Aug 19, 2011 - 5:20 PM
I am from the United States and am planning a trip with my partner with this five-day itinerary:
16 September: Paris (Gare du Nord) to Grindelwald
17-19 September: Exploring Bernese Oberland
20 September (or late on 19 September, if necessary to make our flight): Grindelwald to Geneva
This will be our first trip to Switzerland. We will be staying at a hotel in Grindelwald for the entire time. We like to hike/trek and think First to Bachalpsee, Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg, and Lauterbrunnen to Trommelbach Falls might be places we'd enjoy visiting and good beginnings to longer hikes. We're also hoping to visit Wengen, Grimmelwald, and Mürren for lunch and relaxing walks. We're open to other suggestions, as well.
I have four questions I'm hoping someone with Swiss transportation experience might be able to help me with. Thank you in advance for your patience in reading this long post!
1) What Passes should we buy? I know everyone asks this, but it truly is confusing to try the calculations! The 3-day Swiss Saver Flexi Pass (bought in advance for US$228/person) appears to take us from the Swiss border to Grindelwald and back to Geneva for our flight out for free using two of our free days. Would the third day be of use in Bernese Oberland? Or, from Grindelwald, is there little free transport available with the Pass if we're staying up in the mountain towns/areas? If that is the case, is the slightly cheaper Swiss Card (US$205/person) just as good since it still offers 50% discounts on the mountain transport?
Another option: Are we better off buying a Bernese Oberland Regional Pass with the 2-for-1 special 7-day pass (only available to purchase in CHF, correct?) at ~US$147/person? If so, what is the most economical way to get from Paris to Grindelwald and Grindelwald to Geneva?
2) If we do get a Swiss Pass/Card, do we have to book a Paris-Geneva ticket with Rail Europe (TGV) and then book a separate ticket from Geneva to Grindelwald to use a free day of our Pass?
3) What does the Bernese Oberland Regional Pass cover that the Swiss Pass does not? From the coverage maps, it looks like the Regional Pass only covers four or five additional routes for free compared to the Swiss Pass; both passes offer 50% discounts on all routes not covered by the passes. Is that correct? How much do each of those Bernese-Oberland-Regional-Pass-only trips cost at full-fare? I guess I'm asking this: How many trips using Bernese-Oberland-Regional-Pass-only routes would we need to take to make the ~US$147/person pass pay for itself?
4) When should we leave Grindelwald to make our flight in Geneva? Our flight departs Geneva Airport at 12:00 on 20 September. On http://fahrplan.sbb.ch/ I see that there is a train departing 05:19 in the morning on 20 September from Grindelwald, with two changes (traveling with R, ICE, IR), due to arrive at Geneva Airport at 08:59. Our alternative would be traveling to Geneva on 19 September, staying overnight in the cheapest hotel we could find, then taking public transport to the airport in the morning. I hear that Swiss transport is very dependable, but, for a costly international flight, which plan would you recommend?
Sorry for such a long-winded post! I appreciate any help and guidance you can offer. Thank you so much for offering this forum for questions!