Completely overwhelmed with Swiss rail passes

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4 posts
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Mar 31, 2018 - 2:00 PM

We are traveling to Switzerland in less than 3 weeks. Every time we try to plan an itinerary, we get overwhelmed and put it off.

We fly into Zurich on April 19 and plan to stay 2 nights in Lucerne, then travel to Murren for 2 more nights; then 2 nights in Zurich. We have accommodations booked already; could fudge on the extra night in Zurich if need be, as I understand there's not a lot to see there. Or we could keep that booking and use Zurich as a base.We fly back out on April 26 in the afternoon.

We are pretty sure we need the Swiss Travel pass for flexibility. We still need to check on whether getting (2) 3-day passes each is less expensive than getting (1) 8-day pass; since we won't be there for 8 days. I realize that traveling this time of year limits some travel options, which makes it even more frustrating to try to plan!

It seems that much of the time spent in Switzerland is just riding on trains, which seems exhausting... So can someone PLEASE help advise this trip? We've found a couple of things we're interested in, such a a hike in the Lucerne region and most likely a boat trip in Lucerne. We're interested in possibly a chocolate tour of some kind (any suggestions for which is best?) I'm NOT interested in skiing; but it seems that snow-shoeing might be available? Are the villages that sound so charming even going to be open this time of year? We'd like to travel to Jungfraujoch. I keep reading that its extremely expensive. It appears that with a travel pass, you get a discount; but how much does that mean for the trip with the discount? Would this best be accomplished from Lucerne, or from Murren? We're interested in Schilthorn, possibly Pilatus or Titlus...but again, every time I start trying to plan this trip, I end up going around in circles.

Bottom line... we want to see the regions I've outlined for our trip; we want to see some of the best the region has to offer. We're relatively active. I don't want to spend all my time traveling just to re-board a train and head back to where I came from, which is what it seems as if much Swiss travel consists of. We like good food, and don't mind spending a bit for a really good meal, but also are open to simple regional fare. Can anyone PLEASE suggest activities in the regions we'll be visiting?

Last modified on Apr 1, 2018 - 7:01 AM by Lucas
5007 posts
Mar 31, 2018 - 10:06 PM in reply to joandphil

An 8-day Swiss Travel Pass is cheaper (or should I say costs less) than 2 x 3-day ones.

A clearly mapped out itinerary is the basis for deciding which pass (if any) suits. Based on your itinerary you need to do the sums based on the cost of all your planned trips on trains, boats, cable cars etc. You can use the Swiss Train Timetable ( metable) to work out the fares for any trip. When you go to buy a ticket the fare you see on the right hand side of the page will normally be the half-fare price. Double it to get full fare. With A Swiss Travel Pass it is free provided it is shown as free on the Area of Validity map ( PDF downloadable from isstravelpass/validity).

You should read “How to choose the best travel pass” ( ain/ticketspasses/prac tical/chooserailpass), download the handy spreadsheet calculator and do the math.

Let’s assume your accommodation is fixed. You then only have 2 modest train journeys. Lucerne to Mürren and Mürren to Zurich. Zurich Airport to Lucerne is 1 hour (aka peanuts).

At Lucerne choose from things to do here listed cerne/activities.

For things to do in the Jungfrau Region see the links you got in your earlier thread at rum/topic/suggestions-for-first-timers-to-switzerland.

At Mürren you are at the foot of Schiltorn so that’s a must do. If the weather is good you will get great views of the Eiger and Jungfrau so you can save yourself an expensive trip to Jungfraujoch.

Just potter around the region. Look at Lauterbrunnen and Wengen and even Grindelwald. Don’t stress on planning the fine detail. Play it by ear.

Back at Zurich work your way through this list rich/activities.

Remember it’s not a competition to see everything in Switzerland. Relax and enjoy the moment.

Last modified on Mar 31, 2018 - 10:08 PM by rockoyster
10496 posts
top member
Apr 1, 2018 - 7:04 AM in reply to joandphil

Hi JoandPhil,

Don't be put off that the rail pass is valid for longer than your stay - it still may be the most economic option for you - and as Rockoyster notes an 8 day Swiss Travel Pass is cheaper than two, 3 day passes.

Find the average cost/day and compare to the ticket costs to see if you save money in the end - you probably do on most days. Plus the convenience of not needing to buy tickets for most of your trips is worth a few dollars too!

