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Switzerland Train Travel

Switzerland Rail Travel

If you could travel through only one European country, which might you choose? Italy? France? Germany? How about a taste of three in one? That can only mean Switzerland!

There is no other form of transportation that brings you closer to the charm of Switzerland, both affordable and easy. Trains are synonymous with the spirit of going places, and nowhere is this more true than in Switzerland. Travel in style!

Available Rail Passes for Switzerland

  1. Swiss Pass
    Travel by train in Switzerland.
  2. Swiss Card
    The Swiss Card includes one free return train journey and a 50% discount on a variety of Swiss products.
  3. Swiss Transfer Ticket
    This offers one round trip transfer from an airport or border point to any destination in Switzerland.
  4. Eurail Austria-Switzerland Pass
    Travel by Train in Austria and Switzerland.
  5. Eurail Germany-Switzerland Pass
    Travel by Train in Germany and Switzerland.
  6. Eurail France-Switzerland Pass
    Travel by train in France and Switzerland.
  7. Eurail Global Pass
    The Premier European Rail Pass traveling in 21 countries!
  8. Eurail Select Pass
    Travel by Train in up to 5 European Countries, you choose which ones.
  9. Eurail Select Pass & Drive
    Travel by Train in up to 5 European Countries + Car rental, you choose which ones.
  10. Eurail Drive Pass
    The Premier European Rail Pass traveling in 21 countries + Car rental!

Available High Speed Train in Switzerland

  • TGV
    TGV is the world’s fastest train with up to 200 mph fast track to France, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium.
  • City Night Line Train
    The City Night Line overnight train allows you to make the most of your time during your European holiday. You’ll sleep in complete comfort aboard this night train—which links Switzerland and Germany with many of the surrounding countries
  • Italy – Switzerland (Cisalpino) Train
    This is a high-speed train that literally tilts, reducing travel time. It can transport you to some of Europe’s most beautiful cities, including Bern, Basel, Milan, Venice, Florence, Zurich and Geneva more quickly.
  • ICE
    The ICE can take you all over Germany, including Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Munich, Cologne, and Berlin. With high-speed comfort and luxuries like reclining seats and laptop connections.

See the best of Switzerland with Scenic Train!

  • Glacier Express Tour
    The world famous Glacier Express Tour takes you on Switzerland’s most scenic rails, between Zermatt and St. Moritz.
  • Bernina Express Tour
    The Bernina Express will take you from St. Moritz to Tirano, Italy in hassle-free comfort with huge, breathtaking panoramic views. In summer, continuing on to Lugano by bus.
  • GoldenPass Tour
    It’s simple, yet perfect. A trip on an ultra-modern train that can includes panoramic and Belle Epoque (Classic)coaches gliding across alpine landscapes in comfort and serenity. The GoldenPass. Come on. It’s you in wonderland.
  • Wilhelm Tell Express Tour
    See the best of Switzerland! The William Tell Express links German-speaking central Switzerland with the Italian-speaking Mediterranean-like portion of Switzerland.

Trains Schedule & Travel Times in Switzerland

From To Type of Train # of Trains Frequency Travel Time
Zurich Bern InterCity 25 Daily 1 hr
Zurich Geneva InterCity 16 Daily 2 hr, 40 min
Zurich Lausanne InterCity 16 Daily 2 hr, 8 min
Geneva Lausanne InterCity 31 Daily 33 min

Practical Train Information in Switzerland:

When thinking green, think Switzerland. It’s arguably one of the world’s most environmentally-conscious countries, and that no doubt explains why train travel there is so eco-friendly. Most trains use ultra-clean hydroelectricity, and some even generate energy-saving electricity when traveling downhill. Every Swiss town is connected to the train system. And, the system also coordinates with an extensive bus network so you can easily journey to the most out-of-the-way finds. Trains can take you from Zurich airport to the top of the Jungfrau and its stunning views to the German Black Forest and the French Vosges.

The most popular Swiss routes include, of course, the famous scenic trains: The Golden Pass, The William Tell, or Mont-Blanc Express smoothly snake in Swiss alpine fields, cross mountain streams on spectacular bridges, all while train travelers enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the snowy Swiss Alps.

Swiss Passes are most definitely the way to go, unless you just want a quick transfer from the airport to another city—to hit the slopes, naturally. Passes not only provide access to the SBB railway mainline network, but also dozens of local, private companies that operate mountain trains, cable cars, and buses. An added bonus: free entrance to most Swiss museums.

The Swiss Federal Railway has one of the most extensive rail systems on the Continent and its trains are noted for their comfort and cleanliness. Most of the electrically operated trains have first class and second class compartments. International trains link Swiss cities with other European centres. InterCity trains arriving from Holland, Scandinavia, and Germany usually require a change at Basel’s station, where a connection is normally available on the same platform. Most InterCity trains offer the fastest connections and because trains leave the Basel station hourly, there’s never too long a wait.

One of the busiest rail links in Europe stretches from Paris to Geneva and Lausanne. Almost as busy are the rail routes between Paris and Zurich. Most of the trains assigned to these routes are part of Europe’s network of high speed trains. (The French refer to them as trains a grande vitisse, or TGV). From Paris’s Gare de Lyon, about four trains a day depart, respectively, for both Geneva and Lausanne. Travel time to Geneva is about 3½ hours; travel time to Lausanne is about 4 hours. Trains from Paris to Zurich depart five times a day from Paris’s Gare de l’Est (travel time to Zurich on the TGV is about 4½ hr).

Ironically, miles travelled by train within Switzerland are proportionately more expensive then equivalent distances within France, so ongoing fares from Zurich or Geneva to other point within Switzerland might come as an unpleasant surprise. Consequently, many travellers who anticipate lots of rail travel are well advised to consider the purchase of any of Rail Europe’s passes. Note, however, that a number of Switzerland’s best-known trains are privately owned and do not accept Eurail passes, though passholders will get a discount on fares. Swiss railpasses cover all scenic trains.


These are absolutely necessary on Switzerland’s special scenic trains. On most Swiss trains, however, reservations aren’t usually necessary, although you can make one for about $13 through Rail Europe if you want to ensure yourself a seat, especially during the busy holiday season. Having a railpass doesn’t guarantee you a seat. Fares for EuroCity and InterCity trains within Switzerland are included in a railpass, but on most international trains you’ll be assessed a supplement (which depends on the train you take and your ultimate destination).

Because rail journeys are short in Switzerland, it will rarely be necessary to book a couchette or sleeper, for which reservation fee begin at $35 and climb higher. Sleepers and couchettes are available on most international routes running through Switzerland, and accommodations on these trains can be reserved at least 60 to 90 days in advance through Rail Europe. These sleeper services aren’t available on domestic routes within Switzerland itself.

Switzerland Travel Guides

If you’re planning for an excelent trip in Switzerland, I strongly recommend investing in Rick Steve’s Switzerland guide book, and the relevant Lonely Planet Guide for in-depth country information on the sights to see, places to stay, places to eat. They’re both are very very useful.

Rick Steves Switzerland

Switzerland Travel Guide Lonely Planet

Service & Amenities

All major train stations in Switzerland have food and drink for sale. We’d recommend that you avail yourself of their offerings, taking along bottled water or a picnic lunch to enjoy as you watch Alpine scenery. Most trains have minibars, but they are expensive and not for the frugal rail traveller.

Many trains making longer runs also have self service buffets, which are far more affordable than eating in one of the dining cars, where prices are lethal. If your train has one, a self service buffet is the way to go if you didn’t bring a picnic lunch.

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