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Observations from our Swiss trip in September

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23 posts
new member
Dec 17, 2018 - 6:01 PM

Many thanks to Arno, Lucas, and the many others who provide great information that helped us on our first trip to Switzerland. I'd like to share some observations from our trip last September.

1 – The Swiss transportation system is the 8th wonder of the world. Having used trains and buses in many other countries, the Swiss system is beyond belief in timeliness, cleanliness, ease of use, and clarity of information provided. Most trains have a screen in the car telling you where you are, the next few stations, where to change trains, etc. The stations are easy to navigate, there’s always a ramp or elevator for dragging your luggage, everything is clearly marked, and everything is exactly on time. Not like Italy…or France.....but that’s another bunch of stories….

2 – If you have a smartphone, use the SBB app. It somehow knows which train you are on, it beeps when you have a few minutes to get ready to change trains, tells you where to get your next train, when the next train is coming, etc. It works for the buses too. You can buy a ticket on the app as you get on, if you have set up an account online and provided your credit card. Very easy to use.

3 – Thanks for the spreadsheet in the myswissalps website. I used it to figure out our transportation costs and the selection of train passes. It worked great, saving us a lot of money.

4 – We used the Swiss Half-fare Card for the 7 days that we were in Zurich, Luzern, Montrose, and Geneva, and bought the Berner Oberland 8-day pass for our week in Wengen. Buying both gave us a discount.

As an example of the usefulness of the pass, one day we took the morning gondola from Wengen up to Mannlichen. After 10 minutes, the clouds rolled in and we couldn’t see more than 10 meters. So we jumped on the cable car down to Grindelwald, took the train into town, had lunch, walked to the cable car going up to First. A beautiful ride up the mountain in clear skies until the last few meters, where the mountaintop was in clouds. Once again, we couldn’t see the path in front of us. So, back down, grabbed the train to Interlaken, jumped on the boat to Brienz for a lovely sunset lake cruise. In a few minutes, the train appeared (the Swiss transport system is so efficient!), and we took trains back to Wengen by dinnertime. I calculated that this day would have cost us almost 200CHF each if we paid for each ticket, but because we had the passes, it was all included. Also, I know we wouldn’t have done all this if we were paying for each ride. Having the passes gave us so much freedom.

5 – One day on the train from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen, we were sitting next to a guy who couldn’t find his 8-day train pass. The conductor let him go, since he was clearly a tourist and was clearly upset that he had lost the pass. He and his companions talked about where he could have lost it. Since he bought it at the Zurich train station upon arrival, they agreed that he was never going to get it back. His friend (trying to keep the “I told you so” out of his voice) said that if he had bought the pass on-line like he had suggested, he would have an electronic copy he could print out and continue the rest of the week’s travel. A lesson learned the hard way!

Again, many thanks to the Myswissalps team!

Last modified on Dec 18, 2018 - 7:28 AM by Lucas
43 posts
active member
Dec 17, 2018 - 10:33 PM

Dear Bpascal,

I agree to buy the Swiss Travel Pass can be much cheaper and also the freedom it gives, as you pointed out on just one days worth of travel. I always buy the 15day Swiss Travel Pass flex as I visit with friends for one month it's well worth it and of course with the Flex you are not tied to travel every day. Also if you know that day you will only have a short trip on a tram for instance I pay for a ticket otherwise you lose a whole day off the pass. Best to pay a few francs and save the pass for full day multiple travel.

I do like the idea of buying online in case you lose your pass. A great tip and I hadn't thought of it, thankyou.

The Swiss transport system must be the envy of the world I think, it's wonderful!

Cheers Jacqui

Last modified on Dec 18, 2018 - 7:29 AM by Lucas
10495 posts
top member
Dec 18, 2018 - 7:33 AM in reply to BarryP

Thanks for the trip report Bpascal!

I moved your post to the trip report forum to ensure more people find it.

Indeed it is always best to buy rail passes online whenever possible. Having that back up copy is extremely valuable in situations like you describe. I can't see any advantage to buying a hard copy at a train station.

Glad we could help you plan a successful trip to Switzerland.

All the best!


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