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Apr 1, 2018 - 12:45 PM in reply to rockoyster

>> If the weather is good you will get great views of the Eiger and Jungfrau so you can save yourself an expensive trip to Jungfraujoch.

The view of the Jungfraujoch from the Schilthorn is nothing special - it just looks like all the other mountains. If you don't know what you are looking for, you won't even know which one it is! The building on the Jungfraujoch is just a speck in the distance. My son could pick it out, but I couldn't, even though I knew exactly what to look for.

The most beautiful views on the Jungfraujoch are of the Aletsch Glacier, which is on the other side of the mountain, and not visible from the Schilthorn.

The Schilthorn offers wonderful views, but completely different from the Jungfraujoch, and viewing the Jungfraujoch from the Schilthorn can in no way be compared with visiting the Jungfraujoch itself :-)

I have attached some pictures of both.


Last modified on Apr 1, 2018 - 4:39 PM by Arno
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Apr 2, 2018 - 2:19 AM in reply to Removed user

Hi Alpenrose,

Just trying to reduce joandphil's overwhelm-ment.

For the price I like the views in your last photo the best! 😇

Last modified on Apr 2, 2018 - 3:08 AM by rockoyster
32 posts
active member
Apr 2, 2018 - 3:26 PM in reply to rockoyster

Hi joandphil,

There is also no surcharge for boat rides on Lake Zurich wef 30/3/2018 now. M now enjoying my Lake Zurich cruise with Swiss Travel Pass.



4 posts
new member
Apr 8, 2018 - 6:51 PM

Thanks to all for your help. We now have Swiss Travel passes and are trying to pin down specific activities. I realize that we're visiting in "off season". While we aren't interested in downhill skiing, I was hoping to perhaps find somewhere to try either cross-country skiing or snow shoeing. I've checked a couple of sites, and it seems as though we won't be able to do those things, either. Can anyone confirm that this is the case; or if not, suggest somewhere we could possibly find these activities? As a reminder, our trip is April 18-25. Also, at present, we are spending 2 nights in Murren;; however, it appears that many restaurants will be closed. Is there a better option for this region where we might find more businesses open? Thank you so much for your suggestions and tips to this point!

944 posts
top member
Apr 9, 2018 - 8:19 AM in reply to joandphil

Hi joandphil,

Grindelwald might be an option as it is the largest village in the Jungfrau region. I personally like Thun as well, but it might not give you the scenery that you're looking for. If you click on the links, you can review the Hotels tab for accommodation suggestions.

Snow shoeing might be difficult in that area. At Mt. Titlis you can enjoy eternal snow, but I'm not sure if the trails are still open. You might have more luck in the Engadin region. In St. Moritz for example.

Last modified on Apr 9, 2018 - 8:20 AM by Chantal
5728 posts
Apr 9, 2018 - 2:58 PM in reply to joandphil

Hi JoandPhil -

You are correct about the nature of the off-season in the hiogh Alpine regionnear the Jungfrau. . A little earlier and all the skiers would be there. After mid-June, the hikers are there. In between, time for rest, recuperation, repairs, refurbishments. However, not all hotels and restaurants are closed in the Jungfrau region. Besides Grindelwald, which is more commercial, you could check Wengen, as well.

What may not be clear is the effect of altitude.

At time of your trip, the floor of the Lauterbrunnen Valley at about 800 meters will have open ( easy) trails, most likely....although this past winter had a LOT of snow. Snow melt will cause the waterfalls to show off: en-us/valley-of-the-72-waterfalls-lauterbrunnen-stechelberg.html en-us/valley-of-the-72-waterfalls-lauterbrunnen-stechelberg.html

The webcam shows that there is no snow there now. At high altitude ( about 2400 meters) , where I took the attached picture of the Jungfrau Massif, the trails don't open until mid-June.

Some webcams may help he/ort/lauterbrunnen-2659992/

Wengen is pretty much free of snow at about 1300 meters. Männlichen at 2300 meter has lots of snow.

The pleasant short walk - Mürren to/from Grütschalp - will be open: king/gruetschalp-muerren

The clue from this is that Luzern (local German spelling) at about 400 meters might offer more opportunity for hiking or walking.

