Swiss Pass options

Jun 27th, 2012, 11:03 PM
  #1  
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Swiss Pass options

Hello,

I would like some input from you guys about the Swiss Pass.

I am arriving from Paris, staying in Switzerland for 6 nights, 4 of those are in the Berner Oberland area.

I'm thinking of taking the train from Paris Gare de Lyon station to Basel or Bern as suggested by Swandav, then use a 4 day Swiss Pass for the first 4 days in the Berner Oberland area . For the last two days involving getting to Lucerne, exploring Lucerne and getting to Zurich, I'll just buy tickets as needed.

Is that a good idea or am I better off with an 8 day Swiss Pass? I know I can price individual tickets on sbb.ch and figure out exactly what the differences are. But what would be a good option in your opinion, for a first time visitor?
zatrams999 is offline  
Jun 27th, 2012, 11:42 PM
  #2  
 
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Hi zatrams999,

I always use the Half Fare Card; it costs 110 chf and gives you half off practically everything that moves for one month. Every time I did the math, the HFC always came up as the most economical option for me.

However, it's difficult to say what will be best for you unless someone does the math --

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Jun 28th, 2012, 02:35 AM
  #3  
 
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I think the best option for you is to do the math and price your trips first and then decide whether or not which, if ANY pass is better.

We have no idea how many trips you will actually take and the more you use a pass the more economical it becomes.

Passes are good for discounts on some of those mountain trains in the BO; they do not cover the entire fare.
Dukey1 is offline  
Jun 28th, 2012, 05:13 AM
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also consider the 3-day Swiss Flexipass - you get 3 unlimited travel days covered at 100% and in between the first and last day - the third day you get 50% off everything that moves in Switzerland - trains, buses, aerial gondolas, postal buses, lake boats, etc. (One exception Grindelwald/Wengen to Jungfraujoch is 25% off) - so once in the Berner Oberland use the 50% off aspect as many aerial gondolas would be only 50% off anyway - and then you will have your travels covered all the way to Zurich, saving the last day to do that. Would be cheaper all in all then an 8-day consecutive pass.

Half-Fare Cards - with these you have to know exactly what you are doing - with a Swiss Pass and I've used dozens of them and always felt they were a great deal for me at least - I always end up using it more than I expected - like in the Berner Oberland on a whim just hopping a lake boat from Interlaken on Lake Thun - in late afternoon just for a relaxing float with spectacular scenery all around.

Anyway check these great sites for great info on Swiss trains, passes, half-fare cards (and the Swiss Card which could well be a better deal for some than the Half-Fare Card because it gives you a trip from any border point or airport to any place in Switzerland and back to any airport or border point as well as 50% off everything for a one-month period just like the Half-Fare Card - anyway these superb IMo sites: http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/id3.html; www.ricksteves.com and www.swisstravelsystem.com.

A value of a pass is you can just hop on any train, bus, boat anytime - no going to ticket windows no judging 'do I want to spend 50% to do this, etc.)

And when comparing pass prices to alternatives compare the cost of the pass in U S dollars if bought in the U S vs prices for exact same pass if bought in Switzerland (sold at most train stations) - prices for some reason the past several years have often been cheaper here than there - this is not always true so compare both - if no significant savings then just wait to buy once there. And also look for specials on Swiss Pass - if traveling after Sep 1 this year you can get a 2 for 1 deal on 4-day Swiss Passes (only - both consecutive days and flexipasses).
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 28th, 2012, 08:47 AM
  #5  
 
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a 3-day Swiss Flexipass currently costs $237 p.p. on a Saverpass - prices for sales in Switzerland may be different

so if you take the 110 francs needed to buy the Half-Fare Card lets say that is about $120 to start - to get the card then you pay 50% off every trip you take on trains, boats, etc.

