Best rail pass for one day to Bernese Oberland

Best rail pass for one day to Bernese Oberland

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robertin75
robertin75
8 posts
new member
Jun 30, 2015 - 1:14 PM

Hello:

I am currently visting Germany from the USA and would like to visit the alps (one region only because of my short stay) during the weekend.

My plans are to travel from Lippstadt (where I am currently staying) to the Dusseldorf airport very early on Saturday morning like at 6:00AM by train (total travel time is around 2 hours) and then take a plane from there to the Zurich airport.

Then after my arrival to the Zurich airport (around 10:00AM - 11:00 AM) I will take a train to Interlake Ost train station (arriving at arount 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM).

From there I am kind of lost as what type of rail pass should I purchase to visit the Bernese Oberland region.

I was told that it will take around 3 hours to get there (one way).

On Sunday I will have limited time maybe just to visit Interlake's downtown as I plan to take my return flight from Zurich to Dusseldorf at around 6:00PM.

Latest that I will stay at Interlake on Sunday 5th.. would be around 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM.

The cheapest rail pass that I could found was the 4 days one which is kind of expensive (arount $380 US dollars).

Is this my only option or can someone recommend other alternatives?

Thanks and help is greatly appreciated.

Arno
Arno
7722 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 30, 2015 - 3:12 PM

Hi robertin75,

My recommendation would be to get a Swiss Half Fare Card, which provides 50% off nearly all tickets (also the Zurich airport to Interlaken ticket). Please see myswissalps.com/swissh alffarecard for all the details.

It's a bit late now to risk physical shipping of the Swiss Half Fare Card through the cheapest retailer (click 'Price' on the above page). But if you order through www.swissrailways.com/ en you can print it yourself so that saves time. You should order it today as processing takes a few days, even with the "Online Ticket" option (print at home).

robertin75
robertin75
8 posts
new member
Jun 30, 2015 - 4:01 PM

Hello Arno:

Thanks for your reply.

I'm not sure what type of delivery option should I choose. There is no online ticket option.

The fastest one is Swiss Express which supposedly takes 2 days.

Is that the one I should choose?

I am staying until the last week of July so I don't know if I should wait for the next weekend just to be safe.

Also if I order the physical ticket from another retailer would I get a discount?

Do you know if they will deliver the ticket to my hotel?

Thanks

Last modified on Jun 30, 2015 - 4:08 PM by robertin75
Arno
Arno
7722 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 30, 2015 - 5:12 PM

Hi robertin75,

The first link I gave you lists all the options if you click Price. Basically ACP Rail is the cheapest for delivery to Germany but you may not receive the card before next Saturday: www.acprail.com/rail-passes/swiss-half-fare-card.

If you order through www.swissrailways.com/ en you'd pay the standard price. Once you have selected your country in the delivery information, one of the shipping options is "Online Ticket". That's the self-printing one. You can also pick physical delivery, or delivery to any address in Switzerland such as an hotel. But if you have it delivered to Interlaken you can't use the card for a discounted ticket Zurich - Interlaken, so that doesn't make sense.

robertin75
robertin75
8 posts
new member
Jul 1, 2015 - 4:27 AM

Hi Arno:

I think I am going to wait until the next weekend as I need to do some more planning.

One thing that I noticed is that apparently the ACP rail Swiss Half Fare Card can only be used by European residents.

According to their website:

"You can buy a Swiss Half Fare Card if you are a European resident permanently residing outside of Switzerland or Liechtenstein"

Is this true for this type of card?

I would think that anyone can buy and use this pass independently of their nationality but just wanted to confirm.

One thing that I forgot to ask you is why all these passes are not available at train stations for purchasing?

This is very inconvenient in my point of view as normally in Germany you can buy any ticket from a ticket machine which are all over the train stations.

Thanks

Last modified on Jul 1, 2015 - 4:33 AM by robertin75
Arno
Arno
7722 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 1, 2015 - 8:43 AM

Hi robertin75,

Actually I thought you were traveling next weekend because you mentioned Sunday 5th. If you're traveling later you can still order through ACP Rail.

Swiss Half Fare Cards can be purchased by anyone not living in Liechtenstein or Switzerland. ACP Rail just ships them to Europe, so that explains that comment. I just tried and you can fill out the US as your country of residence and have it shipped to Germany.

Most passes, including the Swiss Half Fare Card, can be purchased at Swiss rail stations too. Did you read otherwise somewhere? Our page lists all the options, including this one. An online purchase is more convenient though, and often cheaper. More information is here: myswissalps.com/ train/ticketspasses/ practical/wheretobuy.

Point to point tickets for trips within Switzerland can be purchased anywhere: online or at the station from the staffed desk or machines.

I hope this was useful!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Jul 5, 2015 - 12:46 AM in reply to robertin75

Stop fiddling with the small stuff.

Buy the Half fare card when you arrive in Switzerland, if that is your chosen discount method.

