An Epic Adventure: How to Bring Your Bike Aboard Swiss Trains
August 29, 2023
Switzerland is an amazing place for biking – no doubt about it! The nature is stunning, the climbs are epic, and the cycling routes are well-maintained. Plus, the Swiss driving culture is super friendly to bikers.
Biking is a big deal for the Swiss too! You will quickly discover that the locals don’t restrict themselves to the cities and villages. You will likely see any number of lycra dressed characters or all ages grinding up the long 12 percent plus gradient Alpine passes.
But here's the part that might not be so obvious: Switzerland has cracked the code on bike-train combo. Why is that such a plus you may ask? Well, picture this: you ride to one spot, then simply hop on a train back. You can also decide to see different parts of the country or even ship your bike back by train as you continue elsewhere. Curious how it all works and how to get the right tickets? We've got you covered with some tips on mastering bike travel in Switzerland.
Arriving into the country
Switzerland's public transport is a breeze for bike lovers, covering every nook and cranny of the country. You can easily hop on a train right next to the airport and in just a few hours you can reach your desired location. Zurich and Geneva are your main two airports.
Zurich train station is conveniently located just under the airport, so there is little time to waste. It is also located very central so getting anywhere is a breeze. Geneva brings you closer to the western part of the country, shall you want to venture into France or discover the western passes.
Getting the right train tickets
Being prepared and having the right tickets in Switzerland is important as you will be reminded if you get it wrong. Tickets sometimes sell out, so be prepared ahead of time. These are your main options:
Point-to-Point Pass: The classic choice. It gets you from A to B.
Day pass: If you're covering more than a few stops, a day pass makes financial sense. In 2023, it cost CHF 75 and covers all of Switzerland for 24 hours. Booking early can get you saver day passes at CHF 52 in 2023.
The Swiss travel pass: It gives you unlimited travel for trains, buses and boats and something to look into if you are looking to also do some more touristy things as you travel. You can choose between 3, 4, 8 or 15 consecutive days. There are many pricing options depending on what you choose.
Multi-day pass: This one is just like buying 6 day passes but it is more convenient. You can use them on non-consecutive days and with multiple people. Cost in 2023 was 450 CHF.
You do need separate bike ticket
These tickets cost 14 CHF per day in 2023. If you plan on riding the train more, consider a 6-pack bike pass for 84 CHF, making life easier. This pass works just like the multi-day regular pass.
Pro tip, you don’t need to pay a fee if your bike is packed up in a bag or a case!
For long-term bike adventurers, a yearly pass at 240 CHF, linked to your Swiss Pass card, is an option. Get passes from ticket machines, SBB mobile app, or online.
Storing your bike on the train
Look for carts with a bike symbol.These carts allow extra space for the bike. Entering the wrong cart with your bike is not allowed and you will be asked to move your bike to the correct cart. It's nice to get it right from the start.
You may also need a bike space reservation
On a few intercity trains, you need a reservation for your bike during the summer season. And generally, you cannot take your bike on trains on weekdays during commute hours. You will want to check any restrictions. Bike spaces can be reserved in the SBB Mobile app, on SBB.ch and at the ticket counter.
Download the SBB app
It’s awesome and we are big fans.The app gives you access to timetables, lets you store tickets, and notifies you of any changes.
A word on Post Busses
When the train journey ends, yellow postal buses await. These buses are a bit of a Swiss icon and there is hardly an area in the country that cannot be reached. They mainly offer transport through mountain roads, and ample time to enjoy the gorgeous landscape. They will also transport you and your bicycle to the starting point of your tour or return you back to your desired location. We definitely recommend them. They operate with convenient rear bike racks and passengers must load bikes onto the vehicle themselves. A reservation must also be made on some routes due to the limited number of places available.
Consider getting your food before boarding
The trains generally have a food cart but nearly all train stations have nice shops and some even have restaurants where you can purchase your food.
Bring something to lock your bike
You may have to leave your bike unattended and sometimes seating is located upstairs. Depending on the value of your wheels, you may want to be 100% sure it is secured.
Shipping your bike by Swiss train
Why ship your bike you may ask? Perhaps you want to continue with your holiday without your bike. Or make part of your travel easier. The Swiss are happy to ship your bike. You can even have it collected from your home or drop it off as luggage. More here.
Plan your accommodation
There are many options. From hostels, hotels, amazing campsites, to air bnbs and beyond. More and more hotels also cater towards bikers with secure bike storage and other amenities for the two-wheeled crowd. Bike hotels are popping up everywhere and they usually have special facilities to fine tune your bike. You can call and ask before booking. There is also a list of certified bike hotels.
Swiss biking rules
Biking rules are pretty standard, but let's focus on the key ones. Helmets aren't a must. You can make a right turn on a red light. On bike paths, don't pass fellow cyclists on the right; stick to overtaking on the left. Ride on the right, overtake on the left – applies even to cycle paths. Sidewalk biking's a no-no. When it's dark, lights are a must. Stay out of bus lanes; they're only for public buses. However, if a bus lane has a bike symbol, you're good to go!
We hope this was helpful and you're already excited for your Swiss bike train combo adventure.
Ready to ride?
We can’t promise the perfect ride, but we do promise an adventure