Rent a Car or Rail Pass

Old Feb 18th, 2017, 06:12 AM
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Rent a Car or Rail Pass

My wife and I will be spending 12 days in Switzerland in June. We do like to hike and are looking forward to some of the hikes available in the BO and Zermatt areas. My question is: Is it more economical to rent a car or buy rail passes for two people. My first glance shows that the Swiss Rail Pass was approximately 600 CF. I know there are charges for the lifts and funiculars. Just trying to get a handle on that part of the travel costs. Once I get an understanding of that, I will work on an itinerary. Thank you in advance for your replies.
dhoffman14 is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2017, 06:42 AM
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There are about 60.000 (sixty thousand) kms of well signmarked hiking trails in Switzerland. The only problem may be the weather (which is always unpredictable in the Alps) and the snow line (probably around 2000 metres in early June and 2600 metres in late June, higher on sunny slopes, deeper in the shade).
You can find the fares of many mountain railways, gondolas, chairlifts and alpine Post buses by using
In order to find the reductions you get with Travel Passes, load down and the map you will find there
neckervd is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2017, 07:50 AM
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The hiking trails mentioned by neckervd are called “Wanderwege”; there is an organization that looks after them - see

These trails are clearly marked with uniform signage, indicating not distances but estimated hiking times from point to point (based on the leisurely pace of families with children - adults usually beat those times without rushing).

Take a look at the picture on

Even better - the trails lead to transportation points, either train stations, or bus stops, or - especially in the mountains and in remote locations - to stops for the famous Swiss Postal coaches (“Postauto”) that go where trains don’t and often can’t go. See

The Postauto timetables are often also included in the results of timetable searches on the Swiss train system’s website,

So if you take a train into a remote region and then continue with a Postauto, you can hike where hardly anybody else will be on the trails during the week, and know that you can get back, that’s how good the system is.

Free maps are at and at You may have to use Google Translate in cases where no English web page is available.

The official topographical maps in Switzerland are military-grade excellent and detailed, with contour lines showing elevation changes with such precision that you can plan on a hike with confidence, once you get the hang of how to read such maps. The official government mapping site is at

I’m not saying you should never rent a car while in Switzerland - roaming on your own four wheels has its charms, despite the traffic jams (watch for this German word: “Stau”) and the difficulty and expense of parking in all those towns and cities that where laid out and built in the horse-and-buggy days.

But just to get to some place to start a hike and then come back from another spot at the end of the hike, for that a car doesn’t often make sense, the public transport systems are so incredibly evolved.
michelhuebeli is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2017, 08:04 AM
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Not only is public transportation that best way to manage your hikes, but it would let BOTH of you enjoy the spectacular scenery. In contrast, a driver would need to focus attention on the roads -- giving up part of the delight of being in Switzerland.

And please note that there are several different transportation passes. neckervd gave you the link.
kja is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2017, 11:13 AM
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Many people come here looking for answers to Swiss pass questions. All ways are expensive. Some are more hassle free than others depending on individual usage model. If you want actual number, you have to crunch many numbers. There is no easy way to do this. Remember that there are several Swiss passes, the one that covers the SBB federal railways plus discount on some mountain transports. Then depending on what you are doing, you need to supplement with regional passes which are just as confusing. On top of this, consider that some hikes are one-way, meaning if you drive, you need to take public transport back anyway to the starting point.
greg is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2017, 07:15 PM
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Hi dhoffman14,

Please keep in mind that Zermatt and a good chunk of the Oberland area are entirely car-free. You'll end up leaving your rental car in a (not free) parking lot and using the trains anyway.

I've always found the Half Fare Card to be the most economical option for my trips. It costs around 120 or 150 chf, and gives you half off of practically everything that moves in the country for one month. But, as greg notes above, you simply have to crunch the numbers to find your most economical pass or card.

Have fun as you plan!

swandav2000 is offline  
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