How to Use the Swiss Rail Pass

What is the Swiss Rail Pass?

The Swiss Rail Pass is an unbelievable money-saving option for Swiss visitors that are planning on taking multiple train rides. With most Swiss Train Tickets costing over $100, the Swiss Rail Pass will provide savings for anyone who wants to explore multiple Swiss cities. 

I had experienced the wonders of a rail pass when I purchased the JR Rail Pass for unlimited travel around Japan a few years earlier, which convinced me that the Swiss Rail Pass would definitely enhance my trip.

The Swiss Rail Pass has various options to suit the needs of different types of travelers. Below are the prices for the Swiss Rail Pass options.

While the cost of both the Swiss Rail Pass and the Swiss Rail Pass Flex seems expensive, you will save money if you are taking multiple train rides. If you want to figure out how much money, download the SBB Mobile App and search the cost of all the train routes you are planning on taking. I found that I saved over $500 with the Eight-Day Swiss Rail Pass.

An SBB Train Near Randa Station
An SBB Train Near Randa Station

The prices for the Swiss Rail Pass are accurate as of November 2023.

Swiss Rail Pass - Second Class Prices

3 Days – CHF 232 ($232)

4 Days – CHF 281 ($281)

6 Days – CHF 359 ($359)

8 Days – CHF 389 ($389)

15 Days – CHF 429 ($429)

Swiss Rail Pass - First Class Prices

3 Days – CHF 369 ($369)

4 Days – CHF 447 ($447)

6 Days – CHF 570 ($570)

8 Days – CHF 617 ($617)

15 Days – CHF 675 ($675)

There is also a similar pass called the Swiss Travel Pass Flex. This pass allows the visitor to use the pass on specific days of their choosing. Below are the prices for the Swiss Rail Pass Flex.

Swiss Rail Pass Flex - Second Class Prices

3 Days Flex – CHF 267 ($267)

4 Days Flex – CHF 323 ($323)

6 Days Flex – CHF 384 ($384)

8 Days Flex – CHF 409 ($409)

15 Days Flex – CHF 449 ($449)

Swiss Rail Pass Flex - First Class Prices

3 Days Flex – CHF 424 ($424)

4 Days Flex – CHF 514 ($514)

6 Days Flex – CHF 610 ($610)

8 Days Flex – CHF 649 ($649)

15 Days Flex – CHF 706 ($706)

How to Use the Swiss Rail Pass - An 8-Day Itinerary - Table of Contents

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Frequently Asked Questions About the Swiss Rail Pass

Below are the questions that I researched before purchasing the Swiss Rail Pass. I hope they help answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the Swiss Rail Pass.

Question: Do you need a seat reservation with the Swiss Rail Pass?

Answer: You do not need a seat reservation for any of the trains with the exception of a few of the scenic sightseeing trains.

Question: Is a First-Class Swiss Rail Pass worth the extra money?

Answer: If you are tall, like your space, and want a less crowded train car, first class is definitely worth it.

Question: How do I tell the difference between first-class and second-class cars?

Answer: Swiss Train’s First-class cars have the number one written on them and are marked with a yellow stripe. Before boarding, look at the arrival sign. First-class cars will be marked with a “1” and second-class cars with a “2.”

Question: How early do you need to arrive at a Swiss Train Station?

Answer: Arriving 5-10 minutes early is plenty. Swiss Trains are almost always on time, so don’t arrive late.

Question: How do I use my Swiss Rail Pass?

Answer: Download the SBS Mobile App and log into your Swiss Rail Pass account. You will receive a QR Code that the conductor will scan.

Question: On Swiss trains, what language are the announcements/signs in?

Answer: The announcements and signs on Swiss Trains are in German, French, Italian, and English.

Question: Do they have lockers at Swiss Train stations?

Answer: Almost all the Swiss train stations have lockers that will fit both carry-on and checked luggage-sized bags. Most of them use coins, so you may have to get change from the ticket office.

Question: What do the various Swiss train codes mean?

