Train Travel in Switzerland

by Katie Hammel  

Getting around Switzerland by train is easy and efficient…if not cheap. The country is just 216 miles east to west and 137 miles north to south making it possible to traverse the country by train in about three hours. Unless you’re getting pretty far off the beaten path or staying in the countryside, you can get just about anywhere by train or bus. In fact, no matter where you are in Switzerland, you’re not more than one kilometer from a public transit stop -be it train, cable car, bus, or ferry.

The train system is well connected and timed so that you’re never waiting long for your next train, and it’s easy to plan your routes and check prices with the online schedule.

The trains themselves are clean and comfortable even if you don’t want to spring for first class. You can reserve your seat in advance, but in most cases it’s not necessary. There’s plenty of room to store your luggage on the racks above, or near your feet if it’s small enough, and most trains have dining cars or attendants who come around selling beverages and snacks.

Unfortunately, transit in Switzerland is not cheap, especially when compared to neighboring countries. If you plan on using public transit more than a few times, it’s worthwhile to look into a Swiss Pass (not available to residents of Europe, the UK, Morocco, Turkey, or any of the countries of the former Soviet Union) . The Swiss Pass offers free and unlimited transport on the Swiss travel system, including trains, buses and boats, for a set number of days. And children under 16 travel free with a paying adult.

You can choose a pass for 4, 8, 15, 22 days or one month of consecutive travel, or one for 3, 4, 5, or 6 days of consecutive or non-consecutive travel within one month. For an adult, 2nd-class, 8-day consecutive pass, you’ll pay $391, which breaks down to about $50 per day for transport.  If you plan on traveling at least once per day, there’s a good chance that the Swiss Pass will be worth it, especially when you consider the perks that come along with it, like free admission at over 400 museums around the country, and discounted rates on city walks, cable cars and mountain railways.

Photo by Devonaire Eye


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