Cost 120 CHF.

I am sure you can save on advance purchase , but how much? is it worth it?

Interlaken would not be my choice for a quick trip. Not much to see. If you cannot go to Lauterbrunnen or Wengen or Grindelwald or Mürren due to time constraints (all past Interlaken in the Lauterbrunnen Valley), consider Luzern, or Bern.

Just my opinion.

Last modified on Jul 5, 2015 - 12:46 AM by Slowpoke
robertin75
robertin75
8 posts
new member
Jul 5, 2015 - 5:46 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Hello:

Thanks for your suggestions.

I already got the half fare card.

I looked at google maps and apparently Lauterbrunnen it's not too far from Zurich airport (around 2 hours by train). Just 10 minutes farther than Interlaken which is ok for me.

Basically I am looking for a region with nice scenery. Not looking for big cities like Bern but some place where I can have a good sight to the alps, lakes, etc.

Which one of the 4 regions that you mentioned would you reccomed that is not too far away from the Zurich airport (2 hours max on train) that offer a nice scenery.

Thanks

Arno
Arno
7722 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 5, 2015 - 7:23 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke & robertin75,

I recently saved around € 60 by buying four Swiss Half Fare Cards online, and possibly more as I paid in my own currency, thus saving on banking fees. Also one can avoid possible queues at the staffed service desks of the busier stations, and go straight to the ticketing machines for discounted tickets.

For nice scenery indeed do not pick Interlaken, but Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Mürren or Wengen. Since you don't have much time the weather will be very important and could be a reason to consider a town on one of the lakes. On average, the chances of sunny weather are better there. Brienz and Spiez are examples. Luzern too.

robertin75
robertin75
8 posts
new member
Jul 5, 2015 - 8:01 AM in reply to Arno

Hi Arno:

So basically to get the discounted ticket price you just go to the ticket machine and then type your Swiss Half Fare Card number?

Thanks

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Jul 5, 2015 - 8:34 AM in reply to robertin75

<<"Which one of the 4 regions that you mentioned would you reccomed that isnot too far away from the Zurich airport (2 hours max on train) that offer a nice scenery.">>

Two hours is a tough constraint.

The most famous alpine sights are in the Berner Oberland above Lauterbrunnen- at Wengen or Mürren - or at Grindelwald - or even higher at Kleine Scheidegg. You are looking at 3 hours plus to Kleine Scheidegg. Less if you go to Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnnen.

Arno mentions Luzern.

Luzern is 1 hour and 2 minutes from Zürich Flughafen at xx47 every hour, and one hour and 12 minutes on the trains at xx13.

The lake is beautiful, and is surrounded by mountains. The town is full of tourists, but that is because it is such a nice destination. There a lot of places near Luzern with lower tourist density around the lake easily accessible by train or boat or bus.

A close look at the timetable might show a possible trip by lake boat to Alpnachstad (from the boat landing at Luzern main train station) for 1 hour 8 minutes with return by train ( 20 minutes) that could fit within your time constraints. In the time table, try Alpnachstad SGV as well as Alpnachstad to/from Luzern. If your timing is right, you might fit that in and probably can get a bite to eat on the boat. The boats are not as frequent as the trains.

Alpnachstad is at the foot of Pilatus, which is a serious mountain, and you can see the steep ascent for the cograil trains.

A bit off the normal tourist circuit is Brunnen, further down the lake. It is on the branch of the lake called the Urnersee. Surrounded by mountains. About 1 hour and 20 minutes twice per hour, although you do have 10 minute walk to the lakeshore. A lake boat ride to Brunnen is nice, but could take too long for you.

Technically possible, if your schedule fits the lake boat schedules, is a train ride to Flüelen, at the southern tip of the lake ( about 1 1/2 hours), connecting with a boat north to Brunnen - 1 hour - then a 10 minute walk to the rain station, and train back to the airport.

Here are a few pictures. The one of Pilatus and the Jesuit Church in Luzern was taken at dawn on a clear day. The ones of/from Hammetschwand were taken with a telephoto lens. Some are rather old, and technically poor,but they show the environment around Lake Luzern.

The one from the boat dock at Brunnen shows Seelisberg up on the mountainside across the lake. That lake shore is by the dock is a good place to eat and look. There are several places to get a bite. The terrace at the Hotel Waldstätterhof is a bit pricy,and service can be slow on a day with really nice weather, but the views are terrific.

Last time I was in Luzern ( two weeks ago) all I could see was clouds. But, you can still look at the lake and the town even if it is cloudy.

