Top 5 Free Things You Can do with a Swiss Pass

© Switzerland Tourism By-Line: Schmid

As if going to Switzerland wasn’t enough of a bonus, a Swiss Pass not only includes travel on the country’s extensive rail network but also voluminous bonuses. With a Swiss Pass, the sky is the limit – and that goes way past the Alps.

For the Adventurer

1. Travel from Lucerne by lake steamer and cogwheel train.

© Switzerland Tourism By-line: ST/

Lucerne is the perfect starting point for exploring Switzerland’s mountains majesty. With a great transportation museum, the first and steepest cogwheel railway and panoramic views around every corner, Lucerne is easy to get to from other major Swiss cities.

The trip that every visitor in the area must take is the Mt. Rigi.

Mount Rigi’s location is spectacular, as was noted by the engineer Niklaus Riggenbach when he masterminded the constructin of the Vitznau-Rigi Railway in the mid 19th century. “I want to take everyone up into the mountains, so they can all enjoy the beauty of our glorious country”. In 1871, the first mountain railway in Europe was officially opened.

The Swiss Pass Benefit: This unique cogwheel journey is included with your pass, as is travel on the lake steamers. The boats run daily, year round. However, ascending up the cogwheel train is only possible from March through October.

For the Family

2. Visit Ballenberg, the Swiss Open-Air Museum – In Brienza

© Switzerland Tourism By-line: Giegel

No longer are old farmhouses, stables barns demolished when modernity demands new construction.

Instead, the buildings are dismantled stone by stone, then rebuilt in the Ballenberg Open Air Museum.

What began in 1978 with 16 characteristic Swiss buildings is today an extensive exhibition with nearly 100 residential and agricultural structures from all over Switzerland. Depicting life in rural Switzerland, complete with over 250 domestic farm animals, Ballenberg offers a glimpse into the past that children have never seen.

Getting to Brienz is easy, and at the train station there is bus service to shuttle you to Ballenberg. From Berne, the journey time is roughly 90 minutes, Zurich is just over two hours, and Lucerne is 1 hour and 14 minutes away.

The Swiss Pass Benefit: Kids aged 6-15 travel for FREE with a parent. A Swiss Family Card is free – simply request one at the time you purchase your Swiss Pass. If you forget to mention it, then present your Swiss Pass at the time of validation to the conductor and advise them that you need a Family Card. They can provide you one at the ticket window.

For the Sightseer

3) Travel to the Rhine Falls from Zurich

© Switzerland Tourism By-line: Sonderegger *** Local Caption *** 41R Rheinfall, Schloss Laufen

While the Rhine Falls are not known for their height, their width is spectacular. And on a sunny day, the spray from the falls creates colorful rainbows all around.

Visitors can take the 42-minute train to Schaffhausen direct from Zurich. From there, you can opt to walk along the river to Neuhausen (approximately 45minutes) or you can take the #1 or #6 bus from Schaffhausen to Neuhausen. From here, the Rhine Falls are just a five minute walk away, and there are plenty of signs posted along the route.

If you’re traveling to Zurich on either business or pleasure, this is a perfect day trip into some of Switzerland’s most magnificent natural beauty.

The Swiss Pass Benefit: The public transportation is free! (Although using the bus does require the use of a travel day on your Swiss Pass.

For the Photographer

4. Take the GoldenPass Line from Montreux to Lucerne

© Schweiz Tourismus By-Line: Giegel

The GoldenPass line is among the finest railway experiences to be had anywhere in the world. Linking Lucerne with Montreux on Lake Geneva, pass edelweiss meadows and picturesque villages; there are ample photographic opportunities from your panoramic window. You can also take an excursion to Jungfroujoch, the highest altitude railway station on the continent. Known as the “Top of Europe” – your train will stop two miles high in the sky.

The Swiss Pass Benefit: This incredible journey is included with your pass; but it’s highly recommended that you book reservations within 90 days of your travel date to ensure a seat.

For the Art Lover

5. Paul Klee Museum in Bern

© Switzerland Tourism By-line: ST/

Considered both a Swiss and German painter, Paul Klee’s style is rooted in expressionism, cubism and surrealism. A natural draftsman who experimented with and eventually mastered color theory, his Paul Klee Notebooks are considered a pinnacle in modern art, and are often compared to the importance of Leonardo da Vinci’s A Treatise on Painting.

With 4,000 works housed in an architectural wonder designed by Pritzker-prize winner Renzo Piano, you’ll note how Klee’s works reflect his dry humor and sometimes childlike perspective.

When in Bern, take bus no.12 from the main station to the “Zentrum Paul Klee” stop.

The Swiss Pass Benefit: The Paul Klee Museum is just one of over 400 art institutions that is covered by your Swiss Pass. See the full list of museums.

About the Author


Jackie is a freelance writer from Los Angeles currently living in Brooklyn. She worked as a travel consultant at Rail Europe for two years before switching over to Marketing & Community Manager (focusing on social media) in June 2014. In her free time Jackie travels whenever possible & maintains a personal travel blog at

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