Which rail pass for Germany, Austria & Switzerland

Which rail pass for Germany, Austria & Switzerland

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KnowltonMom
KnowltonMom
5 posts
new member
Mar 5, 2018 - 11:33 PM

My husband has business in Germany for a few days so we're making a vacation out of it.

We fly in to Berlin and out of Munich. I'm trying to figure out which rail pass or possible combo will be best. Our trip is 19 days. Some require reservations and some don't. So hard to tell...The options might be Swiss pass and Eurail 2 country select? or Eurail 3 country select, or Eurail Global Pass(15 and 22 consecutive days is cheaper than 15 days in 2 months and both get 1 "free" days added). I know Eurail has a deal if we both always travel together and I think through March, it includes some extra days. Not sure if doubling up with the Swiss Travel pass is going to be the best. I'm having a hard time figuring out what is covered, what is not, how much of a discount any of them get for parts that aren't covered. Yes, overwhelmed and confused. I have so many questions...HELP! (OK, deep breath...in and out, in and out) We don't go until June, but I see many of the hotels booking up. We're using timeshare points to buy the rail and for reasons to do with how certain points are used, I need to get the rail bought first and then the hotels with the rest of the points- just to add to the confusion - but that's why I'm trying to work out the details now, to make sure I get the right one and don't spend more than I need to on any of it, after all, I need enough left over for some fun!

We don't plan to get a rental car unless it's somewhere we really need it for...otherwise we're just using public transportation. Here's my itinerary...

June 12-14: Berlin (a day in each of the sections)

June 15: travel to Hamburg in the morning and stay just for the day - Taking a night train to Zurich I think. To get a sleeper is an additional expense or included in the pass? Here's a big question area...If we get the 4 day Swiss Travel Pass, this would likely start the clock on the Swiss Travel Pass, right? We'd likely hit Switzerland boundaries on the morning of the 16th)

Jun 16-17: Arrive in Zurich, spend the day there and off to Lucerne for 2 nights. (Hotel possibilities: Hotel Anker Luzern, Renaissance Lucerne Hotel, Ameron Hotel Flora Luzern) On the 17th we plan to do the Pilatus Golden Roundticket (bus, boat, cableway, train) Is the Dragon Ride included in all of that? What does the Swiss Travel Pass cover? Eurail Pass?

Jun 18: Travel to and stay in Interlaken and do the Bond Experience on Schilthorn. Is Bond World, The Walk of Fame and the Thrill walk included in the ticket up there or is there an additional fee? (Hotel possibilities -Hotel du Nord, Hotel Beausite) Again, what does the Swiss Travel Pass cover? Eurail Pass?

June 19: Stay in Zermatt -(Hotel possibilities - Thinking it would be fun to stay in the loft room of the Backstage Boutique Spa Hotel, or Hotel Continental.and do the Matterhorn Glacial Paradise ticket OR Gornergrat/Riffel Lake view. I would love input on which you think would be time best spent. We're interested in maybe checking out Gorner Gorge too. They mention an upper and lower walk. The upper would need a trail guide and may be more than we want to take on. Is it tough? We're rather out of shape. Is the lower walk an easier walk? Do you know how long it takes? Is it a roundtrip walk? Again, what does the Swiss Travel Pass cover? Eurail Pass?

June 20: Travel from Zermatt to Salzburg. Here's another big question...Would this be day 5 of the Swiss travel pass? They don't have a 5 day pass, so not sure what makes the most sense- another night train leaving late on the 19th? Looks like an 8-12 hour train ride. (It would be fun to stop in Lichtenstein just to say we've been there---A Knight's Tale/The Tourist references. Is there much to do there though?)

June 20-22 in Salzburg- not sure what we'll do there yet. I have a friend I hope to meet up with here though. We're staying in an AirBNB in walking distance to almost everything so might not use the rail here at all.

June 23-26 in Murnau (hubby's work stop in Penzburg). On our way, we'd likely stop in Kufstein for part of the day. We wouldn't likely use the rail on the 24th-26th

June 27-30 in Munich - with a day trip to Stuttgart for the Porsche Museum/factory tour.

