1st class versus 2nd class: the differences

2nd class seats are the standard way to travel in Switzerland. Swiss trains are comfortable and clean, so 2nd class is perfectly fine.

1st class is about 75% more expensive. For that, you get more spacious and more comfortable seats as well as larger windows. On average, there are fewer travelers in 1st class.

In various long-distance trains, 1st class passengers have the option to have a meal served at their place. In some other trains meal services are available to 2nd class passengers too, but the options may be more limited than in 1st class.

Is 1st class worth it on Swiss trains?

Traveling in 1st class in Switzerland can be worth it, for example if you:

  • plan long journeys for which comfort is important;
  • prefer quiet coaches with fewer passengers;
  • travel on popular routes in high season.

You can check the expected occupancy in both 1st and 2nd class for your journey in the timetable. This can help you decide if you want to make a specific ride in 1st or 2nd class.

Availability of 1st class in trains and other transport modes

  • 1st class is available in nearly all trains.
  • Mountain (cogwheel) trains usually only offer 2nd class seats.
  • Buses, urban transport such as trams, and mountain transport such as cable cars also offer just one class.
  • Boats mostly have 1st and 2nd class sections.

Traveling in 1st class with a 2nd class pass or ticket

Class upgrade

Do you own a 2nd class pass or ticket, and do you want to travel in 1st class on occasional trips? Then you can buy an ‘upgrade ticket’ (in German: ‘Klassenwechsel’) at a railway station. With this, you pay for the difference between the 1st and 2nd class price of any route.

Upgrade tickets are 50% discounted for holders of a Swiss Travel Pass, Swiss Travel Pass Flex, or Swiss Half Fare Card.

On some long-distance trains, you can buy an upgrade ticket on board the train from personnel too. But be careful: in general you’re required to have a valid ticket for the class you’ll use before boarding.

Saver Class Upgrade

For some routes, a discounted “Saver Class Upgrade” is available. Availability and the exact discount vary. Saver Class Upgrades can only be purchased in the SBB app and are only valid for specific trains and departure times. They can’t be refunded.

How to recognize 1st and 2nd class seats

  • The exterior of rail cars has a “1” or “2” on it. Most 1st class cars can also have a yellow stripe on the exterior.
  • The same numbers are in the interior of the train coach. Depending on the type of coach this will be at doors, at ceilings, above the windows and/or at each individual seat.
  • Digital signs at the platforms often indicate at which part (“sector”) of the platform you can expect 1st and 2nd class wagons to stop.

Other websites of interest

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.