Switzerland by train

Map with main train connections in Switzerland

Switzerland is high on the wish list of many Eurail travelers. You can explore Switzerland by rail with a Eurail pass and travel through the snow-capped Alps, alongside beautiful mountain lakes and across rolling green hills. Switzerland's stunning nature and charming cities make this a country you don't want to miss!

Switzerland in images
Train types in Switzerland
Domestic connections in Switzerland
International connections to and from Switzerland
Reservations for trains in Switzerland
Rail passes for Switzerland
Events in Switzerland
Benefits in Switzerland
More about Switzerland

Switzerland in images

Aare River in Bern

Aare River in Bern

Fraumunster Church and River Limmat, Zurich

Fraumunster Church and River Limmat, Zurich

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Wooden bridge in Lucerne

Oberfofen Castle at the Lake Thun

Oberfofen Castle at the Lake Thun

Aerial view of Interlaken

Aerial view of Interlaken

Train types in Switzerland

 

There are a number of train types in Switzerland ready to transport you across the country, and to and from other European countries by day and night. Switzerland's national railway company is the SBB (Schweizerische BundesBahn). Use the Eurail train timetable or SBB timetable to check times for trains in Switzerland.

 

Regional trains in Switzerland

The main rail network in Switzerland is made up of the following regional and intercity trains:

  • RegioExpress trains link regional destinations with larger Swiss cities.

  • Regio trains connect local towns. 

  • InterCity trains link major Swiss cities like Basel and Geneva.

  • InterRegio trains connect Zurich and Geneva with cities across the whole of Switzerland. These trains make more stops than InterCity trains.

  • S-Bahn (suburban trains) is a network of trains that operate within most big cities. Your Eurail pass is valid for the S-bahn in Zurich.

 

There's an international regional train connection between Chiasso and Milan (Italy). This connection is a great option if you want to avoid reservation fees.

On the Eurail timetable RegioExpress trains are listed as "RE", and Regio trains as "R". InterCity trains are listed as "IC", and InterRegio trains as "IR". Regional and Intercity trains do not require seat reservations. Reservations are however recommended for Intercity trains during high season (May-September) and public holidays.

High-speed trains in Switzerland High speed train crossing a bridge, Cisalpino, Switzerland

International high-speed trains in Switzerland 

These high-speed trains operate to and from Switzerland:

  • ICE connects Switzerland to Germany and the Netherlands.

  • RailJet connects Zurich with Vienna (Austria).

  • EuroCity connects Zurich, Basel and Geneva to Milan (Italy).

  • TGV connects Zurich, Basel and Geneva to Paris (France).

 

Domestic high-speed trains in Switzerland

Swiss domestic high-speed trains are called InterCity Neigezug (ICN). ICN trains transport passengers quickly and in comfort from one side of the country to the other.

 

On the Eurail timetable ICE trains are shown as 'ICE', Railjet as "RJ", Eurocity as "EC" and TGV as 'TGV'. Reservations are compulsory for EuroCity and TGV. For ICE, RailJet and domestic ICN trains, reservations are optional but we recommend making reservations during weekends and busy periods.

Night trains in and between Switzerland Map with night train routes in Switzerland

International night trains

The following night trains connect Switzerland with Austria, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Serbia and Denmark.

  • City Night Line:
    Zurich – Amsterdam (the Netherlands)
    Zurich – Berlin (Germany)
    Zurich – Hamburg (Germany)
    Zurich – Prague (Czech Republic)
    Basel – Copenhagen (Denmark)

  • EuroNight:
    Zurich – Graz (Austria)
    Zurich – Vienna (Austria) – Budapest (Hungary)

  • D-train:
    Zurich – Villach (Austria) – Ljubljana (Slovenia) – Zagreb (Croatia) – Belgrade (Serbia)

 

City Night Line appears as "CNL" on the Eurail timetable. EuroNight appears as "EN", InterCité de Nuit as "NZ" and D-trains as "D".You are required to book sleeping accommodation in advance.

Scenic train routes in Switzerland Bernina Express paasing a lake, Switzerland

Switzerland is famous for its beautiful scenic landscapes. The following scenic train routes offer special conditions for Eurail pass holders:

 

Private railway companies in Switzerland

The Swiss railway network is operated not only by the SBB. There are a lot of private railway companies as well. Some of these companies are included in your Eurail pass while other companies offer discounted travel. 

