Best rail pass for Switzerland and Italy

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sabrejobs
sabrejobs
13 posts
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Aug 17, 2017 - 8:40 PM

Both passes are similar in price. We are trying to figure out which, if either covers cost of Lucerne to Pilatus and Zermatt to Matterhorn? I read that Lucerne to Pilatus was covered on the Swiss Rail Pass and it costs 50% if you have the Eurail pass. Is that right? I also thought I read that NO PASS covers the ride to the Matterhorn. I believe the Lake Lucerne cruise is covered by the Swiss Rail Pass. Is it covered with the Eurail Pass? It's really time consuming to figure out which is the best of all the choices. We are in our 70's (seniors) and will be traveling together the whole time. We are in Switzerland 10/12 to 10/16 and Italy 10/16-10/22. The Italy cost is only about $98 PP by rail. The only other thing we can take separately is the ride from ZRH airport to Lucerne which is about $30 PP. We are only traveling 2nd class. We could really use some advise to pin this down.

Removed user
Removed user
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Aug 18, 2017 - 2:36 AM in reply to sabrejobs

Hi sabrejobs, and welcome to MySwissAlps!

>> I read that Lucerne to Pilatus was covered on the Swiss Rail Pass and it costs 50% if you have the Eurail pass. Is that right?

Yes, Luzern to Pilatus is free with the Swiss Travel Pass in 2017. A Eurail Pass will get you a 50% discount for the whole trip. However, in order to get the discount on the bus between Luzern and Kriens with a Eurail Pass, you might have to buy the whole round trip in one transaction, as Eurail Passes don't cover "normal" trips on local buses.

>> I also thought I read that NO PASS covers the ride to the Matterhorn.

You can't ride to the Matterhorn, but you can go to places like the Gornergrat or Klein Matterhorn to view the Matterhorn.

The Swiss Travel Pass will get you 50% discount on the trip from Zermatt to the Gornergrat and Klein Matterhorn (as well as other mountain transport in Zermatt). The Eurail Pass is not valid for any mountain transport in Zermatt.

>> I believe the Lake Lucerne cruise is covered by the Swiss Rail Pass. Is it covered with the Eurail Pass?

Cruises on the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne) are free with the Swiss Travel Pass. You get 50% discount with a Eurail Pass.

>> It's really time consuming to figure out which is the best of all the choices.

You can download maps showing what is covered by each pass within Switzerland.

As explained in the legend on the maps, red lines are trains, yellow lines are buses, black lines are cable cars, white lines are boats. Solid lines are free, dotted lines are discounted. Discounts are mostly 50%, but only 25% for transport where you see the number "1" inside circle near the dotted line. There are a few grey lines on the maps as well, which are different for each pass. These indicate transport that is not covered by the pass.

Swiss Travel Pass coverage

www.myswissalps.com/sw isstravelpass/validity

Eurail Pass coverage

www.sbb.ch/content/dam /infrastruktur/trafima ge/karten/karte-geltungsbereich-InterRail-EuRail.pdf

>> We are in our 70's (seniors) and will be traveling together the whole time. We are in Switzerland 10/12 to 10/16 and Italy 10/16-10/22. The Italy cost is only about $98 PP by rail. The only other thing we can take separately is the ride from ZRH airport to Lucerne which is about $30 PP. We are only traveling 2nd class. We could really use some advise to pin this down.

I have not travelled extensively in Italy, but I have read that fares are comparatively inexpensive, and a Eurail pass is often not good value.

On the other hand, a pass of some sort will nearly always save you a lot of money in Switzerland, and a Swiss Travel Pass provides substantially better coverage than a Eurail Pass.

There is only one way to be sure, and that is to plan a detailed itinerary and add up the cost of every train, bus, boat and cable car you are likely to take during your whole trip, and compare the cost of individual tickets with the cost using various passes.

If you can't be bothered doing that, my best guess is that a 4-day Swiss Travel Pass would suit you. You would need to buy individual tickets for your first or last day in Switzerland, whichever was least expensive. Then individual tickets in Italy. But I say this without knowing in detail what all your plans are. If you want to do detailed calculations, this page will help you:

www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/ticketspasses/prac tical/chooserailpass

Alpenrose

Last modified on Aug 18, 2017 - 5:44 AM by Lucas
sabrejobs
sabrejobs
13 posts
new member
Aug 18, 2017 - 7:08 PM

This is really helpful. You also confirmed my suspicions that the Swiss Rail pass was the better way to go. I have also read there are a LOT of options from Luzern. We just have one full day and one later afternoon there, so our next step will be to try to figure out which one is the most amazing and easiest to accomplish for people who want to enjoy as much as we can, but also who don't have the stamina to spend about 8 or 9 hours traveling up and down mountains:) If you have a suggestion here, I would love to know about it. It appears there are several options to Pilatus, a couple to Rigi Kulm and gondola to Titlis (with a Cliff Walk!). When you can only chose one, it's hard to know which one. I have done Pilatus, but it was 45 years ago and my BF hasn't been to Switzerland at all. I want to make it memorable for him. He has a shorter attention span than I do!!

