Interrailing in Switzerland

Switzerland is an excellent destination for interrailing. An extensive rail network reaches all corners of the country. Services are frequent and reliable. Many routes offer amazing views, often making the train rides as interesting as their destinations. With very few exceptions, there are no reservations in Switzerland, so there are no surprises and additional costs.

If you are traveling on tight budget, be warned though. Switzerland is relatively expensive comparing to neighboring countries. You will spend more on accommodation and food.

Pass validity

There are many train companies in Switzerland. Most, but not all, accept interrail passes, so you need to be a bit careful. The Rail Planner app contains an up-to-date list of companies that accept Interrail. Trains that always accept Interrail are:

  • All trains operated by SBB-CFF-FFS, which includes the majority of Intercity trains.
  • All trains operated by BLS.
  • All trains operated by Südostbahn (SOB).
  • All EC/RJX and NJ trains connecting to neighboring countries.
  • All trains operated by Deutsche Bahn, like ICE high speed trains to Germany.
  • Most S-Bahn services (trains named S-(number) like S2). Exceptions in the Zurich area: S4, S10 and S18 do not accept Interrail.
  • All trains operated by Rhätische Bahn (the Glacier Express and Bernina Express require reservation).
  • Boats operated by BLS. You can use your pass for a free trip on the boats on the Thunersee and Brienersee around Interlaken.
  • BOB (Berner Oberland Bahn) trains from Interlaken to Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen/Wengen. (trains via Kleine Scheidegg are not included) New for 2024.
  • Mürren is also reachable for free, albeit only via Grütschalp.

This list covers the vast majority of trains in Switzerland. Some other trains also accept Interrail, so if you are planning to take a train not listed here, check the pass validity in the Rail Planner app or ask the clerk at the ticket office. That information can also be found on the interrail website.

The map shows where you can travel: All lines where Interrail is valid are shown in red. Dotted lines means you will receive a discount.

The pass is not valid on:

  • The train to Jungfraujoch and Kleine Scheidegg
  • Most if not all cable cars and funiculars.
  • City buses, trams, Lausanne metro
  • Heritage lines

A good rule of thumb is: does my train serve any villages? If it does, Interrail is usually valid. If it does not and is catered to tourists, Interrail is usually not valid.

Even on trains where the pass is not valid many train operating companies offer a discount – typically 25% – if you have a Flexipass you can claim this discount at any point in your passes validity period, it does not have to be a travel day. Where you are claiming this discount trains should not be added to your trip/travel log. For a list of these companies see:


Reservations are almost non-existent in Switzerland. Even most international connections (EC, ICE, RJX trains) don’t require reservations. There are some exceptions though, you need reservations on the following trains:

  • TGV trains on international journeys to France.
  • NightJet sleeper trains.
  • Luxury tourist trains like the Glacier Express and the panorama carriages of the Bernina Express.


Switzerland has a lot to offer and you will find something interesting in every corner of the country. Here are some recommendations tailored for railfans:

Rhätische Bahn in Canton Graubünden

Why Graubünden?

Graubünden is the largest of the Swiss Cantons, located in the south-east part of the country, bordering Liechtenstein, Austria and Italy. It offers some of the most breathtaking landscapes with many hiking trails and the Swiss National Park. It also has some of the most amazing train lines in Europe, some even listed by UNESCO as world heritage.

Getting there

There is a local train company Rhätische Bahn (RhB) that operates a network of narrow-gauge (1000mm) rail lines in Graubünden. The main hub for RhB is the city of Chur. It is easily accessible by SBB InterCity trains.

UNESCO World Heritage

The RhB network is over 100 years old and consists of many beautiful bridges and tunnels cutting through the Alpine landscape. Part of it is recognized as UNESCO World Heritage. Those train rides can be destinations on their own.

Bernina Express

Bernina Express is a service catering to tourists. You will need a reservation on the panorama carriages with big windows. It offers some additional services like minibar and audio commentary. A few carriages at the front are reservation-free and have pull-down windows. Cool experience!

There are other regular trains on the same route which don’t require reservations. Decide for yourself whether the additional services offered by Bernina Express are worth the reservation fee. In addition in the summer season there are open-air carriages on some services. It’s not comfortable but it’s fun (bring a warm jacket):

Glacier Express

Glacier Express is a service even more luxurious than the Bernina Express. It connects Zermatt to Sankt Moritz and offers beautiful Alpine views during the whole ride (but no glaciers!). Glacier Express requires a 49 CHF reservation. Very popular service so book well in advance.

