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Viator tours vs self travel with Swiss Travel Pass

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new member
May 22, 2016 - 5:26 AM


I am planing to visit Switzerland from June2 to June7th with my wife and 2 kids 4 and 8 years old. I planed the high-level itinerary but now when I am trying to create detailed planning day by day. I have following questions and doubts: Here is my plan for refrence to my questions: Day 1 reach Zurich at 8AM go to Lucerne rest and do activity in Lucerne, DAY 2 Go to mt Titlis or/and Pilatus from Lucerne rest in Lucerne, DAY 3 - Checking in Interlaken and then go on some small tours around that, DAY 4 go to Jungfraujoch and rest in interlaken, DAY 5 Go to ZURICH and take some small tours or visit around, DAY 6- Return day so Go to Airport

1. I am planning to buy 4 days Swiss Travel Pass that is costing me approx $500 (all of us covered) but on the other hand i am seeing all these guided Viator tours that cost much more(if you add up 4-5 tours cost at least 1200-1500$). I don' know if I should buy these tours because all these trips (such as Lucerne to Mt Titlis, Lucerne to Mt pilatus, Lucerne to Mt Rigi, Interlaken to Jungfraujoch) are multiple connections using train , boats, buses, other etc. Can you please suggest if I should buy tours because it may be really headache to find all these connections with kids and GUIDE will be much help?

2. I am having real difficulty in selecting hotel that are near train stations. All hotels that I hold requires bus rides to train stations (I am just staying in Lucerne and Interlaken for 2-2 nights and last night in Zurich as my flight is from there). Should I be worry about this or will it be wise if I just stay in interlaken and make all these trips from there ...looks like Lucerne hotels near train stations are all booked and anything left is very expensive ...

3. I am trying to see if I will really need internet on my phone to search all these places and train connections ..specially if I decide to do these by myself...which is best way to get data if I am in USA ..AT&T is charging almost 120$ for 1 GB of data...anything cheaper or better you can suggest will be helpful :)

4. Can we find currency exchange places in or near hotels? ..and are they taking less commission in between then banks..$ to CHF

5. I researched that Luggage on Zurich airport and other train station lockers is only allowed for 72 hours ..since I am landing in zurich and then leaving form zurich ..is it possible to find safe place in zurich it self to leave extra luggage...? should i try the hotel taht I am booking for DAY 5 in Zurich if they can keep luggage?

Thanks for your help.


Last modified on May 22, 2016 - 5:36 AM by ajayait21
7567 posts
May 22, 2016 - 7:41 AM in reply to ajayait21

Hi Ajay - Here are some partial answers, to get you started

1.- Your schedule is reasonable and can be done with 4 and 8 year old children. That will be especially true if you use the luggage transfer services as noted below. Although you can certainly take tours, you will find quickly that you do not need them.

Since you are not rushing to crowd a whole lot of things in each day, the connections will not be a problem. If you miss one, there will be another train along....in half an hour often on well traveled major routes, and in all cases on well traveled routes, after one hour. All of your routes are well traveled.

The stations have good signs. In the major stations, luggage carts are available for a returnable 2CHF deposit. The carts work on escalators and there are elevators, too.

Interlaken Ost may be the exception....it has been a few years since I went through IO, but i recall narrow stairs and no elevators for changing trains. Perhaps Arno or Annika can amplify. If true, all the more reason to have your bags shipped.

If you were going out into the countryside in farm country in some regions, there may be a mid-day gap of an hour or two bus or local train service, but you will not run into that.

I would strongly suggest that you carry small bags and send large ones ahead by rail to Luzern and Interlaken.

www.sbb.ch/en/station-services/services/lugg age-and-flight-luggage.html

Although the costs can add up, at 12 CHF per item, your itinerary is ideal for that. Only 3 or 4 transfers.

The trains from the airport to Luzern have many travelers with baggage. They are almost always double-decker cars with a large entry level with the platforms are where you can put your bags, as well as luggage racks in some of the compartments. You could try that with your bags if you wish....Airport to Luzern is once every 30 minutes; one train goes direct, the other requires change of trains at Zürich Main Station. That connection might be tight with luggage , but there are other frequent trains to Luzern.

If you want to get the direct train, and have to wait, you can wait in the food court on the street level of the airport train station and have a bite to eat or a cup of tea if you wish.

See attached screen grab. It is for July, but the schedule is the same for June.

Note that track numbers and transfer times are shown if you expand the entries by clicking on the "+" sign to the left of the journey.

Since you will not carry luggage on your scenic excursions, all of your connections will be easy to make within the allotted time....or, wait for the next one if you miss.

If you wish to take the time to get a printed itinerary at a station, the ticket agent can print one out for you for your excursions. Or, you can prit out some options at home.

In the Jungfrau Region, this map may help you visualize the journeys. The connections are obvious.

map.search.ch/?x=-23328m&y=-26224m&z=32&poi=bergba hn,zug

I have turned on train and cableway stations using the menus under "Points of interest."

5.- Luggage at stations.

Lockers are good for 72 hours, as you have noted, and then the luggage is transferred to the Left Luggage Office, where it begins to accrue a per day storage charge. Or, you can leave luggage at the Left Luggage office at the main stations. If you ship your luggage ahead, it will be held for you at the left luggage office. If they hold it for several days, it begins to pick up daily charges.

Most hotels will hold your luggage. Some smaller ones may not have a lot of space, but I have never had a hotel say "no."

2.- I cannot advise on hotels. Arno and Annika know a lot more about that. Hotels in large cities are certainly expensive.

Under the listing for major cites in this website there are suggestions for accommodations.

www.myswissalps.com/wh eretogo

Yo should definitely post a new query in the Accommodations Forum, listing your dates and locations.

If you think June is bad, wait until July and August. Those are school holiday months. Although I have some favorite hotels, they are on the expensive side. If I wish to save money, I find a village on a train line with service every 20 or 30 minutes, or a bus line with frequent service, and stay 15-20 minutes ride outside the main towns. Actually I really prefer to say well out in the countryside,45 minutes or an hour from the cities, because i like to walk on the hiking trail network, and I take day trips to the cities.

Here is one example of staying just outside a major city:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/2-night-stay-at-luzern-vs-meggen

Still not the cheapest, but it illustrates what I mean.

Item 3-

Arno or Annika may have some ideas

Item 4 -

Cheapest ForEx commisions are at banks and at the train station service exchange windows. Don't use Travelex...much more expensive. If I recall correctly, all banks give the same rate.

Most people find that using their credit or debit card to take money from the ATM machines run by the major banks...UBS, CreditSuisee, Raiffeisen, Zürich Kantonal Bank, and the Swiss Post Office give the best rates, also.

All of this can be overwhelming from a distance, but once you are on the ground, it will go smoothly. Switzerland wants tourists to be happy, and works hard to provide good services. Unfortunately, some of them, such as the luggage transfer services, can cost bit.


15779 posts
expert &
May 22, 2016 - 10:05 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Ajay,

1. The Viator tours do not cost much more. Remember that these tours include everything: transportation to a valley town + the cable car, for example. If you have a rail pass, that transportation is included but the cable car is often discounted, not free. So you have to factor that in as well. I've seen Viator tours which were slightly cheaper than doing it on your own. But it depends on the number and age of travelers as well as which tours you're considering. And most importantly: do you like guided tours or do you like independent trips? Both are excellent options in Switzerland; it's a personal preference.

3. You'll find some good options here: myswissalps.com/ simcard.

Last modified on May 22, 2016 - 10:06 AM by Arno


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