One of my favorite things about living in Switzerland is taking advantage of the country’s excellent train transportation network. For day trips, weekends, or longer, you can find me tucked onboard, headed to a favorite destination – and more times than not, you’ll also find my dog by my side.

Traveling with dogs on Swiss trains is remarkably easy; I’ve been doing it ever since I moved to Geneva a few years ago. In this post, I’d like to share with you some tips I’ve learned to make the journey as inexpensive and stress-free as possible.

Buying a ticket for your dog

My dog is small enough to fit under the seat, but not small enough to sit in a basket on my lap for the entire journey, so she has to have a separate ticket

My dog is small enough to fit under the seat, but not small enough to sit in a basket on my lap for the entire journey, so she has to have a separate ticket

Small dogs travel for free on Swiss trains as “hand luggage” only if they are under 30 cm in height (up to the shoulder blades) and are carried in a basket, dog bag, or crate. All other dogs must have a valid second-class half-fare ticket that covers your entire journey. The second-class rule applies even if the dog is accompanying someone in first class (of course, that person must have a valid first-class ticket to be in first class).

Another option that can be cheaper than the second-class half-fare ticket is the 1-day travel pass for dogs. Priced at CHF 34, the ticket covers travel on trains, ships, the postbus, and most city tram and bus routes in Switzerland. The ticket can be used in either first or second class, provided the person they accompany holds a valid ticket for that class.

I have found that when going short distances (e.g., within the greater Geneva area), it’s cheaper to just buy a second-class half-fare ticket for my dog, but when I venture farther – especially outside the canton of Geneva – the 1-day travelpass for dogs can save a good amount of money.

If you travel frequently with your dog, and if you have either a GA travelcard or a half-fare card, you may be interested in purchasing an annual GA travelcard for dogs. The cost is CHF 760 for one year.

More information about tickets for dogs is available from SBB/CFF/FFS here.

Sending luggage in advance

To find the baggage office in any rail station, look for the blue signs with a white suitcase symbol and follow the arrows

To find the baggage office in any rail station, look for the blue signs with a white suitcase symbol and follow the arrows

Because I like to explore Switzerland even when my husband is away on business, I often plan weekends in the mountains with my dog. Juggling luggage and a pet can be cumbersome, though, so I frequently utilize the SBB luggage service when I travel. The extensive network of SBB/CFF/FFS luggage points around the country allow me to drop off my bag a day in advance; that way, when I arrive at my destination, my baggage has already arrived and I’m left to carry only a day pack and my dog when I’m in transit. I have one less thing to worry about during my trip and can concentrate on enjoying the train rides with my buddy. If you’re interested in more information about this service, I previously blogged about it here.

“Layovers” between trains

One final strategy I use to make longer trips easier: I’ve discovered that a multi-hour journey is less stressful on my dog if I plan to have a “layover” along the way. There are no “dog relief” areas on trains or in train stations, and although some dogs may be able to go several hours without needing to relieve themselves, my little dog needs more frequent breaks. Some pre-trip park scouting on Google Maps ahead of time lets me plan a walk between train rides.

For example, when we go to Zermatt, there’s a small park adjacent to the train station in Visp where I can take her before we catch our connection. When heading to the Jungfrau region, I take the train from Geneva to Bern and instead of immediately transferring to a Bern-Interlaken train, I’ve found a park along the Aare river near the station where I can take my dog for a 15- or 20-minute walk before heading onward.

Do you travel with your dog on Swiss trains? Do you have any tips or tricks to share? Tell us! 

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland.  If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/

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