Travel in Switzerland

Topics covered

  • The Swiss public transport system
  • Do you need a car in Switzerland?
  • Best scenic train rides for tourists
  • The cost of Swiss trains
  • Ways to save money when travelling in Switzerland as a local
  • Ways to save money when travelling as a tourist
  • Insider tips for travellers

Who We're Speaking With

In this episode, Daniel Shalom and Diccon Bewes talk about travelling in Switzerland.

Diccon grew up in Britain but moved to Switzerland in 2005. His first book, Swiss Watching, became an international bestseller and he is now writing his ninth Swiss title. He lives in Bern with his partner (and a cupboard full of chocolate).

About the Episode

The average Swiss person travels over 2,500 kilometres by train every year. The public transport system is popular with both locals and tourists because it’s extensive and well-maintained. If you’re new to Switzerland and want to learn more about the system and how you can save money when using it, this is the episode for you.

Here are some things you need to know about travelling in Switzerland:

  • Fares for public transport are set in Switzerland. There are no off-peak tickets, so you pay the same no matter when you travel. However, you can sometimes get deals for specific trains or days online on the SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) website.
  • Almost everyone who regularly uses public transport has a travelcard. The most common one is the half-fare card, which costs CHF 190 per year and reduces most fares by 50%. Around 9% of the population has a General Abonnement (GA), a travelcard that covers virtually the entire country. 11% have a regional railcard.
  • For tourists, the equivalent of a GA is the Swiss Travel Pass. It is available for 3, 4, 6, 8, or 15 days and includes free entry to over 500 museums. The half-fare card is also available for foreign residents, who can either buy it for one month or a whole year.
  • Tourists pay tourist tax in many areas of Switzerland. This sometimes includes a free public transport card, so it’s best to check with the hotel or Airbnb owner.
  • Panoramic trains aren’t always fully included in travelcards, and they sometimes require seat reservations. Regular trains don’t require any seat reservations. However, there are two classes. If you buy a second-class ticket, you’re not allowed to sit in first-class sections.
  • Children under six travel for free. For older kids, you can get a junior travelcard that allows them to travel for free along with a parent.


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