonderful things about Switzerland is that, with the exception of some rides in the Zurich suburbs, pretty much every train ride in the country is very scenic. In other words, just a normal train going between any two cities is going to be spectacular, and the ride between Lucerne and Interlaken is particularly nice.

          In my opinion the must-sees in Switzerland are the Lauterbrunnen Valley and Lucerne, in that order. The two most amazing things are the Jungfraujoch railway and the Schilthorn Cable Car, which go up on opposite sides of the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Both are great and quite different from each other, but I think choosing just one is wise if you are on a tight schedule. Schilthorn is a bit cheaper and it has the added bonus of a really nice revolving restaurant on top (Piz Gloria). The food is no more expensive than most other Swiss restaurants, and the views are amazing as the dining room does a revolution every hour or so. For example, a beer is CHF6, and that’s actually on the cheap side compared to restaurants in Interlaken and especially Zurich.

          I think doing Mt Rigi and the Lucerne lake cruise will also be an unforgettable day. The town of Lucerne is much nicer and more interesting than Interlaken, but the scenery near Interlaken is some of the most beautiful in the world. I should also mention that it can be cloudy or foggy on the mountain tops any day of the year, including in the middle of summer. Fortunately it usually isn’t foggy all day so it’ll often be clear in the morning and then foggy in the afternoon, or the other way around. So it’s important to check the current conditions just before you go because it’s pointless to go up either peak if the visibility is zero. So you have to take your chances and have a back-up plan if the mountain is in the clouds when you are ready to go. As always, let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  4. Abbie says:

    Hello!

    I will be traveling for 9 days this June as follows:
    Day 1: Arrive Zurich – travel to lucern
    Day 2: Day in Lucern (Rigi vs Pilatus)
    Day 3-5: Murren/interlaken area
    Day 6-7: Zermatt
    Day 8 – 9: Zurich

    Unfortunately, I had planned to take the Glacier expression from Zermatt to Chur but it is already sold out, so no plans for a scenic train at the moment. Would you recommend I use the half fare card or the Swiss travel pass? I’d like to do either Mt Rigi or Pilatus, possibly Schilthorn, and gornergrat.

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Abbie,

      In my opinion, if you are going to be in Switzerland for three days or so, a Swiss Travel Pass isn’t always the cheapest option. But since you are going for 9 days and they currently have a promotion that gives you two extra days with an 8-day pass, I think that is your best value. The per-day cost of the 8-day pass is only around US$50, and you’ll get that much use out of the pass before lunch on most days. Once you are actually there you’ll come across many boat rides and cable cars and mountain trains that are all covered by the pass, and it’s really nice to be able to just walk up and hop on board. With the Half Fare Card you’d probably end up skipping quite a few things to save money.

      Schilthorn is really amazing if it’s sunny up top, and the cable cars are fully covered up to the third station, and from there it’s half price, so it’s still cheaper with the Swiss Travel Pass than the Half Fare Card. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      1. Abbie says:

        Thank you for your help! Excited to visit this beautiful country! 😀

  5. Rina says:

    Comment*Hi Roger. Thank you for this article. Extremely helpful. I was originally thinking of getting the Swiss pass for my family of 4, 3 adults and 1 youth. However, based on your article, I’m thinking it’s not exactly a great idea. We have 6 full days in Switzerland. We will be based in Bern. From Bern we spend a day, in Geneva and back,a day in Lucerne and back, 3 days based in Interlaken and another day back in Bern to go around Bern . In Interlaken, we will not do the Jungfrau trip as i fear altitude sickness. We will probably go to Grindelwald and other places like Glacier 300. Do you think we should get the Swiss Pass or the half fare card. Thanks

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Rina,

      I’m glad this has helped. Still, I think a Swiss Travel Pass still might be your best option. It sounds like you’ll be doing quite a few longer or medium train trips, and obviously the Pass will cover all of them. Once you are actually there you’ll find a wide variety of boat trips, cable cars, and tourist trains, and with the pass you can just hop aboard and go. The Swiss Travel Pass covers almost everything (except for Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn) so nearly everyone gets a lot of use out of it on things that they didn’t even know about until they arrived.

