Request a call

How to travel in Switzerland by train? A Travel Expert’s Guide

Share it

How to travel in Switzerland by train? A Travel Expert’s Guide

If you come from a country where it’s not common to use public transport, travelling in Switzerland by train may seem like a challenge.

Our clients often ask us: is it safe to travel by train in Switzerland? Who travels by train in Switzerland? What to expect when travelling by train and what amenities are on board?

In this blog post we will try to answer these and other frequently asked questions.

Let’s go!

gornergrat cogwheel train

Is It Safe to Travel In Switzerland By Train?

Let’s start with the most important question: is it safe to travel in Switzerland by train?

The answer is yes.

Switzerland is one of the safest countries in the world, and this also applies to public transport. Trains, buses and boats in Switzerland are safe for people of all ages and genders. It’s common to see children under the age of 10 travelling to and from school by bus or train, as well as high-ranking officials and public figures travelling without any security. Passengers can feel safe travelling at any time of the day or night.

It’s extremely rare to be bothered, harassed or inconvenienced by other passengers on the train. In such cases, you can always report the offender to the conductor. The atmosphere is usually calm, quiet and relaxed. It’s common to see people working on their laptops, listening to music, talking quietly or simply enjoying the view.

Nevertheless, it is important to be aware of the safety rules when travelling on public transport. Pickpockets do happen. Don’t leave your wallet and mobile phone out in the open or your handbag unattended.

bernina express day trip

Who Takes The Train In Switzerland?

The simple answer is: everyone.

Unlike many other places in the world, public transport in Switzerland isn’t seen as a cheap alternative for people who can’t afford a car. Instead, it’s seen as a convenient option for everyday commuting.

Thanks to a dense network, frequent services, modern infrastructure and combined tickets and passes, travelling by train in Switzerland is often preferred to driving.

Many people don’t even own a car: in 2023, the Swiss Federal Statistical Office reported 4.7 million registered passenger cars for 8.7 million Swiss inhabitants: that’s almost two people per car!

Public transport in Switzerland is therefore extremely egalitarian. Swiss trains are filled with people from all walks of life, from blue-collar workers to high-ranking government officials, who often choose to travel by train to stay in touch with the society they serve.

rail tours of Switzerland for seniors

Are Trains In Switzerland Comfortable?

Traveling in Switzerland by train very comfortable, even in second class.

Swiss trains usually have two classes of carriages: first and second. The main difference is in space: first class seats are slightly roomier and more comfortable than second class seats. On-board facilities such as toilets, changing rooms, children’s areas and vending machines are the same for all classes.

Swiss trains are also very clean and tidy – you will not find trash lying around, spilt drinks or worse. You can also feel comfortable using the toilets on board – they are cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Some panoramic routes, such as the Golden Pass Line and the Glacier Express, also have VIP carriages with extra amenities. GoldenPass Express offers Prestige Class cars with rotating leather chairs, seat service, a lounge and a bar. Excellence Class on Glacier Express sets the same high standards, offering single window seats only, a 5-course meal included in the price, as well as concierge and infotainment options.

Such luxurious train adventures are a fantastic way to spend the day – after all, a full Glacier Express route takes 8 hours. 

private Switzerland rail tours

Is It Difficult To Travel By Train In Switzerland?

Travelling by in Switzerland by train is a fantastic experience. Swiss trains are comfortable, punctual and take you to the most remote places.

However, for people who are not used to using public transport frequently, navigating the stations can be a little tricky.

Here’s how to make your next train journey in Switzerland a little easier:

  • Plan ahead: use the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) online planner to check connections, train types, change points and platform numbers. Find out where stations are located and how they’re organised. 
  • Get an SBB mobile app: We recommend downloading the SBB app, which allows you to book tickets, check timetables and get live train information. You can also find discounts and easily locate your platform, train and even carriage.
  • Arrive earlier – always try to arrive at the station early so you have enough time to find the right platform, train and carriage.
  • Don’t worry about missing connections – Swiss trains run frequently, especially on the most popular routes. If you miss your connection, just wait for the next train in the right direction. Your ticket is still valid. Waiting times can vary from 15 minutes to 1 hour.
  • If in doubt, ask the SBB staff – they are always very friendly and helpful. If you can’t find your platform or have any other problem, you can always approach a person in uniform or wearing a yellow vest. They will be happy to point you in the right direction.
  • Follow the sign – Swiss stations are very well signposted and it’s usually very easy to find your platform, a way out of town or the bus stop. Signs are usually in German, French and English.
how to travel in Switzerland by train

How To Buy Train Tickets In Switzerland?

You can buy Swiss train tickets in several ways: 

 

Online:

 

Offline:

  • at the SBB ticker counter
  • at the ticket machines

 

If you’re not sure which ticket or travel pass will be the best for travelling in Switzerland by train, simply call the agent or send an email. At ECHO Rails we will be happy to help you find a perfect solution for your holiday plans. 

ECHO Rails Swiss train tours

Planning a holiday in Switzerland by train can be a challenge.

Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple on their honeymoon or going on a family holiday, finding a smooth itinerary combining interesting sights and activities is never easy.

At ECHO Rails we love planning unforgettable holidays in Switzerland by train. With over 13 years of experience, we can turn your vacations by rail into a trip of a lifetime.

Our guided small group tours (max 16 participants) allow for a complete cultural immersion, especially under the care of our local English-speaking guides. ECHO rails private tours take you wherever your heart desires with the support of a local guide.

What else?

  • flexible itineraries
  • optional hikes and walks
  • the assistance of a guide
  • dedicated luggage transfer included in the price
  • detailed activity levels, including compulsory and optional distances
  • Swiss dining experience at local restaurants and bars
  • mixed activities, including historical, natural and engineering wonders

Let us take care of the organization and the logistics while you simply enjoy a rail adventure of a lifetime

Don’t wait, book you holiday in Switzerland by train today.

Let’s stay in touch