Traveling to Switzerland: Is the Swiss Travel Pass worth buying?

One of the most frequent questions I get from my blog readers is the one concerning the Swiss Travel Pass. If it’s really worth buying it, and if so, for how long. That’s why I’ve decided to write this blog post to cover all the information for those of you who are traveling to Switzerland and considering buying Swiss Travel Pass.

Swiss Travel Pass

With the “Swiss Travel Pass” visitors from abroad can enjoy unlimited travel by train, bus, and boat, including the Premium Panorama trains (Bernina or Glacier Express) and public transport in over 90 cities in Switzerland. You get a 50% discount on most mountain railways (some of them, like Rigi, Schilthorn, Stanserhorn or Stoos are fully covered) and free admission to more than 500 museums.

You can buy Swiss Travel Pass for 3, 4, 8 or 15 consecutive days. For an adult, for 3 days (2nd class) it will cost 232 CHF.

Or you can buy a Swiss Travel Pass Flex that allows you to travel 3, 4, 8 or 15 non-consecutive days within a month’s validity (for 267 CHF).

Where can I buy a Swiss Travel Pass?

You can buy the Swiss Travel Pass either in person at the SBB Swiss Railways counter, or online at the SBB website or at the Swiss Travel Center website.

What about children?

Children under 6 travel for free. Children from 6 to 16 years old normally travel for half the price. But if you click the “Yes, I would like the STS Family Card” button when purchasing a Swiss Travel Pass online, your children from 6 to 16 years of age travel for free if accompanied by at least one Swiss Travel Pass holder. And the Family Card doesn’t cost anything. That’s great, what do you think?

Does the Swiss Travel Pass pay off?

As an example, I “borrowed” a question from a reader who asked about Schilthorn, the rest of the itinerary is fictitious, but I tried to include a cable car ride and a boat trip and an entrance to the attraction.

Example: family with two children, 5 and 8 years old, staying in Bern, itinerary for 3 days:

Day 1: Schilthorn

Day 2: Schynige Platte

Day 3: Montreux

Option 1: by car (regular family car – diesel, consumption 6l / 100km), no Swiss Travel Pass, children from 6 to 16 years of age always pay half of the fare

Day 1 – Schilthorn

  • fuel 2x70km, diesel price 1,62CHF/l: 13,6CHF
  • parking fees: 7CHF
  • cable car fare 2x105CHF + 52,5CHF (older child): 262,5CHF
  • total: 283,1 CHF

Day 2 – Schynige Platte

  • fuel 2×57,5km: 12CHF
  • parking fees: 5CHF
  • funicular fare 2x64CHF + 32 CHF: 160CHF
  • total: 170CHF

Day 3 – Montreux

  • fuel 2x89km: 11CHF
  • parking fees: 5CHF
  • return boat ride to the Chillon castle 2x20CHF + 10CHF: 50CHF
  • admission: 2×12,5CHF + 6CHF: 31CHF
  • total: 97CHF

TOTAL COST: 550CHF

Option 2: by train, without Swiss Travel Pass

Day 1 – Schilthorn

  • train tickets: 2x80CHF + 40CHF: 200CHF
  • cable car fare 2x105CHF + 52,5CHF (older child): 162,5CHF
  • total: 362.5CHF

Day 2 – Schynige Platte

  • train tickets : 2 × 63.2 + 31.6: 158CHF
  • funicular fare 2x64CHF + 32 CHF: 160CHF
  • total: 318CHF

Day 3 – Montreux

  • train tickets 2x84CHF + 42CHF: 210CHF
  • return boat trip to Chillon Castle 2x20CHF + 10CHF: 50CHF
  • Admission: 2 × 12.5CHF + 6CHF: 31CHF
  • total: 291CHF

TOTAL COST: 971.5CHF

Option 3: by train, with Swiss Travel Pass – initial investment 2x232CHF, ie 464CHF

Day 1 – Schilthorn

  • train tickets: covered
  • cable car fare covered

Day 2 – Schynige Platte

  • train tickets: covered
  • funicular fare (50% reduction) 2x32CHF + 16 CHF: 80CHF
  • total: 80 CHF

Day 3 – Montreux

  • train tickets covered
  • return boat trip to Chillon Castle covered
  • Admission covered

TOTAL COST: 544 CHF

SUMMARY

As you can see, there is no such significant difference in cost for Option 1 (by car, without the Swiss Travel Pass) and 3 (by train, with the Swiss Travel Pass). It’s up to you whether you prefer the convenience of the train and enjoying the luxurious views or focusing on driving the car.

An alternative if you think the Swiss Travel Pass is not worth buying:

1. Gästekarte / Visitors cards

If you spend only one night at an official accommodation facility (including Airbnb or campsites) in Switzerland, the owner should provide you with a so-called Gästekarte / Visitors card, which is valid for the duration of your stay. With these cards, you have free public transport in the region, plus discounts on cable cars and other attractions in the region.
I know for sure that it is provided by, for example, the Gwatt camp at Thun Lake (but also others nearby) for the Interlaken region or the canton of Ticino (Ticino Ticket) accommodation.
Here’s another list of regional cards.

2. Swiss Half Fare Card

With this card which is valid for one month and costs 120 CHF, you get half-price tickets on trains, buses, boats and public transport in cities. You can also get a Family Card, that means children 6 – 16 years travel for free if accompanied by at least one parent. So let’s apply the above-mentioned itinerary to use Halb Fare Card.

Initial costs: 220 CHF (for 2 adults)

Day 1 – Schilthorn

  • train ride: 2x40CHF + 0CHF: 80CHF
  • cable car fare: 2×52,5CHF + 0 CHF: 105CHF
  • total: 185 CHF

Day 2 – Schynige Platte

  • train ride: 2×31,6 + 0: 63,2CHF
  • funicular 2x32CHF + 0 CHF: 64CHF
  • total: 127,2 CHF

Day 3 – Montreux

  • train ride 2x42CHF + 0 CHF: 84 CHF
  • return boat trip to Chillon Castle 2x10CHF + 0CHF: 20CHF
  • admission: 2×12,5CHF + 6CHF: 31CHF
  • total: 135CHF

TOTAL COST: 687,2 CHF

3. Regional Travel Passes

These cards work on the same principle as Swiss Travel Pass (for a certain number of days public transport and selected attractions free of charge), but only in the given region. For example, for the region of central Switzerland (the wider area of Lucerne) it is Tellpass, for Berner Oberland it is Regionalpass.

Timetables

Timetables can be found at SBB or Search.ch websites

You do not need to book train tickets in advance, but I recommend you to be there early (perhaps 10 or earlier) before crowds of tours (which are doubly true for Schilthorn).
You might find it useful to use the SBB mobile application, which will show you how busy the train connections are.

PS: This is not a sponsored post from Swiss Railways. I just thought it would be a pity if the other readers of the blog did not find out about the Swiss Travel Pass 😉

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