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4 days in Lauterbrunnen- discount card?

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Feb 18th, 2008, 11:32 AM
  #1
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4 days in Lauterbrunnen- discount card?

My wife and I will be heading to Switzerland this March. We will be arriving in Zurich and taking a train down to Interlaken and then on to Lauterbrunnen valley.
We plan on spending 4 days in Lauterbrunnen valley exploring via Gondola's and lifts (up to the Schilthorn...) before leaving Switzerland and continuing down to Italy.
I have researched some of the passes available but don't know if there is a perfect one for us. We will not be returning to Zurich on our way out (we fly out of Rome) and we will only be in the BO for a total of 4 days and would rather take advantage of a pass if it would save us money on lifts/transportation over the course of our stay.
Or would it be best just to pay the full ticket price for the lifts, trains, and busses that we plan on taking?
Thanks!!!
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Feb 18th, 2008, 11:50 AM
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easy to find real prices at www.sbb.ch - Swiss Railways official site

and www.jungfraubahn.com (/) for mountain conveyances in Lauterbrunnen region

You seem to be doing three fairly pricey rail trips - Zurich to BOB - Zurich to Italian border and then Italian border back to Zurich

would be covered in full by a Swiss Pass of course - look at the 3-day flexipass as until you exhaust the third day you do get 50% off every conveyance practically in Switzerland - including all in the Lauterbrunnen area excpet Jungfraubahn to Jungfraujoch which is now 25% off with a Swiss Pass (still a huge savings over the about $125 normal return fare)

You can also consider the Swiss Card which gives you 50% off all transport for a one-month period.

Prices on Swiss Passes and Swiss Cards are for some reason significantly cheaper in the U.S. than if bought in Switzerland - why beats me but i've periodically compared and seems so and has been for some years. I always advise three sources for info on Swiss trains: www.swisstravelsystem.com which represents many scenic trains and boats, etc.; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com which have excellent info on Swiss trains as well as current pass prices. Prices are the same everywhere but mailing or handling fees can vary. www.raileurope.com wholesales these passes to agents and sells direct on their site but they charge an $18 mailing fee that some of their agents do not.
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Feb 18th, 2008, 12:48 PM
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Thanks for the reply-
Actually, we will not be returning to Zurich. Instead, we will be leaving Interlaken to go down to Italy.
I am leaning towards the Swiss Card but wish they had ones that were cheaper for only a 4 day visit.

What do you think??
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Feb 18th, 2008, 12:56 PM
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Look at the 4-consecutive day Swiss Saver Pass - this could be cost effective more than you think. For one thing in the Lauterbrunnen Valley both the aerial cable cars from Lauterbrunnen to Murren and Lauterbrunnen-by bus to Stechelberg to Gimmelwald are covered 100% by the Swiss Pass - the only cable cars i know of that are so covered so if doing that awesome, IMO, loop Lauterbrunnen-Grutschalp-Murren-Gimmelwald-Lauterbrunnen loop in a day - easy to do it would be 100% covered by a Swiss Pass and the difference in price between the 4 straight day pass and the Swiss Card may be less than paying 50% for everything with the Swiss Card. If about the same go for the pass as you need just flash it upon boarding.
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Feb 18th, 2008, 02:37 PM
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Maybe I should go with the 4 day swiss saver pass. it is not too much more than the swiss card and would cover the trip from Zurich to Interlaken.
On our way to Italy, we were going to simply buy an overnight train from Interlaken to Florence. If I had the saver pass, would it make a difference how I bought this ticket since it is international?
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Feb 18th, 2008, 02:51 PM
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The Swiss card will enable you to have a "free" ride from Zürich to Lauterbrunnen and from Lauterbrunnen to the Swiss border when you leave.
When you buy your ticket to Italy you will not pay for the Swiss section.

The big question is this:
Will you be going to the Jungfraujoch? That is a pricey ticket. If you are, the savings on that trip alone plus the built-in train rides will almost cover the cost.

The card is 182 chf.

The cost of the ticket from zurich to Lauterbrunnen is 74 chf.

The cost of the ticket to Brig (the best approximation I can get of the Italian border) is 48 chf.

Both train trips are built into the cost of the Card. No extra fare.

The cost of the Jungfrau trip from Lauterbrunnen is 78.70 at half fare.

Just for these 3 trips you have saved more than you will pay for the Swiss Card.

If I am traveling the Berner Oberland by rail and mountain lifts, and arriving and departing by rail, I have not yet found a better pass than the Swiss Card although I have run the numbers several times over a variety of scenarios.

To anticipate some of your questions:

You can buy the Swiss Card at the Zürich airport railway ticket office. The train station is on the lower levels of the airport and readily accessible by escalator and elevator.

There is no requirement to travel back to where you entered Switzerland. I have never exited where I entered except the very first time I visited in 1998.

All of the mountain lifts in the Berner Oberland area are half price except for two: The cable lift in Grindelwald that goes to Pfinstegg and the one in Isenfluh that goes up to a higher station. Both are short rides.

All of the longer ones like the gondola to First from Grindelwald, the Luftseilbahn to Grutschalp from Lauterbrunnen and the Schilthorn are half priced with the Card.

My top 3 rides in the area are:
Schilthorn, Jungfraujoch, First gondola. I presume the various rides will be operating. The JUngfrau trip is rarely snowed out. It is too big a cash cow.
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Feb 18th, 2008, 02:59 PM
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Very informative... Thanks Bob.

