Expert please! Swiss Travel Pass or Half Fare Card

Expert please! Swiss Travel Pass or Half Fare Card

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Soccertom919
Soccertom919
6 posts
new member
Mar 6, 2016 - 8:31 PM

Hello!

I am planning a 11 day vacation in 5 cities with my lovely girlfriend and we are very confused on which rail pass to buy for our particular situation. Reason being we are planning on doing a lot of mountain trips where the half fare card comes in handy. Please experts come share your expert thoughts!!!

Itinerary:

1) Zurich (2 nights)

- train from Zurich airport to city center

- Day trip to Rhine falls and back

- Boat trip Lake Zurich

2) Train to Lucerne (2 nights)

- mount Pilatus and Rigi

3) train to Wengen (4 nights)

-Jungfraujoch

- 1-2 other mountains in the area

4) train to Montreux (2 nights)

- not sure yet what we will do

5) Geneva (1 night)

- boat tour of Lake Geneva

- train to Geneva airport

any help would be greatly appreciated!!!!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Mar 6, 2016 - 11:58 PM in reply to Soccertom919

Hi Soccertom919 -

I seems that you have done your homework, and realize that you need an itinerary to make the best judgement on which discount method to use.

This might help:

www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/ticketspasses/prac tical/chooserailpass

along with -

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

Keep in mind that the fares in the timetable are already "half-price" because everyone in Switzerland (just about) has a long term half fare card. (Halb Tax, or Halb Abo), available only to those with a Swiss address.

Hope this helps.

Note that there are some discounts on private rail lines (etc.) available with the Swiss Travel Pass:www.myswissalps.com/do cs/default-source/raildoc/myswiss alps-rail-pass-overview.pdf?sfvrsn=12

Beyond this point I leave it the experts that you requested....namely, Arno and Annika, the forum moderators.

Slowpoke

Annika
Annika
4417 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 7, 2016 - 7:59 AM

Hi Soccertom919!

I think you'd best compare these options:

  • a 15 day Swiss Travel Pass. At first glance, this might seem more than what you need. However, the price difference with an 8 day Swiss Travel Pass is only CHF 77. You'd easily spend as much as that (or more) if you have 3 days that aren't covered by your pass. You may see whether an 8 day Swiss Travel Pass combined with local passes for the first and last days would work. For example, there's the Zurich Card and the Geneva Transport Card;
  • the Swiss Half Fare Card, that will provide a 50% discount on all trips you plan to make. This does require you to buy tickets before each trip.

The only way to tell for sure is to make a detailed list of plans and then start calculating. Slowpoke already gave you the appropriate links. If you're not sure about all of your plans yet, you'd best make an educated guess and also include non-price related preferences (e.g. ticketless traveling) in your decision.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Mar 7, 2016 - 9:01 AM in reply to Soccertom919

Hi Soccertom919 -

Here are links to a couple of threads with some discussions about visiting Zürich ( and some other places on your itinerary.)

The first one has some details about Zürich which may help you enjoy a walk around the city and a couple of pictures.

The second has some material on getting around Zürich as well, in the posts a little way down the thread. It was oriented toward a winter visit, but it might still be helpful.

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/need-help-in-my-planning

and,

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/swiss-itinerary-for-december-2015

It is important to know when you will be visiting Switzerland. Particularly in the higher alpine regions, the "between seasons" months in spring and fall have reduced services, although there is still a lot to do.

www.myswissalps.com/be sttimetovisit

What country (or time zone) are you coming from? I ask for reasons dealing with jet-lag, and (if from the USA) whether you have seen Niagara Falls? Do you plan any hiking or walking?

For each of the cities or regions that you have identified, the links under "Where to Go" may be useful -

www.myswissalps.com/wh eretogo

Probably, you have already used the timetable?

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

Slowpoke

Soccertom919
Soccertom919
6 posts
new member
Mar 7, 2016 - 2:20 PM

Wow!

Thank you all for your timely responses. Already it has been such a great help. Here are the relevant responses:

- We are leaving end of June and we are coming from Canada (Eastern Time Zone). And yes we have seen Niagara Falls and it was a lot of fun.

- Our intention is to do a lot of hiking and walking around. Our favorite types of trails are more on the intermediate side that has good views. (Nothing too dangerous or slippery conditions).

- I have been stalking the website pretty intensely every since we decided to leave for Switzerland. I was hoping someone would know off hand most of the costs, but I guess the spreadsheet is the only way to go!

