Updated on: April 4, 2024

Should you buy a Swiss Travel Pass? An honest opinion from a budget-traveller

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If you’re planning a trip to Switzerland, you’ve probably stumbled across the Swiss Travel Pass once or twice. If not, don’t worry. There will be an introduction later on. But first things first...

One question that will inevitably pose itself to you as you try to figure out your transport options in Switzerland, is: Should I buy this thing or not?

As with every important question in life, it’s not as simple as Yes or No. And this one is no different. The fast and easy answer will have to be: It depends.

Wonderful, now what?

That’s exactly what I’m trying to help you with in this post. I’ll share my honest opinion with you and also hand you a tool that'll help you come to a decision. Now, in case you’re wondering what exactly the Swiss Travel Pass is, let’s take a closer look.

What is the Swiss Travel Pass?

The Swiss Travel Pass is basically an all-in-one, worry-free ticket that gives you access to (almost) every means of public transport in Switzerland. Which, as you will know after reading my public transport guide, is saying something. 

You can use all the trains, buses and boats across the country for free. (Well, the Swiss Travel Pass isn’t exactly free. But you know what I mean.) Just take a look at this map to get an idea of all the places you can visit with this ticket. This also includes local transportation in cities, by the way. So trams, local buses, funiculars and so on.

Get 50% off the Schilthorn cable car with your Swiss Travel Pass

The Swiss Travel Pass gives you full access to all public transport in Switzerland.

In addition to that, you also get free admission to over 500 Swiss museums, free rides to the mountain tops of Rigi, Stanserhorn and Stoos and up to 50% off all other mountain railway tickets. (Yes, this includes Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn as well.)

Not to mention the luxury of not having to worry about tickets while jumping on any train, bus or boat. 

The Swiss Travel Pass comes in a few different versions. You can buy it for 3, 4, 6, 8 or 15 consecutive or flexible days. You have up to one month to use the flexible travel days. And if you’re under 26 years old, you’ll get a 30% discount.

Now, let’s talk about money. Because all these special treats come at a price.

How much does the Swiss Travel Pass cost?

As you can imagine, such a wonderful, all-inclusive ticket isn’t cheap. But if you consider all that it unlocks for you and how much flexibility it gives you, it’s not so bad. The prices for the Swiss Travel Pass (STP) as of 2023 are as follows:

STP

2nd Class

1st Class

2nd  Class Youth

1st Class Youth

3 days

232 CHF

369 CHF

164 CHF

260 CHF

4 days

281 CHF

447 CHF

199 CHF

315 CHF

6 days

359 CHF

570 CHF

254 CHF

402 CHF

8 days

389 CHF

617 CHF

274 CHF

436 CHF

15 days

429 CHF

675 CHF

307 CHF

479 CHF

STP Flex

2nd Class

1st Class

2nd  Class Youth

1st Class Youth

3 days

267 CHF

424 CHF

189 CHF

299 CHF

4 days

323 CHF

514 CHF

229 CHF

362 CHF

6 days

384 CHF

610 CHF

272 CHF

430 CHF

8 days

409 CHF

649 CHF

290 CHF

459 CHF

15 days

449 CHF

706 CHF

321 CHF

501 CHF

If you’re interested in buying a Swiss Travel Pass, you can do so in just a few clicks through this link. Now that you know what this pass is and how much it costs, let’s get to the real question we're trying to answer here.

Should you buy a Swiss Travel Pass?

I promised you my honest opinion. So I’ll have to speak about my own experience here and what my take is on travel passes.

Personally, I love them. And wherever I go, I try to get my hands on a travel pass. If they’re my best option, that is. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

I’ve been to Japan four times. And apart from that one time when I stayed in the Osaka area for the whole time, I always bought the Japan Rail Pass. It was a no-brainer for me for many reasons. Here’s what I love about a good travel pass:

  • How they give you the ultimate flexibility to travel as you wish
  • How you never have to worry about buying the right ticket
  • How easy they make it for you to plan your transport budget for an upcoming trip
  • How you get a ton of discounts on other attractions
  • How taking that little side trip or catching that extra train just become a no-brainer because it generates no extra cost
  • How making the most of your travel pass almost becomes a challenge and you come up with the craziest ideas to make it worth its while (How about breakfast in Basel, lunch in Bellinzona and dinner in Geneva?)
River Rhine in Basel

Basel in the morning...

Bellinzona Castle

... Bellinzona in the afternoon. No problem with a Swiss Travel Pass in your pocket.

As you might have noticed, I’m an advocate for travel passes. But only if they fit into my plans. Which is very important to me as a budget-traveller. Just buying a travel pass out of laziness or fear of having to buy my own ticket is never an option for me. And it shouldn’t be for you either if you’re trying to watch your budget.

So what I like to do, and what I recommend you do as well, is the following:

  • Create a rough outline of my itinerary
  • Look at my other ticket options apart from the travel pass (which, in case of Switzerland you can do in my public transport guide)
  • Find the prices for the trips I know I’ll want to take to get an idea of how much a single journey costs
  • Whack it all into a spreadsheet and let Excel help me decide if buying the travel pass pays off or not

Being a Swiss citizen and living in Switzerland, I’m not entitled to buy a Swiss Travel Pass. But the principle stays the same with every travel pass in the world. So to help you decide on whether or not it makes sense in your case, I’ve prepared a spreadsheet for you.