The difference being about $117 - so if you are not doing $117 worth of travel - the break even point the Half-Fare Card would be a better option perhaps - depending on whether even the Half-Fare Card is better than just buying regular tickets the whole way - but again unless you have travel plans set in concrete and know exactly what trains, boats, etc you will take and will take no more then it is easy to calculate but again I and others report that with unlimited travel days on a pass we tend to do more than we planned on - like again on a whim just decided to do a lake boat trip or if staying in Wengen to go down to Interlaken at night to the casino or supermarkets, etc. Or on the not unusual rainy day in this rather wet clime then say doing a day trip to Lucerne or Bern - cities that are more enjoyable in wet weather than hiking in the Berner Oberland then that type of unplanned travel is also a factor.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 28th, 2012, 10:58 AM
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If going between Geneva and Interlaken you have two routes to chose from - the fastest route via Bern or the slightly slower route via the fabled Golden Pass rail route and the special Golden Pass train, which gives commentary en route and features spiffy domed panoramic observation cars - it takes a different route - right thru bucolic Alpine valleys the whole way vs the ho-hum scenery on the route via Bern. A Swiss Pass is valid the whole way on either route - when returning to Geneva perhaps take it then too if you take the direct route going to Interlaken.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 28th, 2012, 11:00 PM
  #7  
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Thank you very much for the input swandav2000, Dukey1 and PalenQ. I need to do an approximate cost analysis to see what pass I would be better off with. I shall look into the half fare card and swiss pass vs. just buying regular tickets. But I'm already biased now towards the half-fare card.

Another thing I need input on...

The ticket prices from Paris Gare de Lyon to Lausanne and Basel are fairly similar. I was looking at Rick Steves' book and looks like the Golden Pass train starts from Lausanne. Of course, time is short, and I cannot see everything I want to, but am I going to miss out a lot by not taking at least one of the scenic train rides? For folks who have done this train trip from Lausanne, what would you recommend?

Thank you for your help.
zatrams999 is offline  
Jun 28th, 2012, 11:06 PM
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Hi again,

The Golden Pass starts from Montreux, which is about 30-40 minutes from Lausanne. The GP starts at Montreux then climbs through the Prealps to the beautiful areas of Gstaad and Rougemont and Zweisimmen, then climbs up to the Jungfrau area.

I personally would never spend time inside a train when I could be on a mountain somewhere, on a trail or in a mountaintop restaurant. There just is no comparison for the views and the experience!

However, if you have time for both -- if taking a scenic train won't take up your mountain time, then, yes, it is a worthwhile thing to do.

To get the GP route, you would use

From Montreux
To Interlaken Ost
Via Gstaad

It may be too much to come from Paris (aobut 4h) and then do the GP (about 3h) on the same day. Think about if you want to sit inside a train for about 8h on one day.

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Jun 29th, 2012, 12:00 AM
  #9  
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Hello swandav2000. Thank you for all the great information on this route.

Yes, I see what you're saying. Thing is, I feel that the day of travel from Paris to Murren is pretty much already shot anyways. And the regular journey already is about 7 hours or so.

Just looked at tgv-europe, Paris to Montreux is about the same price, but about 4.5 hours from Paris (Leaves Paris at 8:11 AM). I also looked up

From Montreux
To Interlaken Ost
Via Gstaad

That's like 3 hours and arrives at Interlaken at 4:50 PM for tgv-europe.

Still undecided.

For travel from Paris Gare de Lyon to Montreux or Basel, are the prices going to stay about the same or does it fluctuate a lot?
zatrams999 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 12:31 AM
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Hi again,

The prices will rise as you get closer to the date of travel. The discounted fares do sell out.

The prices for fares within Switzerland will stay the same.

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Jun 29th, 2012, 06:48 AM
  #11  
 
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Golden Pass don't track thru Gstaad I believe if getting off at Gstaad is your goal - have to change for Gstaad I believe off direct GP route Montreux to Interlaken. Not sure but think so.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 11:23 AM
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If taking the Golden Pass this train is unique in that it has on it VIP seating - a handful of seats next to and around the train driver so you simulate driving the train yourself - down the tracks in front of you. These are first class but if you have a 2nd class pass or ticket then you can just pay an upgrade to ride in the seats which I believe are only on the portion Montreux to Zweisimmen but not sure (narrow gauge tracks end at Zweisimmen so first stage train cannot go thru on standard gauged tracks to Interlaken so always change trains there.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 12:09 PM
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Thank you swandav2000 for providing some very helpful information about the Golden Pass route.
Looks like this will be a very scenic journey. Do you know if I have to stay on the same train all through the trip, or can I get off somewhere, spend some time, then get on another Golden Pass train to my destination?

