Swiss Travel Pass 2018 review: Is it good value or not?

InterlakenViewWhen it comes to city passes and travel cards, it's usually fairly easy to figure out whether they would be worth it for you or not. For things like the Paris Pass or London Pass, they have a list of the most popular attractions and how much they cost, right there for you to see. The Swiss Travel Pass, however, is shrouded in mystery, or at least it was until I spent several days tracking down all of the prices and benefits.

A great many of the visitors and commenters on my popular page about where to go in Switzerland on a short visit are wondering whether the Swiss Travel Pass is a good deal. Embarrassingly, I've always had to answer that I found the pass too confusing to confidently advise people on. Now that has all changed, after literally days of research.

Note: This article was written in 2016 and has last been updated in April 2018.

The Swiss Travel Pass seems quite expensive at first, so it felt like it might be hard to get your money's worth out of it. As it turns out, it's pretty easy to get good value, and it'll be a good deal for many visitors.

Is the Swiss Travel Pass a good deal? Here's the short version

CogwheelTrainIf you plan on taking at least 2 of Switzerland's famous scenic train rides within a 3 or 4-day period, a Swiss Travel Pass can easily pay for itself. If you take 3 or 4 scenic train rides, as well as use the pass on one or more of the famous cable cars such as Schilthorn or 25% off the mountain train up to Jungfraujoch, the pass is definitely worth it.

The bottom line is that the scenery, train journeys, and cable car rides in Switzerland are stunning and not found anywhere else in the world. They are also quite expensive if you pay for them one at a time. So no matter how you visit Switzerland, you are going to be paying quite a bit, or skipping the absolute best things that you've come there to see.

With good planning it's quite easy to get great value out of a Swiss Travel Pass, but it might be a poor choice for those who don't like to plan ahead. You can easily do a scenic train ride and a cable car in the same day, and still have time to do a scenic hike in the process.

New in 2018: Schilthorn is 100% covered by the Swiss Travel Pass

I recently learned that the full cable car ride up to the Schilthorn observation deck and the Piz Gloria restaurant is now 100% covered if you have a Swiss Travel Pass. The cost of the cable car ride is CHF112 (about US$118) and through 2017 the Swiss Travel Pass would only get you a 50% discount, so it would be CHF56. Now that it's fully covered the Swiss Travel Pass is suddenly much more appealing to more visitors. The two most dramatic viewpoints and most beloved activities in Switzerland are Schilthorn and the Jungfraujoch tourist train that goes up the mountain across the valley from Schilthorn. Jungfraujoch is still only a 25% discount off the CHF205 price for Swiss Travel Pass holders, so it's still very expensive.

Both of those peak experiences are extraordinary and different from each other, but now Schilthorn is the clear best choice for more people. Not only is it now included with the Swiss Travel Pass, but it's also faster and more comfortable on the way up and down. You can enjoy an excellent visit to Schilthorn in 4 hours or so (or a bit longer if you eat at the spinning restaurant at the top), while a visit to Jungfraujoch requires closer to 6 hours.

Consider the Swiss Half-Fare Card instead

If you AREN'T going to be doing two or more of the long (and expensive) scenic train trips, you will get much better value out of the Swiss Half-Fare Card, which is explained a bit below.

Is a Swiss Travel Pass right for you?

GimmelwaldCowDetermining whether a Swiss Travel Pass is a good deal for you is simply a matter of figuring out which of the scenic rail and cable car journeys you plan on doing while in Switzerland, and seeing whether the price of the pass will cover the benefits. Below in this article you'll see a long list of every one of the most expensive and most popular scenic journeys and cable cars, along with how much they cost without the pass, and how much you can save.

Most people only visit Switzerland for 5 or 6 days at most, so the 3-day and 4-day passes are the ones to focus on. But if you are staying for 8 days or more, those longer passes are almost certainly a great deal for you.

Long story short, if you plan on doing 2 of the more expensive scenic trains and the Jungfraujoch railway or the Schilthorn cable car, then the pass will save you money. Switzerland is expensive, but it's worth it, and the travel pass can help make it a bit more affordable.

What the Swiss Travel Pass includes

  • Free rail travel on normal trains and most scenic trains
  • Discounted travel (about 50%) on popular tourist mountain trains
  • Discounted travel (about 50%) on popular tourist cable cars
  • Free travel on public transport in 75 towns and cities
  • Free entry to around 500 museums in Switzerland

The Swiss Travel Pass covers the fare on the most popular scenic and panoramic trains. You can choose a normal seat in a regular carriage for no additional cost, but there is a supplement of CHF8 to CHF49 for a reserved seat in one of the special panorama carriages on these routes.

Prices of the 2018 Swiss Travel Pass

1st Class

  • Adult 3-day Pass: CHF344
  • Youth (4 to 25) 3-day Pass: 293
  • Adult 4-day Pass: 412
  • Youth (4 to 25) 4-day Pass: 351
  • Adult 8-day Pass: 596
  • Youth (4 to 25) 8-day Pass: 509
  • Adult 15-day Pass: 722
  • Youth (4 to 25) 15-day Pass: 617

2nd Class

  • Adult 3-day Pass: CHF216
  • Youth (4 to 25) 3-day Pass: 185
  • Adult 4-day Pass: 259
  • Youth (16 to 25) 4-day Pass: 221
  • Adult 8-day Pass: 376
  • Youth (16 to 25) 8-day Pass: 322
  • Adult 15-day Pass: 458
  • Youth (16 to 25) 15-day Pass: 393

Swiss Travel Pass Flex

This version costs a bit more, but you don't have to use the travel days consecutively. It's a great option for anyone who won't be taking longer train rides each day.

  • Adult 3 Flex days in 1 month (1st Class): CHF396
  • Adult 3 Flex days in 1 month (2nd Class): 248
  • Adult 4 Flex days in 1 month (1st Class): 474
  • Adult 4 Flex days in 1 month (2nd Class): 298
  • Adult 8 Flex days in 1 month (1st Class): 667
  • Adult 8 Flex days in 1 month (2nd Class): 420
  • Adult 15 Flex days in 1 month (1st Class): 793
  • Adult 15 Flex days in 1 month (2nd Class): 502

Where to buy the Swiss Travel Pass

>>>Buy the Swiss Travel Pass online

The Swiss Half-Fare Card – A better option for many visitors

Far less confusing than the Swiss Travel Pass, you can instead get a Swiss Half-Fare Card, and it will be a better deal for many travelers. The price is lower and it's much easier to do the math, and the discounts are greater on some things as well.

  • Swiss Half-Fare Card for 30 days: Adults – CHF120 or US$122

What you get:

Those who buy the Swiss Half-Fare Card will get 50% discount on all trains, buses, and boats in Switzerland for up to 30 days, as well as 50% off all public transportation in 75 cities and towns.

>>>Buy the Swiss Half-Fare Card

Why the Half-Fare Card is a better deal for many

While the Swiss Travel Pass is a great deal for those doing many of the expensive scenic journeys and mountain sights within a few days, it's not good value for those who are doing fewer of the expensive trips and/or those who are staying longer. Also, the Swiss Travel Pass only provides a 25% discount on the amazing Jungfraujoch Railway, which costs between CHF120 and CHF205 return depending on your starting point, while the Half-Fare Card provides a 50% discount.

The math is simple as well. You can just add up the cost of the trains, boats, and buses you'll be taking while in Switzerland, and if the total is more than CHF240 or so, the Half-Fare Card will save you money.

Example itinerary:

  • Zurich to Interlaken train (2nd Class): CHF50
  • Schilthorn Cable Car: CHF112
  • Jungfraujoch railway from Interlaken: CHF205
  • Interlaken to Lucerne train (2nd Class): CHF33
  • Mt Rigi roundtrip from Lucerne: CHF84
  • Engelberg (near Lucerne) to Mt. Titlis Cable Car: CHF92
  • Lucerne to Zurich train (2nd Class): CHF25

Total per person: CHF601
Total with Half-Fare Card (including price of card): CHF420.50

It would be tough to do all of those things in 4 days, although it is possible. If you bought a 4-day Swiss Travel Pass here is how it adds up:

4-Day Swiss Travel Pass: CHF259
Supplements for Schilthorn, Jungfraujoch, and Mt. Titlis: CHF203.25
Total cost: CHF462.25

Bottom line on the Swiss Half-Fare Card

Since the Half-Fare Card lasts 30 days and provides a larger discount on Jungfraujoch, it is better value for visitors who want to include that scenic top-of-Europe rail journey on their trip. The discounts also add up more quickly on Schilthorn (now fully included as of 2018) and Mt. Titlis trips, just to name two examples, and you don't have to take many longer rail journeys to get value out of the Half-Fare Card.

New: Swiss Saver Day Pass (A one-day unlimited travel pass)

As if the Swiss travel situation wasn't already complicated enough, in late 2017 the rail system introduced the Saver Day Pass, which is an unlimited travel pass (on regular trains) that must be purchased at least one day in advance and is cheaper the earlier you buy it, as far as one month out. This can be a great deal if you are only planning on traveling around Switzerland on the trains for 1 to 3 days and you aren't planning on going up Schilthorn or Mt. Rigi, which are both free with a Swiss Travel Pass but still 50% off with a Saver Day Pass.

If you buy the Saver Day Pass at least 14 days in advance (and up to 30 days in advance) the 2018 cost is:

  • 2nd Class (with Half Fare Card): CHF39
  • 1st Class (with Half Fare Card): CHF66
  • 2nd Class (with no Half Fare Card): CHF52
  • 1st Class (with no Half Fare Card): CHF88

Once you research the normal cost of Swiss train fares you'll see that the above prices are a very good deal for anyone riding more than 150 kilometers or so in a day. If you are just going, for example, from Zurich to Lucerne or Interlaken on a day, it'll be cheaper to just buy that ticket individually. But if you are going from Geneva or Montreux to Interlaken or Lucerne then the Saver Day Pass will be much cheaper. Better still, you can use a Saver Day Pass to go from Interlaken to Geneva and back on the same day on the Goldenpass line and returning on the faster train through Bern, and it will still all be included for free.

If you don't buy a Saver Day Pass at least 14 days in advance it's more expensive, and if you only buy 1 to 3 days in advance it's VERY expensive, so the key is to buy early. This is all confusing, but the Saver Day Pass should be a great option for many people only in Switzerland for one to three days.

Popular Swiss panorama scenic trains

ScheideggViewThe 5 train routes listed below are the best and most popular of Switzerland's scenic train routes. With a Swiss Travel Pass, you can ride for free in normal carriages or pay a small supplement for a reserved seat in one of the special Panorama carriages. If you are going to do one of these as a journey unto itself, the Panorama carriages are highly recommended, and worth the supplement.

  • Glacier Express
  • Route: Zermatt to St. Moritz
  • Train type: Panorama
  • Journey time: 8 hours 3 minutes
  • Distance: 291km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF298
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF170
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 13 to 33 for panorama carriage
  • Bernina Express
  • Route: Chur to Tirano and Lugano
  • Train type: Panorama and bus
  • Journey time: 4 hours 13 minutes and 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Distance: 148km and 90km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF138
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF88
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 10 to 14 for panorama carriage
  • GoldenPass Line
  • Route: Lucerne to Montreaux
  • Train type: Panorama
  • Journey time: 5 hours 8 minutes
  • Distance: 191 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF125
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF71
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 8 to 15 for panorama carriage
  • Gotthard Panorama Express (formerly Wilhelm Tell Express)
  • Route: Lugano or Locarno to Lucerne
  • Train type: Panorama and boat
  • Journey time: 5 hours 21 minutes
  • Distance: 182 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF197
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF115
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 39 to 49 for panorama carriage
  • Swiss Chocolate Train
  • Route: Montreux to Broc round trip
  • Train type: Panorama or First Class
  • Journey time: X hours X minutes
  • Distance: 82 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF89
  • 2nd Class fare: N/A
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 39

Popular Swiss scenic and theme trains

The scenic trains below are also extremely popular as sightseeing journeys rather than just as transportation, but can be used as both.

  • Jungfraujoch round trip
  • Route: Interlaken to Jungfraujoch
  • Train type: special mountain train
  • Journey time: 4 hours 41 minutes, round trip, plus time on top
  • Distance: 73 km
  • 1st Class fare: N/A
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF204.40
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 128 (so, a saving of CHF76.40)
  • Gornergrat Railway
  • Route: Gornergrat Railway
  • Train type: Cog railway
  • Journey time: 44 minutes return
  • Distance: 10 km
  • 1st Class fare: N/A
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF90
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 45
  • Rigi round trip
  • Route: Lucerne to Rigi
  • Train type: Cog railway
  • Journey time: 3 hours 25 minutes, plus time at the top
  • Distance: 58 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF84.40
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF74
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: None (this one is free with the pass)
  • Mt Rigi Excursion (one-way and walk down)
  • Route: Lucerne to Mt Rigi
  • Train type: cogwheel train and/or cable car
  • Journey time: 45 minutes up
  • 1st Class fare: N/A
  • 2nd Class fare: 50
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 0
  • Lotschberg Mountain Route and Centrovalli
  • Route: Bern to Locarno
  • Train type: Narrow gauge
  • Journey time: 4 hours 40 minutes
  • Distance: 212 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF158
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF90
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 5
  • Jura round trip (Watchmaking Tour)
  • Route: Neuchatel through Jura
  • Train type: Regular
  • Journey time: 3 hours 0 minutes
  • Distance: 143 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF168
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF108
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 0
  • Pre-Alpine Express
  • Route: St. Gallen to Lucerne
  • Train type: Regular
  • Journey time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Distance: 146 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF83
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF47
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 0
  • Jura Foot Line
  • Route: Basel to Geneva
  • Train type: Regular
  • Journey time: 2 hours 40 minutes
  • Distance: 248 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF132
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF75
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 0
  • Lavaux-Simplon-Centrovalli Line (Wine Route)
  • Route: Geneva to Brig to Locarno
  • Train type: Regular
  • Journey time: 5 hours 20 minutes
  • Distance: 317 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF132
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF75
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 0
  • Three City Line
  • Route: Lucerne to Zurich to Chur
  • Train type: Regular
  • Journey time: 2 hours 1 minutes
  • Distance: 174 km
  • 1st Class fare: CHF69
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF59
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 0

Popular Switzerland cable car rides

CableCarThese are the two most popular cable car rides to obvservation peaks in central Switzerland. The Swiss Travel Pass offers a 50% or more discount, but not the whole fare.

  • Schilthorn
  • Route: Stechelberg (Lauterbrunnen) to Schilthorn
  • Train type: cable car
  • Journey time: 1 hour
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF112
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 0
  • Engelberg to Mt. Titlis cable car
  • Route: Engelberg to Mt. Titlis
  • Train type: cable car
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF92
  • Supplement for Swiss Pass holders: 46

Popular general train line routes for tourists to Switzerland

LauterbrunnenTrainThe following train routes are the ones that most tourists to Switzerland will be using. They are all free with a Swiss Travel Pass.

Note: In some cases, a Supersaver fare might be available, which can be a savings of up to 50% off the regular fare. However, they are for a fixed journey at an off-peak time, and they are non-changeable and non-refundable.

  • Basel to Zurich (for trips to or from Paris)
  • 1st Class fare: CHF58
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF33
  • Geneva to Zurich
  • 1st Class fare: CHF153
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF87
  • Bern to Zurich
  • 1st Class fare: CHF88
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF50
  • Zurich to Interlaken
  • 1st Class fare: CHF88
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF50
  • Zurich to Lucerne
  • 1st Class fare: CHF44
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF25
  • Bern to Interlaken
  • 1st Class fare: CHF49
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF28
  • Bern to Lucerne
  • 1st Class fare: CHF67
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF38
  • Interlaken to Zermatt
  • 1st Class fare: CHF142
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF81
  • Lucerne to Lugano
  • 1st Class fare: CHF105
  • 2nd Class fare: CHF60

The Swiss Travel Pass also includes free museum admission, but…

SchilthornViewWhile it's true that the Swiss Travel Pass includes free admission to around 500 museums all over Switzerland, it's probably best to just ignore that when you are determining whether to buy a pass or not. Most of the included museums cost between CHF5 and CHF10 without the pass, although a few are closer to CHF20.

The problem is that the museums are only free on valid travel days, and almost no one would visit more than one or two museums with a Swiss Travel Pass. The trains and cable cars are so expensive that the pass gives very good value to cover those, so you don't want to waste precious sightseeing time walking through a museum that only costs CHF10 anyway.

In other words, calculate the value of a Swiss Travel Pass on the travel savings only, and if you visit a museum here or there, then great. Most people are better off trying to squeeze in an additional train ride each day, and ignoring the museums. Switzerland is all about the outdoor scenery. As nice as the museums may be, they are not why you are there.

The pass includes free public transport in most Swiss cities

Similar to the free museum part of the offer, it's best to ignore or minimize the value of free public transportation. It could be helpful in Zurich, but in most other Swiss tourist towns you won't need much public transport. In fact, in Interlaken, each hotel or hostel guest automatically gets a card for free public transportation within the town (including between the two train stations).

So you might use a ride or two each day on public transport, but that won't add up to much in terms of value of your Swiss Travel Pass.

Where to buy the Swiss Travel Pass

>>>Buy the Swiss Travel Pass online



642 Responses to “Swiss Travel Pass 2018 review: Is it good value or not?”

anne Pounds says:

At your website, the price for an 8-day Swissflexipass is $363 per person. When Iclick on the link to RailEurope, the price jumped up to $429 per person. Why? I have not found the sme price twice, and every time I go to a website, the price seems to go up. I need help!

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Anne,

    For one thing, this site lists prices in Swiss francs (CHF) and Rail Europe shows them in US dollars for US citizens. Still, those currencies are similar so that only accounts for about US$15 of the difference. It appears that Rail Europe (which is owned by the French and Swiss railways) adds in the service charge early in the process, while on the main site they add it in later. Try another site and hopefully you can find a lower price. I’ll look into this. -Roger

     
SylviaJ says:

Hi Roger, would appreciate your input on my trip planner.

Basically, my mum and I will be based in Lauterbrunnen for 4 nights, we’ll be coming from Salzburg. Ideally we’d like to take a day trip to Lucerne besides sightseeing in Murren, Gimmelwald and Schilthorn.

I’m probably getting too overwhelmed with flows of information and cannot seem to work out which Pass to purchase. I thought about purchasing 4dys Jungfrau/Schilthorn Holiday Pass and then pay single tickets for all other destinations.

In your opinion, would you recommend I purchase combined passes of Half Fare Pass & Holiday Pass or stick with above plan.
thank you in advance!

Sylvia

 
Zhi Hao says:

Hi there,

Me and my wife will be travelling to Switzerland for 5 days 4 nights, but not sure which pass (swiss travel pass or half fare travel pass) we should get for better deal. Below are our itinerary:

Day 1 – Zurich airport – Interlaken Ost

Day 2 – Interlaken Ost – Murren – Gimmelwald – Lauterbrunnen – Interlaken

Day 3 – Interlaken Ost – Jungfraujoch – Interlaken Ost

Day 4 – Interlaken Ost – Lucerne

Day 5 – Lucerne- Zurich airport

Thanks a lot for the advise. 🙂

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Zhi,

    For the train journeys on your list, just buying tickets as you go will be your best option. The Swiss Travel Passes are really only good value for people who want to do at least two of the long scenic rail journeys. Jungfraujoch is a private railway and you could get a discount for that, but not a free ride. And all your others are fairly short (2 hours or less) normal train rides. The fares in Switzerland aren’t exactly cheap, but they are always the same price and the distances are mostly short so they aren’t too expensive either.

    The cable car from Lauterbrunnen up to Murren is only about CHF10 each way. If you want to go all the way up to Schilthorn and the observation deck, it’s around CHF150 return, and it’s highly recommended and worthwhile if the weather at the top is good. But even on that, you also only get a discount with the Swiss Pass.

    If you are sure of your travel days you can check the SBB.com website for the train fares. In some cases they’ll show a “supersaver” price that is about half the normal price, but those are rare. Otherwise, just buying the tickets as you go will be the cheapest way. The trip is going to be amazing and the trains are incredibly nice, so it doesn’t feel like a ripoff when you are there. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Steven says:

Hello there,

Me and my partner are intending to travel to Switzerland in mid Feb next year and the good thing here is Australia promoting 8 days Swiss Pass plus 2 bonus days free so we have 10 days/9 nights and going to take advantage of it and this is the following intinerary we plan to do and I would like to ask your comment of what you think of it?

Feb. 13 – Arrival Zurich Airport 10 AM, transfer to Lucerne, check -in at hotel and then Mt. Rigi excursion, overnight in Lucerne
Feb. 14 – Excursion to Mt. Titlis (morning) and Mt. Pilatus (afternoon), overnight in Lucerne
Feb. 15 – Transfer from Lucerne to Interlaken Ost in early morning, check-in at hotel, then Schilthorn excursion, overnight in Interlaken Ost
Feb. 16 – Transfer from Interlaken to Montreux via Golden Pass. Promenade and Water Castle, possibly Roche de Naye. overnight in Montreux
Feb. 17 – Transfer from Montreux to Zermatt, rest of day at leisure, overnight in Zermatt
Feb. 18 – Excursion to Gornergrat and Glacier Paradise, overnight in Zermatt
Feb. 19 – Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz, overnight in St. Moritz
Feb. 20 – Transfer from St. Moritz to Appenzell, overnight in Appenzell
Feb. 21 – Transfer from Appenzell to Zurich. Check in hotel & drop baggage. Visit Berne for the day. Overnight in Zurich
Feb. 22 – Sightseeing in Zurich. Flight back home in the evening for 7pm

Thank you once again and great blog you have =)

Cheers

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Steven,

    Thank you. Your itinerary looks fantastic and filled with nearly every highlight in Switzerland that I am aware of, except for perhaps Jungfraujoch. Since you have enough time to do all of this, and you will be doing so many of the more expensive scenic train rides and attractions, the Swiss Travel Pass will be a great deal for you. I envy this trip and I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic time. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Steven says:

Hi Roger

Thank you very much! I would love to do the Jungfraujoch like you said but unfortunately, as you can see they are filled pretty full, and i have to choose one or the other, can’t do both so maybe will go next time!

Oh sorry Roger for envying me because i thought you had been there before! But I beieve you will have this chance later on so hopefully this day will come to you soon =)

Thanks once again

Cheers

Steven

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Steven,

    I understand that you can’t do it all. And I have been to almost all of the places on your list. It’s just that Switzerland is one of those places where you can go back again and again and enjoy it each time. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Jeannie says:

Hello Roger,

First thing first, thank you for such a generous blog! It answered most of my questions. I just wanted to share our itinerary to get your expert advice.

Aug 13th – landing in Geneva and spending the night in Montreux
Aug 14th – take the Golden Pass train from Montreux to Interlaken and transferring to Gimmelwald
Aug 15th – Staying in Gimmelwald & exploring the area
Aug 16th–Schilthorn
Aug 17th – reaching Lucerne – spending the day exploring Lucerne
Aug 18th – Taking the day trip to Mt.Titlis
Aug 19 – reaching Bern
Aug 20th – catching the train to Paris rom Bern

Most of the time people are starting their journey from east and going to west where as we are landing in Geneva and then trying to make our way to Bern. We still have to decide which Travel pass to go for. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Jeannie,

    Thank you for the kind words. Your itinerary looks fantastic and very well balanced. Montreaux has a gorgeous location so it should be a nice quick stop.

    One comment I’ll make is that as long as the weather is clear, which it usually is in August, then you can easily do Schilthorn and the walking tour of Gimmelwald and Murren in the same day. If you are staying in Gimmelwald then it takes about 60 minutes to be up top of Schilthorn. Even if you have lunch there (the revolving restaurant has normal prices and good food in spite of the amazing location), and you spend 30 minutes in the James Bond attraction, you can be back in Murren by 2pm. You can spend two hours walking around that town and then 15 minutes walking down the hill to Gimmelwald. Gimmelwald itself is a gorgeous place that you’ll never forget, but you can literally walk the whole town in 20 minutes. It will be nice to walk around and see it before having dinner at one of the restaurants up there. After that, you’ve seen the whole area and you could spend the other day exploring something else in the Lauterbrunnen or Interlaken area.

    As for the Swiss Travel Pass, it looks like you are borderline for it being good value. If you add another train ride or the Jungfraujoch train, it’s probably good value. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
      Jeannie says:

      Fantastic :-)! Thank you for the valuable and quick response :-)!
      We are going to take your advice and combine the activities for Aug 15th & 16th into one day and do Jungfraujoch on Aug 16th. I still have one question though, Should we go in for the Golden Pass train while going from Interlaken to Lucerne or just stick to the normal train?

      Cheers

       
        Roger Wade says:

        Jeannie,

        If you are referring to the special panoramic carriages, they are nice but the normal carriages are also really nice and the views are great from them as well. If you can get a reservation for a special carriage it would be fantastic, though I’m not sure how much extra they are worth. Have a great trip. -Roger

         
Meenakshi says:

Hello Roger, this is really a nice blog. I can plan a good trip now. Me and my friend will be reaching Geneva airport on 2nd Dec afternoon and our return flight from Geneva is on 4th dec, evening.
Can you please assist us in planning what best we can see in this short period?
Also, please suggest should we buy Swiss travel pass then or not?
Regards
Meenakshi

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Meenakshi,

    If you only have two days I’d definitely recommend spending them in the Interlaken area, as mentioned in the article above. Many of the hotels in the Gimmelwald and Murren area are closed until the snow season begins in mid December, but some will still be open. If the weather is clear you should go up to Schilthorn or do the Jungfraujoch railway, or both. They are expensive but you’ll never forget them. If you don’t want to do those or if the weather is cloudy you should still go up to Gimmelwald and Murren for a look around, and you can do some of the other walks and see the Interlaken sights.

    I wouldn’t recommend a Swiss Travel Pass unless you want to do at least two scenic rail journeys, and you don’t have time for those. -Roger

     
Angelo says:

Wilhelm Tell Express
Route: Lugano or Locarno to Lucerne
2nd class not available;
Does it mean I have to buy the 1st class swiss pass in order to have acess to the Wilhem Tell??

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Angelo,

    I’ve just looked this up and it turns out that the journey is changing names to Gotthard Panorama Express starting in 2017. It also looks like they have added a 2nd Class coach option to it as well, so it’s all good news. I’m going to update the article thanks to this.

    However, even with the previous version you’d still be able to access it with a 2nd Class pass. You’d probably have to pay a supplement for a 1st Class seat, but that would typically only be the difference between a 2nd Class seat and a 1st Class one. In other words, you might have to pay CHF20 to 40 for that one train, and ride 2nd Class everywhere else. Looks like you won’t need a supplement though. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Kenny says:

Hi Roger,

I’m traveling to Switzerland in between 19-23 of December, and I’m planning to go to Lucerne and Zermatt.
1. 20/12/16, Zurich > Lucerne > Zurich
2. 21/12/16, Zurich > Zermatt
3. 22/12/16, Zermatt > Zurich
Do you recommend me to buy a Swiss Travel Pass or buy the tickets individually? Note: I’ve got one youth age 12 traveling with me, so it’s free with a Swiss travel pass (accompanied by parents)
The individual price tickets I got from the train line is 1488 euro for the trips I mentioned above and the total price for the travel pass is just CHF 928. I’m just wondering and could you please give me an advice.
Your help is very much appreciated!

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Kenny,

    You sound like the classic example of someone who would get great value out of the Swiss Travel Pass. The one thing I would check first is the price of those same tickets on the official Swiss train website. TheTrainLine is a really helpful website, but in some cases they seem to quote fares from ticket re-sellers with inflated prices.

    Assuming the Swiss rail site is showing those same fares that you saw, then the Swiss Travel Pass will be great for you. Not only can you use it on those scenic journeys, but also on some cogwheel trains and big discounts on the amazing cable cars. Have a great trip and let me know if you have any other questions.

    By the way, you might want to have a quick look at my article on where to go in Switzerland. Zurich is really expensive and there isn’t much to see there, so you might consider not spending so much time there. But if you have specific things you want to see in Zurich, and you can afford the hotels, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. -Roger

     
Vivian Lo says:

Hi Roger,

I’m planning to travel to Switzerland next week on December 27th for 3 days. If i buy the 3 day Swiss pass online today, would it be too late for them to send me the file to print by the time I leave? I don’t know if I would receive it on time since the ticket is nonrefundable. Thanks for all the info or else I wouldn’t know if Swiss Pass was a good choice right now…

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Vivian,

    I’m not sure about this. I just went through the process and it appears that I am able to buy that 3-day ticket beginning on 27 December. Since it allows it I assume that it’s possible to get the ticket. So it may be a ticket that you can print at home, or it may be a voucher that you hand to someone at a ticket office once you get to Switzerland, and they give you your pass then. So it DOES seem like it will work, though I’m not sure exactly how without completing my purchase.

    The Swiss train company is VERY well organized so I don’t believe they would sell a ticket like this and then not have a way for the buyer to use it. Good luck and have a great trip. -Roger

     
Jennifer says:

Hi Roger,

I was seeking your advice on me and my sister’s upcoming 7day/6 night trip to Switzerland. Our train itinerary once we arrive is:

-Day 1 Zurich Airport to Lucerne
-Day 2 trip to Mount Pilatus

-Day 3 Lucerne to Grindelwald
-Day trip to Lauterbrunnen & Gimmelwald
-Day 4 trip to Jungfraujoch
-Day 5 trip to Schilthorn

-Day 6 Grindelwald to Zurich city centre

-Day 7 Zurich city center to Zurich airport

Do you think it makes sense to get the 8 day Swiss pass, or the 4 day Swiss pass for days 3-6, and pay individual tickets for days 1-2 and 7?

Also, Is the pass valid only for a particular day or is the day considered a 24 hour period from the time you begin to use it?

Thanks!!!
Jennifer

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Jennifer,

    It looks like the train trips you are planning are not very lengthy or expensive. As such, the Swiss Travel Pass probably wouldn’t pay off for you. You’d get discounts on those summit attractions, but I don’t think that would make up for the cost of the pass.

    Your itinerary looks quite good. The trip up to Schilthorn takes a bit over an hour from Lauterbrunnen, and after an hour or two up there you’ll be ready to come back down. If you exit the cable car in Murren on the way down and then walk down the hill to Gimmelwald (in 30 minutes or so), you could see both of those towns on that same trip. And you’d still have half the day to do something else. Gimmelwald is wonderful, but it’s tiny and since it’s on the way to Schilthorn, I think it’s best to visit on the way down.

    These passes all work on calendar days rather than 24-hour periods, unfortunately. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
      Jennifer says:

      Hi Roger,

      Thanks so much for the info. Two last questions:
      1. If you had to choose between Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn, which one would you recommend?
      2. Is Mount Titlus worth seeing when we’re staying in Lucerne? And if you had to choose Titlus or Pilatus, which one would you recommend?

      Thanks!!
      Jennifer

       
        Roger Wade says:

        Jennifer,

        1. Jungfraujoch is more dramatic because it involves a long train ride (round-trip), but it also takes much longer. And Schilthorn is amazing as long as the weather at the top is fairly clear. In other words, both are excellent sights (and both are expensive). If you don’t have as much time and are in or near Lauterbrunnen then do Schilthorn. But if you have most of a day to spare then Jungfraujoch might be even better. Whichever you do, you’ll never forget it.

        2. Again, both of these are really wonderful. If you definitely want to be surrounded by snow then Titlus is the better choice as it’s a higher peak. But Pilatus is perhaps a bit nicer when you are up at the top. Again, either one will be fantastic. Have a wonderful trip. -Roger

         
Dorakana says:

Hello Roger,

We have a plan to visit Switzerland in May 14 to 18. Could you please help us the highlight place that we must visit? We prefer with outdoors scenic. Should we buy swiss travel pass? Which place would be the best as the base? And which hotel or hostel would you recomended due of our low budget?

Rgds

Dora

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Dora,

    All of your questions are actually answered in this other article here about where to go in Switzerland. The short version is that in 4 days you should spend at least 2 or 3 days in Interlaken, and 1 or 2 days in Lucerne. If you prefer you can spend all 4 days in Interlaken, but Lucerne is also wonderful and quite different. The article linked above should answer your questions. Let me know if you are still unsure of anything. -Roger

     
Sarah says:

Hello,

I’m planning a solo trip to my first visit to Switzerland this summer but I’m undecided on how many nights I should stay in each city.

I’m going to be using Swiss pass of 10 days I think based on my current plan but if I can shorten it I would change it.

Day 1: Arrival at Zurich around noon & go to Lucern.

Stay in Lucern for 2 nights

Day 3: Interlaken to Jungfraujoch –> I need advise here as to whether stay 1 night in Interlaken or make a day trip from Bern

Day 4: Bern – stay 1 night

Day 5: Montraux – 1 night or day trip & transit to Zermatt ?

Day 6: Zermatt – planning to stay 2 nights

Day 7: St Moritz through Glacier express – stay 1 night

Day 8: Appenzell – stay 1 night

Day 9: Zurich to LAX

Also a friend told me that driving is also easier but would you drive or take the train?

Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Sarah,

    Your itinerary looks really nice. My one main tip would be to spend more time in the Interlaken area and probably less time in Zermatt. Zermatt does have that one excellent view of the Matterhorn, but the Interlaken area has many views and experiences that are at least as good, and it’s easier to reach.

    I’ve only passed through Montreaux rather than stayed there so it’s hard for me to say on that. It’s a lovely looking city on a lake, but it’s also much more typical of things you’ll see elsewhere in Europe, while those Alpine experiences are unique. Still, I think you’d enjoy Montreaux for a night if you go there.

    Switzerland is actually a fairly auto-friendly country, but I’d absolutely take the train. If you can afford that 10-day Swiss Travel Pass and use it the way you have in mind, you’ll get a LOT out of it and it’ll be amazing. Renting a car and having to focus on the roads instead of the scenery would be stressful at times, and parking in cities is difficult and expensive.

    With the travel pass you can even make plans as you go. In some cases it might be a bit tough to find a good hotel at the last minute, but it still might be worth it and I’m sure you’d always find something. It looks wonderful. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Caroline pibworth says:

Hi, my husband and I will be staying in lucerne for 5 days. We intend to do the jung fraujock trip also Mt titles,Mt Pilates and Mt rigi ,this will be in august. Would the Swiss travel pass be o k for us, and can you use it on boat trips thank you

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Caroline,

    It sounds like that would be a close call if those are the only trips you’d do. It would cover Rigi and Pilatus, and save you 50% off Jungfraujoch and Titlis. It also covers the boat trips on Lake Lucerne. I’d say that if you also do at least one scenic rail trip then it would be great value. Or if you can do all of those things for the cost of a 3-day Pass it would be good. For a 5-day pass you might not save enough. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Madhur says:

Hi Roger,

Me and my wife are planning to travel from Geneva to Interlaken in mid of April for 3 days and 2 nights also we are planning to visit Jungfraujoch and other surrounding areas of Interlaken.
Will the return journey from Geneva to Interlaken will be free with Swiss travel pass ? And from the above information I got it I will get 50% discount on journey to Jungfraujoch.

Can you please confirm the same.

Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Madhur

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Madhur,

    Yes, you are correct. All travel on normal trains in Switzerland is covered by the Swiss Travel Pass on valid days, and Jungfraujoch tickets are 50% off with the pass. The Jungfraujoch train is one of only a very few special private trains that is offered at a discount rather than being covered completely. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

     
david says:

DO you have any thoughts regarding the Regional Bernese Oberland Pass? I am planning on a 7 day Switzerland trip: I will be staying in Murren for 6 nights and transporting to Murren and back from Zurich airport at the conclusion of the trip.

 
    Roger Wade says:

    David,

    I wasn’t aware of the regional pass, but looking at it the thing does look like it could be a good deal for someone like you. It should be pretty simple to add up the normal fares on the trains you plan to take and see if the pass is cheaper than the individual tickets. However, if you are based in Murren you might want to take many shorter rides in the Interlaken area, so it really depends on how much train travel you’ll want to do. Thanks for the info and I hope it works out for you. -Roger

     
Ankit says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for the excellent information.
Is April a bad time for visiting these places ?

I am planning to do it in mid April.

Please advise.

Thanks,
Ankit

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Ankit,

    April is a fine time to visit Switzerland. As I mentioned just above, the weather at high altitudes can be unpredictable at any time of the year, and the summer months are some of the wettest. The temperatures in the towns of Interlaken and Lucerne (and all the others) will be warm enough that you won’t need to bundle up during the day.

    The other thing to consider is that there can be fog or cloud covers at high altitudes almost any time, even during summer, but it rarely lasts too long. So you might find that Schilthorn or Jungfraujoch are cloudy or foggy in the morning, but clear in the afternoon, or vice-versa. So allowing yourself some flexibility on your exact visiting times is ideal, and hopefully you can stay at least 2 or 3 days so you can do all of the best things in good weather. Have a great trip and let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

     
Nidhi says:

Hello Roger,
I and my husband are visiting Switzerland for 4 days during early May with itenary as below:
Day1 – Reaching Lauterbrunnen from Venice(via Spiez,Interlaken)
Day2 – Staying in Lauterbrunnen(covering Jungfrau and other attractions)
Day3 – Going to Lucerne
Day4 – Reaching Zurich and starting for Amsterdam
During these days, we would love to take at least one scenic train ride and cable car rides.
Please advice whether a Swiss travel pass will be value for money for our trip.
Thanks,
Nidhi

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Nidhi,

    The Swiss Travel Pass starts at 3 full days, and it looks like you’ll only have 2 full days to use it. That ride from Lucerne to Zurich should only cost about US$25, so you won’t get much use out of the third day.

    Still, the pass covers train rides, and only covers a 50% discount on Jungfraujoch. It covers all of the cable car or cogwheel train up Mt Rigi, but that only saves about US$50. If on Day 3 you take a large section of the GoldenPass line towards Montreaux and back to Lucerne then the pass WILL save you more money than it costs. It’s a spectacular ride and I’ve done all of it, but it will take most of that day, so you wouldn’t have much time to visit Lucerne itself.

    So in other words, if you are more interested in doing a scenic train ride then a 3-day Swiss Travel Pass could be good value. But if you are more interested in spending most of that Day 3 exploring Lucerne, then it probably won’t. Have a great trip and let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

     
      Nidhi says:

      Hi Roger, Thanks a lot for your helpful response. We’ll go ahead with the pass as we intend for those scenic rides. Thanks a lot 🙂

       
Sal says:

Hi Roger, thanks for your write up – by far the most comprehensive guide I found on the net. Me and my wife with our 8 months old daughter planning for our first trip Switzerland from April 9th to 12th. Below is our tentative plan. We’ll be taking flight from Istanbul but haven’t decided which airport yet.

9th: Arrive from airport (most likely Zurich), go straight to Rhine Fall before check in to Grindelwald / Murren. Then we plan to do Jungfraujoch before back to hotel.

10th: Trip to Schilthorn before we tour around Interlaken area (Wengen, Grindelwald). Overnight at the same hotel.

11th: Morning trip from Interlaken to Zermatt before we take Glacier Express to St. Moritz. Overnight in Moritz before find our flight out on 12th back to Istanbul. Another option is to travel from Interlaken to Lucern, and take GoldenPass to Montreux. Overnight here before our flight on 12th back to Istanbul.

So my question:
1. Your comment about my plan. Is it too much? Not sure which is better either Glacier Express or GoldenPass.
2. We’re planning to get Swiss Pass. I think it worth the purchase. What about hotel stay? Should we book in advance or just find it overthere.
3. Is our airport arrangement ok? We’re very flexible as long as we have to be back to Istanbul on 12th.

Your advise greatly appreciated.
Cheers!

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Sal,

    I’m glad you found this useful. It took DAYS to research all of it.

    1. I think you might be trying to fit in too much. Zurich Airport to Rheinfall takes an hour by train, and then it’s 3 hours more to Interlaken and another hour up to Murren. Jungfraujoch railway takes at least 4 hours from where you’d stay and to return.

    By the way, the wonderful village just below Murren is called “Gimmelwald,” which is easily confused with the larger ski town in the next valley over called “Grindlewald.” Both are lovely and different. Grindlewald is on the way to Jungfrau and Gimmelwald is on the way to Schilthorn. Just be sure you are booking the one you want.

    2. If you are doing most of the things on your list then I think a 3-day Swiss Travel Pass will pay off. As mentioned in the article above, they are good value for those doing at least one or two scenic trains and also using the 50% discount on attractions such as Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch. Those two things are quite expensive but also quite amazing so they are worthwhile splurges. If you can get the 50% discount that helps a lot.

    I’d book your hotel as soon as you are sure of your dates and schedule. Many of the best hotels and guesthouses in these areas are quite small and they book well in advance. If you read my article on where to go in Switzerland you’ll notice that I mention a few specific places such as Esther’s Guesthouse in Gimmelwald. It is always sold out in advance, so booking early is key.

    I haven’t taken the Glacier Express but I have taken the GoldenPass. The Glacier Express takes a bit over 7 hours and I’m sure it’s amazing. One nice thing about the Goldenpass is that you can take whatever portion of it that you want. The section between Lucerne and Interlaken is very nice, but the most dramatic views are all in the section from Interlaken to Montreaux. You don’t have to go all the way to Montreaux to see many outstanding views, so it’s easier to fit into a day.

    Your airport arrangements look okay. One very nice thing about Switzerland is that both the Zurich Airport and Geneva Airport have stations on the main train lines, so you don’t have to go into the city and change for a special airport train. And the trains run from like 5am until late, so there is always a train running before or after a flight.

    If I were you I think I’d save Rheinfall for another trip. Aside from that I think you can fit everything in. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Jennifer says:

We will be arriving on train Munich to Interlaken west on may 19. We will spend 4 nights in Interlaken and then 2 nights in Lucerne. Then we will leave to the Zurich airport on May 25. Do you suggest we buy the Swiss pass?

Also, my parents will be arriving at Zurich airport on may 21 and spending 2 days in Interlaken and two days in Lucerne then going back to Zurich airport on may 25. Would the Swiss pass be worth it for them?

 
    Jennifer says:

    Does the Swiss travel pass include train from Zurich airport to Interlaken, from Interlaken to Lucerne or from lucerne to Zurich airport? And do you suggest we make these reservations in advance? I used the Trainline EU app to buy our train ticket from Munich to Interlaken west, but some routes such as Interlaken to Lucerne or Lucerne to Zurich were not available on the app.

     
Shafiq says:

Hi roger,
I plan to visit Switzerland for 3 days this april for my honeymoon. Will arrive Zurich on 28april afternoon until 30april.1st may i will travel to milan or venice Italy from zurich. Please suggest itenary start from zurich where to stay and is it worth buying swiss pass 3 days validity?

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Shafiq,

    I get this question so often that I wrote a post to answer it in detail. Have a look at my where to go in Switzerland post for the specifics.

    The short version is that if you have 3 days you are best off spending them in the Interlaken area, which has the most dramatic Alpine sights and scenery in one small space. There are recommendations for small towns and even hotels in that article.

    It’s hard to get good value out of a Swiss Travel Pass if you only have 3 days in the country. You’d need to take 2 or 3 of the long scenic rides in order to save anything, and that would literally take your whole visit. You’ll get more impact from doing the Schilthorn or Jungfraujoch plus some general sightseeing in the Interlaken area. Let me know if you have any other specific questions. -Roger

     
Charissa says:

Hi Roger

Thank you for your very informative blog. We are a group of 4 adults and 4 kids (below 14 years) visiting Switzerland end of March. Could you please let us know whether a Swiss Travel Pass is worth buying for the itinerary below?

Zurich – 2 nights (visiting Rheinfall and Old Town)
Lucerne – 3 nights (Jungfraujoch, Pilatus and Bern)
Lausanne – 3 nights (Lausanne Wednesday market but not sure what else we can do while in Lausanne – suggestions please?)

We fly out from Geneva.

Thanks
Charissa

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Charissa,

    The Swiss Travel Pass is really meant for visitors who want to do at least 2 of the longer scenic rail journeys and also some of the expensive cable cars or special trains (that are either covered or at a 50% discount). So it would cover your train journeys plus Pilatus and give you 50% off Jungfraujoch. But those wouldn’t add up to the cost of the pass.

    You might look into one or two of the train journeys such as the GoldenPass, or just pay as you go for the trains.

    As for your itinerary, you might want to have a look at my article on where to go in Switzerland. Most people want to see the amazing Alps views and sights, and I explain where to do that. Also, Switzerland’s cities are really not very interesting, at least when compared to the natural sights. So I really don’t recommend staying in Zurich or Lausanne for any longer than you really need to. Lucerne is lovely and Bern is the best of the actual cities if you want to see one. Really, Interlaken is where most of the action is, so you might want to consider that.

    You can take a train from Interlaken or wherever you are straight to the Geneva Airport on the main rail line. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Nataraj says:

Hi Roger,
Your blog is very informative. Can you please suggest us whether following itinerary is good for me and my wife.
Day-1: Frankfurt to Interlaken reach at 6:00PM
Day-2: Schilthorn, Birg, Stechtelberg
Day-3: Check out hotel, Meiringen, Reach Lucerne in evening, Local Lucerne sight seeing
Day-4: Mt Titlis
Day-5: Mt Rigi, Lake Lucerne and leave for Frankfurt from Lucerne in night.
Regards
Thank you

Sorry I forgot to ask you one more thing,
Is tell pass better or Swiss Travel Pass for above Itinerary.
Regards
Thanks

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Nataraj,

    Yes, I think your itinerary looks quite good. The only potential problem I see is that the peaks can be foggy or cloudy at times, even during summer, so if you are visiting at a very specific time then you might get unlucky and have poor visibility. But hopefully it will be clear most or all of the time you’ll be there.

    But as far as the timing is concerned, I think as long as you start early each day, you’ll be able to do all of the things on your list and have a very enjoyable visit.

    A Swiss Travel Pass probably won’t save you money unless you are going to do at least one additional scenic train ride. I think if you just buy all of your tickets individually, they’ll be a bit less than it would cost with a Swiss Travel Pass. But you should probably add it up because it might be close. -Roger

     
Xinyi says:

Hi Roger,

It mustve taken you forever to come up with this comprehensive information for us! So very grateful.
My husband will be arriving to interlaken by train from paris in the evening in late march and will stay 2 nights near interlaken west station before we go on to lucerne for 1 night. So technically we only have 1 full day in interlaken, which we were thinking of visiting lauterbrunnen/gimmelwald and then going up to the schilthorn observation deck if the weather allows.
Decided not to consider jungfraujoch as I read in your other article that it will take a much longer time to get there compared to schilthorn.

For Lucerne, we were wondering if we should try to squeeze in the lake cruise-rigi trip for that 3 quarters of a day we have there, or just spend it exploring the city. The next day we have an 11am train to catch to venice.
What is the difference between the rigi round trip and the mt rigi excursion? Is it that one is round trip and the latter one-way?

Based on what we were thinking of doing, is it advisable to buy the swiss travel pass? Or just get the individual tickets as we go?

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Xinyi,

    I think buying individual tickets as you go will be cheapest, since you won’t be doing any of the longer scenic trips. Your plan looks very well thought out and I’m sure you’ll love it.

    Jungfraujoch really is a whole day from start to finish, while Schilthorn is a 1-hour (and wonderful) cable car ride each way, and then as much time as you want to spend up there. It seems that 60 to 90 minutes is typical, or longer if you want to have lunch. The views from the revolving restaurant are excellent, and the food prices are typical for Switzerland (expensive for anywhere else), so enjoying a meal up there is nice if you have the time.

    The Mt Rigi round trip and excursion are the same thing, as far as I’m aware. It’s a boat ride from Lucerne to a cogwheel train and then a cable car back down. If you see something that doesn’t sound like that, it could be something else. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Bobby Boswell says:

Hello Roger, Thank you for all of the information you have shared regarding the Swiss Pass and other options. My wife and I will be traveling to Switzerland as I work with USA teams and will be working at the World Cup Championships in Geneva in May. After the team leaves back to the USA My wife and I are staying to see the wonderful sites. We will be leaving Geneva on the 28th of May. No plans or reservations for the 28 Looking into maybe 1 night in Lausanne. We have the 29th through June 1st in Murren. Staying at the Hotel Alpina and am very excited to travel to Schilthorn, Gimmelwald, maybe Jungfraujoch. Hiking, bicycle rides etc…On the first we are headed back to Geneva, spend the night then fly out on the 2nd. Questions: 1 .Is Lausanne a good place to spend the night (sites, Olympic headquarters etc…) then heading to Murren…. is the Swiss pass the best bet for us? We will leave on the 1st back toward Geneva as we fly out from there. Do you have any suggestions regarding what we should include in this trip? And is the Swiss the best for us?Thanks for your help.

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Bobby,

    That sounds like a great situation to be able to add on extra Switzerland days after an event.

    1. Lausanne is perhaps a bit more interesting than Geneva, but I still think you get WAY more out of focusing on the scenery than the cities in Switzerland. I’d head to the Interlaken area for that night, which will give you more options for things you can do before you head up to Murren. Or if you really DID want to see another city I’d recommend Bern, which is closer to Interlaken and also more interesting in general.

    It doesn’t look like a Swiss Travel Pass would be good value for you, mostly because a 4-day Pass wouldn’t cover it all, and an 8-day Pass would be too expensive. It would give you a 50% discount on Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch, and of course it would cover your train rides, but those shouldn’t add up to enough to justify the cost of the 8-day Pass. If you were also going to squeeze in 1 or 2 of the longer scenic railroad journeys such as the GoldenPass, the Swiss Travel Pass might make sense. It sounds like you’ve got a really nice itinerary planned and that you are going to try to include the main blockbuster sights. I don’t have anything else specific to recommend, although there are plenty of good hiking and sightseeing options in the Interlaken area, and of course in Lucerne as well.

    Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
      Bobby Boswell says:

      Thanks so much for the information. I really appreciate your help. Looking at Interlaken vs. Lauterbrunnen instead of the 2 days 1 night in Lausanne. which would be the most rewarding for the different sites possible in either town? As we will be spending 4 days in the Murren area and we want to get as much of the Swiss flavor in this trip, which would you recommend for greater sites? Interlaken or Lauterbrunnen? Ou yeah, If we would not benefit financially from the Swiss Pass, is there another card that might be to our advantage while traveling to Schilthorn, Jungfrau, and other sites up in the mountainous area to save some money? You are so helpful, thanks again for your help!

       
        Roger Wade says:

        Bobby,

        Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen are connected by a special train that takes 15 minutes and leaves every 30 minutes. Lauterbrunnen is deeper into the mountains and it’s a hub for trips to several mountain towns in the area, but still I think I’d recommend staying in Interlaken because it’s a much larger town with many more options for activities and restaurants and such. There are also many things to see and do that are in Interlaken or in other directions than Lauterbrunnen.

