Trip for 2016 Switzerland/Italy - which pass?

Trip for 2016 Switzerland/Italy - which pass?

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stevemcdonald
stevemcdonald
25 posts
new member
Aug 4, 2015 - 4:40 AM

US-Geneva, Geneva to Monterosso (Cinque Terre), to Florence, to Venice, to Como, to Wengen, to Geneva. Checked this on www.raileurope.com, SUI 9 days/3 days train, Italy 10 days/7 days train, found Eurail Select Pass 10 days in 2 mo for two travelers, 1 senior = ~$1000. Would this cover local train in Cinque Terre? What about boat cruise on Lake Geneva? Is there a better deal?

Thanks

Steve

Arno
Arno
7727 posts
expert &
moderator
Aug 4, 2015 - 9:13 AM

Hello Steve,

How many days does your trip take? Do you mean 9 days in Switzerland (SUI?) plus 10 days in Italy, with no traveling at all (no cable cars, boats, etc.) on the non-train days?

Last modified on Aug 4, 2015 - 9:14 AM by Arno
stevemcdonald
stevemcdonald
25 posts
new member
Aug 5, 2015 - 2:59 AM in reply to Arno

Thanks so much for responding so quickly even though we aren’t traveling until July 2016, but you guys are great – you helped us a lot on our first trip to Switzerland in 2012 and now can’t wait to get back. I see that I need to supply a little more detail:

June 30: arrive in Geneva, spend the night

July 1: Train to Monterosso or Verazza

July 2 & 3: Explore Cinque Terra, possibly using the local rail a bit

July 4: Train to Florence

July 5 & 6: Explore Florence, probably no need for train just possibly public transit

July 7: Train to Venice

July 8 & 9: Explore Venice, probably no need for train, just possibly public transit

July 10: Train to Como – would actually possibly like to get to Bellagio for overnight

July 11: Como or Bellagio, possibly public transit

July 12: Train to Wengen

July 13: & 14: Wengen & surroundings – we spent several days in the area in 2012 and really liked it. Would probably want to use some of the local transit, cable cars, etc – maybe even Jungfrau Joch and Schilthorn again

July 15 or 16: Train to Geneva

At this point plans are not sure as we do not yet have our return to SFO flight reservations – waiting to use Rewards points, but not yet released.We plan to stay and explore the area around Geneva for up to 5 days, Lausanne,etc, including spending a night each in Aix-les-Bains & Annecy. I’m thinking that maybe we’d just rent a car for a week.

So in summary, I count:

Switzerland: Possibly 9 nights,depending on when we leave, using trains or other local transportation on at least 5 days, including the first day to Monterosso and the train from Como to Vengen.

Italy: 11 nights, using trains or local transportation on possibly 8 days, including the train to Monterosso, a couple of days in & around Como,and the train to Wengen.

One other thing – I visited the website www.raileurope.ca/euro pe-travel-guide/switzerland/map. html to get fare and schedule information – it was very useful but it only let me enter 4 legs of the journey – and it could not give me any information about the first leg, Geneva-Monterosso. This may sound very complicated, but I hope you can steer me to the best option for train travel in Switzerland and Italy, and maybe tell me the best train route to get from Geneva to Monterosso.

Thank you very much!

Arno
Arno
7727 posts
expert &
moderator
Aug 5, 2015 - 9:51 AM in reply to stevemcdonald

Hi Steve,

I'm glad to hear our website was useful before, and I hope it will be again! Here's my feedback:

  • For train schedules and standard fares (in Switzerland), you'd better use the Swiss timetable. There won't be many details you can't find in there. Geneva to Monterosso is a long trip but you can do it with only one change in Milan if you pick the right connection.
  • Once your itinerary is (more or less) fixed, you can make your final choice on which rail pass and/or tickets you need. This page explains how to do that if you prefer the cheapest solution. My guess would be that either an 8-day Swiss Travel Pass or a Swiss Half Fare Card is best for Switzerland. Point to point tickets for Italy are cheaper than in Switzerland, so you may want to calculate if you need a rail pass at all for that part of your trip. The linked page is for Switzerland, but the process is the same for any other country.
  • Geneva is not a very central location to explore Switzerland, or even the Lake Geneva region. You could consider to base yourself in Montreux or Vevey. These are smaller towns closer to the mountains. You don't need a car there. Then move to Geneva or France for a couple of days. If you need a car there you can rent one from the French section of Geneva airport, and return it there before your fly home. The links I included provide suggestions for activities, hotels and more.
  • Is the US your country of residence? It helps to know in order to suggest the best website to check rail pass prices.

I hope this gets you started.

Last modified on Aug 5, 2015 - 9:54 AM by Arno
stevemcdonald
stevemcdonald
25 posts
new member
Aug 6, 2015 - 4:02 AM in reply to Arno

Thanks for all the suggestions Arno. Your thoughts on the Italian portion of the trip are interesting - I hadn't thought about just determining the fare for Monterosso-Florence-Venice-Como compared to buying a pass. You mention that there is a page for fares for Italian transit similar to the linked page for Switzerland - can you be specific? Also, I'd appreciate the best way to make the reservation for Geneva-Monterosso as it sounds complicated with a tricky connection in Milan.

Yes, we live in California and hope to return GVA-SFO around the 7/22/2016. Originally I thought we would rent a car out of Geneva and do the whole trip that way, but then with large cities like Florence & Venice and the car-free Wengen we thought we should try rail. In 2012 we rented a car Marseille-Ste. Maxime-Villefranche-sur-Mer-Chamonix-Tasch-Grindelwald-Luzern-Innsbruck-Hallstatt-Munich and it wasn't a problem, and only about $700 USD for ~2.5 weeks with automatic. Anyway, train it is this time and we greatly appreciate your input

Steve

Last modified on Aug 6, 2015 - 4:04 AM by stevemcdonald
Arno
Arno
7727 posts
expert &
moderator
Aug 6, 2015 - 5:11 PM

Hi Steve,

You can check prices for Italian train tickets at trenitalia.com.

As for Geneva to Monterosso: how to book this depends on which connection you choose and whether or not you have a Swiss rail pass at that time (if so, the Swiss portion is either free or discounted). In any case you would need seat reservations for part of this trip, so you need to book those in advance. It makes sense to do so on the same website you will book your rail pass for Switzerland. But, it's a little early for the details yet. The timetable for July next year won't be available until mid December, and booking seats can only be done 2 to 4 months ahead of time. If needed we'll be glad to help you out by that time. Just post back here and refer to this thread. Meanwhile, our page myswissalps.com/ traintickets/ italy might be useful.

Glad to hear you decided to travel by train. It's wise to avoid the larger cities with a car. In Switzerland, public transport is excellent even in smaller towns, so there's no need for a car except if you wish to visit really remote places. On the other hand, some of the best remote places in the Alps are not accessible by car. Only by train or cable car. The trains offer a comfortable way to explore Switzerland, and they're clean, safe and of course eco-friendly.

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