Jungfraujoch Bahn

WARNING: this service is very expensive and doesn’t accept the pass. Check the price before making plans.

Jungfraujoch is a railway departing from Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald. It goes to the Jungfrau pass at the elevation of 3463m. It offers amazing views to the largest glacier of continental Europe and surrounding Alpine ridges. You can skip the first train by taking the faster Grindelwald – Eigergletscher cable car.

However, the tickets for Jungfraujoch are very expensive. Interrail is not accepted (at least there’s 25% discount). There is not much to do up there. There may be some hiking trails, but they require good fitness and skills due to extreme elevation. The only way back is to take the same train down. There is also a very expensive restaurant and souvenir store up there, an artificial ice cave and a viewing platform. The best thing is to walk a bit on the snow towards Mönchsjochhütte.

Check the weather forecast and webcam before you go. Every other day it’s in the fog. Tickets have a fixed price and cannot sell out. Reservations are optional and cost 10 CHF per person per leg! They do not assign you a seat but instead guarantee that you can board a particular service (say 10:30). Otherwise you might have to wait 30 min for the next train.

Railway museums

Locorama is a railway museum in Romanshorn, in the far east of the country.

Tram Museum Zürich has a collection of trams, streetcars, LTRs, whatever you want to call them. It might be the only museum in the world, entering which one has to validate a ticket.

Swiss Museum of Transport located in Lucerne covers the history of transportation engineering, not only trains. It’s amazing but expensive.

Connections to neighbouring countries


There are multiple ICE connections between Germany (Hamburg, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin) and Switzerland. All those train pass via Basel, some continue to Interlaken, Zürich or Chur.

There is an EC service connecting Munich to Zürich. Unfortunately there are only few trains per day and they tend to be overcrowded. While reservations are not mandatory outside summer, it is a good idea to book a reservation anyway, unless you feel like seating on the floor. The reservations can be purchased at SBB, DB ticket counters. or online through OBB for 3€.

There are multiple cross-border S-Bahn or regional connections in border towns.

There is a night service operated by NightJet connecting Zürich/Basel to Hamburg/Berlin/Amsterdam. Reservations are mandatory and they sell out fast.


The best way to get to Liechtenstein is to travel to Sargans and then take a local bus connecting Sargans (Switzerland) to Feldkirch (Austria) via Vaduz (Liechtenstein). In Vaduz you can switch to buses to all corners of Liechtenstein (hint: for hiking and skiing go to Malbun).

There are some some train stations in Liechtenstein though with a weekday-only service at peak hours. Those can be reached by train from Switzerland. Note that for Interrail they count as Austria – watch out for in/out days if you are an Austrian resident.


There are EC trains connecting Zürich, Bern, Basel to Milan. Follow the guidance in the Rail Planner as to whether reservations are required. You can easily dodge the reservation by taking the hourly RE from Milan to Lugano/Locarno.


TGV Lyria service connects major Swiss cities (Geneve Lausanne, Basel and Zürich) to Paris. Reservations on TGV trains are mandatory in France.


There is a RJX service connecting Zürich to Vienna, some trains continue to Bratislava and Budapest. Reservations are optional but recommended at busy times. There are also Nightjet services to Graz and Vienna.

The daily EC Transalpin (Zurich – Graz) has a 1st class panorama carriage.

Other countries

There are direct daytime or night connections to other countries, including Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia.


What’s the deal with Basel?

There are two major train stations in Basel: Basel SBB and Basel Bad Bf. Both are physically in Switzerland, however Basel Bad Bf is owned and operated by German Railways (Deutsche Bahn).

If you are traveling from Germany to Switzerland and change trains in Switzerland, you most likely want to change at the SBB station.

For Interrail, Basel SBB and Basel Bad Bf counts as both German and Swiss stations. That means, if you are a resident of Switzerland, you can use the pass from Basel Bad SBB or Basel Bad Bf towards Germany without using your in/out day. Conversely if you are a resident of Germany you can use the pass from Basel Bad Bf towards Switzerland without using your in/out day.


Use the SBB App (Play store) (App store) to check the current status and occupancy of trains, buses, trams, ferries. You can also use that app to buy individual public transportation tickets for all services in Switzerland, including the ones not covered by Interrail pass.

Even if you are using an Interrail pass, it is good to find the connection in the SBB app, then click the three-dots-menu and select “add trip”. Once you do that, you will see real-time updates for your connection, including train delays and platform numbers.