        If you stay close to the Interlaken Ost train station, you can get to Lauterbrunnen very quickly anyway, and the train fare isn’t too much.

        I’m not aware of any other discount cards aside from the Swiss Travel Pass. Those attractions such as Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch are really expensive, but definitely worth it. There just aren’t things like that anywhere else at any price, so at least the splurge will feel worthwhile when you are there. Have a great trip. -Roger

         
Akash says:

Hello Roger,

First of all i would like to thank you for such an elaborate and detailed report. Appreciate your work and wish you the best forward.

I would like to take your expert advice to help me create a day wise itinerary for my 4 days stay in Zurich and Luzern.
My itinerary is reaching Zurich on 15th April late night and staying in Zurich for a night and then from 16th to 19th April stay in Luzern.

We are a couple and love traveling and site seeing, would love to take some scenic train route along with one or two mountain trips based on time.

Request you to please help in this regards.

Thanks

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Akash,

    I really don’t like to create full itineraries for people because there are so many variables, including budgets. I give many options and my best advice in my main article on where to go in Switzerland. As mentioned, the top sights such as Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch each cost around US$150, and many people are understandably unwilling to do both on a short visit.

    If you come up with your own plan I will be happy to answer specific questions about it. You might also try wikitravel.org to look at their Interlaken and Lucerne pages, as they do a very good job of summarizing all the main options. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Navin says:

Hi Roger,
First of all, wonderful article & very informative & prompt replies.
We need some help as well, We are a family of four(41, 40, 10 & 4)
We would like to stay at Lauterbernnen for 3 days. Will like to go to jungfraujoch, Schilthorn(Cable Car) and short visits around to Murren, Stechelberg, wengen & Grindelwald…..
– Do you think we should get a pass OR pay as we go?
– Will Swiss Family card be beneficial (I Guess we get it only if we buy one pass)
– Any Other suggestions??

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Navin,

    I’m glad to hear that this research helped.

    If you do the itinerary you mentioned, a Swiss Travel Pass would probably be good value, but it will be close. It provides free train trips but only 50% discount on Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch. If you both of those, the 50% off will be worth about CHF120 per adult. Your other train trips will probably total around CHF100 or a bit more per adult, so that pays for a 3-Day Swiss Travel Pass. It also means that you can ride the trains all over without worrying about the cost, while if you didn’t have a pass you might see fewer things because each journey is so expensive. So I think I would buy a pass.

    Alternatively, you could buy a 30-day Swiss Rail half-fare card, which would give you those same discounts for CHF120, and then obviously give you 50% off all of your normal train trips.

    The Swiss Family Card, as far as I know, is a complimentary card that allows family members 16 and under to ride for free with adults using passes. So yes, I think it will be necessary if you buy a pass.

    Those mountain-top attractions are quite expensive, but they are amazing and you will be happy that you did them. I don’t have any other advice. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Jennifer says:

Hi Roger, I found both this article and your main one about Switzerland extremely helpful as this is very difficult to plan compared to most trips I’ve taken. I posted above but did not receive a response so I am posting again.

My husband and I will be arriving on train Munich to Interlaken west on may 19. We will spend 4 nights in Interlaken and then 2 nights in Lucerne. Then we will leave to the Zurich airport on May 25. Do you suggest we buy the Swiss pass?
Also, my parents will be arriving at Zurich airport on may 21 and spending 2 days in Interlaken and two days in Lucerne then going back to Zurich airport on may 25. Would the Swiss pass be worth it for them?

Does the Swiss travel pass include train from Zurich airport to Interlaken, from Interlaken to Lucerne or from lucerne to Zurich airport? And do you suggest we make these reservations in advance? I used the Trainline EU app to buy our train ticket from Munich to Interlaken west, but some routes such as Interlaken to Lucerne or Lucerne to Zurich were not available on the app.

While we are there we will likely want to do many of the popular tours you mentioned, some hiking and anything you suggest to see the beautiful views. I am not sure which tours exactly we plan to take. With the Swiss pass do we have to reserve transportation or tours ahead of time?

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Jennifer,

    I apologize if I missed your other question. I try to answer all of them within 24 hours or so, and usually less. I’ll answer your questions in order…

    The Swiss Travel Pass will be a good idea if you plan on doing enough of the scenic rail journeys (which would be fully covered) and the mountaintop activities such as Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch, which you get a 50% discount on. If you are just going from Munich to Interlaken to Lucerne to Zurich, then it would be cheaper to buy the tickets individually. In other words, if you want to do the Golden Pass or another of the longer train rides, the Swiss Travel Pass can quickly pay for itself. The same math would apply to your parents. The pass is only a good deal for people who are taking some longer train rides and also doing the expensive attractions that are included (Mt Rigi) or discounted like those two I mentioned.

    The Swiss Travel Pass DOES cover all trains, including those to the airport. The tricky thing is the pass only comes in 3-day, 4-day, and 8-day versions, and the pass obviously has to be valid for the days you travel. So if you bought an 8-day pass you could even use it for the portion of your Munich trip inside the Swiss borders AND for the airport trip on the way out. But if you only got a 4-day pass, it wouldn’t cover your whole trip.

    The normal Swiss trains between cities are only available 30 days in advance and the fare is the same no matter when you buy them. So you can buy them in advance or wait until you get there.

    Based on your final comment, it sounds like you DO want to do at least a few of the big attractions like Rigi, Titlis, Schilthorn, and Jungfraujoch. The Pass covers some of them and offers a discount on the others. You can usually book those on travel day. The scenic train journeys with the Panoramic carriages should be booked in advance, however, because there are limited seats in the Panoramic carriages. One reason to book your mountaintop visits at the last minute is that those peaks can be foggy or cloudy at almost any time, including in summer. It’s advised to book Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn when you know it’s sunny up top, so many people book as they go.

    Another option that I didn’t include in the article but I will add soon is the Swiss Half Fare Card. You can buy a 30-day version of that online or when you get there for CHF120 per person. If you are going to do at least CHF240 worth of train rides, cable cars, and such, it pays off. That might work for your parents, although a 3-day or 4-day Swiss Rail Pass might also work, depending on how many things you want to do. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

     
Cicilia says:

Hi Roger thanks so much for writing all of these! I truly feel this is very helpful. I have put down a list of itinerary but really wanna consult it first with someone who knows Swiss better than me:

1. 24 June 2017 evening – Arriving Zermatt from Brig, strolling around, staying over at Zermatt

2. 25 June 2017 – I have only one day to explore so I’m thinking to go to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. I am really confused about this place, is it the same with The Matterhorn? Or are they in the same area but different in altitude? Can I do both place (the peak and glacier on the same day?)

I learned that there are two ways of going to the Matterhorn: by cable car (we can stop by lake Schwarzsee a long the way) and train to Gornergrat, is this correct? I have read a lot of comments on the Tripadvisor but still fail to understand this 🙁 Are the train and cable car leading to the same place?

3. 26 June 2017 – Leaving Zermatt to Interlaken. I saw your suggestion to go to Gimmelwald, it’s pretty but I am afraid it will be too tiring for me to go there in a very short time. I look up the train ticket online and they don’t have the price as well. Do you have any recommendation of things to do in Interlaken city?

4. 27 June 2017 – Still planning to stay in Interlaken, but I looked up Tripadvisor and there’s nothing much to do there. Is 2 days too long in Interlaken?

5. 28 June 2017 – Leaving to Zurich, explore the city

6. 29 June 2017 – Explore Zurich, fly back home

I have bought the train ticket from Milan to Brig, so I can’t cancel on Zermatt (plus my partner really want to see snow. Swiss is my 4th and last Europe country to visit before heading back home). Also I tried to do the math about travel expenses, and if I am right, normal train and cable car tickets for above itinerary (not including buses / train in Zurich / Interlaken city) is 214.5, with 4 days flex travel pass is 284, and with half fare pass is 201.25. I will still ride bus / train in Zurich, so should I take the 4 days flex pass instead of the half fare?

Thanks so much in advance! I hope this isn’t confusing and if you have any suggestion that is different than my itinerary, I would very much love to hear it. Thanks so much! Appreciate your help.

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Cicilia,

    I’ll be happy to try to help. I’ll answer your questions in order…

    2. I haven’t done the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, but I can see that it’s a cable car ride up to another peak near the Italian border that offers a different view of Matterhorn. The Rothorn peak is the famous view of the Matterhorn. Both trips take about half a day, and because they aren’t close together, it could be tough to do both of them in the same day.

    Gornergrat is a train ride and it’s not the same place as the two cable car views, but it is the most popular.

    3. Zermatt to Interlaken takes only 2 hours and 20 minutes by train, leaving once an hour. You’d have plenty of time to not only get to Gimmelwald but to look around and go somewhere else to sleep if you wanted. It’s an unbelievably charming little village with amazing views and I recommend staying there or in Murren (just above Gimmelwald) if you can.

    Interlaken is a nice town and the views around it are lovely, but it’s really more of a transit hub for all of the best views and experiences in the mountains just above. There is a LOT more to do in Interlaken (the area) than there is in Zermatt. Have a look at my main article on what to do in Switzerland, including in the comments, for some ideas. The Schilthorn cable car and Jungfraujoch railway are perhaps Switzerlands (and all of Europe’s) most dramatic sights.

    If you are concerned about your budget you might not want to get to Zurich until the day of your flight. Hotels there are crazy expensive (even more so than the rest of Switzerland), and it’s not a very interesting city compared with the amazing sights of nature in the Alps and such.

    I’m not sure which travel pass you are referring to. If you mean the 4 Days in One Month version of the Swiss Travel Pass, it sounds like it could be a great deal for you. But if you are referring to a normal Eurail Pass it could be tricky because they don’t cover all of the trains in Switzerland, including the Zermatt trains. It sounds like you’ve got the math right and that the pass would be best, but just be aware of what it does and does not cover. Even if you go to Zurich, most of the interesting part of town is walkable, so you won’t spend much on transit there. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
      Cicilia says:

      Thanks so much for your suggestion! I will definitely check on Gimmelwald / Murren again and reconsider about Zurich. I have decided to get the half fare pass instead as well. Thank you once again 🙂

       
Nawal Gupta says:

Hello Roger, since i have two kids below the age of 16, would it mean that if we as parents buy either the Swiss Pass or the Swiss Half Fare Card, our kids also get to enjoy 50% off without having to pay. Meaning to say they get entitled to same benefits with two adults buying either of those cards ?

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Nawal,

    From the looks of it, the children would be able to travel for free with an adult with a valid ticket, and that is with either the Swiss Travel Pass or the Half Fare Card. You pick up a Swiss Family Card and that allows the kids to go free with you. -Roger

     
Shifali says:

Hi,

Myself and my spouse are planning to visit Switzerland in june from India. we will reach 10 pm on 10th june and overnight stay in zurich.
and departure from Zurich airport on 14th june 13:10 pm.

please provide itinerary for these 4 days which includes Mt. titlis, Jungfrau,Rhine falls and 1 scenic journey.

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Shifali,

    I’m happy to help answer questions about itineraries that people are putting together, but I really don’t like to write an itinerary from scratch. I put most of my top suggestions on my main article on where to go in Switzerland. I think after you read that and look at the map, it will be pretty easy to put together an itinerary that includes the things you want to see and do. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
CHERMAINE says:

hello, i need some advise on the swiss pass.
i will be in switzerland for 10 days from 7 April

Below is my itinerary
Day 1 – Mt Pilatus
Day 2 – Mt Rigi/Lake Lucerne/Lucerne City
Day 3 – Zermatt
Day 4 – Zermatt (Ski)
Day 5 – Zermatt (Ski)
Day 6 – Glacier 3000
Day 7 – Jungfrau – Schynige Platte
Day 8 – Schilthorn/Murren
Day 9 – Bern
Day 10 – Bern to Zurich Airport for departure

May i ask if i should get the 8 days or 15 days swiss pass? As i noticed its just an incremental cost to get the 15 days but i’m not sure if it is worth it.

Or should i just get a half fare card for this trip?

Would appreciate any advice/suggestions

Many thanks

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Chermaine,

    It looks like you could get an 8-Day Swiss Travel Pass and use it on your first 8 days, and the only thing you’d miss is the train from Interlaken to Bern and to Zurich. And with the Half-Fare Card, it’s good for 30 days so it would cover your whole trip. It looks like you won’t be doing too many train rides, at least not according to what you’ve written, and if that’s the case the Half-Fare Card is probably the better deal.

    If you think you might want to do at least a couple of those scenic train rides, the main Swiss Travel Pass would save you more. And having the full pass would be fun because you can basically just hop on trains and do as you please. But if you think you are mostly going to be following this schedule and staying in those areas for several days at a time, I think the Half-Fare Card is probably better. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
      Chermaine says:

      Dear Roger,

      thanks for your reply, i really appreciated it.
      would it be a hassle to queue up to buy tickets for the half fare pass or is it relatively easy? Would i be wasting time on it buying tickets everytime?

      Also, does the half fare card also provides discount on the scenic train rides?

      Is there any scenic rides that you will particularly recommend?

      Many thanks Roger

       
        Roger Wade says:

        Chermaine,

        Switzerland is very well organized so it shouldn’t be much trouble to buy those passes in person at ticket counters. The larger stations will be able to handle large crowds, and tickets for domestic Swiss trains are the same no matter when you buy them (on sale 30 days out).

        As for scenic rides, my advice is to take trains to whichever places in Switzerland that interest you, and the train rides will all be scenic. My guess is that they package those special scenic trains just as suggestions to first-time visitors. The ones with names also have special panorama carriages on certain departures each day, and the Half-Fare Card covers all of them. The trains through the Alps into Italy are wonderful as well. Really the only non-scenic trains are the ones in the Zurich area, and they are still not bad. It’s a gorgeous country all over. Have a great trip. -Roger

         
Chermaine says:

Hi There,

can you advise the best pass to purchase for below itinerary?

7 to 9 April – Zurich to Lucern (2 nights in lucern)
9 to 12 April – Lucern to Zermatt (3 nights in Zermatt with ski)
12 to 13 April – Zermatt to Les Diablerets (1 night)
13 to 15 April – Les Diablerets to Interlaken (2 nights in Interlaken)
15 to 16 April – Interlaken to Bern (1 night in Bern)
17 April – Bern to Zurich Airport

i’m not sure if a swiss pass of half rate pass is suitable for this itinerary.
Also, the 8 days pass and 15 days pass seems only to be an incremental increase.
Which should i get?
Any advise would be appreciated!

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Chermaine,

    This itinerary seems to be a bit different from the one I responded to elsewhere in this thread. But really my advice is the same. The Half-Fare Card is probably your best bet unless you are going to be adding in at least a couple of the longer scenic train rides. I’m sure you are going to have an incredible trip. -Roger

     
tina says:

hi roger,

thanks a ton for this amzing post. great help !

also putting down my itinerary here, any help be apprecited 🙂
we are a group of 5 (3 adults, 2 youth) planning this trip to Switzerland for may2017.

day 1: Fly into Zurich – take the train to lucerne directly
- spend the day in lucerne, overnight in lucerne

day 2: “- from lucerne, take train to andermatt & board Glacier express until st.moritz. overnight in moritz.

day3: next day, board the bernina express , head to lugano

day 4: sight seeing in lugano .

day 5: “- leave from lugano (bellinzona) early morning, take the gotthard express to lucerne. continue to interlaken on glacier express. reach lauterbrunnan

day6 : sight seeing (lauterbrunnen,murren, schilthron, gimmelwald )

day 7 : day trip to jungfrau

day 8: relax in lauterbrunnan (skydive/atv/activities)

day 9 : board the glacier express down to montreux, lavaux winery

day 10: day trip to gstaad + glacier 3000 +chateau di chillion

day 11 : choc factory + la gruyeres cheese factory

day 12: fly out

is this all doable ? we are planning on taking the swiss pass for 8 days and them may be rent a car for last 2 days in montreux .

thanks much.

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Tina,

    I’m happy to hear that this information is useful. Your trip looks amazing and well planned out. You will be spending quite a bit of time on trains for those first 5 days or so, but it’s definitely doable, and the Swiss Trains are very comfortable and famously punctual. And since you are slowing down on the trains once you get to the Interlaken area, I think you’ll be fine.

    The Swiss Travel Pass should really pay for itself on a trip like this. I’ve not rented a car in Switzerland, but I think that should be simple enough because the roads are all in good shape, the signs are all international, and there will be parking lots at all of the attractions. I don’t recommend renting cars to visit cities, but for the sights you mention, a car should work well. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Nawal Gupta says:

Hello Roger, From the inputs it seems the Half Fare card is the best for me. So considering the fact that we are a family of four ( two children below the age of 16), do I have to buy the Half fare card for all four of us ? Or we need to buy just for the two adults ? Cos it seems that we would get the Family card based on which the kids can travel free.

 
Janette says:

Hi Roger,

I am traveling in Switzerland flying in/out of Zurich May 19-28 with my husband, 3-year old son, and my mother/father-in law.

We are figuring out if the full Swiss pass is worth it vs. the half pass, as we’re only planning one major scenic train ride. However, at each location, we’re expect to use local trains for basic excursions or do a gondola or cogwheel to a mountain top/scenic overlook and aren’t sure how savings on those plays into our bottom line.

Our itinerary is as follows:

May 19: Arrive @ Zurich airport, train to Lucerne
May 20: Train to Grindelwald, stay in Grindelwald for 4 days. Hike, possibly do Jungfraujoch, other daytrips.
May 24: Train from Grindelwald to Montreux (possibly via the Goldenpass from Interlaken).
May 24-27: Montreux – plan to visit Lavaux wine area one of the days we’re there.
Ma7 27 – train back to Zurich for flight back the next day.

Appreciate your input!

 
    Roger Wade says:

    Janette,

    It looks like your options would be an 8-day Swiss Travel Pass or a 30-day Half Fare Card because you are staying so long. It seems that a Half Fare Card would be more economical, and you’d definitely save much more than the price of the thing. Unless you do more scenic train rides, I think the Half Fare Card is your best option. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Anna says:

Hello Roger,

How are you? My name is Anna. First of all, thank you for sharing your insights. This is one of the few informative and useful blogs I’ve read regarding Switzerland.

Me and my friends (5 Adults) will be travelling to these European countries: Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Italy. We plan to take an overnight bus from Paris going to Switzerland which will be arriving at Geneva or Bern. Do you have any insights or helpful information about this route?

From Bern or Geneva, depending on which bus we take, our first destination in Switzerland is at Interlaken. This is our itinerary:

Day 1: From Paris by bus to Geneva/Bern — train to Interlaken —- check in hotel — Harder Kulm
Day 2: Jungfraujoch—Gimmewald—Interlaken
Day 3: Lucern — Mt. Pilatus — Lucern
Day 4: Zurich
Day 5: Zurich — Italy

We’re not taking any scenic trains (Do you consider trains to Jungfraujoch a scenic train? I’m still really confused), so from what I’ve read here, point to point tickets would be more advisable than the Swiss Travel Pass?

Another question, would you recommend the swiss half fare card for us?

Thank you again for this post. I’m hoping to hear from you soon! Cheers!

 

    Anna,

    I’m glad you find this useful. I’ll answer your questions in order…

    Bern is a nicer looking city and it’s more interesting than Geneva, so I’d go there if I were you. It’s also mostly flat, unlike Geneva which is very hilly, so it’s easier to get around.

    Your itinerary looks really good and I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time.

    Jungfraujoch is considered more of a “tourist train” because it simply goes up to the peak and back. The “scenic trains” are the ones with names such as Golden Pass and Glacier Express. Those trains offer special Panoramic carriages on several departures each day, while the Jungfraujoch is an older train without special windows.

    If you’ll be doing Jungfraujoch and those other train rides, the Half Fare Card should more than pay for itself on your trip.

    The last thing I’ll mention is that Zurich isn’t really much of a tourist city. In case you haven’t already, have a look at my main article on where to go in Switzerland. Zurich is a nice enough place, but it’s incredibly expensive and it’s quite dull compared to cities such as Amsterdam and Paris. Unless there are things in Zurich that you are specifically going to see, you might stay another day in the Interlaken area and then go straight to Italy from Lucerne. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Janette says:

Thanks so much for the quick reply!

 
Jacqueline says:

Hi Roger,
Wow! So fantastic of you to provide such detailed information!

My husband and I , and our 3 children (11, 14, 16 yrs) are going to Switzerland in August for 8 days. We will be flying to Zurich, and from airport taking the train to Lucerne. Staying 4 nights in Lucerne, we will hopefully do Mount Rigi, Mount Pilatus, Fortress Furiigen and general exploration by foot of old Lucerne.

From Lucerne, taking train to Lausanne for 2 nights. While there, would like to do explore the old town and do a day trip to Montreax and Chateau de Chillon.

Finally,we’ll take a train from Lausanne back to Zurich for 2 nights, then we fly home. I was not planning on doing the longer scenic rail rides because I think our kids will get drive each other (and us) nuts! So, will likely get on express trains between towns, which I believe are less expensive.

I feel like we are borderline in terms of the Swiss Travel Pass being a deal . I think our two younger children would travel free if my husband and I have a Swiss Travel Pass. So, will I only have to buy 3 STPs? Or, do you think we are just better off paying as we go?

Your insight is most appreciated!

 

    Jacqueline,

    Most of the special scenic train routes have panoramic carriages, and those cost a bit more to reserve than a normal seat. Aside from that, it’s a normal train and normal prices. However, a line like the Golden Pass, for example, has you go through slower mountain passes that are more scenic, instead of faster trains that go around the valleys, but they aren’t necessarily more expensive because of it.

    I’m going to write a full article about the Half Fare Card because more and more I’m seeing that it’s the best choice for so many visitors, including your family. From what I can see, if the adults buy one each, then two of the children would travel for free on the Family Card that they will also give you. I guess you’d have to buy a third Half Fare Card for the 16-year old, but still it should pay for itself because the train rides you’ll be taking will add up to more than CHF240 per adult, including Rigi and Pilatus etc. The Half Fare Card costs CHF120 each, so it should pay for itself quickly and then save you money overall.

    The scenery on those special train rides is quite spectacular, but I agree that it also requires patience to behave on a 6-hour ride, so I think just taking the fast trains from place to place will be better, and those are also very scenic as well. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Liv says:

Hi Roger,

I’m glad I came across your article!
I will definitely get the half pass.

On top of that, I realized many hotels offer free local public transits…

Basically I’m planning a trip this summer with my mother that includes the jazz festival in Montreux…

Here’s what I have so far:

Day 1: Arrive Zurich to montreux
I would like to stop at Bern and gruyere on the way and send our luggage to the station in montreux if possible*

Day 2: montreux

Day 3: Interlaken (I want to visit The lake in Kandersteg but I’m wondering if I should stay there or make my way to Interlaken and stay there instead)

Day 4: interlaken-Zurich (there’s a show we are going to see so I would have to stay here…)

I’m debating the day 3 part just cause I do wanna go on at least one of the scenic rides but at the same time we want to stay overnight somewhere scenic and relaxing and less touristy just for that night…

 

    Liv,

    I’m glad you found the article as well. I’m not sure about Montreaux, but if you stay at any hotel or hostel in Interlaken, it comes with a public transit card good for free bus rides and even a free ride on the train between the two major train stations. But Interlaken is pretty small and you can walk between the stations in 30 minutes or so as a nice stroll, so you won’t need too many rides.

    You carry your own luggage on trains in Europe, so I don’t think there is a way to send your bags on ahead. You can leave the bags in a luggage locker at the stations though.

    I haven’t been to the lake in Kandersteg. I’d pass on that and go to Interlaken, which has so many top sights that even 3 days is just hitting the highlights.

    You’ll enjoy one evening in Zurich as long as you can afford a hotel there.

    As for Day 3, I highly recommend you consider staying in Gimmelwald, which is a tiny farming village above Interlaken, and on the cable car that goes up to Schilthorn. I discuss all of that in my main article on where to go in Switzerland. Have a look at that and hopefully you’ll find it helpful. -Roger

     
Jacqueline says:

Thank you Roger! Extremely helpful, and reassuring as it confirms what I was thinking. – Jacquie

 
Paresh says:

Hello,

This is really very useful information. I am visiting mid-April and will be staying at Lucerne for 4 days. I need to decide if to take Golden Pass journey or not. If I understand the train would be covering same route to and fro. So is it worth if I take this journey and return back to Lucerne the same night ? Also does the panoramic train and normal train have different routes? Thanks !

 

    Paresh,

    The Golden Pass has you transfer to a smaller train that goes through a very scenic valley. You can get from Lucerne to Montreax faster by going around that valley and staying on the high-speed tracks, so you can take two different routes for at least part of the way. There are a few panoramic carriages on a few morning departures each day, but they aren’t different routes. You can take the Golden Pass route at any time of day, but you don’t get the option of panoramic carriages except in those special departures.

    I’ve done the whole Golden Pass and it’s really beautiful, but almost every train ride in Switzerland is beautiful. So if you are short on time you could just take the fastest trains between the cities you want to visit, and you’ll love the views. If you want to experience the panoramic carriages, which I haven’t, then you have to take the special departures. You’ll have a great time no matter what you choose. -Roger

     
BISWAJIT SAHA says:

Hello Roger,
I am glad that I came across your blog.Very informative.I am staying 4 nights in Zurich and 2 nights in Geneva.I will be staying at AIRBNB residences with Strict Cancellation Policy.
As the situation is I will have to do all my trips from Zurich for 3 days and Geneva for 2 days.
Please advise me on the Pass and the Scenic train rides that I can do staying at the locations.
Please include Jungfraujoch and the Golden Pass.
I don’t mind spending my entire Swiss holiday on the train.I may be able to spend one night in Lugano if the journey needs.Thank you,Jeet.

 

    Jeet,

    I do try to answer questions about these articles, but I’m not really a travel agent or trip planner. It’s a bit of a shame that you are staying in the cities because the smaller towns such as Interlaken and Lucerne are nicer and cheaper as well. Jungfraujoch is a special tourist train that leaves from the area just above Interlaken, and it’s quite expensive. A Swiss Travel Pass only gives you a 25% discount on that. But the pass allows free travel on all regular trains, and they are all very scenic in Switzerland.

    I wrote about all of the scenic trains and their routes in the article above. From Zurich you can get to any of them in a couple hours, and the Swiss Travel Pass would cover everything except for your seat reservation on the special panoramic carriages if you want to take one of those. It’s probably easiest to look at a map of the scenic train rides and choose the ones that are easiest to reach from Zurich and Geneva. The trains in Switzerland are all very nice and punctual. If you have specific questions, let me know. -Roger

     
BISWAJIT SAHA says:

Thanks Roger,
Can I do the Bernia Express and the Gotthard Express simultaneously.Should I spend the night at Lugano?I will start from Zurich and end up in Zurich.
As the situation is I plan to do at least 3 Scenic trains and Jungfraujoch. In such a scenario should I go for a 4 day pass or a Half fare pass?
Appreciate is you can advise me as a travel expert and a fellow traveller.Thanks.Jeet.

 

    Biswajit,

    It does look like you could do one of those scenic trains and stay in Lugano and do the other one the following day, reaching Zurich. You’ll probably want to enter the trips into sbb.ch to get the times and make sure it works in the way it looks on the map.

    As for which pass to get, a Swiss Travel Pass would cover the train rides, although you’ll have to pay a seat reservation supplement on the panoramic carriages and some others, and also a 25% discount on Jungfraujoch. A Half Fare Card is obviously cheaper but it covers half the cost of each ride and half of Jungfraujoch. Since each scenic train has its own price depending on starting location, you’ll have to run the numbers. My hunch is that a 4-day Swiss Travel Pass would probably save you more because you’ll be doing extra train rides to and from Zurich as well. -Roger

     
Kelvin says:

Hi Roger,
Me and my girlfriend are planning to visit Jungfrau.
We will reach to Frankfurt on 29/4 and travel to Grindelwald on the next day by train.
We plan to have 3 days stay in Grindelwald, before travel to Venice. Could you please recommend us where should we visit, and is it advisable to buy swiss travel pass or half-fare pass? and what is the fare from Grindelwald to Jungfau? Thanks.

 

    Kelvin,

    The two best attractions in the Interlaken area are Jungfraujoch and the Schilthorn Observation Deck, which is reached by cable car. Aside from those things there are scores of hikes and other things to see and do, and it’s just a matter of taste. I’m not sure of the fare from Grindelwald to Junfrau, but it’ll be around CHF190 return. Schilthorn is a bit cheaper but also expensive and also very much worth it. If you are going to do one or both of those attractions then a Half Fare Card is probably the better choice. The Swiss Travel Pass allows for free train travel on the regular trains, but only a 25% discount on Jungfraujoch. Since it doesn’t look like you are going too many regular or scenic trains, the Half Fare Card should easily pay for itself and save you more. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Kelvin says:

Hi Roger,
Firstly thanks for the information here.
Me and my girlfriend are going to Grindelwald from Frankfurt on 30/4 by train and plan to stay there for 3 days before travel to Venice.
Could you advise any interesting place or iternaries for this? and is it advisable to buy swiss travel pass or halffare pass?
I am also confused with the train ticket to Jungfrau, should we buy the return ticket as well?and can you advise how much is the price if without the travel pass? Thanks.

 

    Kelvin,

    I answered what I could in the other question. The fares from Interlaken to Jungfrau and back are in the article above. It’s CHF205 or so from Interlaken, so it’ll be a bit less leaving from Grindelwald, but not much less because the expensive part is going high up in the mountain. You should think about buying your ticket just before you want to go. Those peak attractions can be rainy or foggy, even during the summer, so it’s ideal if you know it’ll be clear up there when you go. If you lock in a time and it’s really foggy up there, it’s barely worth going. Best of luck with this. -Roger

     
Heather says:

Hi Roger,

Thank you so much for doing all of this research and putting everything together! I’ve gotten so much out of both this article, and your other about where to stay for short visits.

I am traveling with my aunt from Germany to Switzerland, arrive June 30th, depart July 4th. We are planning to stay in Murren (your other article helped us decide this!) Based on what I have read so far, I don’t think a pass will save us any money, but I’m not sure. Would you mind giving some advice based on our itinerary? Thanks!

June 30: Flight arrives in Zurich airport around 8 AM. Transfer from Zurich Airport to Murren. Go up Schilthorn Observation Deck. Overnight in Murren.
July 1: Transfer to Junfraujoch (day trip). Overnight in Murren.
July 2: Transfer to Meiringen to see Reichanbach fall (day trip). Overnight in Murren.
July 3: Day hikes around Murren. Overnight in Murren.
July 4: Transfer Murren to Zurich Airport. Might make stops along the way. Flight departs 9 PM.

The order for July 1-3 may change depending on weather.

-Heather

 

    Heather,

    I’m very happy to hear that my research and advice has been helpful. Your itinerary looks wonderful and well planned. Murren will be a good base and it’s a lovely little town, but you might also consider staying there only one night and then moving to Interlaken or Lauterbrunnen, both of which are transit hubs in the area. Murren is 2 short cable car rides up the mountain towards Schilthorn, so it’s ideal for visiting Schilthorn, but it means taking those two rides down and then back up to see anything else around. The cable car runs every 30 minutes and it will cost around US$10 each way at full price. It’s a lovely ride, but after the first couple times the novelty will wear off.

    If you stay in Lauterbrunnen or in Interlaken itself, you’ll already be closer to everything except Schilthorn. Oh, and I highly recommend walking down the hill from Murren to Gimmelwald at least once, as Gimmelwald is a very different little farming village that is worth a stroll.

    Either way, I think you’d save money with a Half Fare Card, as described in the article above. It’ll give you 50% off all of your train rides, cable cars, and Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch, for US$120. Those last two are so expensive that the Half Fare Card will pay for itself on those two alone. They are also spectacular and worthwhile, so being able to save money with the Half Fare Card makes it even better.

    As always, let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Rajib says:

Hi Roger,
Day 1 (15th May) : We (me and my wife) will reach Geneva airport at 9 AM. Go to the Airport station, keep the suitcase in the station locker and take a bus/tram for old town. Explore Geneva for 2/3 hours and come back by 1 PM to the station. Take train to Lauterbrunnen, check in hotel in Lauterbrunnen, explore the area.
Day 2 (16th May): Start early morning do the Jungfraujoch and come back and explore Interlaken area.
Day 3 (17th May): Explore Interlaken more and come back to hotel by 12 noon. Take luggage and go to Murren. Stay in Murren and explore the village, explore Gimmelwald as well.
Day 4 (18th May): Do something in the 1st half and at noon go to Interlaken station and from there to Lucern. Check in Lucern hotel. Explore Lucern.
Day 5 (19th May): Excursion to Mt. Titlis (morning) and Mt. Pilatus (afternoon). Explore Lucern in evening.
Day 6 (20th May): Leave for Zurich by train, reach Zurich at 9 AM, store the luggage in the locker and just walk around to have a brief feel of the city by bus/tram. Leave Zurich to Innsburg at 3 PM.

This is my plan. Now I need your help in below. I am a nature lover but cannot do too much hiking (1 hour max) but Can walk for 7/8 hours a day. On below questions you just say it, I trust your judgement and follow it blindly.

1) Please tell me if there is any issue you are finding in the plan, can you suggest anything so that I can fine tune it? Something like visit Lucern, or Stay in Interlaken not in Lauterbrunnen, or from Geneva go directly to Murren and then next day come down. I am staying in Lauterbrunnen because one of friend told me when you can stay in the Alps why to settle for entry point of Alps which is Interlaken.
2) On day 2nd half what to do exactly? So please suggest me what to do exactly?
3) On day 4th can you please suggest what exactly to do in the first half of the day?
4) What would you suggest to visit in Zurich in 4/5 hours? I know it’s too less but just to have a feel of the city. How would you want us to go there (bus/train/trum).
5) On Day 5th, Are these both on the same direction or I will have to come back to Lucern and start the 2nd Excursion?
6) Now the most important question: I shared with you all the train/boat/ Excursion we are doing. Considering all these will you suggest us to buy ‘4 day Swiss Travel Pass’ or ‘Swiss Half-Fare Card”? I know I am not doing any scenic train trips, seeing the itinerary do you still recommend to include a ‘scenic train trip’? If yes then exactly which day and from where.

I know I have asked too many questions and you will have to spend a good amount of time in calculation to answer me question 6. But I will be very very grateful to you for this.

Regards,
Rajib

 

    Rajib,

    I’ll try to help.

    1) Your plan looks quite good. I think doing Titlis and Pilatus on the same day might be challenging because each of them is normally a half-day attraction and it takes time to get from one to another. I think staying in Lauterbrunnen is a good idea, but you could also stay in Wengen or Grindlewald, which are both part of the way to Jungfraujoch. All of them are lovely mountain towns, with Lauterbrunnen being more on the valley floor. Also, Geneva has a nice location along the lake, but the town itself is quite dull. It’s very famous because of all the organizations that are based there, but it’s not really a tourist town, so you might even want to skip it.

    2) and 3) I really prefer not to make a firm suggestion of exactly what you should do. There are many wonderful views and hikes, and just wandering around those smaller towns is quite nice for a few hours. I’d suggest buying a guidebook or going to a website with Interlaken activities so you know what the options are and you can choose among them.

    4) Zurich is very expensive, but it is a nice town for a few hours. If you can join one of the free walking tours, which encourage you to tip them at the end if you like it, I think it would work out well. The tour is mostly flat, and goes mostly alongside the river on both sides. I think there are also tour buses, but you can see more on a walking tour, and the main center of town isn’t very large.

    5) Pilatus is just above the town of Lucerne, while Titlis is about 30 km to the south. You have to go through Lucerne main train station to get from one to the other, so it would take well over an hour.

    6) I think the Half Fare Card would be better value for you, since it gives you 50% discount on Jungfraujoch compared to 25% off with the Swiss Travel Pass. And since you aren’t doing any of the longer scenic train trips, the savings would add up faster with the Half Fare Card. Sorry I couldn’t answer all of them for you. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Hal Post says:

Hi Roger,
My wife and I are planning a month long trip to Switzerland to celebrate our 50th anniversary. Our itinerary includes arriving in Zurich airport in late September 2017, travelling to Luzerne for 3 nights, staging out of Lauterbrunnen for 5 nights, working in a 3 day side trip to Venice, taking the Bernina Express for 2 nights in St. Moritz, adding the Glacier Express to Zermatt for 2 nights, going by train and bus from Zermatt to Chamonix for 3 nights, travelling by train to Montreux to catch the Golden Pass and heading to Bern and then Basel before returning to Zurich in late October for a return flight back to the US. We may try a side trip for 3 days to Paris from Bern but not sure. I’ve learned quite a bit from your article and guidance. We plan to take cog railways, lifts and other mountain trains in the Alp locations where we stay. I already plan to purchase a Swiss Travel Pass flex for 15 days for each of us. I’m concerned that we will use up the pass with several days still for travel in Switzerland. I’ve read about a flex/half fare card combi but have not seen where to buy it nor its cost. Would you suggest we buy the combi pass? Do you have any suggestions about the itinerary? Appreciate your help and advice.

 

    Hal,

    Congratulations! This sounds like an amazing trip, and I think I see your issue. If you are in Switzerland for 20 to 22 days, obviously not counting your time in Italy or France, it would be pretty easy to burn through those 15 days with a few days still left.

    I’ve also seen mentions of a Swiss Travel Pass flex combined with a Half Fare Card, but it seems like they aren’t actually bundled anywhere, so it would be a matter of buying one of each. As you’ve probably seen, the Half Fare Card costs CHF120 per person for 30 days. My hunch is that it would be a wise purchase for you. For one thing, if you plan on doing the amazing Jungfraujoch railway, the Half Fare Card provides 50% off, while the Swiss Travel Pass only provides 25% off. Since it costs about CHF200 return per person, that is a savings of CHF50 right there, which almost pays for half of the Half Fare Card.

    So if you bought both you’d be at around CHF620 per person and it would cover all of your train trips and allow you at least a 50% discount on the private railroads and cable cars. It seems like a worthwhile splurge, to allow you to freely do everything you want and keep costs down a bit. The other option would obviously be to just get the 15 Days Pass and white-knuckle it, hoping that you’ll build in enough days when you aren’t riding trains or doing major sights. If it were me, the extra CHF120 is a small price to pay to allow you guys to just do whatever you want, without worrying about having to pay for very expensive trips in the last few days. .

    I think your itinerary in general looks great and very well planned. You’ll have plenty of time while you are there to learn about other attractions and options, and with the Travel Pass you’ll be able to do most of them for free. My only other comment is that my brother lives in Germany, just over the border from Basel. I’ve visited the city a few times and find it quite boring compared to even other Swiss cities, and especially compard to Venice or Paris. In other words, if you don’t have anything in particular you are going to Basel to see, you might skip it. Bern is lovely though, so go there for sure. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Rajib says:

Thanks a lot. You are awesome. I will buy Half rate card then. Can you please tell me from where I should buy this.

One more question – Is there any scenic train trip that starts from Lucern or Interlaken area and not much time consuming and can be finished in half day.

 
Toral says:

Hi Roger, thank you for such a useful blog.

I would love to know your thoughts on which is the best pass or tickets to buy for my upcoming trip.

Friday to Sunday – In Zurich
I will then catch a train from Zurich to Interlaken
I will spend Sunday to Wednesday in Interlaken.
Whilst in Interlaken, I would like to do Jungfraujoch railway and also an observation deck maybe Schilthorn.
I would also like to take a train from Interlaken to Kandersteg to do the mountain coaster.
Then I will return to Zurich on Wednesday.

Can you advise if the Swiss Pass is the best option for the above?

 

    Toral,

    I’m glad you find it helpful. Since it looks like you are doing more mountain attractions than longer scenic train trips, I think a Half Fare Card would be better value for you. It provides a 50% discount on Jungfraujoch railway as well, while the Swiss Travel Pass only gives you a 25% discount. The train rides on your list don’t look like they’ll be enough to justify the higher cost of the Swiss Travel Pass. Have a great trip and let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

     
Hal Post says:

Thanks Roger. I will buy both passes. It would be a real bummer to restrict what we do because our Swiss flex pass only covers half the days. Thanks again.

 
Toral says:

Hi Roger,
Thank you for your quick response.

In your blog you mention that the train cost of zurich to Interlaken is approx 50CHF however when I have used the SBB mobile app to check my train costs it is showing 140CHF for this specific train from Zurich to Interlaken only.
Which is why I am considering the Swiss travel pass.
Would you suggest it is cheaper to buy the train tickets on the day of travel instead?

 

    Toral,

    I just checked again and the slower trains (2 hours 51 minutes) from Zurich to Interlaken are CHF51 each way in 2nd Class. The faster trains (1 hour 55 minutes) are CHF70 each way in 2nd Class on the SBB.ch website. If you book a return ticket on the fast train it is CHF140. Or 1st Class one way is CHF123.

    Unlike virtually every other European country, Switzerland puts its domestic tickets on sale only 30 days out, and the fares are the same no matter when you buy. Pretty much every citizen owns an annual Half Fare Card, so the trains for them are fairly cheap. You can buy a Half Fare Card for 30 days for CHF120 or so, and that will be a good deal for many travelers who are also doing Jungfraujoch and Schithorn etc. I’d think the SBB mobile app is the same prices as everything else. A Swiss Travel Pass could be worth it to you if you are taking several expensive trips in a few days. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Kelvin says:

Hi agaon Roger,
I would like to know among Wengen,Lauterbrunnem,and Grindelwald,which would you highly recommed to stay overnight? I would be going to Jungraujoch,and i would need some place that easily can find restaurants and groceries,and have a great view of the mountain. 🙂

 

    Kelvin,

    All three towns are nice. I’d probably pick Wengen or Grindelwald. All 3 of them are at the base of mountains in the Alps, but Wengen is at the highest altitude, and Grindelwald is second. Honestly, they are all gorgeous, so you might just pick the one with the best hotel deal within walking distance of the train station. They are all fairly small villages of about 2,000 to 4,000 residents.

    The large supermarkets in all of those towns is called Coop, and it’s bigger than you’d expect for towns that small. Each of them is located literally across from or next to the train station, and that’s also true of both of Interlaken’s train stations. There are also small restaurants near each of those train stations, so you’ll be fine at any of them. Most locals take the trains themselves, so the villages are built around the train stations. Long story short, any of them would be great. Lauterbrunnen is a bit easier to reach, but also a bit farther from Jungfrau. Best of luck with this. -Roger

     
Said Zaman says:

Hi,

Does the 3-day Swiss pass includes the transportation from airport to Interlaken, if I want to stay at interlaken?

Once I am at Interlaken, does the swisspass includes all the regional transportion cost within interlaken?

 

    Said,

    The Swiss Travel Pass covers all normal trains in Switzerland, and this includes all the trains that go from the Zurich or Geneva Airports to anywhere else in the country. Both airports have stations on the main line, so you don’t even have to go into the city to change trains to get somewhere else.

    Once you are in Interlaken you will receive a card from your hotel that allows free public transportation, which includes riding the normal trains between the two stations there, for the duration of your stay. A Swiss Travel Pass also allows for free travel on the normal trains to get to the mountain attractions, but it only allows a 50% discount on some cable cars (some are 100% included) and a 25% discount on the Jungfraujoch tourist train.

    So yes, it does cover all regional transportation, but only a discount on the private cable cars and tourist trains in the mountains. -Roger

     
Toral says:

Hi Roger,

Many thanks for your detailed responses thus far. I am unsure what so many of us would do without your expert knowledge!

A few further questions for me before I begin my travels in 2 weeks.

Is the best way to travel from Interlaken to Schilthorn by getting a train from Interlaken to Stechelberg and then getting the cable car up from there? Also on the Schilthorn website it gives me two options. One being a single trip and one being a roundtrip – which would need to be booked if I arrive to Stechelberg?
Also is the revolving restarant very busy on Schilthorn, should we pre book or can we book on the day?

I will also be visiting Kandersteg to go on the Mountain coaster at Oeschinen. I have tried to book the train from Interlaken to Oeschinen. Would you say it is easier to book the cable car up to Oeschinen on the day and just book the train from Interlaken to Kandersteg before hand?
Do you have any views on what the hike would be like from Oeschine down to Kandersteg?

Do you think that it would be easy to cover Interlaken to Schilthorn to Oeschine on one day or is it best to do Schilthorn on one day and Oeschine on the other day?

In regards to the travelling I will be doing in Switzerland:
Zurich to Interlaken
Interlaken to Schilthorn
Interlaken to Kanderstg
Interlaken to Zurich Airport
Would you say that the above train journeys will be the same fare if I book it now or if I book it on the day of travel from a ticket machine?

Thank you

 

    Toral,

    I’ll try your questions in order…

    Yes, the best way to Schilthorn is Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen by train, then the bus to the cable car station in Stechelberg, then the cable car up. It’s all described in my article about what to do in Switzerland.

    It’s technically possible to hike all the way up to Schilthorn and walk back down, so they sell cable car tickets for only the portions you want. You can buy a round-trip ticket when you get to Interlaken or Lauterbrunnen or anywhere else in Switzerland, unless you want to walk part of it.

    The revolving restaurant at Schilthorn is quite big. It might fill up on the busiest days of the year, but I’d think on most days you can just get a table once you get there. Seriously, it holds several hundred people.

    I’m not familiar with the mountain coaster, but I’d say it’s safe to book it when you get there. Switzerland is one of the rare countries where tickets are the same price no matter when you book. I doubt it would sell out, but maybe Tripadvisor reviews would mention that. I’m also not familiar with the hike from Oeschinen to Kandersteg, unfortunately. If it’s a popular downhill hike then I have a feeling it’s fairly easy and in very good shape. Switzerland keeps things in top condition in general.

    If you start early you should be able to do Schilthorn and Oeschinen on the same day. If you start in Interlaken it will take about two hours to get to the top of Schilthorn, and two hours back. If you spend an hour up there it’s still only 5 hours, so you’d have half a day left. If you are in town for two days it might be better to do one each day, but you should be able to do both on the same day if needed.

    Those domestic train tickets are the same no matter when you buy them. Since Schilthorn alone costs about CHF110 return, you could probably save money with a Half Fare Card for CHF120, but it will be close. You should be able to get the current fares on sbb.ch right now. They only sell them one month in advance. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Jeeazi says:

Hi Roger,

Appreciate your advise on my plan for 18 to 29 Dec 2017 trip:
1. 2 Adults, 2 youth and 2 Kids under 14 yrs old
2. 18th Dec – Zurich to Lucerne (Lucerne base for next 5 nites)
3. 19th Dec – Lucerne area sights
4. 20th Dec – Mt Rigi or Pilatus
5. 21th Dec – Mt Titles – Snow Park
6. 22th Dec – Lugano (not sure yet)
7. 23th Dec – Lucerne to Interlaken (base for next 5 nites)
8. 24th Dec – Zermatt Matterhorn
9. 25th Dec – Bern
10. 26th Dec – Montreux or Lausannne or Geneva
11. 27th Dec – Ski Experience by Outdoor Sport Interlakeno
12. 28th Dec – Interlaken to Zurich (stay for 1 nite) – Go Rhine Falls
13. 29th dec – Depart from Zurich airport

We plan to buy 15 day Swiss Travel Pass for Adult, youth and family card (worth?).Looking to stay at apartments or hotels with kitchenette.

Any advise much appreciated.

Thanks
Jee

 

    Jeeazi,

    Your plan looks really good and I think the Swiss Travel Pass will be good value for you. On shorter trips it can be hard to get enough benefit out of it, but on a longer trip it’s fairly cheap on a per-day basis, so it should work well. You’ll even have time to do more than is on your list on many of those days.

    The Zermatt day will be a long one, however, as it takes a bit over 2 hours from Interlaken to Zermatt before you can get on the scenic train there. But as long as you start early, you’ll be fine and it will be gorgeous.

    The Swiss Family Card is free and it will allow one child to ride for free with an adult using a Swiss Travel Pass. You can get it once you get to Switzerland, or they may send them to you with your Swiss Travel Pass. This looks very well planned and I don’t really have anything else to say. Bon voyage. -Roger

     
Pipes says:

Hello! I am very confused about passes! Ive tried and tried to work tge costs out!
9 june geneve aeroport- montreux
10 june golden pass montreux – lauterbrunnen
Already reseved VIP seat
11 jun maybe boat thun or first
12 june lauterbrunen – jungfraujoch – grindewold – interlarken lauterbrunnen
14 jun lauterbrunen – zermat
14 jun gorgernat
15 jun glacier express zermatt-chur
Reserved seat already purchased
16 jun bernina express chur – tirano -milan centrale
Reserved sewt already purchased
I figure the 8- day pass is about 250chf more with mountain trains than the half fare. Though i havent thought of a 2-day pass (glacier/bernina) and hslf fare for the start of the trip???

Oh its so hard! Really really appreciate your help!

 

    Pipes,

    I agree that it’s confusing and I’ve even written to the Swiss Travel Pass people to explain why it’s confusing. I think the 8-Day Pass will be a good buy for you since you are doing so many longer and more expensive train journeys. It can be hard to get good value out of the shorter ones, but once you get to 8 days it’s easier.

    You’d have to look up those train prices on sbb.ch to see if the Half Fare Card would save you money. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Kelvin says:

Hi Roger,

My plan is started from Frankfurt to Bern, and from Bern to Wengen.
Then Wengen to Milan though Spiez/Brig.
Do you think half fare card or swiss travel pass is better for this case?
Do you have any alternatives from Wengen to Milan?

Thanks.

 
RmR says:

Hi,
I have been doing some research for my upcoming trip to Switzerland from 13th – 23rd May. I am reaching you to get some help in planning my itinerary. Actually, I am travelling with my family (wife, son 3.5 years and daughter 1.3 years) on 13th May arriving to Geneva and then travelling on 15th May to Interlaken and stay their till 21st May and do half day trip from Interlaken and then on 21st May back to Geneva and fly back on 23rd May.
Through my initial research I shortlisted the following places
Day 1 (15th May) check-in and just roam around Interlaken (chocolate factory).
Day 2 – roam around Interlaken / harder kulm/ kids train etc
Day 3 – Lauterbrunnen and/or Wengen and/or Murren and/or Grindelwald (may be any 2 venues/ a short walk/trekking would be great)
Day 4 – Spiez and Thun (going via cruise and coming back via train visiting castle)
Day 5 – Lucern (via golden pass if worth it or else via normal train)
Day 6 – Zurich (Optional)
Day 7 – Back to Geneva
Now keeping in mind that we have two kids (using stroller and baby carrier) and walking stamina is not high, and a temperature below 12 degree Celsius is cold for usJ, do you think it’s a good itinerary? Do you suggest some changes in the plan or recommend new places. As we are travelling from Middle East so I am sure any scenery would be amazing for us. We don’t want to have a very tiring schedule (more of an easy going). We don’t want to go on very high altitudes plus do you think during 2 week of May we can visit Flower Park in Allmendhubel?
Regarding travel pass, can you suggest which one will suit us? Do you think half-card is better or Swiss pass for 8 days? Also if you can recommend for above itinerary for each trip what mean of transport we should use (train, cable, bus etc.)
I know I have asked so many questions but I would be really grateful if you can answer them
Thanks in advance

 

    RmR,

    Your itinerary looks quite good. You seem to only have one or two things planned for each day, and even with kids that should be easy. Switzerland is very well organized and modern, so it’s easy to get around, even with kids. On Day 3 as long as the weather is fairly clear I’d recommend taking the cable car up to Murren and then walking down the hill to Gimmelwald. The scenery is stunning, especially when you are between the two towns and entering Gimmelwald. It’ll be downhill on a paved footpath, so it’s quite easy.

