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Help with Train Passes for Austria & Switzerland

Help with Train Passes for Austria & Switzerland

Oct 14th, 2010, 02:11 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 124
Help with Train Passes for Austria & Switzerland

We'll be traveling in Austria and Switzerland for 8 days (nine days if you count the crack of dawn flight on the 9th day) - 4 in Austria and 4 in Switzerland in late November 2010 to visit the Christmas Markets. We visited Switzerland this past September and purchased a Swiss Pass. I felt like the Swiss Pass was a good value because we were using alpine gondolas, cable cars, etc. as well as trains across the country. It looks like the two country passes on Rail Europe are significantly higher in cost, and we won't be using the alpine lifts at all this trip. I'm looking for suggestions on cost savings to get from point a to points b & c. Would love to hear your comments and suggestions!

Here's more detail if you're interested/if it helps:
Days 1-3 in Vienna
Day 3-4 in Salzburg (been there once already, so one night is enough)
Day 4 depart for Zurich with a 1-2 hour stop in Innsbruck
Days 5-8, keep Zurich as a base but take day trips to Lucerne & Basel to see their markets
Day 9 depart at 6am for Zurich airport
ButterflyGirl06 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 02:22 PM
  #2  
yk
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 24,134
Have you checked the pt-to-pt train ticket prices on both country's rail website for your routes?

oebb.at for Austria
sbb.ch for Switzerland

Both are very easy to navigate.
yk is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 02:58 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 77,686
A 4-consecutive-day Swiss Pass is usually a good deal but in Austria I am sure buying regular fares is the ticket to ride with only a few train trips and could get discounts at site yk gives. Switzerland do not give discounts as a matter of course but you may check www.sbb.ch for periodic specials that may or may not match your plans.
Anyway for loads of great info on trains (and passes) in each country I always spotlight these info-packed sites: www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and for Switzerland www.swisstravelsystem.com - check its link to www.sbb.ch to compare regular fares with the pass (which has other benefits like 50% off most Alpine conveyances, not having to buy tickets, etc and also covers city trams and buses as well as free entry to over 400 Swiss museums, such as in Lucerne and Basel and Zurich.
PalenQ is online now  
Oct 14th, 2010, 06:51 PM
  #4  
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Posts: 124
It looks like point to point tickets may be a better bet for me. If you want a two country rail pass it looks like only first class tickets are available. I think I can supplement my point to point tickets with various city cards that include transportation (like Zurich card, Vienna card, etc.)
ButterflyGirl06 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 07:05 PM
  #5  
yk
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 24,134
Just FYI, Zurich is very compact and I doubt you need a transport card. The same goes for Luzern.

Vienna offers a transport card; the 72-hour card probably will work the best for you: http://www.wienerlinien.at/wl/ep/cha...geTypeId=10220

The Vienna Card may work too (includes 72 hours of free transport) if you decide to visit a lot of the sites that the Card offers discounts on.
yk is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 08:20 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,700
Hi ButteryflyGirl,

You may want to look into the Half Fare Card. It costs 99 chf and gives you half off practically everything that moves in the country.

Once you price out your train trips, see if the HFC would actually save you money. If not, it's likely you won't need any.

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 10:40 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Half-Fare Card costs say $105 - not sure of current exchange rate plus 3% credit card fee to buy as foreign transaction makes Half-Fare about $110

4-consecutive Swiss Pass costs $213 (Saverpass p.p. - about 20% more if going solo(

Thus go to www.sbb.ch and see how much your planned rail trips will cost - and then take 50% off as you would get with the Half-Fare Card and add them to the $110 - then compare that figure to the pass price $213

If at all close go for the pass as then you will never have to wait in lines to buy tickets or have to cancel them yourself in cancelling machines (I think has to be done - I always have a pass so never have done) - if you save a lot do the Half-Fare route

but also check if just buying the regular fare tickets without the Half-Fare Card is better
PalenQ is online now  
Oct 17th, 2010, 08:11 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 77,686
You can buy Half-Fare cards at any Swiss train station. Swiss passes too but last time I checked the exact same Swiss Pass was cheaper if bought before leaving for Switzerland, if you live in U S or Canada at least. Compare prices in dollars from sites such as www.ricksteves.com or www.budgeteuropetravel.com and then pass prices in Swiss francs at www.sbb.ch - Swiss Railways and keep in mind the official exchange rate in the paper is one you often do not really get and also that many credit cards charge 3% flat fee for any foreign transaction.
PalenQ is online now  

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