Answer: ICE stands for the InterCity Express. EC stands for EuroCIty, IC stands for InterCity, IR stands for InterRegion, RE stands for RegionalExpress, and R stands for Region.

The View from a First-Class Car on an SBB Train Near Lucerne
The View from a First-Class Car on an SBB Train Near Lucerne
The Arrival Board at Zurich Airport Station - The Car's with a "1" are First-Class Cars
The Arrival Board at Zurich Airport Station - The Car's with a "1" are First-Class Cars
Most Swiss Train Stations have Lockers
Most Swiss Train Stations have Lockers
Luggage Storage in a First-Class SBB Car
Luggage Storage
The Interior of an SBB First-Class Rail Car
The Interior of an SBB First-Class Rail Car
The Interior of an SBB Second-Class Rail Car
The Interior of an SBB Second-Class Rail Car

An 8-Day Itinerary Utilizing the Swiss Rail Pass

Day 1: Interlaken and Schynige Platte

Zurich Airport to Interlaken Ost

I had scouted the train station at Zurich Airport the day that I arrived and found that everything was clearly marked with signs. Downloading the SBS Mobile App also helped because I could save specific route schedules to my phone.

I arrived at the Zurich Airport Station about twenty minutes before my train was set to depart. Having a first-class Swiss Rail Pass meant I had access to first-class cars. The signs above the tracks showed the layout of each train and informed me which of the carriages were in a first-class layout.

When I entered the train, I was one of two people in the first-class car. My first journey lasted about an hour as I had to switch trains in Bern.
When I arrived in Bern, I had about ten minutes to transfer trains. That was plenty of time, and I again found that the first-class car was virtually empty. This second train was labeled an “EC” route which meant it would eventually leave Switzerland. For those interested, the Swiss Rail Pass works on “EC” routes but only in Switzerland. If you plan on leaving the country, you will need to purchase a ticket.

My final transfer was in Spiez, and this transfer put me on an “RE” route. These routes are regional and typically are much shorter. I arrived at Interlaken Ost about two hours and fifteen minutes after I left.

Interlaken Ost to Schynige Platte

Once I arrived at Interlaken Ost, I put my luggage in a locker and got right to sightseeing. The cost of a locker at Interlaken Ost was CHF 7 ($7) for 24 hours.

My next destination was Schynige Platte which is high in the Swiss Alps. To get to Schynige Platte, I had to first take the IC61 train to Wilderswil. This train was covered by the Swiss Rail Pass, but if you have a Euro Rail Pass you will need to buy a ticket.

Wilderswil was the first stop, so I didn’t worry about finding the first-class car. When I arrived at Wilderswil, I crossed the tracks and boarded the first train that was not covered by my Swiss Rail Pass. The train to Schynige Platte is a cogwheel train and costs an additional CHF 32 ($32) for rail pass holders.

You can learn more about my journey on the cog train to Schynigue Platte by clicking HERE.

Zurich Airport Train Station
Zurich Airport Train Station
The Cogwheel Train from the Pathway
The Cogwheel Train to/from Schynige Platte
The Summit of the Daube Trail - Looking Towards Lake Brienz
A Beautiful View from the Summit of the Daube Trail at Schynige Platte

Day 2: Jungfraujoch

Interlaken Ost to Jungfraujoch

I began day two by taking the train from Interlaken West to Interlaken Ost. From Interlaken Ost, I took the IC61 from Interlaken Ost to Grindelwald Station. When taking this route, be careful to board in the correct zone. Zone A (the first half of the cars) goes to Grindelwald, and Zone B (the second half of the cars) goes to Laternrautan.

About 15 minutes into the journey, the train split into two different trains, with zone A going to Laterbrauten and zone B going to Grindelwald. I arrived at the Grindelwald Terminal about 45 minutes after my original departure.

From the Grindelwald Terminal, I then took the Eiger Express Cable Car to Eigergletscher Station. The Eiger Express offered spectacular views during the 15-minute journey. There was an additional cost for the cable car, which was part of my packaged ticket to Jungfraujoch.

