Bernina, Glacier Express and Golden Pass in 8 days

Bernina, Glacier Express and Golden Pass in 8 days

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pabbathi22
pabbathi22
7 posts
new member
May 8, 2016 - 10:05 AM

Dear Arno or Annika

I m glad i found your website. I m blown away by the service you provide and i think you are the perfect advisers for my trip. I m holidaying to Switz from UK for 8 nights in August school holidays with my 11 yr old son who is super crazy about anything to do with trains since he was toddler. We are arriving Zurich airport on 13th and departing Geneva on 21st.

So far i have booked 4 nights at Geneva from 17-21 because i found a best deal. I need to book 4 more nightsfrom 13th to 17th , there i m stuck. I need to spread these 4 nights accommodation to cover sight seeing Zurich and Lucerne for my satisfaction, and all above mentioned train journeys for my sons. I m thinking to:

1. Book 2 nights in Zurich to cover Zurich and Lucerne sight seeing ( is there much to see in Zurich? ) ,

2. One night at Lucerne to cover half leg of Golden Pass and next morning travel to Chur to cover Bernina on that day

3. Overnight stay at chur, next day morning take Galcier train from Chur to Zermatt and there to Geneva.

When we are in Geneva we can cover remaining half leg of Golden Pass , cover Chetau de chillon at Montreux and sight seeing Geneva city.

What do you think, is it bit hectic?

And lastly, definitely need to buy swiss travel pass, aren't i ? and that for 8days? right. will my pass cover my son?

Appreciate your suggestions.

Ms Sailaja Pabbathi

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
318 posts
top member
May 8, 2016 - 2:24 PM in reply to pabbathi22

Hello and welcome to the forum

If your son is crazy about trains, you should try to find time to take him to the Transport Museum in Lucerne. He will have a wonderful time there!

Maggie

Annika
Annika
4415 posts
expert &
moderator
May 9, 2016 - 12:33 PM

Dear Ms Pabbathi,

Thanks for you compliments and welcome to MySwissAlps! Your itinerary might be a bit hectic indeed, but as long as you and your son are fine with traveling times, that's no problem. The best you can do is check the timetable for each trip and then decide whether your plans are doable for you and your son. I think the outline of your plans is fine, but here are some considerations:

  • if scenic train journeys are your main focus, I wouldn't spend more than just one night in Zurich, or move on to Lucerne right away and skip Zurich altogether. From Lucerne you can still make a day trip to Zurich if you like, but you'll be closer to the mountains and to attractive train rides such as Rigi and the cogwheel train to Pilatus. The Transport Museum suggested by Maggie is a very good option indeed. Skipping the Golden Pass during your Lucerne stay will help you to focus on local options and reduce traveling times;
  • mind that doing the entire Glacier Express Chur-Zermatt and the additional 3h50 ride Zermatt-Geneva is a whole lot for just one day. In my opinion it would be too much, and I'd rather insert an additional overnight stay in or near Zermatt. But again, that's a matter of personal preference;
  • Montreux, the Chateau de Chillon and the Golden Pass are doable from Geneva, but they'll result in pretty long day trips.

Yes, an 8 day Swiss Travel Pass is definitely your best choice. Your son will travel along for free with the free Swiss Family Card.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2648 posts
expert
May 10, 2016 - 1:39 AM in reply to pabbathi22

Dear Ms Pabbathi

Geneva is not the best base for special train rides, although there are certainly some here and there around western Switzerland. From your post, I'm not sure whether you are interested in "best deals" for rooms, or in best bases for special train rides? They may not be the same thing. If the latter, I'd stay in or near Luzern or Interlaken, and take advantage of the many excellent train rides of all types available from those locations. Annika has pointed you in that direction. And, unless you have very special interests in Zürich, I'd skip it.

It seems to me that what you have suggested is that you will stay in Geneva for four nights because you have a good deal, then spend a rather rushed time trying to fit a lot of trips in the remaining days.

If you are interested in low cost lodgings, here are some suggestions -

www.myswissalps.com/ac commodation

If indeed, you would like to sample the tremendous variety of special train rides in Central Switzerland, we can list some more.

