The Swiss Travel Pass is an all-in-one transport pass that makes it easier and more affordable to travel around Switzerland, where the public transport system is renowned for its efficiency.
Also sometimes referred to as the Swisspass, Swiss Train Pass or Swiss Pass, the pass is valid for various durations.
It even gives holders access to discounted travel on many mountain railways and cable cars as well as trains, buses and boats.
Now you have decided to purchase the Swiss Travel Pass, where do you buy it? When and how can you activate it? And how do you actually use the Swiss Travel Pass?
In this guide we cover everything you need to know before setting off on your travels around the incredible country of Switzerland.
From how to buy the Swiss Travel Pass and whether or not your type of pass needs activating to how to use your pass on the go, this article covers it all.
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What's in this Article
Where to buy the Swiss Travel Pass
Let’s get started by taking a look at where you should buy your pass.
First, you need to decide whether to purchase a regular Swiss Travel Pass (for travel on consecutive days) or a Swiss Travel Pass Flex. The differences are explained in > this article.
Then it’s super simple to purchase a Swiss Travel Pass. I recommend you buy the pass via GetYour Guide, an authorised reseller of Swiss Travel System.
What’s great about using GetYourGuide is that they offer full refunds on many products, including the Swiss Travel Pass, if you cancel up to 24 hours before use.
Consecutive Day Swiss Travel Pass Prices
|Swiss Travel Pass
|1st Class – CHF 369
2nd Class – CHF 232
|1st Class – CHF 315
2nd Class – CHF 199
|1st Class – CHF 570
2nd Class – CHF 359
|1st Class – CHF 617
2nd Class – CHF 389
|1st Class – CHF 675
2nd Class – CHF 429
Swiss Travel Pass Flex Prices
|Swiss Travel Pass Flex
|3 Days in 1 month
|1st Class – CHF 424
2nd Class – CHF 267
|4 Days in 1 month
|1st Class – CHF 514
2nd Class – CHF 323
|6 Days in 1 month
|1st Class – CHF 610
2nd Class – CHF 384
|8 Days in 1 month
|1st Class – CHF 649
2nd Class – CHF 409
|15 Days in 1 month
|1st Class – CHF 706
2nd Class – CHF 449
How to buy your Swiss Travel Pass step-by-step
The GetYourGuide site is also really user-friendly. After clicking the link to purchase your pass (this link for the consecutive day pass and this link for the Flex pass), the first step is to choose how many adults, youths (aged 16 to 25) and children (aged 6 to 15) are travelling.
This can be done directly beneath ‘About this activity’. Kids aged 5 or under don’t need a ticket or a pass, as they travel for free.
Next, select the start date you want: you can skip through months here by clicking the arrow on the top right.
Then, when you have selected the date you will first use your pass, click on ‘Check availability’.
Now you can choose the pass you’d like to buy.
Add the pass you want to your cart.
📍I recommend double checking at this point that you have selected the right class of travel and duration.
Then click ‘Checkout’.
Next it’s just a case of adding your billing details as with any online purchase.
You’ll also be asked to complete the full names and dates of birth for each traveller. Make sure these match your passports exactly to prevent any problems later on.
How you’ll get your Swiss Travel Pass
Once you have made your purchase, when and how is your pass delivered?
The Swiss Travel Pass (for travel on consecutive days) will be emailed to the address you provided in the booking process, and will come in the form of a PDF attachment which can be downloaded to your mobile device.
I highly recommend printing a paper copy of this as a back-up, though you can simply present the mobile version when using transport in Switzerland.
While both paper and digital versions of the pass are accepted, your phone could suddenly run out of battery and then you’d have no way of proving you have a pass!
You should also carry your passport or another form of photo ID each time you travel.
How you’ll get your Swiss Travel Pass Flex
If you purchase a Swiss Travel Pass Flex, you will receive a purchase receipt and a voucher by email.
The voucher is NOT valid for travel.
Each day you wish you travel you should activate your pass (see the instructions below). By doing this, you will receive a valid ticket for travel on that date.
When and how to activate the Swiss Travel Pass
There is often confusion about whether or not a Swiss Travel Pass has to be activated. The answer varies according to the type of pass you’ve bought so follow the instructions below to learn how to activate your Swiss Travel Pass.
Activating your Swiss Travel Pass (consecutive days)
The regular, consecutive days Swiss Travel Pass does not need to be activated. All you need to do is show it to the ticket inspector when requested.
Activating your Swiss Travel Pass Flex
The Swiss Travel Pass Flex, however, must be activated in advance and before each day that you use the pass. You can do this via Activate Your Pass here.
Your pass should be activated before your first trip, and you’ll need to enter your reference number as well as your full name and date of birth.
For every travel date you activate, a valid ticket will be generated. This e-ticket can then be seen at activateyourpass.com. You can show this e-ticket to the ticket inspector on your phone or tablet, or use a printed copy.
