Basel to Lucerne (and how to travel for half price in Switzerland!)

Travelling by train in Switzerland as you can imagine is quite a straight forward and pleasant experience. The trains run on time and booking a ticket is painless…apart from the fares! Switzerland is also an expensive county and you might be forgiven for giving up that idea of jumping on a train to the mountains when you look at the price tag. However I discovered a great way to get cheap tickets and took the train from Basel to central Switzerland and the mountain town of Lucerne.

Basel, Lucerne, Mountains, Switzerland, Swiss, Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera, Confoederatio Helvetica, Train, travel, transport, cheap, budget, super saver, SBB, interrail, Europe, travelling, traveling, backpacking, solo travel

 When I decided to take this trip over to Basel I wanted to make the most of the short amount of time I would be spending in this wonderful country. Of course Basel is simply beautiful and I could not wait to explore it’s old cobbled streets. But what I really craved was a day in the mountains! I was on my own and didn’t want to travel too far in one day and so Lucerne seemed like the perfect destination.

Basel, Lucerne, Mountains, Switzerland, Swiss, Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera, Confoederatio Helvetica, Train, travel, transport, cheap, budget, super saver, SBB, interrail, Europe, travelling, traveling, backpacking, solo travel

After looking online and discovering that the town was only just over an hour away from Basel it seemed perfect for a day trip. However once I began researching the cost of such a short trip I began to wonder if it was worth it or even affordable for a traveller on a budget.

Basel, Lucerne, Mountains, Switzerland, Swiss, Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera, Confoederatio Helvetica, Train, travel, transport, cheap, budget, super saver, SBB, interrail, Europe, travelling, traveling, backpacking, solo travel
Outside Basel train station!

Ok so Switzerland isn’t know to be overly budget friendly (although I did find some other great bargains in Basel) but paying £55 for a trip which is only around about 60 miles seemed a little steep. I was determined to have my day in the mountains though and through sheer inquisitiveness stumbled upon a great deal!

Basel, Lucerne, Mountains, Switzerland, Swiss, Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera, Confoederatio Helvetica, Train, travel, transport, cheap, budget, super saver, SBB, interrail, Europe, travelling, traveling, backpacking, solo travel

I had been doing some extra last minute research just to make sure I was all set for the trip and the main consensus on the tripadvisor forums seemed to be to just turn up at the station and buy a ticket. I thought this sounded decent enough but I wanted to double check the train times and note down some I might take so I headed over to the SBB website.

Basel, Lucerne, Mountains, Switzerland, Swiss, Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera, Confoederatio Helvetica, Train, travel, transport, cheap, budget, super saver, SBB, interrail, Europe, travelling, traveling, backpacking, solo travel

I happened to stumble upon a great offer which ended up in me getting my train tickets half price. I discovered that the Swiss railways offer half price “super saver” tickets when booked no more than 30 days in advance of your trip. These tickets have to be used on the trains you have pre-booked and you must carry ID but I found the routes and times available to be varied and flexible which is usually not the case with these offers!

Basel, Lucerne, Mountains, Switzerland, Swiss, Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera, Confoederatio Helvetica, Train, travel, transport, cheap, budget, super saver, SBB, interrail, Europe, travelling, traveling, backpacking, solo travel

So there was, I snapped up the half price ticket and paid only £23 for the round trip. Of course I was pretty stoked on this and now buzzing for my trip! Sometimes it does pay off to do that little bit more research and also go with your gut and check for yourself.

Basel, Lucerne, Mountains, Switzerland, Swiss, Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera, Confoederatio Helvetica, Train, travel, transport, cheap, budget, super saver, SBB, interrail, Europe, travelling, traveling, backpacking, solo travel

The train journey was fast, smooth and comfortable. The large modern trains even had power sockets in second class which came in very handy. The views we were zooming past were pretty incredible and as far as train journeys go it was definitely unforgettable. The tiny Swiss villages I passed through were the epitome of picturesque.

Basel, Lucerne, Mountains, Switzerland, Swiss, Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera, Confoederatio Helvetica, Train, travel, transport, cheap, budget, super saver, SBB, interrail, Europe, travelling, traveling, backpacking, solo travel

There is just something amazing about sitting back and relaxing on a train, travelling though wonderful landscapes knowing there is even more adventure waiting at the end of the tracks. Travelling by train has to be my all time favourite method of transport, there is something which seems so connected to the old time romance of travel.

Basel, Lucerne, Mountains, Switzerland, Swiss, Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera, Confoederatio Helvetica, Train, travel, transport, cheap, budget, super saver, SBB, interrail, Europe, travelling, traveling, backpacking, solo travel
Lucerne was worth the journey!

On the way back to Basel I ended up on an almost empty double decker train. I’ve have seen these before in the US but this was pretty specular, it even had a area to sit with your friends and enjoy a few beers on your journey…and this was just second class. The first class carriages had panoramic ceilings so you could really take in the amazing views travelling through this beautiful country!

Basel, Lucerne, Mountains, Switzerland, Swiss, Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera, Confoederatio Helvetica, Train, travel, transport, cheap, budget, super saver, SBB, interrail, Europe, travelling, traveling, backpacking, solo travel

Of course both were on time, clean and comfortable. Not much more you could ask for. Both Lucerne and Basel trains stations are really easy to navigate and even with their relatively large sizes it’s hard to get lost. Not only that but virtually every one in Switzerland speaks English so you are never too far away from help or assistance if you need it.

Basel, Lucerne, Mountains, Switzerland, Swiss, Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera, Confoederatio Helvetica, Train, travel, transport, cheap, budget, super saver, SBB, interrail, Europe, travelling, traveling, backpacking, solo travel

The trip to Lucerne was something I am so glad I did whilst in Switzerland and the speed and reliability of the Swiss rail network really made it possible given how short my trip was. Switzerland really is a country in which every corner is assessable. The station in Basel had trains leaving daily to destinations all over the country as well as other towns and cities all over Europe. So with these super saver ticket you have no excuse!

Basel, Lucerne, Mountains, Switzerland, Swiss, Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera, Confoederatio Helvetica, Train, travel, transport, cheap, budget, super saver, SBB, interrail, Europe, travelling, traveling, backpacking, solo travel
Basel…Beautiful!

Round trip break down:

Cost: 33 CHF (£23, $35) – Super Saver fare. (Price on the day 66 CHF)

Time: 1 hour, 10 mins.

Distance: Roughly 60 Miles.

Where to book: Online at www.sbb.ch

So, if you find yourself in Switzerland…make sure you make the most of the chance to explore this beautiful country for half price!

Nicola Hilditch-Short

Nic is one half of the Roaming Renegades, a passionate traveller, climber, adventurer, photographer and artist who has a B.A in Fine Art and M.A in Design & Art Direction.