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tpgtraveller Oct 11th, 2007 11:50 PM

another rail pass question
Husband and I spending 12 days in Switzerland in Jan 2008. I am undecided about which is the best rail pass to buy.
Our itinerary is as follows:-
day 1 arrive Geneva, train to Montreux
day 2 Montreux
day 3 Montreux to Lauterbrunnen ( Golden pass train)
day 4 Lauterbrunnen ( probably a mountain excursion)
day 5 Lauterbrunnen to Lucern
day 6 Lucern
day 7 Lucern
day 8 Lucern to Pontresina
day 9 Pontresina ( probably a day trip to Tirano on Bernina Express)
day 10 Glacier Express as far as Visp
regional train to Lausanne
day 11 Lausanne
day 12 lausane to Geneva to fly home

I have tried to do a point to point calculation of fares and it seems line ball in regard to prices.
One question is does a "non rail" day still count as a day used on a pass if the pass is used on a boat or museum?
Which pass would be best? an 8 day flexi saver pass or a 15 day consec. pass
Any suggestions would be most appreciated.
Many thanks.

swandav2000 Oct 12th, 2007 02:00 AM

Hi tpgtraveller,

Have you compared the passes & point-point prices using a Half Fare Card? You pay 99 chf for the HFC, then pay only half of every train, bus, & ferry fare for one month. That's usually the most economical way to go.

Otherwise, if the prices are the same, it would come down to your personal preference: many people like the spontaneity that a pass gives them.

A ride on a ferry counts as a day of travel on your pass.

Not sure about admission to the museum, but I would think that it doesn't count as a day of travel.

Good luck!


baby2 Oct 12th, 2007 05:48 AM

I am one of those who like the ease of using a pass. We spent 5 weeks in Switzerland in June and purchased the month Swiss SaverPass - great!!!

We are going again to Switzerland November 24th for three weeks and I already purchased our 22-day pass.

We probably will not be using the pass as much as during the month of June but it's convenient and already paid for in US dollars.

PalenQ Oct 12th, 2007 06:22 AM

The 15-day pass makes everything so easy - covers everything even museums and boats for the whole time - IMO the best option and gives you carte blanche to do whatever you want without comparing fares and thinking 'is it worth it at 50% off' to do this.

You may possible save a few francs with a Half-Off card but doubt it and even if you did it would not be worth the restrictions in my opinion.

And you are taking some fairly long expensive train rides, like Lucerne to Pontresina and then Glacier Express to Visp - actually you are doing lots of expensive rides so i'd go for the 15-day pass. Even in Lucerne you could use the pass everyday =- on local buses and lake boats and a boat ride on Lake Lucerne is IMO the finest of all Swiss lakes.
From Montreux there are plenty of boats as well - such as across the Evian-les-Bains, France (all covered by Swiss pass)
Few folks are traveling as much as you so other comparisions to Half-Off really don't apply as 50% off will quickly be more than the pass it seems in your case. And if you go to many museums that can cost $10-15 the pass makes more sense.
A 15-day Swiss Pass, saverpass, costs $286 p.p. in 2nd class - Half-Fare card costs 99 CHF or about $90 or about $186 cheaper than the pass - so you'd have to do $360 of travel at half-off to break even and with your route you no doubt will spend much more than that - the pass to me seems much better. You could look at the Swiss Flexipass - where you get 3 days minimum in a one-month period and then get 50% off everything (except museums, only covered on 100% travel days used) so in fact the flexipass is also a Half-Fare card and you have three very expensive train trips so the flexipass too is better IMO than Half-Fare card.
Swisspasses can be bought in Switzerland at stations but currently, due to fall of dollar are about 20% higher last time i checked so buy abroad. In the U.S. i always recommend BETS; 800-441-2387 for their great customer service - you can actually talk to a Swiss rail expert and ask questions like you did here and they also don't have RailEurope's $18 mailing fee on most Swiss Pass orders. also has good info on website on Swiss trains and travel. has lots of good info on specialty trains, lake boats, etc.
The value of a Swiss Pass in the Lauterbrunnen area can be immense - you say probably a day excursion - well from Lauterbrunnen there is what i think is the finest day trip in the Berner Oberland and it's all covered 100% by a Swiss Pass.
From Lauterbrunnen you hop the brand new aerial cable car up the cliff to Grutschalp and then take an impossibly scenic train along the cliff's edge (from a non-scarey distance from the edge) to Murren, a venerable watering hole catering formerly to a British invasion, then swoop down to Gimmelwald on an aerial cableway and then from Gimmelwald the most possibly thrilling cable car back down to the Lauterbrunnen Valley at Stechelberg (this cableway is like an airplane coming down) and then hop a postal bus the few miles back to Lauterbrunnen. All covered in full by Swiss Pass - if paying 50% off it'd perhaps be $30 or more (not exactly sure). At Murren it's popular to take the Alps longest gondola ride to the famous Schilthorn - an icy outpost whose revolving restaurant was featured in a James Bond flic.

