Switzerland’s de facto capital, Bern, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Switzerland. Bern is the seat of the Swiss Federal Government.
An easy journey from Basel, Bern is in the heart of Switzerland. Across the Aare River in Bern is its Old Town, a perfectly preserved historic city center with cobblestone streets and arched sandstone buildings. Welcoming guests is the Zytglogge, a 13th-century clock tower, and one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. In these covered arcades, you will find lots of shops and restaurants. The Old Town of Bern is one worth visiting and one that was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
Logistical concerns come up inevitably. Particularly for those who want to travel by rail in Switzerland, there are several specifics concerning train travel. What is the best way to get from Basel to Bern? Does it offer scenic views? So on and so forth.
This article will answer all your questions about the train journey from Basel to Bern.
How To Get From Basel to Bern
You can start by visiting the SBB website: www.sbb.ch. Using the website, you can type in your departure and arrival destinations. It will then guide you to where and when you need to be. An app is also available for iOS and Android devices.
If you wish to pay half the fare for all your train rides in Switzerland, a Half Fare Discount Card (1-month validity) is available on www.sbb.ch. This allows you to travel for half the price on all SBB routes and most other railways during the duration of your discount card.
Using the Swiss Pass, you get unlimited travel by train, bus, and boat in Switzerland. Over 500 museums are also free or discounted, and there are free or discounted excursions to mountain summits.
Getting tickets from RailEurope is a convenient option if you’re traveling within Europe and/or visiting multiple countries. Having been in operation since the 1930s, RailEurope‘s extensive history, user-friendly website and mobile apps, flexible currency payment options, commitment to customer satisfaction, and strategic partnerships with leading rail operators, collectively establish it as a reliable and trustworthy platform for booking European train travel.
You can obtain from RailEurope the following travel passes:
- Swiss Travel Pass – choose between continuous or flexible Swiss train passes for 3, 4, 8, or 15 days. The perks? unlimited use in over 90 Swiss cities, free admission to more than 500 museums, and discounts on mountain railways and cable cars. You also get discounts on high-speed Lyria trains between France and Switzerland as well as Nightjet trains that go through Switzerland. See RailEurope for more information.
- Eurail Global Pass – unlimited train travel to 40,000 destinations in 33 European countries for non-EU residents
- Interrail Global Pass – access to 40,000 destinations in 33 European countries for citizens and permanent residents of the EU
As soon as you reach the Basel Train Station, check the display boards with the train schedules. You can find the train number and platform number on the station signs. Furthermore, the trains will be marked on the front and the sides with which route they are traveling.
To get to Bern from Basel, you’ll have to take the Intercity, Eurocity, or ICE train that will take you directly from Basel to Bern.
How Long To Get From Basel to Bern
It typically takes one hour to travel by train from Basel to Bern. You can also travel via Olten, but this route adds 10 to 20 minutes to your journey. My suggestion is to take the direct trains from Basel to Bern instead of changing your train in Olten.
These are the fast direct trains from Basel to Bern:
- IC 61 to Interlaken Ost
- IC 6 to Brig
- EC to Milano Centrale
- ICE to Interlaken OsEC to Interlaken Ost
- IC 6 to Domodossola Italy
You can also take the Interregional (IR) trains and Slow Trains traveling to Olten. From Olten, you can hop on the next train heading to Bern. This adds between 10 and 20 minutes to your journey, depending on the train connection that you encounter.
Is the Train From Basel to Bern Scenic?
The trains from Basel to Bern do not have the most scenic train route. These are commuter trains designed to get passengers from one city to another quickly. The trains go at high speed like TGV trains to Paris.
Other Scenic Trains
In case you would like to check out other scenic trains, then there are more scenic trains recommended below. These are the Golden Pass Line, the Glacier Express, and the Bernina Express. Another interesting train is the Historical Train that goes from Davos to Filisur.
Your other options in detail are the following:
- Golden Pass – The Golden Pass departs from Lucerne or Interlaken Ost. You would take a train from Basel to Interlaken Ost or Lucerne. From one of these two places, you can change to the Golden Pass train. The Golden Pass scenic train has panorama coaches.
- Glacier Express – Glacier Express is a long journey that starts from Zermatt, home of Matterhorn. It then traverses 291 bridges and 91 tunnels before stopping in St. Moritz. Both Zermatt and St. Moritz are beautiful mountain resorts worthy of a longer stay. The Glacier Express passes by several idyllic mountain villages.
- Bernina Express – Bernina Express is another train route that begins in Chur. Chur is the oldest alpine city in Switzerland and is worth visiting. This train route spans 196 bridges. It goes through 55 tunnels and passes 20 beautiful villages in Switzerland. For you to go on this scenic train, you will have to go from Basel to Chur first.
- Historical Train Davos to Filisur – May through October, vintage carriages are pulled by the century-old crocodile locomotive from Davos Platz to Filisur. The train line covers a total length of 4,200 meters through 14 tunnels and 28 bridges. Its scenic highlights include the Wiesen Viaduct and the Zügen Gorge.
How Much Will the Train Ticket From Basel to Bern Cost?
As of the time of publishing the article (updated December 2023), a single journey ticket costs CHF 42.00 from Basel to Bern. If you have a Half-fare card, it costs CHF 21.00.
Do You Need a Seat Reservation on the Train?
No, there is no need to reserve a spot on the train. But you can always add this option if that is your wish.
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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.