1st time in Switzerland

1st time in Switzerland

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Phyllis
Phyllis
2 posts
new member
Jul 30, 2010 - 9:07 PM
Hi, Since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to visit the beautiful country of Switzerland. A dream come true - a friend and myself are leaving on Sept. 23rd and will be in Switzerland until the 30th, then moving on to Italy. I have read all the train pass options, but am still unsure as to which one would best meet our needs.
We will be arriving in Zurich and then spending one night in Zurich, going on by train to Lucrene for two nights. Next, we'll be continuing by train to Lauterbrunnen for 3 nights, and then on to Venice. In addition to these train trips, we're interested in boat trips on the lakes in Zurich or Lucerne, and cog train and gondolas in Lucerne and the Lauterbrunnen area. We'll also be going to a few museums. We were thinking of getting the Swiss Super Saver Flexi Pass, but wonder if that's the best deal for what we want to do. We'd really appreciate your advice. Can't wait to see the beauty of the country! Thank you. Phyllis
Annika
Annika
4417 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 31, 2010 - 4:08 AM
Hello Phyllis! It's wonderful that you finally have the chance to explore Switzerland's beauty. I can absolutely understand your enthusiasm! As for the best pass choice: it would require a bit of calculating to find out which pass suits your needs best. An exact list of plans with prices would have to be made. As I don't know your exact plans I can't do this, but I will try and give you a rough estimate based on some examples, including links guiding you to price overviews. Sample prices, per person and in 2nd class, would be as follows:

In this example the total price would be CHF 439.20. I'm not familiar with the Swiss Super Saver Flexi Pass. Could it be that you mean the Swiss Saver Flexi Pass? You could consider a 3 day Swiss Saver Flexi Pass, costing CHF 212.00. As its validity starts with the first free travel day, you'd have to pick one free travel day for the trip from Zurich to Lucerne. The remaining two free travel days would be for the most expensive train and boat trips, so in the example above the boat trip on lake Thun and the trip to Domodossola would be for free. Free travel days can better not be used for mountain trains and cable cars, as they're still discounted (and not for free) even on free travel days. On the other trips, a 50% or 25% would apply, according to the map to which you'll find a link on the Swiss Saver Flexi Pass page. The total price of this package with a Swiss Saver Flexi Pass would be CHF 359.20, so you would indeed save quite a lot.

Still, a Swiss Half Fare Card is worth considering as well. It offers a 50% discount on most trips in Switzerland and costs CHF 99.00, making a total of CHF 318.60, which would be even be cheaper. But again, this is just an example. If you plan to make other trips than the ones I mentioned, you can try to make your own calculations based on the prices lists I referred to and the instructions in our Rail FAQ.

I hope this gets you started!
Last modified on Dec 28, 2014 - 4:34 PM by Arno
kim11
kim11
322 posts
top member
Jul 31, 2010 - 1:48 PM
Thanks to Annika for "doing the math"! This provides a very good illustration of the different costs of different excursions and also a good basis for making a decision.

I've been to the areas of Switzerland you are headed for 13 times in past 13 years. I have found that either the Half Fare Card at 99 CHF or the Swiss Card at 182 CHF (if memory serves, that's close) to be the best deal and without the stress of doing math. Also, since some excursions are weather dependent (for example, it makes no sense to go up the Schilthorn or Jungfraujoch if the weather is cloudy) you really don't know EXACTLY what you will be doing until you get there. Another advantage to these two cards is that the both give you 50% off of all travel. Many of the more expensive passes only give you 25% off of some travel (up the Jungfraujoch, for example) -- this has never made much sense to me but so be it.

The only difference between the Swiss Card and Half Fare Card is that the former provides free fare from point of entry in country to first destination and the same with your departure. Since you are planning to arrive in Zurich and spend the first night there, the Half Card will be the best choice because train fare from Airport to Zurich center city is very cheap -- no need to pay the extra for the Swiss Card.
Phyllis
Phyllis
2 posts
new member
Jul 31, 2010 - 5:46 PM
Thanks so much for your information and calculations! When using the Swiss Half Fare card, is it necessary to make reservations ahead of time or can you just arrive and purchase the half price ticket before leaving - this being the train between cities. How early should you arrive to purchase your ticket, and do they sell out often?
kim11
kim11
322 posts
top member
Aug 1, 2010 - 2:18 AM
You do not need to make reservations nor buy tickets in advance for any of the train routes you are considering taking, just show up and take the next most convenient train to your destination. You can arrive at the train station 10 - 15 mins ahead of departure time and have no problem buying a ticket for the next train.

You can buy the Half Fare Card at the train station at Zurich airport. After you've cleared customs simply follow the signs to the train station which is on the bottom floor of the airport. Go to the ticket window, tell them you want to buy Half Fare Cards (you will need to buy one for each adult), and have them validated there. Then ask which track ("Gleis") for the next train to Zurich and you're good to go. Since you are only staying in Zurich one night, you might as well ask (while you are there) for a timetable for Zurich to Lucerne trains so you can plan accordingly. They run very frequently but I think it's always nice to know the schedules before you arrive at the station for departure.

It is always a good idea to have a timetable for train arrivals/departures in the smaller cities in which you are basing (Lucerne and Lauterbrunnen) so you can do some amount of planning ahead. For example, you will find that some trains with good connections run every 20 minutes during commute hours, but sometimes only every hour or so during non-commute hours. It's always a bummer to show up at the train station and realize that the route you want to take will now take 90 mins rather than 40 mins due to fewer connections! These local timetables are readily available (for free) at the Lucerne and Lauterbrunnen stations. And if it is confusing to you simply ask at the ticket window. The train staff are very accomodating and most speak English better than many Americans. THey are always happy to search for and print out the most efficient timetable for your journey (just be sure to ask for a "timetable", not an "itinerary" -- most of the staff have been trained on very specific English terms and they all understand "timetable" but few understand the word "itinerary")

Hope this helps, post again if not clear.

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