Are you heading from Geneva to Zurich by train? What may sound like a complicated journey is actually a breeze - with some proper planning.
Our blog post addresses the most commonly asked questions about how to reach Zurich from Geneva by train. You have asked us over the years whether flying into GVA makes sense. And whether it is challenging to plan the onward journey to Zurich.
We are here to tell you: no.
Getting from Geneva to Zurich by train is easy, even for first-timers to Switzerland. This blog post explores all your options, including travel times, ticket prices, and train schedules.
Taking the train from Geneva to Zurich Main Station
After a long trip from your home country to Geneva, the last thing you would want is a complicated onward journey.
Now, if you've read any of our posts about train travel in Switzerland, you will know that railways are our preferred option. The Swiss railway network runs like, well, clockwork.
Trains operated by Swiss Federal Railways depart from Geneva to Zurich twice an hour. From the wee hours in the AM to nearly midnight, these perfect train connections are a straight shot to the Zurich main station.
You can get onto the trains at Geneva Airport or the downtown Geneva main station in Geneva.
The Intercity trains IC 1 and IC 5 are the best connections to travel from Geneva to Zurich. Without any transfers, the trip takes just short of three hours:
- IC 1 destined for St. Gallen: 2 hrs 57 min
- IC 5 destined for Rorschach: 2 hrs 54 min
Insider tip: your train ticket lets you get off anywhere between Geneva and Zurich within a 24-hour window. Think of cities like Lausanne, Bern, or Neuchâtel.
With all this flexibility, deposit your luggage in a train station locker and do some sightseeing. Then, once you are ready to move on, reclaim your bags and hop onto the next connection destined for the Zurich main station.
Train providers: SBB from Geneva to Zurich trains
Swiss Federal Railway (SBB) is the primary train provider on the Geneva to Zurich tracks. The train compositions of IC 1 and IC 5 feature first-class and second-class cars, plus a designated restaurant, business, and family coach.
Read our expert guide to train travel in Switzerland for information on ticket discounts for students, seniors, and groups. As you can tell, several options exist for different budgets and travel styles.
Geneva to Zurich train times: twice hourly departures
Between 4:47 AM and 8:32 PM, SBB trains depart from the Geneva Airport and Geneva Cornavin stations twice an hour.
Half the trains are routed through Bern (IC 1), while the other half pass through Neuchâtel (IC 5). But both pull into the Zurich main station before continuing to Zurich Airport.
Neither the IC 1 nor the IC 5 train lines involve a transfer. That way, you can store your luggage, sit back, and relax. There are many additional Geneva to Zurich train times, but they all involve one or two transfers.
Geneva to Zurich trains: services on board
Before you depart from Geneva, you can reserve a seat in either first or second-class cabins.
Seat reservations on this stretch are really only needed on weekends during peak season. Unless you are traveling as a group or have chosen rush hour, these trains have plenty of available seats.
That's especially true in first class: enjoy extended legroom, armrests, power sockets, and a quieter environment.
Second-class passengers still have relatively comfortable seats and are privy to the restaurant car. In either travel class, there is space for suitcases. But even with this being Switzerland, make sure to keep an eye on your luggage at all times. Especially during stops when someone might grab a suitcase right before the doors close.
In either travel class, small pets that can fit in a bag, or guide dogs, can travel free of charge. Larger dogs will have to pay half the fare of an adult ticket. But the point here is that larger dogs do need their ticket.
From Zurich HB/Zurich Main Station to Geneva/Geneva-Cornavin
All the above advice applies to return trips as well. From the Zurich main station or Zurich Airport, you can take the same IC 1 and IC 5 trains to Geneva or Geneva Airport.
Without any transfers, the trip takes a bit less than three hours:
- IC 1 destined for Geneva Airport: 2 hrs 55 min
- IC 5 destined for Geneva Airport: 2 hrs 52 min
Between 5:19 AM and 6:32 PM, non-stop trains depart from the Zurich main station to Geneva twice an hour.
Either of these hourly connections provides a smooth transfer between the two cities and their major airports: ZRH and GVA.
With a staggering 34 trains connecting Zurich with Geneva daily, there is hardly a reason not to travel by railway.
Please note that there are later connections, but these involve one or two transfers. The last train to depart from Zurich to Geneva is at 9:02 PM.
Insider tip: maybe we can someday zip from Geneva to Zurich in just 15 minutes. If the innovative Swissloop project ever lifts off, we could save lots of time someday. But then again, we'd be missing out on the beautiful scenery.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the train from Geneva to Zurich scenic?
Yes, the train ride from Geneva to Zurich is most definitely scenic. The views of the mountains, valleys, and lakes will take your breath away:
How much does the Geneva to Zurich train cost?
As of November 2023, the cost of a single journey train ticket from Geneva to Zurich varies significantly based on several factors.
For budget-conscious travelers, it’s possible to find 2nd class Saver tickets for as low as CHF 20.60 when booked one month in advance through the SBB Mobile app. Conversely, travelers making on-the-spot bookings for 1st class seats might pay up to CHF 154. The price range is quite broad, catering to different preferences and needs.
Money-Saving Tips for Your Train Journey
- Book Early: To secure the best prices for your train journey from Geneva to Zurich, consider booking your tickets well in advance, ideally three months before your travel date. This early bird strategy is a reliable way to enjoy significant savings.
- Embrace Flexibility: Opting for off-peak travel times can lead to cheaper ticket prices and a less crowded travel experience. Be open to adjusting your travel schedule and exploring alternative routes or timings to maximize your savings. Tickets for specific connections are often reduced in the SBB Mobile app several days ahead.
- Hunt for Deals: Keep an eye out for special offers and discounts available for different age groups, including children, youth, and seniors, as well as group travel discounts. Regularly checking for the latest fares in the SBB Mobile app ensures you don’t miss out on potential savings.
Fare Comparison Table for Trains from Geneva to Zurich (Nov 2023)
|Route||Full Fare||Half-Price Fare|
|Geneva to Zurich||CHF 154 (1st class)||CHF 77 (1st class)|
|Geneva to Zurich||CHF 88 (2nd class)||CHF 44 (2nd class)|
|Geneva to Zurich (Saver Ticket)||CHF 61.20 (1st class)||CHF 30.60 (1st class)|
|Geneva to Zurich (Saver Ticket)||CHF 41.20 (2nd class)||CHF 20.60 (2nd class)|
The table above provides a clear comparison of the different fare options available for the Geneva to Zurich train route, helping you make an informed decision based on your budget and preferences. Remember, prices can vary, and it’s always a good idea to book in advance and stay flexible to get the best deals.
Getting from Geneva to Zurich by train is the most convenient way. Intercity trains operate frequently and are a comfortable and efficient way to cover the distance.
Book train tickets from Geneva to Zurich online at least a day before departure for the best fares. An all-inclusive Swiss Travel Pass takes the guesswork out of ticketing, providing you peace of mind as you travel from Geneva to Zurich - and onward.
Enjoy the ride!