Train travel in Switzerland – train tickets, top routes and destinations

Going to Switzerland soon but not sure of the best way to travel around? Don’t sweat it - we’re here to help. The aim of this guide is to give anyone thinking about taking the train in Switzerland a solid understanding of how the Swiss rail system works and how easy it is to travel by train.

Whether you’re going to Switzerland on a business trip, visiting with your family or studying there for a semester, we’ve got you covered. From the rail companies that operate in Switzerland to the types of trains and tickets, keep reading our guide to learn all you need to know about trains in Switzerland.

Here's a quick summary of what's below – click on one of the topics you're most interested in to jump down to the relevant section.

Train types in Switzerland

There’s a wide range of high-speed and regional trains you can choose from, whether you’re traveling around Switzerland or across its borders into a neighboring country like France or Germany. Read on for more details about each train type:

Regional trains in Switzerland

SBB offer the following regional and Intercity services within the country:

  • RegioExpress trains connect smaller towns with larger Swiss cities
  • Regio trains only connect small towns with each other
  • InterCity trains travel between major Swiss cities like Basel and Geneva
  • InterRegio trains make more stops than InterCity trains and connect Zurich and Geneva with different cities across Switzerland
  • S-Bahn is a network of suburban trains operating within the largest cities

High-speed trains in Switzerland

International high-speed trains

The following high-speed trains cover routes to and from Switzerland:

  • ICE trains connect Switzerland to Germany and the Netherlands at 300km/h
  • Railjet trains connect Zurich with Vienna (Austria)
  • Eurocity trains connect Zurich, Basel and Geneva to Milan or Venice in Italy. These may be operated by a number of rail companies and are shown as 'EC' on your ticket.
  • TGV Lyria trains connect Zurich, Basel and Geneva to Paris, France

Domestic high-speed trains

The Intercity Tilting Trains (ICN) are Switzerland’s domestic high-speed trains – they’re mainly used by commuters traveling from one major city to another.

Night trains in Switzerland

The following night trains cover the routes between Switzerland and its neighboring countries, including Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Croatia.

  • ÖBB Nightjet trains run between Zurich, Basel, Berlin (Germany) and Hamburg (Germany), as well as connecting Zurich with Linz (Austria) and Vienna (Austria)
  • EuroNight trains connect Zurich to Graz (Austria), and Zurich to Vienna (Austria) and Budapest (Hungary)
  • ÖBB night trains can take you from Zurich to Ljubljana (Slovenia) or Zagreb (Croatia) overnight

Scenic trains in Switzerland

Switzerland is well-known for its stunning scenery. The following scenic trains in Switzerland offer the most panoramic train routes:

  • Bernina Express: Chur - Tirano (Italy)
  • Chocolate train: Montreux - the Cailler-Nestlé chocolate factory in Broc
  • Centovalli Railway: Locarno (Switzerland) - Domodossola (italy)
  • Golden Pass: Lucerne – Interlaken – Montreux
  • Glacier Express: Davos/St. Moritz - Zermatt
  • Gotthard Panorama Express: Lugano - Lucerne (this journey can include a trip on a boat!)

Swiss train tickets

There are six train ticket types in Switzerland and their prices are usually based on the route, not the train type. Read on for more information - we've broken down the different ticket types for you.

Supersaver tickets

Best for travelers on a budget

These discount tickets are available for many SBB routes and are up to 70% cheaper than regular ticket prices. Available to buy online 30 days before the departure date, there’s usually a limited number of tickets per journey, so book in advance to avoid disappointment. These tickets can’t be exchanged or refunded.

City tickets

Best for exploring different cities

This train ticket includes a one-day public transport pass in either your city of departure or arrival. Valid for one day, you can buy this ticket either online or at the station. If you want to use public transport in both your departure and arrival city, book a City-City ticket – it’s only available online.

Saver Day Pass

Best for one-day cheap travel across the country

If you have limited time and want to see as much as possible of Switzerland, buy a Saver Day Pass – you’ll get unlimited travel at any time and anywhere in Switzerland. This Pass is valid to travel in both First and Second Class, but it’s not refundable or exchangeable.