PalenQ Oct 12th, 2007 10:30 AM

Or knock a few days off your travels at the beginning and end of your trip and stay in Geneva area perhaps the 8-consecutive day pass would be OK.

tpgtraveller Oct 12th, 2007 08:22 PM

Thankyou all for great advice. I knew I could rely on you to help!
thanks also PalenQ for advice on the day excursion from Lauterbrunnen. We will definately do that trip.
I will digest all the rail pass advice and do some more sums but at this stage it seems that a 15 day consec pass would be the most convenient.
Any more advice or suggestions would be most appreciated. Many thanks, once again.

PalenQ Oct 15th, 2007 01:04 PM

and i think if you are contemplating a Swiss Pass for use after Jan 1 2008 you check before and see if and how much Swiss Passes will increase in price in 2008

As i said Swiss Pass prices in U.S. and other countries are significantly lower than for the same pass in Switzerland - because Swiss Passes are guaranteed in price for the whole calendar year (unlike most railpasses whose prices fluctuate every few weeks in seems) and since the Swiss franc has gone up so much since when these 2007 Swiss Pass prices were set i expect a major adjustment as of Jan 1, 2008

But if you buy a pass before Dec 31, 2007 you are guaranteed to be able to use it (activate it) for six months after issue - up until June 30, 2008 at the old price. So there could be significant savings in your case by buying before the end of the year. I'd call BETS or other agents and ask about price increases which are announced usually in November to see if 2007 purchasing is warranted.

tpgtraveller Oct 15th, 2007 05:30 PM

I will certainly get on to it today. Cheers

hopscotch Oct 15th, 2007 05:59 PM

With that itinerary it looks like you are going to be wasting a lot of time checking in and out of hotels, getting oriented, waiting in train stations, and riding trains. Five different cities in 12 days is like a rabbit chase.

I would cut back to 3 or 4 cities and relax. You seem to dismiss Geneva as an entrance and exit to CH. I wouldn't.

If this is your first time using the trains of Europe I recommend that you have a read at It is a good intro.

There is a Swiss Flexipass, subcategory Saverpass (for two or more people traveling together) to consider. It comes in versions of 3 to 8 days within a one month period. Call B.E.T.S at 800-441-2387.

NeoPatrick Oct 15th, 2007 06:07 PM

We all may have different opinions. I love the itinerary. Skip Montreux, Luzern, Lauterbrunnen or Pontresina for time in Geneva? NEVER! I like those two to three nights per town itineraries with beautiful train journeys between them.

PalenQ Oct 17th, 2007 06:53 PM

Yes IMO opinion your itinerary is peachy keen!

tpgtraveller Oct 17th, 2007 10:37 PM

Thanks everyone for wonderful suggestions. I am really looking forward to our trip. when organising our itinerary I did heaps of research on this site as well as We are not skiers or into hiking and keeping in mind the weather in January and the shorter days we thought that travel by train would be a great way to see Switzerland in warmth and comfort. We have been to Geneva before and while a gorgeous city we wanted to experience the smaller more charming places.
We have done some train travel before in Europe and find it fun, so here's hoping Switzerland doesn't let us down. We will get a 15 day Swiss Pass more for the convenience than anything else. I really love this forum. It is one of the better ones and very imformative. Everyone is so generous with their advice. Thank you all.

PalenQ Oct 18th, 2007 09:50 AM

Swiss trains will not let you down

they are amongst the finest in the world - modern, clean, smoking banned, fairly punctual and run often hourly or more between all cities

and the scenery from the big windows of course can't be beat.

Conductors are unfailingly polite and helpful

Swiss trains - stupendous IME

Connie Oct 31st, 2007 07:09 PM

Everything I've read says the Swiss Saver Pass only gets mountain top transportation half price off---not free.

bajaflash Oct 31st, 2007 07:21 PM

Sorry for butting into this but I cannot remember what we paid for GVA/Zermatt this year. We only need the ticket from the airport to Zermatt on January 16 returning to GVA on January 27. It looks like that is just the two train trips.
Any suggestions what would be a less expensive ticket?

PalenQ Nov 1st, 2007 04:15 AM

Swiss Card
Swiss Transfer Ticket
Half-Fare Card

PalenQ Nov 1st, 2007 07:52 AM

Swiss Transfer Ticket may be your ticket to ride

it gives you a round trip train ticket via the most direct or fastest route and back anywhere in Switzerland

so check for regular price of a Zurich Flughafen-Zermatt ticket and compared with Transfer Ticket price

it is meant i believe just for folks like you who once they get to an area will not travel out of it and once there use local passes for any lifts, etc. Swiss Transfer tickets i believe are only sold outside of Switzerland

The Swiss Card offers the same round trip ticket but then gives you 50% off practically everything that moves in Switzerland - all lifts, etc. for a one-moth period

Half-Fare Card - 99 Swiss Francs is only sold at stations in Switzerland and gives 50% off everything for one month

If you live in U.S. give Byron at BETS a call (800-441-2387) as he'll patiently answer any questions - pricing ,etc and anything else about Swiss rail things. Swiss Card is sold in Switzerland but about 18% or so higher than same card in U.S.

But do check to see what the regular fare is for tickets bought on arrival. then compare with Transfer Ticket, Swiss Card or Half-Fare card.

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