Confused by which pass to buy!

Confused by which pass to buy!

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Posts: 10. This thread is closed.
Travelers5
Travelers5
4 posts
new member
Mar 30, 2016 - 3:51 PM

We are a family of five traveling to Switzerland in June. We are hoping to take a train(s) from Stuttgart to Zermatt on June 5, then travel from Zermatt to Wengen on June 8. June 13 Wengen to Lucerne and then back to Stuttgart. The Swiss Pass seems to make sense and we can get two of our kids passes for free. We will be using mountain trains during our stays in Zermatt and Wengen. Help!

Arno
Arno
7718 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 30, 2016 - 5:05 PM

Welcome Travelers5!

A Swiss Travel Pass indeed seems to make sense, and it's for sure the most convenient option. Price wise, either an 8-day Swiss Travel Pass could work, or one for 15 days, or a Swiss Half Fare Card. It depends on the details of your trip: which mountains trains, how long you'll stay in Lucerne, etc. Additionally you'll need tickets from Stuttgart to the Swiss border (probably Basel) and back. The below pages will help you out:

Just post back here if you have more questions after looking into the above.

Travelers5
Travelers5
4 posts
new member
Mar 30, 2016 - 6:11 PM in reply to Arno

Thank you for all of this. I have looked it over, and I'm sorry to say that I'm no less confused. Stuttgart to Basel turned out to be $311 "per traveller" (it also said per "traveling party," which may nor may not have meant it was the price for all five of us.) We then switch trains twice, with 7 minutes between transfers (is this enough time for us to make the switch, considering it is a new place that we've never been to?) Add to this the confusion of when and which legs require reservations and additional tickets. There are also numerous sites on the web from which to buy (raileurope.com, goeuro,com, etc.) Are they all selling the same thing?

A Swiss Pass for our family is $1073, plus the costs to and from Stuttgart. A Eurail Select Pass for Germany/Switzerland for 7 days (maybe not enough) is $1533. I priced a rather nice rental car for the entire two weeks that we are in Europe for $884 (I know that Zermatt and Wengen are car-free, so we will have to figure in charges for overnighting the car somewhere.)

I had really hoped to not go near a car during our trip, but this is much more confusing than I anticipated.

Thanks for any further clarification that you can add!

Arno
Arno
7718 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 31, 2016 - 7:39 AM

Let's work on that confusion then, I'm sure we can figure it out. Here's a few tips:

  • I'm not sure where you saw $311, but that's too expensive. I found prices from $183 on raileurope.com/europea n-trains/ice/how-to-book.html and from €117 on www.bahn.com (German railways). These are prices for all 5 travelers. I don't know the ages of the travelers so there might be slight difference. Prices may increase as the travel date gets closer, but right now you're early.
  • The pages I linked to in my previous post have a Price tab. That lists the websites to buy from. It will automatically only show websites selling to your country of residence (US in your case), so you won't end up on sites that are not relevant to you.
  • Swiss trains do not require seat reservations. A pass or ticket allows you to board any train, so you'll be flexible: myswissalps.com/train/ reservations.
  • I can't verify the $1073 for the Swiss Travel Pass, but that might again be caused by not knowing the traveler ages and exact number of days you'll be in Switzerland. Please see the websites listed on myswissalps.com/ swisstravelpass/price to check prices.
  • As mentioned in my previous post, it's worth it to look into the Swiss Half Fare Card too. The 3rd link I gave you explains how to compare both options. If you just want ease of use the Swiss Travel Pass is the better option as it includes a lot for free, so no tickets required: trains, buses, boats and many museums are free. Mountain transport is discounted, and in some cases even free: to Wengen and Mürren, for example, to Schynige Platte near Mürren, and to Mount Rigi near Lucerne.
  • A rental car may seem cheaper, but there's quite a lot of additional costs and issues to take into account: you'll need to add the costs of gas, a Swiss motorway vignette and parking. The car will be parked quite a lot as Zermatt and Wengen are indeed car free, and the most interesting places like viewing points cannot be reached by car either. Parking in larger cities, if you've planned that, can be quite difficult: one way streets, not many places to park, and no free parking. Also be very sure not to speed as there are a lot of speed traps and fines are expensive. Furthermore, if you don't have any rail pass at all, you'll be paying the full fare for cable cars, boats trips, etc. No free traveling for children either. You will most probably need at least Swiss Half Fare Cards even when you drive.

