Switzerland (& on to Venice) best train pass

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KCRJC
KCRJC
10 posts
new member
Mar 21, 2018 - 6:39 PM

I am normally a pretty good researcher when it comes to anything travel related but for some reason I am feeling super overwhelmed when figuring on the best way to approach booking train tickets for my travel in Switzerland (also will take the train on to Venice). I am all about getting the best deal but it seems like there a million different sites to book on (and all of these seem to have potential promotions going on at times so I don't really know if I'm getting the best deal).

Any who, I am traveling with 3 my mom, dad, and sister to Zurich in the beginning of June and we will immediately take the trip into Lucerne (I haven't worried about this leg of the trip too much as it seems fairly simple but I guess I should take it into consideration if we end up doing a Swiss Rail Pass as i assume it would cover this - but I assume we have to take some type of transportation from the airport to the train station?). We have a day and a half in Lucerne and we aren't set on plans but are thinking about doing the Golden Round Trip at Pilatus - Would this be covered with the Swiss Pass?

Then from there we are taking a train to Lauterbrunnen where we are spending another 2 days. I have seen a few comments about this but is the first class/panoramic train part of the Golden Pass worth it? I definitely don't mind spending a bit more money if the views are a bit better. I just wasn't sure how this would affect which Swiss Pass i would need to buy (if we ended up buying one) and if i needed to buy this in advance or not.

I have read that the train will end in Interlaken and then we will have a short trip to Lucerne. We also don't have set plans for our days in Lucerne but I imagine we might want to take the train to Jungfraujoch and back. I don't know much about the activities we will do in Jungfrau but I read that some of these may be free using the Swiss Pass potentially?

From Lauterbrunnen, we will then take the train to Venice. I read there is also a Eurail but I'm just not really sure if that is worth it since the only time we will be taking a train outside of Switzerland is the stretch from the Swiss border to Venice.

There are just so many factors to consider here that I am honestly a bit overwhelmed on where to start. After my initial scan of the Swiss Pass it seems so expensive and I just wanted to check and see if we were even going to get our moneys worth out of that or if it would be cheaper just to book leg by leg. Is there a website that seems to be the cheapest for this overall where I can kind of base my search off of? I just really am not sure where to start.

Thanks!

rockoyster
rockoyster
4019 posts
expert
Mar 21, 2018 - 8:09 PM in reply to KCRJC

Hello KCJRC and Welcome to MySwissAlps,

It can be daunting.

Just focus on Swiss Travel Pass (www.myswissalps.com/sw isstravelpass) or Swiss Half Fare Card (www.myswissalps.com/sw isshalffarecard).

A clearly mapped out itinerary is the basis for deciding which pass (if any) suits. Based on your itinerary you need to do the sums based on the cost of all your planned trips on trains, boats, cable cars etc. You can use the Swiss Train Timetable (www.myswissalps.com/ti metable) to work out the fares for any trip. When you go to buy a ticket the fare you see on the right hand side of the page will normally be the half-fare price. Double it to get full fare. With A Swiss Travel Pass it is free provided it is shown as free on the Area of Validity map ( PDF downloadable from www.myswissalps.com/sw isstravelpass/validity).

You should read “How to choose the best travel pass” (www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/ticketspasses/prac tical/chooserailpass). There is a spreadsheet to help figure out cost-effectiveness of options.

Pilatus is 50% discount with STP from Kriens and Alpnachstad.

Study the Validity map for what is covered in Jungfrau Region. Jungfraujoch is only 25% discount with STP from Wengen or Grindelwald.

Eurail Is not worth it for your plans. You will just need a ticket from Swiss Border to Venice.

Last modified on Mar 21, 2018 - 8:14 PM by rockoyster
Lucas
Lucas
9608 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 21, 2018 - 8:13 PM in reply to KCRJC

Hi KCRJC and welcome to MySwissAlps!

The amount of rail passes offered for Switzerland can indeed be a little overwhelming.
You can take a look at the rail pass options for you here, to see what you can choose between.

I would think the Swiss Travel Pass probably makes the most sense for you. The only way to know for sure is to plan out all trips you will make in Switzerland (train, bus, boat, cable car) and compare regular prices to rail pass prices (A Swiss Travel Pass will cover almost all routes you take except some mountain trips where it only offers a discount on the ticket price). You can find out all details on exactly what the Swiss Travel Pass covers here (PDF map and list of popular attractions). For example it gets you a 25% discount to Jungfraujoch (from Wengen or Grindelwald / Lauterbrunnen to either town is fully covered). Once you are at the top most everything is free to do for everyone.