One question that you didn't anticipate...
Since my wife and I would be taking an overnight train from Interlaken to Florence, we were planning on buying in advance a 1st class ticket from the website to reserve a spot.
If we had the Swiss Card, would the value of the second class ticket from Interlaken to the swiss border be deducted from the cost of the 1st class upgrade? If so, I would assume that the 1st class train ride would not get filled up before we had the chance to purchase the ticket in Switzerland...

Thanks for your help!!!
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Feb 18th, 2008, 03:10 PM
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Hi backpacker 1040,

Unfortunately, there's just no way around doing the math if you want to be sure you have the most economical pass. Someone simply has to get all the point-point fares and compare them to the various passes; I use a spreadsheet to keep it all straight.

I can tell you that I've found the Half Fare Card to be the very best value for my trips. It costs 99 chf for one month and gives half off almost everything that moves in the country. Doesn't matter if you go first or second class; you get half off the class you choose.

Good luck!

s
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Feb 18th, 2008, 05:04 PM
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We are also travelling to Interlaken in October and then on to Italy and have a query. If we have a Eurail 3 country pass, do we get discounts on BO travel. Does using this for discount also count as a day usage on our pass or not.It will probably be just a day trip from Interlaken up to the Jungfrau. Thanks in advance
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Feb 18th, 2008, 07:28 PM
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I don't know the answer to the sleeper train question.

I guess I also don't understand the logic of a sleeper train that takes over an hour longer, but yet the added length would give you just a few hours in the sleeper car.

You don't board the sleeper until Spiez and then the train goes along slowly. You will need to be ready at 6:45 to get off the train, which means rising and dressing about 6 am.

So is at best 6 hours of restless sleep worth the first class fare.

Besides, it will be night and you will not see the descent route from the tunnel to the Valley of the Rhone.

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Feb 18th, 2008, 07:30 PM
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My wife just reminded me that one year we upgraded to first class from Zürich to Munich because second class was booked in non smoking cars. (Smoke free trains were not yet the norm.)

We paid a "Zuschlag" fee to upgrade the ticket. You could ride to Spiez from Lauterbrunnen at the normal fee and then take the sleeper change with the Zuschlag.
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Feb 19th, 2008, 06:43 AM
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In looking at the Swiss half fare card, it did not give an option to ship to the United States like the Swiss Card gave.
Would I simply pick this up on arrival to Zurich airport?
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Feb 19th, 2008, 06:48 AM
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Yes Half Fare cards sold at all Swiss stations - no reason to buy in advance - buy at Zurich airport
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Feb 19th, 2008, 06:57 AM
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Thanks PalenQ!
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Feb 19th, 2008, 11:58 AM
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We drove to Lauterbrunnen from Munich last year. We were planning quite a few mountain lift excursions, so we bought the half fare card for the first time.

We did have some travel on the SBB trains, so I ruled out the Jungfrau region pass.

This discount card has not been mentioned. It costs 195 chf and is valid for 6 consecutive days in the Jungfrau region. With this pass, the owner of the card can ride all of the trains and cable lifts in the region at no additional cost with two major exceptions: the section of the Jungfraubahn from Eigergletscher to the top is half price and the Schilthorn is not included.


I never thought this pass was cost effective if SBB trains were involved in my plans, which the invariably are.

You would need to ride 99 chf worth of rides just to break even when comparing it to the Swiss half fare card. Of course that is not hard to do: Gridelwald - First is 51 chf and the trip from Lauterbrunnen to the Männlichen is 50.40. Those two alone would meet the amortization requirements.

But if you arrive by train, then you have to factor in the full price os SBB tickets.

As I said earlier, if I am arriving and departing by train, my calculations have shown that the that the Swiss Card was the best option.

Given the complexity of the pass question, two factors influence the decision: What are you planning to do and will the weather alter your plans? The weather is always the imponderable. Going to the Jungfraujoch when you can see only clouds and the snow at your feet makes little sense to me.
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Feb 19th, 2008, 12:33 PM
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Yes, we will taking the train from Zurich to Interlaken. That would make me think that perhaps the 1/2 fare card (or the Swiss Card) is the best option for us.
Our plan was to go up to the Schilthorn, assuming that the weather permits. As we are going at the end of March, we may have some spotty weather.
Does anyone know how the weather at the end of March would affect our ability to go on the lifts/gondolas?
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Feb 19th, 2008, 12:40 PM
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Hi again,

Even bad weather in March won't affect your "ability" to use cable cars, lifts, & gondolas. They run in ice & snow & always (well they probably do stop for high winds).

The thing that bad weather might affect, though, is your desire to use them. If it's cloudy and rainy, you might not want to spend all that money to get to the top and see . . . a great big grey blanket over everything. Most folks go up for the views, so if you can't see anything, it's a waste of money.

s
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Feb 19th, 2008, 12:55 PM
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Hi Swandav-
Yeah, I understand and agree with what you're saying. In March, is Switzerland pretty much covered with a "large grey blanket"?
The only time I've been to Switzerland was in June so I know the weather will be quite different.
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Feb 19th, 2008, 12:58 PM
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Lifts like Schilthorn seem to close for a few weeks either in mid May or mid autumn for maintenance.
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Feb 19th, 2008, 03:07 PM
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Hi again,

You can get historical weather data at

www.weatherunderground.com

and see what's been happening through the years. Though, of course, that's no predictor of what is going to happen in the future!!

Last year there was almost no snow for skiing in Jan-Mar, then there was a huge dump in May. Go figure.

I can only reiterate that March is usually still wet. People are usually still skiing.

Good luck!

s
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