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Our Switzerland train adventure in January

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Tonyw
Tonyw
60 posts
active member
Feb 9, 2020 - 3:34 AM

A big tranks to My swissalps for helping put together our recent trip to Switzerland.

My wife and I just return from 24 days Austria and Switzerland, we did lots of research prior to leaving and did all our travel by train, all the hotels were within easy walking distance from train station to accommodation (3 star plus), some just across the road. The only time we took taxi was in Zermatt when we arrived in middle of January snow storm. There are several types of train tickets in Switzerland, we first bought a Half Fare Card for 120 (all prices in this summary in Ch francs), then you can book 60 days in advance and get a Saver Day Pass for 29 (they get dearer as move closer within the 60 days advance purchase) but entitles you to 24 hour travel on any train in the area of validity which is 95% of all trains. There is also a Point to Point which is between two defined places and a Supersaver Ticket which is a defined train date and time.

We saved hundreds of francs and believe we did our trains cheapest way possible. When we had to change trains we waited no more than 15 minutes most times much less and just a few minutes to change platforms.

I thought the Austria rail system a bit better, more escalators better information at stations for travelers but overall Switzerland very efficient and never had a train delayed or late.

If anyone interested can send spreadsheet of our journey inc hotels we used etc.

Jan 25: Buchs to St Moritz train. We bought a Point to Point (PP) 22.40. compared to Saver Day Pass(SDP) at 29 SDP).

Jan 26: With half fare card no discounts from St Moritz to Piz Noir or Carvigilia cable cars so we took local free bus to Surlej and went up cable car to Corvatsch very nice views cost 30 with HFC normally 60.

Jan 27: Bernina Express to and from St Moritz toTirano, just travelled on normal train, much more room all the tourists up in more expensive Bernina Express cars with more glass windows that’s all, cost for bernina express cars is about 74 return inc 10 reservation fee we bought bought SDP 29 as compared with SST 30.40.

Jan 28. Glacier Express St Moritz to Zermatt, 8 hour trip. normally costs 30 for seat reservation then 150 for a ticket (2nd class), everyone pays for seat reservation of 30 then we bought a SDP for 29 which was a huge saving 59 against 180 (121sf saving !!!) and we travelled actually on the Glacier Express train, you can also do trip on same train route but requires 3-4 train changes. We sadly also booked a 4 course meal for 50 sf, meal was terrible worth about half that cost, (live and learn).

Jan 29: Snowed in at Zermatt all cable cars closed for the day.

Jan 30: Bought a Peak2peak ticket for half price of 70, this gave us tickets to cable cars, gondolas to both Klein Matterhorn and Gornergrat, very easy to do both in one day with plenty of free time.

Jan 31. Zermatt to Murren, this trop took 3 train changes and a cable car then cog railway to Murren, beautiful car free village on mountain ledge high above Lauterbrunnen,

Feb 1: We took the two gondolas from Murren up to Schilthorn using half fare card cost 43 against full price 86.

Feb 2: Murren to Lucerne, we bought PP ticket for 20.30 compared to SDP 29 and HFC 25.90.

Feb 3: From Lucerne we took 1 hour ferry to Vitznau then cog wheel railway to Mount Rigi then came back across mountain to Goldau by cog wheel then train back to Lucerne which went pass Lake Lucerne, very enjoyable day trip. With HFC cost 36pp.

Feb 4: last day train Lucerne to Zurich Flughaven (airport) we bought SST 7.60 as we had a set time to depart and arrive airport in time for flight check in. PP ticket was 15.

rockoyster
rockoyster
8752 posts
expert
Feb 9, 2020 - 4:28 AM in reply to Tonyw

Hi TonyW,

I was just the other day wondering how you went. I would tend to agree on the GEX meal quality if my experience from 2017 is anything to go by.

Glad you saved a motzah with all your pre-planning.

Tonyw
Tonyw
60 posts
active member
Feb 9, 2020 - 4:34 AM in reply to rockoyster

Thanks to your input as well, was trip to remember, only had 1 bad weather day, trains great, mountains impressive, locals friendly, bit expensive, dinner in St Moritz asked for glass of "normal water" as non drinker my wife does that for me LOL, to have with our soup, cost 2sf or $3.20 Australian dollars, would make a litre of water $16aud or 10sf, but the soup was filling, thankfully. Impressive train service specially when changing trains, hard to imagine how much work goes into scheduling for example the 3 changes we made to get to Laterbrunnen from Zermatt, in all prob 20 minutes waiting overall.

Anna
Anna
670 posts
top member &
moderator
Feb 9, 2020 - 7:56 AM in reply to Tonyw

Hi TonyW,

Nice write up! thanks for sharing your planning details. Am sure some of our members will find this useful.

Regards,

Anna

TUKAIKOL
TUKAIKOL
33 posts
active member
Feb 9, 2020 - 10:15 AM in reply to Tonyw

Hi TonyW,

Thanks for the nice informative report. I am planning my trip in June 2020. Will request your input on the following two issues :-

1. Jan 30 and Jan 31 - I am planning zermatt trip from lucerne as a day trip - will also like to buy peak to peak pass - please advise me on the total time requirement - can it be covered in four hours total.