Once you've planned out all the trips you will take, use our spread sheet on our page here: How to choose the best rail pass. It will show you how to find prices and the spreadsheet will help with the math.

When you leave Switzerland, you can use the Swiss Travel Pass to get you to the border of Italy (probably the town of Domodossola, or Chiasso). You'll need to buy a ticket from there to Venice (but you don't usually change trains in those towns).

If and when you are ready to buy the Swiss Travel Pass you can find a list of recommended retailers to buy it online here. Normally they are all quite close in price (forgiving exchange rates and the odd promotions).

Lucas
Lucas
9608 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 21, 2018 - 8:14 PM in reply to rockoyster

Quiet day down under Rockoyster? Your typing is getting faster!

rockoyster
rockoyster
4019 posts
expert
Mar 21, 2018 - 8:16 PM in reply to Lucas

Quiet day? Still in bed cutting and pasting! 😇

Lucas
Lucas
9608 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 21, 2018 - 8:17 PM in reply to rockoyster

Yes, I started getting smart about the old cut/paste only recently!

KCRJC
KCRJC
10 posts
new member
Mar 21, 2018 - 8:34 PM in reply to Lucas

I've plugged my itinerary into the rail pass calculation spreadsheet and after my initial pass through it, it seems like the Swiss Half Fare card looks like it might be the cheapest. Are you guys super familiar with this compared to just the regular swiss pass? It seems like most places I read people are using the regular pass but then I've also read that people said they don't think they've ever been able to get the full use out of the regular pass and opt for the half fare?

Also another issue is that we technically have 5 days of travel in Switzerland and it looks like it's only a 4 day option or 8 day option so I guess I would just do the 4 day option and then pay out of pocket for our train ride the first day from Zurich airport to Lucerne.

If we are traveling June 7th through June 11th, should I book ASAP?

Also, any suggestions on if the special panoramic seating along the Golden Pass is worth it? If so, do I need to reserve this now?

Thanks so much for all of your help so far!

KCRJC
KCRJC
10 posts
new member
Mar 21, 2018 - 8:36 PM in reply to Lucas

I'm sorry for the repetitive questions. I am sure these same questions have been asked a million times! (Sadly doesn't make it much less confusing looking through all of these past posts :/)

KCRJC
KCRJC
10 posts
new member
Mar 21, 2018 - 8:43 PM

Probably a very dumb question, but with the half fare card will I still need to go in and prepurchase all of these tickets (decide on a train time and what not) in advance or should I just do it at the station (do prices vary greatly?) Is the main benefit with the regular swiss pass just that you don't have to prebook anything and can show up to the train station and just hop on a train?

rockoyster
rockoyster
4019 posts
expert
Mar 21, 2018 - 9:13 PM in reply to KCRJC

Everyone is going to have different itineraries, budgets, goals and priorities.

For example when I was going through this exercise last year I just tossed out the spreadsheet and decided the convenience of not having to buy individual tickets (as with half-fare Card) was worth a fair bit. As it turned out I saved a motzah but that was with a 15-day Pass which is much cheaper per day than a 4 Day Pass.

One thing to bear in mind is that the actual minimum cost of a Swiss Half-fare Card is actually CHF240 (including the initial CHF120 purchase price) before you save anything. The 4-day STP is only CHF30 more. Plus in your case CHF30 ticket Airport to Lucerne. Is convenience and flexibility of just hopping on any train worth CHF60 to you?

KCRJC
KCRJC
10 posts
new member
Mar 21, 2018 - 9:18 PM

I'm confused on what you're saying about the minimum cost of the half fare being 240 CHF?

KCRJC
KCRJC
10 posts
new member
Mar 21, 2018 - 9:22 PM in reply to KCRJC

Also i'm dumb it looks like the half fare pass covers a one month period so I would be good on that end. Another interesting thing is that it looks like for the trip up to Jungfraujoch - Top of Europe it is 50% using the half fare card and only 25% off using the regular swiss pass. Not sure why but that is another $26 USD per person difference to consider I guess.

rockoyster
rockoyster
4019 posts
expert
Mar 21, 2018 - 9:24 PM in reply to KCRJC

CHF240 before you start saving.

That’s CHF120 for the “Card” plus CHF120 in half-fare tickets. At that point you haven’t actually saved anything - just got back to square one. After that you start saving 50%.

rockoyster
rockoyster
4019 posts
expert
Mar 21, 2018 - 9:30 PM in reply to KCRJC

It’s all swings and roundabouts.

Jungfraujoch is 25% from Wengen with STP but 50% from Interlaken with SHFC.

Schilthorn is free with STP.

If the SHFC looks good go for it.

