When we purchased our airline tickets and had our arrival and departure cities set, I immediately started constructing our itinerary. We had a general idea of where we wanted to visit but knew that we didn’t want to spend more than three hours a day on a train.
As our itinerary started to form, we had to face the next question: would we buy individual train tickets or invest in a Travel Pass? Since we were only visiting Switzerland, we eliminated the Eurail Pass and started researching options offered by the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB).
After a few weeks of researching our different options, we decided to go with the Swiss Travel Pass for 8 consecutive days in second class for about $400 each. I had priced out each of the trips we would take by train from city to city to get a general idea of whether or not the Travel Pass would make sense for our visit. We came out close to even based on my [very] general estimate but opted to go with the Travel Pass for the convenience factor and we are SO glad we did. On a side note, if you’re going to be in Switzerland for more than two weeks, you may benefit from the flex option.
In addition to providing access to every train ride we needed to take from city to city, the Pass gave us access to public transportation in each city (including trams, buses, and boats), free entrance to museums, rides on all but one of the lifts we took in the Berner Oberland region, and was even more convenient than we had anticipated. There were multiple days where we showed up at the train station with a departure time in mind, saw that another train was leaving earlier and were able to hop on that one instead!
The flexibility provided by the Swiss Travel Pass was one of our favorite parts about this entire trip. If you decide the Travel Pass isn’t the best option for your trip (maybe you’re not as crazy as we are and will decide seven cities in nine days is too much) we would recommend that you purchase your tickets ahead of time in order to save money.
We had attempted to buy these online from California a few weeks before leaving and for different reasons the website would never process our orders. As a planner, I liked the idea of having our passes in hand and ready to go when we landed. As a travel romantic, I liked the idea of having passes show up in the mail.
Ultimately, the practical side of me has to admit that if you’re arriving in Switzerland via an airport or train station that has an SBB ticket counter there’s no reason to feel pressure to order your Pass ahead of time! Read more about how to plan your own itinerary here: Switzerland in 10 Days and check out more about the Swiss Travel Pass here.