    I wasn’t familiar with the Flower Park in Allmendhubel, but it looks very nice. Murren is at 1,638 meters and most people only seem to have altitude problems at more like 3,000 meters. Also, you’ll be walking on flat or downhill, so it’s not very strenuous.

    I’d think that the Half Fare Card would be best for you. The kids can travel free and for CHF120 per adult, you should easily save enough to pay for the card. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Jack says:

Hey Roger,
I’m so grateful I found your site as it includes the most in-depth info on Switzerland I would want (couldn’t find this info even on Rick Steve’s website although I still haven’t had a chance to lay my hands on his book). Regardless, I’ll be visiting Switzerland in June with my wife & needed your help in planning.

We’ll be in Switzerland from 17 June to 20 June (flying out of Zurich on 21 June @ 12pm), but am visiting cousins in Basel in the beginning & will effectively only have 19 & 20 June to sightsee. I’m thinking my cousin will probably show me around the Lucerne area on 18 June (Sunday) so I was planning to focus the rest of the trip in the Interlaken area as suggested on your blog.

Plan is to leave Basel early on 19 June (Mon), but needed your opinion on how to proceed.
1. Should I stay in Interlaken or Lauterbrunnen? (Decided against Murren/Gimmelwald this time since we have to be at Zurich airport on 21 June by ~9:30-10am & it’s a quicker ride from Lauterbrunnen or Interlaken). Was thinking of staying in the Lauterbrunnen, but not sure how easy it is to find hotel/accommodations at a decent (relatively) rate vs Interlaken.
2. Since I’ll be leaving Basel on Mon morning & won’t get to Interlaken/Lauterbrunnen until past noon, I wasn’t sure what to plan for the rest of the day. Was thinking after checking in & having lunch, I should still have time to go see Schilthorn (weather permitting) or at least check out Gimmelwald/Murren, but wanted your opinion on what to do that day.
3. On Tuesday, I was thinking of checking out the Jungfrau, but wanted to know alternatives in case weather is not good.
4. Is there any time at all for us to include any of the panorama rides? I’m thinking the only one appropriate from there would be part of the Golden Pass, but wanted your opinion on it.

Planning to buy a half fare card, unless you suggest a travel pass is better.

Thank you

 

    Jack,

    Thank you for the kind words, and I’ll try to help.

    1. Either Interlaken or Lauterbrunnen would work well. Lauterbrunnen is closer to the main Alpine sights, but Interlaken is much larger with more hotels and restaurants to choose from, and they are connected by a train that leaves every 30 minutes and takes 20 minutes. The Lauterbrunnen train leaves from Interlaken Ost station, which has fewer choices than the West station. However, all trains stop at both stations and they are 5 minutes apart, going several times per hour. Also, if you stay in a hotel in Interlaken you get a card that allows you to ride that train between the stations for free, as well as the buses.

    2. From Interlaken to the top of Schilthorn takes only about two glorious hours, so you’ll have plenty of time to do that on the day you arrive, if the weather is decent. And if you spend an hour up on top you’ll still have time to exit the cable car in Murren and then walk 15 minutes down the hill into Gimmelwald for the next cable car down.

    3. Schilthorn and Jungfrau are the two main superstar attractions near Interlaken, but there are also many excellent hikes in the area, at lower elevations so even if the weather on top is stormy they would still be nice. For example you can take a short train ride to Wengen and then a walk through town in a few minutes to a cable car. From the top of that cable car (it’s not too long or expensive) the views and downhill hikes are amazing. There are many other choices, but I don’t have room to go over them.

    4. It sounds like you may not have enough time for the Golden Pass. Actually, if you take trains (or a car) from Basel to Lucerne and then the trains around Interlaken, you’ll be seeing stunning sights all the way. The valley through the mountain that the Golden Pass goes in is quite nice, but compared to the other things you’ll see you won’t be missing it.

    The Half Fare Card does sound ideal for what you have in mind. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Jack says:

Thank you so much, Roger for all your tips and advice. I would like to get your opinion in staying on the other side at Wengen, if I can find an accommodation. Seems like Murren/Gimmelwald have a better view, but Wengen is bigger with more accommodation options & more importantly, only a train ride away to Lauterbrunnen (for the trip back to Zurich airport on Wed) instead of switching to a cable cars/trains if staying in the former.
And thanks for your advice on Golden Pass; seems like I won’t be missing much. Will help me i not mulling over whether I missed out.
– Jack

 

    Jack,

    Staying in Wengen would be great. It’s more at the base of some mountains rather than in them like Gimmelwald, but it’s all gorgeous. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Rajib says:

Hope you are well.

1)When I tried to book 1 tickets from Lauterbrunnen to Jungfraujoch from website https://www.jungfrau.ch, It is showing me CHF 94.80. But in your website you mentioned CHF205. Just wondering what am I missing? Isn’t this train ticket is everything to visit Jungfraujoch or I need to buy any entry pass at the top?

2)I want to do any two of Mount Rigi, Mt. Titlis Cable Car, Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn Cable Car. Which two will you suggest. I will stay 3 days in Lauterbrunnen and 2 days in Lucern and will be buying half card.
3) For the two rides, do you suggest to book advance ticket online or when I reach there?
4)I will be buying Half-Fare Card, how to use this card exactly?

Regards,
Rajib

 
Chris says:

Thank You for the all the info – this just makes me realize I’m not done with Switzerland! We are taking a trip to Europe at the end of July – England, Italy, and France – and as an after thought I added 4 days to go to Switzerland because we have 4 free award nights at a Fairmont, so we are headed to Montreux. We won’t have any more time to do the eastern side of Switzerland – much to my dismay (after reading your articles) – so we’ll just have to come back!

My question for you is would it be worth it to make a day trip from Montreux to the Interlaken area? I suspect it would be too much.

An other option may be instead of flying into Geneva, fly into Zurich, and take “the scenic route” to Montreux. Another long day, but I’m not sure what is possible, and if this would be too much. Was wondering if the vies on the train ride from Zurich to Montreux alone would make it worth it?

Thanks!

 

    Chris,

    Montreaux is really beautiful and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. The thing is, a few other places in Switzerland are even more beautiful, especially for Alps views. I do think a day trip from Montreaux to Interlaken would probably be your favorite day of the trip. If you take the fast trains it is only 2 hours 20 minutes, and you can return on the slower trains through the valley, which is part of the Golden Pass scenic train line. If it’s clear on top you could go to Schilthorn via the cable car. In that case the Half Fare Card will probably save you money. Even if it’s not clear on top you might take the cable car up to at least Murren and then walk down into the village of Gimmelwald to take the cable car back down. The trains in Switzerland are fast, comfortable, and famously punctual. I think that day trip would be a great idea. Have a wonderful time. -Roger

     
Wilks says:

Dear Roger,

I will be travelling to Switzerland in June 2017 over a period of 3 days with a group of friends. We intend to travel from Zurich to Interlaken, before spending 2 days there to explore Grinderwald-First and another day for Schilthorn. We will most likely purchase the Adventure card (train, first flyer, mountain kart and trotti bike) for the Grinderwald segment.

We are also looking to spend our nights in either Wengen/Lauterbrunnen.

Our last day will be spent at Lucerne visiting Mount Pilatus with the Golden Round Trip Pass, before we depart Switzerland for Austria via train.

Would like to seek your kind advice on:

a) Whether we should get any of the rail pass (travel/half fare) or just buy the single trip tickets based on the above itinerary.

b) The convenience/cost of staying at Wengen vs Lauterbrunnen

Looking forward to your reply!

 

    Wilks,

    My best guess is that the Half Fare Card would be the best value, although the Swiss Travel Pass for 3 days might even be better. I don’t have time to add up the costs of the things you are doing, but I’m very confident that either of those is going to save money compared to buying as you go.

    Wengen and Lauterbrunnen are only 18 minutes apart by train, and the train leaves twice an hour all day and into the evening. Wengen might be a bit more scenic, but Lauterbrunnen is a bit more central. There isn’t much difference in cost between them and they are both lovely. I think I’d go for Wengen if I had to choose one. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Elaine says:

We will only be spending a few days in Switzerland but this is our schedule.
Arrival Zurich airport need train to Zurich
Day 2 walk around Zurich and take in the sites, adjust to time change
Day 3 Glacier Express from Chur to Zermatt
Day 4 Funicular to Matterhorn possibly
Day 5 Train back to Zurich Airport
Would the Half fare card or Rail pass be a better buy?

 

    Elaine,

    I think the Half Fare Card will be a better value for you. The Swiss Travel Pass mainly covers the trains, and it only gives a discount on the cable cars, funiculars, and special private train lines. You’d need a longer Swiss Pass to work, which would be expensive. The Half Fare Card is good for 30 days, so it should save you more money. -Roger

     
Nayan Kapadia says:

i will be in switzerland for 8 days as on 10/06/2017
paris to geneva by train
geneva to interlaken 3N in interlaken
lucerne 2night
zurich 3 night
which car i shoud buy swiss travel pass or half fare pass

i m intersted mount piltus,mt rigi, mt titli must visit jungfraujoch top of europe
zurich rhine fall st. gallen etc

this all i will suposse to do…plz sugget me..

 

    Nayan,

    I think the Half Fare Card will save you more money. Since it covers a 50% discount on Jungfraujoch compared to only 25% on the Swiss Travel Pass, that pays for half of the Half Fare Card by itself. Also, since you’ll be in the country for 8 days, the 30-day Half Fare Card will cover the whole trip, while you’d need one of the longer Swiss Travel Passes to cover all of your stops. Have a fantastic trip. -Roger

     
Amy says:

Wow, this compilation is very helpful — thank you for all your research!!!

 
Maria D says:

Hello Roger!

Your site is so wonderful – I’m so happy I was able to come across it. My boyfriend and I are traveling to Europe in the next few weeks and are debating if the Swiss travel pass is worth it or if we should stick to the half fare pass. Below are our plans:

5/31: Paris –> Interlaken
6/1 – 6/2: Exploring Interlaken with canyoning, kayaking, and river rafting. We also would like to do Jungfraujoch or Harder Kulm
6/3: Interlaken –> Lucerene in the morning, and Lucerene –> Zurich in the evening. Staying in Zurich to fly back to US on 6/4.

From the research I’ve done, it seems logical to do the 4 Day Consecutive Swiss Travel Pass if we decide to do Jungfraujoch. I was wondering if I may have been missing something though and I wanted to get your advice to see if you agree to that plan!

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

    Maria D,

    I think you might get even better value in the Half Fare Card, which gives a 50% discount on Jungfrau compared to only a 25% discount with the Swiss Travel Pass. It doesn’t look like the train rides that you have planned would add up to enough to justify the full travel pass. But especially if you are doing Jungfraujoch, that Half Fare Card should pay for itself a few times over. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Bobby says:

Hello Roger, Our trip is drawing closer and I wanted to check in with you regarding our plans to date. My wife and I will be in Geneva from May 22 to 28. We will then travel to Interlaken where we will spend 1 night and 2 days. We are then traveling to Murren for 3 nights. This is our first trip to Switzerland and it is our 41st wedding anniversary. We are looking forward to the sites and hikes and adventures. Looking at the weather we may be getting rain during our stay in Murren, but we will make the best of it going to Juangfraugh and Schilthorn or any places that you would suggest if the weather in Murren isn’t good for hiking and site seeing the area. Please give us some ideas in the event the weather doesn’t improve. We will be leaving Murren and heading back near the Airport in Geneva, spending the night before flying out early on the 2nd. So questions: Best way to go from Interlaken to Murren. I understand the funicular is closed until June. Places we must see from Murren and best ways to get there and what isthe 1/2 fare card and how do you qualify? Thanks for your help in advance Roger. Your help is appreciated…

 

    Bobby,

    The thing about weather in the Alps in summer, or even in May, is that it tends to move quickly. This IS the rainy season, but most of the storms go through in just a few hours. So even if you see “rain” forecast for each day you’ll be there, chances are good that it’ll only be for a couple hours each day. You might get unlucky and it’ll rain longer than that once or twice, but usually the storms move quickly. Locals say you shouldn’t really trust the weather forecast for more than 2 days in advance, and even then it might change on the day. So it’s a good idea to have things in mind for the rainy periods, but hopefully you’ll still have more than half of each day that is clear.

    Also, the rains are often fairly light, so with an umbrella you can comfortably go hiking. The thing you have to worry most about are the clouds that can cover the peak attractions such as Schilthorn and Jungfrau. It’s best to book those only after you get there, and only after you see that it’s supposed to be clear on top. If it is raining for half a day you could take the train to the lovely city of Bern, which usually has different weather.

    The best way to get from Interlaken to Murren is described in detail on my main article about where to go in Switzerland. The short version is that you take a train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen, which takes 20 minutes. Then you walk outside the small train station and there will be a bus waiting for you. Hop aboard and it will take you to the cable car station in Stechelberg, and it passes a very impressive waterfall on the way. Then you take the cable car up one stop to Gimmelwald in 5 minutes, and then walk across the platform to the waiting cable car that will take you one more stop to Murren in another 5 minutes. You can buy a ticket from Interlaken (or anywhere else in Switzerland) all the way to Murren, so it covers all of it. Many other nearby towns and hiking trails can be reached starting from Lauterbrunnen, so you’ll be doing that a few times most likely.

    The Half Fare Card will definitely save you money. It costs around US$120 (CHF120) and it gives you a 50% discount on all train rides and mountain attractions for up to 30 days. Since those peak attractions are quite expensive, the card will pay for itself in the first 24 hours or so. You can buy it online from the link in the article above, or once you get there if you don’t mind waiting in the queue at the train station. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Logan says:

Roger,

Thank you for all the information. These posts are SO helpful. My friend and I are flying into Zurich but don’t feel a real need to stay/explore there. We have about 8 full days, and were planning to spend most of our time in Interlaken/ Gimmelwald, maybe Lucerne and Bern, and potentially spend a couple days in the Alsace Region of France. We will need to travel by train between Zurich, Lucerne, Interlaken, Bern, Basel, and France if we take a few days there. What would be the best option for us? I don’t know much about all the scenic routes, but I know we definitely want to do Jungfraujoch. Our goal is to stay near natural beauty and outdoor activities (we will be going end of June). Additionally, are the trains between major cities (that sound like they are free/included with the Swiss Travel Pass) scenic on their own? We are both under 25 so the swiss travel pass will be on the cheaper end for us. Lastly, is traveling 2nd class sufficient or is there a substantial advantage/ benefit to first class?

Thank you again! I hope that was not too many questions.

 

    Logan,

    I’m happy to help. I’ll answer your questions in the order they came up…

    Based on your list, I’d say it’s a toss-up between the Swiss Travel Pass, which will cover most of your train trips (but only a 25% discount on Jungfraujoch), or the Half Fare Card, which gives you a 50% discount on everything. If you use it for the 50% off Jungfraujoch, it almost pays for the CHF120 that the Half Fare Card costs for 30 days.

    I think your goal is perfect for Switzerland. I’d probably recommend no more than 2 nights in Gimmelwald. It’s an amazing little farming village and an incredible place to spend a couple nights, but it’s really tiny and after a couple days I think you’d find Murren or Interlaken to be more interesting.

    Most of the trains in Switzerland are very scenic, so I don’t think it’s necessary to focus on just the official “Scenic trains” that they promote. The trains between Basel and Zurich are nice, but not mind-blowing. And some of the trains immediately around Zurich go through tunnels and through suburbs. Just about every other train in Switzerland is very scenic. Even the train from Geneva to Lausanne to Montreux is wonderful as it goes along Lake Geneva.

    For most people, traveling Second Class is all they need. In Second Class it’s 4 seats across, but even then the seats are larger than on planes in coach, and you get much more legroom as well. I’m 6’3″ (192cm) and I’m fine in Second Class for the most part. First Class is mostly 3 seats across with even more legroom. It’s nice for sure, but it’s mostly built for business travelers who are trying to work during the trip and that sort of thing. Aside from the larger seats and more legroom, the other main advantage of First Class is that it’s often half empty, even when Second Class is almost full. Depending on the route, there might be 30 First Class seats and 300 Second Class seats, but still First Class is half empty even if Second Class is full.

    That said, the only trains you have to worry about filling up like that are on Monday morning and Friday afternoon, or any other train that somehow attracts many business travelers. I usually take trains that leave at 10am to 11am, and those are usually mostly empty. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
kristal says:

Hello Roger from bottom of the world, New Zealand, me and my husband going self drive from Germany to Zurich in Aug 2017 . We have last two nights at Zurich before heading back home and wanted to visit the Jungfraujoch for a day trip, could you please kindly advise below one day trip would works?
Zurich – Kleine Scheidegg
Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch
Jungfraujoch to Kleine Scheidegg
Kleine Scheidegg to Zurich

also does the railway ticket between Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch have to purchase advance online? what the chance for getting the ticket on the spot on the day?

Lastly, parking. what’s parking situation like in Kleine Scheidegg ?

Thanks in advance , Kristal

 

    Kristal,

    I really only know Kleine Scheidegg as one of the stops on the way up to Jungfraujoch. I assume there is parking, but I’m not sure since I tend to be focused on trains for those journeys.

    From Zurich the train to Kleine Scheidegg takes a bit over 3 hours. From there you can obviously catch the special train that goes on up to Jungfraujoch. The other thing to be aware of is that the summer is actually the wet season in the Alps, but the good news is that the storms tend to come and go quickly. You can get fog or clouds in those peak areas, and if the clouds are thick at the moment it’s not really worth going up there. But often a few hours later it’s clear again, so most savvy travelers wait until they are there before they commit. In other words, it’s usually easy to get tickets on the spot, and the price is the same.

    The worst case scenario is that it’s very cloudy up top all day when you are going. Even when that happens you’ll still usually have clear-enough weather in Kleine Scheidegg or Grindelwald or Wengen or Lauterbrunnen or Gimmelwald, and you can have a great time on some of the hikes from those places. The second worst case scenario would be if it was really cloudy for a couple days before you got there, and suddenly it’s sunny so everyone else in the area gets there at the same time. All in all, it’s a bit of a gamble, and since it’s so expensive to take the train up to Jungfraujoch, it’s really better to wait until you get there. Best of luck with it all. -Roger

     
Ancuta Suciu says:

Hi Roger,
Please give me your advice for my family ( two adults and one child – 15 years old ), please. Our visit in Switzerland is for 10 nights. Our train itinerary will be:
-Day 1 Geneva Airport to Lucerne
-Day 2 Lucerne – trip to Mount Pilatus ( Golden Round Trip ).
-Day 3 Lucerne to Rhine Fall
Rhine Fall – Bern or Zurich
Bern or Zurich – Luzern
-Day 4 Lucerne-Locarno: Lucerne to Flüelen by boat, Flüelen to Bellinzona by train – both with Gotthard Panorama Express
Locarno – Luzern – return with regional train
-Day 5 Luzern – Interlaken
-Day 6 Interlaken trip to Jungfraujoch
-Day 7 Interlaken trip to Zermatt and Klein Matterhorn and return
-Day 8 Interlaken to Geneva
-Day 9 – Geneva trip to Lausanne or Montreux – by boat and return by train
-Day 10 – Geneva to CERN

It is ok to get the 15 days Swiss Travel Pass or the Swiss Half Fare Card for a month ? Or maybe it is another solution for more discounts ?

Thanks!

 

    Ancuta,

    This looks like a wonderful trip. You’ve got quite a few longer train rides planned, so my best guess is that the Swiss Travel Pass for 15 Days would save you more money. The Half Fare Card would also be great, but I think the main travel pass would save you more with train rides like Interlaken to Zermatt and back on the same day. You could check the fares on sbb.ch and check yourself because it could be close, but my hunch is the Swiss Travel Pass will save you the most. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
kristal says:

Hi Roger

Thanks very much for the information, It is very kind of you 🙂

Kristal

 
Cristian Mihail says:

Hi Roger,
I have some questions about Swiss Travel Card:

• How do I use the Swiss Travel Card ?
Can I get on the train directly ? Or do I have to inform at the train station office that I have to pay?
• I looked at the map for the Swiss Travel Pass and I saw that the journey from Locarno to Luzern is not entirely covered by this card. It is a variant of this trip for which I do not have to pay if I have a swiss travel card?
• Is it necessary to pay a reservation for usual routes ? For example: from Geneva to Luzern.
• Can I buy a Swiss Travel Tard from Geneva Airport?
• If I buy the Swiss Travel Card from Switzerland, can I book ahead online for scenic routes ?

Thanks for help,
Cristian

 

    Cristian,

    I’ll try to answer in order…

    1. They mail you or you pick the card up in person, and you have to validate it with your passport each time you use it. For most trains in Switzerland you can just climb on board and show them the Pass when the conductor comes by looking at tickets. They’ll check that it’s valid, and then stamp that day if you haven’t used it yet. It sounds confusing but it’s really easy once you start. For the special scenic trains you have to pay a small supplement for a seat reservation in the panorama carriages, since there are only a few of them per day and they often sell out.

    2. The route you are describing is part of the Gotthard Panorama Express, which used to be called the Wilhelm Tell Express. Part of it is covered by a boat ride, which is also covered by the Swiss Travel Pass, and it’s mentioned in the article above. You have to pay a supplement of CHF39 to CHF49 for a seat in one of the panoramic carriages.

    3. Most trains in Switzerland don’t require a seat reservation, although some of the intercity trains do offer them. You might want a reservation if you are going between big cities in the early morning or late afternoon. Check the timetables on sbb.ch and it should tell you whether you need or want a reservation or not.

    4. Yes, I believe you’ll be able to buy a Swiss Travel Pass at the train station at the Geneva Airport. But I believe they sell them from the service desk, which has limited hours, as opposed to the main ticket windows, which are open almost around the clock.

    5. You can’t reserve the panorama seats until you buy the Swiss Travel Pass. So you can do it once you get there, but some might be sold out (this often happens). It’s probably better to buy online and start booking soon. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Nadine Hamel says:

Roger,
I am sure this has been answered but here goes..
We are traveling to Switzerland at the end of September 23-30 and will be flying into Milan. We would like to do Lake como/Lugano for a day or so and then head to Luzern for a day or so, then make our way to Interlaken area for 3 days and stay in either Murren or Grindelwald, maybe Montreux and then back to Lugano or Milan to catch our flight. I am debating whether or not to get a 4 day Swiss Pass and use it to its full advantage, or just buy point to point tickets and perhaps get lucky and get super saver tickets. We would not do anything that costs extra once we bought the pass though as we have a limited budget. We are going to Norway this summer. 🙂 I welcome your advice. We are a family of 4, kids 15 and 18. Or should we just rent a car is another question?
Thank you

 

    Nadine,

    Your plan sounds quite good as long as the kids don’t mind spending that much time on the trains. The views are amazing so that will keep them occupied for quite some time, but not all people that age have as much patience as older folks for scenery. You might check for some upcoming dates in the next month to see if Super Saver tickets are offered. In my experience, they are rarely offered for the most popular and scenic trains like the ones you have in mind. So if you can afford the Swiss Travel Pass, it will probably save you quite a bit of money.

    Also, the Half Fare Card would definitely be cheaper than just buying all of those tickets, unless you were to somehow get incredibly lucky and find Super Savers. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
ANKIT DATTA says:

Hi Roger,

Your article is one of the best i have read so far with regards to info about Switzerland. and the Question Answer section is also particularly helpful for someone with confusion about planning their trip.
I too, just like many of them have a lot of confusion about vacationing in Switzerland. Wife and I are travelling last 10 days of July 2017. We live in dubai. We plan to make paris as our port of entry, stay in paris for 3-4 days, fly to switzerland where we would spend the next 3-4 days, and finally fly into barcelona and spend the last 3-4 days there. from there we will fly back to dubai.
1) would you recommend flying between all the above paris-swiss-barcelona, as it may be faster and cheaper??
2) if you suggest flying, coming from Paris into switzerland, should we land in zurich and travel to the place we intend to spend our days.
While reading the question/answers above, i saw one particular itinerary(by Zhi Hao) which suited our plan and preference.

By Zhi Hao
“Day 1 – Zurich airport – Interlaken Ost
Day 2 – Interlaken Ost – Murren – Gimmelwald – Lauterbrunnen – Interlaken
Day 3 – Interlaken Ost – Jungfraujoch – Interlaken Ost
Day 4 – Interlaken Ost – Lucerne
Day 5 – Lucerne- Zurich airport”

Of course we have slightly lesser time for the above itinerary, so may need to cut out some portion of it. Would it be possible for you to help with that. We are interested in seeing, interlaken, lucerne, add a short side trip to Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Wengen or Mürren. This is something i am not able to decide. And we do not want to do Jungfraujoch as we know it is quite expensive. You had mentioned the Schilthorn as another option(cheaper and closer to the locations which we intend to go to). And I believe travel pass is not suited for our requirements??? Shall we just buy tickets as we go from one place to another.

Please Please Please help us plan an itinerary for 3-4 days, and also the mode of transport to move to our next destination – Barcelona.

We would be really grateful for all your suggestions.

Best
Ankit Datta

 

    Ankit,

    I’m happy that people find this helpful.

    1) I’d take the train from Paris to Interlaken and then fly to Barcelona. The train takes 6 hours. The first few hours in France are nice for scenery, but those last few hours in Switzerland are amazing. It should be faster than flying to Zurich and taking the train from there as well. Buy your ticket online as early as possible for the lowest fares.

    Switzerland to Barcelona is too long of a train ride, so flying from Zurich will be best.

    I don’t normally like to type out itineraries for people, but I think the itinerary you are looking at is a good place to start. If you can stay in Switzerland for 4 nights it would be best, and do Barcelona in 3 nights, which will be enough to see the highlights.

    Jungfraujoch is indeed expensive (normal price is around US$200 return from Interlaken), but Schilthorn is a bit over half that and it’s also amazing, so I’d highly recommend it. If you spend 3 nights in Interlaken and 1 night in Lucerne, you’ll have enough time to see and do all the things on your list.

    A Swiss Travel Pass won’t be good value for you, but the Half Fare Card mentioned in the article really should be. Basically you spend about US$120 per person and get a 50% discount on everything, including Schilthorn. Almost everything in Switzerland feels quite expensive, so once you pay that first US$120 for the Half Fare Card, then suddenly things seem quite reasonable. It’s also nice because there are so many great cable car rides and cogwheel trains in the Interlaken and Lucerne areas, and at 50% off the normal price you’ll be able to do several of them. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Cristian Mihail says:

Tkank you very much for responses !
For answer number 2: I want to go from Luzern to Locarno with Gotthard Panorama Express, but for return I want to use the train. Is there any option not to pay any extra money ?
For answer number 5: How long before can I make reservations for scenic rutes?
Thank you again ! You are very helpful to tourists !

 

    Cristian,

    It looks like you can get from Locarno to Lucerne on included trains with one change in Bellinzona, and it takes a bit over two hours.

    I’m not sure when you can make reservations for the panorama carriages, but I’m guessing it’s one month out. Switzerland only puts their train tickets on sale 30 days in advance, and most of them are the same price no matter when you buy. Have a wonderful trip. -Roger

     
Ashish says:

Hi Roger,
Very informative info, not onky in your blog but also in comments and your replies. We are a family of 4 with 2 kids Age 6 and 3.We are coming to SWITZERLAND on 2nd June. Will stay for 5 nights i CHAM (Zug) and then 4 nights in lausanne.
3rd June Lucerne
4th June Zurich or Bern which one you recommend?
5th June Interlaken Mt titlis
6th June Engelberg.
7th June laussane
8th june Laussane to Jungrfroujuch
9th June Montreux
10th June visiting friends.
11th june depart to paris

Please let me know if I should take half fare card or 8 day swiss pass given the kids and my base locations.
Also If I should add any major attraction / train ride which I am missing without adding too much travel.

Thanks in advance
Regards

Ashish

 

    Ashish,

    Between Zurich (the largest city) and Bern (the capital), I’d say that Bern is more interesting for a day trip. It’s much nicer looking and it’s also pleasantly compact. It’s also a bit cheaper than Zurich.

    I’d say the Half Fare Card for the adults will be your best bet. The kids can travel free with you, although you may need to get one of those free Swiss Family Passes. Since you get a 50% discount on Jungfraujoch compared to only 25% with a Swiss Travel Pass, and you don’t seem to be doing too many of the longer scenic trips, I think you’ll save more with the Half Fare Card. And it looks like you’ve got many of the top highlights scheduled for your trip. If you have time for Schilthorn I’d recommend that, and you’ll have some free time on some of your other days, but you’ll find great hikes or other things to do once you get there. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
K says:

Thank you for this very informative article. Looks like individual tickets would be best for the below:

Day 1: Zurich to Lucerne (evening)
Day 2: Mt Rigi or Pilatus (morning/afternoon), explore Lucerne (evening)
Day 3: Lucerne to Murren (morning), Schlithorn (afternoon)
Day 4: Jungfraujoch (morning/afternoon if weather ok), Murren to Zurich (evening)

Would you recommend the half fare card? Any changes you might make?

 

    K,

    This itinerary looks pretty much perfect for a 4-day visit to Switzerland. Now we just have to hope that the weather is decent at those key times when you are going up mountains, and it’s also nice to see that you are already considering that part.

    From the looks of it, the Half Fare Card would be the best deal for you, especially with a Jungfraujoch trip scheduled. Have a wonderful trip. -Roger

     
ANKIT DATTA says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for your advise. the trip to schilthorn from interlaken is explained as:
1) Interlaken to Lauterbrunen via train.
2) Lauterbrunen to Stechelberg Schilthornbahn via bus
3) Board the cable car here. switch to another cable car in Gimmelwald
before we reach Mürren.
4) We board the cable car and switch to another one in Birg. Then we reach the summit of the Schilthorn.

Since we are passing by these villages on our way to & from schilthorn, is it possible we spend some time exploring these places on our way back from schilthorn to interlaken, instead of keeping separate days for visiting these places and separate day for going to schilthorn.

In other words, will going to schiltihorn consume too much time and energy for us to visit these places(murren, gimmelwald, lauterbrunnen) on our way back to interlaken. If it is possible to go to these places, we may be able to cut out one day from trip in Switzerland.

Thank you very much
Ankit

 

    ANKIT,

    Yes, that is exactly how the trip to Schilthorn works, and you can pay for it all with one ticket from any train station or ticket booth in Switzerland. From Interlaken to Schilthorn it takes around 2 hours. If you are in a hurry you can enjoy the views in 30 minutes and maybe take a short visit to the included James Bond attraction, which is more interesting than it might sound. But if you have a bit more time I’d recommend getting lunch at the Piz Gloria revolving restaurant up there. Amazingly enough, the food prices are similar to what you’d find at a restaurant in Interlaken. That still means that main courses start at a bit over US$20, but considering the location that will feel like a bargain.

    Once you decide to catch the cable car back down it would take you another two hours or so to reach Interlaken again. But I highly recommend getting off at Murren on the way down (as long as the weather is decent) and walking around there for a bit before walking down the hill to Gimmelwald, which takes about 20 minutes. From there you can catch the next cable car down (they leave every 30 minutes), using the same ticket you started with. Murren and Gimmelwald are both really lovely places to visit, so being able to do it as part of your Schilthorn day makes the most sense. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Scott Wells says:

Good day Roger… a great name by the way, the name of my father 😉

Trying to figure out if a Swiss Half-Fare or graubündenPASS is the best way to go for our trip to Germany and Graubünden-Switzerland. Also, any tips regarding the Germany train tickets would be greatly appreciated.

Three Adults
14-20/21 JULY

Arriving Zurich: 14 July; Early AM. Travelling same day to Titisee-Neustadt, GERMANY via Schaffhausen route.

Titisee-Neustadt, Germany: 14-15 July. Early AM on 16 July returning to Zurich then onward to Poschiavo (renting a house there).

Poschiavo will be used as a home-base from 16-20/21 July.

Return to Zurich on 20 or 21 July for evening flight departure.

We will be taking daily train rides on the RhB (open-air scenic carriages) to visit Cavaglia, Lake Palu, Diavolezza, Pontresina, St. Moritz, Sils-Maria, Fex Valley, and Bregaglia in the Upper Engadine and a one-day trip to Scuol-Tarasp, Ardez, and Ftan in the Lower Engadine Valley. These visits will include a few short bus rides; least one boat ride (Lake Sils); and two or three cable car rides.

Please advise.

Cheers and respects,

 

    Scott,

    Rogers of the world unite! To be honest, I’d never heard of the graubündenPASS until just now. Since most of the top sights for first-time visitors to Switzerland are in the western two-thirds of the country, I haven’t explored a pass for the eastern area. I’m only familiar with a few of the places on your list, so you are digging pretty deep and I hope you’ve visited the major Swiss highlights before, or plan to eventually. If most or all of those places are in Graubünden, then that pass looks ideal.

    However, if several of those places are outside that region then you might also consider a Half Fare Card in addition. It appears that you can even save about CHF30 on the graubündenPASS if you buy the Half Fare Card. Sorry I don’t know more about the specifics of the places on your route. Hopefully you can find the fares on sbb.ch and make the right choice.

    As for German train tickets, you’ll obviously want to get them on bahn.de, and the earlier you buy them the cheaper they should be. The only tricky thing is if you are using a Half Fare Card or even that other one, it will cover much or all of the train ride within the Swiss border. In most cases you can book a separate ticket for just the portion of a train in the other country. So you might be able to get 50% off the train up to the Swiss border, and then pay the advance purchase fare for the German portion, and hopefully you’d be able to keep the same seat. I’ve done that for major exit points such as Basel or Salzburg, but not for the route you’ll be going. Best of luck on this. -Roger

     
Ritu says:

Hi Roger,

I see you are the guy to go for any Swiss Travel. Me, my husband and my 8 year old daughter are arriving at Zurich on 7th Nov and leaving on 11th. We have full 4 days to roam around as much as we can and also would like to take some peaceful time to enjoy the beauty of Alps. Can you please suggest us the best itinerary and pass if applicable. If possible we would like to cover the glacier.

I saw this itinerary in one of your comments and was wondering if this is a good start:

Day 1 – Zurich airport – Interlaken Ost
Day 2 – Interlaken Ost – Murren – Gimmelwald – Lauterbrunnen – Interlaken
Day 3 – Interlaken Ost – Jungfraujoch – Interlaken Ost
Day 4 – Interlaken Ost – Lucerne
Day 5 – Lucerne- Zurich airport”

Thanks,
Ritu

 

    Ritu,

    I think an itinerary very much like that one would be a fantastic way to combine the Alps with at least a look at Lucerne, which is also lovely. In the smaller mountain towns such as Gimmelwald and even Murren, some of the hotels close from mid October, which is the end of the busy summer season, and open in mid December for the start of the ski season. There will be plenty of other hotels open, but don’t be surprised if it looks like the selection is smaller than you were expecting.

    On Day 2 the highlight would be a trip all the way up to Schilthorn as long as the weather up there is decent. Jungfraujoch is similar in that it’s amazing in clear weather and not really worth it in fog or overcast. If you did an itinerary like this you’d be best off getting the Half Fare Card, which allows for one free child with each paid adult using the free Swiss Family Pass that you can get once you get there or perhaps even online.

    On Day 4 you’d want to reach Lucerne early enough to take a 2-hour cruise on the river, which stops at various little towns in the area. After that you can enjoy the charming Lucerne town center and perhaps take a look at the lion statue. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
ANKIT DATTA says:

Thanks Roger,
for your reply to my ques as well as Ritu’s ques as i see she is planning to use the same itinerary. So you cleared my doubts about lucerne as well. I just want to thank you very much for extending all your help to clueless travelers who (with your help, are able to make the best out of their holiday. Nobody wants to spend so much money on a holiday and realize that they have left out many important/interesting things. With your help we are able to get the most out of our holidays… thank you once again for everything.

Ankit

 
Ritu says:

Thank you very much Roger. This is so helpful as Ankit said specially for clueless tourists. I have one more question, I am arriving at Zurich at 6am so on my first day should I take a tour of Zurich and go to Interlaken or should I take a trip to Bern and go to Interlaken from Bern. With this Itinerary we will be staying in Interlaken for first nights and in Lucerne on 4th night. Is that right or do you suggest something else?

 

    Ritu,

    Zurich is obviously a far larger city, but there are no particularly interesting sights there. If someone has half a day or a day or even two to spend there, they would find it pleasant and enjoyably, but it’s a bit boring compared to the natural sights. Bern is actually quite interesting and much more photogenic. If you want to tour a city then Bern is the one to pick. The trains run early to late, so you can go anywhere you want at almost any hour.

    Your itinerary looks quite good and I don’t have any other suggestions. -Roger

     
Ana-Maria says:

Hi Roger.
I will buy a Swiss Travel Card. For my child I will take the Family Card.
I have a few questions:
– for trip from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch must I pay the ticket for my child ?
– which is the route from Interlaken Ost to Jungfraujoch ? Interlaken Ost – Grindewald – Kleine Scheidegg – Jungfraujoch and return to Wengen – Lauterbrunnen ?
– which is the best way to visit Murren if I go to the Jungfraujoch ?

Thank you !

 

    Ana-Maria,

    Yes, the child ticket will cost half what an adult ticket will cost to Jungfraujoch. It’s a special private train so they don’t allow free travel for families.

    Those are the two routes to reach Jungfraujoch. Many people like to go up one and come down the other.

    You can reach Murren from Lauterbrunnen train station. You take a bus parked outside the station right after every train from Interlaken Ost arrives to the cable car station in Stechelberg, and it also passes a very nice waterfall on the way. You take the cable car up one stop to Gimmelwald and then cross the platform for a cable car up one more stop to Murren. You can buy a ticket that covers the whole journey, including train, bus, and cable car, at any station. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Maria says:

Hi Roger.
I intend to visit the Matterhorn ( by train till Zermatt and after using the cable ). I will stay in Interlaken and I want to use the Glacier Express, too.
Can you tell my a beautiful itinerary ? And of course, one can be done in one day…

I’ve researched and are still confused: it is ok to use the train from Interlaken to Tasch and from here to take the Glacier Express to Zermatt ? Or is it better to go from Interlaken to Brig and take the Glacier Express to Zermatt ?

Best Regards,
Maria

 

    Maria,

    I’m not sure I understand your question about an itinerary, and I prefer not to type out itineraries from scratch for people anyway. All of those train rides in Switzerland are incredibly scenic, so I don’t think it’s necessary to focus just on the routes with names. The fastest train from Interlaken to Zermatt requires a change in Spiez and then another in Visp. That takes a bit over two hours to Zermatt. It might be best to go that way in the morning, and then if you have time on your way home you can go back through Brig. You’ll have so much stunning scenery all day that you may just want the fastest route back to Interlaken. Best of luck with this. -Roger

     
Prasad says:

Hi Roger,
Your Article was very informative about Switzerland Sight seeing.
I Will be visiting Switzerland for 4 days starting from 3rd august with the base location as Lucerne. Below is my itinerary

Day1:Check in to Lucerne hotel 12 pm.Visit Mount rigi and come back to Lucerne hotel
Day 2: Mount Pilatus and Mount Titlis and back to lucerne hotel
Day 3: Zuriche Sight seeing and come back to Lucerne hotel.
Day 4: Lucerne Sight seeing(Lion monument,Chapel bridge etc.,)
Day 5: Checkout Lucerne hotel and Reach Zurich airport.

Can you Please suggest if we should take 3 day Swiss pass or half fare card and also if we can include any other places in our itinerary

Thanks
Prasad

 

    Prasad,

    It looks like the Half Fare Card would save you more money. The other comment I’ll make is that Zurich isn’t really a very interesting tourist city, even for a day trip. You’ll be in the most beautiful part of Europe, so I wouldn’t take a full day going to a bland and extremely expensive city unless you have some specific things you want to see there. I’d spend the day in and around Interlaken instead, which is really the heart of the most famous sights such as Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch.

    Even if you go to Interlaken instead, I think a Half Fare Card is still the way to go. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Kas says:

Hi Roger,

Wow thank you for helping us tourists! You are fantastic!

My family and I (2 adults and 2 kids) will be in Switzerland in Octrober for 7 days. I have booked 3 days in Lauterbrunnen (just to relax and hike (and go to the waterfall) and enjoy the beauty) and 4 days in Lucerne as a base to take panaromic train rides, cruises and Mt. rigi/titlis. My question is:
1. What are the best scenic train rides that we could take and come back to Lucerne?
2. If thats not viable, Should we stay in the town where the train stops? My husband , though, doesn’t want to unpack/pack too much as its hard with 2 kids.
3. Would a half fare card cover kids (as the swiss pass is free for kids). With our itinerary, would a swiss pass be better than?

Any other suggestions would be greatly welcomed. Thank you!

Kas

 

    Kas,

    I lived in a town in Turkey called Kas for a bit over a year, interestingly enough. Your plan sounds very good.

    1. You could take part of the Golden Pass train west from Interlaken and back to Lucerne. But in my opinion, pretty much every train ride in Switzerland is very scenic. They have those certain named scenic train routes, some with special panoramic carriages, and I’ve done a couple of them. However as I mentioned, every train ride is very scenic so I generally just recommend that people book train rides to and from the places they want to visit, and enjoy the scenery along the way.

    2. Taking a train 5 hours in one direction and then taking it right back the other way can be very tiring so I really wouldn’t recommend it. In some cases you can take a different route back though. With the Golden Pass one of the most scenic parts is the ride through the valley on the way to Montreux, but the faster train goes through Bern, so you could do one in each direction. With young kids I think I’d avoid those long train days though, and just find a place you want to visit, and come back at the end of the same day.

    3. You can get a free Swiss Family Card, which allows a free child with every paid adult, even with a Half Fare Card. I think if you order a Half Fare Card online that you can request a Family Card with it, or you can get it in Switzerland. I think the Half Fare Card will be best for you, unless you decide to take more long train rides than you have mentioned so far. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
ANKIT DATTA says:

Hi Roger,

Slight change in plan. Now we plan to go from paris to Murren by train(as suggested by you)..stay 2 nights in Murren & one Night in Lucerne. The journey from paris to murren looks quite tough,(Paris-Gare de Lyon to Mürren BLM
via Basel SBB to Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen BLM to Grütschalp ) but i guess the beauty of staying amongst the mountain ranges in murren will be worth it.i can see that paris to murren costs about 220 chf. which involves plenty of changes within switzerland. How can i use a half fare card to reduce this cost.Can i buy the half fare card from paris, and then apply it while booking my train tickets from paris to murren. Or do i hae to book my train to basel and then buy a half fare card and use it for the remaining part of my journey to murren. Sorry if i am sounding stupid, but i’m quite new to the train system of switerland and europe in general.

Ankit

 

    ANKIT,

    That’s not a stupid question at all. Yes, you can book a train from Paris to Basel and then use the Half Fare Card to book the trip within Switzerland. I believe you’d have to change trains in Basel regardless, so it really shouldn’t be more complicated. And yes, I do believe that staying in Murren or Gimmelwald is easily worth the extra hassle of getting there, even after a long day of traveling. It’s magical staying in a car-free village on the side of a stunning mountain like that. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Bill says:

Roger,

Thank you for the great information. I am finding it to be very helpful. I have one question that I am hoping you can clear up for me.

My family (party of 6) will be spending 4 nights in a hotel in Grindelwald later this month. We plan to spend our entire time in the mountains. We will be taking the train up to Jungfraujach and visiting places such as Gimmelwald, Murren, Wegen, etc. My question for you is whether buying a travel pass makes sense? I am unclear if these passes will provide a discount on the various cable cars/trains on the mountain. Any clarity you can provide would be much appreciated.

Ps, we have a rental car and our rental property provides free parking.

Thank you in advance and keep up the great work,
Bill

 

    Bill,

    A Swiss Travel Pass does indeed cover a few of the cable cars and cogwheel rail lines where cars can’t go, and it gives a 50% discount (only 25% on Jungfraujoch) to the others. But since you’ll have a car I really doubt you’d get value out of one. I’d say that you’ll be best off with the Half Fare Card, which gives a 50% discount on Jungfraujoch, and that ride alone almost pays for the Half Fare Card. You’ll get very good value out of that.

    And you can definitely drive to some of the places you want to visit, even if you have to take cable cars into the mountains such as in Gimmelwald and Murren. With free parking in Grindelwald like that, you should be able to get the best of both worlds. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Lucy McGinness says:

Hi Roger,
Your site is really helpful and I’ve bookmarked for future reference!
My family of four (me, husband and two boys that are 9 years old) along with my brother in law will be staying in an Airbnb in Bonigen from July 9-13. Just wondering if it would be worth for us to get a Swiss Pass or not. Here’s how we’ll be coming/going:
7/9 – Basel SBB to Interlaken OST
7/10-7/12: open to adventures (maybe ropes course or zipline, hiking, Jungraujoch, etc.)
7/13 – Interlaken OST to Milan
Any suggestions is greatly appreciated! Thank you much in advance!
Lucy

 

    Lucy,

    The key to which pass, if any, is the best deal for you would lie in what you want to do on those 3 days in the Interlaken area. I’m no expert on a lot of the pure adventure stuff in that area such as the ropes courses and ziplines and whatnot, although I do know that those things are popular there. Most of those activities would not be covered by the Swiss Travel Pass or a Half Fare Card, as far as I know. But Jungfraujoch, which is quite expensive, is covered for a 50% discount on the Half Fare Card and only a 25% discount on the Swiss Travel Pass.

    Aside from Jungfraujoch, the other top highlight in the Interlaken area is Schilthorn, which is covered by a 50% discount with either card. Hiking, obviously, is mostly free, but most of the best Alps hikes are accessible by taking a cable car or cogwheel train up and then walking down or coming down the same way you went up. I’m not sure how much this helps, but you really have to figure out if you want to focus more on the things that are covered by the Swiss passes or more of the private adventure attractions in the area. Based on that answer, you’ll probably know which pass to get or not. That Half Fare Card would probably pay for itself just for the train rides you are taking in and out of Switzerland. You should also be able to get a free Swiss Family Card, which will allow the boys to ride for free with the parents. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Teodoro says:

Roger, Can you give us some of your expert advice and opinions regarding our plan:

My wife and I are meeting our daughter in Geneva. We arrive on June 8th. We plan to be in Geneva with our daughter until June 11. Our plan is to rest and walk on the 8th, visit CERN on the 9th and on the 10th, Saturday do a day trip somewhere. We were thinking about Gruyeres then would go back to Geneva (with daughter). We had thought to go to Gruyeres via Montreux to take advantage of the golden pass train. On Sunday, we head to Lucerne. We stay one night, then head to Interlaken area for two days. We are staying in both Murren and Wengen, and plan to sightsee, hike and head up the mountain. On June 14th, we return to Geneva and head home on 15th.

Can you help us tweak the above to take the most advantage of the routes/scenery, etc. and let us know if in your opinion if a travel pass is worth it, and if so which one?

Thank you so much.

 
Andrew says:

Hi Roger,

Great blog! I’m trying to unravel information about a trip we are making as a family of four (2 adults; 2 children under 13) to Wengen (24 July – 9 August). We are flying in and out of Zurich. Would like to take the train from Zurich to Interlaken via Lucerne if possible, although it looks like going via Bern might be more expedient. Once in Wengen, we are doing various trips by train, cable car and boat on Lakes Thun and Brienz. Will certainly look to visit Jungfraujoch, Gimmelwald and Murren but would also potentially like to venture further afield if we can make the train times/tickets/logistics work.

Really want some advice about which pass is best to get for the length of stay and the most cost effective version for a family. Obviously Wengen is car free, so potentially will be using the train a good deal.

Any help much appreciated.

Best wishes,

Andrew

 

    Andrew,

    This is a tricky one. It looks like your trip will be 16 days, which is a long time in Switzerland for most people. The obvious choices would be the 15-Day Swiss Travel Pass or the 30-day Half Fare Card. The Swiss Travel Pass really does become a very good deal for longer trips like that because the per-day price becomes so low. My hunch is that the pass would be a better deal than the Half Fare Card. I’ve used Eurail Passes and the like quite a few times, and I can’t tell you the joy of just being able to hop on any train as you please. The pass also covers many of (but not all) of the cable cars and cogwheel trains, which it sounds like you’ll be going on quite a bit if you are staying in Wengen.

    You only get a 25% discount on Jungfraujoch compared to 50% off with the Half Fare Card. But aside from that I think you could save much more with the full pass. Once you have a pass like that you’ll find many places to go and things to do that you might not even if you had to pay 50% for them.

    With either one you’ll be able to get a free Swiss Family Card, which will allow the kids to ride free with you guys on normal trains and some cable cars as well. Switzerland can be very good value for families with that card. You’d still have to pay for the kids on Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn, but again, you’ll save so much in other ways that it’s a small price to pay. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
becca says:

great information here, but i still have trouble deciding if swiss travel pass or half fare pass or neither is best option. we’ll take train zurich to interlaken, spend 4 nights in interlaken, then train to milan, italy. any suggestions about a discount pass … it seems unlikely it will be worth it. we are 2 adults and 2 teens, ages 17 and 13, so the 13 year old gets half price fare without any pass, free with a pass.

also, what would you recommend for our 3 full days in interlaken area. we’re thinking about schilthorn if it’s a clear day, maybe schynigge platte but don’t know if it makes sense to do both of those if similar; very interested in lautterbrunnen valley with all the waterfalls, would also like to explore small villages (maybe grimmelwald?), and maybe aare gorge. can any of these be combined in one day? are there other “must sees” in the area? we don’t want a lot of time on transportation, would like easy walks but not strenuous hiking. would appreciate any feedback.
thanks much, becca

 

    Becca,

    Especially if you are going to do Schilthorn or Schynige Platte, I’m very confident that a Half Fare Card would be very good value. As you probably know, it costs CHF120 for each person over 15, and it’s good for 30 days. Since it literally gives you a 50% discount on almost everything in Switzerland, it pays for itself with CHF240 worth of rides. Schilthorn alone costs half of that, and getting from Zurich to Interlaken and from Interlaken to the Italian border will make up the difference by themselves. In other words, transportation in Switzerland is annoyingly expensive if you are paying full price, but pleasantly affordable with the Half Fare Card.

