<<"What can I expect to pay (USD, per person) for taking a train from the airport in Zurich to the Interlaken area?">>
<<" best way (cheapest, quickest) to get from the airport in Zurich to Interlaken, and again, back to the airport a few days later.
H i Carolyn -
I am reminded of the project manager's slogan - "Good, fast, cheap....pick any two."
In this case, the only rational answer is to use the railroads. Good, fast, cheap?...Not sure about cheap. See below. ;-(
Not that it makes a difference for your costs, but, just out of curiosity are you from New Zealand? Or, am I misreading your screen name?
Not much passenger rail service in NZ last time I was there.
Switzerland has a lot.
it is time to introduce you to the SBB timetable. ;-)
The link from this My Swiss Alps web site has some quite valuable explanatory material:
or, you may access it sans explanations, directly from the SBB web site:
To use it properly requires approximately 6 months of intensive training, so you have time. (Just joking.) But,there is a lot of useful information buried in the menus, and I am still finding some of it after 30+ years of using it.
I've attached a screen grab for you from the timetable. I used July 2016, since the 2017 data will not be available until December of this year. Any changes will be minor.
However, all is not simple.
The fare shown at first (at the right) has a 50% reduction on a second class ticket (good quality, no reason to avoid second class), because it assumes that you carry a 50% fare reduction card. Essentially all Swiss have such a "Halbtax" or "HalbAbo." If you want to price with no special fare reductions, you have to work your way partially along the ticket buying process on the web site. Or, simply, on all public transport (but not special excursion/mountain railways) just double the number that first appears. That would be true for the fare from Zürich Airport. So about 73 CHF with no fare reduction.
However (there is always a "however" ;-0) there exists a huge variety of reduced fare passes. It is likely that you will want one, but not certain for a 3-day stopover. Depends on how much you travel, in the Berner Oberland region or on mainline transportation.
Another "however." Trains and cableways and buses southward into the Lauterbrunnen Valley beyond Interlaken Ost are public transport as far as Lauterbrunnen and beyond Luterbrunnen to either Wengen, Stechelberg ( bus) and Mürren ( two possible routes), or, on the the other branch of the route, as far as Grindelwald.
Some of that is on private transportation equipment, but subsidized as "public transport" because it goes to population centers.
All of the other transport in the region )onward and upward) is a on privately owned equipment, and can be considered "excursions" with "excursion fares." The timetable covers those as well, and various rail passes offer different discounts. Probably, the most expensive trip would be to go up to Jungfraujoch.
Interlaken by itself has little to offer the tourist.
See this link and follow the links included. It will start you on an understanding of the region.:
I've attached a few images to whet your appetite. ( By the way, the Hotel Eiger from which one picture was taken, near the station in Wengen, is now an apartment building.)
This map (looking toward the south) will help you understand the region:
www.swissholidayco.com /Public/Assets/User/fi les/Map-of-Jungfrauregion1.jpg
and this map is very good for Switzerland:
Zoom in and you can see the rail lines, etc.
Under the menu item "Points of interest/traffic", you can turn on an overlay that shows all transport stations.
Once you have started on this material that i have given so far, there is a little bit more useful information here:
Kim likes to stay in Wengen. So do I.