Once I arrived at Eigerletscher Station, I boarded a cog-wheel train to Jungfraujoch. The journey to Jungfraujoch Station (the highest train station in Europe) took about 45 minutes, with a five-minute stop at Eismeer Station to see the Ischmeer Glacier.

You can read more about my journey to Jungfraujoch by clicking HERE.

View from the Eiger Express Cable Car
View from the Eiger Express Cable Car
Junfraujoch's Sphinx Observation Point on a Cloudy and Foggy Day
Junfraujoch's Sphinx Observation Point on a Cloudy and Foggy Day

Day 3: Lucerne

Interlaken Ost to Lucerne

Day three was a very rainy day, which kept me in my apartment for most of the morning. In the early afternoon, the rain let up and turned into a steady mist.

I boarded the Interlaken/Lucerne express to get to Lucerne. The ride took about two hours, but I was plenty comfortable in the first-class car. This trip was meant to be a full-day trip, but due to the rain, it had turned into a half-day trip. I figured since I had the Swiss Rail Pass and the entire journey was covered that I might as well go to Lucerne as planned. The only worry was I would be on the train for four hours to basically spend an additional four hours in Lucerne.

It was during this journey that I decided to check out the dining car. It had been raining all day, and I had not ventured out into the rain to get lunch. On the way to Interlaken Ost, I had stopped to get some snacks, but about an hour into the ride, I was feeling quite hungry.

I was very impressed with the dining car options. I chose to go with “Ghackets mit Hörnli,” which is a Swiss noodle dish with ground beef. It was delicious, and plenty of food to fill me up. When I arrived in Lucerne, I wasn’t even hungry.

You can read more about my visit to Lucerne by clicking HERE.


Dining Car on an SBB Train
Dining Car on an SBB Train
The Chapel Bridge - Lucerne, Switzerland
The Chapel Bridge - Lucerne, Switzerland

Day 4: Harder Kulm and Bern

Day four was my departure day from Interlaken, and I would be spending the night in Geneva. Before heading to Geneva, I had two places that I wanted to visit, Harder Kulm and Bern.

Interlaken Ost to Harder Kulm

To get from Interlaken Ost to Harder Kulm, I had to purchase a separate ticket for the Harder Kulm Cogwheel train. The cost of the ticket was discounted by 50% to CHF 17 ($17) with the Swiss Rail Pass. During my time in Interlaken, I had been waiting for the clouds to clear so I could head to the observation platform at Harder Kulm. You an read more about my visit to Harder Kulm by clicking HERE.

Interlaken Ost to Bern

To get to Geneva, I had to take the IC 61 to Bern and transfer trains to the IC 1. I figured that this would be a perfect opportunity to spend a few hours visiting Bern. Almost every Swiss train station has storage lockers, and I was able to store my luggage for a few hours and walk around Bern.

In the past, I’ve had lots of success scheduling long layovers with my flights, but this was my first time scheduling a “train layover.” With the Swiss Rail Pass, I could board any train that I wanted and did not have to worry about purchasing a ticket. You can read more about my time in Bern by clicking HERE.

After spending a few hours walking around Bern, I returned to Bern Station and continued onward to Geneva.

Bern to Geneva

The final leg of this marathon travel day was from Bern to Geneva on the IC 1. I spent most of my time uploading photos from my layover in Bern and enjoyed having the extra room that the first-class car provided. When I arrived in Geneva, it was only a short walk from Geneva Station to my hotel.

The View from the Edge of the Harder Kulm Viewing Platform
The View from the Edge of the Harder Kulm Viewing Platform
Bern Station
Bern Station
The Zytglogge is One of the Most Visited Sights in Old Town Bern
The Zytglogge is One of the Most Visited Sights in Bern

Day 5: Geneva

Lake Geneva Boat Tour

Day five was the only day that I didn’t take a train during my Swiss Trip. Instead, I took a three-hour boat tour of Lake Geneva. There was no cost to take the Lake Geneva Boat Tour with my Swiss Rail Pass, and since I had the first-class pass, I was able to have access to the upper level of the boat, which is only allowed for first-class ticket holders.

