Another best Swiss train pass question

Another best Swiss train pass question

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Posts: 12. This thread is closed.
Amosk
Amosk
8 posts
new member
Feb 22, 2016 - 3:22 AM

I am going to be traveling in Switzerland for 5 days in May with 2 youth (ages 19 and 21). I have done the math again and again and still can't decide between the Swiss Pass and the Half Fare Card.

Day 1: Gossau to Berggasthaus Aescher

Day 2: Bergasthaus Aescher to Murren (via Lucerne)

Day 3: Murren area

Day 4: Murren area

Day 5: Murren to Domodossola

I think what is making it so difficult is I have no idea what all we will do during those open days in Murren. We are first time visitors and will be coming off 10 busy travel days in Prague, Salzburg and Munich areas. The Swiss Pass will only pay for itself if we do a lot of excursions during those 2 days - over to Wengen, maybe a boat cruise on Lake Thun, etc. I have lots of ideas of what we could do, but will we be so awestruck in Murren to want to stay close, day hiking, relaxing? We won't do the big Jungfrau trip unless we have a picture perfect day.

And then how much value do I give to the ease of the Pass vs buying tickets with the Half Fare Card?

i appreciate any suggestions from those with some experience. Thank you!

Annika
Annika
4417 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 22, 2016 - 7:52 AM

Hi Amosk, welcome to the forum!

I understand your confusion. It's hard to choose, especially if you're not sure about your plans for Mürren yet. Good chance you're very charmed by its immediate surroundings and that you just want to do some local (valley) hikes and mountain top visits. On the other hand, May is still low season. Higher areas may still be covered by snow and weather is unpredictable. This may cause you to make longer trips, including boat rides or scenic train trips.

You indicated that you've done the math, for several scenarios I assume. Did you follow these guidelines? You should compare a Swiss Half Fare Card to a 4 day Swiss Travel Pass + regular tickets for day 1. If the price difference is rather small, I'd personally prefer the ease of use of a Swiss Travel Pass. Just hopping on and off board without having to buy tickets first is simply very easy. But if there's a considerable price difference for most scenarios, the Swiss Half Fare Card would be better. Still not a decisive answer, but ultimately it's up to you to decide what to choose ;-). Does this help a bit?

Amosk
Amosk
8 posts
new member
Feb 23, 2016 - 1:37 AM in reply to Annika

Thank you, Annika. It does help - mostly to assure me there is no easy answer that I am missing. I have compared the numbers as you suggested - it has been a few months though so I may do it again.

What do you suggest for buying passes? Purchase ahead from the US or when arrive in Switzerland? If we go with the Half Fare Card, are credit cards widely accepted for purchasing tickets? Or is cash preferred?

Thank you!

Arno
Arno
7718 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 23, 2016 - 9:26 AM

Hi Amosk,

If you click the Swiss Half Fare Card link provided by Annika, then click Price, you will see all recommended purchase options. There's such an overview on each pass page.

In general it's either cheaper or at least more convenient to buy online. The Swiss Half Fare Card for example, can be purchased through www.swissrailways.com/ en and printed at home (pick "Online Ticket" when asked for delivery options). Even though you still need to purchase a discounted ticket upon arrival, you can do so from the ticketing machines. With the card in hand you can skip the staffed desk which saves time. You simply get a ticket from the machine and board the first available train. If you prefer to pay in USD you can have a look at raileurope.com/activit ies/swiss-half-fare-card/index.html.

Travellyn
Travellyn
28 posts
active member
Feb 23, 2016 - 10:15 PM

I am finding this question very interesting as we have been deliberating over the same thing. If you purchase the 1/2 fare card, how do you purchase your tickets for your journey through a machine to get the discounted price.. Does it scan a barcode on the machine or something at the station? Also we are in Australia & wonder if we are better to purchase when we arrive in Zurich as we are doing a bus tour to start with so won't need the pass until about 1 week later. Is it dearer to buy the lasses at the station than online? Thankyou for your advice & sorry to jump onto your post Amosk.