That's it in a large nutshell - a lot of rambling...showing my scrambled brain right now. We are still very much in the planning stages and can change things around if you suggest...like is going to 3 summits going to be a been there, done that? I don't think it will be, but maybe you'd suggest something else. I think I added those trying to work out the rail pass options since I think they are extra...and transportation to some of the locations might be extra with the Eurail Pass. I would love love LOVE some help/insight.

Blessings, Rachel

Chantal
Chantal
944 posts
top member
Mar 6, 2018 - 6:59 AM in reply to KnowltonMom

Hi Rachel, and welcome to MySwissAlps,

In order to pick the best rail pass for your trip read our page on how to choose the best rail pass. You'll need to decide where you will be traveling to during your trip and do the math to compare the different rail passes.

June 15: most European night trains are included in the Eurail passes. You’ll just need to reserve for which a fee will be asked. It's probably better to purchase a point-to-point ticket from the border to Zurich. I wouldn't activate the Swiss Travel Pass if that's the only traveling you do that day.

June 18: for the coverage of the Swiss Travel Pass and the Eurail Pass check here and here.

June 19: I think it's a personal choice how to best spend your time in Zermatt. The Gornergrat is something I would visit. I'm not really familiar with the hikes you're mentioning. Have a look at our webpage as well: www.myswissalps.com/ze rmatt/activities. We suggest a few hikes including the degree of difficulty.

June 20: you will get the answer when you do the math. I have never been to Liechtenstein.

Have a look at Plan your trip and Attractions and other things to do in Switzerland. I think going to 3 summits is not a been there, done that. I would include a visit to the Jungfraujoch.

Let us know if you need more help.

Like2Travel
Like2Travel
25 posts
new member
Mar 7, 2018 - 8:37 PM in reply to KnowltonMom

Hello, Rachel. I have used Eurail select 3-country pass last year for the same countries as yours. I chose the Eurail Flex as we traveled Switzerland 3 different times in 2017. Did discounted point-2-point last year in Switzerland. This is an awesome country and has been in my dreams since childhood. Will be coming back this year.

I still need the Eurail Select Pass 4-country flex this year as we are including France. I found out that it is easy to travel with Swiss Travel Pass or Regional Pass when in Switzerland.

Since Murren and Wengen are the two places I love the most, I will add a Bernese Oberland Regional Pass this time (covers Lucerne to Bern and on to Brig to cover the mountain trains and cableways, some discounted). In your case, the 4-day Swiss Travel Pass is a good addition for your Eurail Pass though I suggest the following if you want to maximize your time and Pass usage in Switzerland. Your trip schedule will be reversed in Switzerland.

I am assuming you can still get all the Nightjet and Railjet reservations and the weather cooperating for your mountain trips. Starting on your June 15 inbound trip to Switzerland, there is a Nightjet leaving Hamburg at 9:04 PM bound for Zurich Airport. If you look at the Eurail schedule, there is a stop in Basel. Instead of getting off at the airport, get off at Basel (1 hour transfer time) and onward to Zermatt. You can either take the fast InterCity Train to Visp and transfer to a regional train to Zermatt (you will be in Zermatt by noon (still on Eurail Pass).

If you can see the Matterhorn on a clear afternoon, upon early check-in at your hotel check if you can get an afternoon trip using Gornergrat train (afternoon trip I heard is half price). You can still have the next morning to do your morning walks to admire spring flowers or go up Matterhorn if you did not do it the prior afternoon . If you are able to do the half price for Matterhorn the previous day, you can buy your Swiss Travel Pass starting on June 17 (3 or 4-day). You can leave Zermatt by noon and head to Murren.

You can use the InterCity train at Visp if you want to reach Murren fast or take the Regional trains via Kandersteg for a much nicer view (with additional train transfer). The Swiss Travel Pass will get you as far as Murren and Wengen with no additional fare (Eurail requires you to buy fare for mountain trains). At Lauterbrunnen you can either take the Grutschalp cable/train combo or bus/cable combo to go up to Murren (depending on where your hotel is for ease of carrying your luggage). Murren is a car-free village. You will love it. You are in the Swiss Alps. You can do short hikes (30-60 minutes) to Gimmelwald or the Grutschalp trail. You can go up Schilthorn the next morning it is your choice. Going up Schilthorn is FREE this year with a Swiss Travel.

