Help with 10-day itinerary

Help with 10-day itinerary

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FamilyS1
FamilyS1
5 posts
new member
May 17, 2014 - 11:57 AM

Hi - We are a family of 4 - 2 adults and 2 teens, 15 and 17 - travelling to Switzerland for 10 days at the end of July/beginning of August 2014.

After a lot of research, we think an 8-day Swiss Pass will be the best (2 adult 'savers' and a youth pass for 17-year-old, with 15 going 'free' with family card). Because we are in Switzerland for 10 days, we believe if we pay for our first day of travel (airport to Montreux) and last day of travel (from central Geneva to airport) this will be cheapest/easiest.

Our itinerary looks like this -

Day 1 - arrive Geneva Airport, go straight to Montreux. If travel is free to central Geneva, can we just pay for Geneva central to Montreux? Do we have to pay for our 15 year old? Will we have to pay 'adult fare for 17-year-old? Can we buy 'open' tickets online for this journey before we travel - we do not want to commit to a certain time because we don't know how long it will take to clear immigration etc. Depending on what time we get to Montreux (our flight is due at lunchtime) we will have time for sightseeing, chateaux Chillon etc.

Day 2 - Already have reservations on Golden Pass, Montreux to Interlaken, and booked accommodation in Wengen for 3 nights. Should arrive Interlaken mid-afternoon. Is it worth putting luggage in left-luggage and exploring in/around Interlaken for several hours ... or going straight to Wengen to explore around there?

Day 3/4 - ideas would be appreciated - we are all fit and healthy and enjoy walking, but have never visited the Alps before and some of the warnings ('children need to be roped' etc) concern us! We like the idea of walking to a hut for a good Alpine lunch and then back a different route ... I have seen lots of weather warnings about the Jungfrau, so am not expecting to necessarily go up. We are Sherlock Holmes fans - so perhaps a trip to the Reichenbach falls would be good. Also, one of our 2 days is Swiss National Day - will this make places extra busy, and will all the local transport be running? We understand there are festivities in Wengen, but are not sure whether we should give up a day walking to stay to enjoy them.

Day 5 - we will leave Wengen for Zermatt. I think this journey can be done in several ways (via the tunnel or not). Do you recommend the longer route for the view - or the tunnel for getting to Zermatt quicker and giving more time for sightseeing there? We have booked to stay on the Gornergrat - if the weather is bad would it be better to walk in/around Zermatt rather than go straight up the mountain? We still intend to stay on the Gornergrat, even if it is cloudy - I assume the transport will still run. Are there nice walks at the top if the weather is kind to us. We could be up there by mid-afternoon.

Day 6 - We have reservations in first class on the Glacier Express to St Moritz - we wanted to travel 2nd class (free with the Swiss Pass) but despite going online on what we thought was the opening day of sales there were no spaces left. I understand we can get a 1-day upgrade (online) for this day. Please reassure me that the Swiss transport system is well integrated and we can come down the Gornergrat in time for our GEX. If we miss it for any reason, I assume we can just find a local train on the same route, so we can still get to St Moritz?

Day 7 - ideas appreciated for 1 day in/around St Moritz - we like the idea of 'barefoot trails' (Celerina?). The Muottas Muragl walk looks lovely ... are these weather dependent?

Day 8 - Our whole trip was inspired by a picture of the Ascher guesthouse near Ebenalp - so we will leave St Moritz early-ish to get there by early afternoon (in time to eat, hopefully). We then want to walk to Seealp ... which is 'easy' according to one website and 'difficult' on another. Any advice?

Day 9 - we need to get back to Geneva - but don't mind arriving late (though our hotel is apparently in the red light area!!) One idea is to walk back to Ascher/Ebenalp, possibly by a different route? We may need to put most of our luggage in storage overnight (on day 8) but will have to return for it (on day 9). How good is the food on (non-tourist/non-panoramic) trains? - as we may not be able to pick up supplies - and our train back to Geneva looks like 5 hours ... arriving early/mid-evening

Day 10 - morning to explore Geneva a little, before lunchtime flight. Might our hotel provide us with free local transport ticket back to the airport as our pass will have expired?

Lots of questions - but we have found your forum so informative, we hope you can help.

Thank you

Last modified on May 17, 2014 - 12:07 PM by FamilyS1
Arno
Arno
7341 posts
expert &
moderator
May 18, 2014 - 11:04 AM in reply to FamilyS1

Hi FamilyS1,

The combination of Swiss Saver Pass, Swiss Youth Pass, Swiss Family Card and standard tickets on day 1 makes sense. Further information about the pass (coverage map, where to buy, how to use) is on the Swiss Pass page.

Day 1: you can reach Geneva for free with an Unireso ticket. Then get tickets from Geneva to Montreux. See here for discounts. If you buy online, make sure not to have seat reservations included. They're not necessary and will only be valid for a specific train. Just a ticket for the day is fine.

Day 2: Interlaken is mostly a travel hub for the region, not a town for sightseeing. It's nice for souvenir hunting, but if the weather is fine I would prefer going to Wengen.

Day 3/4: Tips about the region are here. Hiking is safe as long as one does the preparation: pay attention to the weather, pick trails that match your skills and have appropriate shoes and clothing. Tips and trails can be found in the hiking section. August 1 will be extra busy in popular places. Public transport will be fully operational.

Day 5: I would personally take the route via Kandersteg and Goppenstein. Your time in Zermatt is very limited anyway, so you might as well enjoy the ride to get there. Perhaps do a short hike while there if the weather is fine.

Day 6: There are local trains but that requires several changes along the way. See the Glacier Express page and this post for details. Which date is this? I would not expect seats to be booked out already.

Day 7: All hikes are weather dependent. See the links I gave above.

Day 8: I don't know this trail personally, but it looks like there's an easy/moderate route to get down to the valley if you start the descend soon after Ebenalp. There are more difficult trails as well.

Day 9: Food on the trains is good, although choice is somewhat limited. I've always enjoined it very much. Not all the trains have a restaurant, so be sure to check the timetable.

Day 10: Yes, you will again get free transportation, see our hotel page.

One final tip is to be flexible, as you have quite some plans that require good weather (Ebenalp for example), and limited time per destination. I hope you have a week of sunshine, but if it rains you may have to make some last minute changes and do a city trip, boat trip, etc. instead of hiking. Being flexible is part of a trip in the Alps.

Thanks for sharing your compliments on our forum! How did you like the other sections of the website? If you have any feedback, feel free to let us know.

Last modified on Dec 28, 2014 - 12:53 PM by Arno
FamilyS1
FamilyS1
5 posts
new member
May 18, 2014 - 4:51 PM

Thank you for all the info and links, we will spend some time looking through them carefully before we go.

Just to let you know that we have already made first class reservations for the Glacier Express for Monday, August 4. When we went on the website, there were 3 possible trains Zermatt to St Moritz - the first appeared to be all 2nd class, the second all first class and the third, a mix of both - we decided we needed to get the latest one (9.52am from Zermatt) as we are staying on the Gornergrat on Sunday night. But when we tried to book second class the site said there were not enough seats for us ... but there were seats in first class. It seemed better to book any seats than no seats at all! It is a big extra cost, but we understand the cost of the upgrade is slightly less because we are travelling after 9am ... and some forum posters think it is worth the extra to have more legroom and fewer people in the carriage ... particularly as we are on the GEX all the way from Zermatt to St Moritz. My question about the alternative local trains was 'just in case' ... this is the only train connection we have planned where timing really matters - so, just in case the Gornergratbahn is broken/just in case we oversleep/just in case we cannot get to the station by 9.52, we now know we can get to St Moritz by local trains - even if we have to change several times. I think we will also have a lot of changes to make between Wengen and Zermatt, so we will have had some practise - and we intend to travel light!

Arno
Arno
7341 posts
expert &
moderator
May 19, 2014 - 5:10 AM

You're most welcome. I was wondering how you are getting the cheaper upgrade to 1st class. There is no time limit when it comes to Swiss Pass usage. Do you plan to use this day card perhaps? It's CHF 96 instead of the normal upgrade price of CHF 109, but I didn't realize it can be combined with the Swiss Pass.

FamilyS1
FamilyS1
5 posts
new member
May 19, 2014 - 6:00 PM

Now, this is why we need help from your forum!

We contacted SBB/CFF just after making the Glacier Express reservations, to ask about how to upgrade from a second class Swiss Pass (which we haven't yet bought) to first class for the trip from Zermatt to St Moritz. They very helpfully sent me the link: https://www.sbb.ch/en/ticketshop/b2c/adw.do?125

I looked here only briefly and thought we would be able to get a one-day (after 9am) upgrade - but, after trying to put in our travel dates, it also appeared that we couldn't make the upgrade until much closer to our travel date. Obviously we didn't look closely enough, but we will now!

Thank you for pointing this out before we bought the wrong thing ...

Arno
Arno
7341 posts
expert &
moderator
May 19, 2014 - 6:16 PM

Hi FamilyS1,

You can buy this Swiss Pass in advance through the Swiss Railways webshop (this link, since you're based in the UK, shipping is free). But I would recommend to buy the upgrade to 1st class in Zermatt at the rail station, or any other staffed Swiss station. They don't sell out so no problem there. And you can ask there whether the day card works with the Swiss Pass. I don't think so, but if it does you'll save a few francs.

Last modified on Nov 17, 2014 - 5:27 PM by Arno
FamilyS1
FamilyS1
5 posts
new member
May 19, 2014 - 6:30 PM

Wow - that was quick ...

We really wanted to sort this out before we get to Zermatt because, as you pointed out our schedule is really tight at times. On that Monday morning we will be coming down after spending the night on the Gornergrat and have only a short time (25 minutes) to connect to the GE. We will be on holiday - we don't want to be too stressed to enjoy ourselves!

Arno
Arno
7341 posts
expert &
moderator
May 19, 2014 - 6:46 PM

In that case I would recommend to ask the SBB the question more specific: "can the 1st class day card be combined with a 2nd class Swiss Pass?". But note that you can arrange for this at any Swiss rail station: Geneva, Montreux, Interlaken, whatever is convenient for you. You don't have to wait until that Monday morning when time is limited. Many people decide for last minutes upgrades, even for boat trips, so it's a quite common thing to do.

FamilyS1
FamilyS1
5 posts
new member
May 21, 2014 - 4:53 PM in reply to Arno

We thought you might be interested in the reply from SBB which arrived yesterday - they are very efficient:

"I recommend you to purchase the upgrade as following:

Press:
- https://www.sbb.ch/en/ticketshop/b2c/
- Select "Class upgrade"
- Select "Class upgrade (route-specific"
- click on "Next"
- put in from where to where (Zermatt - St.Moritz), and travel date
- Next
- select: Individual tickets, via Brig Disentis - Chur
- put in the name, select: 1st class, and under the Reduction: "Half Fare travelcard" (price per passenger: 54.50)
- click on "Add other passengers
- Next


You will now see all prices for the route you have chosen.
(IMPORTANT: Our system can only calculate prices 30 days in advance.)"

We thought they might have been confused about which pass we were going to have - so I asked again, and this morning received the message:

"Thank you for your query.

With the Swiss Pass you pay the Upgrade with the Half price discount."

So, that is good ... but we neglected to ask whether we need to pay for an upgrade for our 15-year-old, who we needed to pay a reservation fee for, but who will travel for free on a family card. Any ideas - or do I need to email SBB again?

Arno
Arno
7341 posts
expert &
moderator
May 21, 2014 - 5:33 PM

Hi FamilyS1,

Thanks for sharing their reply. I think they are right about the half fare upgrade ticket with a 2nd class Swiss Pass. I didn't know that, so thank you for making me look into this matter! I wonder why it works that way, but in any case, it saves you money :-)

The 15-year old is covered by the Swiss Family Card, which allows to travel along for free as long as the adults have a ticket or pass for any class. Indeed a seat reservation is still needed.

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