Here is a start, focusing on the scenic trips.

www.myswissalps.com/ac tivities/scenictrips

Let us know your priorities.

Slowpoke

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Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2648 posts
expert
May 10, 2016 - 10:18 PM in reply to pabbathi22

Hi Again -

Trains on the Rigi -

I happened to run across a few photos taken on the Rigi, at Rigi Kaltbad , 10 or 15 years ago. They show one of the occasional special trains with steam locomotives. The last one is taken from a photobook that I prepared after a trip to Switzerland with my daughter and granddaughter in 2009

While I am posting them, I'll add a few other pictures taken from up there, because there are such nice views of Lake Lucerne.

I have had some problems posting all the images at once, so I'll split them into two posts. Trains first.

I checked the timetable, to find the special trains that have steam locomotives. They run once a week, on Sundays, on most but not all weekends throughout the summer.

In August, the dates are the 1st, 7th, and 21st. I have attached a screen grab from the timetable, with two journey entries expanded by clicking on the small "+" sign to the left of the individual journeys. In the details on the right , you can see the symbol for the steam train in one set of details.

Slowpoke

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Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2648 posts
expert
May 10, 2016 - 10:21 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Here are the other pictures taken from Rigi Kaltbad, mentioned in the previous post.

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pabbathi22
pabbathi22
7 posts
new member
May 17, 2016 - 9:40 PM

Thank you very much Annika &Slowpoke for your info and thank you Maggiehorswell for suggesting Transport museum at Lucerne.

After checking all the train timetables i got my itinerary out so please advice me is it doable. I m planning to book hotel two nights at Lucerne and two nights at Chur. Here is my plan:

  • We are going straight to Lucerne for two nights stay ,after arrival at Zurich (arr @ 10.30) on 13th. That afternoon we will see the famous Lucerne Bridge and relax first night of our stay. Next morning we will take Golden Pass half leg up to Zweisimmen and back to Lucerne for 2nd night stay.
  • Next morning we will visit Transport Museum at Lucerne and check out at hotel that afternoon and head to Chur for our first night stay at Chur. Next day morning we will take Bernina to Tirano and back to Chur for our 2nd night stay.
  • Next Day (i.e on 17th) will check out from hotel and take 10.26 am Glaciar up to Visp arrive at 14.55 ( we are not continuing up to Zermatt because its going to be very long day and late to arrive at Geneva) and from there we will take regional train at 15.06 to Geneva arr 17.30 for our 4nights stay. I have checked all train timings for all the trips.
  • while we are at Geneva we will cover one day half leg of Golden pass from Montreux to Zweisimmen , one day Cheatu de chillion at Montreux another day Geneva city itself. Big decision came out after your replies is i m not stopping at Zurich.

Look forward to your suggestions. Once again thank you all.

Arno
Arno
7707 posts
expert &
moderator
May 19, 2016 - 5:31 AM in reply to pabbathi22

Hello Ms Pabbathi,

Thanks for sharing your plan. Taking the Golden Pass line just up to Zweisimmen is not really practical as you have to cover the leg Spiez - Zweisimmen twice. That takes a lot of time. If you spend one more hour you can see the entire Golden Pass line to Montreux, and take a train back to Lucerne from there. That way you can skip this while in Geneva. It will be a long day of traveling anyway. Another option is to go as far as Interlaken only. Then take a train to Bern, and finally a train via Schüpfheim to Lucerne. In that case you can see the remainder of the Golden Pass line (up to Gstaad or Zweisimmen would be enough) from Geneva, as planned.

For your day Chur - Tirano I recommend to go back via Pontresina - Sagliains - Klosters - Landquart - Chur. That way you don't need to backtrack the whole route and have a more varied route.

The rest of your plans look fine. Have a great trip!

Last modified on May 19, 2016 - 5:34 AM by Arno
pabbathi22
pabbathi22
7 posts
new member
May 21, 2016 - 7:06 PM

Thank you so much Arno. Few more things i need to clarify. sorry to bother you i did try forum for these doubts but i couldn't find any answers.