Amosk
Amosk
8 posts
new member
Feb 24, 2016 - 2:08 AM

Travellyn, please jump onto the post. I'm happy to read about others who have similar questions. I'm still debating what to do even after doing the math again today. Too many unknown variables which effect the bottom line. The convenience of the Swiss Travel Pass is very appealing ....

Arno
Arno
7718 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 24, 2016 - 6:53 AM in reply to Travellyn

Hi Travellyn,

The machines have English instructions too. Discounted tickets are indicated by a "1/2" symbol. The first purchase may take some time to learn, but subsequent times will be easier. Of course buying tickets always takes some time, and some planning, so if you don't like that an all-inclusive pass like the Swiss Travel Pass is better.

As for where to buy: currently an online purchase costs the same as locally. There is no advantage in buying in Switzerland, but of course it is possible to do so. Buying online saves you time as explained in my previous post. Prices vary over time; if you're interested in all background info about where to buy, please read this page.

hisjsam
hisjsam
11 posts
new member
Feb 25, 2016 - 4:23 AM

HI Arno,

I also had a related query for travel pass.

I have read that there are Day time cruise as well as some evening/night cruises.

Are the evening/night cruises on lake Thun/Lucerne also included by usage of Pass.

What is the availability of the cruise (Timings) covered by pass?

I am looking to travel in first week of June.

Thanks

Arno
Arno
7718 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 25, 2016 - 8:10 AM in reply to hisjsam

Hi hisjsam,

Basically all cruises are included, regardless of the time, unless otherwise indicated. You can find the timetable links here and here, under "More on other websites". On diner cruises, for example, you would still get a discount if your have a Swiss Travel Pass: you don't pay for the boat ride, but you do pay for the diner and reservations.

Last modified on Feb 25, 2016 - 8:11 AM by Arno
Travellyn
Travellyn
28 posts
active member
Feb 27, 2016 - 12:06 PM in reply to Amosk

Hi Amosk just wonder what you ended up deciding on with your passes? We have done quite a lot of research tonight & it's a bit mind boggling but the spread sheet did help. We think we are going to get the 4 day Flexi Swiss pass combo ( has 1/2 fare card added for 1/2 price it is to purchase just the 1/2 fare card on its own - so 60CHF instead of 120CHF) + 286CHF for 4 day flex pass = 346CHF. I've now printed off what's incl for both cards & it's just a case of working out which are the best days to use the full pass to get the best value out of it & use the 1/2 fare for the other days. Hope this helps you a bit.

Amosk
Amosk
8 posts
new member
Feb 28, 2016 - 3:01 AM

Travellyn, I appreciate your update. I'm pretty sure I am going to go with Swiss Travel Pass. I have done 3 spreadsheets- I'm such a nut! - and only when I include a trip to the top of Jungfrau does the Half Fare Card win. I will only spring for that big $$ trip if the weather is PERFECT. Considering we will be there in May for only three nights, I'm thinking we are unlikely to have that perfect day.

Now I need to order the passes so I can't change my mind! When is your trip?

Travellyn
Travellyn
28 posts
active member
Feb 29, 2016 - 2:38 AM in reply to Amosk

Hi Amosk we will be spending approx 2 1/2 weeks in Switzerland in April but the 1st 9 days is on an organised tour. That's why we decided on the flex pass but adding the 1/2 price card to give us the 2 options & use the pass on the bigger more expensive trips not necessarily on consecutive days. Unfortunately we won't use it on glacier express as this is where the best value using it is as this route is covered by our coach tour. We have found though that it's a better discount to do Jaunfraujoch with the 1/2 fare card ( 50% off) than the swiss pass (25% off) which seems strange but as it is. We are having 4 nights in Lauterbrunnen so a few of these don't give advantage of full pass so won't waste it on these days. Anyway good luck with your plans.

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