Are you wondering whether the benefits of the Swiss Travel Pass outweigh its price tag in 2023? Look no further: we have thoroughly researched the budget-friendly Swiss pass for public transportation.
When planning a trip to Switzerland, one of the first things that come to mind is the cost. The Swiss franc is historically strong, making Switzerland an inherently expensive destination for many tourists coming from abroad.
But the premium admission price doesn't mean you can't explore Switzerland on a budget.
While it's no secret that transportation costs usually make up the biggest chunk of a travel budget, Switzerland has a solution: by simply traveling with a Swiss Travel Pass, you can keep transportation costs in check.
The Swiss Travel Pass is a comprehensive all-inclusive ticket that offers a variety of benefits for budget travelers. One of the biggest perks of the pass is that it includes unlimited travel on most train lines, mountain railway lines, cable cars, and boats throughout Switzerland.
All panoramic train lines, such as the Bernina Express, are fully covered by the pass. And even public transportation in cities is included.
This means you will never have to stop at a ticket counter or purchase individual tickets online. Since the Swiss Travel Pass offers blanket coverage, it takes the guesswork out of navigating Switzerland. You will never have to buy separate tickets except for a few private train lines.
All the Swiss Travel Pass benefits
👉 Premium panoramic train lines
Let’s get one of the biggest benefits of the Swiss Travel Pass out of the way first: five bucket-list-worthy panoramic train lines are included.
Whether you're a railway enthusiast or simply want to experience some of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, the Swiss Travel Pass will give you access to some of Switzerland’s most iconic train lines.
In addition to offering free travel on BLS or Rhaetian Railways, the pass also covers local and regional trains operated by the Swiss Federal Railways.
Except for the Glacier Express, which requires a reservation, you can simply hop onto any train without paying extra for the ticket. This means you will never have to stop at a ticket counter or purchase a ticket online while exploring Switzerland.
Since it offers blanket coverage, the Swiss Travel Pass takes the guesswork out of navigating Switzerland.
Major panoramic train lines 100% included in the Swiss Travel Pass:
- Bernina Express between Chur and Tirano (Italy) (4 h - 4 h 30 min)
- Glacier Express between St. Moritz and Zermatt (8 h)
- GoldenPass Express between Montreux and Interlaken (3 h 15 min)
- Gotthard Panorama Express between Lucerne and Lugano (5 h 30 min)
- Luzern–Interlaken Express (1 h 50 min)
👉 Swiss Travel Pass mountain excursions: cable cars, funiculars, and mountain railways
A legitimate Swiss itinerary has to include a few mountain peaks in a country known for its mountains. There are dozens of destinations to pick from, but the Swiss Travel Pass facilitates the decision for budget travelers: three mountain peaks are included at no additional cost.
These mountain peaks are 100% included in the Swiss Travel Pass:
For hikers and mountain enthusiasts looking to explore the Swiss Alps beyond the included peaks, the Swiss Travel Pass offers sweet discounts on cogwheel trains, funiculars, and cable cars.
For trips to 14 other mountain peaks, Swiss Travel Pass holders enjoy a discount of up to 50%. Some highlights include Gornergrat, Schilthorn, Pilatus, or Titlis.
And arguably, one of the most popular destinations in Switzerland is the Jungfraujoch - Top of Europe. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the Swiss Travel Pass offers a 25% discount.
👉 Boat rides on lakes and rivers
The pass is also valid on scenic boat rides on Switzerland’s lakes and rivers. This includes the historic steamboats on Lake Geneva and Lake Lucerne. And on many other lakes, such as Lake Zurich, the pass entitles you to scenic lunchtime cruises - or sunset cruises!
If you can try out a boat while in Switzerland, you will add another dimension to your trip: Switzerland, with its snowfields and glaciers, is the source of many of Europe’s rivers.
👉 Free public transportation in more than 90 towns and cities
From the moment you arrive, the Swiss Travel Pass allows you to hop onto municipal transportation without needing a separate ticket. For instance, you could easily transfer from the airport to your hotel using trains, trams, or buses.
The Swiss Travel Pass covers the entire public transportation network of 90 major cities and towns. Travel in the following cities without additional costs: Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, Lucerne, Lugano, and Zurich.
Switzerland’s iconic yellow Postbus buses are included, too. (French: Car Postal, Italian: Auto Postale.) These nifty buses venture to villages and mountain regions where no city buses dare to go.
👉 Free admission to more than 500 museums
Switzerland is home to a wide variety of museums covering everything from art to history and from architecture to science. Luckily, the Swiss Travel Pass includes free admission to over 500 museums, allowing you to embark on a cultural odyssey and learn more about Switzerland's rich heritage.
Some must-see museums in Switzerland that are free with the Swiss Travel Pass:
- Railway Museum (Bergün)
- Zentrum Paul Klee (Bern)
- Olympic Museum (Lausanne)
- Bourbaki Panorama (Lucerne)
- Museum of Fossils from Monte San Giorgio (Meride)
- Alimentarium (Vevey)
- Matterhorn Museum Zermatlantis (Zermatt)
- Swiss National Museum (Zurich)
- Museum Rietberg (Zurich)
Many other museums offer discounts to pass holders, such as the Verkehrshaus Luzern. In short: Swiss Travel Pass holders can explore the country's rich cultural heritage without wasting too much cash on admissions.
