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Swiss Flexi Pass or Swiss Card????

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5 posts
new member
Sep 30, 2014 - 5:38 AM

Annika (or others)... Based on Annika's great advice in another thread, I've replanned our journey to make sure we can take the Glacier Express. But I've now spent 3 hours trying to figure out best way to get the rail tickets for the whole trip and am more confused than ever.I know it's asking a lot, but if anyone can help with the following, it would be greatly appreciated.

Basic Trip Info:

  • We are a family of 4: 2 adults + 1 18-year old + 1 15-year old.
  • We're arriving into Zurich on 20-Dec and plan to take the train to Zermatt that day.
  • On 27-Dec we want to take the Glacier Express from Zermatt to Chur, and stay overnight in Chur.
  • On 28-Dec we want to travel from Chur to Zurich for a flight to the U.K.

So that's 3 days of train travel...

It's so confusing to figure out best way to get our train tickets:
1) Should we buy a 3-day Swiss Flexi Pass that would cover all of our train journeys? (possibly with the exception of some supplemental fee for the Glacier Express segment?) or should we instead by the Swiss Card, which should get us our to/from airport travel and (maybe?) 50% off our glacier express tickets?

2) in the above scenario, the two train segments that are for the airport (arriving into Zurich and train to Zermatt, and leaving Chur to get back to Zurich airport) involve DIFFERENT Swiss cities. Some sites say that the two airport segments on a Swiss Card can be for 2 different cities, and some sites say that it has to be to/from the SAME city. Does anyone know definitively if the Swiss Card can be used for two different cities for the airport segments?

3) how can we best purchase our Glacier Express tickets, and can we pre-book from the U.S. and take advantage of the Swiss Card's 50% discount benefit? Somewhere i read it has to be done from Europe, and I'd worry that we shouldn't wait to book seats on the Glacier Express until we arrive into Switzerland, especially for peak holiday travel. The official site says you can buy starting 90 days ahead of journey, but no site I go to lets me buy more than 30 days ahead. given the holiday travel period, i want to make sure we can get good seats (1st class) on the SINGLE Glacier Express that travels eastbound during the winter on the 27th December.

Thanks so much for any help and advice, I'm not sure what I'd do if it weren't for the MySwissAlps site!


14114 posts
expert &
Sep 30, 2014 - 5:30 PM

Hi Josh,

No problem in asking questions! Let's have a look:

1) You can compare overall travel expenses by doing the math as explained here. You will find that the 3-day Swiss Flexi Pass is the cheapest option (the 15 year old will travel along for free with the Swiss Family Card). It's also more convenient than a Swiss Card as you can do free detours at no additional cost, in case you'd feel like that.

Indeed you do need four seat reservations for the Glacier Express.

2) A Swiss Card does not require you to travel to/from the same town or airport: www.myswissalps.com/sw isscard/howtouse.

3) You can purchase the Swiss Flexi Pass with an additional $50 discount here: www.raileurope.com/rai l-tickets-passes/swiss-pass/index.html (this offer expires on October 10). The Glacier Express reservations can be ordered along with the pass, but seats may not be available yet because the new annual timetable that goes into effect mid December is not released yet. I expect that around October 15. If the seats are not available before October 10 you can always order them separately later.

You should definitely book the seats as soon as they become available, because it's indeed the peak of high season that week, especially in all winter sports resorts.

Have fun!


Last modified on Oct 27, 2017 - 2:49 PM by Arno
5 posts
new member
Sep 30, 2014 - 6:03 PM in reply to Arno

Thanks Arno, this is so helpful. If we will have no additional rail tours, I'm surprised the Flexi pass will work out cheaper for us than the Swiss Card. I'll do the math on that link you gave, but sounds like you recommend the Flexi pass. very helpful.

I wish Swiss Rail (or your site) had some sort of monitoring/alert email that could automatically get generated when that timetable gets released so i can reserve my seats right away, rather than counting on checking often and getting lucky given the likely demand.

Thanks again for all the fantastic advice, tips, and clarifications.


14114 posts
expert &
Sep 30, 2014 - 6:15 PM

You're welcome Josh. The outcome is like this because you're making pretty long train rides, and that's where the Swiss (Flexi) Pass saves money. The Swiss Card is only worth it in specific cases where the inbound and outbound transfers happen to be both very long, and in between trips are short. In fact the Swiss Card is going to be discontinued as of January 1, perhaps because of this reason, I'm not sure. Anyway, the Swiss Flexi Pass is the pass of choice here, and with the additional discount the savings are even bigger.

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