Standard tickets

Best for one-off journeys or long weekends away

Standard tickets are single or return tickets with a fixed price based on the route and not the train type. For example, you can board an Intercity or RegioExpress train to travel from Zurich to Bern, and still pay the same price.

However, their validity varies based on where you purchase your tickets, either online or at the ticket office. While all one-way tickets are valid for one day only, return tickets for a distance over 115km are valid for 10 days if bought online and one day each way if bought at the station.

Multiple-journey tickets

Best for traveling with a group or taking the same route multiple times

This ticket offers a discounted price for six single journeys on a specific route – for example, Geneva to Lausanne – and can also be used for a group of six people traveling together.

You can buy your ticket online, but if you’re traveling on a regional train you’ll need to validate it – the ticket will be valid for 4 hours. If you’re traveling on a long-distance trip, your ticket will be valid from the moment it’s validated until 05:00 the following day.

Swiss train tickets for tourists

Best for traveling on a longer trip

If you’re planning on traveling around Switzerland for longer, the Swiss Travel Pass is the right option for you (more on that below). With this Pass, you can travel on all regular trains, buses and boats for a specified number of days. You can also travel on the scenic Glacier Express with this ticket, you'll get free entry to over 500 museums and up to 50% off some mountain railways, cable cars and eBikes. 

Do I need to buy Swiss train tickets in advance?


Buy your Swiss train tickets in advance if you have already planned your trip and want to snap up the cheapest fares when traveling on a long-distance train. Supersaver tickets are available to book up to 2 months in advance.


You don’t need to buy your Swiss train tickets in advance if you’re traveling within Switzerland – standard tickets don’t sell out and are valid on any train. Simply hop on, take any unreserved seat and enjoy the ride.


How to buy train tickets in Switzerland

Buying train tickets online with us

As trusted sellers of SBB, TGV Lyria and other cross-border services in Switzerland, we’ll show you train times and highlight the cheapest ticket prices in our Journey Planner or app. Here’s a step-by-step guide to booking Swiss train tickets:

  1. Enter your departure and arrival stations of choice into our Journey Planner or app. If you’re not sure about the station name, you can also search by city.
  2. Enter the date and time you’d like to depart (and return if you’re buying a return ticket), along with the number of passengers and any relevant Railcard/Loyalty card you have.
  3. If you’re looking for tickets on our website, hit Get times and prices. If you're using our app hit Find times and prices to start your search. 
  4. Choose a train time and Class option from our search results. Once you’re happy with your choice, continue to choose your seat preference.
  5. On web, enter an email to send your ticket confirmation to, along with the full name of each passenger you’re booking tickets for (the name must match their IDs).
  6. Continue to check out and book your tickets.

How to buy cheap train tickets in Switzerland

Did you know the price of train tickets in Switzerland increases as the date of travel approaches? Our goal is to help you save money, so we’ve explained below how to find and buy cheap train tickets in Switzerland and all over Europe.

For more information, visit our cheap European train tickets page.

Book in advance

In general, SBB tickets and tickets from other European rail companies go on sale three months in advance. Try to book as soon as possible to find some of the cheapest tickets, such as the Supersaver tickets and the Saver Day Pass, as they get snapped up quickly.

Avoid rush hour

Try to avoid rush hours in major Swiss and European cities. At busy times, tickets are usually more expensive and the trains are more crowded.

Take advantage of discounts

There are a few discounts that can help you save money on ticket prices. For example, children under 6 travel for free, and those aged between 6-16 can purchase a half-price ticket.


Buy your Swiss Rail Pass

Planning to spend most of your time traveling around Switzerland? Why not buy one of the Swiss Rail Passes below – you'll get to enjoy unlimited travel on Swiss trains, buses, boats, cable cars and public transport in more than 90 cities.

Swiss Travel Pass

The Swiss Travel Pass allows unlimited travel around Switzerland and free entry to over 480 attractions and museums. Swiss Travel Pass options include 3, 4, 8 and 15 consecutive days of travel.

