Transportation costs in Switzerland: how to save for tourists and visitors.

Switzerland is a fairly expensive country as a holiday destination. More so if you count on using swiss public transportation.

Switzerland has a highly efficient public transportation consisting of a network of buses, trains, trams and ships. The main and the biggest railway company purely owned by  Switzerland (this means that the company is regulated by the public) is called SBB CFF FFS . They have connections not only within the whole of the country but also to the neighboring countries like Germany, France, Italy, Romania, Austria, etc. It  also consistently ranks high (highest in 2017) among all other European national railway systems.

It is a very efficient public transportation with good and mutiple connections everywhere the country. They also have clean, well – lighted, maintained train stations and bus stops.

And of course it is expensive.

For example, a roundtrip ticket from Zürich Airport to Bern Main Station cost 56 chf. That is a 1 hour and 13 minutes travel time without stopover. This ticket only brings you to Bern train station and if you need to take a tram or bus anywhere in Bern, you would need to get another ticket. 

There are however some tips that a tourist can use to be abel to save a lot. Here are some of them.

 

1. Gemeinde Tageskarte.

     This is a Daypass ticket that you can use to travel within Switzerland for 1 day up to 5am the next day. This ticket can only be purchased in the local municipality though and there is a limited number of tickets per day that is available. (2-8 tickets per day depending on how big the municipality is). Usually the tickets sell out months in advance so book as early as possible. This is only available for the locals to purchase, however, this ticket is transferable and does not carry personal details so if you know someone who lives in Switzerland, ask them to buy this ticket for you. A Gemeinde Tageskarte costs from 43 chf to as high as 49 chf and this is by far the cheapest, uncomplicated way to use the swiss transportation for the whole day. You can use the trains, buses, ships, and trams all over the country. (The special travel/sightseeing trains common in the Jungfrau Region and the mountains is not included in this ticket though.)

 

2. Catch the Supersaver ticket (Sparbillette).

If your travel dates are already in place and you already know your destinations, you can go to the sbb website and search for supersaver tickets. This could save up to 80% off the normal amount. For example,  I once got a single way ticket from Zürich for just 3.60 chf. This supersaver ticket is a hot pancake though so book way in advance to catch them. A note though that this ticket is valid on specific trains and the specific time that you book and that is shown on the ticket. You cannot use another train or ride on another time other than what is specified on the ticket otherwise you will get a  penalty of 100 chf plus the normal cost of the ticket to your destination. ( If the controller catches you without a ticket or an invalid ticket, the penalty is 100 chf plus the cost of the actual ticket so be careful ). 😛

 

3. Swiss Travel Pass.

A train stops in Schafhausen direct in the castle by the lake. This place is just about a 40 minute train travel from Zürich Main Station.
This is a view from a Lucerne cruise. Ships are also included in Daypasses so there is no need to purchase a separate ticket should you want to hop in one of those.

This is the third and last option had you not got any ticket from the previous 2 tips. This is fairly expensive but has added benefits so it is worth looking.

Swiss Travel Pass allows you to use the trains, buses, ships, trams for a period of days depending on what you bought. There is a travel pass for 3, 4, 8 and 15 days. These days should be used consecutively. For example, if you purchase the 3 days pass, on the 4th day, the ticket is not valid anymore. 

Here are the benefits of a Swiss Travel Pass according to sbb website.

  • Unlimited travel by train, bus and boat
  • Unlimited travel on premium panorama trains (seat reservation fees and/or surcharges apply)
  • Unlimited use of public transport in more than 90 towns & cities
  • Free admission to more than 500 museums
  • Mountain excursions included: Rigi, Stanserhorn and Stoos
  • Up to 50% discount on many other mountain excursions
  • Up to 30% discount on SBB RailAway offers. Available at all ticket counters within Switzerland
  • Children from the age of 6 up to their 16th birthday accompanied by at least one parent (holding a Swiss Travel System ticket) travel free of charge with the complimentary Swiss Family Card
  • Children under 6 years of age who are accompanied by a holder of a valid STS ticket travel free of charge.

Below are the prices.

Swiss Travel Pass 3 days

232.00

369.00

Swiss Travel Pass 4 days

281.00

447.00

Swiss Travel Pass 8 days

418.00

663.00

Swiss Travel Pass 15 days

513.00

810.00

 

 If you plan well and way in advance, you will be able to maximize your budget and be able to see and enjoy much of the country.

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