2. Though it is the swiss forum since I am not getting any such austria forum please advise me whether innsbruck, salzburg and vienna will be possible in four nights,

Regards

Arijit Basu

Tonyw
Tonyw
60 posts
active member
Feb 9, 2020 - 11:41 AM in reply to TUKAIKOL

Arijit, certainly you can do Lucerne to zermatt one way in a day it will take about 4 plus hours with a few train changes but be bit hard to return back same day, possible but give you not much time in zermatt and in janurary not much daylight, right middle of winter. Peak2peak is way to go, tickets at either Gornergrat office right next to Zermatt train station or Matterhorn office get there by local bus.

Re Vienna, Innsbruck or Salzburg depends on what you want to see specially in January, plenty of palaces and great old buildings in Vienna, take a Redbus day ticket be best; more mountain action in Salzburg and Innsbruck. In Salzburg you can go up the Untersburg mountain by cable car its on the city bus route and Innsbruck you can go up Hafelekar using cable car, cog railway and a gondola. Also in Innsbruck you can take a bob sled ride on the Olympic course its a real buzz, go up to the Bergisel sky jump course, think its the biggest in the world, also the Swarovski Crystal tour is a highlight and well worth visit, shuttle buses go from the main train station. So of the 3 places in Austria, I'd rate Innsbruck for action and mountains and need full day at least, Vienna for historical stuff then Salzburg. So over 4 days be a bit of a rush but can do it easily as trains so efficient and fast, in Austria you can book early a Spartischine ticket, very cheap on OBB website. let me know if you need any more info, cheers

rockoyster
rockoyster
8752 posts
expert
Feb 9, 2020 - 7:29 PM in reply to TUKAIKOL

1. Are you doing 1 day trip or 2? It is unlikely you could get enough use out of a Peak to Peak Ticket on a day trip from Luzern. See also www.myswissalps.com/forum/topic/permalink/nPcZC6DW9mqS6v8AAFcRTQ.

2. See also https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowForum-g190410-i146-Austria.html and www.fodors.com/community/tags/austria/page268/ for forums discussing Austria.

Last modified on Feb 9, 2020 - 7:31 PM by rockoyster
TUKAIKOL
TUKAIKOL
33 posts
active member
Feb 10, 2020 - 10:33 AM

Hi Rockoyster,

1. I am planning one day trip only from Luzern. That is my concern - though I have been advised in this forum only it is doable as a day trip. With two kids (15 and 7) I don't want to take any chance. My hotel bookings are done now.. which are Luzern - June 10 to June 13 , Wengen - June 13 to 16 and c) Zurich June 16 to 17. Zermatt and matterhorn I want to see.. then should I attempt only one of them.

2. thanks.. will ask there.

spaulus69
spaulus69
69 posts
active member
Feb 10, 2020 - 12:54 PM

Tonyw, sounds like a great time and I am a bit jealous, I planned a 2 week trip in Switzerland (Jan 10 thru Jan 22) with the goal of riding all 4 scenic trains in the dead of winter with snow everywhere...I only saw about 6 snowflakes fall one day when I was changing trains.

TUKAIKOL
TUKAIKOL
33 posts
active member
Feb 10, 2020 - 2:29 PM in reply to Tonyw

Hi tonyw,

First thanks and then apologies for wrongly writing January 30 and 31 dates in my query. My dates of travel is June 10 to 16 for Switzerland and June 17 to 21 for Austria. I will again ask if I am not staying in zermatt will it be better to drop it and target something else.

For austria if I will stay four nights should I book two nights Salzburg/ Innsbruck and last two nights vienna since I will fly back to India from vienna only.

Regards

Arijit

Steph
Steph
2190 posts
top member &
moderator
Feb 10, 2020 - 5:46 PM in reply to TUKAIKOL

Hello Arijit,

It is a very personal decision how much traveling is and which scenery is worth a day trip, so your question is quite hard to answer.

Regarding Austria I can't really provide any input as I'm not very familiar with the neighbour on that side.

Best,
Steph

Tonyw
Tonyw
60 posts
active member
Feb 10, 2020 - 8:49 PM in reply to TUKAIKOL

If you stay in Zermatt in a full day specially in summer yo can do both matterhorn and gornegrat using peak2peak ticket quite easily so 2 mountains in 1 day is well worth the experience.

if you have 4 nights in austria you definitely need full day in austria to do swarovski crystal, the bergiesl ski jump and hafelekar mountain, there is also mountain in salzburg handy to the town; vienna has more castles, palaces and other historical places and depending on flight time probably best 2 nights there.

rockoyster
rockoyster
8752 posts
expert
Feb 10, 2020 - 9:25 PM in reply to TUKAIKOL

I will again ask if I am not staying in zermatt will it be better to drop it and target something else.

You need around 5 hours to enjoy the two major excursions in Zermatt properly. Add to that around 6 and a half hours round trip travel time and that’s an 11 hour day out from either Luzern or Wengen. Is that something that you should do? No one else can answer that question for you.

The Peak 2 Peak is not really relevant for such a short visit.

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