- I'll try and gather all the data soon so that I can post it here and maybe someone can confirm if my logic is correct. My first thought is that I would do the Swiss Travel Pass due to simplicity and only if the cost is dramatically lower I would switch to the Swiss Half Fare Card.

Thanks again!

Soccertom919
Soccertom919
6 posts
new member
Mar 7, 2016 - 3:40 PM

So here it is.......

From what I can see here its cheaper to use the Swiss Half Fare Card because we don't travel enough on regular trains.

If either Annika/Slowpoke can you take a quick look to see if my calculations are correct? I wasn't sure of the names of certain stops (So my costs may be off) or if the Swiss Travel Pass gets you 50% off the mountain trains or only 25% off.....

The last question I have is....... I was reading up on the past 9 o'clock fare? Would that be beneficial for us to combine with the Swiss Half Fare Card? We would only be travelling by train on weekends in Lucerne and Geneva so therefore all the other train rides we would be able to do past 9 AM during the week.Thank you very much

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Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Mar 7, 2016 - 4:00 PM in reply to Soccertom919

<<"Thank you all for your timely responses. ">>

You are quite welcome.

<<"And yes we have seen Niagara Falls and it was a lot of fun.">>

Here is my opinion.

Others may disagree.

If you have seen Niagara Falls, especially the Canadian Falls, the Rhine Falls are a non-event.

Powerful, but not nearly has high or as large. You can get fairly close on foot, if I recall correctly. It has been quite few years since I was there. For what it is worth, my opinion is that I'd not make them a high priority

<<"We are leaving end of June and we are coming from Canada (EasternTime Zone). -Our intention is to do a lot of hiking and walking around. Our favoritetypes of trails are more on the intermediate side that has good views.(Nothing too dangerous or slippery conditions).">>

For jet-lag recovery purposes, you can consider Luzern and Zürich to be pretty much equivalent. Take a look at the time table...15-20 minutes to Zürich Main Station on 5 to 10 trans per hour; 45 minutes or more onward to Luzern., at least twice per hour.

Twice an hour from the airport to Luzern.. The ones at XX47 take 1 hour 2 minutes and have no change at Zürich main station. The ones at xx18 require a change at Zürich main station. Since you would come in on track 32, and go ut on track 8, the connection requires a small amount of escalators (or an elevator - is that a lift in Canadian English?) and walking, but luggage carts are readily available and they go up and down escalators . The one at the airport are free.

The ones at Zürich Main station have a coin-in-a-slot process which gives you back your coin when you are done, but you'd better have 2 CHF coin or two in your pocket. They take some kind of Euro coin, too.

July is a good time for the most of the high Alps. Early June is bad, mid-June is iffy, late June is good for the high trails, generally. July and August are best for the highest trails, into September.

www.myswissalps.com/be sttimetovisit

I have a trail list that I find helpful on my other computer that I find helpful. Will post it later.

Meanwhile take a look at this report.

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/tips-about-wengen-and-the-jungfrau-region-by-kim

and:

www.myswissalps.com/hi king

That should get you going, I think.

Slowpoke

PS - I don't do rail discount options. Arno and Annika are the experts.

Arno
Arno
7722 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 7, 2016 - 4:44 PM in reply to Soccertom919

Hi Soccertom919,

Wow, you made your own spreadsheet! But I'm afraid the math is not entirely correct. I did not check all numbers, but this is what I noticed:

  • Wengen to Interlaken return is actually double the price;
  • Mount Rigi is free with a Swiss Travel Pass;
  • Boats are free with a Swiss Travel Pass too.

You didn't list museums but many of them are free with the Swiss Travel Pass too (no discount with the Swiss Half Fare Card). Please see:

The first link Slowpoke gave you explains the whole process and allows allows you to download our spreadsheet, so all you have to do is enter the numbers: myswissalps.com/train/ ticketspasses/practica l/chooserailpass.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Mar 7, 2016 - 5:23 PM in reply to Arno

Hi Annika-

Just for clarity, I note that the fares that first show up in the timetable are actually half-fares, because most Swiss have some form of half-fare discount card.

I recall that you mention that point in the pages you have linked to, but felt it might be why one of the fares was in error.