If you are at Lauterbrunnen a very nice (free with STP) circuit to do is to Grütschalp (cable car), Mürren (cogwheel train), Gimmelwald (cable car), Stechelberg (cable car), Lauterbrunnen (bus). From Mürren you can easily visit Schiltorn if you have time. In between Stechelberg and Lauterbrunnen the bus stops at the Trummelbach Falls. Well worth a look. All these places are searcheable on the MySwissAlps website.

KCRJC
KCRJC
10 posts
new member
Mar 21, 2018 - 9:33 PM

Thank you so much for all of your help! I'm not sure which way we'll go about it but if we do indeed go with the half fare is it any cheaper to go ahead and purchase all the individual point to point tickets now or do you think the prices will be the same if we just did this at the station?

rockoyster
rockoyster
4019 posts
expert
Mar 21, 2018 - 9:42 PM in reply to KCRJC

Prices won’t change on point to point tickets in Switzerland.

Better not to buy in advance and lock yourself in. No one wants to go to Jungfraujoch if the weather is lousy for example.

You could buy a Zurich Airport to Lucerne ticket in advance just to save time when you arrive. Ticket will be good for any train that day. Try for a direct, no change in Zurich, connection for convenience.

Also best to buy Italian ticket and seat reservation in advance to get best price. Different system to Switzerland where reservation very rare.

Happy travels.

Like2Travel
Like2Travel
26 posts
active member
Mar 22, 2018 - 12:00 AM in reply to KCRJC

Hello, KCRJC. I agree with Rockoyster about the convenience of using a Swiss Travel Pass. When we traveled to Switzerland last year, we only bought point to point tickets from the airport to the first stop (in your case Lucerne) and just look around town after you are rested (start using the 4-day Swiss Travel Pass on your second day). There are a lot of perks with the 2018 Swiss Travel Pass.

While in Lucerne, you can go up the mountain free with the Pass to Stansenhorn Cabrio (open cable car) and Engelberg to Brunni cableway. Using the same Swiss Travel Pass you can go to Mt Schilthorn in Murren (also free ). Lots of easy hikes in Murren. If you are visiting Grindelwald, try to go to First for another magnificent view (ticket at reduced price). Since your direction is southbound to Italy, try the Gotthard Panorama Express to experience the change is landscape. A lot of people like to visit Jungfraujoch and I am curious as it is very expensive (but okay with a 50% discount). I have gone as far as Kleine Scheidegg when we did the Mannlichen Trail hike and saw Jungfrau up close.

I like the Schilthorn excursion from last year as it is a peak by itself and you can see all the mountain peaks around you (clearly see Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau and far away French and Italian mountain peaks, too). Weather permitting, I will try to go to Jungfraujoch and Glacier 3000 (thanks for the trip report, Lucas) this year just for curiosity, experience and compare the view from above with that from the other mountain peaks.

My goal in my May-June trip is to go up to as many mountain rides possible that are covered or discounted using the reduced rate Bernese Oberland 10-day Pass and HFC. About 70-80% of the Half Fare Card will cover the reduction in the BO regional Pass. Good deal and traveling will be a breeze. The Half Fare Card will cover 50% of the other mountain rides not fully covered by the BO regional pass and reduced fare rides at some cable car, train and buses. I hope this helps. Enjoy your travel. Take care.

rockoyster
rockoyster
4019 posts
expert
Mar 22, 2018 - 1:33 AM in reply to KCRJC

See what 1960man has to say about Jungfraujoch on this thread www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/swiss-itineary.

Also see www.myswissalps.com/tr aintickets/italy for Italian tickets.

rockoyster
rockoyster
4019 posts
expert
Mar 22, 2018 - 1:40 AM in reply to Like2Travel

Hello Like2Travel,

You can get a cableway from Engelberg to Brunni? Is that the cable car to Ristis of which you speak? Brunni look like a fair way from Engelberg.

Last modified on Mar 22, 2018 - 1:45 AM by rockoyster
Like2Travel
Like2Travel
26 posts
active member
Mar 22, 2018 - 9:18 AM in reply to rockoyster

Looking at the Swiss Travel Pass validity map, it is the cable way to Ristis. Thanks a lot, Rockoyster. I have never traveled this route yet and will hopefully include it in my next travel to Switzerland (late summer/fall 2019). My Switzerland itinerary this year is mostly Murren/Wengen areas (my favorite). :=)

I got the Engelberg to Brunni Cableway for free info from this site posted on July 6, 2017 7:18 pm detailing the 2018 changes for the Swiss Travel Pass and Swiss Travel Pass Flex for holders.

I

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