I hope this was useful!

Last modified on Mar 31, 2016 - 12:46 PM by Annika
Travelers5
Travelers5
4 posts
new member
Apr 1, 2016 - 6:23 PM in reply to Arno

Hi again. Thanks for spending so much time helping with our plans.

I am still finding 311 for raileurope.com for the five of us to travel from Stuttgart to Basel (kids aged 13, 14, and 17, traveling on 5 June.) There are 2 transfers of 7 minutes each--is this enough time? From Basel to Zermatt would then be covered by the Swiss Travel Pass I assume.

If we buy a 5-day Swiss Travel Pass, would the discounts on mountain trains only be valid on those five particular days?

You've talked me out of a rental car, which I'm glad for.

Our itinerary, in case it helps you to help us:

June 5 arrive at Stuttgart airport and travel to Zermatt (stay until June 8)

June 8-13 stay in Wengen

June 13 perhaps one night in Lucerne on our way back to Stuttgart

June 14-19 staying with friends in Stuttgart

Best,

Travelers5

Arno
Arno
7718 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 2, 2016 - 8:05 AM in reply to Travelers5

Hi Traveler5,

Please see the attachment for the $183 ticket to Basel. Make sure to go to www.raileurope.com/ european-trains/ice/how-to-book.html and enter 2 adults and 3 youth/children with their exact ages. The first option shows one transfer only. Seven minutes is enough; many travelers will make that connection.

There is no 5-day Swiss Travel Pass. The various options for continuous days, flexible days, and flexible days with discounts on the "non-travel days" (Combi variant) are explained here:

The pass will indeed cover Basel to Zermatt. Note that you can purchase both the pass and German ticket from the same website, so you will for sure reach the minimum order value for free shipping. Although many products are print at home nowadays, so shipping may not even apply.

Did this help you out?

Last modified on Apr 2, 2016 - 1:47 PM by Arno
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Travelers5
Travelers5
4 posts
new member
Apr 3, 2016 - 2:54 PM in reply to Arno

Hi again.

I saw your attachment--thanks for this. However, each time that i make my selections, being careful to enter the kids' ages exactly, I still come up with a fare of $311. This is selecting a 10am departure time. I noticed that you had selected a 9am departure, so when I altered my selections, I did see a reduced fare, but it was still $281, quite higher than what you are seeing.

We're closing in on this though! Thanks again!

Arno
Arno
7718 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 3, 2016 - 4:37 PM in reply to Travelers5

Hi Travelers5,

Ticket prices can differ by the departure time, but it's weird that you're seeing a different price for the same travel date & time, and on the same website. I don't know what we're doing different. Anyway, you can check any of the websites listed on www.myswissalps.com/ traintickets/ germany to see if they offer a similar price. Raileurope.com is not the only option.

Irish2swiss
Irish2swiss
3 posts
new member
Apr 4, 2016 - 3:46 PM

I am looking to travel from Blackforest to Bern and then Interlaken then Lucerne and then to Como Lake Italy. I will be travelling via car. I am keeping 4-5 days for Bern to Lucern including all montains and main places. Can anyone help me which pass would be better for me as I have car too.

Swiss pass or Swiss card or Half ticket pass?

Arno
Arno
7718 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 4, 2016 - 4:18 PM in reply to Irish2swiss

Hi Irish2swiss, welcome to MySwissAlps!

Please post your questions in a new thread. This thread is about Travelers5's questions.

Kind regards,

Arno

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