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In need of help as to which Swiss pass to purchase

In need of help as to which Swiss pass to purchase

Jun 1st, 2014, 06:57 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 58
In need of help as to which Swiss pass to purchase

My husband and I will be in the Bernese Oberland region for four days in October pre-cruise. There are so many passes available that it is really confusing to us as to which would be better; perhaps purchasing point to point would be what we need. Here is our itinerary: Flying into Geneva then taking the train to Montreux on Sunday. Monday, we want to do the Chocolate Train. On Tuesday, we will train to Grindelwald using the Golden Pass as far as Interlaken. Wednesday, we will train back to Interlaken and take the GP to Lucerne where we will change trains going to Zurich. We plan no boat rides nor museum visits. I would like to go up Grindelwald First though. I have seen where the Austria-Swiss Pass is much less expensive than the Swiss Saver Pass (4 days) and would appreciate input as to buying that. So many options.....please help!!!!
Robertalee is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 10:07 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2006
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The only help I can give is to use the Swiss Rail website www.sbb.ch/en and cost all your trips then see if you will benefit from any of the passes. \Just one ppoint the website has a default to the half fare.
tipsygus is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 10:40 AM
  #3  
 
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I have seen where the Austria-Swiss Pass is much less expensive than the Swiss Saver Pass (4 days) and would appreciate input as to buying that.>

I would think that the contrary would be true but even so the Austria-Swiss Pass is a Eurailpass that does not cover many things a Swiss Pass does so a Swiss Pass is a much better deal - covering trains in full to Grindelwald for example and to Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Murren, etc - Eurails give 25% on some of those trains.

Also consider the Swiss Card and Half-Fare Card - great sites for lots about Swiss trains - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.swisstravelsystem.com.

If it's close between a pass and point to point tickets go for the pass - you may use it more than you think - if rain sets in - not at all unusual anytime here - you could day trip to Bern or Lucerne, wonderful cities even in rain - especially Bern because the town center uniquely has covered sidewalks many places.

The Jungfraubahn Pass could be a good deal if traveling around the Grindelwald area but then a Swiss Pass would cover many of those things too - or at least give 50% off most cable ways and trains to mountain tops (25% Grindelwald/Wengen to Jungfraujoch however.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 12:48 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
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So the scheduled train trips are as follows:

Geneva-Montreux
Chocolate Train
Montreux-Grindelwald
Grindelwald-Luzern-Zurich

Not to mention anything you will do out of Grindelwald including going up to the Jungfrau, cableways, etc.

Is this correct?

AS Pal points out, the SwissPass will get you reductions on things above and around Grindelwald and I cannot imagine a two-country pass being overall cheaper but obviously I am incorrect.

You could price point to point tickets but as I recall you can buy nthose online only about a max of 60 days ahead; you can go to the sbb.ch/en site and put in dummy dates but that is a rather laborious process.

You might look at the cost difference between buying point to point tickets and getting a pass and also a Jungfrau regional pass combined with point to point tickets.

Don't forget that passes become more economical the more you use them and unless you are planning to take long trips within Switzerland (which is about the size of West Virginia and you can literally cross the country from one side to the other b y rail in 4.5 hours) you are going to have to do plenty of travel to make a pass really cost-effective IMO.

The Switzerland thing is always hard because there are so many options: the pass, the 1/2 fare card, the Swiss Card, etc., etc. and people have been known to create spread sheets just to make this decision.
Dukey1 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 08:22 PM
  #5  
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Dukey1, you are so right.....so many different cards, passes. The scheduled train trips that you listed are correct. I do want to go up Grindlewald First, but not to other cables and trains. These four days are primarily seeing the Bernese Oberland by train. I have spoken with Rail Europe and communicated with Rick Steves, whose employees have been great. The sbb website is very confusing to me. I click on the 1st class button and nothing happens. I have also been advised to use RE because of being a U.S. company; however, I feel quite secure in going with Swiss Tourism. Thank you and PalenQ for your comments.
Robertalee is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2014, 05:28 AM
  #6  
 
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> I click on the 1st class button and nothing happens.

If you are on the page that I'm looking at, then you need also to select one on reduction. It shows " Please select " . You get a drop down list, there you pick e.g. "pas de reduction" = no reduction. Even on English page, on my screen, I get choices only in French.

I find the Swiss Railway site quite easy to use, easier than some other European railway sites anyway.
kappa1 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2014, 05:32 AM
  #7  
 
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RE because of being a U.S. company; however, I feel quite secure in going with Swiss Tourism. Thank you and PalenQ for your comments.>

If dealing with RE you could also try calling Byron at www.budgeteuropetravel.com - I have bought passes from him for years and he will answer everything even if not buying IME - I would compare pass prices here and there to see if there is a significant difference - often in the past several years passes have been cheaper here (U S) than there for some reason but not always - of course with Swiss prices you also factor in any foreign transaction fees, etc.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2014, 12:53 PM
  #8  
 
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. I have also been advised to use RE because of being a U.S. company; however, I feel quite secure in going with Swiss Tourism.>

RE is actually part owned by the Swiss Federal Railways, who sell the passes in Switzerland - at any train station - again check and compare prices - could save by buying here many times but if not just wait to you get to Switzerland - NO need to pre-order - I would feel very comfortable buying a pass in Switzerland when I get there - I would not order one online from switzerland just because if your trip plans change then yes it is harder to deal with a foreign entity.

