Swiss Rail Passes
The trains in Switzerland are not cheap. There are tons of different kinds of rail passes, and for almost any trip to Switzerland you will want one of these passes. I think the Transfer Ticket with a Half Fare Card is a great deal (a rarity in Switzerland) and is the pass I’d recommend as a basic “I don’t know what to get” pass. This used to be called a Swiss Card, and you might still see that name pop up from time to time. The Transfer Ticket gives you 2 free days of Travel in a month, good for free travel from the airport or border to and from your destination, and the Half Fare Card entitles you to 50% discounts on all travel for up to a month. This is a great bargain, especially for those mountain cable cars and railways that you won’t want to miss, and it’s the best pass for focused travels to one region in Switzerland.
There are other passes to consider as well. The Swiss Travel Pass is good for 3, 4, 8 or 15 consecutive days, and gives you free travel on intercity trains, busses and lake boats. The Swiss Travel Pass Flex is good for 3, 5 8 or 15 days of travel in a month. Both of these passes also offer 50% discounts on almost all of the high-mountain railways (25% off on the upper stretch of the Jungfraujoch train), and free museum entrance to most Swiss museums. You get these discounts on any of your “free” travel days. Got that? They can be bought with or without a Half Fare Card, which isn’t typically useful on a consecutive Travel Pass, but could be quite useful for the in-between days on a Travel Pass Flex. You can see details on what’s covered and what isn’t on this Swiss Rail Map.
Traveling with kids under 16 years old? Then definitely get a free family card with any of these rail passes and kids under 16 travel with their parents for free. Even on the mountain railways. Even to Jungfraujoch. The family card is one of the best deals in Switzerland.
The Swiss Travel Pass comes in 1st or 2nd class, and is good for 3, 4, 8 or 15 consecutive days of free travel within Switzerland. It’s a great pass if you are traveling to a lot of different places in a short time, or if you simply want the easiest solution, and don’t want to think about it too much.
The Swiss Travel Pass Flex, like the consecutive passes, also comes in 1st or 2nd class, and is good for 3, 4, 8 or 15 individual days of free travel within Switzerland in a one month period. This makes it useful for a lot of people, such as when you have a 10-day trip to 2 or 3 different regions of Switzerland.
The Swiss Transfer Ticket is a fairly basic pass. It comes in 1st or 2nd class and is good for 2 days of free travel within Switzerland in a one month period. This should be for travel from an airport or border to your destination in Switzerland, and back to any airport or border.
The one-month Half Fare Card is very simple… it allows you to buy tickets at a 50% discount throughout Switzerland. It can be bought as a stand-alone pass, or can be bought in combination with another Swiss Travel Pass, Swiss Travel Flexi or Transfer Ticket pass.
The Swiss Family Card is one of the best deals in Switzerland. First of all it’s free. You can request one with any other Swiss rail pass. It allows any children 15 and younger to travel with their parents for free anywhere in Switzerland. This is good on point-to-point travel, on city busses, lake boats, mountain top cable cars, even to Jungfraujoch. For any families traveling to Switzerland with kids, you need to get a rail pass and get a Family Card.