 

For more information on private railway companies:

Domestic connections in Switzerland

 
Map with popular connections in Switzerland

Map with popular connections in Switzerland

View approximate train travel times between Switzerland's most popular cities using regional and high-speed trains:

From

To

High-speed train

Regional train

Basel

Bern

57min

1hr 40min

Basel

Geneva

2hr 43min

5hr

Basel

Interlaken

2hr

4hr

Basel

Zurich

50min

1hr 50min

Basel

Lucerne

1hr

1hr 40min

Bern

Geneva

1hr 40min

2hr 30min

Bern

Interlaken

50min

1hr 10min

Geneva

Interlaken

2hr 40min

5hr 40min

Geneva

Zurich

2hr 44min

5hr

Zurich

Lugano

2hr 43min

-

International connections to and from Switzerland

 

We suggest the following routes to travel between Switzerland and other European countries:

  • France Switzerland
    Travel to Paris on the TGV train from Zurich (4hr), Basel (3hr) or Geneva (3hr).

  • Italy  Switzerland
    Travel by EuroCity (EC) train directly to Milan from the Swiss cities of Bern (3hr), Geneva (4hr) and Zurich (3hr 30min).

  • Austria Switzerland
    Take a RailJet train from Zurich to Vienna (7hr) or travel by night to Graz on EuroNight trains.

  • Germany – Switzerland
    Travel from Zurich to Hamburg or Berlin on the City Night Line night train, or travel by day on ICE trains from Switzerland to German cities like Frankfurt.

Reservations for trains in Switzerland

 

Reservations for SBB regional trains are not required. For InterCity and ICN trains reservations are not compulsory but we recommend you make a seat reservation during the busy summer period (May-September) and on public holidays. Reservations are required for night trains and international high-speed trains. Prices for night trains depend on the type of sleeping accommodation you choose.

 

How to make reservations for Swiss trains

You can make reservations for domestic and international high-speed trains and night trains:

  • At a ticket desk or self-service machine at local train stations.

  • By phone through the SBB call center.
    Phone number: +41 900 300 300
    Opening hours: 24/7

 

You will get a direct connection when calling this booking center. The Swiss SBB booking center can deliver your reservations to all European countries. Delivery costs are CHF8 (approx. €6.50). This call center may charge a booking fee. You can also pick up your reservations at main Swiss train stations. Just go to the ticket office with your order number.

 

Find out more about reservations

Rail passes for Switzerland

 
Map with example route in Switzerland

Map with example route in Switzerland

Eurail passes including Switzerland let you discover all of Switzerland's beautiful scenery and great cities like Geneva, Interlaken and Zurich.

 

Rail pass options for Switzerland

 

Example route in Switzerland

Experience the best of Switzerland on a single trip with a Eurail pass. You can follow the suggested route below using a: Eurail France-Switzerland pass - choose 7 days in 2 months, starting from USD$ 314

 

1. Geneva

Geneva is one of Europe's most cosmopolitan cities with a mix of French and Swiss influences.

 

2. Golden Pass scenic route

The Golden Pass train whisks you along the glistening waters of Lake Geneva and through picturesque mountain towns like Gstaad and Interlaken in the heart of Switzerland.

 

3. Interlaken

Interlaken is a mountain paradise – pay a visit to the underground waterfalls or try one of the many outdoor activities like hiking, white-water rafting or skiing.

 

4. Lucerne

Lucerne is surrounded by breathtaking mountain sights and filled with medieval treasures.

 

5. Zurich

Zurich is probably Switzerland's trendiest and most vibrant city and home to the hugely popular Street Parade.

 

6. Glacier Express scenic route

The Glacier Express weaves  through beautiful valleys and shiny mountain lakes with stops along the way at luxurious spa towns - experience the best of Switzerland from just one train!

 

7. Brig

Brig is a wonderful holiday hideout - make sure to visit the beautiful Stockalper Palace and the open-air thermal baths.

 

Swiss rail passes also include a selection of extra pass benefits, including free and discounted boat crossings and scenic train rides.

Places to visit in Switzerland

 
Cityscape of Bern
Cityscape of Bern

Beauty and history in Bern

Switzerland’s capital is filled with centuries-old tradition, and modern-day flair. From the Gothic, 15th century cathedral Münster of Bern (Berner Münster), which took more than 460 years to complete, to the high street shopping and current fashion, Bern is a traveler’s best-kept secret. Be sure to visit Historic Old Town, with the Zytglogge clock tower. The old town, built in the 15th century, is now a UNESCO Heritage Site.

From Bern’s Central Station, the Zytglogge clock tower in the Historic Old Town is about a 10-minute walk.