    Most of the short cable car rides will cost around CHF10 each way, and if you really want to enjoy your time there you’ll be doing quite a few of those. So really in my opinion it’s best to just pay the CHF120 for the Half Fare Card and then try to get as much use out of it as possible when you get there. And of course the 13-year-old can travel free along with someone with a pass, so it’s really a great deal.

    I haven’t done Schynige Platte myself, but it looks to be quite different from Schilthorn, even though they are both lookouts in the same part of the Alps. The views from each peak are surprisingly different, and each magnificent. Schilthorn is reached by a fun cable car ride and there is a revolving restaurant on top called Piz Gloria, as well as a pretty good James Bond attraction that is included in the price. The food and drink prices at Piz Gloria are similar to other Swiss restaurants (none of which are cheap), so having lunch and a drink up there and enjoying a full revolution of the view is something you’ll never forget, as long as the weather is decent, as you mentioned.

    My advice for Schilthorn is to take the cable car all the way up and then on the way down get off in Murren. Walk around there a bit and then walk down the hill 15 minutes to Gimmelwald, which is a tiny farming village that shares a jaw-dropping Alpine view. Then take the cable car down to Stechelberg from there. You can do many little hikes, most of which are flat or downhill, by taking cable cars like this. Jungfraujoch of course is the other top attraction, and it’s very different from Schilthorn as well. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Maria says:

Hi Roger.
I will buy the Swiss Travel Card. I want to know how can I make only reservation on normal train, without paying the train ticket ( because the ticket is included in the Swiss Travel Pass ). Thanks !

 

    Maria,

    As far as I’m aware, the normal intercity trains in Switzerland do NOT require a seat reservation at all, so you just climb aboard and show your pass to the ticket person when they come by. The panorama carriages require a seat reservation, but normal carriages on the same trains do not. Trains that leave Switzerland will require a seat reservation, but if you are just going from one place in Switzerland to another, you can just hop aboard. -Roger

     
Ancuta says:

Hi Roger. The Swiss Travel Pass is available in a [email protected] version. If I buy online, can I travel with that print version ? Or should I have the card, too ?
I’ve seen that if you buy online, you get at home the card and pay for the delivery. Thank you.

 

    Ancuta,

    Yes, the Print At Home version of the Swiss Travel Pass is valid exactly like the old fashion version that you get in person or by post. As far as I know you won’t have to pay to have a physical version of the pass delivered. I haven’t used this method myself in Switzerland, but I’ve done it in many other European countries and it’s very standard now. Have a wonderful trip. -Roger

     
Jo says:

Hi Roger,

I have a friend who has just been relocated to work in Geneva, Switzerland for a duration of a few years. I and another friend will be visiting him and this is the the first time we are travelling to Switzerland and throughout I will stay in his apartment (except for one night in Interlaken).

If all three of us were to stay in Interlaken for a night and take a day drip from Interlaken up to Jungfraujoch, and then return to Interlaken, and ultimately return to Geneva, should I get the half fare pass? Any other pass that can help us save money as we travel from Geneva to Interlaken and to Jungfraujoch (ultimately will return to Geneva)?

Would your answer be different if I add in one more trip: the cable car ride up to Schilthorn (that means going to Jungfraujoch and also Schilthorn)?

Thank you Roger.

 

    Jo,

    I think the Half Fare Card will be your best bet whether you do one of those amazing peak attractions or both. Just one trip from Geneva to the top of Schilthorn and back should pay for the Half Fare Card, and Jungfraujoch almost covers the cost by itself, even without the normal trains from Geneva and back. The Half Fare Card is really an excellent deal for anyone who wants to do more than just a couple normal train rides in Switzerland. And once you have it you’ll find that the other little things like cable cars and cogwheel trains are suddenly a reasonable price. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Cheryl says:

Hi Roger! Need your help and advice if my husband and I should purchase the Swiss Travel Pass or Swiss Half-Fare Card. Our travel plans in Switzerland coming August are as follows:

3 Aug – Zurich Airport to Lucerne
4 Aug – Walk around Lucerne
5 Aug – Lucerne to Thun
6 Aug – Thun->Interlaken->Lauterbrunnen-> Kleine Scheidegg->Jungfraujoch->Thun
7 Aug – Thun to Milan

Thank you 🙂

 

    Cheryl,

    The Half Fare Card should be the better value for you. Since it gives a 50% discount for Jungfraujoch compared to the 25% discount with a Swiss Travel Pass, that gives it a big advantage. The Swiss Travel Pass is really only better for those who are doing at least a couple of the longer scenic train rides. The peak attractions are typically better value with the Half Fare Card. Have a wonderful trip. -Roger

     
Cheryl says:

Sure noted Roger. Thank you for the advice!

 
Jo says:

Thanks you Roger!

 
Cory Inman says:

Hi Roger,

This is by far the best information I’ve found while planning my trip to Switzerland at the end of the month! I’m having a little trouble figuring out whether to do the 4 consecutive day Swiss Pass, Half-off card, or pay as I go. My goal is to see and experience as much of Switzerland as I can. I’m a high adventure trip leader in the states, so I’m planning on trying to get that in as well. Here’s my itinerary:

Day 1: Land in Zurich from Berlin Early morning; Enjoy Zurich
Day 2: Travel to Lucerne in morning; Enjoy Lucerne until late afternoon; Travel to Interlaken
Day 3: Canyoning near Interlaken at Chli Schliere (with Outdoor Interlaken); Stay in Interlaken
Day 4: White Water rafting on the Lütschine River in the morning until 1 pm; Not sure whether to stay in interlaken or head somewhere else after; open to suggestions on where to go/what to do with the rest of my day.
Day 5: I was thinking of doing the Jungfraujoch train this day or another scenic railroad, but am very open to suggestions
Day 6: I need to get to Zurich by 5 pm for my flight back to Berlin at 7 pm that night

Thank you again for your helpful blog and your advice!

 

    Cory,

    I appreciate the kind words. If you are going to do Jungfraujoch, which I highly recommend assuming the weather is decent when you are ready to go, then the Half Fare Card is the obvious choice. That one amazing trip almost covers the cost of the Half Fare Card itself, and Schilthorn covers well over half of it on its own as well. Long story short, get the Half Fare Card. You’d have to take at least a couple of the longer scenic train rides in order to justify the Swiss Travel Pass, and even then it only gives a 25% discount on Jungfraujoch.

    The other thing to consider is that the normal train rides in Switzerland are kind of pricey, so unless you ONLY were going to go from Zurich to Lucerne to Interlaken to Zurich, the Half Fare Card will save you money. It’s also nice to just buy the HFC and then suddenly all of the expensive stuff in Switzerland feels very reasonably priced. So if you want to experience Switzerland and do various adventures, you won’t have to worry about the crazy prices of each additional train ride or cable car or whatever else. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Vandana says:

Hi roger !
This blog makes the trip planning to switzerland real fun.
I feel myswissalps.com is only promoting the Swiss travel pass and the more expensive tourist attractions.

Need your help with the trip as well as the pass

June 14 from Zurich reach interlaken around 2.oo pm…how best to utilise the second half….. also suggest which is the more scenic route for reaching interlaken
June 15 jungfrauch/schilthorn depending on the weather … on the way back grindelwald/gimmewald. ..or?
June 16… we are staying at engelberg for four nights..
Travel from interlaken to lengelberg via lucerne
Would it be possible to stopover at lucerne … we are six of us with luggage…enjoy the evening and then proceed to engelberg .. where to keep the luggage/
Or should we first go to engelberg straightaway keep our luggage and then come back to lucerne for the evening
Do glacier garden at lucerne .. either in afternoon or evening …
June 17… mount titlis …. evening at lucerne
June 18 … trip to bern /use any panoramic train day trip from lucerne /engelberg… please suggest….or anything else that you recommend
June 19.. mount rigi/Pilates ….
June 20 … Zurich … one night …. what can be done in the evening ?

I am travelling with my parents 65 and above , my teenage kids and my husband…
Am open to suggestions and tips… both regarding the itinerary and pass… but my stay is fixed… two nights at interlaken and four at engelberg…

Thanks

 

    Vandana,

    Thank you. I think Myswissalps.com does a pretty good job and they have far more information than I do, but I guess they are a bit more commercially oriented. I’ll try to answer your questions in order.

    I’d just take the fast train from Zurich to Interlaken. Once you get outside the Zurich area, it’s all incredibly scenic.

    Grindelwald is very nice and it’s a great choice if you do Jungfraujoch, but Gimmelwald is more unusual and it’s the obvious choice (or Murren) if you do Schilthorn.

    You could stop in Lucerne for a few hours. There are definitely luggage lockers in the Lucerne train station, including some large ones, so it might cost CHF20 or so to store that luggage for up to 6 hours or so. It might be more if you have large bags, but it will still be worth it. Most likely they also have a Left Luggage desk (most larger European train stations do), where you can check the bags with an attendant for short periods. The most scenic part of the lake with Chapel Bridge is a very short walk out of the train station, and there are dozens of restaurants in that area as well.

    I’m not familiar with Glacier Garden there.

    One thing you might consider is keeping those few days a bit open. It can be rainy and cloudy in the mountains during summer, although the storms usually don’t last long. So you can go to the peak attractions such as Titlis, Rigi, and Pilatus when you know the weather is clear up top, and if it is rainy or cloudy you can hop on a train to Bern or somewhere else. Usually the weather in the cities is dry in summer, although not always. That way you can have a better chance of being able to see those places in clear weather. It’s almost always easy to get tickets just before you want to go, precisely because that is what most people recommend.

    One evening in Zurich will be enjoyable and the historic center on both sides of the river (mostly on the east side though) is nice to walk around in. Restaurants and bars there are even more expensive than they are everywhere else in Switzerland, and that’s saying something. If you get there early enough you might consider one of the free (tips based) walking tours, which take about two hours. Have a wonderful trip. -Roger

     
Cory Inman says:

Thanks Roger!

 
Krishna says:

Hi Roger,

Firstly, thanks for this excellent blog.
I’m planning for a trip from Paris to Swiss towards end of July and going to stay for 6 days (including entry and departure dates). I’m thinking to keep Interlaken as a base accommodation and then travel to places like:
– Jungfraujouch, Mount Titlis, Zurich Rhine falls etc
– This includes the cable car in one of these

I’m thinking to travel from Paris Basel Interlaken and return back to Paris. The point-to-point train prices are high. Hence, planning for a France-Swiss Eurorail Select Card. My queries are:
1) Is Eurorail France-Swiss pass a good option
2) Does this pass cover any trains between Basel, Interlaken, Lucerne, Zurich etc
3) I found that separate reservation is required for Paris Basel trains. Do I need to reserve for Basel Interlaken and other trains?
4) Along with Eurorail pass, should I go for Swiss Travel Pass (looks expensive) or Half Fare Card (2 x CHF 120)?
– Also, does 4 days Swiss Travel Pass covers my trip?
(Note: We are 2 adults and 2 children below 10 years)

In short:
Eurorail Select + Swiss Travel Pass
– OR –
Eurorail Select + Swiss Half Fare Card

Regards,
Krishna

 

    Krishna,

    Eurail Passes in France are tricky because they require expensive seat reservation fees on the popular high-speed trains such as Paris to Basel. If that is the only route you’ll take in France, it’s probably not worth buying a two-country pass.

    Eurail passes DO cover all of those intercity trains in Switzerland, but they only provide a discount on most of the mountain trains including Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen (which is short and fairly cheap anyway), as well as only a discount on cable cars and cogwheel trains.

    You do NOT need a seat reservation on the vast majority of trains in Switzerland, except for certain Panorama carriages on scenic train routes. For trips between major destinations on normal trains, you can just hop aboard and find a seat.

    Really the Half Fare Card is a better deal for most travelers to Switzerland. Unless you are planning at least two of the longer scenic train rides, it’s hard to justify the price of the Swiss Travel Pass. Also, the Half Fare Card provides a 50% discount on Jungfraujoch, compared to only a 25% discount with a Swiss Travel Pass. Jungfraujoch itself almost pays for the CHF120 Half Fare Card. Also, with a Half Fare Card (or Swiss Travel Pass) the children can ride free with a paying adult once you get the free Swiss Family Card.

    Again, I think it’s possible that the Half Fare Card is all you need. If you are only going between Paris and Basel and back, if you buy the tickets as early as possible the fare shouldn’t be too bad. And the seat reservations with the Eurail Pass in France also cuts into its value. I don’t know what the exact numbers are, but my hunch is that the Half Fare Card alone could be the cheapest option. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Chin says:

Hello Roger,

Thanks for the highly detailed infos,
I will be in Switzerland from March 1st – 14th, 13 days trip,
We’re trying to do a full complete trip in Switzerland. ( Is 13 days enough or too long ?)
Do you suggest a 15 days Swiss Pass?

Thank you.

 

    Chin,

    I’d say that 13 days is longer than most visits to Switzerland, but if your goal is to do a full complete trip then 13 days might not even be enough. Switzerland is very expensive, even compared to all of its neighbors, and I think that’s one reason why most people don’t plan long trips there. But it’s also got the most spectacular scenery in Europe.

    As for the Swiss Travel Pass, the shorter ones can seem expensive unless you are taking at least 2 or 3 longer scenic train rides, but the 15-day version is much easier to get good value out of on a long trip. I’d say it’s definitely the best choice for you, and you should easily be able to get probably double what you pay in value. Have a wonderful trip. -Roger

     
Alvin Tan says:

Hi Roger

Below is my itinerary:

02 Aug 2017
Paris to Interlaken:
Interlaken to Grindelwald:
Drop luggage at Grindelwald

03 Aug 2017
Hike from Grindelwald to Eigergletscher
Eigergletscher to Jungfraujoch: https://www.virail.com/eigergletscher-jungfraujoch/2017-08-03 12:1210pm via SBB
Junfraujoch is the peak
Jungfraujoch to interlaken:
Interlaken to kandersteg:
Kandersteg for roller coaster
Kandersteg to Grindelwald:
Back hotel to zz

04 Aug 2017
Grindelwald hike to lauterbrunnen, skydive, paragliding all here
Lauterbrunnen to Grindelwald:

05 Aug 2017
Grindelwald to Interlaken:
Interlaken to Zurich:
Fly off

I was wondering if rail pass or train ticket is more worth it? And if the pass covers local trains in Switzerland such as kandersteg to Grindelwald

 

    Alvin,

    The Swiss Travel Pass is indeed confusing, especially when trying to figure out where it’s valid and where it only offers a discount. If you look online you can find maps that show that information, and looking at one I see that the Kandersteg route is covered 100% by the pass.

    Even including that, it doesn’t look like you are taking many longer train trips in Switzerland, and you ARE doing Jungfraujoch. As such I think a Half Fare Card would save you more money than a Swiss Travel Pass. It gives a 50% discount for Jungfraujoch compared to only 25% with the Swiss Travel Pass. Honestly, the more itineraries I see, the more it looks like almost everyone is best suited to a Half Fare Card, except those who are taking several long scenic trains. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
AN says:

Hi Roger,

After looking at your detailed information above, I think you will be able to clarify some of my queries…

1. I will be traveling with my wife in September from Innsbruck, Austria to Zurich, Switzerland by train. We are planning on driving from Zurich to Grindelwald where we’ll stay for 4 nights.

2. For the entire stay, we plan to rent a car (I heard that renting a car gives flexibility). What do you recommend/suggest? Should we travel by train or by car? We are not sure about the frequency of trains from Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch / Schilthorn / Lucerne / Interlaken / Montreux / Geneva.

3. Will it be possible to visit these places in 4 days? Do we need to get a half fare card?

4. We plan to go to Italy after Switzerland by flight – will it be better to fly from Geneva to Naples or from Zurich to Naples?

Thanks in advance,
AN

 

    AN,

    I normally don’t recommend renting cars in Europe, but Switzerland can be an exception because traffic is generally light and there is free (or at least easy) parking at many of the main sights because they aren’t in crowded cities. Personally, I love the trains and they go everywhere you want to go, frequently.

    The trains up to Jungfraujoch leave a few times each morning. The cable car up to Schilthorn leaves every half hour during the day. The trains between the larger cities run hourly or half hourly from around 5am until around midnight, so it’s very easy to get where you want whenever you want.

    Jungfraujoch takes about 6 hours total, so a bit more than half a day. Schilthorn takes about 4 or 5 hours total starting and ending in Interlaken. If you only have 4 days I’d suggest doing those two things near Interlaken and 1 or 2 days in Lucerne. Montreux and Geneva both have picturesque locations on a lake, but they are kind of boring otherwise, and not nearly as interesting as the amazing scenery in the mountains and lakes.

    I would definitely get a Half Fare Card if you are planning on doing Jungfraujoch and anything else. If you skip that one and rent a car then a Half Fare Card might not quite pay for itself.

    Zurich is a larger airport and usually has lower fares, but both of them are on the main train lines so you can check both. You might even consider going by train. The train from Interlaken to Milan only takes a bit over 3 hours and the views through the Alps are some of the finest in Europe. The train from Milan to Naples takes another 4 hours 15 minutes, but you also get to see all the Italian countryside, as well as a quick stop in Rome. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Prachi says:

Hi Roger,

I appreciate your highly detailed information and advices on the blog.

I had couple of questions for which I need your help. Me and my husband are traveling to Switzerland for 4 days in early September and our base is Grindelwald so my questions are:

1.We are not sure to buy Swiss Travel Pass or Half Fare Card (If we get half fare card does it cover cost of Austria to Zurich fare – we will be coming from Innsbruck Austria to Zurich and from Zurich to Grindelwald).
2. We are not sure about train frequencies or mode of transport from Grindelwald..will commute be easy from Grindelwald to train stations like Interlaken?
3. Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn? any one ? or both? what is best suited for our short stay?
4. We love nature sight seeing so what other places would you recommend for leisure activities like lake cruise, boating, cable cars etc.(Will all this be taken care by Swiss pass or HFC?)
5. We want time flexibility so should we consider renting a car as option? ( as we also want to know if there are any scenic route which can be done by car)

Please do suggest about the pass and any suggestions to the itinerary are welcome.

Thanks!

 
Prachi says:

Hi Roger,

1. Which train ticket is best to travel from Innsbruck to Zurich and then to Grindelwald? Do I need to buy any kind of a pass for this?
2. Does the HFC cover activities like lake cruise, boating, cable cars, etc. around Switzerland?
3. I am planning on carrying a 23 kg bag, do local trains have storage compartments for such a big bag?

Thanks,
Prachi

 

    Prachi,

    1. You can buy a ticket from Innsbruck to Zurich from the Swiss Rail site or the Austrian Rail site. It takes a bit over 5 hours. If you have a Half Fare Card you could theoretically use it for the last stretch from Bregenz, Austria to Zurich, so you’d buy one ticket to Bregenz and another from there to Zurich. It might not save any money, however, as the international tickets are discounted already if you buy in advance. You can buy the ticket from Zurich to Grindelwald anywhere in Switzerland, or online if you like. It’s the same price no matter when you buy it, so you might as well just buy it when you get there.

    2. Yes, the Half Fare Card covers nearly every form of public transportation in Switzerland. It probably wouldn’t cover a boat rental, but it does cover the lake cruises and such.

    3. The local trains usually don’t have a large storage area for suitcases at one end of the carriage like the long-distance trains do. But people still carry large bags on. Most people just put them on a nearby seat, and hope the train isn’t totally full. It’s very rare that local trains are full, but if they are you can usually put a bag somewhere, even if it’s in the aisle. You shouldn’t have a problem. -Roger

     
himz says:

Hi
first of all thanks for this great site.Hats off to u .it helps a lot in planning trip to Switzerland..
we are 2 adults travelling to Switzerland next week for 7 days…
2 days in Zurich – have some official work so would not be able to do any sightseeing..
4 days in Interlaken.. – planing following trips from interlaken –
on day of arrival from Zurich to interlaken via lucerne (golden pass) do lake Brienz or lake Thun and go to Murren / wengen / Gimmewald
then 1 day top of Europe – Jungfraujoch
1 day mount pilatus and mount rigi;
1 day golden pass till Mountreaux including trip to chillon de castle and Vevey ( cruise on lake Geneva)
last day – early morning Interlaken to Zurich airport for flight..
i am planning for a 4 days swiss travel pass ( 4 days when staying in interaken )
the cost of train ticket from interlaken to Zurich airport is CHF 75 which i will have to pay..
Any suggestion for a different travel pass/ half fare pass??
also kindly advise any suggestion for the changes in itinerary or anything else can be squeezed into comfortably??
what about doing shillthorn in place of pilatus / rigi ??
kindly reply ASAP

 

    Himz,

    I think the 4-day Swiss Travel Pass is probably your best bet. You have enough included train rides and other things on your list that it should easily pay for itself, and save you more than the Half Fare Card.

    Your itinerary looks quite good. The one main suggestion I’d make it to stay flexible on when you are planning on going to those peak attractions such as Jungfraujoch. It can be rainy and/or cloudy in the Alps in summer, although the storms usually pass quickly. So savvy visitors wait until they check the current weather conditions at the top (there are web cams for all of them, I think), and then go right then. If it’s cloudy up top you can do something else on your list.

    Schilthorn is really amazing and since it’s in the Interlaken area I think I’d do it over Pilatus or Rigi. It’s very different from Jungfraujoch. If it’s clear up there, you’ll love it. -Roger

     
Sarah says:

Hi Roger,

First of all, i want to thank you for clearing out half of my doubts even before posting the questions as i was going through the q&a’s above! This is such an informative blog and really appreciate the systematic way in which you give responses!
Coming to my trip plan, me and my husband would be visiting Switzerland on September 19th till 26th(8 days).. itenery below..
19th -flight to Zurich
19th- Train to Lucerne(no activities as such on 19th)
20-21st – Mt Pilatus and Rhine falls
21st Train to Zermatt by evening and stay there
22nd- visit Matterhorn peak and travel to interlaken by evening
23rd- Schilthorn 24th-visit Jungfrau and travel by train to Montreux
25-26th- chocolate train, chillion castle etc
26th evening- return to zurich and take fight back home

We will be taking the Swiss travel pass for 8 days as I clearly see thats the best option by reading your article

1. Is 3rd week of September a good time to visit Switzerland?(we’ve already booked tickets though! This is just for a confirmation)
2. We need more clarity on Schilthorn as well as Jungfrau part
3. Will it be possible to visit Matterhorn in half a day as we have to travel to interlaken on the same day.
4.any more suggestions from your end which we can include in our itenary?(within the places we are planning to visit)

Thanks in advance 🙂

 

    Sarah,

    I’m always happy to hear that this stuff helps.

    1. Yes, I think September is a great time. It’s still warm enough to enjoy, and the summer rainy season in the Alps is mostly over so you’ll have a better chance at good weather for each of your mountain excursions.

    2. I’m not sure what you mean by this. Schilthorn is reached by a series of cable cars, leaving from Stechelberg, which is near Lauterbrunnen. Jungfraujoch is a special train that goes to the highest train station in Europe. Both are very different.

    3. There are several different ways to see the Matterhorn in Zermatt. I think Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, which is reached by cable car, is the most popular. Most people budget half a day for that, or most of the other cable car trips. The train trip from Zermatt to Interlaken takes about 2 hours 20 minutes, so you should have no trouble doing that all in one day. The trains go well into the evening.

    4. I think your plan looks very good and I agree that the Swiss Travel Pass will be your best value. It looks like an excellent trip. Bon voyage. -Roger

     
Prachi says:

Thanks a lot Roger for all the information and prompt replies!

Prachi

 
Mikayla says:

My husband and I will be traveling to Switzerland at the end of July and we will be flying into Zurich. We are both under 26.
Day 1: Land in Zurich in the evening
Day 2: Explore Zurich, take train to Lucerne in the evening
Day 3: Explore Lucerne, visit Mt. Pilatus
Day 4: Explore Lucerne, leave in the evening to Milan

We want to visit Mt. Pilatus and are trying to decide if buying a 3 day Swiss Travel Pass is worth it. Since we are under 26, I know it is cheaper. I am trying to figure out if the entirety of Mt. Pilatus (cogwheel and cable car) is included in the travel pass. I know the train or boat ride to the base is included. Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated.

 

    Mikayla,

    In my 7.5 years of running this website, the Swiss Travel Pass is still the single most confusing program I’m aware of. From what I can see, Mt Rigi is fully included with a Swiss Travel Pass, but Mt Pilatus is only a 50% discount. Since you don’t seem to be taking too many other train rides, I think it’s possible that the Half Fare Card will be better value, although not by too much. If you keep to that itinerary you mentioned it would come pretty close, I think, and both would be much better than paying fully as you go.

    Another thing I can’t help myself from mentioning is that Zurich is pretty dull for a large and famous city, and it’s shockingly expensive as well. Meanwhile, the scenery everywhere else in Switzerland is remarkable and hotels and restaurants even in the touristy mountain areas tend to be a bit less expensive than in Zurich. So if you have specific things you want to see in Zurich, then visit for a day as you plan. But I implore people to NOT spend time in Zurich just because it’s a big and famous city, especially since it’s so expensive. The trains in Switzerland run until around midnight between large cities, so you could probably land in Zurich and take a train directly from the airport to Lucerne, even if you land at 21:00. And you might consider a day or so in Interlaken as well. I hope this helps and I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m nagging you. 🙂 -Roger

     
ANKIT DATTA says:

hi Roger,

Ankit here again. Hope you are doing good. Finally got my schengen visa!!! I just found that the flight from basel to barcelona is almost half price compared to zurich to barcelona. Just to remind you, i would be staying in Murren from 24th july to 27th July. When checking the tickets (on sbb website)from murren to basel for 27th July, it is not allowing me to book the same. Whereas Murren to Zurich is possible for that date. Would it be possible for you to check the same. Or if you can tell me any other site from where i can book my tickets from Murren to Basel for 27th July.

Appreciate any help…
Regards,
Ankit

 

    ANKIT,

    I just checked the Murren to Basel trip on 27-July and I am seeing available tickets for the whole thing. Switzerland generally only allows you to book domestic transport tickets 30 days in advance, so these probably were just released for sale. Hopefully you’ll also find them available. My search was from Murren BLM (the mountain train) to Basel SBB, by the way. Basel has an adjacent train station called Basel Bad BF, which is officially in Germany, so it’s an international ticket. You want Basel SBB if you are going to Paris.

    The other complicated thing about this could be that in some cases they won’t let you book cable car rides as part of longer train tickets, even through sbb.ch. The workaround for that is to book a train ticket from Lauterbrunnen to your destination, and then just pay for the cable car and bus when you are there. They are cheap, and the same price no matter when you buy them. They go every 30 minutes all day. Let me know if you need any more help. -Roger

     
ANKIT DATTA says:

and i am still confused if i should buy the half fare card. .

1) I am travelling with my wife (so we are two passengers)
2) Travel includes paris to Murren, schilthorn, day trips to lauterbrunen, gimmelwald, grindelwald, maybe wengen, and other nearby villages, and finally murren to zurich/basel(based on your suggestion to my prev question).
3) half fare cards includes Unlimited purchase of train, bus, boat and some cable car tickets at half price. but in our trip i don’t think we have any bus and boat travels. We will mostly be using train, and cable cars. and this card does not include cable car.

If you do suggest purchasing the half fare card, do you think we should buy it right away & book our tickets from paris to murren & Murren to zurich/basel, or wait till the day of travel( will there be a huge diff in price and availability of tickets).

btw we booked a double room with mountain view at Blumental hotel. Any personal exp staying there?

Sorry i know i have asked way too many questions, it is because it is inherent in my nature to cut costs & plan as much as possible. for which i am troubling you so much.

Ankit

 

    ANKIT,

    I didn’t see this additional message so here goes. The Half Fare Card DOES cover the cable cars with a 50% discount, and that includes the cable car up to Schilthorn. The train rides are generally more expensive than the buses and boat rides, so they are the main reason for buying the Half Fare Card, as well as the cable cars, of course.

    Train trips within Switzerland are generally the same price no matter when you buy them. But once in a while you’ll see a “supersaver” price pop up. I’d check your dates just to see if a discounted price is being offered. The international portion of the trip, from Paris to Basel, will be cheaper the earlier you buy it. Really, as long as you are sure of your travel dates and times, it’s probably better to buy the Half Fare Card online and the train tickets to Murren as well. It’s rare for Swiss trains to completely sell out, but it can happen, and you won’t save any money by waiting. I always feel better once I have my inbound travel booked, just so there are no surprises when I get there.

    The Blumental Hotel is in the heart of Murren and looks like it has a wonderful view. I haven’t stayed there, but I know the location and I think it’s ideal.

    No worries with the questions. It seems that other people are reading them and this discussion helps them answer their own questions, so I don’t mind. Bon voyage and let me know if something else comes up. -Roger

     
T.Sheikh says:

Hi rogers planning to visit Switzerland 27th July to 3 aug 2017
travelling with family of 4 , 2 adults & 2 kids (12 yrs & 8 yrs)
Day 1 land Zurich 20:30 PM , train to Lucerne
Day 2 trip to Mt Titlis & back after that city tour in late noon
Day 3 golden pas to Interlaken over night interlaken
Day 4 Interlaken to Jungfraujoch back evening goaround nearby villages
Day 5 Interlaken to Zermatt overnoght
DAy 6 Zermatt to Zurich overnight Zurich
Day 7 back to Dubai
will a swiss travel pass be good or swiss half fare card, also do let me know if any space to squeeze some good boat ride or site seeing in this time frame. do I need to book golden pass & jungfrouch trip in advance.
Thanks
Tabrez

 

    T.Sheikh,

    In your case it could be close, but I think the Half Fare Card will be better value for you. It offers a 50% discount on Jungfraujoch compared to only 25% off with the Swiss Travel Pass, and they both offer the same 50% discount on Titlis. It doesn’t look like you are taking enough other train rides in order to justify the cost of the 8-day pass that you’d need. Since the Half Fare Card is 30 days, it will cover everything.

    You should have time for the 2-hour Lucerne boat cruise, which leaves from just across from the train station, and makes quick stops at all of the nearby villages. And on the day that you travel to Zermatt you’ll have most of the day to do something in the Interlaken area if you like. There are dozens of major hikes and views and attractions in that area, so you have many choices.

    For the Jungfraujoch trip it’s best to book when you are actually going. The summer is the rainy season in the Alps and it can get cloudy and even foggy there, but it usually only lasts for a few hours at a time. Jungfraujoch is not worth doing at all if you know it’s going to be foggy at the top, so most savvy travelers check the webcams on top and the weather forecast, and then go right away when conditions are good. Unless you are the last one there, you shouldn’t have trouble getting seats on the train.

    As for the Goldenpass, if you want to sit in one of the special panorama carriages, you should make a reservation in advance. Otherwise it’s just simply the train between Lucerne and Interlaken. It’s very scenic, but you can see nearly everything from a normal seat in a normal carriage. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
ANKIT DATTA says:

thanks a lot roger. you are right. I am now able to see the route available from murren to basel. as suggested by you i will soon purchase the half fare card and my tickets from paris to murren and also murren to basel airport. as of now the price difference is marginal:
Price for 2 persons:
Paris to Murren with Half fare card = CHF 432, without Half fare card = CHF 584.
Murren to Basel with Half Fare Card = CHF 85, without Half Fare card = CHF 170.
Plus the Half fare card costs CHF 240 for 2.

So without half fare card: CHF 754
With the half fare card: CHF 757

Now i want to check how much the schilthorn trip costs from murren, to further analyse the usefulness of half fare card. Unfortunately, the schilthorn website is not working and sbb website is not showing the prices. Following message comes up “Please note!
Price information is not available for the entire trip. Please take note of the portions of the trip which can be calculated.
For the desired stretch there is no connection available in the SBB Ticket Shop. Please try again by removing all via stations.”

Although i do not want to purchase the schilthorn in advance, as you mentioned it is best to check the weather on the day of the visit and then only buy the tickets, but i still want to know how much i would be saving by using the half fare card. Apart from schilthorn we may also visit near by villages and towns, so there also we may save cost using the half fare card.

Could you please suggest any other way of checking the price for schilthorn.

Thanks a lot for all your help!!!

Ankit

 

    Ankit,

    I’ve seen that message on the SBB website myself a few times as well. The price of the cable car from Murren to the top and back will be about CHF20 or so less than from the base. So it would be around CHF85 without the Half Fare Card.

    Also, keep in mind that you are almost certain to take at least a few other cable car or train or bus rides while you are there. If you have the Half Fare Card those will all seem cheap, but without it they will seem expensive. Either way, I hope you have a great trip and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Ashish Modi says:

Hi Steve,
We are planning to visit Switzerland on 2nd August. Here is our itenary
2nd Aug – Land Zurich around 11:00 AM and then go to interlaken
3rd Aug – Go to Jungfraujoch and return to interlaken same day
4th Aug – Interlaken to Lucerne
5th Aug – Lucerne to Mt Titlis & return
6th Aug – Lucerne to Zurich

Which pass will be more suitable for us (2 adult and 1 child 4 year old)?

 

    Ashish,

    The Half Fare Card should be a better value for you. Since you aren’t taking any of the long, scenic train rides, and since you are also doing Jungfraujoch (50% discount instead of a 25% discount with Swiss Travel Pass), it’s clear that the Half Fare Card is the better choice. The child will travel for free no matter what because children under 6 are free in Switzerland. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
ANKIT DATTA says:

Hi Roger, thanks for your reply. I was about to buy the half fare card online, and while choosing mode of delivery i want to choose the online option, to avoid the courier charges of CHF 25. It mentioned that they will send the ticket at least 7 days prior to my travel date.
1) wont i need the half fare card details to book my travel from Paris to Murren?
2) since the half fare card is valid for a month. Can i choose the start date for half fare card at least 20 days prior to my actual travel date, so that i receive the half fare card sooner.
3) I read on some travel blog, that i can just book my paris to murren tickets from sbb choosing the half fare reduction, but i don’t need to input any details of the half fare card while buying the paris – murren ticket. I will need to produce the half fare card on the train itself. Is this correct ? Is this is how it works. ?
If so, i can go ahead and purchase the half fare card, train tickets from paris – murren and Murren to Basel with half fare reduction!!??? ….Please advise.

Thank you very much for your never ending support. I rem how disraught i was when i started planning this trip. Thanks to you, i feel much confident about the travel now and feel it is going to turn out to be a life time experience.
God Bless!!

Regards,

Ankit

 

    ANKIT,

    You should be able to buy your Half Fare Card and print it at home. Switzerland now allows home-printed tickets AND discount cards.

    When you go to book a train ticket using the Half Fare Card, you just find the train you want and when you go to check the fare there will be a pull-down menu that asks you for which discount you want to use. Just click on that and pull it down to Half Fare Card, and the fare will be cut in half. You can then buy it and when you are on the train you just show the ticket-checker your ticket AND your Half Fare Card. So it’s kind of the honor system, except if you try to use a half-fare ticket WITHOUT a Half Fare Card you’ll be fined.

    You only need to validate the HFC on the first day you actually use it.

    Yes, that blog you read is correct.

    Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m sure it’s going to be a great trip. -Roger

     
Ashish Modi says:

Hi Roger,
Thanks for your quick reply. Couple of more follow up questions:

– There are some cable car rides as well which we are planning to do.
– We are also planning to do Interlanen – luzeren — Golden Panoroma
– Is there any long scenic train ride which you can recommend considering our itenary ?

Thanks,
Ashish

 

    Ashish,

    I’ve mentioned it before, but my opinion is that the special “scenic” trains routes are just a helpful guide for first-time visitors. Amazingly enough, just about every single train ride in Switzerland is very scenic, except for some of the areas in suburban Zurich. So just taking normal trains between the places you want to visit will result in excellent views. And if you are also doing some cable cars, you’ll have a better and closer look at the most beautiful Alpine sights.

    The train rides that go THROUGH the Alps are each amazing, including the fast train between Interlaken and Milan. So I recommend just booking trains to the areas you want to visit, and you’ll be thrilled with the views. -Roger

     
Tarun says:

Hi Roger,
Thanks a ton for the great article, it certainly helps a lot in planning.
I am planning to visit Switzerland in September end this year with my wife. We are planning to rent an apartment in Brienz, which was recommended to us because of it’s location (surroundings and convenient connections) over Interlaken, Engelberg and Wengen we were earlier not able to decide between. I hope you would also vote for Brienz out of these options.
Now, the next thing for me to decide is the pass- this has become quite confusing with so many options available.
We are planning to visit the following:
1. Jungfraujoch
2. Schilthorn
3. Rhine falls
4. Thun castle
5. Giessbach Falls
6. Rothorn
7. Titlis
8. 1 trip to Bern/ Mountreux/ Lucerne, and
9. If time permits, one day trip to Zermatt/ St. Moritz
As we would be staying in Brienz we would also love to take 1-2 boat trips for leisure.
Now, with all these excursions, which will suit us better- an 8 day consecutive swiss travel pass, a half fare card, or a combination of 4 day bernese oberland regional pass with a 2/3 days tell pass?

 

    Tarun,

    I haven’t stayed in Brienz, but I’ve been through it and it looks like it’s close enough to the places you plan on visiting that it should be a handy place to stay. My thoughts on where I think are the best places to stay are in my main article on where to go in Switzerland. I very much prefer to stay in Gimmelwald or another mountain village for the days that I’m exploring the Alps directly around Interlaken, and Gimmelwald is part of the way up the mountain to Schilthorn as well.

    As for which pass or passes would be best for you, it’s hard to say without putting it all into a spreadsheet. In other words, I think all of those options would be better than paying as you go, but it’s hard to say which one would save the most. Since you’ll be staying in Brienz, which isn’t too close to any of the things you plan on visiting, it means you’ll be taking several train rides each day. For that reason my hunch is that the full Swiss Travel Pass for 8 days might be your best bet. It only provides for a discount on Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch, and Titlis as well, but all of those train rides you have planned, including Montreux and Zermatt, will add up to a LOT.

    A different way of looking at it is that if you spring for the 8-day Swiss Travel Pass up front, you’ll be able to use it aggressively each day because most train rides and boat rides and even some cable car rides will be “free.” And those longer distance train rides like to Montreux and Zermatt are expensive on their own. Again, you’d have to retrieve all of the individual prices and then add them up to be sure, but now I’m pretty confident that the Swiss Travel Pass will save you the most. Bon voyage. -Roger

     
Jen says:

Hi Roger

I’ve been doing a lot of research into Switzerland and the Swiss Pass and came across your website which has been hugely helpful – thank you. However, my husband and I are not sure whether to get the Swiss Pass or the half price pass (CHF 120). The problem is that we are in Switzerland for 10 days, so we would either need the 8 days flexible (CHF 420) or the 15 days consecutive (CHF 458).

We will be doing
– day 1 – arrive in St Moritz (we’ve already got travel sorted out for that)
– day 2 – the Glacier Express (we have our reservations) which is CHF 170 per person
– day 3 & 4 – we will spend 2 nights in Zermatt and plan to use the cogwheel train (assuming the weather is clear) which is CHF 90 (half price with Swiss Pass)
– day 5 – we then travel to Geneva by train (CHF 98)
– we then have 7 nights in Geneva. We will need to use the trams as we are a bit out of the centre (CHF 10 for a day pass – we are not staying in a hotel); we also plan to use the lake boats and also do some day trips (for example Geneva to Montreux by train (CHF 31), Montreux to Lausanne and then boat back to Geneva (CHF 45) in one day) – it’s possible we will do other day trips by train
– my husband would like to get the boat to Yvoire – my research suggests that would also be free with the Swiss Pass (but I couldn’t find price)
– on the final day we go to the airport, but I know that is cheap

Adding it all up the 15 day almost seems worth it if we do everything we plan to (as it is CHF 500 for the 15 day ticket plus half price on the cogwheel and over CHF 500 for all of the journeys I’ve listed) – and it means we don’t have to buy any tickets except the Zermatt cogwheel train. I like the idea of the convenience of the Swiss pass – but my husband thinks that it’s probably better getting the half price ticket as he;s worried we won’t do all of the trips we have planned.

How would the half price card work when buying tram fares or all day tickets in Geneva? Is it straightforward?

Do you have any suggestions as to which is better?

Thank you very much for your help.

Jen

 

    Jen,

    According to the information on official sites, the Half Fare Card does provide some discount on local public transport, but it says that it MAY be less than 50% on some. I haven’t bought those tickets in Geneva so I’m not sure myself.

    Most things ARE included free with the main Swiss Travel Pass. The things that only provide a discount are Jungfraujoch (25% off), Schilthorn (50% off), and some of the other private cable cars and cogwheel trains (usually 50% off). For normal trains and tourist boats and buses, it should cover everything.

    Reading your plan my hunch is that getting the 8 Days Flexible Pass would probably be best. If your husband thinks you may not have enough time to do some of those trips because of commitments in Geneva, that’s another story. But if you are mostly there on holiday then I’m confident that you’ll do all of those trips and maybe more.

    One interesting thing about the Swiss Rail system is that it’s not only famously punctual, but the normal intercity trains are also very modern and comfortable. It’s just such a pleasure to hop on a train that is always on time, and climb into a comfortable seat, and then see some of the world’s best scenery out the window as you take a quick trip to a place that you’ve been dreaming about. Most European train systems are NOT like that and you often have to deal with late trains and uncomfortable seats and such.

    So I’m not sure if that answers your question, but I hope it helps. Geneva is kind of a boring city (on a lovely lake) so it’s an unusual place to base yourself to explore Switzerland. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Jen says:

Thanks Roger, that’s very helpful. We’re spending a week in the Alps in Austria before coming to Switzerland and we’re happy seeing St Moritz, doing the Glacier Express and spending 2 nights in Zermatt before Geneva. My husband visited Geneva years ago and loved it so that’s why we’re ending up there – and we got a really good deal on an apartment for 7 nights so we’re staying longer than we originally planned. A boring but pretty city on a lovely lake sounds fine to me! Day trips to lakeside towns/villages will be perfect. It won’t be our last time in Switzerland – we”l be back.

Thanks again for your help.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply.

 
ANKIT DATTA says:

Thanks a lot roger for answer my numerous queries. You have been instrumental in helping through all my bookings in switzerland and guiding me about what one should be doing. Really appreciate your time and sharing your expert advice. I hae finally purchased half fare card, and my tickets paris – murren, Murren back to basel. Upon printing out the tickets i saw the timings are not mentioned on the local trains for the part of the journey after interlaken to murren. also, no reservations are possible. is it like this all the time. we just find a seat and sit anywhere? Anyway.. once again. thanks a lot for everything.

God Bless!!

Ankit

 
Neil says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks a lot for your help to so many of us. I need your guidance to understand if the ½ card or Swiss Pass is right for family of 4. Thanks in advance.

July. 18 – Reach Zurich around Noon. Zurich city tour, Rhine Falls, Boat ride, overnight in Lucerne
July. 19 – Excursion to Mt. Titlis, Lucerne boat ride, City tour, overnight in Lucerne
July. 20 – Excursion to Jungfrau, and Kandersteg, overnight in Interlaken
July. 21 – Excursion to Schilthorn, Lauterbrunnen Valley hikes, overnight in Interlaken
July. 22 – Excursion to Zermatt. Overnight in Interlaken.
July. 23 – Bern. Overnight in Zurich
July. 24 – Train to Salzburg

 

    Neil,

    From the looks of it, you’ll be doing many of the popular mountain peak attractions and not too many longer train rides. As such my best guess is that the Half Fare Card would probably end up saving you more money, but it could be close. With either one you can get a Swiss Family Card, which provides free transportation for children 6 to 15 with a paid adult. And since you get a larger discount on Jungfraujoch with the Half Fare Card compared to a Swiss Travel Pass, I think that is the better choice. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Neil says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks a lot. In our family of four we have 2 adults and 2 teens (16 and 17). Can we still get a family card?

 
Michael says:

Hi Roger,

I’ve read through your posts – definitely helpful but still a bit confused between all the information out there and confusing rail tables.

My proposed itinerary:
Aug 25 – arrive Zurich, spend one night (not covered by rail pass)
Aug 26 – side trip to Liechtenstein and arrive Luzern
Aug 27 – Mt. Pilatus/hiking around Luzern
Aug 28 – leave midday on the GoldenPass to Interlaken and stay in Gimmelwald
Aug 29 – Jungfraubahn v. Schilthorn (question 1) – or hike somewhere?
Aug 30 – Interlaken to …? (question 2) – would love to see more views and enjoy a restful day
Aug 31 – Need to return to Paris by rail from above end destination; can return a day earlier.

Question 3: I’m still rather confused, if for me, the half pass or the full rail pass makes sense especially since the final day is a bit murky what might be best.

Thank you,
Michael

 

    Michael,

    If you have the time and money to do Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn AND it’s clear at the top, I would absolutely choose either of them over a hike. They are arguably Europe’s two best viewpoints. Schilthorn is faster to reach but you have to stand up for an hour in a series of cable cars going up and then again going down. Jungfraujoch is an older train that isn’t too comfortable, but the views are amazing.

    If you spring for a Swiss Travel Pass you could go from Interlaken to Zermatt on that day, which is a gorgeous ride. And then you can do one of the cable cars up to see the Matterhorn. But Interlaken itself has many great hikes and viewpoints. You could take the short (and cheap) cable car up above Wengen and then walk back down.

    As you say, it depends on how many other longer train rides you’d take. If you added one or two to what you have planned so far then a Swiss Travel Pass will be a better deal. But if you don’t then a Half Fare Card is the better deal. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Mitesh says:

Hi Roger,
Thanks for the wonderful analysis. Your post would really help people to plan the swiss trip in efficient manner. I am also planning the same for 1st week of Aug and below is what my itinerary looks like after looking various post and comments:
Aug3: Travel to Geneva and purchase Swiss Pass (3 Day)
Aug 4: Geneva to Interlaken- Lake Brienz–Murren-Gimmelwald–Lauterbrunnen–Lucerne. Overnight Stay in Lucerne
Aug 5: Lucerne - Mt Titlis/Mt. Rigi, Golden Pass train to Montreaux, Montreaux to Zermatt, Metterhorn(if possible)
Aug 6: Zermatt to St. Moritz (Glacier Express).. Sightseeing , St. Moritz to Zurich.
Aug 7: Zurich to Rhine Fall… sightseeing and back to Lyon.
Do we need to pre-reserve the seats in scenic trains..? I checked for Glacier express and it cost 33 CHF. Not sure if this is for Panorama view..? Do I need to pre-reserve night train travel tickets OR with Swiss pass I can simply go and sit..? Please advise for any modifications..

Thanks in Advance
Mitesh

 

    Mitesh,

    Thank you. First off, I think August 4 and 5 looks EXTREMELY busy in the sense that you’d have to rush the whole day in order to accomplish the plan, and I’m not sure it would be enjoyable. That aside though, most of the scenic trains that have names have a few departures each day (usually in the morning) when they have special panorama carriages in place of normal ones. You DO need a reservation for a seat in one of those panoramic carriages and the seat supplements are about what you’ve discovered. However, if you have a valid Swiss Travel Pass you can literally just hop aboard any of those trains, including the ones with the panorama carriages, and sit in any other seat at no additional cost. So it’s just the seat reservations for the special cars that cost money. Especially in summer, they do tend to sell out well in advance, so booking early is critical. On the other hand, you can always sit in another seat and just the normal trains are well designed for views anyway. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Prachi says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks again for answering my previous questions!

We are thinking of getting VIP tickets for the Golden Pass Panoramic Train but it is very confusing on how it works. Do you think it is worth traveling the Golden Pass train? If yes, is there a dedicated website to get this? Also, do I have to purchase the HFC in advance to get discounted price for the Golden Pass?

We will be staying in Grindelwald and will be flying out from Geneva, our flight is at 1 p.m. Should we rent a car so that we can reach the airport at least 2 hours before the flight? Or should we just travel by train?

Thanks,
Prachi

 

    Prachi,

    This is the best website for the Goldenpass train. It’s definitely one of the most scenic train rides in Europe, but almost every train ride in Switzerland is extremely scenic.

    You can buy the Half Fare Card online and use it right away. Actually, you can buy your tickets online and use the option that says you have a Half Fare Card. As long as you actually have the HFC when you climb aboard the train, you’ll be okay. The ticket person will go through the train and they will ask to see your ticket AND your Half Fare Card.

    It looks like if you drove from Grindelwald to Geneva Airport it would take about 2.5 hours. But by the time you fill up the fuel tank and return the car, it would obviously be closer to 3 hours. The fastest train take 4 hours 19 minutes and if you left at 06:19 from Grindelwald you’d arrive at the Geneva Airport at 10:38. Swiss trains are also famously punctual so there is probably more risk in driving in possibly being in traffic or something like that. If it was me I’d definitely take the train, but it does look like you could sleep another hour or so if you can find a one-way rental car for that route. Bon voyage. -Roger

     
Prachi says:

Thanks for the reply Roger!

Other than Switzerland we will also be traveling to Munich, Germany and Salzburg, Austria. It would be very helpful if you could answer a few questions about travel in these countries –

We will be traveling from Munich to Salzburg and then from Innsbruck (Austria) to Zurich. Also, we will be traveling around Munich. Do you think we should buy the Eurail pass? Or just buy individual / point-to-point train tickets? Also, should we rent a car for travel within Austria and Germany or use public transport?

Thanks,
Prachi

 

    Prachi,

    Eurail Passes are really only best for people who are traveling for 3 or more weeks AND who want to make plans as they go. For these relatively short rides you are planning, if you buy the train tickets online at least a month or so in advance, they will be fairly cheap. And I wouldn’t rent a car to visit cities like this. Parking is always a problem and it can be confusing driving around these areas at first. Also, the view from the train is almost always much better than views from the autobahns, and it’s just much more pleasant and stress-free.

    You didn’t ask, but I feel compelled to mention that Innsbruck is famous for being a ski resort and for holding the Olympics. Aside from those things there isn’t much to see there. If you want to go skiing it’s a great place to do it, but if you want to see towns in the mountains and interesting sights, I’d skip it and spend more time around Salzburg. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Dipankar Saha says:

Hi Roger,

Here is my sight seeing plan in Switzerland please suggest me which pass or individual ticket is best.

Day 1: Reach Zurich hb at 2:30 PM. Check in hotel which is in Rumlang. Goto to Rhine falls and if possible then Zurich city visit and come back to hotel.
Day 2: From Zurich to Lucerne. Check in hotel which is in Meghan. Visit My. Rigi and come back to hotel.
Day 3: From same hotel visit Mt. titlis
Day 4: Lucern hotel to Interlaken. Check in the hotel. Visit Mt. jaungfrau.