      The other option that might save some money would be to get the Half Fare Card and then buy a Saver Day Pass for the big travel days like Lucerne or while in Interlaken. Going from Bern to Geneva and back on the same day would be fairly cheap with just a Half Fare Card, so that might work well. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  6. James Cook says:

    Comment* Thanks for the Great information Roger.
    My wife and I plus daughter (43) and granddaughter {12} are landing in Zurich [from Australia]in late September. On Day one [The day after arrival] we are planning to train to Lucerne and visit Mt Pilatus. Overnight in Lucerne then Mt Titlis day two, back to Zurich that afternoon. The next few days are walking and doing other tourist things but no train travel.
    Is a half-day pass worth it for us?
    Cheers, James

    1. Roger Wade says:

      James,

      I’m happy to help. I do think a Half Fare Card will more than pay for itself for the adults, and you can also request a free Swiss Family Card that will allow for free travel for the granddaughter when she is with the adults. It should be pretty easy to add up the costs of the things you have in mind, and I’m fairly sure that the Half Fare Card will save at least some money, and it’ll obviously make everything else half price on your remaining days in Zurich.

      It would be even better if you could make it to the Interlaken area for at least a day, but it sounds like you’ve got a pretty strict schedule already planned. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      1. James Cook says:

        Thanks for that Roger.
        Yep, unfortunately we are on a tight schedule this time but will be back in the future.
        Just one more question: We know there are lots of “Tours” for Titlis and Pilatus but can we avoid those and just buy the required tickets from the Tourist Information centres? The tour prices seem ridiculously expensive [yes, I know it’s Switzerland] and I’m pretty sure we got all our passes, etc, from tourist information places last time we were there.
        Thanks again for your help. James

        1. Roger Wade says:

          James,

          Yes, you can tour those peaks on your own with just the available transportation (which are already expensive enough!). It’s easy and everyone you encounter will speak decent English, and all of the important signs are in English as well. Have a great trip! -Roger

          1. James Cook says:

            Comment*Many thanks for all your info.
            Planning our trip right now.
            Cheers.

  7. Murali says:

    I found the information in this site very helpful. We are two families of four planning to visit Switzerland in June. We are planning to spend 3 days Zurich>Interlaken>Jungfrau>Interlaken>Zurich.
    Would you recommend taking a Swiss 3 day travel pass? Also read somewhere that if we take family card, children travel free in some of the trains. How can we get the family card? Any guidance would be really appreciated.

    Thank you

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Murali,

      I’m glad you found this helpful. One of my first bosses when I worked at IBM many years ago was named Murali and I haven’t met many more since.

      Based on the details you’ve provided, I think a Half Fare Card is probably best for the adults. A Swiss Travel Pass is great for people doing several long train journeys and some of the other included cable cars and boat rides (most of them around Lucerne), but the Jungfraujoch only seems to provide a 25% discount for the Swiss Travel Pass, and a full 50% off with the Half Fare Card, so it’s actually cheaper. The train rides that you mention aren’t too expensive at half price for adults, and the kids should be able to travel for free. You can request a Swiss Family Card with your Half Fare Cards, and that should allow free travel for kids 6 to 15 when with paying adults.

