Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   Should we pass on the Swiss "Pass"? - Seeking Sound Advice (

DavidD Jun 26th, 2004 07:55 AM

Should we pass on the Swiss "Pass"? - Seeking Sound Advice
Given the seemingly dizzying array of travel discount passes available, I thought it best to seek counsel from travelers with first-hand experience. Our goal is to acquire the best, most cost-effective travel pass.

My wife and I next August will spend eight days in Switzerland. We'll be car-free, and spend the entire time in and around Luzern and the Berner Oberland region.

We'll arrive in Luzern via train from Munich. With three days in Luzern, our sightseeing would likely include boating along the lake, along with trips up to the summit of Pilatus and/or Rigi.

Next, in the Berner Oberland, we'll spend a total of five days in Lauterbrunnen and Murren. We'll no doubt want to take excursions to the Schilthorn, Jungfraujoch, and perhaps boat rides along Thun or Brienz.

We'll conclude our time in CH with a train ride from the Berner Oberland to Freiburg, Germany. It's at that point we'll obtain a rental car for exploring the Black Forest, the Mosel and Rhine Rivers, and France's Alsace.

With the above in mind, what would be the best Swiss pass for us? Would it be the Berner Oberland Regional Pass, a Flexipass. or perhaps neither?

Any feedback would be much appreciated.

flygirl Jun 26th, 2004 08:18 AM

I just got back, and got the 8 day Swiss Pass (not flexi). Very good value, boat rides are free as well, bus rides too, and it's a 25% discount on funicular rides and the like - assuming they are affiliated, which I think most are. Even if they are not, you'll save a lot of money in general anyway.

The person I spoke to when I bought it talked me into the 2d class, because in Switzerland the 2d class is very nice and clean as well, and you still have the option to upgrade any time you want for a small fee. For example on the Glacier Express I upgraded, and on the boat rides as well.

so, it was only 240 bucks for 8 consecutive days of travel. excellent value I think.

for Germany, get a Mercedes or Beemer from Sixt!

swandav2000 Jun 26th, 2004 08:26 AM

Hi DavidD,

Unfortunately, there's no easy way to determine whether a pass will be economical: you have to crunch the numbers. Every time I go to Switzerland, I do a spreadsheet with the planned trips down the left side and the various pass/point-point options across the top, and I fill in each trip with the appropriate fare or "free day." That's the only way I can keep it straight and get a sound idea of how much I'll save with each pass or pass combo.

I will tell you that the best I do with a pass is break-even; it's rarely the cheapest. But on my last trip, I did get the 15-day pass because I wanted the flexibility and the freedom (no pinching pennies every day to see if I could "afford" a ferry ride).

Usually the most economical is the one-month half-fare card for 99 chf; if you know you're going to return to Switzerland, get the one-year or two-year cards to save even more.

Let me know if I can help further --


JoyceL Jun 26th, 2004 09:42 AM

Swiss fares are very expensive for train rides, funiculars, and cable cars. Depending on what you plan to do, the Half-Fare Card can be a huge savings.

The only way you can really estimate all this is to put together a list of every place you definitely plan to visit, and the full retail cost of the required fares. This is some work, but it will show you all the savings.

I bought a Half-Fare Card for my visit to Switzerland a few years ago. The card more than paid for itself, even though I did not visit every place that had been on my list.

Get the Half-Fare Card, NOT the Swiss Pass. Except in very unusual circumstances, the Swiss Pass is a waste of money. From the description you give of your plans, your trip does not qualify as one of those circumstances.

flygirl Jun 26th, 2004 12:22 PM

how much is the half-fare card, and where does it work (and how - literally half of ecah ticket?)

I did save with the Swiss Pass, but didn't pay attn to how much - frankly even breaking even would have been fine b/c it minimized the hassle of having to buy tickets each time. you have it, you wave it, the end.

jmw44 Jun 27th, 2004 05:27 AM

When you're comparing the point-to-point fares with the Swiss Pass, remember that two people traveling together can purchase the 'saver' pass (is that the name?) for a bit less than the Swiss Pass.

DavidD Jun 27th, 2004 07:03 AM


Thanks to all who've contributed to my "pass" query.

I'll make a point of looking into the half-fare card. Unfortunately, I saw no mention of it on the "" website. Perhaps a AAA travel "expert" will be of some help.

I'll also make mention of the "saver" pass.

Once again, thanks one and all.

jmw44 Jun 27th, 2004 07:29 AM

Did you check out the pass info at ? (Swiss Rail)

I think that's where you can plug in to's and from's to see some sample point-to-point fares as well. J.

susanteach Jun 27th, 2004 08:51 AM

My hubby and I used the Swiss flexi-pass (2nd class was clean and comfortable!) extensively on our trip to Switzerland last summer. We based out of the Zurich Marriott (free from his points rewards) for four days, and took several train trips from there. We used the free shuttle from the hotel to the train station, then the earliest possible trains to the various cities within 3-4 hours or less from Zurich, and the latest train ride back. So many places--just the major sites, a meal, strolling, then a relaxing train back. The second part of our trip was based out of the Lauterbrunnen valley, in the Berner Oberland region, so we used our Swiss pass again. For another 4 days, we traveled on the train systems with our pass to see some of the most beautiful places I ever could have imagined, even down to the Italian-speaking cantons. The Swiss flexi-pass was cost-effective, allowed us to see all of the major cities in Switzerland (except Geneva) in the alpine areas we love, and we were able to plan our itinerary around the train pass/scehdule. One of the best travel decisions we've made.

jmw44 Jun 27th, 2004 08:54 AM

Wow, Susan, nice to read another Swiss Pass fan. I think that's the key -- you must like to ride trains, busses, and/or boats back and forth from a home base or two. J.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:46 AM.