From CHF 232*

Swiss Travel Pass Flex

The Swiss Travel Pass Flex offers a set number of travel days (3, 4, 8 or 15) in a given time period (1 month). On your travel days, which don’t need to be consecutive, you can take as many trains as you want. With the Swiss Travel Pass Flex, you can also get discounts on Swiss attractions and museums.

From CHF 267*

Swiss Half Fare Card

If you’ve planned just a few or relatively short trips around Switzerland and want to save money, why not buy the Swiss Half Fare Card – you’ll get one month of half-price tickets on most trains (both in First and Second Class), buses, boats, and public transport. Children under the age of 16 travel for free if accompanied by an adult who is a holder of a Swiss Family Card.

Like the Swiss Travel Pass, you can use the Swiss Half Fare Card if you’re a permanent resident outside Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein.

From CHF 120*

Tell-Pass – Central Switzerland

If you’re travelling around Central Switzerland, this is the right pass for you. The Tell-Pass is an all-inclusive transport pass which provides unlimited travel on trains, buses, boats and cable cars across the Lake Lucerne region in Central Switzerland.

You can choose between 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10 consecutive days of travel. You can also get discounts on different attractions and museums in the region with the Tell-Pass.

From CHF 190*

*Prices correct as of May 2023. CHF = Swiss Franc


Switzerland train map

Getting around Switzerland by train is super easy. Thanks to SBB, the main Swiss national railway company, you can, for example, enjoy the finest chocolate in one of Zurich’s chocolate shops in the morning and eat fondue in Geneva’s old town by lunchtime. Sounds tempting? Have a look at our Swiss rail map below and start planning your next train trip to Switzerland with us.

Whether you want to reach the centre of the main cities with high-speed Intercity and Eurocity trains, or prefer a slower yet still exciting journey with the InterRegio and Regio trains, travelling by train in Switzerland is a great opportunity for you to see some of the most spectacular views from the comfort of your seat.

Want to discover the beauty of the Swiss Alps? Take the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz or the Bernina Express from Tirano to Chur and get ready to enjoy some of the most breathtaking scenic train routes. Or perhaps you're traveling to Switzerland to ski? Check out these European ski resorts you can get to by train, including some in Switzerland.

And if you’re thinking of traveling from Switzerland to other parts of Europe, there are also frequent cross-border train routes to popular destinations across Italy, France, Germany and Austria from train companies such as Trenitalia, TGV Lyria, Deutsche Bahn and ÖBB. For example, why not plan a train trip from Paris to Zurich, or travel from Paris to Geneva by train? The world is your oyster when you take the train.


Rail companies in Switzerland

If you’re taking the train in Switzerland, it’s very likely you’ll be boarding an SBB service as they’re the main railway company in the country. If you’re traveling from Switzerland to Italy, France or Germany instead, there are several train companies you need to know about. Keep reading for more information about the different services, including which routes they operate on and what train types they use.


  • Domestic routes
  • Main train operator in Switzerland
  • High-speed and regional services

As the main Swiss train operator, SBB provide both high-speed and regional trains which connect the country’s major cities and airports. The main types of SBB trains are the high-speed InterCity (IC), InterCity Tilting Trains (ICN) and EuroCity (EC) trains – which can reach speeds of up to 200 km/h – and the slower InterRegio (IR), RegioExpress (RE), Regio (R) and S-Bahn trains (S) – which connect different regions and make a few more stops.

Find out more about SBB.


  • Domestic routes
  • Second biggest train operator in Switzerland
  • Regional services

Switzerland’s second-largest rail network after SBB, BLS are regional trains operating in the area between Lake Neuchâtel and Lake Lucerne, the Jura Mountains and the Simplon Massif. They also serve most routes of the Bern S-Bahn, as well as some routes of the Lucerne S-Bahn.

Rhaetian Railway

  • International routes from Switzerland to Italy
  • Regional trains
  • Scenic trains

The Rhaetian Railway (RHB) operates all train connections in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. The main types of RHB trains are Regio and RegioExpress trains, including the well-known panoramic trains, the Bernina Express and the Glacier Express.

