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Italy-Switzerland-Germany - trains/passes - so confusing!


Aug 27th, 2012, 08:30 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
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Italy-Switzerland-Germany - trains/passes - so confusing!

2 years ago we traveled from Budapest to Amsterdam for 14 days via train with a 4 country flexi Eurailpass and it was fabulous. We loved just hopping on the trains with no concerns about buying tickets or making reservations.

Now we are planning a late September trip to Northern Italy, Switzerland and a touch of Germany. My head is swimming with all the options and info and I know it has all been asked in one form or another on these forums. I just wanted to run it by you experts just for the heck of it.

We are not trying to nickel and dime this. We are more interested in
the easiest and most convenient way to do things!

I have a travel agent friend who plugged all this into Raileurope and suggested Eurail Select 3 countries 10 days within 2 months flex saver at $634 per person but when I did the math many days the local fares were less than $63 per person.

If we do Eurail select 3 countries 5 days I believe fare should be $376 per person. This along with buying local tickets in Italy seems like a better option.

I realize this does not cover train reservations and upper mt lifts in Switzerland.

I looked at 4 non-cons days 2 for 1 Swiss pass @ $272 (works out to $34 per day) but since we are traveling Italy to Switzerland and then Switzerland to Germany it doesn't seem to make sense.

Below are the days we plan to travel by train and I have noted the days I thought we could use the Eurailpass, the rest of the days we will buy local tickets:

1. Milan MXP to Verona
arriving on United so cannot prebook

2. Padua and Vicenza - day trip from Verona

3. Verona to S. Margherita Ligure-Portofino - DAY 1 RAILPASS

4. S. Margherita Ligure-Portofino to Cinque Terra

5. S. Margherita Ligure-Portofino to Varenna, Lake Como

6. Varenna to Milan roundtrip for day

7.  Varenna, Lake Como, Italy to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland- DAY 2 RAILPASS

8. Weather permitting: Schilthornbahn Cable Car from Stechelberg
include Gimmelwald, Murren, Schilthorn

9. Weather permitting: Mannlichen-Klein Scheidegg via Wenger

10.  Lauterbrunnen to Luzern - DAY 3 RAILPASS

11. Luzern to Fussen - DAY 4 RAILPASS 

12. Rothenberg to FRA (for United 2pm dept) - DAY 5 RAILPASS

Thanks for any tips!
lovetotravel2 is offline  
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Aug 27th, 2012, 09:41 PM
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Not to confuse you, but make sure you have considered reservation overhead with Italian high speed trains:
As you found out, in Italy, the trains that you can just hop on with a pass are usually so cheap the pass is an overkill. The trains that benefits from the pass require reservation and a fee so the convenience of the pass is not realized. I usually don't bother with pass in Italy.

For you type of trip, a pass of some kind is desirable. But to answer which one requires number crunching. Perhaps a half fare card if your usage is mostly transportation. If you visit museums also a more expensive Swiss pass may be considered.

You are probably not traveling extensively enough for a pass. If you 1) can travel on regional trains (not ICE) and 2) can travel after 9am on weekdays, the Germany regional offers are considerably more attractive:
greg is offline  
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Aug 27th, 2012, 09:56 PM
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Hi lovetotravel2,

Also remember that you can get terrific discounts on international rail travel if you buy about 90 days in advance -- the discounts are usually so good, that they save you more money than a pass would.

From Varenna to Lauterbrunnen, look at these sites for cheaper discounted fares:


For the trip from Luzern to Füssen, look at the German rail site


Even though you are late getting started with this, I would still look to see if any discounted tickets are still available.

Have fun as you plan!

swandav2000 is online now  
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Aug 28th, 2012, 06:21 PM
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Thank you so much for the replies. After more number crunching I think the only pass we will consider is the Swiss Pass.

We are only in Switzerland for 4 nights (3 nights Lauterbrunnen and 1 night Lucerne) and will not have time for museums.

Considering the 2 for 1 Swiss Pass, 4 nonconsecutive days , 2nd class, $272 ($138pp).

I have a couple of questions about this pass.
1) Looks like we can purchase through RailEurope?
2) Our first arrival in Switzerland is a rather quick train connection in Speiz. Do we validate at any ticket window?
3) Is a reservation required on the Interlaken-Lucerne Golden Pass panoramic train?

Here is our plan for the Switzerland portion:

1. Sunday 9/30: Varenna, Lake Como, Italy to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

Varenna to Milan
Milan to Spiez 11:25a 1:53pm buy ticket/seat res ahead in Italy
Spiez to Interlaken 2:05pm 2:28m Swiss Pass Day 1- validate in Spiez?
Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen 3:05pm 3:25pm local train, no reservation

2. Weather permitting: Schilthornbahn Cable Car from Stechelberg
include Gimmelwald, Murren, Schilthorn
(50% off with Swiss pass - does not count as pass day)

3. Weather permitting: Mannlichen-Klein Scheidegg via Wenger (50% off with Swiss pass- does not count as pass day)

4. Wed 10/3, Lauterbrunnen to Luzern : Swiss Pass Day 2
Lauterbrunned to Interlaken 9:33am 9:54am local train, no reservation
Interlaken to Luzern 10:04am 12:04pm - Golden pass line - panoramic- is reservation required?

5. overnight in Luzern - maybe take a boat ride using Swiss Pass still Day 2?

6. Thurs 10/4 : Luzern to Fussen:
Luzern to Zurich 8:10am 8:58am - Swiss Pass Day 3
Zurich to Buchloe 9:16am 12:41pm buy Zur-Fussen tkt/res ahead of time
Buchloe to Fussen 12:47pm 1:57pm

Does this make sense? Thanks so much.
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