Ok, so since prices from Paris to Montreux/Basel will increase, I'll need to get this part completed first.

Here is another thing I am considering for the 4th: how about if I rent a car for the day, picking it up in Montreux/Basel/Lausanne and return it to Interlaken the same night? That way, I get to spend as much time as I want in the places I want to stop and enjoy the scenery. It seems that I cannot use the car beyond Lauterbrunnen anyways, so a 1 day rental likely makes sense.

If i were to do this, i know i'll need to plan out a good route first. I will have a GPS with me. Are the road signs in English in Switzerland? Do you think this would be a doable plan?

Thank you for your help.
zatrams999 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 08:19 PM
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Hi again,

When you buy your ticket, it is good all day, so, yes, you can get on and off the train as often as you want. Just check the schedules before you go, and know what times you'll be able to continue your journey after each break.

I never ever recommend a car for Swiss travel. You'll be putting poison into the air that destroys the very things you came over to see. Since the train runs frequently and well, using a car just isn't necessary.

PalQ, Gstaad is directly on the route of the GP. It's Gruyeres that is a small detour (change in Montbovon).

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Jun 30th, 2012, 12:32 AM
  #15  
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Swandav2000, I appreciate your concerns about the environment. I am green conscious too.

I am only exploring options at this point. So don't get all stressed out And thanks for your input.
zatrams999 is offline  
Jun 30th, 2012, 02:06 AM
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I'm not stressed out.

Thanks for your concern --

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 09:03 AM
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swandav2000 stressed out! Naw I've been reading her great insights into Switzerland for years now - always level headed and thoughtful and down to earth (except when talking about Interlaken!) - and I echo her advice about eschewing cars not only becuase the public transit is go great and cars cannot even take you to some of the country's alpine gems and yes also the green factor - Americans are often wed to cars, thinking gee without a car we can't see anything we want - we'd like to stop in small villages en route - something that sounds neat but once there is not something most folks do but gravitate towards the motorways - I have driven lots over local roads and they twist and are full of traffic and can be very frustrating to drive on due to the congestion that to me negates any romance - rather sit back and look out the window of trains - a driver in Switzerland rarely can ogle the great sites with their hands gripping the steering wheel and eyeballing an often sinuously curving traffic-filled two-lane road (off the maotorways, which well are motorways just like any motorway - not much fun).

So I agree 110% with swandav2000, IMO a Fodor treasure in her immense knowledge of the country, always given without attitude IMO!
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 12:41 PM
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Note the official Golden Pass trains do not roll as frequent as regular trains over that exact same rail route - GP trains can be full so you may not be able to hop on the next one if it is full - regular trains are never full IMO and if so you can still hop on - maybe you can on the official GP trains as well I do not know but suspect not - but as the nicest scenery on that route is between IME Montreux and Zweisimmen (by far) after that observation cars, etc do not matter that much and yes Gstaad is near the end of the most scenic part - get off the official GP there and then just hop the next train, GP or regional to Zweissimmen where you always have to change trains because of a difference in track gauge widths.
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2012, 09:43 PM
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wowee, PalQ! Praise indeed from such a knowledgeable source!! Folks on this forum are so like families -- we have our disagreements and differences, but respect and support each other. I'm happy to be part of ir.

About the GP. I spent two weeks in Chateau d'Oex one year, and twice have spent a full week in Gstaad -- I would hop on the GP all the time. You do not *ever* need reservations, but you may find yourself standing in the aisles for 15 or 20 minutes between the busiest stations. There are always some unreserved seats in some of the wagons on all of the trains, even the GP. When it's busy (the one time I had to stand for 20 minutes was at lunchtime in August), you just have to stand, that's all.

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Jul 3rd, 2012, 10:07 AM
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Yes unlike the Glacier Express and some other specialty scenic Swiss tourist-oriented trains the Golden Pass does not require reservations, except for the VIP seats I believe. I once thought reservations for observation wagon on the first part between Montreux and Zweisimmen were required but I think not - suggested perhaps but not required so you can comfortably get on and off at will.
PalenQ is offline  

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