What if your plans change along the way?
If you have already activated a travel date that you want to change, the Swiss Travel Pass allows you to change these as much as you want to until the start of each validity period.
The validity period commences at 23:59. Once the clock hits midnight, you can no longer change or deactivate this particular ticket.
For example, if you have activated your Swiss Travel Pass Flex to be used on 17 July and you no longer wish to use your pass that day, you can change the date of travel until 23:59 on 16 July.
How to use the Swiss Travel Pass
So now let’s cover how to use the Swiss Travel Pass Flex or consecutive-days pass.
When travelling with a Swiss Travel Pass – either consecutive days or Flex, you simply board the train and sit wherever you wish in the correct carriage for your class of travel.
The only exception to this is when travelling on the Bernina Express or Glacier Express, which we cover below.
When requested by the ticket inspector, simply present your Swiss Travel Pass. You may also be asked to present some photo ID, such as your passport to verify that you are the pass holder.
Using the Swiss Travel Pass on panoramic trains
The actual ticket price of the journey on these trains is covered by the Swiss Travel Pass but seat reservation fees are compulsory and should be purchased online well in advance of your travel date.
On all other panoramic trains* – Luzern – Interlaken Express, GoldenPass Line and Gotthard Panorama Express – seat reservations are not required. Simply board the train and sit anywhere in the correct carriage for your class of your travel.
*Note that the Gotthard Panorama Express only offers 1st class train travel. If you hold a 2nd class Swiss Travel Pass or Swiss Travel Pass Flex you must pay a class upgrade for this journey.
Additionally there is a compulsory supplement of CHF 16 for each passenger that travels on the Gotthard Panorama Express. > Purchase class upgrades and the compulsory supplement here.
Using the Swiss Travel Pass on buses, boats and mountain transport
Don’t forget that Swiss Travel Pass holders can also use boats, buses and some mountain transport services. Even when this isn’t the case, you may qualify for a generous discount as a pass holder.
When boarding boats and buses, simply show your Swiss Travel Pass when you enter. For free (where applicable) or discounted travel on cable cars, funiculars and mountain railways, present your pass at the ticket counter.
Selected museums also allow pass holders to enter for free. Just show your Pass at the ticket counter.
Travelling beyond the Swiss border with a Swiss Travel Pass
When travelling to an area beyond that covered by the pass – such as into another country – you’ll need to buy a ticket for that sector. This will apply, for example, to journeys into France, Italy, Germany or Austria.
International tickets are generally not available for purchase on the Swiss Railways website or app so we recommend buying them from the railway of the country concerned.
The Swiss Travel Pass covers travel as far as the major rail border points of Basel and Le Chatelard-Frontiere on the French border, Chiasso on the Italian border, Konstanz on the border with Germany and St. Margrethen on the Austrian border.
Some postal bus services within Liechtenstein and Austria are also covered by the Swiss Travel Pass.
You can view a map of the Area of Validity of the Swiss Travel Pass > here.
The SwissPass app
Is there a Swiss Travel Pass app? No, there isn’t.
Many travellers notice a reference to the SwissPass on the SBB Mobile app however this refers to a digital travel account for residents only.
A SwissPass account is for Swiss citizens only, not tourists, and is a separate product that uses a chip and pin card.
The Swiss Travel Pass doesn’t have to be added to an app. All you need is to be able to show the ticket inspector a paper or digital copy, and photo ID if requested.
The excellent SBB Mobile app (which we explain here) can be used for checking timetables but it is not necessary (or possible) to connect your Swiss Travel Pass to the app.
Another app that is useful is the Swiss Travel Guide app which has an integrated map and timetable and points out more than 500 Swiss highlights.
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Buying, activating and using the Swiss Travel Pass summary
The Swiss Travel Pass allows you to use the clean, fast and efficient public transport system in Switzerland. It can be used on trams, buses and boats as well as trains, and can save you a lot of time and money. Exclusive free entry to museums and generous discounts can also apply.
Buying your pass is easy, and purchasing it through our preferred supplier means you won’t even lose money if your plans change, as long as you cancel 24 hours before the start date.
Once you have your chosen pass, I recommend taking a paper copy as well as the digital version as back-up. Also carry your passport or other photo ID in case it’s requested.
Unless you want to travel on the popular scenic Swiss train routes, seat reservations are not normally required.
Wherever your Swiss Travel Pass takes you, I’m sure you’ll fall in love with beautiful Switzerland and will want to return time and time again!
How to Buy, Activate and Use the Swiss Travel Pass – Summary
Now that you have read this guide, you can confidently buy, activate (if necessary) and use your Swiss Travel Pass.
This all-in-one transport pass is the perfect hop on hop off ticket for travelling in Switzerland.
If you’re still unsure whether the pass is the best value for your trip, we answer the question Is the Swiss Travel Pass worth it? here.