So buy thru RE if you can save some money if not just wait until you get there. check prices for asses in Swiss francs at www.sbb.ch - the official site of Swiss Federal Railways - which also have Swiss franc prices for Half-Fare Cards, Swiss Cards, etc.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 4th, 2014, 02:38 PM
  #9  
 
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So buy thru RE if you can save some money if not just wait until you get there. check prices for asses in Swiss francs at>

Sorry about the typo - passes it should have been - not done intentionally - hopefully no one has checked for prices on those yet?
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 6th, 2014, 01:51 PM
  #10  
 
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Just noticed on RE web site that Swiss Passes bought before or by June 17, 2014 get $50 off per pass and I think can be used anytime within six months of issue or validated within six months then used to its max validity period.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 6th, 2014, 02:47 PM
  #11  
 
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I believe they limited this to the first 500(?) passes sold. So it's good until June 17 OR until they sell 500.

I too am trying to make the most cost effective decision for a pass but this is a classis case of the merchant offering FAR too many choices thus making the experience highly frustrating!
Toucan is offline  
Jun 6th, 2014, 03:13 PM
  #12  
 
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Last year when I went to Grindelwald in July I simply bought point to point tickets from Brig to Grindelwald on the SBB site. I had ordered one of those 3-day Jungfraubahn passes because I planned to go to the top as well as on several of the cableways, etc. Even with that I still had to pay for the Shilthorn but I simply got tired of trying to figure out if I was going to "save all this money" by sifting through what seemed like a million options.

Perhaps it was designed that way by the Swiss! When I left the area I had another point to point ticket for Basel and stopped worrying about it.

One thing, when you get UP to Grindelwald you may very well find yourself wanting to do some other trips. If so, go to the ticket office and spend your money. The place and the scenery are truly spectacular and get ready for LOTS of other visitors, too.
Dukey1 is offline  
Jun 6th, 2014, 03:15 PM
  #13  
 
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Good advice above from Dukey & Pal, but please note that last September (when we visited) the Chocolate Train only operated on I believe 3 days/week, so doublecheck for Monday. Montreux, Lausanne and especially Vevey were so lovely to explore that we were glad we did not tie up an entire day for the Chocolate train. In Montreux you can take the bus over to Chillon Castle, but we took the paddle steamer over and bus back, very convenient and free from Montreux Tourism. We reserved (which costs $10-20?) the GP train we wanted from here in the States months before, but did not purchase our Swiss Pass until our arrival in Zurich, having been advised by Swiss Tourism NYC that there was no advantage to do so in advance. Reservations on GP are not covered by Swiss Pass, so if you know when in day and what side you want to sit on, reserve asap. Overall Half-fare seems cheaper than multi-say swiss Pass, but we did not want to do ticketing upon every train-boarding. No matter what pass you buy, you will no doubt have to buy supplements for the higher elevation villages, which are nonetheless worth every extra cf. If weather is not clear, you may be content to stay in Grindenwald, if spectacular, you may wish to go up/down/up to other spots like Wengen from Kleine Sch., etc.
aliced is offline  
Jun 7th, 2014, 06:32 AM
  #14  
 
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but did not purchase our Swiss Pass until our arrival in Zurich, having been advised by Swiss Tourism NYC that there was no advantage to do so in advance.>

Well that is not good information as of course they want to sell you the pass - but I have checked constantly for several years prices in Swiss francs and U S $s and often the exact same pass has been cheaper if bought here than there - not always true and currently they seem to be about the same - keep in mind any up to 3% foreign exchange fees you may incur for foreign transactions - plus currently there is a $50 per pass discount only thru RailEurope or its agents in the U.S. - well for the first 500 passes from when it was posted - so always check prices in each country and if little difference yes just wait until Switzerland where you can easily buy it at any train station.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 7th, 2014, 10:07 AM
  #15  
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Thank you all for your comments/suggestions. I was not aware of the $50 savings from RE. I thought that expired June 6. Looks like I have a few more days to make a decision!
Robertalee is offline  
Jun 7th, 2014, 11:15 AM
  #16  
 
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Robertalee, I will leave it at this: when you get to the station in Grindelwald, get off the train and turn your back to the Derby Hotel which sits next to the station platforms (you can look up at the Eiger behind it later, and look across that spectacular landscape and valley. Yes, it was worth it!!!! Have an absolutely great trip.
Dukey1 is offline  
Jun 7th, 2014, 01:57 PM
  #17  
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Has anyone ever used, or know anything about, SwissPasses.com? I just came across it and their prices for the most part are much less expensive.
Dukey1, thanks for the good wishes and great words!
Robertalee is offline  
Jun 7th, 2014, 04:04 PM
  #18  
 
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Pass prices in the U. S. I believe by contract have to be the same, set by RailEurope and agents I thought must honor them - no competition but handling fees and mailing fees can be tacked on. See is their prices are updated - www.raileurope.com, 25% or so owned by the Swiss Federal Railways, should have the official prices - I'm not saying that cheaper prices is not possible but it would be a fairly new development.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 7th, 2014, 04:44 PM
  #19  
 
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Pass prices are set by the railroads as I recall. Since RE is owned by the railroad(s)and they discount anything you know who is ultimately responsible.
Dukey1 is offline  
Jun 8th, 2014, 07:54 AM
  #20  
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I have just had the most helpful email from Interlaken telling about the Swiss Half Fare Card. This seems good for us except that we have to wait until getting to Geneva to purchase it. Aliced, tell me more about reserving seats with no ticket involved.
Robertalee is offline  

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