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Arno
Arno
7722 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 5, 2015 - 8:35 AM

Hi robertin75,

There's no need to enter numbers. You simply buy a 50% discounted ticket (indicated as "1/2" on the machines, whereas "1/1" is the regular price). The conductor on the train will check your ticket and your Swiss Half Fare Card.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Jul 5, 2015 - 8:48 AM in reply to robertin75

<<"So basically to get the discounted ticket price you just go to the ticket machine and then type your Swiss Half Fare Card number?">>

Not quite. The ticket machines areb menu driven, mostly. You might have to type a name for destination or starting point, but the machines start up with the assumption that you are buying a ticket from the station where you are working the machine. (You can change that, of course)

The ticket machines work in German, French, English and, I think, Italian.

After you select your starting point and destination, screens will open asking how many and what kind of tickets you want. They can ask "good for today?" or "good for another date?"

The menu choices will be either "Adult" (full fare) -- or -- "1/2 tax, 1/2 fare, children" or something like that ( half fare).

Select your type and number of tickets. Pay and print your ticket.

Then, when a conductor sees your ticket, which will have 1/2 price printed on it, he will expect you to show your half fare card at the same time.

Occasionally, the conductor will ask for identification to confirm that your half fare card is really yours.

Or, you can go to the ticket counter and talk in German or English or French or Italian. In the Geman speaking regions, you might also be able to talk in the local dialect of Swiss German, whic is a differnt language from "regular" German.

robertin75
robertin75
8 posts
new member
Jul 7, 2015 - 7:39 AM

Thanks for all the suggestions.

At this point I am not sure if the trip would be worth it as I have checked the forecast and it does not look good for this Saturday.

I was planning to stay in a hotel in Grindelwald and then take a train to the Jungfraujoch but I just checked the forecast and it's going to be mostly cloudy, chance of thunderstorms.

Is t really a waste of money if the forecast looks like this?

This is not going to be a cheap trip so if the weather conditions do not look favorable I may have to cancel my trip.

On the other hand this be the my first and last time to visit the Swiss Alps.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Jul 7, 2015 - 8:23 AM in reply to robertin75

<<"I was planning to stay in a hotel in Grindelwald and then take atrain to the Jungfraujoch but I just checked the forecast and it's goingto be mostly cloudy, chance of thunderstorms.Is t really a waste of money if the forecast looks like this?">>

Switzerland has micro weather - and the forecast is for a region. I've often been in dry weather with no thunderstorms when the forecast for the REGION is nasty. I can't recall all the preferred weather forecast sites, but this one claims precision:

www.mountain-forecast.com/maps/Swit zerland

There are several that the manager of my last hotel in Wengen (in June) used, and he said that none of them was fully accurate. FWIW

Particularly in the Alps, weather changes rapidly.

The trip all the way up to the Jungfraujoch is a waste of a lot of money if you get up there and are in the clouds.

There are enjoyable things at various lower levels. Some are not as spectacular.

From Grindelwald, take the train to Lauterbrunnen and walk on the valley floor to Stechelberg.

Ride the "ski" lift from Grindelwald Grund up to Männlichen and walk to Kleine Scheidegg. That is at about 2200 meters, much lower than the Jungfraujoch.

www.myswissalps.com/hi king/maennlichen-kleinescheidegg.

That one is spectacular, but you do want to see for long distances.

Last modified on Jul 7, 2015 - 8:23 AM by Slowpoke
robertin75
robertin75
8 posts
new member
Jul 7, 2015 - 9:21 AM

OK thanks for the info.

So I think that if I want to go to the Jungfraujoch from Grindelwald I should wait until the last minute to buy the train ticket as at that point in time I will know if the weather is ok to spend all that time and money.

Another question. This is the hotel that I plan to stay in located in Grindelwald.

Sunstar Alpine Hotel.

I'm not sure which destination train station at the Zurich airport should I choose to get there.

In the train destination list on the website http://www.sbb.ch there are a lot of different train stations in Grindelwald to choose from.

Like Grindelwald BFG, GGM, grund GGM, Bodmi, Klusi, etc. Which one should I choose?

Thanks

robertin75
robertin75
8 posts
new member
Jul 7, 2015 - 9:37 AM

I forgot to ask if renting a car in the Zurich airport to get to Grindelwald is worth it.

Arno
Arno
7722 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 7, 2015 - 9:38 AM

Hi again,

There are only two rail stations in Grindelwald: Grindelwald and Grindelwald Grund. The others are bus stops and cable car stations. Your hotel is 10 minutes on foot from the Grindelwald station. There is a nearby bus stop called 'Grindelwald, Firstbahn'. The bus ride takes 3 minutes or so.

Arno
Arno
7722 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 7, 2015 - 9:41 AM

Renting a car isn't worth it in my opinion. The trains are a relaxed, clean and eco-friendly way to travel, and you can actually watch the scenery instead of paying attention to the road. Furthermore most of the area around Grindelwald is car free, so you need buses, cogwheel trains and cable cars anyway to get to the best locations.

If you travel via Lucerne and the Golden Pass railway you'll enjoy the best scenery.

Last modified on Jul 7, 2015 - 9:43 AM by Arno

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