You can learn more about my time walking around Geneva by clicking HERE, and more about my Lake Geneva Boat Tour by clicking HERE.

The View from the Deck of My Lake Geneva Cruise
The View from the Deck of My Lake Geneva Cruise

Day 6: Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge

Geneva to Randa

Day six was definitely the most tiring as I would spend almost all of the daylight hours either on a train or hiking. I began this marathon day by taking the IR 90 to Visp Station. This trip was almost a three-hour train ride, and I slept for quite a bit of the journey. Once at Visp Station, I stored my luggage, as I would be returning to Visp Station on my way to my hotel in Bag Ragaz.

From Visp Station, I took the RE217 to Randa Station. Randa Station is a tiny station located in the mountain town of Randa. This station did not have an attendant or lockers, which is why I chose to leave my bags at Visp Station.

It took almost four hours to get from Geneva to Randa. After arriving and getting my barring, I set off on an almost five-hour hike to the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge. Although the hike was difficult, this was my favorite activity of my trip to Switzerland. You can learn more about my hike to the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge by clicking HERE.

Randa to Bad Ragaz

After an exhausting hike, I still had a four-hour train ride to Bad Ragaz. First, I had to return to Visp to get my bag. From Visp, I boarded the IC8 to Zurich HB, which is Zurich’s main station. Once in Zurich, I had to transfer to the IR35 to get to Bag Ragaz. The journey went fairly quickly as I spent most of the time editing photos and taking a brief nap.

Randa Station
Randa Station
Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge - Randa, Switzerland
Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge - Randa, Switzerland

Day 7: Liechtenstein

Bad Ragaz to Sargans

On the final full-day of my trip, I left Switzerland to visit the tiny nation of Liechtenstein. To get to Liechtenstein with my Swiss Rail Pass, I first had to take IR35 from Bag Ragaz to Sargans Station. This ride only took 10-minutes, and I barely had time to sit down before I got off the train.

Sargans to Vaduz to Bad Ragaz

There is no rail service to Liechtenstein, so I had to transfer at Sargans Station to a bus. The bus ride from Sargans to Vaduz was covered by the Swiss Rail Pass. Sargans Station has a staffed SBB office, and the agent was able to help me find the right bus and ensure that my rail pass was valid for the journey. 

The bus ride on the #11 bus from Sargans to Vaduz took about an hour. Once in Liechtenstein, I spent a few hours walking around Vaduz. To learn more about the bus ride to Vaduz, click HERE. To learn more about what to see in Vaduz, click HERE.

Instead of taking the bus back, I decided to walk from Vaduz to the Swiss town of Sevelen and take the train from Sevelen to Bad Ragaz. You can learn more about walking between Switzerland and Liechtenstein by clicking HERE.

The 11 Bus at Sargans Station to Liechtenstein is Covered by the Swiss Rail Pass
The 11 Bus at Sargans Station to Liechtenstein is Covered by the Swiss Rail Pass
Liechtenstein Seen from an Observation Point Near the Vaduz Castle
Liechtenstein Seen from an Observation Point Near the Vaduz Castle

Day 8: Zurich

Bad Ragaz to Zurich HB to Zurich Airport

On day eight, I got up early and took the IR35 from Bad Ragaz to Zurich, HB. I had about eight hours before I had to be at Zurich Airport for my flight home, so I spent some time walking around Old Town Zurich. At this point, I was exhausted from eight days of non-stop touring. I decided to take the 10-minute ride from Zurich, HB, to Zurich Airport.

Once at Zurich Airport, I checked in for my flight and spent three hours napping in the transit hotel. The transit hotel was CHF80 ($80) for a three-hour stay, and that included access to the bathroom and shower area.

I woke up about 90-minutes before my flight, walked to the gate, and headed home via SAS Airlines.

Later than year, I would take a Moroccan train from Casablanca to Marrakech. It was a nightmare experience and made me realize how lucky I was to get to ride the Swiss trains.

Old Town Zurich
Old Town Zurich

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