After lunch, you can head further north to Lucerne where you plan to spend 2 nights. Note that there are 3 more mountain places to visit close to Lucerne that are FREE with the Swiss Travel Pass for 2018, Stanserhorn Cable Car, Engelberg to Brunni and Vitznau to Rigi. Take all or choose ones depending on your available time. For me Switzerland means going up the mountains, see the Swiss Alps. It is amazing.

On June 20th, you can go up north to Zurich and visit more local places (if you run out of days on your Swiss Travel Pass, resume using your Eurail Pass). There are OBB Railjets going to Salzburg, the 2:40 and 4:40 pm schedules do not have train changes. If you have extra time in Salzburg, try to visit Hallstatt (another magical place). If you can stay overnight in Hallstatt, visit the Ice Cave and the Five Finger lookout. I hope this info helps with your decision, Rachel. God willing, my husband and I plan to visit Switzerland every year! Have a safe travel and God bless.

Like2Travel
Like2Travel
25 posts
new member
Mar 7, 2018 - 8:47 PM in reply to Like2Travel

On another note, if Switzerland is not included in your Eurail Pass, then you need a pass that covers 5 days in Switzerland. If Switzerland is not included, in addition to your 4-day STP you can add a Single Day-Pass aftem 9AM). Have you heard about it? It can cover your Lucerne to Zurich and to the border of Switzerland and Austria while on Railjet. Happy travels.

rockoyster
rockoyster
3339 posts
expert
Mar 7, 2018 - 9:10 PM in reply to Like2Travel

Do you mean the Saver Day Pass (www.myswissalps.com/on edaytravelpass/details) ?

Like2Travel
Like2Travel
25 posts
new member
Mar 7, 2018 - 9:32 PM in reply to rockoyster

Thank you! That is what they call that pass. I think I will try using a booklet of Saver Day-Pass and the Half Fare Card in 2019 as our movement around the country will be lesser. In 2017, we got a taste of Switzerland, this 2018 we will go regional and do more hotel hopping around the mountains in the Alps and see which has a better service to offer. Choose which hotel is a good base for short hiking, offer good breakfast and half board dinners and close to Coop groceries. Hopefully in 2019, we can stay on just one or two hotels. Switzerland is a very nice place and it explains why it is expensive. You just have to learn not have dinner at expensive restaurants. I read of a place that serves 4-course half board dinners for CHF25, great deal. And some hotels offer a weekly rate with breakfast and dinner included. Will try it this year for a few days and may stay there in 2019 for an extended period of time. Hope to meet one of you in one of our travels.

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
2101 posts
top member
Mar 18, 2018 - 8:52 AM in reply to KnowltonMom

>> June 20: Travel from Zermatt to Salzburg ... It would be fun to stop in Lichtenstein just to say we've been there

Trains from Switzerland to Austria travel through Liechtenstein, but don't stop there. If you wanted to stop in Liechtenstein, you would need to leave the train at Buchs SG and get a bus.

Trains that do stop in Liechtenstein are regional trains run by the ÖBB (Austrian Railways).

However, as you are travelling through Liechtenstein territory, technically you can still say you have been there ;-)

Alpenrose

Last modified on Mar 18, 2018 - 8:55 AM by Alpenrose666
KnowltonMom
KnowltonMom
5 posts
new member
Mar 21, 2018 - 9:13 AM

Thank you so much for your replies!

Like2Travel, Thank you for putting so much thought to our trip. I hadn't even considered traveling in the opposite order and was thrilled there were trains that got to Zermatt so fast. We will be following your advice! I'm looking into Hallstatt too. We currently have an AirBNB in Salzburg scheduled for the whole time in Austria, but it's one I can cancel with no charge...so maybe we'll adjust it a day for Hallstatt. Thanks again!!