Lucas
Lucas
9597 posts
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Aug 20, 2017 - 7:13 AM in reply to sabrejobs

Hi Sabrejobs

I would choose between Mt. Pilatus or Mt. Titlis - both have impressive trips to the top - read through these links for more details.

Lucas

sabrejobs
sabrejobs
13 posts
new member
Aug 20, 2017 - 11:05 PM in reply to Removed user

I guess I am confused. I was there about 20 years ago and we went to the top of the Gondola ride, right from Zermatt. We had "0" visibility that day so I don't know what the view would have been like. Are you saying I am better off going to Gornergrat and then to Klein Matterhorn, which I believe is one peak over, to get a view of the Matterhorn. Would I also be able to see Zermatt village from there if it's a clear day or is it just too high up? Your knowledge and insight is invaluable to me. Thanks.

sabrejobs
sabrejobs
13 posts
new member
Aug 20, 2017 - 11:37 PM

I went to buy the Swiss pass and there was no place to check off that you are traveling together. They wanted chf 259 PP for 4 days. Also, they wanted more to travel to Pilatus from Lucerne: (Is this just not included but another trip in Lucerne to Pilatus is??) They also seem to want full price to Gornergrat. Again, just confused. Is the Gornergrat trip to Klein Matterhorn better than the Matterhorn peak (paradise) below?

Gornergrat

Switzerland not only has the highest mountains, but also the prettiest railways. If you want to combine both, then climb on board the Gornergrat Railway in Zermatt.

Gornergrat offer, from CHF 94.00

Info / Book here

Matterhorn paradise

Panoramic views of 38 four-thousand-meter-high peaks - a chance to immerse yourself in a Glacier Palace 15 m below the surface of the ice - Europe’s highest restaurant at 3883 m above sea level!

Matterhorn paradise offer, from CHF 100.00

Info / Book here

Pilatus

Lucerne’s «own» mountain has so many stunning sides: the aerial cableway and panorama gondolas from Kriens to Pilatus Kulm with stunning views.

Pilatus offer, from CHF 72.00

Info / Book here

Lucas
Lucas
9597 posts
expert &
moderator
Aug 21, 2017 - 6:30 AM in reply to sabrejobs

Hi Sabrejobs,

If you get good weather you can see the Matterhorn from Zermatt village yes.
Gornergrat and Klein Matterhorn/Glacier Paradise (same thing) are the nearby mountains (to the Matterhorn) that offer really nice views of the Matterhorn.

I wouldn't think going to both is needed - but choosing just one is hard! When I was there I didn't go up either mountain because I was skiing at Rothorn and got good views from there. Gornergrat seems more popular (at least via member comments here) and people are always happy they went up!

You get both Zermatt mountains mentioned above at 50% off with the Swiss Travel Pass (check validity here).

Mt. Pilatus is definitely free with the Swiss Travel Pass. Don't worry about buying tickets now for Gornergrat or Klein Matterhorn - buy when you are there (as long as the weather looks good!).

I am a little confused at the traveling together comments you made - the Swiss Travel Pass is an individual product - each adult needs to buy one.

I hope that clears things up? Let us know if you have more questions!

Lucas

sabrejobs
sabrejobs
13 posts
new member
Aug 22, 2017 - 7:06 PM in reply to Lucas

Thanks, Lucas. I did find out that the 2 people traveling together discounted ended in 2015. I will look at the Pilatus and Titlis links and make a decision from there. I did see on You Tube on the 10 most DANGEROUS and EXTREME railroads in the world (top 10), that Pilatus has a VERY steep pitch. I think they may not work for my BF, but here's the link if you would like to see it. www.youtube.com/watch?v=gV79eObat24 I think 2 on this list are in Switzerland.

Thanks for letting me know there's a 50% discount with the Swiss rail pass on both options in Zermatt. I had heard that the one to Klein Matterhorn was not discounted. I think Gornergrat may be the one, but just not sure yet....need to read what your links say. Much appreciated....Cheryl

Lucas
Lucas
9597 posts
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moderator
Aug 23, 2017 - 6:02 AM in reply to sabrejobs

No problem Cheryl,

Yes, Pilatus is very steep! I wouldn't say it is dangerous (but definitely extreme!) and it is very popular.

At least you aren't in the air like on the Titlis cable car...That may be worse for your bf?

sabrejobs
sabrejobs
13 posts
new member
Aug 23, 2017 - 2:26 PM in reply to Lucas

I hope I can ask another question. I am concerned that I won't find the connecting trains. I think in Visp I will be okay. Domodossola may be fine, too, depending on the size of the station. I know when we take trains here, the beginning and end of the line stations are the only ones known. It's up to you to know which one will stop at your desired station. When in Italy, we have to connect via MILAN, a VERY large station. How do people figure out, say, in 7 minutes, where their next train is leaving from? This is causing anxiety. I believe we will get through it, but I don't know which stations are the end of the line for the stops we want. I am not sure if any of the connecting trains from Luzern to Zermatt are as big as Milan. I hope not. Are there porters at each of these stations that can help you get to the next stop? If not, is there an easy way to figure out which platform to go to next? I went into the rail station at Rome ONCE and waited over 30 mins. in line to get info...had to give it up and take a taxi. We had NO CLUE how to read the "billboard" that was posting train departures.