This is what I planned roughly. Please suggest me on the if I can cover any other destination within these days and which train ticket will be cost effective.

Thanks in advance

Regards,
Dipankar

 

    Dipankar,

    The key factor for determining whether a Swiss Travel Card will be a big money saver is whether you are planning multiple longer train trips. Since it seems that you are mostly doing shorter train trips as well as mountaintop attractions that are only eligible for a discount with a Travel Pass, the Half Fare Card should be better value for you. Again, the Half Fare Card provides a 50% discount on Jungfraujoch compared to only 25% discount with the Swiss Travel Pass. That tourist train almost pays for the Half Fare Card by itself, and saves about CHF55 (US$55) compared to the pass. It looks like a great trip. Bon voyage. -Roger

     
Ann says:

Could you please advise which travel pass is best? Two adults and a 26 year old. I also need some ideas for excursions as well.
Day 1: Zurich-Lucerne
Day 2: Lucerne-Interlaken (Lucerne/Interlaken Express)- no plans this day?? any ideas (Schilthorn- or will it be too late in the day)
Day 3: Day trip to Zermatt-back to Interlaken
Day 4: Day trip Murren-Grimmelwald?
Day 5: Interlaken-Montreux – which Panoramic train? (Castle Chillon)
Day 6: Day trip from Montreux to Gruyeres
Day 7: Lenzburg- what to do?
Day 8: Lenzburg- visit friends in Teufenthal
Day 9: Lenzburg- day trip to Zurich?
Day 10-12: Zurich or Lucerne- want to go to St. Gallen Abbey

question: Eurail Pass or Swiss Travel Pass?
question: can you help fill in the blanks for day trip ideas
Thanks!

 

    Ann,

    Switzerland is different from most other popular European countries in that it doesn’t offer a single-country Eurail Pass, but it does offer the special Swiss Travel Pass that is described in the article above. So really your options are a Swiss Travel Pass, a Half Fare Card, or just buy tickets individually. In your case the Half Fare Card would be FAR cheaper than buying individually, so it’s just the Half Fare Card or the Swiss Travel Pass.

    As I mention in my review above, the full pass is good value for those who are taking at least 2 or 3 of the longer scenic rail trips. That would also include Interlaken to Zermatt and back on the same day. So it looks like you are taking at least 2 or 3 of them, which would be sort of borderline. In other words, if you decide to do more rail travel on some of those open days then a Swiss Travel Pass will pay for itself pretty easily. But if you decide NOT to take more longer train rides on those days then a Half Fare Card will likely save you more.

    In the coming days I’m going to be adding a few more things to my main article on where to go in Switzerland, but aside from that I really don’t like to fill in people’s itineraries for them. There are hundreds of great hikes and things to see and do in Switzerland, and they are listed in any guidebook as well as ricksteves.com, lonelyplanet.com, and wikitravel.org, just to name a few. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Prachi says:

Hi,

Thanks for all the replies Roger. I understand that the half fare card can be purchased within Switzerland. Can I book tickets in advance on the Swiss Railways site and receive the half-fare price?

In case of advance booking, where or which website can I buy the HFC and train tickets?

Prachi

 

    Prachi,

    You can buy the Half Fare Card in Switzerland, but you can also buy it online. There is a link in the article above that takes you to where you can buy it on RailEurope.com or RailEurope-world.com. Rail Europe is a company co-owned by the France and Swiss rail companies and the “world” version is for anyone outside the US and Canada. You can get the Half Fare Card as a digital download as well, so you pay no shipping.

    However, you can buy half-fare train tickets before you buy the HFC. Just go onto the official Swiss rail website and when it asks you what “Reduction” you will be using you can just drag the little slider down to Half Fare Travelcard. It will show you the half price and you can buy it that way. The only catch is that when you go to USE a half-fare ticket the ticket taker will also ask to see your valid Half Fare Card. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Archana says:

Hello Roger,

It is sooo much informative. Was searching a lot about good information related to Swiss pass and got it here only. Can you please help me in choosing right places to visit in Switzerland? I will be there in end of Sept. Here is my tentative plan.
Day 1:zurich, rihne waterfall and Zurich city tour
Day 2:zurich to Mt. Titlis and back to Zurich
Day 3:zurich to Bern (whether to visit Mt rigi and proceed to Bern in evening?)
Day 4:hiking in thun (don’t know where to search for information) and back to Bern.
Day 5:hiking in Bern and proceed to wangen
Day 6:wangen to jungfrauch Nd back to wangen
Day 7: Wengen to Trummelbach Falls and proceed to Interlaken
Day 8:interlaken city tour and proceed to Zurich late for next day flight to India.
Can you please help me to know whether this plan is feasible? And should I book Swiss half price pass? And if I want to add any Swiss scenic train in above plan, then where can I do that?

Waiting for your reply
Regards
Archana

 

    Archana,

    I’m happy to help. Your plan should work, however I feel compelled to make a couple of suggestions. First off, Zurich is a nice city, but it’s pretty boring by European standards and it’s ridiculously expensive, especially for hotels. You can pay US$250 per night for a small hotel room in Zurich and the bathroom will still be down the corridor. In almost any other Swiss city you can get a room that is twice as large with en-suite for closer to US$200. You might have a look at my main article on where to go in Switzerland, which discusses staying in the Interlaken area as well as Lucerne.

    Bern is the nicest and most photogenic of the Swiss cities, but still I’d recommend staying elsewhere if you are planning on hiking those days. You get a lot more for your money outside of the cities, and the mountain towns such as Gimmelwald, Murren, and Wengen are also far more charming and memorable.

    I do think the Half Fare Card will be your best bet. A full Swiss Travel Pass would cost quite a bit to cover all 8 days, while the Half Fare Card is only CHF120 for a 30-day pass.

    As far as scenic rail trips, my advice is to plan on visiting different places in Switzerland that interest you and enjoy the amazingly scenic train rides along the way. Pretty much every train ride in Switzerland is scenic, except for those right around Zurich. One of the problems with those scenic train rides is that many of the best ones take 4 to 6 hours each way. That means either staying overnight and then doing the same route coming back, or going back the same day and spending all that time on trains. All of the rides between the places on your list are wonderful, so I don’t know if it’s worth it to add an extra one.

    Also, you probably don’t want to stay in Zurich on your final nights. There is a train station at the Zurich Airport that is on the main line, so you don’t necessarily have to go to Zurich to get that train. And there are hotels close to the airport that are a bit cheaper than those in the city center. The trains start at around 5:00 every morning and are famously punctual, so unless you have a very early flight you can get to the airport from almost anywhere in Switzerland if you leave early enough. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Stanley Benedict Lee says:

Hi Roger,
Thanks for writing such a detailed Swiss Travel Pass blog. It’s really thorough and very helpful. It’s almost like the perfect Swiss travel blog.. (covers most popular routes) 😀 . I have a couple of questions regarding the Swiss Travel Pass. My fiancee and I are planning a 21-day trip to Switzerland. My scratchpad looks as follows (it’s not by any means fixed yet, so we’re probably going to fine tune a little bit here and there) :

2 Aug 17
Arrive in Zurich. Stay 5 days/nights for city sightseeing, in and around Zurich. Might take day trips to Basel.

7 Aug 17
Take train to Chur. Continue, Chur –> St. Moritz on Glacier Express Train
Stay in St Moritz for 2 nights

9 Aug 17
St. Moritz –> Zermatt on Glacier Express
Stay 1 night in Zermatt

10 Aug 17
Zermatt to Interlaken (initially planning to stay in Lauterbrunnen, but I’m following your previous advice to another user to stay in Interlaken instead of Lauterbrunnen, for the more abundant choice of food, activities, etc)
Staying in the area for 3-4 nights

14 Aug 17
Take train from Interlaken to Montreux.
Stay in Montreux for 4 nights

18 Aug 17
Montreux to Geneva.
Stay in Geneva for 3 nights

21 Aug 17
Geneva to Zurich. Going to the airport. Depart Zurich, Switzerland

I’m planning to do the scenic Jungfraujoch train ride and Schilthorn cable car trip between 10-14 Aug 17. I’d like to hear your thoughts on that.. and
I’m probably getting either the 8-day Travel Pass Flex (non-consecutive days) or the Half-fare pass. Doing the simple math, I believe I’d save more money with the Half-fare card. What do you think?

Any advice on where I should go dine, lounge, sightsee along those routes would be very much appreciated :DD

Regards

Stanley

 

    Stanley,

    Thank you for the kind words. The Half Fare Card would definitely save you quite a bit, but that 8-day flex pass might save even more if you do those train rides. It sounds like you’ve done the math, and you probably have it right.

    Really my main comment is that it’s quite unorthodox to spend that might time in Switzerland and focus that much on the cities. In case you haven’t read my main article on where to go in Switzerland, you should at least give it a scan. Switzerland is an amazing and rich country with so much to see. However it’s somewhat strange that the big cities are fairly boring by European standards. Zurich is ridiculously expensive and it’s nice for a day or two, but really there isn’t much to see. If you compare it to Paris or Salzburg or Prague or Budapest or Vienna, it really doesn’t measure up. The majority of visitors to Zurich are business people on expense accounts, and it feels that way when you are there. Basel is also fairly dull except when the art fair is going on. Geneva, Lausanne, and Montreux all have lovely settings on Lake Geneva, but the towns themselves aren’t very special. If you have specific things you want to see in each of these places then by all means go and see them. The reason I mention this is that my own normal strategy for visiting a new country is to spend time in the largest city and if I have time I also spend time in the second largest city. In most of Europe that works like a charm, but in Switzerland it’s less than ideal.

    Really the reason to go to Switzerland is to see the amazing scenery. Fortunately, hotels and restaurants in the touristy towns like Interlaken and Lucerne are at least a bit cheaper than in the cities. I’m happy to answer more questions if you have them. -Roger

     
John says:

Hi Roger,

I know you’ve been answering tons of these questions already. But to be honest, I would still need your suggestions if you can give me few mins on this.

I am travelling with my mother during October. So here is the first question. Is it a good or bad choice to travel during that period ? (Traveling date: 27th – 31st October 2017)

The plans are:

27th Oct Zurich – Lucern *We are planning to book the hotel at Lucern only and travel around from there.
27th Oct Zurich airport to Lucern + Lucern to Bern and then back to Lucern
28th Oct – Mount Pilatus
29th Oct – Mount Titlis (And if we have enough time, we might travel to see Rhine falls)
30th Oct – Jungfrau and Lutherbrunen and back to Lucern
31st Oct – Lucern – Zurich airport

*We might just cut off 1 mountain and go for a nice train view etc.
Well, plans might change according to the weather, but thats the first plan. So what kind of pass would you recommend ? And my mother is 68 years old. Any discount for seniors ?

Really looking forward to your suggestion mate. Thank you so much in advance.

 

    John,

    As I’ve mentioned in a few spots before, some mountain hotels and restaurants in Switzerland are closed between mid October and mid December, but that’s mostly because they don’t get nearly as many guests as they do during the summer hiking months and the winter snow months. Still, there are plenty of places open and you’ll probably enjoy the peacefulness. The weather is actually still pretty good then as well. The rainy months are in summer, weirdly enough, so October is pretty nice. You can get fog or rainstorms at the mountain peaks any time of year, so it’s always a little bit of a gamble.

    That day of starting in Lucerne and going up to Jungfraujoch and back to Lucerne again is going to be a long day, but the trains run from like 5am until midnight every day so it can definitely be done. Also, I’m one of many people who thinks that the Interlaken area is more scenic and charming than the Lucerne area, although they are both nice. If you can stay in the Interlaken area for one or two of those nights I’m sure you’d enjoy it. However, with your mother I can see why changing hotels could be complicated.

    Switzerland doesn’t have any senior discounts for transportation, but of course they do have the Half Fare Card, which is good value for almost any adult who will be there for more than a day or two. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
adi says:

I am planning a Switzerland trip for 2 days

Day 1: Reaching around 10 am to Lucern station from germany.
Planning to go Titlis + anything we can cover in that day ( any suggestion )

Stay at Lucern

Day 2 : Using Golden Pass to Interlaken
Boat trip in between. ( Anything else we should cover in same day )

Leave late night to germany

Suggest which travel pass should I take ?

 

    Adi,

    If you’ve got a few spare hours in Lucerne during the day I’d recommend the 2-hour lake cruise that leaves from the dock in front of the train station. It’s basically a hop-on, hop-off boat that stops at 6 or 7 small towns around the edges of the lake and then returns to the dock. You get some really wonderful views of the lake on that trip, and you can hop off in one of the small towns if you like, and then hop on the next boat, which is usually 30 minutes later.

    I’d say if you have a few hours in Interlaken I’d recommend taking the train/bus/cable car trip to Murren, which is described in detail in my article on where to go in Switzerland. From Interlaken Ost (east) train station you can be in Murren in about an hour. Then you can walk around that car-free village for a bit and then walk down the train to Gimmelwald. Then take the cable car back down and head back to Interlaken. As long as the weather is fairly clear up there, it’ll be a wonderful little trip, and it won’t cost much.

    The Half Fare Card should save you the most money if you stick to this plan. Everything on your list will cost half of the regular price, including your train trips from and back to the German border. However, it might end up being cheaper to get a supersaver-type ticket all the way from and back to Germany, and on those you can’t use the Half Fare Card. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Omana Thomas says:

Hi Roger,
My husband and I are planning a trip to Switzerland reaching on August 11 and saw your highly informative blog.Thank you so much for taking your precious time to help the confused people like me.
Reaching Interlaken on 11th night from Zurich by train
Aug 12: Jungfraujoch and would like to do some hikes.
Aug 13:Golden pass scenic train ride
Aug 14:Schilthorn and train to Lucern
Aug 15:Lake lucern boat ride and train to Zurich
Aug 16:Rhine waterfall tour and flying out to Berlin at 4:25 pm
Do you think the half fare card is better for us?
Thank you so much
Omana

 

    Omana,

    I’m happy to help. Your plan looks quite good and you should have plenty of time to do everything on your list plus a few extra things here and there. If you are going all the way to Montreux and back on the Goldenpass train, the Swiss Travel Pass might pay for itself, but I’m not even sure about that. I’d say the Half Fare Card will definitely save you a LOT more than the price of the thing, and the Swiss Travel Pass could potentially be even better. I guess the problem is that a 4-day pass wouldn’t cover all of your journeys, and an 8-day pass costs an extra CHF117 each to cover that last day. It shouldn’t take you too long to check the fares on those train rides on sbb.com and see what they add up to. Best of luck with this. -Roger

     
Omana Thomas says:

Hi Roger,
thanks for the reply.We are almost done planning and was reading through your recommendations.On Monday we are doing Schilthorn (we are staying in Interlaken)
We have to get back to Lucern that evening.I was wondering whether we will have some time to visit Gimmelwald on our way down Schilthorn?We looked for hotels in Gimmerwald for Sunday night ,but most of them need two days booking.Is cable car the only option to get to Gimmelwald and Murren from Lauterbrunnen ?
We have settled on Swisspass now.So we have to pay for all the cable cars, right?
Thanks again
Omana

 

    Omana,

    On the way back down from Schilthorn you can get off the cable car at Murren and walk about 15 minutes downhill to Gimmelwald, or just get off in Gimmelwald and walk around for 30 minutes until the next cable car. The cable car is the only way other than walking to get between Gimmelwald and Lauterbrunnen.

    With the Swiss Travel Pass you get a 50% discount on some cable cars, and others are free. I believe the cable cars between Murren and Lauterbrunnen are free, but the one from Murren to Schilthorn is a 50% discount. -Roger

     
Tarun says:

Hi Roger,
Thanks for your earlier reply (long back- 2nd July, I was away on a work trip so kinda late). Now, I have booked my air tickets and here is my broad itinerary:
1. Arrive in Munich on 21st Sept
2. 2 nights in Munich- Oktoberfest, castles
3. Munich to Lucerne/Brienz/ Gimmelwald by train on 23rd
4. 7 nights in an apartment in either of the above mentioned 3 (I would certainly prefer to stay all 7 nights in one place rather than splitting because of cost and logistics)
5. Interlaken to Venice on 30th Sept by train
6. Venice to Marseilles on 1st Oct
7. Marseilles to Paris on 3rd Oct
8. Paris to Delhi on 7th Oct
As you had suggested I would buy a swisspass for 8 days. Can you also help me decide on the following:
A) Apartment for 7 nights- as you had suggested I am exploring Gimmelwald as my base, however, as I plan to visit Pilatus, Titlis, Rhine falls, Zermatt, Berne etc. during the 7 days, do you think it would be a good idea considering the connection time from Gimmelwald to Interlaken and will it be free travel between the two with Swisspass?
b) On the next part of trip post Switzerland, I am still weighing my options between Nice and Venice. I was earlier planning to fly to Nice and had found a fairly cheap flight (Easy jet flight from Zurich to Nice- approx 160CHF for 2 people with total 3 hold bags). However, I am not sure whether I can make it to Zurich airport for this 9.40 am flight. Also, like you had mentioned that the train journey from Interlaken to Milan offers some of the best sights and the connection to Nice passes through Milan, so I included Venice in my itinerary. Would you suggest this or should I switch back to moving directly to Nice?
c) For the week in Italy/France should I explore a 3/ 4 days Eurail pass or buying point to point tickets is better? Within France I plan to stay 1 to 2 nights in Marseille (some old memories!) and remaining in Paris so not many long journeys.
Thanks again!
Tarun

 

    Tarun,

    I would be surprised if there were any apartment rentals in Gimmelwald. It’s lovely, but it’s literally just a village with about 40 small farms and a few hotels. With so many trips out of the Interlaken area planned, I think the best location would be to stay either close to either of the train stations in Interlaken, or near the Lauterbrunnen train station. Nearly all of the sights in the Interlaken area are reached through connections in Lauterbrunnen. It’s a small town, and I’d probably think that staying near Interlaken Ost station would be better for a full week.

    There is a train leaving Interlaken Ost at 5:21am that reaches Zurich Airport at 7:42am every morning. The trains in Switzerland are famously punctual so that one would work well. Still, I much prefer the train and if you can include a short visit to Venice on this trip you should. It’s extremely crowded during the day but not bad in the early morning and early evening, so the trick is to stay overnight on the main island itself.

    For Italy and France I would just buy advanced train tickets online as early as possible. The tickets in Italy are fairly cheap to begin with, so the rail passes aren’t very helpful. And in France you are required to also buy an expensive seat reservation on many popular trains, so the passes don’t save much there either. The good news is that if you buy at least a month or so early you can get very reasonably priced train tickets in both countries. Have a fantastic trip. -Roger

     
adi says:

Thanks for your quick reply,

One more question,
As i travelling in ,
Day 1 : Mt Rigi, Mt Pilatus ( if i could complete in one day )
Stay at Luzern
Day 2 : Mt Titlus and Golden Pass to Interlaken

I think Tell-pass can be good option for me ?

I heard it has Titlus cable car also free which cost 92 CHF in halfcard and swiss pas ….

 

    Adi,

    It looks like the Tell Pass would be ideal for the visit you have in mind. Those individual train rides and cable cars are fairly expensive on their own. Those will be busy days for you, but if you start early in the morning you can do it all and have a wonderful time. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Omana Thomas says:

Hi Roger,
I like your suggestion to stay in Gimmelwald if possible. Tried for hotels but we managed to get one in Wengen instead and cancelled Interlaken one.
Thanks again
Omana

 
Jay says:

Hello Roger,
You are very diligent and patient in answering questions as I see it, very helpful, thank you!

I will be travelling to Switzerland from Prague on Sept 20th for 3 days with 600-700 USD budget. I am not an extreme adventurer but really want to see the mountains and taste Swiss cheese and chocolates. As I am from a tropical country and since I’ll be travelling alone, the least I would want to worry about is me being sick of a very cold weather (not sure if this is the case for Sept). I am interested to see, Interlaken, Gimmelwald, Jungfrau and experience at least one scenic train ride. I don’t really care if I see it from the top, mid or bottom view, at least a good picturesque view to enjoy the mountain view. With my budget and all other I’ve mentioned, what do you think would be the best recommendation? And would half Swiss pass help me save on this trip? Thank you so much

 

    Jay,

    I do think that the Half Fare Card will be great value for you. Nearly everything in Switzerland has a high price tag, and to be able to cut most of those in half for about US$120 is a great deal. You shouldn’t have especially cold weather in September, except for if and when you visit the mountain peaks such as Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn. Booking at the Mountain Hostel in Gimmelwald would be a great way to save money on lodging and get those views that you are after. Honestly, the view from the Mountain Hostel (or anywhere in Gimmelwald) is one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever see. And it’s basically free after you take the cheap cable car one stop up from the valley.

    The other way to save money will be to buy most of your food from supermarkets. There is a Coop supermarket near each train station, and there is even one in Murren, which is just above Gimmelwald. You can buy sandwiches and salads and things like that for around US$5 to US$8, while a meal in pretty much any restaurant is going to start at around US$20. I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time. Let me know if you have any other specific questions. -Roger

     
Taurn Sharma says:

Hi Roger,
Thanks a ton again for the valuable suggestions!
I have booked my stay for 1 night in Venice now and in the main island itself!
Again like you suggested I have booked all train tickets- Munich to Zurich, Domodossola to Venice, Venice to Marseilles and Marseilles to Paris to get best price.
I have though not booked any apartment yet. Actually, I was wondering if we can do some parts of Bernia/ Glacier express too, while staying in Interlaken as base. Is it possible? The other option is of course to to split my stay and spend 1 night in south, somewhere close to Domodossola. What would you recommend?
Again my inclination is not to split the stay (I am not even sure if apartment stays allows check out on a Friday) but if that is the only option (to allow me views of southern vistas) I would do that while I can.

 

    Tarun,

    The major challenge with that idea is that there are no direct trains that run between Interlaken and Chur or any of the other stops on the Bernina Express. You have to either go to Zurich to change trains, or even Bern in some cases. It will take you at least 4 hours to get from Interlaken to any of the stops on the Bernina Express, so even doing it as an overnight will require long days on the train. That is certainly a fantastic train ride, but honestly every train ride in Switzerland except those in the Zurich area is quite scenic, so you may not want to go that far out of your way. Sorry for the bad news. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Charles says:

Hello Roger,

This is my itinerary. I’m confused if I should choose Swiss Travel Pass or Half Fare Pass. Half fare pass seems easier to understand. What do you suggest? And anything you’d like to add to my itinerary? Thanks

Day 1: Zurich to Luzern. Overnight Luzern
Day 2: Take boat from luzern to Vitznau, change to cogwheel train to Rigi Kulm. Take cogwheel train to rig kaltbad, range cable car down to Weggis back to overnight Luzern
Day 3: Excurstion to Mt. Titles. Afternoon to mt. pilatus. Overnight Luzern
Day 4: Take earliest train to Interlaken and then Shilthorn , overnight Lauterbrunnen
Day 5: Earliest train to Jungfraujoch. Overnight Lauterbrunnen
Day 6: Interlaken morning. Afternoon in Bern. Overnight Bern
Day 7: Early to Lausanne. Afternoon bus to Montreux. Overnight Montreux
Day 8: Chateau de Chillon, Afternoon train to Zermatt. Overnight Zermatt
Day 9: Gornergrat & Glacier Paradise in morning. Afternoon walk around town in Zermatt. I hope i can get an overnight train or something to Milan
Day 10: Arrive in Milan. Overnight Milan
Day 11: Train to Como. Ferry to Bellagio. Overnight Bellagio
Day 12: Ferry to Varenna . Train to Tirano. Bernina Express to Chur. Spend an hour in Chur. Take train to Zurich. Overnight Zurich.
Day 13: Train to Rhine falls. Rest of the day in Zurich. Overnight Zurich
Day 14: Leave Switzerland

 

    Charles,

    I know what you mean about the confusion. Mainly it’s a case of adding up the full price of the various train rides you are going to take, plus Rigi and the boat rides, and seeing if that is more or less than the cost of the 15-day Swiss Travel Pass. You’d definitely save a LOT with the Half Fare Card compared to full price. My hunch is that the Swiss Travel Pass would save even more because you have many longer train rides planned. But you’d really have to add them up to be sure.

    Another advantage of the Swiss Travel Pass compared to the Half Fare Card is that almost all trains and buses are free, so you will probably find other little side trips to take, which would basically be free with the Pass and still fairly expensive with the Half Fare Card.

    Your itinerary looks very complete as it is and you are covering nearly all of the famous attractions in Switzerland. Unfortunately there is no overnight train between Zermatt and Milan. The normal trains take 3 hours 24 minutes with a change in Brig. The only option that goes overnight includes a 4 hour wait in Domodossola from about 1am to 5am, so it wouldn’t be helpful. The last daytime train leaves Zermatt at 19:13 and arrives in Milan at 22:37. That is probably your best bet. Let me know if you have any other questions, and best of luck with all of this. -Roger

     
Jay says:

Thank you so much for your response, Roger! 🙂

All the best,
Jay

 
Khiry Cooper says:

Hi roger,

Thanks so much for your post. I just have a few questions concerning my wife and i’s upcoming trip. We plan on being in Switzerland from August 28-September 4th. We plan on flying in from London to Basel airport taking a train to Bern and setting up shop there. We will base in Bern and plan on taking four day trips. I am still in the middle of our research, so we haven’t narrowed down each day yet. I know we definitely want to do the Jungfraujoch trip, but not sure about other long trips. I have been back and forth on whether to buy the swiss travel pass or not, and after reading your article and all of the comments I am not sure. I was thinking with the day trips and amount of public transportation we plan on using for those trips it would pay for itself, but I’m not sure now. What do you think?

 

    Khiry,

    As far as Swiss cities are concerned, Bern is the best choice, but still I prefer the more scenic small towns. That said, it really depends on where your other day trips will be to. My best guess is that the Swiss Travel Pass would be your best choice because those round-trip train journeys each day will add up in cost quickly. For example, Bern to Interlaken will cost CHF29 each way with no discount, so that is CHF58 right there. Then Interlaken to Gimmelwald or Lauterbrunnen adds to the cost, not to mention Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn.

    The Half Fare Card would obviously also save you a lot off the full fare, but you’d really have to run the numbers on the Swiss rail site – sbb.ch – to see which would save more. Needless to say, the longer those day trips are, the better the Swiss Travel Pass looks. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Khiry Cooper says:

Thanks for your response on my earlier comment. I looked at some of the places we wanted to check out. As I said in my earlier post we will base in Bern.

We would love to see Lucerne, Zurich, Geneva, Berner Oberland area, INterlaken, Thun.

We would also like to do the jungfraujoch and glacier express.

With that being said I realize some of these places, like Thun we wont spend a whole day, but just want to see it and explore a bit. With those things in mind, do you think the swiss travel pass is our best bet or the HalfFare Card?

 
LS says:

Hi Roger– So appreciate your thoughts! Like you we are generally on the go all day (& rarely sit for a restaurant meal), so we tend to plan a much more aggressive itinerary than most. We are traveling as a group of 4 adults.

I’m trying to figure out the best train ticket– unfortunately we’re there for 6 days & there’s no Swiss travel pass for that! Our plan is to travel Zurich to Montreux on Sunday, Montreux to Zermatt on Mon, Zermatt to Wengen on Tues, Wengen to Luzern on Wed, Luzern to Lugano on Thurs, and Lugano to Zurich on Fri. We won’t do any of those special scenic train routes & we won’t do Jungfraujoch– but will do Rigi & other cable cars and cogwheels…

What type of train ticket would you recommend or do you think we should drive? Thanks so so much!

 

    LS,

    This is a tricky one. My best guess is that the 8-day Swiss Travel Pass would be your best bet. It costs CHF376, but of course it will cover all of your train trips as well as the Mt Rigi trip, which is CHF74 by itself. In your case it should be pretty easy to calculate whether that would be better than the Half Fare Card. You can go on the official Swiss rail site and check the fares for all of those rides you plan on taking. Unlike most other European countries, the train fares in Switzerland are fixed, so you can check for any day and that will be the price you’d pay.

    I’m sure the Half Fare Card would save you a lot of money, but my hunch is that the 8-day Swiss Travel Pass would come out even cheaper. It would be great if you could respond again to this comment after you run the numbers. It would be interesting to know which was the better deal. -Roger

     
Nancy says:

Hi Roger, would really appreciate your advice.
We will be in Switzerland for 15 days in january. Family of three adults and one child. We are not skiers or hikers but want to enjoy beautiful scenery on the trains and get around from one city to the next. We are basing ourselves in Zurich, Bern, Luzern and geneva and plan to do train day trips from those bases. We may not however do all the classic panorama trains, but definitely the golden pass, the gotthard route and a ride to Zermatt. I find that the 15day travel pass for three adults seems VERY expensive (in australian dollars) and would appreciate your insight as to the best way to go. We also like cities and towns to explore. Is a half fare card better?
Thanks very much,
Nancy

 

    Nancy,

    The Swiss Travel Passes are quite expensive, but so are the train fares. If you are going to be basing yourself in cities rather than closer to the natural sights, it means you’ll be doing return train trips on all of those days. One slightly frustrating thing about Swiss train fares is that they are fixed in price so you don’t get deals on return tickets, even on the same day. You’d just have to go on the Swiss Rail website and add up the price of those train tickets and see how much they’d be with the Half Fare Card and with the Swiss Travel Pass. Since you are actually spending 15 days there my hunch is that the Swiss Travel Pass would end up being cheaper.

    Another thing in its favor is that the pass allows free travel on most normal trains but also even on some cable cars and boats etc. That means that with the pass your whole family can go anywhere you want and enjoy these cable cars and other premium attractions for free. You’d likely need 3 travel passes, and the child can go along for free when you get the (free) Swiss Family Card. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Ally says:

Hello Roger,

We are planning for our honeymoon trip to Europe and will be visiting Switzerland.

This is our itinerary in Switzerland. We are confused whether we should choose Swiss travel Pass or Half Fare Pass.

Day 1: Arrive at Zermatt in the evening from Milan, overnight at Zermatt
Day 2: Ski at Matterhorn
Day 3: Travel from Zermatt to Interlaken, overnight at Wengen
Day 4: Jungfraujoch railway from Interlaken
Day 5: Travel from Interlaken to Lucerne (city tour and lake cruise)
Day 6: Lucerne – Mount Rigi roundtrip from Lucerne
Day 7: Travel from Lucerne to Zurich and leave Switzerland

During our visit in Interlaken, we will be staying at Wengen. We will need the cable car for travelling to Gimmelwald or Murren. May we know what is the price for the cable car? Is it a free ride with the Swiss Travel Pass?

Also, during our stay at Wengen, Interlaken, what are the places of visit would you suggest for us other than the Jungfrau day trip?
And anything you’d like to add to my itinerary? Thank you so much.

 

    Ally,

    My best guess is that a Half Fare Card would save you more money because you’d need to buy an 8-day Swiss Travel Pass to cover your whole trip. Also there is only a 25% discount on Jungfraujoch instead of the 50% discount with the Half Fare Card.

    From Wengen to Murren you have to take a short train ride to Lauterbrunnen and then a short bus ride to Stechelberg and then one 5-minute cable car ride up to Gimmelwald and then one more 5-minute cable car ride up to Murren. All of those are included with the Swiss Travel Pass, but the cable cars above Murren are only a 50% discount. Those 5-minute cable car rides from Stechelberg to Murren are only about US$5 each full price, so about US$10 from Stechelberg to Murren or only US$5 with the Half Fare Card. So they aren’t very expensive and I would still guess that the Half Fare Card would save you more. The two top sights in the Interlaken area are Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn, which are both described in my main Switzerland article. As long as the weather is fairly clear up top, these are two of the most amazing sights in the entire world. And with a Half Fare Card, they are easily worth the price. There are many other hikes and things to see and do in Interlaken, so you won’t get bored. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Ally says:

Roger,

Thank you so much for your reply and suggestion.
Actually, I stated extra one day of stay in Switzerland. So total is 6 days. Let say the first day arrive in Switzerland, we are travelling from Venice to Zermatt, we are not travelling anywhere else. And for the last day at Zurich, we will be visiting around at Zurich only.
So if we are buying the 4 days Swiss Pass and the last day in Zurich, probably we will just get a day pass or travel pass of Zurich. Would it be more worth to get the Swiss travel pass than the Half Fare Card in this case?

Also, basically for the train travel between city in Switzerland, is it advisable to purchase online before we arrive at Switzerland or it is alright to purchase them from the counter when we arrive in Switzerland?

Thank you.

Cheers,
Ally

 

    Ally,

    I still think the Half Fare Card will save you more, partly because it saves an extra US$50 or so on Jungfraujoch alone compared to the Swiss Travel Pass. And you don’t seem to be doing enough longer train rides or included cable cars to pay for the 4-day Swiss Travel Pass.

    For trains in Switzerland you want to buy your international ones as early as possible because they are cheaper that way. But for the rides once you are in Switzerland you can buy them as you go or buy them all once you get there. The fares are basically fixed, although it’s worth checking online up to a month in advance because once in a while they’ll offer a “Supersaver” fare on some routes that is much cheaper than normal. However, those are pretty rare on popular routes that tourists use. On the other hand, tickets go on sale online 30 days out, and if you have your schedule figured out you might as well buy them online. You can get print-at-home or smartphone tickets that don’t have a delivery charge, and then you don’t have to worry about anything when you get there. You can buy a Half Fare Card online and then buy Half Fare tickets online as well. You just have to show the ticket person on the train your Half Fare Card along with your ticket receipt. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Sarah Krulow says:

Hi should I buy the half price pass or 4 day pass for Switzerland as I will stay 2 nights in Interlaken n do the jungfrau scenic train plus any other tourist rides then 2 nights in Lucerne and 2 nights in Zurich I will travel from Interlaken to Lucerne then later to Zurich by train n also use public transport in Zurich to travel to the airport to fly out ?
Can you help me Sarah .

 

    Sarah,

    Most of the scenic trains in Switzerland are fully covered by the Swiss Travel Pass, but for Jungfraujoch you only get a 25% discount off the US$205 or so fare. With the Half Fare Card you get a 50% discount, and that extra discount pays for almost half of your Half Fare Card already. Your other train trips aren’t nearly as expensive, so the Half Fare Card will pay for itself sooner with those as well.

    The Zurich Airport is on the normal train line and it’s just 9 minutes away from Zurich central station at a cost of CHF3.40 with a Half Fare Card. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
LS says:

Thanks so much! My best guess (taking into account the Riviera pass & Ticino tkts we’ll be given at the hotels) is that the 8day pass will save us about $350 total (for the 4 of us). Thanks much for your help!

 
Marie says:

THank you very much roger! You have been very helpful to us.
May i ask for any suggestion on what you think will be the best 6 day itinerary in switzerland for me and my husband (in our 40s) and my 11 year old daughter. Thank you in advance. God bless you

 

    Marie,

    Most of my best itinerary advice is contained in my main article on where to go in Switzerland on a short stay. The short version is that the Interlaken area has the most dramatic sights and views so I’d recommend 3 days or so there. I’d spend at least 2 other days in Lucerne, or perhaps all 3. Or you could spend one day in Bern or Zermatt or Appenzell or any other place you fancy. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Poonam chavan says:

Hi
i am visiting switzerland with my husband in mid-october.
DAY 1. 6TH OCT- Arrive at zurich Airport at 9am. travel to interlaken. stay at lauterbrunnen. explore lauterbrinnen for rest of the day.
Day 2. 7th OCT- lauterbrunnen-jungfraujoch.
(lauterbrunnen-klein scheidegg-jungfraujoch-grindelwald-wengen-lauterbrunnen)
Day 3. 8th OCT- Interlaken-winderswil-schynige platte-interlaken OR
schilthorn
(cable car to grutscalp-train to murren- cable car to schilthorn/stechelberg-lauterbrunnen
if weather is not good we will do boat ride on lake brienz and back to interlaken by train from brienz.
Day3. 10th oct- interlaken-lucern. explore lucern city.
day 4- 11TH OCT- do round trip to MOUNT RIGI.
day 5. 12th Oct- LUCERN-ZURICH, explore zurich. take a train to milan from zurich.
this is the itinerary planned so far. can you suggest any way to travel to italy from switxerland by train. our next stop is milan /venice, any city is convinient for us to touch down italy. and which card will suit up our trip. is pariss pass worth it? for 6 days of travel or half fare card? is there a golden pass line from interlakne to lucerne. what else can you suggest.

 

    Poonam,

    I’ll try to answer your questions in order…

    You can take a train from Lucerne to Milan in 3 hours 17 minutes with one change in Arth-Goldau, which is just north of Mt. Rigi. It’s one of Europe’s most beautiful train rides through the Alps. From Milan to Venice takes 2 hours 13 minutes with no train changes, but the trains in Italy are often late. Milan is interesting for a day or so although it’s not very “Italian” compared to Venice, Florence, or Rome.

    The Half Fare Card should be the best value for you, especially as you are planning to do Jungfraujoch.

    The Paris Pass is great as long as you are planning on taking the (highly recommend) hop-on, hop-off bus and also the Seine cruise in the evening, along with the other main sights such as the Louvre and the Arch de Triomphe. I can answer questions about that at the bottom of the post linked above.

    The Goldenpass train does go from Lucerne through Interlaken and to Monteux. The Lucerne to Interlaken leg is very scenic, but not quite as scenic as the part going through the valley to the west of Interlaken. You’ll enjoy that train ride whether you are in a panorama carriage or not. All of Switzerland is gorgeous, except for the areas just around Zurich, which are still not bad. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Sam J says:

Hi
My itinerary is for 2 people:

2nd Sept – zurich to interlaken to Beatenburg.
Lake thun boat ride and paragliding.

3rd sept – beatenburg to Interlaken happy inn lodge. Trip to jungfrau and back.

4th sept – interlaken to schilton hotel and back.

5th sept – interlaken to zurich

Kindly recommend should i buy tickets on the go or should i get swiss travel pass or half fare card?

Regards

 

    Sam,

    You’ll definitely want to get the Half Fare Card for this. A Swiss Travel Pass is good value for someone doing several longer train trips, but the Half Fare Card is a much better option for someone doing a few shorter train rides and also the expensive mountain attractions. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
sendy ju says:

hi Roger,

i came across your website. and it’s a life saver! i got very confused about planning this Swiss trip and would like some suggestions.

we will arrive in Bern on Sept 21st. we have only 4 days (3 full days to explore Swiss).

so according to what i read, this is what we come up with:

day 1 – arrived at Bern in the morning (03:40), stroll around for half a day then around noon take train to Interlaken.
stay in Interlaken

day 2 – Exploring Lauterbrunnen/Gimmelwald/Murren (AND SCHILTHORN – if the weather permits). stay in Interlaken

day 3 – early morning take train to Lucern, explore Lucern
at night take train to Basel (stay in Basel, because our flight the next morning at 9:00 in from Basel, we’re afraid we might not make it .

day 4 – fly home from Basel(BSL) at 9:05

my questions are:
1. do you think it’s better to buy ticket on the go with this type of itinerary or buy the half fare card?
2. is it possible to do the whole thing (lauterbrunner etc) in a day? Or should i split it between day 1 and two. We’re really interested to walk down from Murren to Gimmelwald as you suggested.
3. Stay in Murren/Gimmelwald or Interlaken with this kind of itinerary. I think spending at least a night in the small town would be lovely
4. is it better to stay at Lucern day 3 and early in the morning the next day take train to Basel? or after a day trip in Lucern, we stay in Basel?

Thank you so much for your help!

 

    Sendy,

    1. Definitely buy the Half Fare Card. It will pay for itself by the second day, and Schilthorn itself pays for almost half of it.

    2. Yes, you can go to the top of Schilthorn first and then take the cable car back down to Murren. You could spend 30 minutes in that town and then another 15 minutes walking down to Gimmelwald, and then get on the cable car for the last step down. Then take the waiting bus back to the Lauterbrunnen train station, and you’ll see the waterfall as you pass. Then you can walk around Lauterbrunnen for 30 to 60 minutes before taking the train back to Interlaken. All of that can be done in 6 hours or so, so you’d have time for something else if you started early.

    3. If you can stay in Gimmelwald you’ll love it. Some hotels require 2 nights minimum, but I think some do one night. Murren is also lovely, although it’s much more touristy and crowded.

    4. I would stay in Lucerne. There is a train leaving Lucerne at 5:54am and arriving at Basel SBB at 6:55am. Then you take a bus in 10 minutes to the airport from there. The Swiss trains are famously punctual so you wouldn’t have to worry about missing your flight. If that feels cutting it too close then staying in Basel would be okay. The town center is nice looking for a little stroll. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Lori says:

Hi Roger! Thanks so much for the great info on here! Just trying to compare my costs of a swiss pass vs the half fare card. Can you tell me what transports are MORE expensive with the travel pass than the half-fare card? Occasionally I see reference that the pass gets a 25% discount sometimes whereas the half-fare card is still half… Thanks very much!

 

    Lori,

    The only one where the Swiss Travel Pass costs more is the Jungfraujoch railway, which has a 25% discount rather than the 50% discount with the Half Fare Card. The other expensive nearby attraction is Schilthorn, and both cards provide a 50% discount. The travel pass covers nearly all normal train rides and even the trip up to Mt. Rigi. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Ethan says:

Hello Roger,

First, thank you so much for your blog and all of your comments. They have helped me a lot in the planning of my trip.

I will be visiting Switzerland with my girlfriend from Sept. 19th to Sept. 23rd.

Our itinerary is:
9/19 – Arrive at Zurich Airport at 3pm and catch train to Lucern – Explore Lucerne – Spend the night in Lucerne
9/20 – Day trip to Mt. Rigi or Mt. Pilatus or something else – Stay night in Lucerne
9/21 – Travel from Lucerne to Wengen – Stay night in Wengen
9/22 – Where to go and what to see??? Stay night in Wengen
9/23- Train from Wengen to Zurich – Fly out from Zurich at 7pm

My questions are:
1) What is your suggestion for our second day – go to Mt. Rigi or Mt. Pilatus or both or one of these plus something else?

2) On day 3 we travel from Lucerne to Wengen – Should we stop along the way to see things, if so what ?

3) What is the best/cheapest way to see Murren, Lauterbrunnen, Interlaken, Gimmelwald, Schilthorn, Jungfraujoch, Trummelbach waterfalls

My question is what is the best way to see these destinations in the most economical way and in the most efficient order.

From your previous comments, I think that the Half Fare Card would be the best bang for our buck. If you buy two half fare cards is cheaper than buying two separately?

Regards,
Ethan

 

    Ethan,

    On that second day I would do Mt Rigi because it’s easier to reach from Lucerne. One of the most popular things to do in Lucerne is to take the lake cruise that leaves from right in front of the train station. It stops at 4 or 5 small towns on the lake, one of which is where you get the cable car up to Mt Rigi. So you could do Rigi on that boat trip and then complete the boat trip when you get back down.

    The train ride from Lucerne to Interlaken to Wengen is very scenic, but I wouldn’t stop since there are so many sights in the Wengen area.

    The cheapest way to do Jungfraujoch and/or Schilthorn is with the Half Fare Card. It will be good value for you to get a Half Fare Card based on what you are planning already. Jungfrau and Schilthorn are the peaks on opposite sides of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, and being up there is very different from being only halfway up the mountain. If you would prefer not to do either of those and you want something good that is far cheaper I’d take the cable car up to Murren and then walk down to Gimmelwald before taking the cable car back down. With the Half Fare Card it will only cost around US$5 to get up to Murren and about US$3 to get back down. The views from Murren and Gimmelwald are spectacular, although quite different from the peaks. At least it’s MUCH cheaper that way. You can also see the waterfall in Lauterbrunnen on the bus ride from the train station to Stechelberg, which is covered by the same ticket. I think if you want to get out from the bus to see it you can do that and take the next bus 30 minutes later, but I’m not sure.

    The Half Fare Cards cost the same no matter how many you buy, at least as far as I’ve seen. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Denis Shields says:

Can you please if the Itinerary here makes sense we reckon we would need the 15 day travel pass. Arrive in Zurich and stay overnight, half of next day in Zurich the train to St Moritz for 2 nights, train to Locarno stay for 2 nights, train to Zermatt for 3 nights, train to interlaken for 3 nights, train to Lucerne for 3 nights the back to Zurich for 1 night and flight the next day.
Would you recommend staying anywhere else or does that look ok.
The info you have gathered ir much appreciated.
Den

 

    Denis,

    Your itinerary looks good. I’d say 3 nights in Zermatt might be more than you need to see the Matterhorn from a couple different angles, but I’m sure you’d enjoy it either way. The 15-day Swiss Travel Pass looks like it would be a good deal for you, but if you aren’t planning on doing more trips than that I think a Half Fare Card might save you more. On the other hand, if you are going to do some day trips, and especially on the special scenic trains, a Swiss Travel Pass will be a better deal. You can also go up Mt. Rigi from Lucerne and ride the lake cruise boat for free with the Pass. So again, if these are your only train trips then the Half Fare Card should be cheaper, but I’d highly recommend doing some train rides while your there and if you do that the Pass will be better. -Roger

     
sima says:

Dear Roger,
we are a group of six adults travelling on September 20th,this is our list as planned
1. arrive Geneva 20/9 and tour Geneva
2. rent car head to Annecy
3. Take the Golden pass to Lucern and disembark at Interlaken
4. Stay in Interlaken one day , see St. beatus Caves, Grimmelwald, Harder Kulm, ND MAYBE schilthorn if time allows
5. Head next day to Lucern and take the Mount Pilatus tour, then take train to zurich
6. Stay in Zurich one day and enjoy Zurich
7. Head to The blackforest tour and at night take train to Lugano
8. Stay in Lugano one day
9. head back to geneva by plane and then fly back
my question is , would it be better to take individual trips or take the swiss pass?
the other question do you think this is a doable list ?
Thank you

 

    Sima,

    It doesn’t look like you are doing enough long rail journeys to pay for a Swiss Travel Pass for the length of your trip, so you should look into the Half Fare Card. It will save you quite a bit more money and it allows you to be flexible with where you go.

    It’s a busy list, but I think it’s doable. I’m not sure which Black Forest tour you are taking, and in my experience the Black Forest is a bit of a dud compared to the Alps and other natural sights in the area.

    Also, I generally recommend that people skip Zurich unless there are specific things they want to see there. It’s nice enough, but kind of boring and it’s extremely expensive. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Firdhaus says:

Hi Roger, I’m hoping you can help us to decide between the Swiss Travel Pass or the Half Fare card. We’ll be visiting Switzerland and be staying in Interlaken end of November this year. We’ll be there for 4 days and 3 nights. We want to visit the 2 peaks of Jungfraujoch and Mt Titlis and experience the cable car and scenic train up to the top. And taking the train to Spiez on our last day. Which pass would you recommend. Our basic itinerary will be something like this..
Day 1 – Zurich Airport to Interlaken (we’re staying there)
Day 2 – Visit the peak of Jungfraujoch (top of europe)
Day 3 – Visit the peak of Mt Titlis
Day 4 – Leave Interlaken to Spiez for a connecting train to Milan
We hope and trust you can give us the best suggestion on which pass to get for our trip. Thank you so much!

 

    Firdhaus,

    I’d recommend the Half Fare Card for you. You aren’t taking enough long train trips to make up the cost of a travel pass, and as mentioned before, the Swiss Travel Pass only gets you a 25% discount on Jungfraujoch, while the Half Fare Card gives you 50% off. That alone almost pays for the Half Fare Card itself. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Sendy ju says:

Hi Roger, thanks for your reply. I bought the half fare pass, and have further questions regarding buying train tickets ii n between places.
So, the final itinerary would be

Day 1- arrived at Bern (3.40) explore the city then go to Interlaken. Stay in Interlaken.

Day 2 – Exploring Lauterbrunnen/Gimmelwald/Murren (AND SCHILTHORN – if the weather permits). stay in gimmelwald

day 3 – early morning take train to Lucern, explore Lucern. Stay in Lucern

Day 4- early morning ride first train from Lucern to Zurich, then fly back home.

1. Is it better to buy the ticket in advance or on the spot? Because for instance we want to stroll around in Bern, we haven’t decided what time to go to Interlaken. Are the prices greatly varied between buying earlier or buying on the spot?
2. Is there a locker that I can use in schiltorn/murren? Because day-2 trip to schiltorn, I plan to check out from Interlaken hotel, and buy one way ticket to schiltorn. Later on from schiltorn but one way ticket to murren. From murren to gimmelwald walking down.
With this planning, I think I need locker to store my luggage. Any information?
Or shall I check in first in gimmelwald?
(Do I think of the right route?).

3. What activities would you suggest us to do in Lucern? Do we get half price disc for the lake tour?

Hopw to hear from you soon. Thank you, Roger 🙂

 

    Sendy,

    The fares for domestic train tickets in Switzerland are the same no matter when you buy them. So if you are unsure then you can just wait until just before you want to go and buy then.

    There are luggage lockers at both Interlaken train stations, but I’m not sure about the Lauterbrunnen station. I would guess that there are, but I’m not sure. You could check into your hotel in Gimmelwald and then continue on the cable car up to Schilthorn 30 minutes later. They go every 30 minutes, and that is plenty of time to check in and walk back to the cable car station.

    You do get half price for the lake tour, and you can spend a whole day doing that because it stops at villages around the lake and you can hop off and explore before getting back on a later boat. The town itself is also really lovely, and of course there is the famous lion sculpture that is worth the 10 minute walk from the lake. There is plenty to do there. -Roger

     
Aman says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks a ton for the detailed information on swiss passes.

I will be arriving in Switzerland from Amsterdam staying in interlaken for 3 days. Here is what I want to do.
1)after checking in explore luzern
2) trip to Jungfraujoch
On second day
And golden pass line on 3rd day. Is half fare way card is better for itinerary?. And can I buy half fare card at interlaken?.

 

    Aman,

    Yes, for what you have in mind, the Half Fare Card is the best choice. It will save you more than the Swiss Travel Pass or buying normal tickets. You can buy the Half Fare Card online and print it at home, or you can buy it at any train station in Switzerland. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Tarun says:

Hi Roger,
Me and my wife are in Switzerland from 23rd to 30th Sept with our Swiss travel pass valid till 2nd Oct.

We are traveling to Venice on 30th morning and I have made a reservation from Domo to Venice. This is on train IC37 that leaves Domo around 10.17am and without any changeover at Milano reaches Venice at 2.40 pm.

Though I have read this earlier that with Swiss Travel pass valid till Domo I only need reservation from Domo to Venice which I have, but when I bought my swiss pass from a local office of swisstours the lady confused me and said I might need reservation from Interlaken/Brig.