Because of the Eurail pass limitation offered by our timeshare to use points to pay for it, we are getting two of the 5 day 4 country 2nd class Eurail passes, a 5 day 3 country 1st class Eurail pass, and the 4 day 2nd class Swiss Travel Pass for while we're in Switzerland. We only had to put out $150 for all of it so I'm pretty excited. My hubby's concerns with accidentally ending up in a different country has been quashed by choosing a different extra country for each pass (France, Italy, and Czech) even though I don't think we'll run in to any trouble...it didn't cost any extra to do it. The chart was helpful in determining what we needed, although it's not very easy to find out the cost for each part of the trip. I just got the passes in the mail, so now I'll get online to make the reservations to Switzerland from Hamburg. Are there a bunch of different vendors for that? Is one better than another? Will taking a night train count as 2 days for the pass? Will there be an issue using our 1st class Eurail pass and then the 2nd class STP?

Alpenrose, We're still working out whether we want to stop in Liechtenstein, so I really appreciate the info so we can make that decision now instead of on the trip. Does the Eurail pass handle traveling from Lucerne or Zurich to Salzburg or will we need to buy something to cover the last day in Switzerland other than that, as our STP won't cover us that day? I'm still trying to figure out how to use the scheduler for rail travel. I know I'll need some reservations for some of our travel, so I guess I better figure it out. I can't seem to figure out how to select our pass in the scheduler (www.sbb.ch/en/buying/p ages/fahrplan/fahrplan .xhtml) For example, the dropdown for Switzerland says GA,2cl,1yr/GA sub, Half fare travel card, Jr. Card and in Germany it has Bahn Card options, and an area to check Rail Pass. I'm not at all sure what to select or if I select any of them, because I'm just looking for reservations, and we would like a sleeper. I'd appreciate some directions.

Thank you! Rachel

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
2101 posts
top member
Mar 22, 2018 - 3:55 AM in reply to KnowltonMom

>> I'm looking into Hallstatt too. We currently have an AirBNB in Salzburg scheduled for the whole time in Austria, but it's one I can cancel with no charge...so maybe we'll adjust it a day for Hallstatt.

You could consider doing this as a day trip from Salzburg - 2.0-2.5 hours each way. From Hallstatt railway station, you go across the lake in a small boat to the village on the other side. The pier is below the railway station, and there is a path down to it. I can’t remember how steep it is, but doing it without luggage would certainly be easier.

>> we are getting two of the 5 day 4 country 2nd class Eurail passes, a 5 day 3 country 1st class Eurail pass, and the 4 day 2nd class Swiss Travel Pass for while we're in Switzerland.

Make sure to use a first-class pass for any night trains, so you can get a proper sleeper.

>> now I'll get online to make the reservations to Switzerland from Hamburg. Are there a bunch of different vendors for that? Is one better than another?

When I travelled from Interlaken Ost to Hanover, I travelled during the day with a Eurail Pass, and made seat reservations on the Deutsche Bahn website. However, they do not offer reservations for the Nightjet.

Hopefully others can give you better advice about your options.

>> Will taking a night train count as 2 days for the pass?

If you board one or more trains that depart after 7 p.m. (19:00) and arrive at their final stop after 4 a.m. (04:00) then only the day of arrival needs to be entered into the travel calendar.

www.eurail.com/en/help /using-your-pass/how-do-i-enter-overnight-journey-my-travel-calendar

>> Will there be an issue using our 1st class Eurail pass and then the 2nd class STP?

I would avoid this sort of situation and use a single pass for the whole trip, unless you had to change trains at Basel Bad anyway. Then you could use your 1st class Eurail Pass from Hamburg to Basel Bad, and the second class Swiss Travel Pass on a different train from Basel Bad to Zürich. But it doesn’t look like that would be a sensible use of the Swiss Travel Pass in any case, given your plans for that day and the following day.

>> Alpenrose, We're still working out whether we want to stop in Liechtenstein, so I really appreciate the info so we can make that decision now instead of on the trip.

Make sure you know that there is something worthwhile to see there (and easily accessible by public transport) before deciding to take a break there.

