Must-knows about choosing a travel pass

  • The Swiss Travel Pass is the most popular. It often saves a lot of money and it’s very convenient.
  • There are many more rail passes. We offer 3 ways to pick the one that’s best for you.
  • Are your travel plans not fixed? Or don’t you want to spend much time calculating your options? Use our rail pass finder (1), or download our quick overview (2).
  • Do you have a detailed itinerary, and do you want to make sure which pass will be the cheapest? Download our calculation spreadsheet and follow the steps (3).
  • Any questions left? Feel free to ask us in the forum!

Which train passes do others buy?

These are the train passes for Switzerland that most travelers prefer:

50%Swiss Travel Pass
35%Swiss Half Fare Card
11%A regional pass
3%Swiss Travel Pass Flex
1%Eurail or Interrail Pass

Downloads to help you pick your pass

MySwissAlps rail pass overview
MySwissAlps rail pass calculations

Find your rail pass, option 1: use our rail pass finder

How to use our rail pass finder

Please find our complete overview of rail passes here. You can filter on the main features of each rail pass. For example, you can select:

  • the regions and towns that should be included;
  • how long the pass should be valid;
  • the season you’ll be traveling in;
  • whether you prefer ticketless traveling.

Using the rail pass finder is recommended if:

  • you have a good idea of your overall itinerary, with or without a detailed day-by-day plan;
  • you can’t or won’t make detailed calculations;
  • the main features of the pass are more important to you than its exact savings.

Find your rail pass, option 2: use our quick overview

How to use the quick comparison sheet

Please download our free rail pass overview document. It shows the main features of Swiss rail passes. This helps you decide which passes suit your travel plans, and which don’t.

Choosing with the help of our overview is recommended if:

  • your Switzerland itinerary isn’t set in stone, or;
  • you can’t or won’t make detailed calculations, or;
  • the convenience of a pass is more important to you than the exact savings.

Find your rail pass, option 3: calculate with our Excel spreadsheet

How to use the calculation sheet

To make your own calculations, please download our free calculation spreadsheet. Then follow the 5-step instructions. The steps are explained below and also in the spreadsheet.

If you are not familiar with Excel, you can use a notepad and do it manually. The spreadsheet also has a column to compare rental car costs to rail passes.

Calculating is recommended if:

  • you have a fixed itinerary and can list each and every trip you plan to make, and;
  • you have the time to do some research, and;
  • price is your main priority.

Step 1: Make a list of travel plans

This step is important, as you can only pick the cheapest pass if you have a detailed idea about all your travels. Make a list of each trip you intend to make and include:

  • transfers from the airport or Swiss border to the (first) town where you stay, and back;
  • all of your day trips, including buses, boats, cable cars, trams, et cetera;
  • town-to-town transfers, if you stay in multiple towns.

In reality, you can’t assume all of your plans to be realized, as the weather may force you to make changes. Also, you may discover other nice day trips while you’re in Switzerland or just feel like doing something else. However, the list you make should be a realistic overview of the kind of traveling you intend to do. If in practice you replace one mountain trip with the other, that mostly doesn’t result in a big difference in travel expenses.

If you don’t have an itinerary yet, we’ll gladly explain how to make one.

If you have no idea about your travel plans and just plan by the day, it won’t be possible to calculate which pass will be the cheapest. In that case, you can skip the other steps. Just use our rail pass finder or download our quick overview.

Step 2: Find prices of regular tickets

Now you’ll check what your traveling would cost without a pass. For each of the trips on your list, consult the timetable to find the ticket price.

Be sure to take the full (regular) price from the timetable, not the half-fare price or other reduced rates. Read the instructions on the timetable page.

To simplify things, we recommend getting the prices for one adult only. Children travel along for free in almost all cases.

Step 3: Select a few passes to compare

It’s not necessary, nor realistic, to compare the regular prices to all available rail passes. If you browse the list, or download our quick overview, you’ll quickly see which ones do and don’t make sense for your holiday.

For example:

  • If you travel all across Switzerland, it’s usually easier and cheaper to pick one country-wide pass, rather than a combination of regional passes.
  • If you’ll be traveling in one region only, you can eliminate regional passes for other areas.
  • If you plan to travel a lot, or if don’t want to buy tickets for each trip, the Swiss Travel Pass makes sense.

Write down the prices of the selected rail passes. You can find them in the price sections of each rail pass page.

Step 4: Find the discounts for pass holders

You now have a list of trips (step 1) and the costs of each trip without a pass (step 2). For the first selected pass (step 3), find out what discount you would get for each trip.

In order to do so, visit the relevant pass page (e.g. the Swiss Travel Pass page), download the network map, and check where the pass is valid. You can also browse the list of covered activities on each rail pass page.

If the pass grants free traveling for a trip or activity, enter a 100% discount. If the pass does not provide a discount, enter 0%, et cetera. The discounted price will automatically be calculated.

Repeat this for the other passes you selected in step 3. The total amount you’d spend with each rail pass option will automatically be calculated.

Step 5: Select a pass

Now you know which pass results in the lowest overall travel expenses. Tips:

  • Sometimes the difference between two passes is minimal. In that case, it’s recommended to favor the one that includes unlimited traveling. That’s more comfortable as you don’t need to buy tickets for each trip, and you can change your plans without paying extra.
  • Take into account that some passes include free museums entrance, so you may be able to save more than just the travel costs.
  • If you’re struggling with the details of your calculations, just pick the pass that seems to be a good overall fit. You’ll nearly always save money with any of the passes that are a reasonable match.
  • If very little traveling is involved, you may find that regular tickets are the cheaper option.

Still unsure? Feel free to ask for help in our community!

More information to help you decide

RhB train in Val Bever in autumn


Use our rail pass finder to quickly select the best pass or ticket for your Switzerland trip: from the Swiss …
Clock and departure board with Gotthard Panorama Express at Bellinzona station

Swiss timetable

The Swiss timetable is an essential tool to plan all your trips by public transport. We explain the basics to …

About MySwissAlps

We’re passionate tourists and locals. We share tips about how to plan a trip to Switzerland. MySwissAlps was founded in 2002.

Get a free account for a worry-free trip

  • Join our 9580 members and ask us questions in the forum
  • Access to member-only promotions
  • Detailed maps and weather forecasts

Don’t miss our tips and new promotions

Subscribe to our newsletter. You’ll receive practical tips and be alerted when there are new promotions.

Page author: ArnoI have visited Switzerland countless times since 1997. I've explored most of the country, but find myself staying in the Bernese Oberland and Graubünden most frequently. The alps and the rail network remain very impressive, even after all these years.