Do I need to make a reservation on the earlier leg (Interlaken to Domo on 30th morning) too?

 
Collin says:

Hi Roger,

My girlfriend and I will be in Switzerland in two weeks and wanted to get your thoughts on whether a half pass or the full pass would be the best based on our itinerary:
Oct 3rd: Arrive in Zurich and go to Wengen
Oct 3rd – Oct 5th: Arrive and stay in Wengen
Oct 5th – Oct 8th: Arrive and stay in Bern
Oct 8th – Oct 9th: Arrive in Basel
Oct 9th: Leave Basel

Also, any must sees in the area would be great to know. Thanks in advance – your posts have been very helpful!

 

    Collin,

    Unless you are planning more train rides and activities, I’m not even sure the Half Fare Card (CHF120) will pay for itself, although it probably will. If you’ll be taking the cable car in Wengen and doing some other train rides while you are staying there, then the Half Fare Card is the definite choice. You’d need to be doing much more train travel for the Swiss Travel Pass to be good value for this trip. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Aman says:

Thanks Roger for the help. One more question regarding half fare card.I have read online that 50% discount is not valid if you go early in the morning to jungfraujoch. Is it true?

 

    Aman,

    I’d not heard this before, but evidently they offer a special Good Morning Ticket at a lower price than the normal trains. And there doesn’t seem to be a way to use the Half Fare Card on that one, at least on the website that promotes it. So I’m not 100% sure, but it may be true that the earliest train isn’t eligible for Half Fare because it’s already a discount. -Roger

     
Tapas says:

Hi Wade,

Can you pls guide if I should take a Swiss pass or half fare card for my trip which I have planned as follows:

27-Sep Fly from Paris to Zurich Check-in and Half day City tour”

28-Sep Full day tour to Lucerne + Mt. Titles and back to room in Zurich (this can be adjusted on 28 or 29 depending upon weather)

29-Sep Black forest and Rhine falls and back to room in Zurich

30-Sep Change base from zurich to Wengen. Explore Interlaken and other nearby region. Or leave bags at interlaken station and visit reichenbach falls if possible.

1-Oct Full day Jungfrauojch tour and back to hotel

2-Oct Tour to Bern

3-Oct Change base to Geneva – leave early morning and travel from Wengen to Geneva by train with golden pass route from interklaken to Montreux. Leave bags at station and explore Montreux.

4-Oct Geneva City tour with boat cruise or tour to Annecy.

5- Oct Leave for nice

Thank you very much for your help.

 

    Tapas,

    My best guess is that the Half Fare Card would be the better option for you, but you’d really have to add up those train fares to be sure. It doesn’t look like you are doing enough long train rides in a short enough time for the full Pass to pay for itself, or at least be a cheaper option than the Half Fare Card. And as I’ve mentioned before, the Half Fare Card gives a 50% discount on Jungfraujoch and the Pass only offers 25% off, so that is another thing in favor of the Half Fare Card. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Mansi says:

Hi Roger,
We have planned trip from 26th to 28th Sep. We have booked airbnb at Fluhli, so planning to cover Lucerne and Interlaken. So just wanted to know what is the difference b/w Swiss pass and Tell Pass?

 

    Mansi,

    The Tell Pass only covers transportation in the immediate area around Lucerne, while the Swiss Travel Pass covers the whole country. Interlaken is outside of the Tell Pass area, so it’s really only good for people focusing on Lucerne. -Roger

     
Susan T says:

Hi Roger,
Please find our below itinerary and wondering if getting a pass will be worth it? Family of 4 (2 adults + 2 youths)
Day 01 – Arriving Interlaken OST to Wengen for a night stay
Day 02 – Wengen to Jungfraujoch and head to Lucerne
Day 03 – Lucerne (Resting and walking around the city)
Day 04 – Lucerne to Zurich HB to catch the TGV train

Looking forward to your reply. Thank you!

 

    Susan,

    I think you should get the Half Fare Card for the most savings. Fortunately you can also get a Swiss Family Card for free, which allows one child to ride free with a paid adult. That way you spend CHF120 for each adult Half Fare Card and then you get all your tickets at 50% off and the kids go free on trains, and 50% off on Jungfraujoch and cable cars. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Prachi says:

Hi Roger,

We recently came back from our trip. We followed your advice, bought the HFC and traveled throughout Switzerland by train / cable car. We had a awesome time and benefitted by the HFC! We also traveled from Grindelwald to Geneva by train (instead of our original plan of going by car) like you suggested to catch our flight from Geneva and had no issues.

Thanks a lot for all the information / suggestions!! You are doing a great job (SELFLESSLY) guiding people to plan there trip. 🙂

Thanks again!
Prachi

 
Dan says:

Hi Roger,

Really appreciate you taking the time out to help first timers to Switzerland. I have a trip coming up soon and am pretty excited as this will be my first visit (and I’ll be travelling alone). Can you kindly take a look to see if my plan is doable and if the Swiss Travel Pass will be worth it? Also, would it be necessary to get the 8 day pass or will the 4 day pass suffice?

Day 1: Arrive in ZRH, check out Zurich old town
Day 2: Visit Rhine falls, Lake Zurich
Day 3: Transfer to Lucerne, explore Lucerne’s old town
Day 4: Mt Rigi day trip (boat to Vitznau, cog train up to Rigi Kulm, cable car to Weggis)
Day 5: Transfer to Grindelwald via Interlaken
Day 6: Jungfrau day trip (weather permitting)
Day 7: Scenic GoldenPass train ride to Montreux
Day 8: Depart Switzerland from Geneva

Much thanks! 🙂

 

    Dan,

    Your plan looks fantastic. Most people only visit Switzerland for a few days so it can be a problem trying to fit in enough highlights in such a short time. But with an 8-day trip you can go at a slower pace as you’ve described. With two days in Lucerne and two days in the Interlaken area, you should have enough time for the top highlights, but still I would probably keep Zurich to only one night or even no nights. As I’ve mentioned before, Zurich is a nice enough city, but it lacks top attractions of other European cities such as Paris, Rome, or Berlin. And also, Zurich seems to be built for people on expense accounts because even a small hotel room with a bathroom down the hall will start at US$200 per night or even more. You can get something cheaper in a remote location, but it’s just not good value. In Lucerne and Interlaken you can get a much nicer hotel for less money, and the scenery in those areas is arguably the finest in Europe.

    I’d think that either the 8-day Swiss Travel Pass or just the 30-day Half Fare Card would be your best two options. Either one will be cheaper than buying as you go, and I don’t think a 4-day pass would be enough because you’d have to pay full price for too many things on the other 4 days. You could run the numbers to see if the full Swiss Travel Pass is a better deal compared to the Half Fare Card, but I’m confident that both would be good value and one of those is your best bet. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Ben says:

Hi Roger,

We would really appreciate your advice on our tour of Switzerland!
We are travelling from Munich and stopping at Neuschwanstein on the way to Lindau. We then want to make our way to Zurich but unsure if we should go direct or go via Schloss Laufen/rhine falls? Here is our plan below with optional side/day trips:

1.Dec 4th Lindau
2.Dec 5th Zurich – explore city
3.Dec 6th Zurich – potential day trip to Rhein Falls/Schloss Laufen
4.Dec 7th Luzern – Day trip to Mount Rigi
5.Dec 8th Luzern – Day trip??
6.Dec 9th Luzern – Explore town
7.Dec 10th Bern – Explore City
8.Dec 11th Bern – Day trip to Jungfrauhoch
9.Dec 12th Montreux – Explore city
10.Dec 13th Montreux – Day trip to Gruyere
11.Dec 14th Zermatt – Explore town
12.Dec 15th Zermatt – Full day skiing
13.Dec 16th Zermatt – Full day skiing
14.Dec 17th Zermatt – (via glacier express) – Chur – Zurich – Late flight to London

Do you think there are any must see highlights of Switzerland that we are missing? Not sure if we should prioritise interlakken, grindleweld, Wengen etc. Can you also recommend another day trip from Luzern on the 8th? We are planning on taking the train for this whole journey, which would be the best rail pass option for us? We also want to make sure we do a few of the scenic routes would that be possible with our plan above?

 

    Ben,

    Your plan looks very well thought out. As I’ve mentioned before and especially near the top of my main article on what to do in Switzerland, the Swiss cities are mostly below average compared to famous European cities for tourists, and the natural sights are WAY above average. That said, Zurich is a nice enough place if you can afford a decent hotel, and Montreux does have a lovely view. It’s just that Interlaken, Lucerne, and Zermatt are just so amazing in their scenery that many people consider it a shame to focus on Swiss cities and only get a few peaks of the scenery.

    Rhein Falls and Schloss Laufen should be a good day trip. I haven’t been there myself, but I know they are deservedly popular. If you can fit more time in the Interlaken area I think you’d be glad you did. Jungfraujoch is arguably the single top attraction, but Schilthorn is nearly as amazing and being able to spend a bit of time in Gimmelwald (and Murren) as part of that trip provides for another experience that you’ll never forget. Grindlewald is kind of like Zermatt in that it’s a popular ski town. Wengen is also somewhat similar and all of them are lovely.

    From Lucerne the three marquee sightseeing options are Mount Rigi, Mount Pilatus, and Mount Titlis, and each is a different experience. Mount Rigi is the easiest to reach because you can do it as part of a lake cruise leaving from just in front of the train station. If you have time to do one of the others it would be great as well.

    It’s a tough call as to whether you’ll be better off with a full Swiss Travel Pass or a Half Fare Card. Basically, the more train trips you add to your plan, the better the full Pass works out. But if you don’t add many longer train rides then the Half Fare Card might save you more.

    Speaking of train rides, if you follow the plan you have typed out you’ll already be experiencing many of the best train rides. Fortunately, almost every train ride in Switzerland is very scenic, not counting some in the immediate suburbs of Zurich. When you go from Bern to Montreux you can do the most scenic part of the Goldenpass if you take the slower route through the valley instead of the high speed train that goes around it. If you get a Swiss Travel Pass it’s probably worth adding more train journeys, but my advice to most people is to just take train rides between all the things you want to see and do, and you’ll already be in awe of the scenery. But again, if you get the full 15-day pass it makes sense to ride even more because the rides are free and the Swiss trains are famously punctual and comfortable. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Mozee says:

Hi Roger,

Thank you for the great post & excellent advice. I’ve been reading about STP, Tell Pass & Half Fare Card for days however still very confused.
My husband & I will be in Switzerland from Oct 20-23 :

Zurich airport to Lucern
Lucern day trip to Mt Pilatus or Mt Rigi
Lucern to Zurich airport

can you please guide us if we should get a STP or Tell Pass or Half Fare card?

thanks,
Mozee

 

    Mozee,

    Believe it or not, if these are your only plans I think it would be cheapest to just buy as you go with no discount card. The train from Zurich Airport to Lucerne only costs CHF15 each way and takes a bit over an hour. It’s not included in the Tell Pass either. So with CHF30 for a return trip between the airport and Lucerne, it would be cheapest to pay full price to do Pilatus or Rigi. If you were to add in more train rides and local attractions near Lucerne then the Tell Pass could possibly save more. Or if you add more things outside of the Lucerne area the Half Fare Card looks better. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Azz says:

Hi Roger,

Glad that i came about your informative blog. I’m planning for a 4 days trip to Swiss. Interlaken 2 days, Lucerne 1 day, Zurich 1 day. Whilst in Interlaken, would like to go to Jungfrau top. Also would it be worthwhile getting the swiss pass? Also is it necessary to spend a night in Zurich if we are off to Munich from there?

Thanks.

 

    Azz,

    I’m glad you found this site as well. You don’t need to stay in Zurich at all and I really wouldn’t recommend it because hotels are so expensive there for what you get. Unless your flight is before 07:00 you should be able to stay in Lucerne on that last night. The train from Lucerne directly to the Zurich Airport only takes 1 hour 3 minutes and they leave several times per hour. The first train is around 05:00 and Swiss trains are famously punctual so you don’t need to worry. If you were staying at a hotel in Zurich it might take just as long to get to the train station there and then take a train to the airport.

    Especially since you are planning Jungfraujoch, you will be much better off with the Half Fare Card, which is also discussed in the article above. It costs CHF120 per adult, and you save almost that much just on Jungfraujoch alone. Then you can get 50% off all of your train rides and boat rides in Lucerne, or even Schilthorn in Interlaken if you have the time. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Joseph says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for the useful info. Would you be able to advise my trip?
I’m going to spend a week in Switzerland in next February, but i still haven’t decided to get which Pass. The following will be my tentative schedule:

16/2 Arrive at Zurich airport in the morning and straight to Lucern(spend a night in Lucern)
17/2 From Lucern to Interlaken
18/2 From Interlaken to Schilthorn; stay in either Murren or Gimmelwald
*19/2 From either Murren or Gimmelwald to Jungfraujoch (Or may be do this together with Schilthorn in the same day)
*19/2 or 20/2 From either Interlaken to Zermatt (spend a night over Zermatt)
*20/2 or 21/2 Take the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz
*21/2 or 22/2 St. Moritz to Zurich and from Zurich to Salzburg(Austria)

*If I could do two summits in a day I would be able to save a day

Ought I to get Swiss Travel Pass non-consecutive 3 days or 4 days OR Swiss Half Fare Card?

What do you reckon of my plan? Please advise. Your reply is much appreciated.

Thanks a million.

Joseph

 
Khalida says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for this awesome blog. It has been the most useful one I’ve come across thus far.

My husband and I are planning a trip to Switzerland in May of 2018 for only 3 short nights. We are eager to do as much as we can during our stay there. There is so much to do and see in Switz that I am having a difficult time planning our itinerary. We are interested in going to Interlaken, Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Murren and Schiltorn. Do you think this is doable in 3 nights?

We will be arriving to Zurich by plane. Are you able to advise which order we should travel to the places listed above? I am unsure of the location of each of these places.

Another thing, we are more interested in sight seeing, hiking and exploring the quiet areas more so than any other activities. With that said, would you suggest we visit Schilthorn or Jungfraujoch?

Any information helps! Thank you kindly 🙂

 

    Khalida,

    I think I have good news for you. From Zurich Airport you’ll take a train to Interlaken Ost train station. Interlaken is a fairly large tourist town at the base of the Alps and it’s the main transit hub in the area. From Interlaken Ost you can take a train in 20 minutes to Lauterbrunnen, which is a small village deep in a valley between mountains. The town is nice and there is a lovely waterfall just outside of town, but there isn’t much to see there. From Lauterbrunnen you take a bus that waits across from the train station every time a train comes in, and you’ll take that bus past the waterfall and to a cable car station in a smaller town called Stechelberg in about 10 or 12 minutes.

    From the cable car station you ride up one stop, which takes 5 minutes (leaving every 30 minutes), to a tiny and stunning little village called Gimmelwald, which I discuss in my main article about Switzerland. If you want to go to Murren you just walk across the small platform to the waiting cable car, which will take you up 5 more minutes to Murren. Murren is a much larger village than Gimmelwald and it also has amazing views of the surrounding mountains. If you want to go to Schilthorn you just take that same cable car system up 3 more stops to the top and you are there. So you can actually see all of these places in less than a day.

    Grindelwald is a larger ski village in the next valley over from Lauterbrunnen and you can get there by train from Lauterbrunnen. It’s nice, but I prefer Gimmelwald and Murren if I had to choose.

    The train up to Jungfraujoch leaves from Grindelwald, so you can visit the town on your way if you like. Both Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch are incredible, with views that face each other across a huge valley. Schilthorn is a bit cheaper and it’s faster to reach, but Jungfraujoch is more of an experience and the summit is a bit higher. Both are fairly quiet when you are at the top, and Schilthorn has its famous revolving restaurant called Piz Gloria that I like a lot. The food is fairly expensive, but actually typical prices for Switzerland, so if you have time for a meal there it’s an unforgettable experience as the restaurant rotates giving you a 360 degree view over about an hour. If you are staying in Murren or Gimmewald then you are already part way up to Schilthorn so I’d go there. If you stay in Grindelwald you are already part way up to Jungfrau. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
khalida fazli says:

THANK YOU SO MUCH! You’ve helped me so extremely much! I’ve been researching for hours and was getting so overwhelmed. I am so glad to hear that! I really appreciate you taking the time to reply. THANKS AGAIN!

:):)

 
Jevis says:

Hi Roger,

I found your post as well as the advice given in the comments section very insightful.

I am planning to travel to Switzerland this December (13-16) and would like your advice on our itinerary. This itinerary is formed following your advice in both the post as well as in the comments section.

13 (Interlaken)- Arrive at Interlaken by early noon, visit Lake Thun before taking the Interlaken – Jungfraujoch Train ride. Staying a night at Interlaken.

14 (Murren) – Checking in Eiger Guesthouse at Murren, visit Schilthorn and the revolving restaurant before touring Gimmelwald.

15 (Murren) – Skiing at the Murren – Schilthorn ski region.

Also, since we will be doing the Jungfraujoch ride as well as Schilthorn trip, would the half-fare card be worthwhile?

Thank you in advance for your advice! 🙂

 

    Jevis,

    Your plan sounds quite good. Jungfraujoch takes about 6 hours and the sun sets pretty early in December, so I hope you can get an early start. Also, check the schedule because they don’t have departures all day at all times of the year.

    As for the snow, I’ve heard that the ski lifts are usually open by mid December because that’s usually when they have enough snow, but there is no guarantee. If the skiing part is important to you then you might want to do a bit more research on that to be sure. There are slopes all over the area, so there may be some at higher elevations that are open even earlier.

    I would definitely recommend the Half Fare Card for what you have in mind. It will save a lot, and pay for itself a couple times over. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Sona L. says:

Hello Roger,

Thank you so much for sharing all this great information! It’s very helpful!!!

I will be in Switzerland from 12/21 – 12/24th – i know this is a very short trip but I would love to get your advice on my itinerary!

Day 1: Zurich airport to Bern
Day 2: Bern – Interlaken – Jungfrau
Day 3: Interlaken to Lucern / Mt. Rigi OR Mt. Pilatus (or both in one day?)
Day 4: Lucern to Zurich (airport)

Thank you so much in advance and looking forward to your reply!!!

-Sona L.

 

    Sona,

    I’m happy to help. Your trip is just about the shortest version that can be done and hit those major highlights. If I were you I think I’d skip Bern and spend a bit more time in Interlaken. As mentioned near the top of my main article about what to do in Switzerland, Bern is the nicest and most interesting of Switzerland’s larger cities, but really it’s the Alps and views that are the magic. Spending that first evening in Bern could be nice, though I think spending that night in the Interlaken area and perhaps even Gimmelwald or Murren would be nicer.

    As for Lucerne, I wouldn’t try to do both peaks in one day, and especially if that’s your only day there. The town itself is very nice and if you take the lake cruise you can go up Mt. Rigi as part of that same trip. It’s a really wonderful journey that will take most of the day by itself. Hopefully you’ll get clear weather. And I think buying the Half Fare Card will save you money if you end up doing all of the things on your list. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Dinny says:

Hi Roger,

The information in this post is awesome, thank you. I have been reviewing it daily whilst trying to plan on what to do in Switzerland and how. I will be travelling to Switzerland in January 2018 with my family (2 adults, 2 kids 10 & 8)and am wondering what pass to purchase and what to see. We have booked hotels and have come up with the below itinerary:

3rd Jan – Fly London to Zurich (arrive in Zurich 09.30), take train to Lucerne.
3rd-5th – Stay Lucerne (2 nights) and thinking of doing lake cruise/lion monument. 2nd day do Mount Pilatus.
5th-8th – leave Lucerne (morning), take train to Interlaken (stay 3 nights) and thinking of doing Jungfraujoch 1 day, Schilthorn 1 day and half day trip to Grindelwald.
8th-10th – leave Interlaken by train (morning) and head to Zermatt (2 nights). Thinking of doing the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and skiing for beginners. Is it worth doing the Glacier Express?
10th – leave Zermatt (morning) to catch a flight from Zurich to London departing at 4.35PM.

Can you advise if it is worth getting the full or half day pass? Would also appreciate your thoughts on planned trips in the itinerary and if there is any thing different you would suggest we do.

Whilst in Zurich, and if we have time is there anything you could suggest or recommend we visit?

Look forward to hearing from you. Thank you in advance.

Dinny

 

    Dinny,

    I’m happy to hear that this helps. The main Swiss Travel Pass is really helpful and economical for people who are doing a lot of train travel in Switzerland, and especially the longer scenic train rides. Since it appears that you are mostly just going point to point on the trains, and not any of the main branded scenic trains (even though every train ride you’ll be doing is very scenic), I think the Half Fare Card will save you the most money. It will get you that discount on pretty much everything on your list for a much lower price than the Swiss Travel Pass. If you add the Glacier Express then the Swiss Travel Pass makes more sense, but to go all the way to St. Moritz it takes almost 8 hours each way so I really don’t think you’ll have the time.

    Your itinerary looks quite good. If you added the Glacier Express you’d also be doing some backtracking. If you had at least one extra day I’m sure you’d love that ride. On the other hand, as I mentioned, you’ll already be seeing many of the most scenic parts of Switzerland just going between the stops you have in mind, so it wouldn’t be quite as special. I think those scenic rides are best for people who don’t have much time to spend in the destinations, and who want to see the scenery quickly.

    As for Zurich, I think I would skip it if I were you. It’s a nice (and very expensive) city, but there are no major highlights, and the scenery in the countryside is so amazing that spending a few hours in Zurich would be a bit of a let down. As always, let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Dinny says:

Hi Roger,

Thank you for the swift reply and thoughts on Zurich. Your response has helped ensure we have planned our itinerary as best we can and that we do not need to go on the scenic ride (glacier express) as we will see a lot of scenery on the stops we have planned.

Thanks again.
Dinny

 
Vin says:

Hi,

We will be in switzerland for 8 days flying in on Jul 27 and flying out of ZRH on Aug 4.We are a family of 2 adults and 2 kids (ages 3 and 8)
Here is our itinerary and the days are interchangeable
Day 0:ZRH airport to interlaken.Nohting planned on arrival day.
Day 1: interlaken to junfrauoch,lauterbrunnen,wengen and back to interlaken
Day 2: interlaken to matterhorn and zermatt and back to interlaken
Day 3: interlaken to lucerne and back to interlaken
Day 4: interlaken to schilthorn,murren,gimmelwald and back to interlaken
Day 5: interlaken to mt titlis 1 and back to interlaken
Day6: Interlaken to Montreux, overnight stay in Montreux
Day 7: Montreux to Zurich
Day 8: fly out of ZRH airport

Given this, do you think any of the swiss travel passes or half fare pass make sense?.Also any suggestions on the itinerary are also welcome.
Thanks

 

    Vin,

    This looks like quite a trip. The way you are planning it I think the full Swiss Travel Pass would make more sense, but if you changed it a bit the Half Fare Card might be better. I can see the appeal of spending more of your time in one place in the Interlaken area, especially with young children. Still, that also has you on trains pretty much every day, and young children might find that to be more of a hassle than moving hotels one more time. What I’d recommend is the following…

    Go from Zurich Airport to Lucerne first and stay for two nights. Lucerne is actually a much nicer and more scenic town than Interlaken, although the scenery around Interlaken is far more dramatic. You could enjoy Lucerne and then go to Titlis on your full day there.

    Then take the train from Lucerne to Interlaken (or at least that area) and do Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn as your main activities. If you dedicate a full day to each of them, you’ll end up visiting all of those other nearby places along the way. The trip from Interlaken to Zermatt to see the Matterhorn is a full day trip. As dramatic as the views of the Matterhorn are, that is a long and fairly expensive day trip, and the Interlaken area has much more to see. In fact, Lucerne has several more nearby peaks (Rigi and Pilatus) that aren’t as tall or iconic as the Matterhorn, but they are also great and much easier to visit if you stay another day in Lucerne. It’s just something else to think about.

    The train ride from Interlaken to Montreux is wonderful, especially if you take the slower GoldenPass route. If you kept that ride and the ride back to the Zurich Airport then the Swiss Rail Pass might still be the best choice. You’d have to go to the Swiss Rail website and add up the numbers. The domestic rail tickets within Switzerland are all on fixed prices so it’s easy to check them and add up the totals with the Half Fare Card and with the Swiss Rail Pass. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Vin says:

Hi,

Thank you so much for your suggestion.You suggestion makes a lot more sense to visit lucerne first and then move onto interlaken area.I am also thinking of skipping matterhorn like you suggested.One more follow up question.for families what would you suggest as a better base in the interlaken area.Interlaken, wengen or lauterbrunnen?.It seems like they are very close to each other but wengen sems to be a lot more scenic.What would you suggest?

Thanks

 

    Vin,

    Wengen and Lauterbrunnen are both small villages that are extremely scenic and it would be hard to choose between them. Both of them also have a convenient Coop supermarket right by the train station. You’ll be amazed by the scenery of both of them. The downside for those is that each of them has a relatively small number of restaurants and food choices. If you aren’t a picky eater and don’t mind paying high prices for at least some of your meals, then either one would be great.

    Interlaken is also scenic, but it’s spread over a wide valley and so the hotel areas don’t look like they belong on postcards, even though they are nice. The advantage of Interlaken itself is that you have scores of restaurant choices, including some cheaper fast-food options. One alarming thing about Switzerland is that a sit-down meal in any restaurant will start at around US$20 and go up from there. But you can get shwarma or burgers for closer to US$10 at snack bar places. On the other hand, the Coop supermarkets also have prepared sandwiches and salads and that sort of thing starting around US$5 each. Interlaken is also most of a rail hub, while the other two are hubs for the tourist trains that run deep in the valley. Hopefully with this information you can make a decision. As long as you find a hotel that you like at a decent price, you should be happy in any of them. -Roger

     
Vin says:

Thank you so much Roger.You have been so helpful

 
Vin says:

Hi Roger,
Here is the revised itinerary.It seems like Swiss travel pass makes sense.Just wanted to get your opinion on it too.

Day 0:ZRH airport to Lucern.Nothing planned on arrival day.
Day 1: Lucern, Regis or pilatus and stay local
Day 2: Lucern to mt titlis, Engelberg and back
Day 3: Lucern to Interlaken and rest day
Day 4: interlaken to schilthorn,murren,gimmelwald and back to interlaken
Day 5: interlaken to jungfrauoch,lauterbrunnen,wengen and back to interlaken
Day6: Interlaken to Montreux by golden pass train, overnight stay in Montreux
Day 7: Castle sighseeing and other local attractions and Montreux to Zurich (evening)
Day 8: fly out of ZRH airport

Please suggest if you think Swiss travel pass makes sense for us.Also how does the revised itinerary look?

Thanks

 
Aanchal says:

Hi Roger … your post seems really useful and nice and very elaborate !!
Iam planning to travel to switzerland with my husband from 16-18th december from paris . My paln decided as of now is as follows :

Day 1 : reach zurich HB from Paris , take a train to lucern
Take boat ride in lake and go up to Mt rigi / pilatus
spend remaining time in luzern and stay overnight there.
Day 2 : taking the Golden pass scenic train to Interlaken and then go up to jungfrau mountain then spent some time left in interlaken and take a normal train back to luzern ( hotel in luzern only )

Day 3 : Take the train to eldengerg and go up to Mt titlis and enjoy the time there doing activities like ice flyer etc.
Come back to luzern and enjoy there and take the train to zurich airport at night for a flight back to paris

Please suggest we should take a Swiss pass or Half Fare pass or shud take indivisual tickets ??
Thanks in advance !!

 

    Aanchal,

    The Swiss Travel Pass is great value for those taking two or more longer train journeys. In your case, all of your train rides will be fairly short, including the one from Lucern to Interlaken and back. And with the 50% discount for Jungfraujoch rather than the 25% discount with a Swiss Travel Pass, I think the Half Fare Card will save you more money. It looks like a great trip and hopefully you’ll get lucky with the weather when you are going up those peaks. -Roger

     
Sumeet says:

Hi Roger

Me and my family ( total of 4 people ) will be travelling from Paris to Switzerland for 4 nights. We plan to be around Interlaken and surrounding areas.We spend 4 nights in Paris before that.In Switzerland we plan to visit Jungfraujoch and take maybe 2 scenic trains. Our return flight is again from Paris, where we stay for a night on return.

Does it make sense to buy a France/Switzerland travel pass or just a Half Fare Swiss Card.

 

    Sumeet,

    It would depend on which scenic train journeys you were also going to take. Some of them are quite expensive so using a Swiss Travel Pass to pay for them can save a lot of money. But others, such as the GoldenPass portion between Lucerne and Interlaken, are fairly cheap. My hunch is that the Half Fare Card would be your best bet, especially with the deeper discount on Jungfraujoch. But if you are going to do some longer and more expensive train trips on those other days, the Swiss Travel Pass might be better. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Sumeet says:

Thanks so much for the suggestion Roger. Will it make sense to buy 2 country France and Switzerland Rail Pass as I have to take a train between Paris and Interlaken and then on return between Inyterlaken and Paris again.

Also, is Switzerland recommended for February for travel as we are not into any winter sports like skiing and plan to go there just to just see the natural beauty of the country.

 

    Sumeet,

    I’m not sure of the prices for the France and Switzerland Rail Pass, and I actually think that’s mostly just for trains rather than for almost everything like the Swiss Travel Pass is. In other words, I don’t think the France and Switzerland Rail Pass will give you discounts on cable cars and all that.

    If you buy the Paris to Interlaken train tickets at least a month in advance, they should be fairly cheap and probably cheaper than the rail pass that includes France as well.

    Switzerland is beautiful all year round, and the summer months are actually the wetter months. So in February you should get snow on the ground in the villages above Interlaken, and there is snow on the ground all year round on the highest peaks. The Swiss are incredibly efficient people and they do a great job of clearing the streets and keeping transportation running. So as long as you dress warmly enough (preferably in layers rather than in one heavy coat), you’ll probably be just fine and have an amazing time. If you get unlucky there might be a snow storm while you want to do something, but chances are you can still do what you like. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Vin says:

Hi Roger,

I dont know if you had a chance to look at my revised itinerary.Can you please take a look and suggest? Thanks

Here is the revised itinerary.It seems like Swiss travel pass makes sense.Just wanted to get your opinion on it too.
Day 0:ZRH airport to Lucern.Nothing planned on arrival day.
Day 1: Lucern, Regis or pilatus and stay local
Day 2: Lucern to mt titlis, Engelberg and back
Day 3: Lucern to Interlaken and rest day
Day 4: interlaken to schilthorn,murren,gimmelwald and back to interlaken
Day 5: interlaken to jungfrauoch,lauterbrunnen,wengen and back to interlaken
Day6: Interlaken to Montreux by golden pass train, overnight stay in Montreux
Day 7: Castle sighseeing and other local attractions and Montreux to Zurich (evening)
Day 8: fly out of ZRH airport
Please suggest if you think Swiss travel pass makes sense for us.Also how does the revised itinerary look?
Thanks

 

    Vin,

    Sorry I lost track of the revised itinerary. Yes, I think this version looks quite good and very efficient. You should have plenty of time to do everything on your list, and a bit of free time as well, or at least a bit of buffer in case one or more of the peaks are fogged in at some point.

    Since the Mt Rigi cable car is included with the Swiss Travel Pass, it should make up for the amount you lose on the discount on Jungfraujoch. My best guess is that the Swiss Travel Pass might save you a bit more because you are taking quite a few train journeys, but it might be close with the Half Fare Card. Since the Half Fare Card costs much less and still gives you a 50% discount on everything on your list, it would be close. You’d have to check the individual prices for each thing to be sure one way or the other. That is actually easy to do in Switzerland since almost everything is on the sbb.ch website and the prices are fixed.

    If it turns out that the total cost would be about the same, I prefer the Swiss Travel Pass. It’s a very nice feeling to be there and be able to jump on almost any train for free, without having to buy a ticket. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Sumeet says:

Thank you so much Roger for the lovely advise. Really appreciate and grateful. Cheers and thanks again.

 
Amirah Farhana says:

Hello Roger. Thank you for such informative article. Me and my sisters are going to visit Switzerland this January. I would love to hear suggestions from you for our visits.
By that, here is our itinerary.

20/1/2018 – arrive at Geneva airport at 6.30 pm. We plan to take 8.30 pm train to Zürich.
21,22,23(we only have til boon)- Zürich trip. We don’t have any plans yet for where to visit, but we plan to have one day sight seeing, one day mountain trip, half day trip of no plans yet.
23/1/2018 – we should be off to geneva airport at noon as we need to catch a 7.30 pm flight to paris.

I really hope you can help us by suggesting what type of card should we have, where ti visit etc.

Thank you for your time. Have a nice day and happy new year!

Regards,
Amirah

 

    Amirah,

    When I visit a new country my normal strategy is to stay in the largest city and explore from there. That works well in almost all of Europe, but it’s not a great strategy for Switzerland. I’ll first recommend you have a scan at my main article on where to go in Switzerland on a short visit. Zurich is pleasant, but it lacks memorable attractions and it’s also extremely expensive. I’d highly recommend to instead focus your stay on Interlaken and perhaps also Lucerne. All of the reasons why and specifics are in that article.

    The type of discount card you get will obviously depend on where you choose to go. For most people the Half Fare Card is the best value, unless you plan on doing at least two longer train trips, and I really wouldn’t recommend that on such a short visit either. I’m happy to help more once you decide which things you’d prefer to see and do. -Roger

     
Bhushan Mahajan says:

Hi Roger,

I am planning to visit Switzerland in August 2018.

My tentative itinerary will be as follows:

August 16: leave Venice in the morning and reach Lucerne in afternoon by train
August 17: Lucerne nite stay: visit Zurich and Rhine falls
August 18: Lucerne nite stay: mt Titlis
Aug 19: Go to Interlaken and spend some time there
Aug 20: Interlaken nite stay- Jungfraujouch and lauterbrunnen
Aug 21: Interlaken to Berne in the morning – nite stay at Berne
Aug 22: leave for Geneva in the morning with a nitestay in Geneva
Aug 23: leave for Paris early in the morning.

Can you let me know if it would be better to take the Swiss travel pass and which category. Also if yes, should i take the 8 day pass o or the 4 day pass.

The above itinerary is a draft and if possible you can please help me plan the 7 days in Switzerland as i will coming to Swizterland from Venice and then leave for Paris

 

    Bhushan,

    You don’t appear to be taking many long or expensive train trips, so a Swiss Travel Pass probably wouldn’t be your best value. I would recommend the Half Fare Card, which will easily pay for itself. For example, Lucerne to Zurich is about an hour and cost only about US$20 each way. A Swiss Travel Pass costs quite a bit for each valid day, so you really have to be taking longer scenic rides for it to pay for itself. The Half Fare Card will also give you a bigger discount on Jungfraujoch, and that alone almost pays for the Half Fare Card itself.

    And as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really recommend visiting Zurich unless you have specific things you want to see there. It’s a pleasant city, but there are no major sights and it’s very expensive. Also, the scenery in Switzerland is so stunning that it’s better to focus on that. Bern is interesting for a day or so, and more photogenic than Zurich. Geneva has a nice location, but the city itself is kind of boring so you might even skip that and spend more time in Interlaken or Lucerne. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Deborah says:

Hi Roger,

Let me start by saying THANK YOU! I’m feeling a little “lost” in planning our trip to Switzerland & France for August 2018. Your opinion and guidance would be most welcomed. Here’s the tentative plan for the Switzerland part of our trip. The biggest question is to get an 8 SWISS TRAVEL PASS or the HALF FARE CARD. Thanks in advance.

Fly into Zurich
Golden Pass Train to Lucerne (3 nights stay)
Day of arrival – maybe rent a bike and tour the town
Golden Round Trip to Mount Pilatus- Day 2
Mt Rigi – Day 3
Golden Pass Train to Interlaken and on to Grindelwald
Grindelwald (2 or 3 nights)
Mt. First
Jungfraujoch or Maennlichenbahn and/or Pfingstegg (2 of these if we stay in Grindelwald 3 nights. (HELP??)

Grindelwald to Montreux (via the Golden Pass train) for either 1 night or 2 nights in Vevey. (depending on our stay in Grindelwald)

Then take the train(s) to Paris.

As I stated previously, any and all recommendations and advise would be most welcomed.

 

    Deborah,

    You are welcome and I’ll be happy to try to help. Of those 3 views I would definitely do Jungfraujoch because it’s the highest in the area and it also looks down on the other two. Of the other two I’m sure you’ll be happy with either. The whole area is breathtaking and seeing it from multiple angles is worthwhile.

    My hunch is that the Half Fare Card would be the better value for you, but it might be close. As you’ve probably read elsewhere, the Half Fare Card gives a 50% discount for Jungfraujoch while the Swiss Travel Pass only gives a 25% discount. Since it doesn’t look like you will be taking many longer train trips I would think that the Half Fare Card would be the cheaper option. But you might want to check the fares on the official Swiss Rail website. The fares are fixed so you can look up prices for any day and they will be the same as for any other day. The 8-day Swiss Travel Card isn’t cheap so it can be hard to get good value out of it. Sorry I can’t be any more exact, but it would take me the same amount of time to check all those prices myself. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Alison says:

Thankyou for a wonderful informative site.
We are travelling to Lucerne from Milan by direct train early June 2018.
We are staying 5 nights in Lucerne and are planning to see Mt Rigi , Mt Titlis Mt Pilates and do lake trips and hikes. We then go to Paris via Basel.
As we are basing in Lucerne I was looking at Swiss passes and the Swiss Tell Pass seems to be very good value for money but I don’t see it mentioned much? CHF 160 4 days 2 nd class
Do you think this is a good pass for our itenary?

 

    Alison,

    Yes, I do think the Tell-Pass is probably ideal for your itinerary. One reason I almost never mention it is that it only covers those peaks and sights in the area immediately around Lucerne, and I generally recommend that people visit Interlaken as their first choice for the highest and most dramatic peaks. Since the Tell-Pass isn’t valid in the Interlaken area, the Half Fare Card or the Swiss Travel Pass is almost always a better choice. Lucerne is also a wonderful place to visit and those peaks around the lake are all fantastic, even if they aren’t quite as dramatic as the higher Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn near Interlaken. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Rohan says:

Hi Roger,

Firstly I would like to say thank you for an amazing review loaded with information.

I am still having trouble wrapping my head around everything so I would love your advice please.

We are in the beautiful country for only 3 nights, staying in Lauterbrunnen.
Day 1 – Land in Zurich, train to Lauterbrunnen
Day 2 & 3 – We want to do some activities in Grindelwald, do the Jungfraujoch mountain train and also visit Schilthorn and Birg and do the Thrill Walk. If you could advise us which order to do them and on which days that would be superb.
Day 4 – train back to Zurich

Thanks in advance,

Rohan.

 

    Rohan,

    You are welcome. The challenging thing about scheduling peak visits in Switzerland is that the weather makes a huge difference, and it changes every few hours on most days. Jungfraujoch is frequently clear in the morning and then cloudy or foggy in the afternoon, and sometimes the reverse. The good news is that the tickets for all of these things are on fixed prices and they are almost always available on no notice. So the real strategy for doing those things is to get there with an idea of the places you want to visit, and then do what you can as the weather allows. When it’s foggy at the top of the mountain you can still enjoy strolling around town or hiking lower on the mountain. Nearly everyone else visiting will do the same thing, but still it’s the way to go. There are webcams for each place showing the current conditions and forecast, and most hotel workers and the ticket people themselves have a good idea of what the next few hours has in store at any given moment.

    The Alps are rainier in summer than in the rest of the year, but the fog and clouds can come in any day of the year. Needless to say, if you can do something in the afternoon of Day 1 or the morning of Day 4, you have an even better chance of being able to do your whole list. It’s so gorgeous up there that you’ll enjoy it even if you miss a thing or two. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Amit says:

Hi Roger

I am planning to do 8N trip. Here is my itenary.
28 May – Arrive from Paris to Zurich. Take lake cuise, bahnofstrasse and visit old town. Overnight at Zurich.
29 May – Excrusion to Lucerne. Visit Mt. Pilatus, take Golden line route. Return to Zurich. Over night at Zurich.
30 May – Excrusion to Mt. titlis. Return to Zurich for overnight stay.
31 May – Excrusion to Interlaken. Take breinzesee cruise. Visit harder Kulm. Overnight at Murren/Interlaken.
1 June – Excrusion to Jungfrau and then to Shilthorn. Overnight at Murren/Interlaken.
2 June – Depart for St. Moritz. Overnight in St. Moritz.
3 June – Glacior express to Zermatt. Overnight in Zermatt.
4 June – Take Gorngret railways for the peak. Return to Zurich. Overnight at Zermatt.
5 June – Back to Zurich. Overnight at Zurich. Rest day.
6 June – Fly to Santorini islands.

How is the itinerary? Any changes suggested.
I am travelling with parent with limited walking capability and a 3 year old kid. All of us are on vegetarian diet.
Murren or Interlaken which would be better place to stay?
I am planing to take 1st Class Swiss pass for 8 days. Are all these trains(Glacior exp to Zermatt, Shilthorn peak travel etc) covered in the pass?

Thanks a lot.
Regards
Amit

 

    Amit,

    My first bit of feedback is to skip Zurich unless there are sights there that you are really keen on. Please have a scan on my article on where to go in Switzerland on a short visit. Zurich is extremely expensive and hotels there are far more expensive than in Interlaken or Lucerne considering what you get. For US$200 per night you can get a small room in Zurich with the bathroom down the hall, while in the other cities you can get a larger room with an en-suite. The sights in Zurich are quite plain compared to most large European cities, but more importantly the scenery and landscape of Switzerland are stunning almost everywhere else in the country. If you want to spend half a day in Zurich to look around that might be good, but if you skip it you aren’t missing much. Bern is actually a more beautiful and more interesting city.

    Jungfraujoch takes about 6 hours up and down, and Schilthorn takes about 4 hours up and down. Trying to do them both in the same day would be challenging, although it could be done if you get the earliest train to Jungfraujoch and then hurried to Schilthorn as soon as you are down. I’d recommend doing them on separate days if you can. Also, the weather in the Alps is unpredictable and needs to be taken into account. It’s often clear at the highest peaks in the morning, and then often cloudy or foggy in the afternoons, although sometimes the other way around. There is no point in visiting one of those peaks if it’s foggy or cloudy at the top, so the trick is to keep track of the weather (there are webcams on top of each one and anyone you ask can help you with short-term weather info) and then go if it looks like it’s going to be clear. Sometimes they are clear all day, but other times they are foggy all day. The summer is actually the rainy season, although it’s not so much the rain that is the problem but the clouds.

    All of that said, there isn’t much strenuous walking involved in visiting these places, and you’ll spend much of your time sitting or standing in place on the cable cars. And the vegetarian thing will be pretty easy as well. As you may know, Interlaken and the peaks above it are the setting of many Bollywood films, so the area is very popular with Indians and there are many Indian restaurants as well as veg choices at most other restaurants.

    The 8-day Swiss Travel Pass would be great for the trip you’ve described, but if you stay in Interlaken instead of Zurich you would be taking fewer train rides and in that case the Half Fare Card might even be cheaper. You’d have to see what your final itinerary was looking like and check the fares on sbb.ch to see which is the better deal. The only trains that are not free/included with the Swiss Travel Pass are a few of the mountain trains like Jungfraujoch and a few cable cars such as Schilthorn, and on those a discount is given. For the normal long-distance scenic trains you only have to pay a small supplement if you want a reserved seat in one of the special panoramic carriages, as described in the article above. On those same trains you can just hop aboard and ride free in a normal first-class seat with no reservation. This is going to be an amazing trip and I’m happy to help with more advice if you need it. -Roger

     
Rohan says:

Thank you very much Roger, I appreciate all your advice.

If we were to fit all of those activities in, would you recommend us getting the Swiss travel pass? Or something different?

We are a party of two (25yo and 22yo, will we qualify as Adults or Youths even though we are from a different country?)

Thank you,

Rohan.

 

    Rohan,

    On a short visit like that the Half Fare Card is almost always the best choice. If you use it to get the 50% discount on Jungfraujoch, you’ve almost paid for the thing with just that. Trains and most other transport and attractions in Switzerland are expensive, but once you pay that US$120 or CHF120 for the Half Fare Card, everything seems like a pretty reasonable price. The Swiss Travel Pass is only good value if you are planning at least two longer scenic train rides, and you won’t have time for that. No matter what country you are from, you’ll qualify as adults if you are 16 or over. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Sue says:

Hi Roger,
We are planning to visit Switzerland in mid-March 2018 between 19th to 24th. I want to be sure that this is a good time to visit Switzerland. Will we get to see greenery and the breathtaking views mentioned on your website or will it be cloudy and snowy most of the time?

Your recommendation will be highly appreciated.

Thank You,
Sue

 

    Sue,

    Switzerland is an unusual destination from a weather and seasons standpoint. Long story short, it’s a year-round destination and most likely you’ll have decent weather and a wonderful time. The grass in the valleys and lower elevations is mostly green all year round, and by late March you probably won’t have snow at the low elevations. The good news is that the mountains will still be largely snowy and they look even more beautiful that way. The summer months are also the rainy months in the Alps, although the rain itself rarely causes much of a problem because it’s usually light. The highest mountain peaks are snowy all year long, and the lower elevations look nice with or without snow.

    The other issue is the clouds and weather, which can roll in on any day of the year. At the highest peaks such as Jungfrau and Schilthorn you often get clear mornings and then foggy afternoons, although sometimes the other way around, and that can happen any day of the year. The fog is basically like being in the clouds, and when it’s like that there is no point in going to the peaks. But it’s rare that it’s that way all day or for days in a row, although that can happen. In other words, it’s a bit of a crap shoot any day of the year. Still, you’d have to be very unlucky to go and have poor visibility for most or all of a 5-day visit. The trick is to keep a close eye on the weather at the peaks and then go up when you know it’s looking fairly clear. When it’s foggy up there you can wander around the city or do hikes at lower elevations and it’s always beautiful. I’m not sure this answer builds much confidence, and a visit to the Alps is always a bit of a gamble, but it’s rare when any trip is ruined by weather as long as you are paying attention to the forecast and planning your activities around it. -Roger

     
Ash Rai says:

Hi Roger,

I hope you will be able to help with my 5 day itinerary. I am taking my family (parents & brother) on a trip to Switzerland from 5 to 9 July. the following is what I have planned:

05-Jul Land in Zurich and go straight to Bern (Day in Bern)
06-Jul Bern to Interlaken – Day in Interlaken – stay 3 nights in Interlaken
07-Jul Murren to Schilthorn (Thrill Walk)
08-Jul Lucerne
09-Jul Zurich
10-Jul Flight back to the UK at 10am

Please could you let me know if this is ok. I also believe the Swiss 4 day pass will be ideal for us, but please could you let me know otherwise.

Thanks

Ash

 

    Ash,

    This looks quite good. I assume you realize how steep the hike from Murren to Schilthorn is, and that you must be in good shape. 🙂

    Unless you really want to see Zurich and pay the high Zurich hotel prices, I would recommend staying in Lucerne on that last night. You can get from the Lucerne train station to the Zurich Airport train station in a bit over an hour, and the first train of the day runs at 04:55. Also, Swiss trains are famously punctual so you don’t have to worry. To get from a hotel in Zurich to the Zurich Airport would take almost as long, unless your hotel was next to the train station itself.

    The Swiss Travel Pass is best for those doing at least two longer scenic rail trips, and it doesn’t look like you have any of those scheduled. You might be better off with the Half Fare Card, unless you plan on doing at least a few more rail trips that you haven’t mentioned. Aside from that I think it looks great. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Ash Rai says:

Thanks Roger. I notice that i did the info wrong.

05-Jul Land in Zurich and go straight to Bern (Day in Bern)
06-Jul Bern to Interlaken – Day in Interlaken
07-Jul Murren to Schilthorn (Thrill Walk – Alp)
08-Jul Lucerne to Zurich
09-Jul Zurich to Return in the Morning

Murren to Schilthorn planning on getting the cable car. I do not think my parents can manage the hike 🙂
ard
As for Zurich I am not that fussed. With my itinerary it would be great if you are able to suggest places for us to visit.

If you could go through my plan and let me know if Half Fare Card is the best option.

Thank you again.

Ash

 

    Ash,

    When visiting Bern it’s really the historic town center that you want to see, and they have a free (tips-based) walking tour that I can recommend. The setting of Interlaken is really lovely, but the town itself won’t take more than 2 or 3 hours at most to explore. If you research things to do in Interlaken you’ll find many great choices to fill several days if you had them.

    In Lucerne I mention the most popular choices in my article about where to go in Switzerland that you may have seen. Unlike Interlaken, the town of Lucerne is much larger and has more obvious things to do. The boat tours leaving from across from the train station are wonderful, and just walking across the Chapel Bridge is worth some time.

    I definitely think the Half Fare Card looks like the best value for your trip compared to the Swiss Travel Pass. The train rides you are planning don’t look like they’ll add up to enough to justify the Swiss Travel Pass. Bon voyage. -Roger

     
Kautilya says:

We are a family of 4 (my mother 67, my son 13 and two of us). We are coming to Switzerland for first time in June. We will be arriving from Venice on 9th and taking our flight from Zurich on 14th morning. Please suggest the best itinerary considering we would like to see the maximum possible including the scenic trains with the Swiss Pass.

 

    Kautilya,

    I really don’t like to write out itineraries for people, mostly because tastes and budgets are different for everyone. I have most of my advice for what to do in my main article on where to go in Switzerland. If you have 5 days to fill I would recommend 3 days in the Interlaken area and two days in Lucerne. You’ll be able to go directly from Lucerne to the Zurich Airport in about an hour and the trains start by 05:00 so most likely you could easily get there.

    You may not want to buy the Swiss Travel Pass depending on what you want to do. All of the famous ones are listed in the article above, and if you are keen on train travel I would choose 2 or so of the ones that sound most interesting to you. Let me know if you have any questions. -Roger

     
Aamir latif says:

Hello roger.
You are doing an amazin job. Thank you..
Me and my wife are planning to travel to switzerland and this is our plan…
Reach on 7th feb zurich airport. Stay in zurich on 7th and 8th to visit the rhine falls and the local zurich scenery.

Take train to lucern on the 9th. And whilst there do mt rigi pilatus and mt titlus.. return to zurich hb on 12 to board our train to paris..

Is the schilthorn worth the visit ? And how to do that ?

Also based on above itenary should we get the swiss rail pass or the half fare pass ?