Slowpoke

Annika
Annika
4417 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 7, 2016 - 5:55 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke,

Yes, the fact that the timetable lists reduced fares by default is explained at our "How to choose" page, in our downloadable Excel sheet and at our timetable page.

Soccertom919
Soccertom919
6 posts
new member
Mar 7, 2016 - 7:39 PM

Hi all,

I wish I would have started doing the work with your spreadsheet!

- I added the relevant info and made the necessary changes.....still seems to me that the Half Fare Card makes more sense as its considerably cheaper. We aren't big museum fans so odds are we would be spending more time outdoors.

- Attached is attempt #2.

- I know you stipulate that travelling without needing to book is very attractive, but it seems that the price gap is rather large. (25% cheaper). Can we book our trains with the Half Fare Card online in advance or is it just easier to buy at the train station each time as its less risk carrying all the tickets? I'm guessing also if we travel after 9 AM on weekdays it would make the gap even larger? Not quite sure how that works.

- One last question in terms of itinerary.... We are essentially spending 2 days in Zurich, 2 days in Lucerne, 4 days in the Wengen region, 2 days in Montreux and 1 day in Geneva. Any comments on if we are staying too short / too long in certain places? (Keeping in mind we are more of the outdoors and site seeing type rather than inside churches and museums).

Thanks AGAIN!

Please login to see the attached documents
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Mar 7, 2016 - 7:40 PM in reply to Soccertom919

Hi Soccertom919-

Here is the list I mentioned. Open/closed status may not be current at season transitions.

www.jungfrau.ch/en/som mer/tourism/destinatio ns/kleine-scheidegg/hiking-trails/

Slowpoke

Soccertom919
Soccertom919
6 posts
new member
Mar 7, 2016 - 7:47 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Thanks!!! Makes me want to stay longer in Wenger......

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Mar 7, 2016 - 8:01 PM in reply to Soccertom919

Hi SoccerTom 919-

<<"- I know you stipulate that travelling without needing to book isvery attractive, but it seems that the price gap is rather large. (25%cheaper). Can we book our trains with the Half Fare Card online inadvance or is it just easier to buy at the train station each time asits less risk carrying all the tickets? I'm guessing also if we travelafter 9 AM on weekdays it would make the gap even larger? Not quite surehow that works. ">>

I carry a Swiss residents HalbTax ( half fare card) which works the same as the tourists version.

I have no trouble buying tickets just before a train ride. There are lots of ticket machines at all but the very smallest country stations, where there is always at least one and usually two machines.You can buy them for that day or for a date in the future. On a bad day at a busy station you may wait 5 minutes for a machine to be free. They take all kinds of credit cards and currency.

Same for trams.

This may help:

www.sbb.ch/en/station-services/am-bahnhof/dhl-service-point/automatic-ticket-machine/online-demo-billettautomat-sbb.html

I have only used the 9 O'Clock cards for city region tickets, such as Zürich and environs. I never looked for use outside cities. The purpose is to give a discount to riders who board after morning rush hour. They last for the rest of the day, to midnight, I think.

<" One last question in terms of itinerary.... Weare essentially spending 2 days in Zurich, 2 days in Lucerne, 4 days inthe Wengen region, 2 days in Montreux and 1 day in Geneva. Any commentson if we are staying too short / too long in certain places? (Keepingin mind we are more of the outdoors and site seeing type rather thaninside churches and museums).">>

See my earlier post in this thread about easy access to Luzern. I'd skip Zürich and go right to Luzern. Better for variety/outdoors for first time visitors. Zürich is only 45 minutes away if you decide you want to go there.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Mar 7, 2016 - 10:20 PM by Slowpoke
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Mar 7, 2016 - 8:12 PM in reply to Soccertom919

This might make you want to stay longer in Wengen....but such brilliantly clear weather is rare.

The Hotel Eiger in Wengen is now an apartment building.

Slowpoke

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Arno
Arno
7722 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 8, 2016 - 12:29 PM in reply to Soccertom919

Hi Soccertom919,

It looks like you will indeed save more with a Swiss Half Fare Card. Here's how it works:

  1. You can buy the card from any of the sites listed on myswissalps.com/ swisshalffarecard/ price. Currently the best way is to order through www.swissrailways.com/ en and print it at home so you can use it right way in Switzerland.
  2. Train trips in Switzerland are generally not booked in advance. You simply buy a ticket from the machines or service desk when you need it. Details are here: myswissalps.com/swissh alffarecard/howtouse.

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