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Swiss Travel Pass vs Swiss Half Fare Card

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Shroffchetan
Shroffchetan
104 posts
active member
May 21, 2020 - 2:41 PM

I shall give a bit of background about myself. I am 45 years old and shall travel with my wife and son (15 years). I visited Switzerland in May 2017 for 8 days. I stayed in Interlaken for 7 days and Zurich for 1 day. I visited all major attractions like Rheinfall, Mt Titlis, Jungfraujoch, Ballenberg Open Museum, Cheese factory at Gruyers, Cailler Chocolate factory, Chateau De Chillon, Zermatt (Gornergrat).

After completing my trip we realized 8 days are too short and we should at least visit for 10 days again. We shall visit in May (whether 2021 or 2022 - Coronavirus and my business permitting). We won’t be able to hike much since we shall visit in May. (For hiking we may have too come one more time!). But we plan to visit Lugano, Lucern (mount Pilatus), Bernese Oberland (Grindelwald, Wengen Murren, Shilthorn, Grindelwald First, Lauterbrunnen), Bern, Lake Geneva region. I plan to have 3 bases - Luzern, Interlaken and Lugano

In my last visit we bought 8 days Swiss Travel Pass (STP) and I am a big fan of STP due to its convenience.

But now STP is becoming expensive every year and many attractions which were covered earlier are now 50% off like Shilthorn, Mount Pilatus etc.

So I am evaluating between STP and Swiss Half Fare Card (SHF). I am posting a lot of questions. I am numbering them just for convenience.

Q1. What is your prima facie opinion - whether STP or SHF

Q2. In many cities like Interlaken, Luzern, if you are staying, you get visitor card and within city travel is free. But what happens when you reach city train station and going to your hotel by local public transport like bus or tram, whether you are required to pay till you reach your hotel / apartment. If you book apartment from booking.com, whether you still get visitor card, if hotel / apartment charges city tax

Q3. If you are visiting any city and not staying in that city, whether day pass for public transport is available

Q4. When you are buying train ticket on SBB website, it shows half fare (assuming you are having SHF) and many fares for different timed train. But when you are buying ticket, it does not show any specific time and shows date. Does it mean you can take any train on that date

Q5. I could see that you can buy tickets from SBB app and it allows credit card etc. Do you have an option of cash wallet also which will be convenient for buying tickets. This will save hassle of putting card numbers, dates and CVV

Q6. Do you mean half fare card means half fare on all train tickets, lake cruise, attractions, local public transport etc. Are there any exceptions

Q7. Instead of Bernina Express, If I take normal train and complete the journey, is it doable. How I can travel from Tirano to Lugano in this case

Q8 Any easy hiking trail open in May

Thank you for your patience and advise

Ildiko
Ildiko
948 posts
top member &
moderator
May 21, 2020 - 7:26 PM in reply to Shroffchetan

Hi Shroffchetan,

how great that you are planning to come back to Switzerland. I can totally understand that 8 days wasn't enough, there are so many things to see and visit here.

Thanks for the background info. Have you already seen our calculation spreadsheet? You'll also find a guide, how to choose your train pass: www.myswissalps.com/train/ticketspasses/practical/chooserailpass. Without calculation it is very difficult to choose between the passes.

Q2: Yes, you get the free transport cards at the hotel reception, so if you are using public transportation before the check-in, you need to pay for that. Apartments usually do not give any frer transportation cards. I've received only from hotels and campgrounds so far.

Q3: Yes, you can buy a day pass or single tickets if you do not have any pass for Public transportation within the cities.

Q4: Yes, the SBB timetable shows half-fare prices by default. The differences are because there are also Supersaver tickets (www.myswissalps.com/traintickets/switzerland). If you buy a Supersaver ticket then you need to travel on that specific train (date and time are given) - meaning if you are late, you lose your ticket. If you buy a normal ticket with your Swiss Half Fare Card, you can travel anytime on that specific day.

Q5: I am not sure I understand your question. You do not need to type in your card details every time, just once. Even if you buy tickets for several different times.

Q6: You can see the validity of the Swiss Half Fare Card here: www.myswissalps.com/swisshalffarecard/validity. In general buses, trains, boats (except thematic ones like dinner cruises), mountain transport are discounted by 50%. But you do not get any discounts on tourist attractions like museums or castles. Just to be able to compare; here is the validity map of the Swiss Travel Pass: www.myswissalps.com/wisstravelpass/validity and here you can see the list of the museums where you can enter for free or at a discounted price if you have the Swiss Travel Pass: www.myswissalps.com/swisstravelpass/details.

