In Switzerland, this summer, there is again a nice offer for everyone who wants to explore the country by public transport. With the trial subscription (Schnupper-GA) you can enjoy free travel for a month with the SBB and many other transport companies for CHF 340 (~€352). Incidentally, the trial GA travelcard is also available in 1st class for CHF 450 (~€466).
The offer has certain similarities to Interrail but is much more attractive for Switzerland. In addition to numerous railways, you can also travel free of charge by ship, post bus and even some mountain railways. This is otherwise only available with passes such as the Swiss Travel Pass – which are significantly more expensive.
A prerequisite for booking is a place of residence in Switzerland or one of the neighbouring countries of Switzerland. In this article, we have summarized everything you need to know about the ticket:
Table of Contents
Buying the Trial GA Travelcard
The trial GA travelcard is not available online, but only at the station (or by calling the SBB). You will find train ticket counters at all major train stations. They are either operated by the SBB (e.g. in the Reisezentrum) or the private railway companies.
You’ll pay the price of CHF 340 (~€352) (2nd class) or CHF 450 (~€466) (1st class) at the counter. Generally, euros (with a worse exchange rate) and, of course, credit cards are also accepted. Photo ID must be presented upon purchase, e.g. your identity card. You will immediately receive the trial GA in paper form.
The card can be purchased at a railway ticket office until July 30, 2022. The first day of validity can be freely selected in the period up to July 30. From this point on, the ticket is then valid for one month.
The following are the most important offer conditions:
- Redemption period: Until July 30, 2022
- Validity period: 1 month from the start of validity (i.e. max. until August 30, 2022)
- Available only to people residing in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, or Liechtenstein
- The trial GA is non-transferrable and is only valid for the registered person
If you buy a year-round GA directly after the trial GA, you will receive a discount of CHF 170 (~€176) (2nd class) or CHF 225 (~€233) (1st class). For tourists from neighbouring countries, however, this should not be attractive, because the 12-month GA travelcard still costs a whopping CHF 3,690 (~€3,820).
Free Travel by Bus, Train & Boat – as well as some Mountain Railways
The trial GA is valid on all GA-Bereichsstrecken. These are the routes on which a regular GA travelcard entitles you to travel for free.
The list is too extensive for us to be able to list all the transport companies involved here. However, the SBB map offers a good starting point. The solid lines in red (train), yellow (bus), black (cable car) and blue (ships) are important there. On the dashed lines (many mountain and cable cars) there is only a 50% discount, even with a GA!
The most important means of transport are, of course, the SBB trains. Together with the post buses (buses in rural areas) you can reach almost every corner of Switzerland. In addition, the free use of the following providers, among others, is worth mentioning:
- Private railways:
- Rhätische Bahn
- and many more
- Thuner- und Brienzersee
- and many more
- Cable cars:
- Weggis – Rigi
- Stans – Stanserhorn
- Meiringen – Hasliberg
- and others
- Mountain railways:
- BVB Bex – Col de Bretaye
- WAB Lauterbrunnen – Wengen
- and many more
The mask mandate in local public transport in Switzerland has been lifted. The use of masks, indoors and outdoors, is now voluntary.
Below are a few impressions of the routes that you can take for free with the trial GA:
Bernina Express and Glacier Express for a Surcharge
The rides in the observation cars of the famous Glacier Express and Bernina Express are particularly popular. In order to be able to use these, you need a paid reservation in addition to the trial GA. This costs a whopping CHF 49 (~€51) with the Glacier Express and CHF 26 (~€27) with the Bernina Express.
You can get the reservation via the website of the Glacier Express or the Rhaetian Railway. Simply enter your desired route in the search mask. After selecting the route and passenger details, you then select that you have a GA travelcard:
Now the price is reduced to the pure reservation costs. You can then print out the reservation yourself. You can find the timetable for the Glacier Express here. For the Bernina Express, you’ll find it at the Rhaetian Railway.
If you don’t want to pay these surcharges, you can take the regional trains. These run on the same routes as the famous panoramic trains, but can be used without a reservation (and therefore without a surcharge). With the Bernina Express, you can also ride in the locomotive free of charge. You just have to do without the panoramic window.
The regional trains as an alternative have various advantages and disadvantages. The regional train does not have huge panoramic windows, and you have to change trains at least once. But the windows can be partially opened, the trains are not that crowded, and you can interrupt the journey along the route at will.
Alternative: SBB Saver Day Pass Starting at €51
The trial GA is particularly worthwhile if you are spending a week or longer in Switzerland and want to use public transport almost every day. Flexibility is crucial here: You buy the ticket and can use public transport as you wish from now on.
For shorter stays, it may also be worth taking a look at the SBB saver day pass. If you book the trip well in advance (usually about 1 month), such a day ticket costs only CHF 52 (~€54). These saver day tickets are then valid like the trial GA on all GA routes in the area. With the half-fare card, the saver day pass even starts at CHF 29 (~€30).
Cover Picture: CC0-Lizenz, Pixabay-User Andi_Graf