Find out more about the Rhaetian Railway.

Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn

  • Domestic routes
  • Regional trains
  • Scenic trains

The Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (MG Bahn) covers a rail network of 144km between the cantons of Valais, Graubünden and Uri, with Zermatt - Brig - Disentis and Andermatt - Göschenen as the main routes. The MG Bahn are mainly regional trains, including the Glacier Express, which is run jointly by the Rhaetian Railway and the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn.

Montreux–Oberland Bernois Railway

  • Domestic routes
  • Regional services
  • Scenic trains covering the Golden Pass route

The Montreux–Oberland Bernois Railway (MOB) is a train company operating in southwestern Switzerland. All MOB trains are regional trains with panoramic windows that travel between Montreux and Château-d’Oex, covering the panoramic route known as the ‘Golden Pass’.

TGV Lyria 

  • International routes from Switzerland to France
  • High-speed trains traveling at 320 km/h (198 mph)

Part of a collaboration between SNCF and SBB, TGV Lyria trains connect the Swiss cities of Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich to the French cities of Paris, Dijon and Marseille in no time at all.

Find out more about TGV Lyria trains.


  • International routes from Switzerland to Italy
  • Eurocity trains to Milan and Venice

The main train operator in Italy, Trenitalia provides 32 direct Eurocity services from Geneva, Basel and Zurich to Milan and Venice. Enjoy comfortable and quick cross-border train travel, perfect if you’re on a country-hopping holiday.

Find out more about Trenitalia.

Deutsche Bahn

  • International routes from Switzerland to Germany
  • High-speed trains traveling at 300km/h (186mph)

The German train company Deutsche Bahn offers over 40 daily Intercity (IC) and Intercity Express (ICE) services between Switzerland and Germany, connecting  Lucerne to Munich, Interlaken to Hamburg or Bern to Frankfurt, for example. Forget car hire and take the train from Switzerland to Germany.

Find out more about Deutsche Bahn.


  • International routes from Switzerland to Austria
  • High-speed trains traveling at 230km/h (143mph)

The Austrian railway company ÖBB provides high-speed Railjet trains, which connect Switzerland to Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck at speeds of up to 230km/h.

Find out more about ÖBB.


Train classes on Swiss trains

Wondering if it's worth spending that extra cash to travel in First Class? Or will Standard Class do just fine? Keep reading to discover what you can expect to find in each class when traveling by train in Switzerland.

Second Class

Available on all trains in Switzerland

Second Class is most common in Switzerland, so it can be more crowded than First Class. You can expect to find the following in Second Class cars:

  • Free WiFi
  • Baggage storage areas
  • Restaurant car with take-away or table service (on most IC and EC trains)
  • Family zone on IC and ICN trains

First Class

Available on most trains in Switzerland

Depending on the train you’re traveling on, First Class on Swiss trains can include the following extras on top of Second Class amenities:

  • More spacious and comfortable seating
  • More legroom
  • Business zone on IC trains
  • Quiet zone

Top Swiss destinations to reach by train

Boasting a prime location in the heart of Europe, Switzerland welcomes trains from many neighboring countries and greets them with views of mountains, lakes, waterfalls and vineyards on their journey. We’ve recommended some of the top destinations to visit during your trip to Switzerland.


Known by many as the headquarters of several international organizations, Geneva is a city that surprises its visitors. Traveling by train to Geneva Cornavin station, you’ll arrive at a recently renovated terminal featuring many shops and restaurants. You can easily reach the city center in around 15 minutes on foot or by hopping on a tram or bus. The entire main area of the city is surrounded by the impressive Lake Geneva, easily recognizable by its 140m water jet – one of the highest in Europe.

Next, continue your visit to the Palais des Nations – the European headquarters of the UN – and take a wander around the large park that surrounds it, or visit the Cathedral Saint-Pierre and the Bains district, with its galleries and contemporary art shops.

Want even more travel inspiration? Check out our guide on what to do in Geneva for more places to add to your itinerary.