Q7: You can get there in 4 hours by normal trains. Please use the timetable (www.myswissalps.com/timetable) to choose the best train for your trip. Also check this one: www.myswissalps.com/berninaexpress under "Regular trains versus Bernina Express".

Q8: High altitude hiking routes will be still closed in May because of the snow. But you have still plenty of opportunites to hike. Where would you like to hike? Which area? You can find hiking routes at www.myswissalps.com/hiking (use for example the filter called "Terrain type" and choose "Valley")

I hope this helps,

Ildiko

Also check these:

Victoria
Victoria
56 posts
active member
May 21, 2020 - 10:32 PM in reply to Shroffchetan

Q7 - The Bernina Express bus is the most direct connection between Tirano to Lugano. It runs once per day departing around 2:00pm from memory.

1960man
1960man
2671 posts
top member
May 21, 2020 - 11:25 PM

Q1. What is your prima facie opinion - whether STP or SHF

A: I have an annual half fare card but that's because I often visit Switzerland more than once a year and generally travel on the main line rail, bus and boat routes and don't visit too many of the 'tourist trap' destinations. I would recommend the STP for your type of holiday.

Q2. But what happens when you reach city train station and going to your hotel by local public transport like bus or tram,

A: concur with ildiko. You won't get the 'free card' until you book into your accommodation.

WARNING: you must study carefully and/or be prepared for disappointment: a few city travel cards issued by hotels in main cities give useful free travel, but many 'guest cards' issued are of little value, for example offering a free coffee but only if you have purchased a very expensive meal.

EXAMPLE: In February 2020 we were issued with a lovely glossy guest card at a hotel near Klosters, part of the 'Davos-Klosters' area. It looked great until in the small print we saw that free local train travel was only available if the guest card is issued by a hotel in Davos! It turned out that we could hardly use any of the so called 'special offers/reductions'

Q3. If you are visiting any city and not staying in that city, whether day pass for public transport is available

A: most large towns and cities across the whole of Europe (and beyond) with comprehensive public transport networks offer some sort of 1 day or 24 hour pass (or reduced cost multi journey card). It doesn't matter one bit where you arrive from

Q4. When you are buying train ticket on SBB website, it shows half fare (assuming you are having SHF) and many fares for different timed train. But when you are buying ticket, it does not show any specific time and shows date. Does it mean you can take any train on that date

SHF gives you the flexibility to purchase a half fare ordinary point to point ticket at any time, right up to 30 seconds before a train leaves (I've done that a few times...) I normally use platform ticket machines.

Q6. Do you mean half fare card means half fare on all train tickets, lake cruise, attractions, local public transport etc. Are there any exceptions

No attractions included, SHF is essentially a transport discount card (see also my comment above)

Q7. Instead of Bernina Express, If I take normal train and complete the journey, is it doable. How I can travel from Tirano to Lugano in this case

The Tirano - Lugano bus is the only way. It is a fairly recent invention to cater for the increasing number of tour groups from outside Europe, in the past all tourists tended to go to Tirano and back both ways on the Bernina railway. Both ways on the train can be nicer than having to use a bus.

Q8 Any easy hiking trail open in May

Loads. I have visited Switzerland almost every year at the Easter holiday time and have done many long hikes even up to higher altitudes - if you mainly stay in valleys. A good way to hike in Switzerland is to take a train to a station, get off and walk back, or walk on to the next station. This can be done all over Switzerland

1960man
1960man
2671 posts
top member
May 21, 2020 - 11:32 PM in reply to Ildiko

re Q2

We received the Appenzeller Card from a detached chalet rental a few years ago

Shroffchetan
Shroffchetan
104 posts
active member
May 22, 2020 - 5:09 AM

Thanks for detailed information

Q5: Regarding on arrival in train and going to accommodation, I was reading Bern website. It said your booking reservation can serve as public transport ticket. I shall just check for other places as well

Anna
Anna
822 posts
top member &
moderator
May 22, 2020 - 6:11 AM in reply to Shroffchetan

Hi Schroffchetan,

I checked the website and yes you are right.

"No need to worry about a transfer ticket on the day of your arrival, either: your hotel booking confirmation is all you need to get from the train station or BERN Airport into the city "

So you are good as long as you have your hotel booking/ reservation details. It might not be the same in for other cities though, and it's best to always ask your hotels or hosts directly.

www.myswissalps.com/bern/travel

Regards,

Anna

Last modified on May 22, 2020 - 2:46 PM by Annika

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