(* If you click the link, the sheet will open in Google Docs. From there, you can download the file onto your computer to start working with it. In case it doesn't work, shoot me a message at info@lostinswitzerland.com and I'll e-mail it to you.)


All you need to do is choose the number of days you’ll be using public transport and enter the journeys you want to take. The spreadsheet will then calculate the total transportation costs of your trip. All that’s left to do in the end is compare the result to the cost of the Swiss Travel Pass.

To find an answer to this question and to get started with your calculations, download your free Excel spreadsheet and knock yourself out.

My personal favourite things about the Swiss Travel Pass

To wrap this up, let me share with you some of my favourite parts about the Swiss Travel Pass:

  • It lets you explore every corner of Switzerland by using one of the densest networks of public transport in the world. You’ll see that there’s absolutely no need for a car here and that you’ll still be able to see it all. 
  • All the scenic train rides in Switzerland are included. In some cases, you’ll need to add a seat reservation, though. But other than that, you’re good to go.
  • I love how the Swiss Travel Pass includes over 500 museums. My top picks are the Maestrani Chocolarium near St. Gallen, Chillon Castle by Lake Geneva, the Gruyère cheese factory, Maison Cailler in Broc and the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum near Brienz.
  • With Switzerland being the „water castle of Europe“, it comes with quite a few lakes. And therefore the possibility to jump on a boat to explore the area. My favourites are Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. But the Swiss Travel Pass is valid with almost all other boat companies running across our lakes as well. 
Lake Thun

The boats on Lake Thun are included in your Swiss Travel Pass.

Chateau de Chillon

Chateau de Chillon by Lake Geneva near Montreux is one of my favourites.

I hope this post has helped you in the process of deciding whether or not you should buy a Swiss Travel Pass. Happy planning and good luck making your decision.


PS: If you need help with your itinerary, I might have something for you 😊

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  1. Arriving in Basel on April 23, 2024. Head to Chur for an overnight and then next day catch the Glacier Express to Zermatt where we overnight and take the furnicular up the Matterhorn. Overnight and then onto Geneva to return home. So approx 3 days in Switzerland. Do you think this is doable or should be add a day or two. Do you have any other suggestions? Do you think we should buy the Swiss Rail Pass. We are four Canadian seniors in our late 70s. Thank you.

    1. Hi Gillian, this is a very ambitious program but definitely doable. If you have a day or two to add, I’d definitely recommend doing so. Because you’ll arrive in Zermatt in the evening, it would be good to have some time in Zermatt to do the funicular. And the Swiss Rail Pass will be worth it in your case since you’ll be doing quite some travelling.

  2. Hi Seraina,

    lovely to see you back in the saddle at Lost in Switzerland and working on the eternal question of travel passes.

    I've got some people coming to Switzerland soon and shall definitely send them your way.

    Cheers

    Edward

    1. Hey Edward, good to hear from you. Actually, I‘m still only half back due to lack of time to write. But I hope that, once I finish my studies, I can pick up again.
      Cool thanks for this. I‘m always happy if you send people my way!
      Cheers, Seraina

  3. The download to the planning sheet doesn’t work. I bought the 8-day ebook. Can you email it to me?

    1. Hi Julie

      What would you like me to e-mail for you? The ebook or the planning sheet?

      Seraina

        1. Hey Rose, thanks for your comment and your kind email. I replied you through your message you sent me via the contact form 😊

  4. There are four of us Canadians coming for 5/6 days in Switzerland, arriving by train from Paris (spending a few days there first), we are debating driving around to site see and staying in hotels, airbnbs in nearby areas we see, one senior and 3 adults in our mid to late 30s. Do you think renting a car makes more sense for us versus a rail pass?

    1. Hi Paul, thank you for your comment. It depends on your preferences and whether or not you’d like to travel by train, boat, mountain railway or even hop on one of the scenic trains. But if you travel with a group of four, renting a car will definitely work out cheaper than buying a Swiss Travel Passe for each person.

  5. thanks for all of this great information. I was wondering if there was ever a time when the train or boat was filled to capacity and you couldn't board / even with the swiss travel pass? Makes me nervous to go 'stand by' and not have reservations.

    1. Hi Paige, thanks for your question. Trains or boats beeing so full that you’re not able to board practically never happens. I’ve lived and used public transport in Switzerland my whole life and I’ve only experienced it once. And that was because lots of trains got cancelled due to an accident and people had to get alternative connections during rush hour in Zurich. But in 99.9% of the cases, I’d say there’s no problem to get on without any reservations. However, if you do feel better with a reservation, you can book a seat through SBB for 12 CHF. But in my opinion that’s a complete waste of money. What could happen, depending on when and where you travel, is that a train is very full and you might need not find a seat right away. So worst case you might need to stand for a while until someone gets off. But I’ve never seen people get stranded at the train station because the train was too full. I hope this helps!

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