Lucas
Lucas
9597 posts
expert &
moderator
Aug 23, 2017 - 5:14 PM in reply to sabrejobs

Yes, I agree reading those departure billboards at train stations can be a bit daunting at first.

In Switzerland you can use the Swiss timetable here to plan your trip. The timetable will tell you which track you are arriving on and which track your connecting train is leaving from.

This way at least you know you are heading for track 22 (for example) and need to follow signs for track 22 (there will be a sign saying "tracks 18 - 25 -->"

You can also download the Swiss railways app for Apple and Android. If you don't need to go to the "Billboard" at the station but can go straight to the track you want it will save a lot of time.

Zurich railway station is quite big and a bit of a maze - do you have a connection scheduled there? If you have more than 15 minutes it shouldn't be a problem (ask someone if you are lost).

As a local I would need at least 7-8-minutes to connect in Zurich if I am going from a street level track (1-18) to a some lower lever tracks (19 - 44). If it is track 5 to track 15 it would only take 3 or 4 minutes but you have to hurry.

They usually won't give you a 5 minute connection in a station like Zurich though. Also, if you have a Swiss Travel Pass you can take the next train going to your destination. Often this means a wait of 15 to 30 minutes.

Lucas

sabrejobs
sabrejobs
13 posts
new member
Aug 23, 2017 - 6:11 PM

I don't have an iphone, but I am taking an ipad. I went online through and apple app store and neither has myswitzerland.com (official Swiss Rail site) app or anything that looks like the right app. I thought I saw SBB mobile app. That seems to be the one since it gives you live timetables. We are taking the non stop train from ZRH airport directly to Luzern. We don't have to go through Zurich, from what I read. About every 3rd train from the airport to Lucerne is direct. We haven't had time yet to try to figure out how to use our phones overseas. I have a Tracfone and my BF is on Metro PCS....neither is great for overseas. We may get a throw away phone at the airport...one more problem. I was a travel agent for 17 years (30 years ago). I can't imagine what other people my age do who are neither computer oriented, ipad oriented, int'l phone oriented or anything else.....crazy world!

Removed user
Removed user
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Aug 24, 2017 - 4:21 AM in reply to sabrejobs

>> I went online through and apple app store and neither has myswitzerland.com (official Swiss Rail site) app or anything that looks like the right app.

MySwitzerland is not the official Swiss Rail site, it is the Swiss Tourism site. They have a lot of apps, but they are related to sightseeing, activities, accommodation etc, not transport. You can see what apps they offer here:

www.myswitzerland.com/ en-au/apps-panoramas.html

>> I thought I saw SBB mobile app. That seems to be the one since it gives you live timetables.

Yes, the SBB App is what you need. If you want to use it while you are out and about, you will need your own Wi-fi access.

>> We haven't had time yet to try to figure out how to use our phones overseas. I have a Tracfone and my BF is on Metro PCS....neither is great for overseas. We may get a throw away phone at the airport...one more problem.

I'm afraid the descriptions of your phones don't mean anything to me. The simplest solution, if your needs are more likely to be internet access and using apps, rather than making phone calls, is the Travellers WiFi. There is information here that might assist:

www.myswissalps.com/si mcard

>> I was a travel agent for 17 years (30 years ago). I can't imagine what other people my age do who are neither computer oriented, ipad oriented, int'l phone oriented or anything else.....crazy world!

Well, they just do what we all did 30 years ago ;-) Mostly that means using guide books and travel agents rather than asking questions on forums and doing it all yourself! And phoning home from public phones! At least there is direct dialling now, unlike in the 70s, when you had to go to a post-office and enlist the assistance of a telephonist to make an international call!!

Alpenrose

Last modified on Aug 24, 2017 - 4:24 AM by Removed user
Lucas
Lucas
9597 posts
expert &
moderator
Aug 24, 2017 - 8:13 AM in reply to sabrejobs

Hi Sabrejobs,

Now that you mention your old profession....Is your name related to the Sabre airline system?

Yes, the SBB App is what you want. It can let you find live timetables - it is exactly what you need.

I would definitely recommend Traveler's WiFi so you can use your ipad all around the country as Alpenrose mentioned. It is really easy to order and pick up/ drop off when you are in Switzerland. It is slightly larger than a credit card! Read about it here.

Lucas

Arno
Arno
11354 posts
expert &
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Aug 25, 2017 - 10:09 AM

You'll find a list of useful apps and websites here: www.myswissalps.com/ab outswitzerland/practic al/websites

sabrejobs
sabrejobs
13 posts
new member
Aug 25, 2017 - 2:00 PM in reply to Lucas

Thanks, Lucas and Arno. The SBB app. is the lifeline I was hoping for. I downloaded it and did a test run. It tells you exactly what platform your train leaves from TWO MONTHS from now and what platform the next train leaves from. I can't tell you how much that reduced my stress level. You both have been so helpful. I am really grateful. Now I can relax and enjoy the final planning of the trip.

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