Train tickets in Switzerland
Switzerland is world-renowned for its unparalleled natural beauty and diverse cultures. And, thanks to its striking scenery, punctual rail service and smart timetabling, exploring Switzerland by train is nothing short of exquisite.
The main national rail operator in Switzerland is the state-run Swiss Federal Railways (abbreviated to CFF, SBB and FFS in French, German and Italian respectively). The best way to get full usage out of the country’s public transport network of nearly 30,000km is by using a Swiss Travel Pass.
For international arrival or onward journey, trains and buses are available at border stations and airports. Connections are guaranteed in all places. Where no train service is available, the journey continues by bus, boat or even mountain railway. Hence, interchange is simple and easy to handle all throughout Switzerland.
Trains always leave at the same minute after each full hour. Main inter-city connections run at half-hour intervals. At major traffic hubs, trains arrive every full and half hour. Bus and boat connections are perfectly coordinated with these regular-interval timetables.
With world-renowned punctual timetables, contemporary comfy trains and easy connections, the Swiss Travel Pass is the most straightforward way to discover Switzerland by train or ferry. Seek out stations at elevations of 3,800m, or make the most of excursions included in the pass, to more than 500 museums or a plethora of peaks, over a period of 3, 4, 8 or 15 days depending on the pass purchased.
When planning to visit Switzerland by train it is worth noting that it also enjoys excellent international links, with cross-border trains serving one or more of the country's three main rail hubs - Basel, Zurich and Geneva. All three have direct TGV trains to Paris, ICE trains to a clutch of German cities and Eurocity trains to a range of destinations in northern Italy.
Zurich has particularly good connections with Austria, with trains leaving every two hours for both Salzburg and Vienna. There is also an excellent daily direct train between Zurich and Bratislava in Slovakia. Geneva has very good links into the French TGV network, with direct daytime trains to the Rhône Valley and Paris, while Zurich has a wide choice of night train departures, with services leaving every evening for Berlin, Budapest, Graz, Györ, Hamburg, Ljubljana, Potsdam, Prague, Vienna, Villach and Zagreb.
One of the best things to do in Switzerland is to book a trip on the panoramic Bernina Express route from Chur and St Moritz to Tirano in Italy. Other classics include the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St Moritz, the GoldenPass route from Lucerne to Montreux via Interlaken, the Gotthard Panorama Express and the Luzern-Interlaken Express. These historic and captivating train journeys proffer natural highlights at every turn as you are transported on high-tech trains through Alpine valleys, past glacial lakes and other such Swiss splendours.
The best train journeys in Switzerland
Trains in Switzerland
- InterCity (IC) trains connect larger cities without intermediate stops
- InterRegio (IR) und RegioExpress (RE) trains connect the mediumsized centres in Switzerland. Regional trains serve all intermediate stations and also provide access to the smaller branches of the network
- Major urban centres have their own suburban railway (S-Bahn) network. These trains specially marked with an “S” optimally serve the urban and suburban areas with a high-frequency timetable
1st class – comfortable travelling
Those who appreciate a bit of luxury travel 1st class. 1st class coaches provide additional amenities such as wider seats, more legroom and electrical power outlets. Furthermore, 1st class passengers benefit from quiet and business zones. Swiss boats also offer the choice between 1st and 2nd class. 1st class is usually located on the upper deck, which offers a magnificent view of the scenery
- In Switzerland, the majority of trains to not require seat reservation.
- For panoramic trains with mandatory seat reservation, reservations should be made at the earliest convenience
No surcharge applies on national, InterCity or InterRegio trains within Switzerland. Panoramic trains such as Glacier Express and Bernina Express as well as some PostBus lines (Palm Express) are usually subject to surcharge and/or require seat reservation.
SBB onboard catering
On certain trains, guests enjoy SBB restaurants offering a choice of select dishes. There is an SBB bistro on the lower deck of most InterCity double-deck trains. SBB restaurants and SBB bistros are open from 06.30h to 21.00h. On some train connections, passengers benefit from at-the-seat service in 1st class.
On InterCity and EuroCity trains with an SBB restaurant, this service is offered daily from 07.00h to 18.30h on the following routes:
On InterCity connections without SBB restaurant or SBB bistro, only at-the-seat service is available in 1st class.
Quite zone and Business zone
For passengers who prefer to remain undisturbed during their journey, the quiet compartment in 1st class is the right place to go. Here travellers can read, work or simply relax without being interrupted by unwelcome noise. InterCity trains offer workspaces complete with power supply, optimised data transfer, amplifiers for mobile phone reception, and large work surfaces in 1st class.
What trains can you travel with in Switzerland?
Airport train stations
Airport train stations in Switzerland
Switzerland's four main airports are in Zurich, Geneva, Bern and Basel, all of which are easily connected by train. Getting from Zurich and Geneva airports to their respective city centres by train is particularly easy, as both airports have their own train stations.
You can buy tickets from Zurich and Geneva airports to their city centres on our website, though it is worth knowing that if arriving into Geneva airport, you can claim a free Unireso public transport ticket for 80 mins from its issue time for public transport within the central Geneva area. There is a bus to the main train stations from Bern and Basel airports, which you can buy locally.
See our detailed airport guides