Thanks a lot

 

    Aamir,

    Thank you for the kind words. You might have a quick scan of my article on where to stay in Switzerland on a short trip. It sounds like you may have a similar travel style to me, where I almost always start by visiting the largest city in a new country for a few days to get my bearings. The thing about Switzerland is that the scenery is absolutely amazing, and Zurich itself is kind of dull and very expensive. If you have specific things you want to visit in Zurich then by all means spend a couple days there. But if you really want to see the best that Switzerland has to offer and NOT spend an absolute fortune, I would consider just going straight from Zurich Airport to Lucerne, and spending that extra day in the Interlaken area. Interlaken has the most dramatic sights, which are Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn, and both of them are definitely worth it if you have the time. I think the Half Fare Card would be best for you since you aren’t planning on doing at least two long train trips. I give instructions on going to Schilthorn on that other article. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Subrata Debnath says:

Hi Roger,

It’s an absolutely great place to obtain very useful information. We two will be spending about 3-4 days in Switzerland during the second week of April. We would prefer to travel on our own, not using any conducted tour like Viator. Our preference is to visit a charming Swiss village, take a scenic panoramic train ride, and have the best views of the Swiss Alps. We wanted to see Bern, but understand this will not be possible in this short time.

Can you please advise if it is possible to visit all the places ourselves just using public transportation (without using a conducted tour) and if Swiss Travel Pass or Half Fare Card will help – ? Will you kindly suggest an itinerary so that we can plan the best possible trip we can have in this short time ?

Thank you,

Subrata

 

    Subrata,

    I’m glad you find this useful. Yes, you can and absolutely should see Switzerland on your own rather than on an organized tour. First off you might have a scan of my main article on where to go in Switzerland on a short visit. The short version is that you should focus on the Interlaken area for the most dramatic views, and you might even have time for a day or so in the Lucerne area. It’s very easy to get around on public transportation, and Switzerland has probably the best train system in the world. Just about everyone you encounter as a tourist will speak pretty fluent English, and you don’t even have to ask before you begin the conversation.

    One important thing to consider about the mountain peaks in Switzerland is that they can be cloudy or foggy on any day of the year, and often they are clear in the morning and foggy in the afternoon. When it’s foggy up top there is no point in going up the famous peaks such as Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn. All of the main sights have webcams and detailed forecasts, so you usually know a few hours ahead of time how things are looking. If it’s foggy (as in, the clouds are the same altitude as the peaks) up top, you can take a one-hour train ride to Bern and have a lovely time looking around the city for a few hours.

    You’ll see in that other article that Gimmelwald is an amazing and tiny village to stay in if you can, while Murren is larger and just above it on the same mountain. Lauterbrunnen is a lovely village below those two, and Wengen is another very scenic village a short train ride from Lauterbrunnen.

    As for scenic train rides, pretty much every train ride in Switzerland is very scenic, at least once you get outside of Zurich. So my recommendation is to go to the places you want to see, and enjoy the excellent scenery along the way. You could take one of the scenic train rides with names such as the GoldenPass, but I would just take trains between the places you want to see. The Half Fare Card is almost guaranteed to be your best bet for saving money, unless you plan on taking at least two longer train rides in which case a Swiss Travel Pass might even be better. As always, let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Subrata says:

Roger,

I cannot thank you enough for your prompt response. I have a specific question here – if I buy a Swiss Travel Pass, will that cover the full price of all kinds of transportation (local trains, cable cars and scenic trains including panoramic trains) ? I believe the Half Fare Card does not cover any percentage of the scenic train ride fares. This is my impression after browsing SBB website. However, you can confirm.

I live in Canada and see snow all over for six months a year. My interest is to see the green pasture and rolling hills not covered in snow. What would be the right time for that except the crowded summer months ? I can re-plan my trip at that time instead of second week of April if it is not the right time.

Regards,
Subrata

 

    Subrata,

    The Swiss Travel Pass is indeed confusing, which is why the article above is so long. The pass itself covers all normal city to city trains and most long distance buses and many boat rides and most cable car rides that are part of the normal transportation infrastructure. As an example, it covers the first two legs from Stechelberg to Gimmelwald and then Gimmelwald to Murren, on your way up to Schilthorn, because those are used as normal transportation by locals. The rest of the ride up to Schilthorn is considered a tourist attraction and so the Swiss Travel Pass only gets you a 50% discount.

    As for the scenic trains, the article above shows what is covered by the pass and how much the supplement is for the specific panoramic carriages. The Half Fare Card will cover 50% of the train ride itself, but you’d still have to pay the small supplement for the panoramic carriages. All of the “scenic” train routes with names are also normal trains that take people from one city to another, so the Half Fare Card covers half of that price. On the other hand, Jungfraujoch and the one up to Zermatt are NOT normal public trains so the Swiss Travel Pass only gets you a discount on those (25% off in the case of Jungfraujoch). As we have discussed, it’s complicated. In my experience the Half Fare Card is the best choice for most visitors who will be in Switzerland for at least 2 or 3 days doing sightseeing. But for those who plan on taking at least two of the longer train rides, the savings of the Swiss Travel Pass can be even greater.

    Regarding snow in Switzerland, the highest peaks have snow all year, but the valleys (which is most of Switzerland) tend to only have snow for a short time after a snowfall. In other words, by the time March rolls around you’d be unlucky to see snow in the valleys and towns, and by April you are pretty much guaranteed of seeing nothing but green. Of course, weather can be unpredictable, so there are no real guarantees. It’s also worth noting that the summer months are also the rainy months in the Alps, so spring and autumn have many advantages. I think the second week in April should be great for what you have in mind. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Subrata says:

Roger,

Thanks again. I am getting very confused when I am browsing online to plan my trip. On SBB website I was trying to specifically check the schedules of the panoramic trains for different times, but all I could see was a list of trains between the two stations. May be I am missing something ! Is there a way to specifically search the scenic train routes with time table and fares ? Can I use a second class Swiss Pass or Half Fare Pass to make a reservation in a panoramic coach on one of the scenic routes ? Do I purchase the Pass first and then make seat reservation online ?

I always plan my trips and make my bookings online. But I am not sure why I am getting stuck planning this trip.

Can you help please ?

Subrata

 

    Subrata,

    Once you get to Switzerland you’ll be amazed at how nice and efficient the train system works. But until then you’ve correctly discovered that the website is very confusing and hard to find what you need. Strangely enough, the scenic train lines with names all have their own websites, or at least websites where additional information can be found. For example, here is the timetable for the GoldenPass line. On that schedule you need to look for the departures that have one or two asterisks, as those are two different kinds of panoramic trains. If you are looking for a different line you can just Google the name of it and add ‘schedule’ and you should be able to find it. Once you find which departures have the panoramic trains you can look for the word “book” on those websites. They all offer official tickets at the same prices, and I believe they are all run by government organizations that promote those lines. You might also be able to book those special carriages on the SBB website if you choose the right one. I think it’s somewhere towards the end of the booking process where it asks if you want any extras. I work with this all the time and it’s still confusing to me, so don’t feel bad, but you should be able to get what you want.

    If you have purchased a Swiss Travel Pass you can actually just board any “regular” train for free, as long as you have validated the Pass before you climb aboard. And for the panoramic trains you can simply make a seat reservation on those websites I mentioned, and that will cover the extra fee. Once on board you just show your Pass for the trip itself and show the seat reservation receipt for the seat. You can (and should) buy your Swiss Travel Pass from home and print it out before you leave with no cost for delivery, and that way you are ready once you get there.

    To buy tickets with the Half Fare Card, you just search the normal SBB.ch site and find the ticket you want. On the next screen it will have a spot for a “discount card” and there you just click on it and pull it down to Half Fare Card, which will then cut the price of the ticket in half. You can actually buy half-fare tickets at any time and then buy your Half Fare Card later if you like. The only trick is that when you get on board the train and the ticket person comes by to look at your ticket, you need to show them BOTH the ticket receipt and the Half Fare Card. You might as well buy the Half Fare Card online from home as well, to make sure that it’s all sorted out before you get there.

    Sorry it’s so confusing and let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

     
Subrata says:

Thank you Roger. Your response does shed more light.

I was trying to estimate the total transportation cost for our trip to determine the type of Pass (Swiss Pass or Half Fare Pass) that would be appropriate for us. In doing so, I came across a discrepancy. Your website on Lucern indicates the fare from Lucerne to Zurich as USD 33.45 whereas the SBB indicates it as CHF13 for Zurich and CHF15 for Zurich Airport. USD and CHF being almost equal, not sure if it was a typo in your website.

I wanted to share the itinerary I planned and would be glad to have your comments.

April 09 > Reach Zurich airport at 06.15 and take a train to St Moritz (what would be better – spending first part of the day at Zurich and then proceed to St Motitz or proceed to St Motitz rightaway and spend the second half of the day at St Motitz ?)

April 10 > Take Glacier Express from St Moritz to Zermatt (we were prepared to stay at Zermatt if we could view Matterhorn which probably will not be possible as the train would reach Zermatt at about 5pm). Hence we will take another train from Zermatt to Interlaken the same evening and spend the night at Interlaken.

April 11 > Explore Interlaken area (not sure if we can do both Jungfraujoch as well as Schilthorn) including the 3 vilages over it. We will explore if we can get suitable accommodation in one of the villages. if not, will stay at Interlaken.

April 12 > Spend the morning at Interlaken and proceed to Lucerne in the afternoon. Depending on the time, we will try to take the Interlaken – Lucerne Panoramic Express. Explore Lucerne in the evening.

April 13 > Explore Lucerne area including Pilatus and Titlis (possibly there will be no time to visit Bern)

April 14 > Take an early morning train from Lucerne to Zurich airport as our flight from Zurich leaves at 09.35

Do you think this is doable / feasible or some adjustments can make this 5 day trip better ?

Regards,
Subrata

 
Laura Gruninger says:

Hi Roger,
You’ve helped me before. Thanks. My trip is March 2-27th.
For Interlaken area:
I’m having trouble deciding upon logical 1.5 day itinerary. I see many opinions online. (some pasted in below)
For my needs—(arrive Interlaken Ost 2pm or later on Fri. March 16th. Leave on train to Spiez around 7am on Monday March 18th)
Solo traveler/backpack and one stuffed purse, and budget being key. Lugging this backpack and purse around would be doable for short stretches combined with train or other transport, but not for long hiking.
I will try to save money in the beginning half of my trip. If I do so, I might then splurge on both Schlithorn and Jungfraujoch. If not, I may have to choose. I know I may have to choose anyway depending on weather.
I see lots of availability in hostels (affordable!) in Interlaken and in Lauterbrunnen as well as some affordable B&Bs in Wengen. Murren would be a splurge but I’d do it, if it made sense logically in terms of getting from point A to point B.
I’ve bought my train ticket from Paris to Basel. Now, I’m debating on the saver fare on the connection from Basel to Interlaken Ost (what if I miss that train even with built in padding of extra time?) And debating the Swiss Half Fare card which will help defray the cost of that ride as well as the Schilthorn and Jungfrau. I know I can wait to buy that leg of train fare until it gets closer, forfeiting the chance of a Saver Fare, likely.
(I’ve bought my train ticket to Milan from Spiez as well on Monday March 18th. (8:30am or so)
I’m assuming it would be best to stay in a hostel within walking distance to Interlaken Ost my last night.
What is a logical base city for night one, assuming my arrival time in afternoon on day one, and doing Schilthorn if weather permits?
On the lifts, is it one trip up and one trip all the way down, once paid, with option to walk around connecting villages? Here is what I see on the app.
https://schilthorn.ch/cmsfiles/tarif-flyer_2018.pdf
When/where would be a logical place to stay, without backtracking (at a cost) to retrieve luggage, even after check out? Knowing that plans may be affected by weather.
Should I stay in either Wengen, Lautenbrunnen or Murren on night one, then check out and take backpack all the way down to Interlaken to Hostel, check in, leave bags, and then start day 2 fresh from there, bag free?
Or is there a way to take bags with me after check out from Lodging location of night one, then proceed to say, the Jungfrau and leave bags in a locker? Then finish that and not go to Interlaken Hostel until later that night to check in.
Thanks in advance,
Laura

Recommendations I’ve seen online:
If you want to go up to the Schilithorn and spend a few days in that region there are alternatives. IMO Lauterbrunnen, which is in a valley, is the best location to move between the Schilthorn/Muerren side and Wengen/ Jungfrau which is on the opposite side.
In Lauterbrunnen the valleyhostel.ch offers shared dorms, double rooms, and individual rooms inexpensively and one can cook food to save money if you are on a budget. This is as inexpensive as you will get in this region and it is in an excellent location only a couple of minute walk from the train station and the Cable Car from which you can begin your ascent to Gruetschalp. There you take a shuttle train to Muerren and then walk throught this tiny town and view the gorgeous panoramic views of the Eiger, Moench, and Jungfrau Mts. THen take the Schilthorn Bahn up to Piza Gloria. On the way down you could take the Schilthorn Bahn to Stechelberg and then the bus back to Lauterbrunnen or you can walk the valley back to Lauterbrunnen.
____________________________________________
Going to anywhere in the Jungfrau region from Luzern and back in one day is not advisable – you will spend most of your day on trains.
I would go from Zürich to Mürren and stay there. Get your hotel booked in advance as you will be there in Ski season. OR make your base in Interlaken – not the best place in Switzerland but there is cheap accommodation to be had there – and then go to Mürren and the Schilthorn for the day.
Lauterbrunnen is OK but is very small with little choice in the way of hotels and is on the valley floor with high cliffs on each side. Mürren is high up (1800m) and has lovely open views over to the Jungfrau massif. Much better choice even if more expensive.
_________________________________
. Re: Is Wengen the best place to stay as a base in switzerland
May 27, 2015, 12:45 AM
Sounds like it starts in Lauterbrunnen. The cog railway would be the 15 minute trip up to Wengen where you catch the gondola to Männlichen, then back down to Lauterbrunnen and up the other side of the valley to Murren and cable car up to Schilthorn.
Take the cable car back down, this time all the way to Stechelberg in the floor of the valley, and take in Trummelbach falls on the way back to Lauterbrunnen.
Absolutely no reason why you can’t do all or part of this by yourself. These destinations are very close together, and will give you a great overview of the Oberland.
. . ——————————
Logistically, for a short visit, Lauterbrunnen IMO is probably The best base to stay, if you want to travel between the various mountains which it separates. That is not to say that Lauterbrunnen itself is not an inspiring place to stay as well! The narrow valley’s centerpiece is a gorgeous waterfalls which Goethe made famous in his poem, “Gesang der Geister über den Wassern (Song of the Spirits Over the Waters). One consistently recommended Hotel in Town in thehttp://www.staubbach.com/
Or if you are budget minded that is a great hostel http://www.valleyhostel.com
They also have private rooms but fills up quickly so if interested contact them directly ASAP. For July and August you want to be making reservations now. I know, for example, many places in Lauterbrunnen are completely booked already for most of July.
Mürren, which again, is on the opposite side of Wengen, is known as the “Dorf auf der Mauer” (Village on the Wall). It resides on the end of a plateau above the Lauterbrunnen valley (on the same side as the Staubach Falls). You reach it by cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Gruetschalp, then a short equisite train ride to Muerren. The town is quite small and heidiesk! You have incredibly stunning views of Eiger, Moench, and Jungfrau Mts. I assure you the modifiers are not Hyperbole! Stop at one of the hotels on the left hand side with a Terrace to sit at (Edelweiss is one). Have a glass of wine or a beverage and drink in the beauty of the views! Then move on to The Ride up to the Schilthorn. On the way down stay on the Cable Car all the way down to Stechelberg. You will then be on the other side of the Lauterbrunnen in Stechelberg. From there you can walk back (abt 1 hr) to Lauterbrunnen or you can catch the post bus back to Lauterbrunnen or get off at Truemmelback Falls.

HI,
My first choice is always Lauterbrunnen because you are right at the transportation options for going up to either the Murren/Schilthorn side, or the Wengen/Eiger side. Lauterbrunnen does have less room availability. Wengen has more volume. If you are sole focusing on the Eiger walk…then Wengen would be a better base. There is nothing wrong with staying in Grindelwald, but it is more difficult to get to the Murren/Schilthorn side. Plus, I find Grindelwald not particulary picturesque as I find both Murren and Wengen.
If the weather is nice, I would stay in the mts. and not visit Thun.,,, until I was finished with the region. Thun is easily reached from Interlaken. Why waste time, going back and forth when you can do it at the end? Also you will save money-even with half fare pass!
Have a great hike!

 

    Laura,

    I’ll try to answer the questions in order…

    I’m not sure what happens to Saver tickets if you miss them, but my guess is that you can use them on the next train if the first one arrived late. Swiss trains are notoriously punctual, but a train from Paris could be late. That said, the high-speed intercity trains like that do tend to run on time.

    The Half Fare Card will pay for itself pretty quickly so I highly recommend it. As you mention, Schilthorn or Jungfraujoch nearly pay for the HFC alone, and those little cable cars and boat rides also add up.

    You could stay near either train station on your last night, as all trains stop in both stations and Spiez is actually closer to the West station. There are more restaurants and such near the West station as well. And again, the trains are remarkably punctual, so you won’t have to worry.

    If you could stay in Gimmelwald (at the Mountain Hostel) or in Murren on your Schilthorn day, that would be ideal. The views from both villages are absolutely stunning. The cable car up to Schilthorn runs until about 10:30pm for the bottom few legs, and it starts early, so you can always get up and down. From the Lauterbrunnen train station you walk outside and you’ll see a bus waiting for the train passengers. It goes to Stechelberg, which is the bottom of the cable car. Off the bus and in the queue for the cable car you go. Once in motion the cable car takes 5 minutes up to Gimmelwald. Then you walk across the platform into the waiting cable car that goes 5 more minutes up to Murren. Then you get off that one and walk just a bit onto another one that takes you about 10 minutes up the mountain into another village. I think from there the next cable car takes you all the way up to the Schilthorn Observation Deck.

    If you stayed in Gimmelwald or Murren you could leave your bag at the hostel and come back for it on the way down. The cable cars go every 30 minutes so you’d have to wait for the next one, but it’s no problem doing the journey over the course of the day. In other words, you don’t have to go straight up and straight back down. I highly recommend people get off in Murren and walk around a bit on their way down, and then walk 15 minutes down the hill to Gimmelwald to take the final leg down.

    The cable cars are huge by the way, so you could take your bag with you. They have room for about 60 people standing up, and there is usually far fewer than that. You’ll often ride up and down with locals who are transporting wood or groceries or whatever else, so a backpack is no problem. There are also luggage lockers at the Interlaken train stations, and probably in Lauterbrunnen as well. As always, let me know if you have any other specific questions. I’m sure you will love this trip. -Roger

     
Alona says:

Hello! We’ll be traveling on June. We are a family of 5 with 3 boys ages 19, 12 and 7 and I am having a hard time choosing the best and economical pass for us since we will be only in Switz for 3 nights and 4 days planning to visit Lucerne and Interlaken if possible before going to Milan having Zurich as our base. I am open to any advise since it is our first time. Thank you so much!

 

    Alona,

    Unfortunately, the 19-year-old is an adult in the eyes of Switzerland and every other European country. But the good news is that the two younger ones can ride for free with any pass once you pick up a free Swiss Family Card, which allows one 6 to 15 year old to ride for free with a paid adult using a pass. Most likely the Half Fare Card will be your best choice, so you’d need three of those and can request a free Swiss Family Card for the young ones. Without knowing how many train trips and cable cars and boat trips you’ll be making, that is my best guess. The Swiss Travel Pass is usually only good value for those taking at least two of the longer scenic train trips.

    By the way, if I were you and you have a choice I would NOT base myself in Zurich. I discuss it near the top of my main article on where to go in Switzerland. The short version is that Zurich is incredibly expensive for hotels and restaurants, and it’s kind of dull compared to other famous large European cities. I’d stay in the Interlaken area if you can, which I also discuss in that other article. You can get a much nicer hotel for less money there, and still take trains wherever you want. The Swiss trains start early in the morning and they are always on time, so it’s not really necessary to stay in a city. I’m happy to answer any other questions if you have them. -Roger

     
Laura Gruninger says:

Thanks Roger, very helpful. I did book in Murren and am looking forward to it. I then used credit card points for the 2nd night in Interlaken, near the West train station, to be up early for the train connection to Milan. I did get the half fare pass and used it for my Basel to Interlaken connection. Cost was only 15 Euros- Saver fare. I’ve worked out the first couple of days in Italy (Milan,Venice, Florence) One convent stay, one hostel- a triple- hoping for the best, timed museum entries in Florence, Duomo, etc.

I am still looking for Cinque Terre lodging (1 night) Siena (1 night) and then on to Rome (3 full days) I’ve got about 1.5 to 2 days built in, as extra, to the above, in case I want to linger an extra day or half day in Cinque Terre, Siena or go South of Rome overnight. I don’t think Almalfi because of the bus connection. But maybe Naples, Sorrento.

I could do Rome first, after Siena, to see if I get a lot done in 2.5 days, instead of 3, then move South (return flight from Rome is on March 27, early) Or, I could bypass Rome immediately (pass through on the train) and do something South first, and then finish with the final 2.5 or 3 days in Rome. I have a Roma and Omni pass so I think I need to do Rome days all in a row.

Do you have any suggested itinerary for 6 further total days that would include arriving Cinque Terre in early evening of March 20th, then going on to Siena, Rome and other logical connections by rail? Sleeping one night in each. Returning to Rome either late afternoon of Monday March 26th or including Rome as that last night. I would love to take a Ferry from Bari to Dubrovnik but I don’t think the time involved for overnight Ferries both ways is a wise use of my time this trip. I’d have to skimp out on something else.

I’m using this for Train advice- very helpful. Italy locations are outlined clearly with tips by rail:
https://www.seat61.com/Italy-trains.htm#How_to_reach_Herculaneum,_Pompeii_&_Sorrento

thanks,Laura

February 20, 2018 at 10:06 pm
Laura,
I’ll try to answer the questions in order…
I’m not sure what happens to Saver tickets if you miss them, but my guess is that you can use them on the next train if the first one arrived late. Swiss trains are notoriously punctual, but a train from Paris could be late. That said, the high-speed intercity trains like that do tend to run on time.
The Half Fare Card will pay for itself pretty quickly so I highly recommend it. As you mention, Schilthorn or Jungfraujoch nearly pay for the HFC alone, and those little cable cars and boat rides also add up.
You could stay near either train station on your last night, as all trains stop in both stations and Spiez is actually closer to the West station. There are more restaurants and such near the West station as well. And again, the trains are remarkably punctual, so you won’t have to worry.
If you could stay in Gimmelwald (at the Mountain Hostel) or in Murren on your Schilthorn day, that would be ideal. The views from both villages are absolutely stunning. The cable car up to Schilthorn runs until about 10:30pm for the bottom few legs, and it starts early, so you can always get up and down. From the Lauterbrunnen train station you walk outside and you’ll see a bus waiting for the train passengers. It goes to Stechelberg, which is the bottom of the cable car. Off the bus and in the queue for the cable car you go. Once in motion the cable car takes 5 minutes up to Gimmelwald. Then you walk across the platform into the waiting cable car that goes 5 more minutes up to Murren. Then you get off that one and walk just a bit onto another one that takes you about 10 minutes up the mountain into another village. I think from there the next cable car takes you all the way up to the Schilthorn Observation Deck.
If you stayed in Gimmelwald or Murren you could leave your bag at the hostel and come back for it on the way down. The cable cars go every 30 minutes so you’d have to wait for the next one, but it’s no problem doing the journey over the course of the day. In other words, you don’t have to go straight up and straight back down. I highly recommend people get off in Murren and walk around a bit on their way down, and then walk 15 minutes down the hill to Gimmelwald to take the final leg down.
The cable cars are huge by the way, so you could take your bag with you. They have room for about 60 people standing up, and there is usually far fewer than that. You’ll often ride up and down with locals who are transporting wood or groceries or whatever else, so a backpack is no problem. There are also luggage lockers at the Interlaken train stations, and probably in Lauterbrunnen as well. As always, let me know if you have any other specific questions. I’m sure you will love this trip. -Roger
Reply

 

    Laura,

    It sounds like your trip is really coming together. I’ve done many Europe trips where I ended up staying one or two nights in each city because I was doing research and trying to see as much as possible for my work. Honestly, it’s not nearly as fun as it sounds, so my main recommendation would be to focus on more time in fewer places. One key issue is that even if you have a short train ride of two hours, it still means packing and checking out of your hotel or hostel almost an hour before your train leaves, and you aren’t done checking into your new hotel or hostel and back out on the street for another hour after the train arrives. So that’s four hours in the middle of the day that are taken up in transit, and those four hours tend to be quite exhausting as well. That leaves you with maybe half a day for local sightseeing, and then dinner and back to your room to get sleep and wake up and do it all over again in the next city.

    Still, if you want to experience the Cinque Terre I would stay in Vernazza because that’s the village that nearly all of the nice photos are from. And honestly I wouldn’t recommend Siena unless you had at least two weeks in Italy. Siena is most famous for its twice a year horse race through its unusual town square, and the rest of the year it’s just yet another historic town in Italy that will remind you of so many others.

    That Seat61 site is awesome and I’m a big fan of the guy who runs it. I use it for all of my own train trips, at least when there is something unusual about them such as the local train from Naples to Sorrento. -Roger

     
Laura Gruninger says:

Laura,

It sounds like your trip is really coming together. I’ve done many Europe trips where I ended up staying one or two nights in each city because I was doing research and trying to see as much as possible for my work. Honestly, it’s not nearly as fun as it sounds, so my main recommendation would be to focus on more time in fewer places. One key issue is that even if you have a short train ride of two hours, it still means packing and checking out of your hotel or hostel almost an hour before your train leaves, and you aren’t done checking into your new hotel or hostel and back out on the street for another hour after the train arrives. So that’s four hours in the middle of the day that are taken up in transit, and those four hours tend to be quite exhausting as well. That leaves you with maybe half a day for local sightseeing, and then dinner and back to your room to get sleep and wake up and do it all over again in the next city.

Still, if you want to experience the Cinque Terre I would stay in Vernazza because that’s the village that nearly all of the nice photos are from. And honestly I wouldn’t recommend Siena unless you had at least two weeks in Italy. Siena is most famous for its twice a year horse race through its unusual town square, and the rest of the year it’s just yet another historic town in Italy that will remind you of so many others.
Thanks for the advice, again. Really appreciated. Laura

That Seat61 site is awesome and I’m a big fan of the guy who runs it. I use it for all of my own train trips, at least when there is something unusual about them such as the local train from Naples to Sorrento. -Roger

 
Ruchika says:

Hello Roger
Firstly such an awesome article. I read your other articles too and found many new and interesting tips for our trip. My question is that my husband and I will be finishing our trip of Europe of 4 countries with Switzerland with Lucerne as our base in mid May . We will stay for 3 night and will reach Lucerne by 10 or 11 am. So here is the beeakdown so far:
1day-explore Lucerne
2nd day- go to Pilatus or mt Rigi (which one do you recommend)
3rd day-go to Titlis (as we want to try some snow activities) will that be available during mid May
4th day- leave early morning for Zürich
We are open to suggestions. What do u suggest we include and exclude.

Also the main question what about the Swiss pass ? Do u think we should buy any of those? Also after reading your other Article on where to visit Switzerland for a short trip I kind of want to go to Interlaken too . Is that too ambitious of me?

Regards
Ruchika

 

    Ruchika,

    Rather than spending 3 days in Lucerne I would spend at least one of those days in Interlaken. They are only 1 hour 49 minutes apart by train, so you could even go in the morning and go up Schilthorn or Jungfraujoch and come back to Lucerne that evening. Staying in the Interlaken area would be nicer, but it’s also a bit of a hassle to change hotels so often.

    As for Rigi vs. Pilatus, the nice thing about Rigi is that it’s very easy to visit it while on the boat cruise of the lake that you’ll probably also want to do. Both are very nice and if you don’t want to do the boat cruise on the lake it’s better to do Pilatus.

    On Titlis there should be snow at the top and the ski lifts should still be going, so it’s a good place to play in the snow a bit, and an excellent view.

    As for the Swiss Travel Pass, it’s hard to say whether it would be good value for you or not without knowing all of the things you’ll actually do and adding up the costs. Especially if you go to Interlaken and also go up Schilthorn it could be your best value to get the pass. The article above is kind of confusing because the Swiss Travel Pass is fairly confusing and you literally have to add up the costs of each thing to see if it saves the most money. The prices of the domestic trains and the cable cars and such are the same no matter when you buy, so it’s pretty easy to research each of them. If it turns out that the Swiss Travel Pass doesn’t quite save enough money, then the Half Fare Card is definitely the way to go. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Subrata says:

Roger,

I have finalized my itinerary. On day 1, We will land at Zurich in the morning, and take the next available train to Interlaken. we will spend the first night at Murren and the next night at Interlaken. We are wondering what would be the best sequence to see Jungfraujoch, Schilthorn and the village of Gimmewald. Not sure if there is something else in the Interlaken area that we can and should also see in the given time.

Day 3 will be very very hectic, but we have decided to give it a shot. We will leave Interlaken in the morning for Zermatt, take Glacier Express to St Moritz, return to Lucerne the same night. Can you comment on which side of the Glacier Express will provide better overall view and which side will be more exposed to sun when going from Zermatt to St Moritz?

Day 4 and 5 at Lucerne. Haven’t yet planned anything. Any help will be appreciated. Day 6 – leave for Zurich airport from Lucerne in the morning to catch the flight at 9.35am.

This broad planning is done. Now I need to work out the finer details where your help will be appreciated.

Thanks,
Subrata

 
Meagan says:

Hello,
Was hoping you could shed some advice on my rough itinerary and also if you think point-to-point or a Swiss travel pass would be best? Our main goal is to explore the French and Swiss Alps and hike around, also our first time abroad for both of us. May 22nd – June 1st 2018
My husband and I will be flying into Geneva late May 22nd and staying the night.
May 23rd – Geneva -> Lake Annecy
The next morning taking a bus to Lake Annecy for 2 nights.
May 25th – Annecy -> Chamonix
heading east to Chamonix for 2 nights.
May 27th – Chamonix -> Interlaken Ost (Longest travel day) Then we were looking into traveling from Chamonix to Interlaken via Visp (4 hours) or via Montreux on the Golden Pass Scenic train, this is where I’m unsure. It takes quite a bit more time and traveling the golden pass. 3 days in Lauterbrunnen/Wengen/Murren area – most excited to hike around. Where would you recommend to stay in the Bernese Oberland?
May 30th – Then heading to Lucerne for 2 days and explore Mt. Pilatus and possible boat tour.
June 1st- Lucerne -> Bern for the afternoon -> Geneva (flight at 9pm).
Thank you in advance for your time!
-Meagan

 

    Meagan,

    A Swiss Travel Pass is best for trips where you are doing at least 2 or 3 longer train trips within Switzerland in a short time. It looks like you could get good value out of a pass, but maybe even better value from the Half Fare Card. You really would have to go to the Swiss rail website and check the fares on the things you plan to do and see if the pass is cheaper than the savings with the Half Fare Card. Either one seems certain to be cheaper than buying full fare tickets, at least as long as you are also going to do some cable car rides and maybe Schilthorn and/or Jungfraujoch. More information about that, along with my recommendations about where to stay are discussed in detail in my main article on where to go in Switzerland. And you also have to take into account Pilatus or going up Mt Rigi, which is covered by the Swiss Travel Pass as opposed to the 50% discount for the others.

    The Goldenpass train is lovely and the slow part of it is when you go through the green valley that cuts between Montreux and Thun. It’s really nice, but the train going through Visp will also be amazing because it’s going to be more dramatic Alpine views the whole time. Speaking of that, in my opinion almost every train ride in Switzerland is really scenic and wonderful, and the certain routes with names aren’t very different from the others. So I would probably take the faster route, especially as it’ll be very scenic as well.

    I wish I could help more, but the only way I could be sure is to go through and add up all of the train and cable car and boat rides that you might take, and compare the prices with the Half Fare Card. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Micah says:

Thank for breaking this down. It’s been my #1 concern as the pass options seem sooo confusing.

I will be in Switzerland for 3 days.

Day1: 7AM: Zurich to Luzern and up to Pilatus (pending weather) then to a small town called Boswil to visit a friend for the night.
Day 2 Early AM; Boswil to Murren, where I am staying the night, visiting Schiltorn (the bond exhibit etc) and hiking around etc.
Day 3: Murren back to Zurich, explore Zurich for a few hours then catch flight

I was considering the Swiss Travel Pass, but after reading your breakdown and doing the math the Half Fare card seems to be the way to go.

Just wanted to state my appreciation for all your research and suggestions.

 

    Micah,

    You are very welcome and I agree that the Half Fare Card is your better option. Schilthorn is amazing, but even in clear whether you probably won’t want to spend more than an hour or two up top. The Bond exhibition is a bit cheesy, but it’s fun and a good use of 30 minutes or so. Fortunately it’s included in the cable car price to the top. The Piz Gloria revolving restaurant is good though, and surprisingly the prices of food and drinks there are similar to what you pay in town. In other words, they are expensive, but not really any more expensive than a similar restaurant without a view. Have a great trip and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Diane says:

Hello,

Wondering, on trains or shuttles to and from airports and what passes best to explore?

Our plan ( family of 4 , 2 adult , sons 22,24):

Arrive Zurich 5/25 10 AM, go right to Wengen. Do we take train all the way to Wengen or a shuttle/car to Interlaken and train up ?

Staying in Wengen 3 nights, but we are planning to go Schilthorn, possibly Top of Europe and a trip to Lauterbrunnen to do some para sailing , etc. We would like to hike take cable car , etc.

Leaving 5/28 , but flying out of Basel to Naples at 2PM. Do we take a train or shuttle to that airport ?
The trains passes seem confusing when and where you can go , may be easier to just have a car pick us up.

But is that 4 day pass best and some added pass to use in upper mountains ? and skip a car service ?

Thanks in advance for suggestions !

Diane

Shuttles seem to be less than 4 travelers on a train ?

 

    Diane,

    I’ll try to take the questions in order…

    From Zurich Airport you can take trains all the way to Wengen in 3 hours and 9 minutes. You can buy the ticket all the way through, but it will require a train change in Bern and another in Interlaken Ost and then another change in Lauterbrunnen before the 12 minute ride to Wengen. It sounds more complicated than it is, and Swiss trains are notoriously punctual and easy to use. You could get a taxi or shuttle to take you the whole way, and it would definitely be easier, but I’m sure it would also be very expensive. With four people it might still be worthwhile.

    From Wengen you can take a train to Basel SBB (main station) and then you take a shuttle bus to the airport from there. By the way, those train rides are extremely scenic almost every minute of the journey, and the trains are very comfortable and relaxing. If you all four piled into a minivan instead you’d get nowhere near as nice of scenery, partly because the roads don’t go the same places as the train tracks do. I’ve never hired a car in Switzerland and I’m sure the price is shockingly high (almost everything in Switzerland is shockingly expensive), but four adult train tickets won’t be cheap either. However, you’ll want to get either a Swiss Travel Pass or Half Fare Cards for each person anyway, so at most those train fares will be half of the full price.

    As for the Swiss Travel Pass, I don’t think it would be better than the Half Fare Card unless you were doing at least another train ride or two. It will give you a 50% discount on Schilthorn, just as the Half Fare Card does, but it only gives you a 25% discount for Jungfraujoch (the top of Europe). The train passes are definitely confusing and it seems that you really have to ride the trains quite a bit in a few days in order for them to be better value than the Half Fare Card. The Swiss Travel Pass actually covers some of the cable car rides completely, including Lauterbrunnen up to Murren (on your way up to Schilthorn) and I believe it also covers the one up from Wengen to the main hiking start point above town. Long story short, I couldn’t tell you which is the better option without knowing everything you’ll be doing and adding it all up. My hunch is that the Half Fare Card will probably be a better value, and taking the trains would probably end up being cheaper and more enjoyable than a car service. Sorry I couldn’t be more exact. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
frank says:

Hi Rodger my daughter (16) and i are travelling from strasborg to zermatt and staying 3 nights then heading to milan via Domodossola
while in Zermatt we plan to spend 2 days taking the cable car to matterhorn glacier and on the Gormergrat railway and a day just relaxing
my question is are any of the swiss passes suitable for the trips are planing?. thanks

 

    Frank,

    The Half Fare Card is what you want. It costs CHF120 per adult (ages 16+, unfortunately) and gives you a 50% discount on every train and cable car ride in Switzerland (with just a few exceptions). It even covers a 50% discount on the trip to Domodossola and back. I discuss the Half Fare Card in the article above. It will be a much better value than a Swiss Travel Pass because that covers trains but only gives you a 25% discount on most cable cars, and it costs much more.

    By the way, if your daughter were only 15 she could actually ride along with you for free using a complimentary Swiss Family Card, which allows for one free age 6 to 15 with one paid adult. They do require a passport, I believe, so I think you missed that discount. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
frank says:

OK thank you for the advice Rodger we might go with the half pric pass , just a another questions we are fliying into germany first from australia at the end of this month
and staying there and france for 7 nights before taking the train into switzerland from strasboarg ,is it ok to get the pass while im in europe? i heard it needs to be purchased 7 days before being used .
Also could i puchase a ticket for Zermatt at the train station in Strasbourg? or do i need to get off at Basel to do that ?

 
Uditha says:

Hi,

This blog seems to be very comprehensive and it helped me a lot for clear my doubts about swiss travel cards. good job Roger 🙂

I am planning to visit Luzern/Interlaken region with my family [ me, wife , 2 kids aged 9 and 5 ] on 23rd – 26th April. Below is our itinerary. Seems Half fare card will do best deal for us. could you pls check and advice.

23rd April : reach Lucern via Basel from train , check-in @ hotelin Luzern
24th April : Titlis visit [ Morning ] , Rigi round trip with luzern lake boat ride [afternoon]
25th April :Luzern to Interlaken OST train ride , Jungfrau visit , sightseeing in Murren/Gimmelwald , return back to Luzern
26th April : city tour in Luzern [ chappel bridge , lion monument ] and check -out from hotel and travel to Paris in the afternoon

 

    Uditha,

    Yes, the Half Fare Card seems like the best value for you by quite a bit. Your itinerary looks good, but the day going to Titlis in the morning and the boat trip and Rigi in the afternoon will be a busy one. If the weather is clear at the top of both peaks and you get an early start you can do it, though it will take all day.

    And your trip to Interlaken is also very ambitious. Make sure you check the weather at Jungfraujoch before you leave in the morning because it can be cloudy or foggy up there at any time. If it’s clear in the morning, which it usually is, you’ll still want to get the earliest start possible. After that I would probably advise to spend your remaining time around Wengen or Lauterbrunnen because there is a lot to see in those areas, and getting up to Murren will be a bit out of the way. Basically, Jungfrau is one peak above Wengen and Lauterbrunnen, and Schilthorn is across the valley from it. If you are going up Jungfrau it’s probably best to stay on that side, rather than to cross over and go part way up Schilthorn for a short time. Again, that’ll be a long day, but you’ll never forget it assuming the weather is nice. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
hp says:

Hi,

Thanks for detailed explanation.
I am planning to visit italy, austria and switzerland.
I am confused between swiss pass vs multi country pass. I will be staying at villars-sur-ollon for one week with family (2 kids) and will have car to move between big cities. But to move around switzerland, i’m planning to use train only. 4 days out of week, will travel around luzern, interlaken and zermatt area.
Cost of 4 days swiss pass Vs 5 days 3 countries pass is coming to be same. What will I miss if i go for multi country pass ?

Thanks,
hp

 

    HP,

    If you get a multi-country rail pass that includes Switzerland it will include unlimited train travel within the country on those days, but you don’t get discounts on the mountain peak attractions such as Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn, and you don’t get free travel on cable cars and boats. Those things are all quite expensive so the Swiss Travel Pass is great value for someone doing those tourist things. But if you are just riding on the normal trains then the other rail pass gives you more. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Uditha says:

Roger,

Thanks a lot for your quick response. I will modify the itinerary to wengen as you suggested.

one more question on bookings for Jungfrau and Titlis . Is it good to do advance bookings now or book on the date of the visit ?

if I book in advance , is there a possibility to shift the reservation to the next day , in case of bad weather on the reserved day ?

thanks.

 

    Uditha,

    I’m not sure if advance booking on those things locks in a specific time or not, but I wouldn’t do it anyway. Because of the ever-changing weather at the peaks, it’s best to book and go when you know it will be clear enough. The prices are the same no matter when you book, and those things very rarely sell out, and especially not more than a day or two in advance. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Greg says:

Good morning Roger,
Doing some research for our trip this summer to Switzerland and having a tough time deciding on types of passes for our trip. We are planning on coming from Paris on July 9, directly to Murren in one day, via Basel and Interlaken. We have reserved 4 nights in Murren which leaves us 3 full days to fully experience the hiking/biking/Schilthorn, etc. around Murren while also having time to relax in the incredible beauty that surrounds. We will then be training to Geneva on July 13 with a return flight home schedule for the 14th from Geneva. With the train travel from Basel to Murren and then from Murren to Geneva, with some excursions intertwined around Murren and on Lake Geneva, I’m not sure if a Swisspass is worth it or if a 50% card is better.
Just throwing this out there to you for any tips you might have.
Thanks so much
Greg

 

    Greg,

    I’m happy to help. For most people it comes down to whether or not you’ll be taking at least two longer train rides, and by that I mean train rides that take the whole day. If you are just taking the normal trains between the major destinations then the fares usually don’t add up to enough to cover the Swiss Travel Pass, so the Half Fare Card is the better value. Let me know if you have any specific questions. -Roger

     
Bhumi says:

Hi,

I enjoyed reading this article, and the other one on Switzerland as well.
It’s very comprehensive and helps eliminate the unnecessary overrated tourist spots. I’m planning a trip with my parents In June 2018 for their anniversary, will it be possible to talk to you (e-mail etc.,) and get a little insight on some things?

Thanks!

 

    Bhumi,

    I can try to help you in the comments below the articles. The reason I prefer to do that is that other people might have the same questions, so they can see the answer in a public place. So ask your questions below and I’ll try to answer if I can. -Roger

     
Greg says:

Roger,
Thank you for your reply. I was reading in another comment above about the cost for the Schilthorn as it relates to the passes. If I purchase a Half Fare Card, does that not help with the cost of the Schilthorn? I read somewhere yesterday that as of 2018 the Half Fare Card and Swiss Travel Pass work, to some degree, on the Schilthorn and other tourist ‘must do’ activities.
And, as for our plan to stay for 4 nights in Murren, we are really looking forward to the adventures around the area and relaxing in the scenic location. Is there enough stuff for us to do (cheese factory, hikes, Schilthorn, bike riding, Gimmewald, etc) to keep busy for three days while also relaxing some around Murren?
As for our final day in Geneva, any suggestions of how to make the most out of that day in terms of sites to see and things we MUST do to know we haven’t missed something? 🙂
Thanks again,
Greg

 

    Greg,

    Unless something has changed that I’m unaware of, the Half Fare Card gives a 50% discount on Schilthorn, and the Swiss Travel Pass offers the same discount. In fact, they both give that same discount on nearly everything that is part of Swiss infrastructure, in addition to the included things in the Pass.

    Murren is a gorgeous village and there is plenty to do in the general area, but for most things it will mean going down two stops of the cable car and then the short bus ride to Lauterbrunnen. From Lauterbrunnen you are within a short train ride of dozens of great hikes and cable cars and other attractions. I’d probably recommend two nights in Murren and two nights elsewhere, but four nights in Murren would also be nice.

    I’ve only briefly been to Geneva to see the fountain and a bit of the town. It’s nice, but there are no major sights there. I think just walking along the lake and through town will be pleasant. Sorry I’m not more help on that. -Roger

     
Bikash Bawri says:

Very nice and informative comments and advice

 
Bikash Bawri says:

Hi Roger…. Want your advice regarding my trip to Switzerland from 23rd to 29th June…Will be staying at torgon…. What places will be able to cover from torgon…. Plz suggest…. Thnx

 

    Bikash,

    I’d never heard of Torgon, but I see on the map that it’s near Montreux. I don’t know of any great sights in that area, although I assume there are some because Switzerland is full of lovely views and sights. I’d say that you should spend at least a couple days in the Interlaken area seeing the main sights that I discuss in the main article on where to stay in Switzerland. Most Swiss trains are fast and run frequently, so you can get across the country and back in one day if you start early. If you are staying in Torgon the whole time it might be wise to get a Swiss Travel Pass so you can ride the trains for free and get to other places frequently. Sorry I’m not of more help on this. -Roger

     
Tanvi says:

Hey Roger,

I know their is more than sufficient information on this site but still questions 🙁 regarding optimum usage of Swiss Pass before I book one. Also I didn’t see any option for discount using Swiss Travel Pass on website to book tickets for Jungfrau
My travel plan so far 🙁 3 days) 4th May – 7th May
Day 1 Reach Zurich @ 1300 … take train to Interlaken if possible explore the place
Day 2 Visit Jungfrau … day pretty much covered (explore places if time permits) – open to suggestion on places
Day 3 Move to Bern by train then planning to visit Lucern and return by night to Bern
Day 4 Departing to Paris by morning train
Not too confident on complete utilisation of pass.
Thanks in advance !
Cheers
Tanvi

Sorry to add to the above questions .. we are 2 adults + 9 yrs old totally 3 so if it makes sense to buy half fare card or swiss travel Pass.

 

    Tanvi,

    It doesn’t look like you’ll be taking enough train rides to get good value out of a full Swiss Travel Pass. With the Half Fare Card for each adult you can have your 9-year-old come for free after you get a Swiss Family Pass, which is available when you get there or online. Especially with the larger discount on Jungfraujoch, the Half Fare Card should come out quite a bit cheaper in the long run. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Joanne says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for the comprehensive article!

I will be going to Switzerland for a period of 3 days during June (2 youths below 25), and we are unable to decide which pass is better (Swiss travel pass/half fare pass/supersaver day pass). We will be staying in Zurich for 3 nights and traveling out for day trips to Lucerne & Interlaken. The following is our itinerary:

Day 1: Zurich – Lucerne – Mt Titlis tour – tour around the town – lake Lucerne (boat ride?) – Zurich
Day 2: Zurich – Lucerne – goldenpass (Lucerne – Interlaken express) – Jungfrau tour – sightseeing around Lauterbrunnen & grindelwald – Zurich
Day 3 – Zurich town – Chur – Bernina train to Tirano – Milan

Can you please give us some suggestions on which pass will be the most suitable for us?

Thank you!

 

    Joanne,

    If you are definitely locked into staying in Zurich then the Swiss Travel Pass is probably your best option. If you do that itinerary as planned it will be three very busy days where you’ll be on trains most of every day. Since all of those train rides will be included with the Swiss Travel Pass, it should be your cheapest option. You only get a 25% discount on Jungfraujoch, but I still think you’ll save enough on the trains that it’ll be cheaper.

    However, if you AREN’T locked into staying in Zurich I think the Half Fare Card might be better. You might have a quick look at my main article on where to go in Switzerland. The main point is that Zurich is VERY expensive for hotels, even compared to the other cities, and it’s a fairly generic large city. You’ll have much better and more interesting experiences if you stay in the Interlaken area and perhaps also in the Lucerne area. Also, especially with so many sights in such a short time, I don’t know if I would recommend those long scenic train trips. If you stay in the Interlaken area you’ll see amazing scenery all around you, especially while on the short train rides and cable cars and such. And the same is true in Lucerne.

    In other words, I think those scenic trains are really nice and they are a good way to see a lot of scenery in a short time, especially for someone who can’t walk much and would rather see Switzerland from a train window. But if you actually stay in the mountain towns you can experience a lot more than you get out a train window. I’m happy to answer other questions if you have them. -Roger

     
Joanne says:

Hi Roger,

Thank you for your kind advice, we will keep that in mind while we plan for our trip!

 
Jay says:

Hi Roger,

Really nice article about Swiss Passes and really appreciate your time replying to everyone.

I am going to Switzerland for 3 nights, let say from 9th April to 12th April. I’ll be travelling from Venice to Luzern on 9th April. So if i buy ‘Swiss Half fare’ card, how will that work when buying ticket on that day?

I’ll be staying in Luzern and plan to go to Mt Rigi on 10th and Mt Titlis on 11th (will spend both evenings in Luzern) and plan is to come to Zurich on 12th morning and then take a evening flight to London. (any recommendation)

Still confused between buying ‘Swiss Pass’ and ‘Half fare’ card.

Thanks in advance.
Jay

 

    Jay,

    Id recommend buying any international train ticket as far in advance as possible for the best price and availability. The train tickets within Switzerland are generally the same price no matter when you buy, but intercity trains between countries start at low prices and go up as more seats are sold. If you buy the ticket from the official Swiss Rail website it should give you the ability to click that you have a Half Fare Card, and that will give you a discount on the portion of the journey that is within Switzerland.

    It doesn’t sound like you’ll be taking enough train journeys to make the Swiss Travel Pass worth it, but you’d have to add up the fares to be sure either way. The Half Fare Card will probably be the better value, although it might be close if you do Rigi, which is included in the Swiss Travel Pass. Sorry I couldn’t be more certain about that and let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

     
Sue says:

Hi Roger,

We have really found your website to be invaluable as we plan our trip to Switzerland and Italy this coming summer. We are very impressed with the detailed answers and wonderfully helpful suggestions. You seem to know this area well!

We are hoping to get your advice concerning our travel plans. We are flying into Zurich and then travelling to Wengen by train the same day. We will be staying in Wengen for 9 days, travelling by train to Varenna (staying 3 nights), then onto Siena by train (staying for 3 nights).

In addition to these essential travel legs, we would also like to do day trips in Switzerland and we would like your advice on rail passes. While staying in Wengen, we would like to visit the following places:

Junfraujoch
Mt. Rigi from Wengen
Shilthorn
Mannlichen
Murren
Grindelwald
Interlaken day trip
Lauterbrunnen
possibly a panoramic train

As we are travelling within Switzerland and Italy, is there a specific rail pass that would help with our specific travel requirements? Our travel dates are August 5th to 16th.

We’ve tried looking online and there are so many options with travel to more than 1 country. We just don’t feel confident we are choosing the right pass. Many seem to offer promotions to the end of March. Is it wise to take advantage of these offers or book closer to our travel dates?

We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank-you!

 

    Sue,

    Switzerland is an unusual situation for rail passes. Multi-country and Eurail Global passes are valid on the regular intercity trains within Switzerland, but those other passes only provide a discount on the tourist trains and sometimes not even that. The Swiss Travel Pass covers all of the normal trains plus most of the private rail lines that go through the mountains, and they give you a discount on the cable cars and the special tourist trains like Jungfraujoch (although only 25%). In other words, a rail pass will cover the train from Zurich to Interlaken, but once there the trains that go to Lauterbrunnen and Wengen are only covered by a discount, while with a Swiss Travel Pass those trains are fully covered. As I say in the article above, it’s very confusing and really the only way to know what is the best value is to add up the costs of the things you plan on doing and see how much they would cost with no pass, or with the Swiss Travel Pass, or with the Half Fare Card.