      If you actually want to do many more train rides and cable cars during those three days it might be closer, but still I think the Half Fare Card are going to be your best option. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      1. Murali says:

        Thank you Roger, this was helpful. Can you please let me know where to purchase Jungfraujoch train tickets or passes from? I see multiple sites offering it, so wanted to check the option that provides the best value

  8. Melissa says:

    Commen Love this page full of helpful info. Thank you so much!
    We plan on going end of Aug. to mid Sept.
    Zürich-2 days>Rhine Falls-old town-St. Gallen-Limmatquai to 17th-century Rathaus
    Lucerne-2 days > Mt Rigi-Lake boat ride-Chapel Bridge-Mt Pilates?
    Bern-2 days>Medieval City-astronomical clock
    Interlaken 2 days>Harder Kulm-Oberhofen Castle-Lake boat ride-Lauterbrunne-Wengen-Jungfraujoch-Top of Europe
    Grindelwald-2 days>Grindelwald First-Schlthorn
    Geneva-3 days>Old Town-Montreux-Chillon Castle-Vevey-Lausanne (GoldenPass Line in Montreux)end 4 days in Lyon to relax
    Perhaps too much time in the cities? We love historic sites. Please help with my itinerary,I do like Zermatt, but it’s far and not sure how to fit in? Also should I buy Swiss travel 15 days or Berner Oberland Pass plus Half Fare Pass?
    Any suggestion would be much appreciated! Thanks in advance!

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Melissa,

      I’m glad you have found this helpful. Your itinerary looks great and extremely well researched. My first reaction is indeed that maybe you are planning on too much time in cities, but you are also planning quite a bit of time in the scenic places as well. Still, I think 3 days in Geneva is quite a long time, although I guess you are using it as a base and doing day trips? If that’s the case, it should be good.

      The strange thing about Switzerland is that (with the slight exception of Bern), the cities are relatively dull compared to cities in nearby countries, and they are weirdly expensive as well. Everything in Switzerland is expensive, but at least a small hotel with an amazing view doesn’t feel as pricey as a small and generic hotel room with a view of an alley that costs even more. Since you are spending a couple weeks in Switzerland, you could even make some plans or change plans as you go?

      As for a pass, I think I’d definitely get the full Swiss Travel Pass. On a per-day basis it’s actually quite cheap if you’ll be staying close to 15 days, which you are. It covers almost everything and gives discounts for the things it doesn’t cover. The other thing, and you might have read this on other comments, is that it’s just really nice to have the full pass because you’ll encounter things each day that look interesting such as boat rides and cable cars and such, and with the pass you can just hop on board and go. You’ll be even more encouraged to do more things in order to get better value out of the pass. With a Half Fare Card you’ll probably skip many things because of the cost. And again, on a per-day basis, it’s quite cheap. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      1. Melissa says:

        Hi Roger:
        Thank you so much for your suggestion! I might need more help later. Yes, I am using Geneva as a base to go along Lausanne and take a Swiss Chocolate Train in Montreux. I will get the 15 days Swiss Travel Pass. Unfortunately the special below doesn’t apply to me.

        Booking period: 15 April to 14 May 2023
        Travel period: 15 April to 13 November 2023
        Offer Details
        4 days + 1 Free day
        8 days + 2 Free days
        *Not valid on the Flexi pass

  9. Bernadette says:

    Comment*
    Roger I have been planning my family trip for a month now. I wish I would have found your post sooner. This is very helpful. With that said, I need your input on what I have decided to go with and appreciate your input.

    We are starting our Switzerland trip from a night train from Amsterdam. We arrive in Zurich at 8am and spend 3-4 hrs, take train to Lucerne (3-4hrs), take train to interlaken (Hardum Klum and Thun boat ride). We plan on spending 3 nights and 4 days in Wengen with Bernese Oberland Pass. After, we plan on 3 nights and 4 days in Bern. The last 4 days in Bern, we plan day trips to Gruyere, Montreaux, Zermatt and Fly out of Geneva. Do you think a half fare card + Oberland Pass is sufficient for my family of 2 adults and 2 kids(6yr old)? I heard that Swiss Travel Pass saves you money as family as kids comes ride for free. I am not sure if this is true now. We are either renting a car in Bern or buy Swiss travel pass for the last leg. Which one do you think we should do?

