Is the Swiss Travel Pass Worth It?

Swiss rail travel comes with great views

Swiss Travel Pass Basics

If you are planning a trip to Switzerland that involves extensive travel by rail, it is worth considering a Swiss Travel Pass.   Not only does it cover rail travel, but also includes boat tours, free or half-price travel on many of the mountain cable cars, and admission to more than 500 museums and exhibitions.  (If you are still gathering ideas for a trip to Switzerland, visit my post on my Switzerland highlights).

Here is a list of fares for adults traveling via 2nd class:

3 days 4 days 8 days 15 days
CHF 216.00 CHF 259.00 CHF 376.00 CHF 458.00

A more detailed list of fares can be found here.  Prices are lower for youth (16-26) and children (6-16).  The best way to see if a pass can save you money is to look at your itinerary and add up the cost of travel plus admission to any museums or attractions that are included with the pass.  The regular Swiss Travel Pass is only good for consecutive days.  However, there also is a Swiss Travel Pass Flex that can used on non-consecutive day within a month.

While it is possible to buy the Swiss Pass online, you can also purchase it at any major train station.  For example, we bought out at the Zurich Airport Train Station right after we arrived.  The ticket agent was very helpful.

How the Swiss Travel Pass Fit Into Our Itinerary

I traveled with my husband, but for simplicity I am going to calculate all the costs for one person.  We each bought a 4-day travel pass at CHF 259.00 (which converts to about $262 US as of April 2017). We were in Switzerland a total of 6 days, but didn’t use a Swiss Pass for the first or final day since we only needed to take train to and from central Zurich to the Zurich airport.

For prices below, I used the SBB website.

Day 1:

  • Zurich to Neuhausen (for Rhine Falls) – 11.60
  • Neuhasen to Lauterbrunnen – 88.60

Day 2:

  • Lauterbrunnen to Murren (with return) – 22.80
  • Murren to Schilthorn (with return) – 82.20 (1/2 price with Swiss Travel Pass)
  •  Lauterbrunnen to Bern – 11.40
  • Maison Callier – 12.00
  • La Maison Gruyere – 7.00
  • H.R. Giger Museum – 12.50
  • Gruyeres Castle – 12.00

Day 3:

  • Bern to Broc to Gruyeres (with return) – 76.00

Day 4:

  • Bern to Interlaken (with return) – 58.00
  • Boat Cruise of Lake Thun – 35.00
  • Spiez to Interlaken – 11.40
  • Spiez Castle – 10.00

The total cost of buying everything individually would have been CHF 450.50 — giving us CHF 150.40 of saving with Swiss Pass.  There are other options that you can research such as the Swiss Half Fare Card and regional 1-day travel passes.  However, the Swiss Travel Pass has the simplicity of a one-time purchase.

Be sure to ask at museums if they take the Swiss Pass.  Several places that we visited gave us free admission with our passes, even though I didn’t see it advertised on their website.

Save on Stress

As I noted above, one advantage of the Swiss Travel Pass is simplicity.  You don’t have the stress of figuring out which tickets to buy on a daily basis.   If you get on a train going in the wrong directions, like we did in Gruyere, you don’t have to worry that it will cost you any extra money.

In short, if you want visit multiple cities on a fairly short trip, the Swiss Travel Pass is probably a good value.  In order to figure out how much it will save you, you will need to figure out the total cost of your travel itinerary.

 

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