Download a list of participating museums
How to hack the Swiss Travel Pass for budget travelers?
One of the best things about the Swiss Travel Pass is that it's available in first-class and second-class categories:
The Swiss Travel Pass is also available for various periods: 3, 4, 6, 8, or 15 days. If budget is no issue, buying a pass covering the entire travel period from the first to the last day would make sense. But you're reading this post because you want to save money while traveling in Switzerland.
Get our ultimate free guide!
Swiss Travel Pass: How to make it work in 2023 🇨🇭
In our free guide, we are outlining a sample five-day itinerary on a three-day pass. This itinerary is geared toward budget travelers who want to get the most out of the pass by checking off as many included activities as possible without paying anything additional.
Swiss Travel Pass 2023 Price
The prices for 2023 remain unchanged from 2022. The entry-level price for a 3-day Swiss Travel Pass in 2nd class starts at 232 francs. It’s best to consult the website of RailEurope for the latest Swiss Travel Pass 2023 price.
The Swiss Travel Pass can be a great value for those planning to use a significant amount of public transportation. Prices vary depending on the duration of the pass (3, 4, 6, 8, or 15 days) and whether you choose a first or second-class pass. The Swiss Travel Pass Flex offers the option to travel on non-consecutive days.
See the latest prices at RailEurope
Comparison: Swiss Travel Pass vs. individual tickets
Here is a real-life cost comparison between the Swiss Travel Pass and individual full-fare tickets. The basis is a five-day budget traveler itinerary of Switzerland using a four-day Swiss Travel Pass. The itinerary includes trains, mountain excursions, boat rides, and museum visits.
We have tallied the costs for public transportation and museums for each day. The fee comparison is based on an adult traveler above 26 years of age paying the full 2023 fare. Upon availability, discounted saver tickets may reduce the total.
|Day||Activity||Swiss Travel Pass|
(4 days, 2nd class)
|01||Zurich Airport to Zurich City (train)||6.80||6.80|
|02||Zurich - Lucerne (train), Lucerne - Vitznau (boat), Vitznau - Rigi Kulm (cogwheel train), visit of Bourbaki Panorama Museum||Day 1/4||Train & city: 33.20, Cogwheel/boat: 123,|
|03||Lucerne to Interlaken Ost (train), Lake Thun boat cruise Interlaken West to Thun (roundtrip)||Day 2/4||Train: 33, Boat: 90|
|04||Interlaken to Lausanne via Montreux (train), visit of Olympic Museum||Day 34||Train & city: 66,|
|05||Lausanne to Zurich Airport via Zurich City (train)||Day 4/4||78|
|Total||CHF 287.80||CHF 478.60|
Comparison: Swiss Travel Pass vs. Eurail and Interrail Pass
The Swiss Travel Pass is a great option for budget travelers who want to explore Switzerland without breaking the bank. But it is only available to those with permanent residency outside of Switzerland.
The Eurail and Interrail Passes are ideal for those who also want to travel in some other European countries by train. The difference between the two is simple:
- Swiss Travel Pass is for anyone with permanent residency outside of Switzerland.
- Eurail is for those who have resided outside Europe for at least six months.
- Interrail passes are available for anyone living in Europe for at least six months.
Just like the Swiss Travel Pass, the Interrail Pass and Eurail Pass offer free public transportation on Switzerland’s trains. But they do not cover mountain excursions, boat cruises, or city transport.
As a consequence, travelers have to budget for individual tickets. On the other hand, the Interrail and Eurail Passes are ideal for those who also want to travel to Switzerland and other European countries by train.
Here’s an overview of notable differences in coverage between the three passes:
|Destination/Line||Swiss Travel Pass||Eurail Pass/Interrail Pass|
|City Public Transport||100%||-|
|Museum Admissions||500 museums included||-|
As you can tell, the Swiss Travel Pass provides some amazing value for budget travelers who want to climb some of Switzerland’s best mountains. The Eurail Global Pass and Interrail Passes are weak in this regard, although they offer other benefits and a budget-friendly alternative.
And compared to buying individual tickets, the Swiss Travel Pass is the more predictable option to seeing Switzerland by public transportation. No need to juggle multiple tickets and worry about transportation costs.
Swiss Travel Pass Map
With so many highlights in Switzerland included, wouldn’t it be nice to have an overview map of the Swiss Travel Pass? The area of validity map is available electronically online or as a practical PDF document.
Is the Swiss Travel Pass worth it for budget travelers?
You be the judge! But as you can tell, the Swiss Travel Pass is a great option for budget travelers wanting to explore Switzerland without breaking the bank. It provides some amazing value for budget travelers.
The Swiss Travel Pass allows holders to climb some of Switzerland’s best mountains at no extra charge. The Eurail Global Pass and Interrail Passes are weak in this regard, although they offer other benefits and a budget-friendly alternative.
And compared to buying individual tickets, the Swiss Travel Pass is the perfect option for experiencing all the country has to offer without spending much money.