Rail passes

Jun 3rd, 2013, 09:15 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 3
Rail passes

How do I purchase a rail pass that takes us from Switzerland into Germany? We will be in Switzerland for five days and Germany five days..the rail pass ticketing information is a bit overwhelming. I just want to be sure that we have the right passes to cross the German border.

Thank you very much!
Digidog1 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2013, 09:24 AM
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 34,850
You need a two-country pass in this case; one that covers both Germany and Switzerland....BUT depending on the rail route you take and just to confuse you even further, you may actually be crossing a small part of Austria.

DO NOT buy a THREE-country pass just to do that.
Dukey1 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2013, 09:39 AM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 299
Here is the website for a Germany-Switzerland pass:


The USA version on the German rail website:


Finally, the English version of the Swiss rail site:


You might want to take a little time and figure out the costs of point to point travel vs. a rail pass. If you are only taking short day trips, point to point may be less expensive.

You might also want to consider renting a car. Don't be afraid of driving in Europe. You'll find the Germans and Swiss to be better drivers than those in the USA and the roads are great. Car rentals may be less expensive overall, but if you are staying in large cities, keep in mind the cost of parking at your hotels.
agedude is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2013, 09:42 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Some type of Swiss pass might serve you well, particularly if you will be riding high mountain lifts.

What is your route from Switzerland into Germany and what are your routes within Germany? For Germany a pass will cost more than booking advance point-to-point tickets on bahn.de (the German Rail site) for longer rides and/or buying Laender tickets for travel on regional trains in a particular Land (region).
TimS is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2013, 09:45 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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The Switzerland-Germany railpass however is considered to be a Eurailpass in Switzerland and thus much less benefits than the ole Swiss Pass - which is valid on many railways the Eurailpass ain't - like in the Jungferau Region beyond Interlaken-ost and up to Zermatt and back from Visp - also not valid on public buses though it is valid on many lake boats - so efficacy of the two-country pass is what you are doing in Switzerland - you may be better off with a 3-day Swiss Flexipass and then just buy regular tickets in Germany - five days in Switzerland can well warrant buying a Swiss Pass but five days in Germany it is hard to realize the benefit of a German (only) Pass.

For loads of great info on European trains, passes, etc I always spotlight these IMO fine fine sources - www.ricksteves.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.seat61.com and for Switzerland www.swisstravelsystem.com.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2013, 10:38 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 228
Be aware that German rail offers dirt-cheap, easy-to-buy advance purchase fares that not only include Germany but trips to and from neighboring countries. Thus a second-class ticket from Zurich to Munich sells in advance for 39 Euros or less, 59 Euros for first class.

When searching if the fares are too high try checking "carriage of bicycles required." I found that this brings up cheaper fares that sometimes take an extra hour. Will I sit in a chair (or on a train) for one hour for 40 Euros? Yes.
FHurdle is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2013, 11:47 AM
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If you have a Swiss Pass use it to get to Zurich or Basel - lots more 29 or 39 euro offerings from Basel into Germany as it haws zillions of German trains that start there as opposed to just a few from Zurich. Hard to imagine a Germany-Swiss pass would be viable but a Swiss Pass can be surprisingly cost effective even if just staying a few days - the 50% you get off cableways and trains to mountain tops can be worth a lot and Eurailpasses like the Switzerland-Germany would give you usually no discount.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2013, 12:07 PM
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 140
Depending on how many people are in your party and where you want to go, it may be cheaper to get Lander tickets in Germany. Up to 5 people can travel on one ticket, 29 euros a day, unlimited travel within the state of purchase, on regional and regional express trains (no ICE trains). So if you are in a group that is probably the cheapest option. You can get Lander tickets at any train station, no need for advance purchase.
yodababe is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2013, 01:35 PM
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Lander Tickets though are not useful for inter-regional travel like between many popular tourist cities (Munich to Heidelberg for example but yes for a limited range around many large cities they are very great deals even though the trains you can use - regional trains are IME not nearly so comfy as ICE trains and take a lot longer sometimes (like if going to Salzburg from Munich, possible on the Bavarian Pass - you take about an hour or so longer each way - two less hours to spend in Salburg on a day trip.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 4th, 2013, 08:57 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 3
Thank for all of the great tips..we will be staying in Gstaad for my husband's business trip, so we will be traveling to Germany from there..any other helpful hints about rail travel from there would be helpful. We plan to do a Rhine River tour..Heidelberg..Koblenz..I have put the itinerary together from a Fodor's itinerary for this part of Germany. Am still a bit unsure since this is our first trip to Europe..so any other suggestions are welcomed.

Thanks again
Digidog1 is offline  
Jun 4th, 2013, 11:07 AM
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Gstadd to Koblenz is about 7 hours no matter which way you do it - there are various routes but most go Gstaad to Spiez - Spiez to Basel; Basel to Koblenz - if you have a Swiss Pass use it to get to Basel SBB where you switch to a German train (though there are a few Spiez to Freiburg direct trains.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 4th, 2013, 12:01 PM
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Koblenz is a largish city that was largely decimated in WW2 so boringly modern now though as any German city very pleasant in many ways.

Strongly consider Cochem, just a 20-minute train ride from Koblenz and the Rhine as you dreamy picture postcard base - the castle of your creams swirls out of a vineyard-carpeted hill righ tin this smallish town's center - it is situated at one of the most dramatically scenic sretches of the Mosel Valley which many consider far prettier and more romantic than the also nice Rhine Gorge (best oart of Rhine between Rudesheim/Bingen and Koblenz).

Cochem is a good base from which to hop to the Rhine Gorge by train - less than an hour or so to Rudesheim where many of the K-D boats originate and thus is the best place to board to nab the best seats - those up front along the railing.

Boat schedules at www.k-d.com.

PalenQ is offline  
Jun 5th, 2013, 01:16 PM
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, so we will be traveling to Germany from there..any other helpful hints about rail travel from there would be helpful. We plan to do a Rhine River tour..Heidelberg..Koblenz.>

I think that the route here that is shortest would be to go to Zurich from Gstaad and take an ICE high-speed train to Stuttgart and change there for Heidelberg (if ICE does not go direct to Heidleberg - then go to the Rhine/Mosel areas and base there. If leaving from Frankfurt airport this would put you very close to it.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 29th, 2013, 03:32 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 124
if you purchase advance tickets, must you travel on that exact train or only the route on the same day? I'm wondering what happens if you miss your train!
ButterflyGirl06 is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 08:37 AM
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if you purchase advance tickets, must you travel on that exact train or only the route on the same day? I'm wondering what happens if you miss your train!>

If they are discounted tickets usually you must be on that specific train or lose your money (and then have to buy a full-fare ticket to boot) - sometimes like in Germany if your connecting train is late they will honor a discounted ticket on the train you were changing to but generally no refund no change - locked in stone.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 11:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,339
One of the key decisions when deciding on a pass or not is flexibility to in most countries hop any train anytime - just show up or in the few countries that demand seat reservations before boarding just chose you trains when you get into a country or city. If your trains are set in stone and you are punctual then the discounted tickets may be the cheapest way to go but cheapest to all is not always the best.
PalenQ is offline  
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