I reserved seats today for outward Journey on 16th Aug that was just lucky only 6-8 seats left. I did not reserve for return yet, i was thinking take rtn reservation at 14.26 with same Bernina which will take me back to chur at 18.20. But you are suggesting me to take different route back from Tirano via Pontresina-Sagliains - Klosters - Landquart - Chur do you mean by regional regular trains? i did run the time table on SSB site for RE they are coming with 2 changes at Pontresina, Samedan and to chur departing at 13.00 and at 13.40. Is this same what you are mentioning?

Next doubt, about validating tickets before boarding any train ( not scenic train) , you need to validate point to point tickets either on platform or some trains have a symbol on the train those needs be validated on board if i m right, but how about with swiss travel pass do i need to validate on board? for those trains which have a kind of an EYE ? symbol.

thank you once again.

Arno
Arno
7707 posts
expert &
moderator
May 22, 2016 - 9:48 AM in reply to pabbathi22

You're welcome! The route you mentioned is the same route as the Bernina Express, just with two changes. The route I mentioned is a different one; indeed by regional trains. If you don't enter "via-stations" in the timetable it will just display the quickest route to you, which is the Bernina Express route.

You can buy tickets when there, and you don't have to reserve seats. Neither do you need to validate tickets. Tickets are valid for the day printed on the ticket.

The eye symbol simply means you need a valid ticket or pass before you board the train. That applies to all Swiss trains nowadays, so it's not relevant anymore. It's only relevant for buses. Some buses still allow to purchase tickets on board.

Last modified on May 23, 2016 - 10:45 AM by Annika
pabbathi22
pabbathi22
7 posts
new member
May 31, 2016 - 3:28 PM

Dear Arno,

Thank you very much for the clarification. Still need a clarification from you about the rtn trip from Tirano. I ran the search on SBB site as you suggested with via stations but only 3changes are coming from Tirano Pontresina-Sagliains- Landquart-Chur without Klosters , So is this the same route? I reserved Bernina from Chur @ 8.32 arrives @Tirano 12.45. For the rtn following your suggested route there are 13.00 and 13.40 services which are taking same journey time same as Bernina.

Sorry, just two more things i need your advice and will be the last of them hopefully! "Hats off" to you and Annica's patience really, how do you manage to answer each and every one in such a short time?

I reserved seats for Glaciar, but do i need to reserve Golden Pass as well?

I m going to buy Swiss travel pass for 8days through the official website and going to print at home. I m not rushing to buy because Pound- CHF exchange rate is going up i want to wait few more days. Am i doing the right thing there is no such thing like sold out for swiss pass, is it? One other last thing is when we arrive at Zurich we need to go to straight to Luzern, can i use swiss pass straight away fro Zurich Flughafen to Luzern.

Thank you

Arno
Arno
7707 posts
expert &
moderator
May 31, 2016 - 4:12 PM

Hello Ms. Pabbathi,

Yes, it's the same route. I just included Klosters to make sure you know what the route would be like, but you don't need to change trains there.

Don't worry, questions are welcomed! You don't need to reserve the Golden Pass, please see myswissalps.com/ goldenpass/tickets.

Swiss Travel Passes don't sell out. You can visit the SBB webshop at www.swissrailways.com/ en. After filling out your address, they will show the delivery options. Pick "Online Ticket" from the bottom of the list. They will e-mail the pass (no delivery fees) so you can print it at home. You can also do this via their UK site at www.swisstravelsystem. co.uk which allows payment in GBP, but the first website I mentioned is cheaper at the moment, due to the exchange rates you mentioned. You can pay there in CHF. Note that it takes 1 to 3 business days to receive the pass through e-mail, so don't wait till the last minute.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2648 posts
expert
May 31, 2016 - 5:32 PM in reply to pabbathi22

Hi Miss Pabbathi-

To expand slightly on Arno's comments posted on the 19th -

The best part of the Golden pass route between Interlaken/Spiez and Montreux is the last section from Zweisimmen down to Montreux. So, when you thought to go from Luzern to Zweisimmen and return, you were missing the best part. Arno gave you a good alternative. And, the route from Montreux to Luzern via Bern ( 2 hrs 37 minutes) or Olten ( 3 hrs 7 minutes) is much faster than the route via Zweissimen and Spiez ( 4 hours 16 minutes).

Slowpoke

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