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Bernadette,

      I think your plan of the Half Fare Card and Oberland Pass should be ideal. Since you only are planning on spending part of a day in Lucerne and not taking any of the long and expensive scenic trains, I think the Oberland Pass should cover nearly everything you need except for the short train rides you will also be taking. Actually, a full Swiss Travel Pass would cover a cable car in Zermatt and maybe a couple other things, but it’s much more expensive. You could also look into buying a Saver Day Pass for any day like your Zermatt day, which when bought at least a few weeks in advance with your Half Fare Card would be cheap.

      When you order your Half Fare Card you can also ask for a Swiss Family Card, which will allow your kids to travel for free when they are with you. I wouldn’t rent a car if I could avoid it, and I think a Saver Day Pass on that last leg should work well. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  10. Cynthia says:

    Hi Roger,
    Thanks for the great post!
    My friend and I are flying into Geneva and taking the train to Wengen for 6 nights then heading to Zurich for two nights before flying home.
    While in Wengen we are planning on doing a lot of hiking. Trying to figure out what pass would be the best for us.

    8 day Swiss pass and pay for trains and cables individually at the discount price.

    Buy a flex 3 day pass and get the 6 day Bernese Oberland pass at a discount.

    Buy Bernese Oberland pass and buy two super saver passes.

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Cynthia,

      That sounds amazing and I’m jealous. My first hunch would be that the Bernese Oberland Pass would be best as long as you are planning on focusing most or all of your hiking and adventuring to that area. And the Saver Day Passes could fill in the gaps for your trips in and out of Wengen. I’d also think that the Half Fare Card might also more than pay for itself since it will save you quite a bit on the Saver Day Passes and also cover anything else you do outside of the Bernese Oberland.

      So as usual, it mostly depends on the specific things you’d do with the pass. If you are mostly taking the short train rides to the nearby villages and then doing the amazing hikes from there, then you might only need a Half Fare Card because those train rides won’t add up to much. But if you plan on doing a bunch of cable cars and boat rides and such, the Bernese Pass will pay for itself.

      That said Wengen is a tiny village (similar to all the others in the Lauterbrunnen Valley) and 6 days there might seem like a long time. You might consider doing a day trip or two to Lucerne for a lake cruise and change of scenery? If you added in a thing or two like that, the pass situation could change a bit, but still the Half Fare Card at least keeps prices reasonable on anything you’d decide to do anywhere in Switzerland. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      1. Ank says:

        Hi Roger, i wish i had landed on your page earlier. We are a family of 4 adults and would stay in interlaken for 5 days. We have bought the swiss pass 4+1 ticket at 281 CHF. As we plan to stay in interlaken, what itinerary would make the swiss pass most valuable? If i cancel it and buy half price card instead, the charges are 60 chf. Not sure if it’s worth it. Looking forward to your input. Thanks!

        1. Roger Wade says:

          Ank,

          It’s tough to say for sure what your best strategy would be. I think since you already bought a Swiss Travel Pass it would be best to stay with it and decide on adventures that it will be valid for. One thing I’d recommend is doing a day trip to Lucerne. If you take the fastest train it takes 1 hour 51 minutes and the entire journey is not only gorgeous, but also part of the famous GoldenLine. Once in Lucerne you can walk out of the train station and right to the boat dock next to it and board one of the lake cruises. Depending on the departure time, the cruises stop at a few different little villages along the way and one of them leads up Mt Rigi, which has a cable car and a mountain train going up and down. All of that is included with the Swiss Rail Pass as well. And you’d have time to walk around the lovely Lucerne center as well.

          You could also do a day trip to Bern, which is especially handy when it’s foggy on the mountain tops, or even some portion of the GoldenLine going in the other direction through Montreux, Lausanne, and Geneva. There are also many trains and cable cars in the Lauterbrunnen Valley that are covered, so I think you’ll have no problem getting great value out of it. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger