Lucerne / Interlaken Trip: Swiss Pass Or Not?

Lucerne / Interlaken Trip: Swiss Pass Or Not?

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Posts: 4. This thread is closed.
zouli
zouli
2 posts
new member
Apr 7, 2013 - 11:40 AM
Hi all,
My girlfriend and I are heading to Switzerland from 18 to 22 May. I'm 26 (adult). She's 24 (youth). Our itinerary (with regards to transportation) is as follows. For all forms of transportation, we're planning to take 2nd class seats. We are basically contemplating whether to get the 4-day Swiss pass, the 1 month Half Fare Card, or simply just buying regular tickets as we travel.
Day 1:
1. Zurich airport - Zurich - Lucerne
2. Lucerne – Alpnachstad – Pilatus Kulm – Kriens – Lucerne ("Silver Round Trip" - i.e. Lucerne to Alpnachstad by train rather than boat. If I'm not wrong, this train ride is free if I hold a Swiss Pass, but the cogwheel up to Pilatus and gondola down to Kriens are half price?)

Day 2:
1. Lucerne - Interlaken
2. Funicular up to Harder Kulm and back down (half price with Swiss Pass?)

Day 3:
1. Interlaken - Lauterbrunnen - Grutschalp - Muuren - Schilthorn - Stechelberg - Lauterbrunnen - Interlaken
(From the Schilthorn website, seems like this is 124.60 CHF per adult and 38.50 with a Swiss Pass)

Day 4:
1. Interlaken - Jaufraujoch - Interlaken (via Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, KL Schneidegg)
(need your help on this one)

Day 5:
1. Interlaken West - Basel (I think this is about 58 CHF per adult and free with a Swiss Pass)

-

I tried hard to come up with my own calculations but I got stuck because I wasn't sure of the various discounts (most train rides are completely free if you have a Swiss pass, while others are 50% off, or even 25% to Jaufraujoch, etc). Can anyone help me with a breakdown of prices for the 3 options (regular tickets, 4-day Swiss Pass, 1 month Swiss Half Fare Card)? I read through some of the other threads and already got some very useful info, particularly from the moderators, Arno and Annika. If you guys can help me with this, I'd truly appreciate it. :-)

-

Additional info:

If we get the 4-day Swiss Pass, it looks like it's best that we both just count ourselves as adults and get the 15% discount for travelling together (Swiss Saver Pass). This seems to be cheaper (231 CHF x 2) compared to me buying the adult pass and my girlfriend getting the youth pass (272 + 202).

An unfortunate thing is that the Swiss Pass only covers 4 days. Our last day, where we take the train from Interlaken West to Basel, costs 58 CHF per adult, but free of charge if we hold the Swiss Pass. But since the pass only covers 4 days, it seems that we have to forfeit using the pass on this last day and waste 58 CHF per person. To be frank, we were both quite set on getting the Swiss Pass to begin with, but when we realized about this additional 58 CHF per person, it became a major turnoff and a main reason why we are contemplating just buying regular tickets or get the Half Fare Card (haven't researched much about that one). Also, we know there's this other pass called Swiss Flexi Pass, where you can select 5 days instead of 4 days, but the difference between a 5-day Flexi Pass and a 4-day Swiss Pass is more than 58 CHF per person so that's out of the question.

Also, for what it's worth. In Interlaken, our hotel is at Interlaken West, in the Unterseen area. I'm not sure if it makes a difference because I know the Swiss Pass also covers the short train or bus ride between Interlaken West - Interlaken Ost.

Thanks a lot for your help!
Annika
Annika
4355 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 7, 2013 - 1:04 PM
Welcome zouli! Picking the right pass can be difficult indeed. As for your itinerary: do you plan to travel from Zurich Airport to Lucerne only on day 1, not doing any other traveling? If so, you could start the validity of your Swiss Pass on day 2. The trip Zurich Airport-Lucerne is shorter and less expensive (CHF 28.00 per person) than Interlaken West-Basel (indeed CHF 58.00 per person), so you can better have this last trip covered by your Swiss Pass and pay for Zurich Airport-Lucerne separately. This would allow you to use your Swiss Pass on day 2, 3, 4 and 5. Many trips would be for free and you'd have to buy discounted tickets for Alpnachstad-Pilatus-Kriens (50%), Harder Kulm (50%), Mürren-Schilthorn and back (50%), Wengen-Jungfraujoch and back (25%). The Swiss Pass page lists details and allows you to download a validity network map showing all free and discounted routes. Prices are displayed here too. Yes, a Swiss Saver Pass would better than a regular Swiss Pass plus a Swiss Youth Pass in your case.

A Swiss Half Fare Card would work fine for your plans too. The concept is easy: you can buy 50% discounted tickets for all trips, including the entire Jungfraujoch route. Please find information at the Swiss Half Fare Card page. Mind that you'll have to buy discounted tickets for each trip, also for short transfers as Interlaken West-Interlaken Ost, and that you're a bit less flexible than with a Swiss Pass.

What help do you need with the Jungfraujoch trip? Connections can be found in the regular Swiss timetable and at the Jungfrau website.

Does that help you out?
Last modified on Dec 28, 2014 - 4:35 PM by Arno
zouli
zouli
2 posts
new member
Apr 8, 2013 - 11:34 AM
Thanks for the info. :-)
I got it calculated.

It looks like half fare card is by far the cheapest option, 394 CHF for the whole trip (inclusive of 120 CHF for the card). This is compared to 546 CHF if we buy regular tickets. The Swiss Pass, because I have to pay for the first day or the last day, costs 510 CHF (inclusive of purchasing the pass).

My recommendation to all is that as a general guideline, as long as you head up to Jungfraujoch and the rest of the Wengen / Kleine Schneidegg / Grindelwald region, get a Half Fare Card. It actually grants you more discount (50% off) than the Swiss Pass (25% off) for the mountain train/gondola rides in that region (which doesn't make much sense to me but whatever). It's also MORE flexible in the sense that it lasts an entire month, whereas a Swiss Pass forces you to stay in Switzerland for exactly 4, 8, 15, 22 days. No more, no less, which is not too good for me.
Annika
Annika
4355 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 8, 2013 - 1:16 PM
Hi zouli! Great that the Swiss Half Fare Card turns out to be a such good choice for your trip! For other visitors reading this: it's not necessarily the best option for all visitors of the Jungfrau region though. Some examples:
  • as soon as a direct round trip from an airport or border station to, say, Wengen is involved, the Swiss Card is cheaper than the Swiss Half Fare Card;
  • for those wanting to get out of the Jungfrau region, traveling to other cities or making boat trips, a Swiss (Saver) Pass can be cheaper than a Swiss Half Fare Card, even despite the 25% instead of 50% discount at the Jungfraujoch line up from Wengen/Grindelwald. That's the only exception by the way; all other mountain railways and cable cars in the area are discounted by 50% with a Swiss (Saver) Pass too, just as with the Swiss Half Fare Card (did you calculate this correctly, zouli?). Moreover, many people prefer the flexibilty offered by the Swiss Pass. It allows them to travel without having to buy tickets and change their plans even while traveling, for example if weather gets bad along the way;
  • those planning to use public transportation in the Bernese Oberland intensively in Spring, Summer and Fall can benefit from a Regional-Pass, which offers even more discounts on mountain transportation.

To conclude with, each itinerary is very different, so it's a bit tricky to provide general guidelines. I hope that clears things up :-).

I'm glad you were able to make your choice and wish you a wonderful stay in Switzerland!

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