Personally, I wouldn’t bother ;-) I read about tourist attractions in Liechtenstein from time to time, but have yet to come across anything that could hold a candle to the attractions in nearby Switzerland or Austria.

If you wanted to break a trip between Switzerland and Salzburg, I would do so at Innsbruck - a town with a beautiful Altstadt (old town), superb mountain views from town, and easy trips up to the mountain top.

>> Does the Eurail pass handle traveling from Lucerne or Zurich to Salzburg or will we need to buy something to cover the last day in Switzerland other than that, as our STP won't cover us that day?

If you have a Eurail Pass that is valid for both Switzerland and Austria, and validated for the day you travel from Switzerland to Salzburg, yes it will cover you.

>> I'm just looking for reservations, and we would like a sleeper. I'd appreciate some directions.

I assume this is for your trip from Hamburg to Zürich in the night train. I haven’t used the night train on this route myself, so the information that follows is from research, not from personal experience.

From what I understand, this service is run (strangely enough) by the ÖBB (Austrian Railways). If you are buying a ticket, you can book a sleeper on the ÖBB website. However, if you have a Eurail Pass and want to book a sleeper, it seems you have to book through ÖBB Customer Service:

Holders of Interrail or Eurail tickets require a seat reservation in their desired category to travel on ÖBB Nightjet trains. These “Pass” tickets are available at the ticket counter or through the ÖBB Customer Service at +43 5 1717.

www.nightjet.com/en/bu chung/tarifinformation en.html

There are probably other options through third-party agents, but others will be better qualified to advise you on those than I am.

Alpenrose

Last modified on Mar 22, 2018 - 4:25 AM by Alpenrose666
KnowltonMom
KnowltonMom
5 posts
new member
Mar 22, 2018 - 5:58 AM in reply to Alpenrose666

Alpenrose,

Thank you for your help. I'll look into Liechtenstein more and Altstadt as an alternative. I think for that trip we're covered in Italy too. I'm pretty sure we're close. I'm learning my geography much more on this trip. Hmmmm...

Hallstatt sounds like a better day trip for sure!

I got a hold of someone with Eurail and they said their website was having issues, which must be the cause of my trouble. I still need to figure out which train to take for place to place. I'll book the trip from Hamburg to Zermatt on one ticket and hope it doesn't cut into our STP, then the last night in Switzerland wouldn't be an issue for sure.

So appreciative of the help. This site has been a godsend!

Rachel

Lucas
Lucas
5491 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 22, 2018 - 7:06 AM in reply to KnowltonMom

Hi Rachel,

There are several retailers that you can look at from Germany to Switzerland travel (such as Deutsche Bahn). Click here for a list.

I've traveled on the nightjet with ÖBB a couple times...its the only night train service now for Austria, Switzerland and Germany these days. The route all typically go through Zurich which is convenient for us to get to Vienna or Berlin (and Hamburg which we haven't done yet). Great option to travel I think!

KnowltonMom
KnowltonMom
5 posts
new member
Mar 22, 2018 - 9:37 AM

When I look at different sites, I don't have a clue which of these to choose. For the trek from Hamburg -> Zermatt, I plan to use our 1st Class Eurail 3 county 5 day pass. Which one is that?

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Lucas
Lucas
5491 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 22, 2018 - 10:50 AM in reply to KnowltonMom

Hi Rachel,

Is this for the night train? You would travel Hamburg to Zermatt on the night train with ÖBB and you need to contact them to book the reservation as Alpenrose mentions.

For the trip to Zermatt (or the whole trip if it isn't a night train) you don't select any pass on those drop down menus. The trip is covered by the pass and you don't need a ticket - only a reservation if you want for the German part of the route. The list of options you see is for people with discount cards where they get a reduced ticket price - you don't need any ticket at all.

KnowltonMom
KnowltonMom
5 posts
new member
Mar 22, 2018 - 7:53 PM

Yes, I'm looking for the night train. I guess I missed the part about needing to call in. Thank you!

Rachel

Peterli
Peterli
395 posts
top member
Mar 23, 2018 - 8:32 PM

Just curious. Is that Knowlton, in les Cantons de l'Est ?

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