Lausanne Cathedral
Lausanne Cathedral

Lausanne

Home to the International Olympic Committee since 1914, it’s easy to see why the Committee chose Lausanne, with its rolling, vineyard-covered hills and place on the edge of Lake Geneva. Don’t miss the old town and the Lausanne Cathedral – Switzerland’s finest example of Gothic architecture. There’s a wide selection of museums, including the Musée de L’Art Brut (art created by psychiatric patients & convicted criminals).

A metro will take you to the old town and cathedral.

View on the Alps, Switzerland
View on the Alps, Switzerland

Natural wonders in Interlaken

Nestled deep in the Alps, Interlaken may be known for its skiing, but there’s something to do all year round in this mountain paradise. Interlaken lies at the foot of three mountains – the Eiger, the Mönch and the Jungfrau – and between two lakes. Do not miss the Trümmelbachschlucht subterranean waterfalls (yes, underground). Ride a glass-ceilinged cable car into a 500-meter gorge and see the glacial waterfalls up close.

Use your Eurail pass for a discounted journey to the top of Jungfrau – it’s the highest railway station in Europe, and the view is unlike any you’ve ever seen.

View from Salève
View from Salève

Real and retail paradise in Geneva

Geneva has something to offer every visitor. Boating, biking, hiking, and water recreation are just the top of the list. Geneva also offers phenomenal skiing and unforgettable shopping. The Rue de Reve and Rue de Rhone are very high-end shopping streets. The Salève is Geneva’s backyard mountain, and you can take a gondola ride to an observation point where all of Geneva is visible, surrounded by the Swiss Alps. Don’t miss it.

The shopping area is a 15-minute walk from Geneva’s Central Station.

View on Zürich, Switzerland
View on Zürich, Switzerland

Zurich’s energetic excellence

Switzerland’s largest city offers excellent food, endless shopping, and a busy downtown feel. The Bahnhofstrasse has the best shopping in town. Beautiful churches, like the Fraumünster (built in 852) and the Grossmünster (built in 1100) help tell the story of Zürich’s past. After an afternoon on the Lakeside Promenade, visit the Niederdorf – unique shops and busy craftsmen by day, excellent food and exciting clubs by night.

The Bahnhofstrasse begins just outside of Zürich’s main station (Zürich HB).

Events in Switzerland

 
Fasnacht
Fasnacht

Fasnacht

February 17 - February 23, 2015

This carnival attracts over 15,000 costumed and masked participants, filling the streets of Lucerne. Expect music, mayhem and partying on the streets.

Lucerne is a 1 hr train ride from Bern and Zurich. The festival takes place across the whole city, which can be reached via the main train station.

Montreux Jazz Festival
Montreux Jazz Festival

Montreux Jazz Festival

July 3 - July 18, 2015

This festival is known around the world as one of the best places to hear the masters of rock and jazz. Just 1 hour outside of Geneva you can experience this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Free shuttle buses operate between the festival site and Montreux's train station.

Caliente Latin Festival, Zurich
Caliente Latin Festival, Zurich

Caliente Latin Festival

July 3 - July 5, 2015

Each year at Zurich’s Latin festival the whole city bursts into song and dance, with a mix of salsa and samba by day and pumping beats by night.

The festival is held in venues across the city.

Benefits in Switzerland

 
Boat on Lake Geneva

Boat on Lake Geneva

Boat trips

With a Eurail pass valid in Switzerland, you'll get free and discounted boat travel on several Swiss lakes and rivers as an extra benefit.

 

Scenic routes

Eurail pass holders also pay reduced prices on the following scenic train routes:

 

See all pass benefits for Switzerland

More about Switzerland

 
People on a regional train in Switzerland

People on a regional train in Switzerland

Quick facts

  • Capital: Bern

  • Population: 8 million

  • Language: German, French, Italian

  • Currency: Swiss franc (CHF)

  • Dialing code:+41
     

Swiss hub stations

Switzerland's main hub stations are Basel SBB, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, Luzern and Zürich HB. From these train stations it's possible to connect to trains to most of Switzerland's main cities.

 

Station facilities

Stations in Switzerland usually have excellent facilities, often including:

  • Luggage lockers

  • Foreign exchange desks

  • Restaurants and cafés

  • Tourist information offices

  • ATM cash machines

  • Elevators and escalators

  • Shops

  • Access for disabled passengers

     

Spelling of city names

On Swiss train timetables and at train stations in Switzerland, you'll usually find the local spelling of Swiss cities and stations.

 

Here is the local spelling of some popular Swiss cities:

  • Genève = Geneva

  • Luzern = Lucerne

Related pages

 
- Countries in Europe
- Countries in Europe
- Countries in Europe
- Countries in Europe
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