How does the Swiss Travel Pass work?
A Swiss Travel Pass is the most convenient option for traveling in Switzerland. You can travel as much as you like and you do not need tickets. Just board with your pass and enjoy the ride. In case of cable cars and most other mountain transport you need buy a discounted ticket.
Printing and validating the pass
The validation process is mostly a thing of the past. In almost all cases, the Swiss Travel Pass is ready for traveling once you printed it (or once received via regular mail). You will receive a PDF file via e-mail, with a code that train staff can scan from your smart phone (set screen brightness to the maximum). Officially you need a printout too, so be sure to also print the pass on A4 or Letter sized paper, either at home or in your hotel.
Validation is not required if the pass contains all information (start date and passenger name), and there's nothing left to fill out. The passport number is not printed on the pass.
In rare cases, one of the validation (or: activation) processes below applies:
- You can validate the pass yourself. This is the case if there is no area on the pass that requires a stamp from the Swiss Railways, and if the start date of the pass is already printed on it. You will need to fill out a few details: usually the name and passport number of the traveler, and the country of your passport;
- Your pass needs to be validated by railway personnel. This is the case if there is an area that requires a stamp from the Swiss Railways, and if the start date of the pass is not filled out yet. You can have the pass validated at a staffed Swiss station or by personnel on board international trains bound for Switzerland.
Swiss Travel Pass travel days
Once your Swiss Travel Pass is valid, you can use it for the number of days you purchased it for. The time of validation is not relevant. There's no difference between validating it on July 15 at 8:00 AM or July 15 at 7:00 PM. July 15 still counts as your first full day of traveling, and the pass is basically valid from 0:00 AM that day. In this example, an 8-day Swiss Travel Pass can be used for traveling on July 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22. Validity ends on 5:00 AM of the day following the last day, so that allows you to complete late night trips, even after midnight. In this example, validity ends on July 23, 5:00 AM.
The Swiss Travel Pass travel days are consecutive. If you don't travel on such a day, it still counts as a travel day.
There are two types of trips:
- Trips on routes that allow free traveling. You can just board any train, bus, boat, etc. on such routes. You do not need a ticket;
- Trips on routes that allow discounted traveling. This will mostly apply to transportation into the mountains. You need to arrange for a discounted ticket. You can do so online or at the ticket office of the cable car. Present your pass to make sure you'll get the discount.
There are a few cable cars that also allow free traveling. In such cases you may need to get a ticket as access gates require a specific ticket type. You can get a free ticket upon presenting your Swiss Travel Pass.
You do not need seat reservations for 99% of all trains and buses in Switzerland. You can simply board with your Swiss Travel Pass. Exceptions are some international trains and some panoramic trains like the Glacier Express and Bernina Express. If you need, or want, seat reservations, you need to arrange for them separately. Seat reservations are not included in the pass.
About train seat reservations
About bus seat reservations
On board the train
Once you're on board, you will need to present your Swiss Travel Pass to ticket controllers upon request. The controller may want to check your passport as well, to make sure you're the owner of the presented pass. The passport must be the one you filled out while purchasing the Swiss Travel Pass.
Traveling beyond the area covered by the pass
You may have planned a trip not completely covered by the pass. You can check the map to find which part of your trip is covered. You will have to buy a ticket for the part of the trip that is not covered.
Example: you intend to travel from Milan to Interlaken. As you can see on the map, Domodossola - Interlaken is covered by the Swiss Travel Pass. So you need to buy a ticket Milan - Domodossola. You don't need to get off the train in Domodossola. You have paid for the entire trip by the ticket and pass, so you can stay seated.