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Questions about 3 day trip...please help

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3 posts
new member
Mar 22, 2015 - 7:01 PM

We are planning our 3 day trip in Switzerland in early June. We were contemplating buying the new 3-day Swiss Pass, but did the exercise of adding the costs separately vs. with the Pass, and we think it's much cheaper separately. However, we have several questions about transportation without the Pass. Here is our itinerary:

Day 1 : Arrive at Zurich Airport

  • train to hotel next to Zurich HB station
  • Bus/tram to dinner in Zurich

Day 2:

  • Train Zurich HB to Stans, transferring in Lucerne
  • Stans to Stanserhorn roundtrip on Cabrio
  • Returning from Stans to Zurich, but sightseeing in Lucerne for 3-6 hours on the way. Perhaps a pop-in to a museum or two in Lucerne.

Day 3:

  • Sightseeing on foot in Zurich
  • Roundtrip to Rapperswill in afternoon/evening
  • Perhaps a bus/tram ride to a restaurant in Zurich for dinner

Day 4: Return to Zurich airport from hotel in morning

Here are our concerns/questions:

  1. How easy/difficult is it to buy tickets along the way at each station given that we do not know German language?
  2. Can you use credit cards to buy train tickets, or is it cash only?
  3. For the trip from Zurich to Stans, does a roundtrip with the Lucerne transfer allow us to stay in Lucerne for several hours on the return using the one roundtrip, or do we need to buy each leg separately?
  4. The way we figured, the Swiss Pass would cost $70-$90 per person more, but not sure if we calculated right. We were hoping that the cost with the Pass wouldn't be so much more, because we loved the idea of not having to worry about each ticket, timing, etc. Any advice would be appreciated!


15750 posts
expert &
Mar 23, 2015 - 10:31 AM

Hi Debra,

Let's look into your questions:

  1. It's easy. The main disadvantage is that it takes time (just a bit, or more, depending on how busy it is at the station), and that you can't change your plans for the day as easy as you can with a pass. All, or at least most of the ticketing machines also offer instructions in English, and most rail staff speak English as well, so that's no problem.
  2. Debit cards and cash are the standard way to pay. But credit cards are no problem. At least Visa and Mastercard work, I don't know about all other ones.
  3. A ticket is valid for the day and allows you to get off at any station for as long as you want.
  4. Looking at your itinerary, I would say a Swiss Half Fare Card is worth looking into. A 3-day Swiss Travel Pass is most probably more expensive because you don't travel that much, especially on day 1. The Swiss Travel Pass is more convenient and also includes many museums, but I would not expect it to be the most economical option for you. You can compare the costs of a Swiss Half Fare Card versus regular tickets as explained here. Be sure to get the correct regular prices from the timetable, and not the half fare prices which are being displayed by default in some cases. For example: a return journey from Zurich HB to Stans costs CHF 58 per person if you don't have any pass.

If you choose a pass, be sure to take a good look at the Price and Discount sections of the pass pages I linked to. It's often cheaper to buy the pass online.

Last modified on Mar 23, 2015 - 10:33 AM by Arno
15750 posts
expert &
Mar 24, 2015 - 8:24 AM

Hi Debra,

Debra said:
> Thanks for your help. I looked at the half-price card, but don't really think that will save us much. The fares are confusing though. When I searched the Zurich HB to Stans with a stop in Lucerne, it was listed as 2nd class - 22 Euro, which would be 44 roundtrip. I don't see the 58 rate at all. When I went through your link, it was more confusing, saying a total of 174? And since the whole point of the pass would be the convenience, the half-price pass wouldn't give us that. I think we may just want to buy the Swiss Passes for that reason. In the purchase options, one option is to buy the pass in Euros (which is much cheaper when converted to USD than the USD price). If our credit card allows, do you know if we could purchase in Euros?

> Thanks!

I just found your above e-mail. You can best reply here in the forum to keep everything in one place, and also we can reply quicker here. Prices for regular tickets you would buy locally in Switzerland can be found in the official Swiss timetable. I guess you've been looking at another website, right?

A Swiss Travel Pass is indeed the most convenient option. In that case you only need discounted tickets for cable cars/cogwheel trains. You don't need tickets for trains, boats, buses, trams, etc. You can simply board with your pass. You can buy the pass from all the websites listed in the price section of the Swiss Travel Pass page, if "your country of residence" on that page is set to United States. So you can pay in USD through raileurope.com/swiss-pass or in EUR (which is cheaper) through raileurope-world.com/swiss-pass.

I hope this answers your question!

Last modified on Sep 18, 2022 - 1:42 PM by Annika
3 posts
new member
Mar 24, 2015 - 8:53 PM in reply to Arno
Thanks! We just purchased online through the raileurope-world site....much cheaper, just used our international credit card.


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