The tourist information by track #2 in the Luzern Hauptbahnhof (main station) is very well inforemd and very helpful. I am sure that they would have some suggestions for you, what ever your interests. By the way, there is no track #1, contrary to what I mentioned in some earlier posts.

I'm pretty sure that the trails I mention in this thread will be available: rum/topic/the-swiss-path-and-southern-lake-lucerne

I have attached a panorama that I took in the Emmental region, (between Bern and Luzern) near the village of Sumiswald at 700 meters in mid-April 2014.. I think it was the 17th. That year all of Switzerland had about a week of sunny, clear, dry weather. Very unusual.. Usually a lot of rain in April. Apart from the nice scene, you will get some clues about Spring timing. The grass has not greened up except in the lowest areas. The deciduous trees are flowering, but no leaves have appeared. Plenty of snow on the Alps.

The weather was more like May than April.

<<"I don't want to spend all my time traveling just to re-board a train and

head back to where I came from, which is what it seems as if much Swiss

travel consists of. ">>

'Fraid I have to disagree with you on that. It s certainly true that many people go to Switzerland just to ride the scenic trains. In fact, I'm going to take one day while I'm there this coming May to ride through the Gotthard Pass on a train with a special photographers car, where you can open the windows...that's how much people like the trains and the scenery.

But, the Swiss like to hike. There is an extensive network of well marked hiking trails throughout Switzerland: icpage/trail-signs-in-the-swiss-alps/

In the German speaking region, there are "wanderways" - ein Wanderweg, die Wanderwege, singular and plural.

This map may be overkill for most uses, but you can turn on the hiking trails . There are a lot. yer=ch.swisstopo.pixel karte-farbe&layers=ch.bav.ha ltestellen-oev, tlm3d-wanderwege&layers_visi bility=false,true&E=26 79202.02&N=1206154.65& zoom=3

Click on Hiking Trails in the menu. I turned them on to show what is near Luzern.

And, that map follows the color coding convention noted on the Alpenwild site.

While you are in Luzern, you might try my favorite "go to" restaurant for a wide range of food, from cheap an simple to quite goof full meals: /

By the way, "Rathaus" means council house or town hall. No rats. ;-)

Wait a moment and watch the images go past after you open the site.

Also, nearby under the arcades beside the river is the recentlly re-opend restaurant Schiff. No longer a hotel (used to be my favorite for years) the kitchen is noe operating at full speed with excelent local specialties. They also have a rom upstairs, indoors, wita a view quite similar to the attached view of Pilatus. It was taken from the 4th floor of that building.

if you want to splurge on a world class excellent restaurant, eat at the Palace Hotel.

Ooops- they are closed for renovations:

You might enjoy going up to Hammetschwand on the Bürgenstock Peninsula/ mountain ...see these threads. It includes a nice walk. rum/topic/the-hammetschwand-lift rum/topic/the-hammetschwand-lift-getting-there-from-lucern

However, it may not yet be open when you are there. I did a Google search for Hammetschwand opening hours, and got conflicting information. If you are interested, check with the tourist info. office in Luzern main station.

In those threads it mentions getting there by bus, etc. That was necessary when the funicular up from the lake was not running during construction.

The funicular from Kehrsiten to Bürgenstock Resort ( rather nice place) is now runniing, with a periodic boat to the base station. There is a special boat from Luzern at the boat landing next to the main station.


Last modified on Apr 9, 2018 - 3:29 PM by Slowpoke
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Apr 9, 2018 - 3:25 PM in reply to Removed user

Hi Alpenrose-

<<"The view of the Jungfraujoch from the Schilthorn is nothing special - it just looks like all the other mountains.">>

I guess I have to disagree with you and vote with Rockoyster. I find the viewpoint, the composition, and the cloud patterns in the last image ( the view from Schilthorn) to make it quite a good one. The other composition that appeals to me is the one of the trail to Mönschsjochhütte.

And,I offer my frequently posted panorama taken from Männlichen Gipfel as a candidate for a good picture of the Jungfrau, in no small part because the people define the composition.

Just my opinion. ;-)

My opinion may be influenced by the presence of the Eiger in your photograph. I have a friend who calls himself "an Eiger groupie." For him, any picture that includes the Eiger is special. I have some of the same feelings, as my image that I post with my signature might indicate.


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