    I think for most visitors that Half Fare Card is the best deal, and it even gives a 50% discount on Jungfraujoch compared to only 25% discount for the Swiss Travel Pass. But, if you are going to take one of the longer panoramic train routes and especially if you’ll take it somewhere AND back on the same day, the Swiss Travel Pass might end up saving you more. All of those places on your list are actually very close to each other and it takes maybe 15 minutes to get between one and the next. But if you take the Goldenpass, for example, to Montreux and back, that would be very expensive so a Swiss Travel Pass might be best. I’m not sure if the Swiss one has a promotion for March and if it does it might also be your best bet. But if it doesn’t I think the Half Fare Card is probably best.

    Speaking of panoramic trains, I think you’ll be riding trains with amazing views every day you are there, and the Interlaken area is the most scenic part of Switzerland, so I wouldn’t bother with an all-day train ride somewhere else. I think those scenic train lines with names are good for people who can’t walk much and might want to see Switzerland in 2 or 3 days. In your case you’ll have more than enough time to enjoy the views without that. The Half Fare Card will provide a discount up to the border with Italy, and from there you’ll have to pay full price. However, train fares in Italy are pretty cheap, and even cheaper if you buy a month or more in advance, so I don’t think an Italy rail pass would be worth it either. Varenna is on a suburban train line and those are always cheap. From Milan to Siena won’t be too expensive, even on an intercity train. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Raviraj says:

Hi Roger,

Thank you for a wonderful interactive and informative blog,

I would like to share my Tour Itinerary starting may 1st week please do let us know if you see any problem.

Day 1 :- Reaching Geneva staying in hotel with local pass and seeing all things nearby

Day 2 :- Buy Swiss travel pass and visit Interlaken / Grindelwald / Lauterbrunnen / Murren / Jungfraujoch (stay mostly in Grindelwald OR Murren )

Day 3 :- Take Train from Grindelwald/Murren to Zurich check-in to hotel and move to Pilatus then Pilatus to lucerne (lake and other attraction) and return back to Zurich

Day 4 :- Take Train from Zurich to MT. TITLIS and back to Zurich and rest

Day 5:- Visit Zurich Zoo and near by places in Zurich and fly back.

Please let us know if any changes can be done to the trip or can we include Mt.Rigi to it.

is it worth to stay in zurich and travel or to stay in lucerne or engelberg.

Thank you,
Roger.

 

    Raviraj,

    I would probably skip Zurich except for perhaps the zoo if that’s high on your list. I discuss this at the top of my main article on where to go in Switzerland. The short version is that Zurich is somewhat dull for a large European city and it’s VERY expensive, especially for hotels. More importantly, the areas around Interlaken and Lucerne (among others) are among the most beautiful places in Europe so they are the real reason to visit Switzerland. The Zurich Airport is on the main train lines so you can go right from there to any other city without having to spend time in Zurich if you don’t want to.

    I’d visit Titlis from Lucerne. If you can spend another day in Interlaken I think you’d be better off. Jungfraujoch by itself will take you about 6 hours and that doesn’t leave much time to see the other places you mention. Of course it’s also important to keep an eye on the weather because it can be foggy or cloudy at the top of those mountains on any day of the year. Often it’s clear in the morning and foggy in the afternoon, so it’s best to time your trip to the summit at the last minute once you know if it’s clear or not.

    If you also want to visit Mt Rigi it’s fast and easy to do that from Lucerne, since it’s just above the lake and close to the town. I’m happy to help with other questions if you have them. -Roger

     
Rumela says:

Hi Roger,

I will be arriving at Zurich around 3pm on 28th March and will be leaving again on 29th march at around 9pm. I am planning to cover the area of Interlaken and Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch on 28th March. Can you please help me on how to cover these areas and whether I should avail the Swiss Half fare card or normal train tickets would do as I avail my way.

 

    Rumela,

    If I’m reading this right it looks like you’ll be in Switzerland for 30 hours total and I’m not sure this would work well. Even if you were leaving the Zurich train station or Zurich Airport train station at 3pm, it takes two hours to reach Interlaken from either of those, and it will be dark by 7pm or so. Also, the trains up Jungfraujoch only leave in the mornings or maybe the very early afternoon. If you stayed in Grindelwald you could probably get an early train from there and go up the mountain on 29 March. If you do that then the Half Fare Card would actually pay for itself because Jungfraujoch on its own almost pays for the thing. But if you weren’t going to the top then it’s probably better to just buy tickets individually and make the best of your short visit. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Jude says:

Hi Roger:

Thank you for your wonderful blog, I’ve read all the wonderful advice you’ve been giving out, and hope that you can guide us as well, as we are quite overwhelmed.

My husband and I are planning a 10 day trip to Switzerland (July 21-31), I’ve already booked hotels for all the nights.

Day 1 – Fly into Zurich, stay/ sightseeing in Old Town – overnight in Zurich.
Day 2 – Tentative drive to the alpine passes of Gotthard, Furka – overnight in Zurich.
Day 3 – Train from Zurich to Grindelwald, with a full day stopover in Lucerne including possible trip to Mount Titlis; overnight in Grindelwald
Day 4 – Train to First, overnight in Grindelwald
Day 5 – Tentative trip to Jungfraujoch, overnight in Grindelwald
Day 6 – Train to Interlaken – River Thun cruise, visit Trummelback waterfall overnight in Grindelwald
Day 7 – Train from Grindelwald to Montreux, sightseeing in Montreux, overnight in Montreux
Day 8 – Train to Vevey, Gruyeres, Cully, overnight in Montreux
Day 9 – Train from Montreux to Bern, sightseeing/ stay in old town, overnight in Bern
Day 10 – Bern sightseeing, overnight in Bern
Day 11 – Train from Bern to Munich (via Zurich)

Based on the above here are my questions:
1. Are we overloading our trip with too many sights?
2. Should we get the 8-day Swiss travel pass for two adults (to be used from day 3 to day 10)? Or should we get the half-fare card? Or buy per ticket?
3. Is going up & the view from Mount Titlis, similar to going up Jungfraujoch? If yes, then I’d skip the latter.
4. Would it be better to get a ticket on Swiss railway or German railway for day 11 (from Bern to Munich)
5. Is there a train that goes past the alpine passes of Gotthard/ Furka?
6. Do any of the trips I’ve mentioned above, use any of the panaromic/ scenic trains?

Thanks once again for your guidance.

With warm wishes,
Jude

 

    Jude,

    This looks like a wonderful trip.

    1. It doesn’t look too overloaded to me. I think the biggest problem that some people have is when they plan on changing hotels and cities every day, which leaves little time for actual sightseeing.

    2. Without adding up all of the train rides and boat rides and cable car rides and such, it’s hard for me to tell whether the Swiss Travel Pass would save more than the Half Fare Card, but I can already tell that both of those options would be far cheaper than buying individual tickets. My hunch is that the pass would be a better deal, especially if you add a few more train trips over the 8 days, which would be easy to do if they were free.

    3. No, Jungfraujoch is different from all of the others and it’s higher, plus it’s always snowy at the top. Schilthorn is almost as high but you get there by cable car and they are across the valley from each other. If you can do Jungfraujoch I would prioritize it.

    4. The tickets should cost the same, but if you end up getting a Half Fare Card you would have an easier time using it for a discount on the Swiss Rail site.

    5. I’m not aware of a train that goes through there, but the Swiss trains go almost everywhere so there might be.

    6. From Lucerne to Grindelwald (which is in the Interlaken area) you can take part of the Goldenpass. And the Goldenpass also goes from Interlaken to Montreux. I think that’s the only one on your route. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

     
Jaguar says:

Dear Roger Wade,

We have found your blog and reply to the various travel questions/suggestions very informative. Your suggestions have been useful for planning our upcoming trip to Switzerland.

Can you provide your suggestions to the below itinerary and whether it is doable ?

Day 1 : Arrive at Zurich Airport , take train to Lucrene and overnight stay in Lucrene
Day 2 : Day trip to Mt. Titalus in the morning, afternoon trip to Mt.Rigis and overnight stay in Lucrene
Day 3 : Travel to Interlaken and overnight in Interlaken
Day 4 : Day trip to Jungfraujoch and overnight in Interlaken
Day 5 : Travel to Zermatt and visit Matterhon and overnight in Zermatt
Day 6 : Travel to Zurich in the morning, if possible visit Rhine falls, sightseeing in Zurich and overnight in Zurich
Day 7 : Take afternoon flight from Zurich

We are a family of four (2 adults + 2 kids – 15 and 12 years) and we are not sure whether to buy 8 day Swiss Travel Pass or Half Transfer ticket + pay for tickets ?

I presume that with both Swiss Travel Pass or Half Transfer ticket, our kids can travel free with the family pass with us.

Can you provide some guidance whether half transfer ticket will be cost effective or is there any option ?

Thanks in advance for your guidance.

Best Regards

Jaguar

 

    Jaguar,

    Your itinerary looks good. Visiting Titlis and Rigi in the same day will require you to get a very early start, but it can be done.

    With either pass you can indeed also get a Swiss Family Card and the kids will travel free with the adults. My hunch is that the Half Fare Card might be better value for you, but I’d have to go through and add up each ticket to know for sure. You don’t seem to be doing too much train travel for a Swiss Travel Pass, but still the 8-day Pass might be the best option once you add them all up. The train and cable car fares within Switzerland are the same price no matter when you buy them, so you can check those journeys for any date and the price you see should be correct for your dates as well. Best of luck on this. -Roger

     
Jaguar says:

Dear Roger,

Thanks you for the feedback.

 
Philip W says:

Hi Roger

What an awesome site. Thank you for sharing…

Could you look at my itinerary and let me know if it is too packed?
Which travel pass would you recommend?

Day 1 : Arrive Zurich, visit old town, overnight Zurich

Day 2 – Zurich – Lucerne, Mt Pilatus, city tour, boat ride, overnight Lucerne

Day 3 – Mount Riggi (Weggis – cable car up and Vitznau – train down), overnight Lucerne

Day 4 – Mt Titlis (train to Engelberg and cable car up), overnight Lucern

Day 5 – Lucern to Murren, city tour, overnight in Murren

Day 6 – Schilthorn, Murren to Interlaken, city tour of Interlaken, overnight in Interlaken

Day 7 – Jungfraujoch, paragliding?, make your own chocolate, Overnight in Interlaken

Day 8 – alpine diary, castle visit, lakes, Overnight in Interlaken

Day 9 – Interlaken to Montreux, Friday markets, Swiss choc train, casino, overnigt at Montreux

Day 10 – free day – Geneva to fly

Thank you so much!

 

    Philip,

    I appreciate the kind words. Your itinerary looks very well planned out and while it’s busy, I think it is realistic and not too packed. One thing worth mentioning is that it can be cloudy or foggy or rainy at the top of any of the peaks on any day of the year, and when it’s foggy such that you feel like you are within a cloud, it’s not worth going up. That isn’t too common and usually only happens for a few hours here and there, but it can happen. So with that in mind it’s usually best to try to keep your schedule a bit flexible and only book those peak trips just before you are going to go, and after you know that it’s clear enough.

    It does look like you’ll be doing enough train rides and included attractions such as Mt Rigi that the Swiss Travel Pass should pay for itself. I’d have to go through and add up each thing to be sure, but my hunch is that the full Pass would be your best value. Another benefit of going with the Travel Pass instead of just the Half Fare Card is that you can just hop on any train or boat and many cable cars, and quickly add other things to your trip. With the Half Fare Card the prices are reasonable, but still shelling out 50% of a high fare will discourage you from doing some things that you might want to do if they were included. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Philip W says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for your prompt response and insights. I will go for the Swiss travel pass. Does my boys, age 5 and 7 travel for free ?

 

    Philip,

    Yes, you can ask for a free Swiss Family Card along with your Swiss Travel Pass or when you get there. That card allows for kids from 6 to 15 to ride free with a paying adult. Kids under 6 ride free even without the Family Card, so you’ll be set. -Roger

     
Tavia says:

Hello!
We are 4 adults and 2 children with the following itinerary:

April 7: Bellinzona – Zurich
April 8: Zurich
April 9: Zurich – Sargans (and back)
April 10: Zurich – Lucerne – Berne
April 11: Berne
April 12: Bern – Schilthorn
April 13: Bern – Zermatt – Bern
April 14: Bern – Basel

In this case, is the swiss rail pass worth it? We will be in Switzerland for 8 days. We plan on doing day trips almost every day, so we will be needing public transport + train tickets.

Thoughts?

Also, should I buy e-tickets online or will I be able to purchase a rail pass in Bellinzona? (We are stopping there on our way to Zurich from Milan)

Are first class tickets worth it?

Thank you,
Tavia

 

    Tavia,

    I would think that a Swiss Travel Pass would be good value on a trip like this, but I’d need to add up each individual fare to be sure. Of course the other option is the Half Fare Card, but with all of these train trips I’d think that the Pass would save you more. You can buy a Swiss Travel Pass online and print it at home, and then have it validated on your first trip within the country. You can buy Swiss Travel Passes at any major train station in Switzerland, but I’m not sure about the station in Bellinzona.

    As for First Class, the tickets generally cost 50% more than Second Class and they are wider with more legroom. First Class has 3 seats across and Second has 4 seats across, and First Class is usually less crowded (unless you take a morning train between cities). On the other hand, the Swiss trains are among the nicest in Europe and Second Class provides enough legroom for almost anyone. I’m 6’3″ (192 cm) and also a bigger guy, and Second Class seats are comfortable to me. I prefer First Class though and sometimes spring for it on certain trains.

    The last thing I’ll mention is I definitely wouldn’t recommend basing yourself in big cities if you can avoid it. I discuss it in greater length near the top of my main article on where to go in Switzerland. The short version is that the cities (and Zurich especially) are VERY expensive for hotels and restaurants, and they aren’t nearly as charming or convenient as towns such as Interlaken and Lucerne, where you also get more hotel for your money. Another way to say it is that Switzerland’s cities are below average compared to Europe’s great cities, but the Alpine and lake scenery is arguably the best in all of Europe, so it’s better to spend most of your time enjoying the scenery and avoiding the expensive cities. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Vivi says:

Hello Roger,
As I was making itinerary for my Swiss trip in June, I came across you website out of many and thought your knowledge is very helpful. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

I really need your advice as I am still unsure if I should buy a Swiss Travel Pass, Half Fare card or just buy all tickets individually as it might turn out to be cheaper. the thing is I cannot check the fares online for the trains as I believe they are only open 1 month before the departure. But I do know the prices for the cable cars as they are available on the web.

Below is my scheduled itinerary:

12 June Arrive in Zurich
14 June Train from Zurich to Luzern
14 June Return cogwheel to Mt Rigi
15 June Luzern to Engleberg
Engleberg to Mt Titlis return (cable car)
Engleberg to Bern
16 June Bern to Interlaken
17 June Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen
Lauterbrunnen to Schilthorn (return cable car)
18 June Lauterbrunnen to Grindelwald
Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch
Jungfraujoch to Lauterbrunnen
19 June Lauterbrunner to Zermatt
Zermatt to Gornergrat (return cogwheel)

Then on 20 June I am still unsure how to get to Milan from Zermatt since my plane leaves from Milan back to Australia.

I have some questions which I need your expertise:
1. I know most of normal trains from city to city are free with Travel Pass. But, how does it work? Do I still need to reserve the seat, or do I just board the train by showing my travel pass only, or do still I need to pre-order free ticket before my departure date?

2. Please correct me if I am wrong, I think the only train journeys which are not free by travel pass are trains from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen, Lauterbrunnen to Grindelwald, Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch, Jungfraujoch to Lauterbrunnen and train from Lauterbrunnen to Zermatt might be covered some parts only. Others like cable car and cogwheel I know I will get discounts and the Schilthorn cable car is free with travel pass.
Question is if I buy the mountain train from Lauterbrunnen to Jungfraujoch return, does it allow me to get off at Kleine Scheidegg, so I can buy return train from Kleine Scheidegg to Grindelwald?

3. Does the cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Schilthorn allow us to get off at Gimmelwald, or do we need to buy separate cable car ticket for that?

And, could you please help to recommend the fastest way to reach Milan from Zermatt? Is it worth the time and money to visit Lugano on my way to Milan?

It’s hard for me to figure out which travel pass to buy as I could not calculate the fare of my individual train journey right now. But, based on the itinerary I provided you above, do you think it’s best for me to buy the 8-days continuous Travel Pass, Half Fare Card or buying individually.

Thank you so much for your help first of all, and sorry if my message ends up really long.

Cheers,

Vivi

 

    Vivi,

    I’m glad you find this information helpful. As for Swiss train fares, they are the same no matter when you buy them for domestic tickets, so you can check any date and it will be the same as your actual dates.

    1. With a Swiss Travel Pass you can simply climb on board and find an empty seat. Seats that are reserved for someone else will have a little card on them showing the cities from and to that seat is reserved from, but that is only common in the mornings going between big cities such as Zurich to Geneva. If you board after 9:30am or so you’ll usually find plenty of empty seats. When the conductor or ticket person eventually comes by to check tickets, you just show them your valid pass and they will stamp it with that date if that’s the first time you used it that day. It sounds too good to be true, but that’s the way it works.

    2. Actually, all of those trains are free with the Swiss Travel Pass, but they are only offered at a discount with a Eurail Pass or any other similar pass. So with the Swiss Travel Pass you can go all the way up from Interlaken to Schilthorn for free. For Jungfraujoch you only get a 25% discount with the Swiss Travel Pass (vs a 50% discount with the Half Fare Card). I believe you could split your trip up and stop in Kleine Scheidegg, but I’m not sure. It’s a very small place and they may only sell tickets going all the way up and then back. Sorry I’m not sure about this one.

    3. I discuss all the steps from Interlaken to Schilthorn in my main article on where to go in Switzerland. But yes, Gimmelwald is the first stop on the cable car up the mountain from Stechelberg. From there you cross the platform and board another cable car waiting there for the 5-minute ride up to Murren. From Murren you walk forward a bit to yet another cable car, and there is one more after that that takes you to Schilthorn. My recommendation is to go all the way up first and then on the way down get off in Murren for a look around and then a 15-minute walk down a paved path that takes you into Gimmelwald and ends at the cable car stop. As long as the weather is nice it’s an amazing and easy walk.

    From Zermatt to Milan there is only one way to go. You take the private rail line from Zermatt back to the town of Brig (1 hour 24 minute), and there you change to the train to Milan that takes a bit under 2 hours. The train from Brig to Milan doesn’t go through Lugano, and you’d have to go way out of your way to get the train that does. After Switzerland I think you’ll be overloaded with amazing scenery, so Lugano wouldn’t have been a big deal.

    My best guess is that the Swiss Travel Pass will be your best value, since you are doing so many train rides and staying that long. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Santhosh says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for your wonderful blog. Could you please help me with the following itinerary and suggest us if we should take swiss pass or HFC.

I am with my wife from April 26-30, the following is what I have planned:

26-Apr: Land in Geneva and go straight to Beatenberg, Schilthorn in evening. Overnight stay in Beatenberg
27-Apr: Beatenberg to Jungrauch day trip, Lake thun boat ride, stay in beatenberg
28-Apr Lake Lucerne, Engelberg, Mt. Titlis/Pilatus, Mt. Rigi.. Would it be possible in a single day, overnight stay in Beatenberg.
29-Apr: Beatenberg to Zermatt, Mattehorn, Overnight stay in Beatenberg.
30-Apr: Beatenberg to Montreux, Vevey, Lake geneva, Fly from Geneva in the evening.

Please could you let me know if this is a wise itinerary considering the rain during last week of April.

Thanks
Santhosh

 

    Santhosh,

    It looks like you’ve got quite a bit planned during your 5 days in Switzerland. As for 28-April, if you start early you could do two of the peaks in the same day, but I don’t think doing three of them would be possible and even if it were possible it wouldn’t be fun to rush around like that. You can do Mt Rigi as part of your Lucerne cruise, and you could do Titlis or Pilatus before or after that.

    You have quite a few train rides planned and that is the main factor in the Swiss Travel Pass being the better value. I also recently learned that Schilthorn is now 100% covered by the Swiss Travel Pass where it used to be a 50% discount. With that in mind I’d say it’s clear that the Swiss Travel Pass is your best option over the Half Fare Card.

    Also, you mention possible rain, and the weather is always somewhat unpredictable at the tops of those mountains. Especially the highest ones (Jungfrau and Schilthorn) it’s often clear in the morning and cloudy or foggy in the afternoon, and sometimes the other way around. Even in summer it can get so those peaks are basically inside the clouds, and when it’s like that there is no point in going up. It’s best to check the webcams and weather forecasts just before you go up, and try to keep you schedule a bit flexible.

    Have a great trip and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Sapana Jain says:

Hi,

We are 4 adults & 4 children..also, we are landing at Geneva airport on 24th may..already, bookings are made and cannot be cancelled..so we are staying for 2 nights in Geneva and 2 nights in Interlaken..shall we buy the swiss travel pass or any other pass?
We will land in Geneva at 11am..
Day 1: in and around Geneva or chocolate and cheese factory..please suggest
Day 2: lausanne and Montreux..chillon castle and return back by boat..
Day 3: Geneva to Zurich and back to interlaken just a train ride today
Day 4: jungfraujoch and then leave for basel ..or stay in Interlaken??
Day 5: basel to paris

 

    Sapana Jain,

    I’m not sure about specific cheese and chocolate factories in Geneva, but they should be easy to find on Google.

    It looks like you’ll be doing quite a few train journeys, but none that are extremely expensive, so I think the Half Fare Card should be the best value. Also, the HFC gives you are 50% discount on Jungfraujoch compared to only a 25% discount with a Swiss Travel Pass. Best of all you can also get a free Swiss Family Card, so the children will be able to do all of these things for free with an adult who pays only half price.

    I think on that last day I would stay in the Interlaken area if you can. Not only is it the most beautiful part of Switzerland, but Basel is kind of dull and a hotel there would probably be more expensive and less pleasant. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Krishna says:

Hello Roger,
First thing first….awesome blog. Very informative. Thanks for sharing with us.
After reading your blogs have planned my swiss trip as below.But still under confusion in choosing Swiss Travel pass or Half fare card where I need your expert advice. So kindly help to check my itinerary below and share your inputs.
Lucerne 3 days:
Day1: Milan to Lucerne via Train and will reach Lucerne around 2PM.Visit Mt. Pilatus on the same day.
Day2: Complete day for Mt. Titlis
Day3: Stanserhorn & Mount Rigi
Kandersteg 1 day:
Day4: Lucerne – Interlaken Ost – Kandersteg. Oeschinensee Lake and mountain hike. Overnight stay in Berghotel Oeschinensee
Gimmelwald 2 days:
Day5: Kandersteg – Gimmelwald. Village tour and visit to Schilthorn.
Day6: Complete day for Jungfraujoch visit.
Near Zermatt 1 day:
Day7: Gimmelwald – Zermatt.Visit to Gornergrat & Riffelsee. Overnight stay at Zeneggen.
Day8: Zeneggen – Milan(Italy)
Questions:
1.For the above itinerary do we(group of 4 adults) need 8 day swiss travel pass or Half Fare Card?
2.Feedback and suggestions on my Itinerary(anything to add or remove).
3.How to avail the pass(travel pass or half fare card) for travelling to and from Milan.

Thanks & Regards
Krishna

 

    Krishna,

    It looks like you’ve got 8 busy days planned and I think the Swiss Travel Pass will be the best value for your group. Since it fully covers Mt Rigi and also Schilthorn (I only just found out about this), I’m pretty sure it’ll pay for itself and be better value than the Half Fare Card. For visits of only 3 or 4 days it can sometimes be challenging to get enough value out of the full Swiss Travel Pass, but if you are staying 8 days it’s not much more expensive so it’s easier to get value with that many train rides plus Rigi and Schilthorn.

    Your itinerary looks quite good and it doesn’t look like you are trying to do too much on any given day. I’m not familiar with everything on your list, but I know most of them and it looks like you are covering most of the best sights. I’d say the only important thing to mention is that the weather on those peaks can be cloudy or foggy any day of the year, so it’s usually wise to allow some flexibility in your schedule. In other words, if the weather is clear up top it’s good to go up as quickly as possible, but if it’s foggy on top when you were planning on going you can do something else such as visit Bern for half a day.

    I just checked about buying a ticket to Milan on the sbb.ch website and it doesn’t look like they offer a discount for Swiss Travel Pass holders on that route. You actually have to take a bus from Zeneggen to another bus to reach Visp, and there you board the train to Milan. In theory you could do the first stop of that journey for free so you could do that with your Pass and just buy a ticket from Brig, which is the last stop in Switzerland on that route. It looks like you’d save about CHF11 each person by doing that. If you had a Half Fare Card you would only get that 50% discount on the portion of the journey within Switzerland, so the savings with that would be even smaller. Have a wonderful trip and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Tony G says:

Roger,
I have been going back and forth on both of your sites while planning our trip to Switzerland this spring. The information you provide is really indispensable.

the following is our itinerary:

April 24 Arrive in Basel, train to Lucerne (hotel in Stansstad)
April 25 depart for Murren, spend two nights
april 27 Depart for interlaken, one night
april 28 Depart for Bern, one night
April 29 Depart for Geneva; depart from Geneva Airport

I found out the the cable car for Schilton that week is out for maintenance. Not sure if a swiss pass would still make sense. What you think?

 

    Tony G,

    I’m glad that you found this information helpful. That is a real shame about Schilthorn being out for maintenance that week, especially since I recently discovered that it’s now fully included for Swiss Travel Pass holders instead of just a 50% discount. With that in mind it’s an even easier choice for the Half Fare Card. You are taking enough train rides that the Half Fare Card will more than pay for itself, and of course you’ll also be able to use it on cable cars and boat rides that aren’t on your list. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Santhosh says:

HI Roger,
Thanks for your reply.

After going through forums again and again, I felt it is best to travel around Interlaken the most and skip Zermatt for now.

I have tried to alter the itinerary. Kindly suggest if it is a wise itinerary.

26-Apr: Land in Geneva, Bert sight seeing, Lake thun boat ride to Interlaken West and overnight stay in Beatenberg
27-Apr: Beatenberg to Lauterbrunnen, Grimmelwald, Murren & Schilthorn day trip, stay in beatenberg
28-Apr: Wengen, Grindelwld, & Harder Kulm. Walk around Interlaken, overnight stay in Beatenberg.
29-Apr: Lake Lucerne, Mt. Rigi, Engelberg, and Mt. Titlis.
Overnight stay in Beatenberg.
30-Apr: Beatenberg to Montreux, Vevey, Lake geneva, Fly from Geneva in the evening.

Would you still suggest Swiss Travel pass without Zermatt, if yes kindly suggest how to plan booking for Day 5.

Regards
Santhosh

 

    Santhosh,

    I still think a Swiss Travel Pass would be your best value even without Zermatt. As mentioned, since it fully includes Mt Rigi and Schilthorn along with all of your train rides and boat rides, I think it will pay for itself and save more than the Half Fare Card. You’d need to add each thing up to be sure, but that’s my best guess. The train to Montreux on its own is also fairly expensive, so the pass would save a lot. I’m not sure what you mean about booking Day 5. With a Swiss Travel Pass you can just climb aboard and show the pass to the ticket person as they come by. You can do the Goldenpass to Montreux, which goes through a gorgeous valley instead of using the faster trains through Bern. If you want to book a panoramic carriage for the Goldenpass you can do that for a small supplement on the Goldenpass website. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Santhosh says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for your quick reply.

I am staying in Swiss for 5 days, and Swiss day pass is available i variants 3, 4, and 8 days. So if I choose 4 day pass then I am thinking how to travel on 5th day, or am I missing anything here.

Thanks
Santhosh

 

    Santhosh,

    This is a tricky one if you are doing 5 full sightseeing days and you don’t want to buy a 8-day pass. It might be best to buy a 4-day Flex Pass and use it on your 4 most expensive days. You might even move your itinerary around a bit so you have a cheaper day in there. If you want to do all of these things then a Half Fare Card might end up being your best bet in the long run. You’ll have to add up the costs to know for sure. I am not aware of any other tricks you could use. Best of luck. -Roger

     
Santhosh says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for your recommendations.

We will try to alter the itinerary and see if we can utilize super saver day pass or point to point tickets.

Regards
Santhosh

 
Santhosh says:

Hi Roger,

Point to Point ticket from Bern to Geneva will cost me around 56CHF, and Saver day pass will cost me 70 CHF.

Kindly suggest if Saver day pass is worth.

Regards
Santhosh

 

    Santhosh,

    The Saver Day Pass is a new product and this is the first I’ve heard of it. It looks very interesting and could be helpful for many people. It appears to be an unlimited travel pass for one day, so it’s really a matter of if you’ll take more train rides other than just Bern to Geneva. I’d probably be inclined to get the Saver Day Pass if I had enough remaining time in the day to use it after arriving in Geneva. The Swiss trains are very comfortable and famously punctual, so you could just ride around a bit more if you’ve got an hour or two available. Thanks for pointing this out. -Roger

     
Santhosh says:

Hi Roger,

It would help me if I travel from Bern to Geneva on Day 5.
It may not help me if I am in staying in Montreux on Day 5, as the ticket fare seems to be less.

Little confused with itinerary based on Swiss travel pass.

Regards
Santhosh

 
Anoop says:

Dear Roger,
Really awesome blog. its Very informative.

we are 4 adults and 2 infants (18 months each) arriving at Zurich airport at 9:30 am of 2nd May 2018 ( Wednesday) and our return flight is on 5th May 2018 10:00 PM (saturday) – 4Days and 3 night

I am really worried about this trip as this is our first trip to swiss moreover with 2 infants.

We wish to visit the following.

1) Titlis

2) Schilthorn Cable Car AND/or Jungfraujoch (WORRIED OF ALTITUDE SICKNESS FOR INFANTS)

My most probable itinerary would be

Day 1: 2nd May – Zurich to Interlaken (reach interlaken by 1:30 pm settle at the hotel and move to Schilthorn or Jungfraujoch (possible ?)
stay at Lauterbrunnen
Day 2: 3rd May – Suggestion required (what else to visit in Lauterbrunnen interlaken area. we are nature lovers)
stay at Lauterbrunnen or interlaken

Day 3: 4th May – from Lauterbrunnen or interlaken to Engelberg hotel and then to Titlis
stay at Engelberg

Day 4: move to lucern (store luggage somewhere) and suggestions required.

Roger, please help me to make my itinerary better and include the most scenic places that i must visit in these areas (lucern or interlaken or Engelberg (or all).

Also advise the which rail pass i should select?

Please….

Anoop

 

    Anoop,

    I’m glad you find this helpful. Your plan looks quite good and I’ll answer in order…

    I’ve heard of infants having altitude discomfort in planes flying 10,000 meters, but the peaks around Interlaken are under 3,500 meters. Hopefully you can find information on this elsewhere, and I really hope it’s not an issue.

    On Day 1 you could go up Schilthorn after arriving at 13:30. The cable cars leave every 30 minutes and keep going into the evening. It takes about an hour from the bottom to the top. The last train up to Jungfraujoch leaves in the early afternoon so you probably wouldn’t make that. Check the weather at the top before you go up either though, because it can be foggy any day of the year and there is no point in going if you are in a cloud when you reach the top.

    As for Day 1 there are many great options all over that area, and you might end up doing one of the peaks on that day if the weather was not good in the afternoon of Day 1. I don’t like to give out specific plans for days, but I will say that there is a lovely and famous hike that is reached from the short cable car ride up behind the nearby town of Wengen, which is reached by a cogwheel train. Most people hike down hill from there to the next stop down, so it’s quite easy. But there is an uphill hike from the cable car stop to the highest peak just to its left. You should also Google “things to do in the Interlaken area” or something like that and you’ll find many other choices.

    There are luggage lockers at all larger train stations, including Interlaken Ost and West and Lucern.

    Again, the weather can be unpredictable more than a few hours in advance so it’s best to have a list of things you’d like to do, and try to do the major ones as soon as you know the weather is good. You might have to shuffle things around a bit, but you should have time for all the major highlights. If it’s cloudy or rainy on the mountain tops it usually only lasts a few hours, and you can explore the towns or even head over to Bern, which is one hour away from Interlaken by train and a nice place to spend part of a day.

    As for rail passes are concerned, I would have recommended the Half Fare Card and it still might be your best bet, but now that the Swiss Travel Pass fully covers Schilthorn it might be worth looking into. It only gives a 25% discount on Jungfraujoch, however, so if you’d prefer to do that one instead the Half Fare Card with its 50% discount would be better. One nice thing about the Swiss Travel Pass is it allows you to take most of the cogwheel trains and cable cars for free, and that can add up quickly. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Anoop says:

Dear Roger, (resubmit with correction)

Thanks for your time and effort!!

I was about to book the hotels, i have to fix the plan and book the hotels accordingly.

Do you mean not to book the hotels in advance?

i read there are options to go up to Titlis by train and by cable car. which one is better.
Kindly the places to visit in Engelberg

 

    Anoop,

    I prefer to book my hotels in advance, usually as soon as I’m sure of the dates. The best places tend to fill up early any time of the year. For Mt. Titlis you go up and down by train. For Mt. Rigi there is a cable car and a cogwheel train, and most people go up one and down the other.

    I’m not an expert on Engelberg and I really don’t like to plan specific parts of people’s days because tastes and budgets are different. I’m sure you can find a list of things to do there by Googling it. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Rkr says:

Hello Roger,

I am planning to visit Switzerland towards the end of May.

1. 1 day in Montreux
2. 2 day in Interlaken and surroundings
3. 1 day in Lucerne
4. 1 day in Zermatt

I am interested in beginners skiing, some little adventure activities and visiting lakes and mountains.

Please help if I should get a SWISS pass or a half fare pass ?

I am a hard care drive fan but scared after reading about parking charges and car free villages.

thanks
Rijok

 

    Rkr,

    I know what you mean about driving and those parking fees. Most of Europe actively tries to discourage self-driving with those high parking fees and such, but fortunately the trains are excellent and very punctual (in Switzerland). As for which card to get, it really depends on the specific things you’ll be doing in each of those places. For example, in the Interlaken area there are two expensive and amazing peak views in Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch. Schilthorn is now fully covered by the Swiss Travel Pass, while Jungfraujoch is only a 25% discount with the Swiss Travel Pass. So if you do Schilthorn the full Pass makes a lot of sense, but if you want to do Jungfraujoch then the Half Fare Card (including a 50% discount on Jungfraujoch) makes more sense. Long story short, it all depends on which specific things you’d do while you were there. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Arstiah says:

Hi Roger
I am planning to arrive Interlaken on 3 Dec 2018 from Munich. Will be taking the train. will be staying in
Interlaken – 6 nights. 2 mountain rides Jungfraujoch and First (in think HarderKlum). Will be taking train to Bern, Laussane and Grindewald. Please advise if I should buy the full fare or half fare. Thank you. We are 2 adults and 2 seniors.

 

    Arstiah,

    My best guess is that the Swiss Travel Pass will save you more, but you’d really have to add up the things you’ll do to be sure. With 6 days it’s pretty easy to get enough use out of a Travel Pass because you’ll be using it several times each day on trains and cable cars and such. And now that it fully covers Schilthorn, that alone is worth around CHF105 per person. One great thing about the full pass compared to the Half Fare Card is that you get the big expense taken care of up front, so when you are there you’ll be motivated to do as many things as possible to get the best value. With the Half Fare Card you still have to pay 50% for each thing, so you might start skipping things to save money. Switzerland is a wonderful place for a splurge on activities, and if you can afford the Travel Pass I’d do it. -Roger

     
Lee says:

Hello Roger,
I will have a business trip to France and take chance to visit Switzerland. I will live in my friend house in Roggliswil and have a day trip to all spots as below. It means I will come back Roggliswil in evening daily.
My intention: buying a Swiss Travel pass for 4days 26-29/June. I will buy ticket for The round trip from Paris to Roggliswil on 25 and 30 June separately. Do you any advices for me? Thank you very much!
My schedule:
June 25, 2018: Paris – Roggliswil
June 26, 2018: Zurich +Lechtenstein
June 27, 2018: Lucerne
June 28, 2018: Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Blausee
June 29, 2018: Lausanne then boat to Montreaux
June 30, 2018: Roggliswil – Paris

 

    Lee,

    Having a free place to stay in Switzerland is a huge bonus. I think your plan to buy a Swiss Travel Pass sounds very good because with a base like that you’ll be on the trains a lot. You might have a scan on my main article on where to go in Switzerland. Unless you have something specific you want to see in Zurich, I’d say skip it and spend more time on the natural beauty. Bern is a more interesting city and more scenic as well, so you might consider that.

    I haven’t made it to Liechtenstein yet and that’s mostly because people seem to agree that it’s a pretty dull place. Honestly, the only reason to go (according to experts) is to be able to say you’ve been there. Otherwise it’s a small city in a valley that looks just like the other towns around it. I’d focus more on the Interlaken area because that’s where most of the major thrills are located. If you buy a Swiss Travel Pass you can go up Schilthorn for free, and that is an excellent half-day trip by itself. You might get other ideas from that article. Let me know if you have any other specific questions. -Roger

     
Megan says:

Hi Roger,
My friend and I are traveling to Switzerland for the first time and are a bit overwhelmed. Here is our rough itinerary and ideally the places we’d like to go.

May 28 – Arrive in Zurich. Stay the night.
May 29 – Zurich, possibly Rhine Falls.
May 30 – Leave Zurich (early) to Grindelwald.
May 31 – June 1 – Explore the Grindelwald area (Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Schlithorn, Jungfraujoch and possibly Interlaken). We love waterfalls and love to hike so I think this is a good area to catch both.

We are debating between 3 different cards – Half Fare, Swiss Travel Pass or the Jungfrau Travel Pass.

It seems you talk about the HFC and STP frequently but never mentioned the Jngfrau Travel Pass. Any thoughts on the best bang for our buck?

Thanks in advance. I appreciate all the time and effort you put into your responses!

– Megan

 

    Megan,

    The Jungfrau Travel Pass is one of those regional passes that can be helpful for people staying in a small area, but aren’t good value for people visiting more than one area. It could be good for 3 days of travel in the Interlaken area, although it only gives a 50% discount on Jungfraujoch, which is the most expensive and most popular thing in the area. As of this year the Swiss Travel Pass covers the full trip up Schilthorn, which is the second most expensive thing in the area, and the Jungfrau Pass only gives you a 25% discount on it. The Half Fare Card is the best choice for most visitors because it gives a 50% discount on nearly everything in Switzerland. But as I always say, the only way to know which pass is best for you is to add up the various things that you’ll do and compare them.

    You might also have a quick scan of my main article on where to go in Switzerland. I haven’t made it yet to Rhine Falls, although I hear it’s nice. But the main point is that unless there are specific things you want to see in Zurich, you might want to minimize or cut out your time there. It’s a pleasant (and very expensive) city, but really the “magic” of Switzerland is the amazing scenery and specifically the Alps. It would be a bit like going to a famous national park like Yosemite or Yellowstone and then spending most of your time in the little village where the hotels are rather than in the most beautiful areas of the park.

    As always, let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Lee says:

Hello Roger,

Thanks for your useful comments.I will revise my plan as below.I replace Zurich & Lech by Bern. You mention that Schilthorn is covered by Swiss travel pass.It means free return ticket up and down Schlthorn? How long does it take in Schilthorn. I dont I can combine Schilthorn with what place. Could you help review again on my plan. Thanks!!!!!

June 25, 2018: Paris – Roggliswil
June 26, 2018: Bern
June 27, 2018: Lucerne
June 28, 2018: Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Blausee
June 29, 2018: Lausanne then boat to Montreaux
June 30, 2018: Roggliswil – Paris

 

    Lee,

    Yes, the Swiss Travel Pass now covers the whole trip up to the Schilthorn observation deck as well as the James Bond attraction, which is pretty cool and a good use of 20 minutes or so. From Interlaken Ost train station it takes 20 minutes to reach Lauterbrunnen and a bus is waiting for each train, and that takes about 10 minutes to reach the bottom of the cable car station. The cable car leaves every 30 minutes and it takes a bit over an hour to reach the top. There is a revolving restaurant there with food prices that are similar to those in town, so it’s a nice place to eat and enjoy the view if it’s clear out. Including the James Bond thing you could be ready to go back down in an hour, or a bit longer if you eat. The bus from Lauterbrunnen goes right by a waterfall as well.

    Your plan looks pretty good and the travel pass should really come in handy with all of those train rides. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
JAIRATH says:

We are planning to travel to Switzerland as follows:
Day 1 Zurich to Lucrene
Day 2 Lucrene to Mt Philatius
Day 3 Lucrene to Jungfra
Day 4 Licence to Laussane
Day 5 Laussane to Bern
Day 6 Laussane to Geneva
Day 7 Laussane to Montrux

Day 8 Laussane to Paris

Will Swiss rail pass be better for 5 adults and two children below 10 years

 

    Jairath,

    Since you’ll be taking train rides every day and some of them are longer rides, I think the 8-day Swiss Travel Pass will be your best deal. It’s easier to get good value out of the longer travel passes than out of the 3-day version, and it will allow you to go more places and do more things since they will almost all be included. You might also consider doing Schilthorn instead of Jungfraujoch because Schilthorn (by cable car) is now fully covered by the Swiss Travel Pass, while Jungfraujoch only gives a 25% discount on the CHF205 fare. They are both spectacular and they face the same valley from opposite peaks. The children can travel free with the adults by getting a Swiss Family Card for free with the Travel Passes from the same place. Have a wonderful trip. -Roger

     
Aditya Kulkarni says:

Hey Roger , hope you are doing great . you have provided vast all relevant information which gives answers to most queries. Thanks for it . we are planning a 6 day trip to swiss, something like
day 1 ) trip to mount pilatus from alpnachstad and roaming lucerne in the evening

day 2) trip to interlaken and n then to schiltorn . also if possible a visit to harder kulm

day 3) trip to engelberg and mount titlis

day 4) lucerne to zurich , spend the day in zurich

day 5 ) zurich to bern . spend the day at bern

i am planning on taking the swiss half fare travel pass . Should i be booking this travel pass and the actual tickets say for example alpnachstad to mt pilatus in advance itself or is it ok to book on the day we are travelling at the station ?

we will be staying at alpnachstad ab\nd zurich incase you might want to suggest few different things.i went over both swiss travel pass and the half fare pass n i came to a conclusion that the swiss travel pass costs me around 250chf for 4 days , plus half fare for pilatus , titles , kulm . i would be travelling to zurich and bern on the 5 th n 6 th day , so will have to take on spot train tickets without any discount. instead with the half travel pass i pay 120 upfront plus 101 for titles , pilatus and schiltorn , n regular train travel for 6 days , i guess it will mostly be the same

 

    Aditya,

    That looks like a very well planned trip. I’m sure you’d love it just as you planned it, but you might also consider doing Mt Rigi instead of Titlis or Pilatus, since it’s completely covered by the Swiss Travel Pass. And since Schilthorn is now totally covered it might save you some money doing it that way. But getting the Half Fare Card will also keep it reasonably priced, and that allows a discount on anything and everything.

    With either the Swiss Travel Pass or the Half Fare Card it’s best to buy them online and print them from home for no delivery fee. You can buy them in Switzerland, but you might have to wait in a long queue at the airport or main train station once you get there. If you get the Swiss Travel Pass you don’t need to buy tickets for anything except for seat reservations in the panoramic carriages of certain scenic trains. You can just hop aboard and show your valid Pass to the ticket person when they come by. And for something like Schilthorn you just show your pass and they will let you on the cable car to the top. If you get a Half Fare Card you can buy train tickets online and just choose “half fare” when you are about to pay. It’s the top option in the discount pull-down thing. You can even buy tickets online before you have the Half Fare Card, and it’s only important to have a valid Half Fare Card at the time you are traveling and showing your valid ticket.

    However, as for the mountain top attractions such as Schilthorn and Titlis, it’s best to buy your ticket when you get there. The thing is that the summer is the wet season in the Alps and it can be rainy or foggy any day of the year up there. Often it’s clear in the morning and foggy in the afternoon, or sometimes the other way around. So you should check the weather (there are webcams for all of these places and the locals can help you) and only go when you know it’s going to be nice. Jungfraujoch can sometimes be crowded after a day or two of bad weather, but most other things are just fine buying as you go. And domestic train tickets in Switzerland are always the same price, so you can buy those (at half price) when you are there as well if you prefer. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Tanaya says:

Hi

Appreciate your efforts and patience in replying the queries of the travelers. We are traveling to Lucern from Venice 2nd week of June and will be reaching early morning and have planned the following itinerary.
Day 1- Lucern to Mt.titlis
Day 2 – Lucern to Junghfrouh
Day 3 –
Day 4 – Lucern to Zurich and to Airport.
Need your suggestions and also what more we can add to the itinerary or modify it. Is the Swiss Pass the best option or we take the Swiss Half Price pass. We are 3 of us my husband and our teenage son. We also want suggestion on the best location to base for the mountain trips and to make best use of the Swiss holiday. The only fixed is that we have 4 days and 3 nights in Switzerland and we fly out on the 4th day evening. Would appreciate your response and will start booking post that.

 

    Tanaya,

    First you might want to have a look at my main article on where to go in Switzerland. My recommendation would be to stay in Interlaken on Day 2 and Day 3, and you can do Jungfraujoch and see all of the other amazing views and places in those two days. The trains from Interlaken start very early in the morning (first one is at 4:48am and take a bit over two hours) so you should be able to make it directly to the airport before your flight.

    I think you’ll get some good ideas in the article I mention. As for which pass to get, the Half Fare Card gives a 50% discount on Jungfraujoch and 50% on almost everything else, while the Swiss Travel Pass only gets you a 25% discount on Jungfraujoch. If your teen is 15 or under he or she can do all of these things for free by getting a free Swiss Family Card. If he or she is 16 and older you technically need to pay full fare. However, if you get the Swiss Travel Pass instead you could do Mt Rigi instead of Titlis and it’s included, and you can do Schilthorn instead of Jungfraujoch, which is also included and also spectacular. There are other things included in the Swiss Travel Pass such as cable cars around the Interlaken area, so if you change your plans just a bit you can probably save money with that.

    I’m happy to help if you have other questions. -Roger

     
vipul says:

hey mate, u have done an excellent job. the most elaborative n easiest way to explain the most complicated thing on earth. could u pls explain me the saver day pass and its benefits in detail. do we a discount with that day pass on mt. titlis excursion?? we three friends are thr in swiss for 3days. following is the iternary. pls suggest me some changes if any:-
day 1:- visiting zurich and reaching interlaken in the evening
day2:- interlaken sightseeing and visiting lauterbrunnen and wengen
day3:- visiting mt titlis and the evening visiting thun and boat ride back to interlaken.. so thinking to buy saver day pass on day 3

 

    Vipul,

    As I mention in the article, the Saver Day Pass is new, but it’s actually perfect for a trip like yours where you could easily spend CHF150 or more in one day on normal fares. Most likely the Half Fare Card will also be good value for you because it will save you a lot on all of the things you do on Day 1 and Day 2, in addition to the discount on the Saver Day Pass for Day 3. Buy at least 14 days in advance or the price goes up. -Roger

     
Rosie says:

Thankyou! After many hours of research I came across your site. For the first time I understand and can make the decision to purchase the Half Fare card.

 
Seena says:

Hello,

Thanks for this blogpost and the replies you have given for the other travelers.

we are planning to do a 3 day trip to zurich. Our plan is to go to interlaken directly from zurich airport stay overnight and then stop over at lucerene the next day to zurich. for the third day, we are planning to go from zurich and check out Bern, come back to zurich for the stay and fly out the next day morning.

Would you recommend the swiss pass or just to buy the regular tickets. Also, if we do get regular, is it better to buy pre-paid or just over there? Thanks for the reply.

One more thing, where do you get the $32 tickets, i am seeing like gretaer than 50 costs, is it discount if you buy at the stations?

 

    Seena,

    I’m not sure which US$32 tickets you are referring to, but the tickets are all the same price if you buy online from the official Swiss Rail website. There are other ticket resellers that charge higher prices and sometimes do faster international deliveries. You can get online tickets and print them at home or keep them on your phone, so you won’t have to pay for delivery.

    Unless you are planning to do some of the expensive attractions such as the Schilthorn cable car or take more longer train rides I don’t think a Swiss Travel Pass would be good value for you. I think the Half Fare Card is your best choice if these are the only trips and attractions you are doing.

    For domestic tickets within Switzerland they are the same price whether you buy 30 days in advance or just before the train leaves. Many people like the convenience of buying tickets online and skipping the ticket queues when they get there, but the price is the same. You can buy half price tickets online as well from the Swiss site if you select Half Fare from the little “discount” slider before you pay. You just have to be able to show a valid Half Fare Card when you board the train with a half fare ticket. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Seena says:

Thanks for the reply. Seena

 
BA says:

Hi Roger:

Can you help with my itinerary (below)? Which pass should I buy – Swiss Pass or Half Fare card

Day 1 – Zurich Airport – Hotel (Zurich)
Day 2 – Zurich to Lucerne
Day 2 – Mt. Pilatus
Day 3 – Lucerne – Interlaken Ost via Golden Pass line
Day 3 – Visit Jungfrau
Day 4 – Interlaken to Zermatt
Day 4 – Visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
Day 5 – Zermatt to Zurich
Day 6 – Hotel (Zurich) – Zurich Airport

Thanks for your help

 

    BA,

    If you are ONLY going to do the things on your list I think the Half Fare Card is probably the better choice because you don’t have many expensive things that are covered by the Swiss Travel Pass, and the Half Fare Card gives a better discount (50%) on Jungfraujoch than the Swiss Travel Pass (25%) does. However, if you add another train trip or two and especially if you add Schilthorn (the cable car across the valley from Jungfrau that is now fully covered by the Swiss Travel Pass), the Pass might be a better deal. Basically, the Half Fare Card costs CHF120 per person and gets you 50% off pretty much everything you’ll do. The Swiss Travel Pass for 8 days costs CHF398, but it will cover nearly everything on your list except Jungfraujoch. The only way to be sure which is better is to add up all of the fares and compare them. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
BA says:

Hi Roger, thanks for your reply.

I did some calculations using the 3 day Swiss Pass (Days 3 to 5) and the difference came to about 45 CHF between Swiss Pass and Half Fare card. Based on these calculations, do you think Swiss Pass is better regarding convenience (no need to buy train tickets – just show the pass and go)?