Swiss rail passes options

  • Removed user
    52345 posts
    5 February 2012 at 19:43:01 #804880


    We are traveling to Switzerland and France for our honeymoon, visiting Bernese Oberland followed by Provence. We’ve been researching the possible routes to get from Bernese Oberland to Provence and would appreciate any advice.

    The current option we have is to travel on the regional trains from Wengen to Avignon (TGV). This requires us to make 5 changes with a max time of 10 mins per change. Total journey time is almost 8 hours and cost us CHF137 per person. Being unfamiliar with the train stations we don’t think the frequent changes with short windows are a wise option for us.

    We have a few questions.

    (i) Are the train changes generally straightforward? Such that we can possibly make the change in time? Not sure how big and complicated are the train stations so we are not sure if 10 mins for train changes are sufficient.
    (ii) Is there any other better, faster route to get from Bernese Oberland to Provence? We are also visiting Zurich and Paris.

    Day 1 Arrive in Zurich
    Day 2 Leave for Bernese Oberland by train
    Day 3 Explore Bernese Oberland area
    Day 4 Leave B.O for Provence
    Day 5-7 Explore Provence area
    Day 8 Leave Provence for Paris
    Day 9-10 Explore Paris
    Day 11 Leave Paris for home

    (iii) Does it make more sense for us to buy the Swiss rail pass? We are spending about 4 days in total in Switzerland. We saw the offer of 2-for-1 Swiss pass offer and are contemplating whether that will be a cheaper option. Being unfamiliar with the cost of local trains we can’t do a good comparison on the cost savings.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  • Annika
    7001 posts
    6 February 2012 at 12:18:26 #834756

    Hi jamie, and welcome to the forum! As for your trip from Wengen to the Provence: the one suggested by the timetable, via Lauterbrunnen-Interlaken-Bern-Geneva, is the most obvious and quickest one. Generally, trains in Switzerland run perfectly in time (no guarantees of course), and the transfer time indicated by the timetable should suffice. If you like the idea of more transfer time, you can just divide your trip into several legs in the timetable (Lauterbrunnen-Interlaken, Interlaken-Bern, Bern-Geneva and so on) and select the preferred time of departure from each of the transfer stations.

    Yes, a Swiss rail pass will definitely save you lots of money. If you’re traveling in spring or fall I think you should go for the 2 for 1 4 day Swiss Saver Pass offer indeed. It will cover your trips from Zurich to Wengen, from Wengen to Geneva, further traveling by regular train, bus and boat, and it will provide discounts for mountain transportation in and near Wengen.

    Does that help you out? Best regards,

    Removed user
    52345 posts
    6 February 2012 at 21:27:25 #834757

    Hi Annika,

    Thanks for your prompt response. It is very helpful indeed!

    I explored further trying to compare the costs between the Swiss Rail Flexi Pass and the individual tickets and ended confusing myself even more. I could work out the costs of the trip from Zurich-Wengen (CHF39) and Wengen-Geneva (CHF41) on the sbb website. But when I tried to estimate the costs of transportaion within B.O I stumbled upon the Golden Pass Classic and here is where my confusion starts. Would the Golden Pass be a better option for us? How is this different from the routes that I was going to take above? Below is the itinerary for our Switzerland leg of the honeymoon. Would you please suggest what train arrangements we should make for the itinerary below?

    Day 1 Arrive in Zurich
    Day 2 Depart for B.O
    Day 3 B.O
    Day 4 B.O
    Day 5 Depart B.O for Geneva

    If I buy the Swiss Saver Flexi Pass, I am assuming the pass will allow me free travel on the Golden Pass, other than charges incurred to reserve my seat? Would the Pass also cover for bus/tram services within Zurich on the first day of our arrival?

    I referred to your post on the 2-for-1 offer, and realized that you’ve got the same prices reflected under different currencies, CHF and GBP for the Flexi Pass.

    Thanks for your help again!


    7001 posts
    7 February 2012 at 14:11:43 #834758

    Hello Jamie! The Golden Pass runs via Interlaken, Spiez, Zweisimmen, Gstaad and Montreux. It’s beautiful, but it will last a lot longer than the quickest connection via Bern. If you would want to travel by Golden Pass, you would have to arrange for seat reservations. (The other regular trains in Switzerland don’t require reservations.) Your Swiss Flexi Pass will indeed cover the trip itself if you use a free travel day, and you would only pay the additional reservation fee. Urban transportation in Zurich is included too. The map we link to from the Swiss Flexi Pass page shows the exact area of validity.

    Thank you for pointing out the currency mistake! We’ll correct it immediately. By the way, you can select the preffered currency in the purchase option list at the Swiss Flexi Pass page to make a sound comparison.

    Removed user
    52345 posts
    7 February 2012 at 18:54:18 #834759

    Hi Annika,
    Thanks for the prompt response! Does this mean I can choose which legs of the Golden Pass I want and not have to do the entire journey passing through all the towns? Sorry that’s probably a stupid question, cos I’m not familiar with how the Golden Pass works. If so, which leg would you recommend that is most scenic for us, for our trip from Wengen to Geneva? We are planning on leaving Wengen at about 8am in the morning, and our flight leaves Geneva at 3pm. Would that be sufficient time for us to go on the Golden Pass? How do I purchase the Golden Pass ticket?
    Thanks again!

    15041 posts
    8 February 2012 at 0:02:45 #834760

    Hi Jamie,

    You can indeed pick any leg. Coming from Wengen, the leg Interlaken – Spiez – Zweisimmen – Montreux would be the most obvious one. The timetable shows you how much time it takes and whether or not you need a seat reservation for the train you like to use (there are regular trains that you can just board and Golden Pass trains that require a reservation). Please follow the link Annika provided to see how to buy that. Other than that reservation, you only need your pass to cover for the traveling.

    Have fun!

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