Updated on: February 10, 2024

How to buy a ticket from an SBB ticket machine – step by step

4  comments

Have you ever found yourself standing in front of a ticket machine and decided that flying an airplane would be easier?

I have. And it wasn’t pretty. 

I’ve also witnessed my share of confused travellers who’d just arrived at Zurich Airport and tried to buy their ticket. That wasn’t necessarily pretty, either.

To spare you that same dilemma when you’re in Switzerland, I've put together a quick step-by-step guide on how you can buy your Long Distance Ticket without any sweat and tears.

Since SBB are now starting to swap out their old ticket machines for new ones, I've made a guide with both machine types.

1. Buying your ticket from an old SBB ticket machine

How to buy a ticket in Switzerland

1. Find a ticket machine that looks something like this.

How to buy a ticket in Switzerland

2. Tap anywhere on the screen to wake the system.

Tap anywhere on the screen to wake the system.

3. Pick your preferred language.

How to buy a ticket in Switzerland

4. If your destination isn’t listed on the left, select "Alternative Connections".

How to buy a ticket in Switzerland

5. Enter your destination. Technically, you could change your departure point as well if you’re not leaving from the station you’re buying the ticket from.

How to buy a ticket in Switzerland

6. Start typing your destination until it shows up on the list.

How to buy a ticket in Switzerland

7. I recommend selecting the direct route here.

How to buy a ticket in Switzerland

8. Choose one-way or return.

How to buy a ticket in Switzerland

9. Choose first or second class.

How to buy a ticket in Switzerland

10. If you have a Swiss Half Fare Card, you can buy a cheaper ticket. Without it, you’ll pay the full price.

How to buy a ticket in Switzerland

11. Choose the date on which you wish to travel. 

How to buy a ticket in Switzerland

12. Double-check if everything was processed correctly. If you’re happy with the result, pay either by card or cash.

2. Buying your ticket from a new SBB ticket machine

1. Find a ticket machine that looks something like this.

2. Tap anywhere on the screen to wake the system.

3. This is what the machine wakes up to.

4. Pick your preferred language.

5. Enter your destination. Technically, you could change your departure point as well if you’re not leaving from the station you’re buying the ticket from.

6. Choose your connection. If you want to travel on a different date, click "Edit" in the top right corner.

7. Choose date and time. If you buy a point-to-point ticket (not a zone ticket) the departure time is irrelevant as the ticket is valid all day.

8. Make your pick by clicking "Select".

9. Select one way or return, 2nd or 1st class and Full Fare or Half Fare (if you own a Swiss Half Fare Card).

10. Pay your ticket and off you go...

As you can see, using a ticket machine takes quite a few steps. Fortunately, it's quite intuitive and if you know what you want, you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly.

I hope this has been helpful. If you'd like to know about getting around Switzerland, check out my Swiss public transport guide. 🙂  

Bon voyage.

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  1. Thank you for this detailed post! I plan to reference this when I arrive at the Zurich airport next month.

    1. Hello Diane, thank you for your comment. I’m glad you’ve found the post helpful. Enjoy your time in Switzerland!

  2. Hi! I have a question.
    is it much more expensive to buy a ticket in the machine compared to booking in advance via the web? i am going from zurich airport to bern.

    1. Hi, thanks for your question. It always costs the same. Whether you buy it two months in advance online or if you go to the ticket machine 5 mins before the train leaves. With one exception, though. If you buy a supersaver ticket online, then it will be cheaper to buy ahead of time but then you’re tied to that specific train and time that it says on the ticket. So if you don’t know exactly when you will be catching the train in Zurich Airport, I recommend you just buy your ticket from the ticket machine once you land.

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