Trains to Geneva

Main train stations

Airport transfers


The train ride to Switzerland's economic capital, located in one of the German-speaking cantons of the country, sees passengers alight at Zürich Hauptbahnhof train station. Known as Zurich HB, the station is the largest terminal in the country and connects Switzerland to major European cities. It also boasts a privileged location in the central district, between the Limmat River and Shil, directly opposite the Swiss National Museum.

One of the main advantages of traveling into Zurich station is that you’re within walking distance of most of the city’s main attractions. Not sure where to visit first? Check out our Zürich city guide. Be sure to take in the contrast between the modern avant-garde buildings and charming historical churches. Don’t miss out on a stroll around the lively Zurich Lake to admire its typical medieval middle-class houses. Each year, Zürich ends the summer with a dance party. For more information, check out our Zürich Street Parade guide.

And if Zurich has left you yearning for more, why not tick off two cities in one trip and head from Zurich to Lucerne by train?

Trains to Zurich

Main train stations

Airport transfers


Often a lesser known destination than the previous two cities, Bern is the historic capital of Switzerland. Both domestic and international trains run frequent services through Bern train station, and although it’s a large building, everything is well signposted with lots of shops to browse before your journey. The terminal is also located in the heart of the city near the old town – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – so make this your first stop!

Wander through Bern and experience the medieval architecture of Europe for yourself. Check out the cobbled streets, charming fountains and the famous Zytglogge (Clock Tower) with astronomical spheres moving over time. The city also has a modern side though, which you can see by visiting the Zentrum Paul Klee museum – totally avant-garde and worth the detour.

Main train stations

Our travel tips

Student/budget travelers

Visa requirements

If you hold a valid US, UK, AU, NZ or CA passport, you won’t need a visa if you’re staying in Switzerland for less than 90 days.

If you’re studying in Switzerland, you’ll need to apply for the visa that covers the amount of time you’ll be spending there. 

Discounted train travel

If you know your travel plans ahead of time, book a Supersaver ticket or a Saver Day Pass to travel on SBB trains, or a Standard ticket (booked in advance) to travel on TGV Lyria trains. Both train companies release their tickets up to 3 months in advance – the earlier you book, the more you’ll save!

Business travelers

Visa requirements

If you’re staying in Switzerland for less than 90 days and and hold a valid US, UK, AU, NZ or CA passport, you don’t need to apply for a visa.

If you’re traveling from the US, you’ll just need to show proof of sufficient funds and a return plane ticket to enter a Schengen zone country, including Switzerland.

First Class or Second Class?

Onboard services in First and Second Class can vary based on the train you’re traveling on. The Business Zone is only available on SBB’s InterCity trains on specific routes, such as Basel to Lugano and Zurich to Lucerne.

If you’re taking a TGV Lyria train from Switzerland to France, you can travel in Business Class all week except on Saturdays and Sunday mornings.

Family travelers

Visa requirements

If you’re visiting Switzerland for less than three months, you won’t need a visa to enter the country if you hold a valid UK, US, CA, AU or NZ passport.

Traveling with children

Children up to 6 years old travel for free on all Swiss and cross-border services. They won’t be able to have their own seat, so will have to sit on your knee during the journey.

Fares for children aged 6 years and older vary depending on the rail company. In general, children under 16 can get half-price tickets.

SBB’s Intercity and Intercity Tilting trains on long-distance routes come with a Family Zone in Second Class, where there’s more space for strollers. On some routes, a family car is also available – children can play freely in a colorfulplayground area.

Frequently Asked Questions

Wondering how much baggage you can take on board Swiss trains or when to buy your train tickets? Check out our answers to some of your most frequently asked questions below.

Buying train tickets

On the train

Learn more about Swiss train travel

So you’ve come to the end of our guide to train travel in and around Switzerland. We’ve covered the types of trains you can travel on, their classes and who operates them. You should now also know how to book your Swiss train tickets with us and which ones can save you the most money.

If you feel ready to book your tickets, start your search in our Journey Planner at the top of the page. If not, check more travel guides and get inspired for your next trip in Switzerland and beyond.

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