Swisspass vs. Berner oberland pass

Old Apr 3rd, 2006, 08:56 AM
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Swisspass vs. Berner oberland pass

Re Train travel--(4 nights in Zurich)including one or two day(s) roundtrip Zurich to Lucerne, one way Zurich to Interlaken (or area), 4 nights in Berner region, visit Jungfrau, Schilthorn, lake boat rides, Ballenberg, etc. And one way Interlaken area to Milan...Which pass? Want to get the two kids free, and museums are included in Swiss Pass, I was thinking maybe the 3 or 4 day flex...or is the regional pass best?
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Old Apr 3rd, 2006, 09:56 AM
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Swiss pass probably since you get two free kids passes and museum pass for Ballenberg - regional pass costs quite a bit and won't cover travel from Zurich, Lucerne, etc. Of course this year Swiss Pass gives 50% off everything for the month (flexipass) - museums only on days you use flexible travel. Swiss passes cheaper in US now than in Switzerland, where you also have to pay SF20 for kids pass which is free in U.S. thru RailEurope. I always recommend BETS (1-800-441-2387) for their Swiss rail expertise and no handling or mailing fees - go to www.budgeteuropetravel.com for Swiss pass prices and explanations of pass - also on the home page ask for their free European Rail Guide which has lots of Switzerland and the BOB region. www.ricksteves.com also has good Swiss train info and bits on regional pass i think. Rainy day? The new Paul Klee (sp?) museum in Berne gets rave reviews both for the art and the unique building - included on Swiss Museum pass you get free with Swiss Pass. You can use Swiss Pass for free travel to Wengen, Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen and Gimmelwald and Murren - everything else above these 50% off.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2006, 11:08 AM
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I have consistently found that the Swiss Card for me is better than the Berner Oberland Regional Pass.
The Card gives a free trip from the point of entry to the first night's destination and a free trip out of the country. In between everything is 50% off, including the Schilthorn and the Jungfraujoch.

Those two trips are never free, even with the Jungfraubahn pass or the Berner Oberland Regional Pass: you always pay half of the cost of the most expensive legs of both trips.

The Swiss Pass has added the 50% off factor this year. The relative advantage of the pass versus the Card depends on how much you travel on regular Swiss trains, those of the Federal System.

The difference in cost between the Pass and the Card needs to be considered against the amount of travel you do, AND where you intend to do it.

The 8 day pass is 308 chf.
The 30 day card is 178 chf.
You would need to find 130 chf in savings to reach the break even point.
That means per person you need 260 chf in undiscounted fares to reach that point.

Interlaken to Geneve and back undiscounted is 126 chf. So you would need to do considerable traveling to make the Pass pay for itself.

This is particularly true, if you enter at the Zurich airport and ride the train to Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen.

The Berner Oberland Pass is 220 for the 7 day pass, and 110 for children and dogs.
You do get 3 free days, except for the aforementioned half price you pay on the final leg of the Schilthorn trip and the Jungfraujoch journey.

I have never been able to project a schedule by which the Card was inferior to the Regional pass.

So before you jump on the Swiss Pass thinking it is ultimate bargain, consider carefully the Swiss Card particular if you have ambitious travel plans in the Berner Oberland on the private lines such as the Jungfraubahn and the Grindelwald - First gondola.

The Card is good for 30 days, self ininated, and if you intend to travel by train from the border to your first destination and then travel out of the country by train (need not be the same exit and entry points), I have found the Swiss Card impossible to better.

For example, last year I traveled free from Schaffhausen to Lauterbrunnen coming in, and from Lauterbrunnen to the Geneve airport going out.
Had I bought those tickets undiscounted, they would have cost me 80.60 and 71.60 respectively, a total of 152.20. I just about paid for the Card with those two rides. Throw in the Jungfraujoch from Lauterbrunnen at 154 chf, of which I saved 50%, and I have already beaten the breakeven point.
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 09:01 AM
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ok--but here is more of a breakdown--entering via Zurich airport, daytrips to Luzern (probably two) then Zurich to Interlaken. After 4 days/nights Interlaken to Milan. So I think the Swiss card would cover the first trip to Luzern and the Interlaken-out of country. And everything else in between at half price, kids are free with included family card, museums free also. Is that right?
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 09:59 AM
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Swiss Cards cost $179 in first class and $133 in 2nd - kids under 16 go free. Don't think museums are included, at least nothing says that as card just gives round-trip from border or airport by most direct route and nothing else, but 50% everything for the month.
Compare Swiss Flexipass- $150 (2nd cl) for three days of unlimited travel and museums on days of unlimited travel and also 50% off everything for its one-month validity. Kids get free Swiss pass corresponding to parents. Thus for an extra $17 you get a free day of travel oover the limited two trajectories by most direct route with Swiss Card. So if absolutely not needing third day or can't use it save $17 with Swiss Card - many people however will put this $17 to good use. Like Swiss passes, Swiss Cards i think a few bucks cheaper in U.S., if you use an agent with no mailing fee - RailEurope would charge $15 fee.
The half-off for your other two days but you would get one day free with the Swiss 3-day flexipass.
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 11:06 AM
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Par example - for the third day on the pass - from a BOB base you take the train down to Interlaken Ost - hop the boat on Lake Brienz to Brienz and then hop the postal bus from there to the famous Ballenberg Open-Air museum (free entry worth about $10-15 with using day of free travel on pass), hop bus to Meiringen and hop small train to Innerkirchen and do Glacier Gorge and then train back to Interlaken and up to base - all free with day on Swiss Pass and if you had to pay 50% you'd pay more than the $17 the pass costs over a Swiss Card - which would not cover museum fee.
Or- from BOB next hop down to Interlaken and take boat ride on Lake Thun to Thun - wonderful two hour cruise and then train to nearby Bern - go to acclaimed new Paul Klee (sp?) museum, free entry with day on pass and return to BOB next by train - all covered by the third day on a Swiss Pass and if you had to pay 50% would be much more than the extra $17 you spent on the pass over the Swiss Card!
Anyway point is this year with the 50% off the Swiss Flexi pass gives for the whole month period, same as Swiss Card does, it is for nearly every scenario a better buy i believe.
Sincerely, happy travels.
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 11:44 AM
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Remark on Bob Brown's "I have never been able to project a schedule by which the Card was inferior to the Regional pass".

Our itinerary in Sep is like this:
Day1:Arrive Zurich by flight and drive rental car (because we have 2 toddlers, thence luggage) to Grindelwald.
Days2thru4:At Grindelwald. Half-day trips to First, KS & Wengen, Lauterbrunnen, Interlaken & Thun etc
Day5:To Murren. Hike to Gimmelwald.
Days6:At Murren.Schilthorn.
Days7rive back to ZRH stopping at Lucerne for a few hours.
Day8:Fly back.

I am thinking BO Pass is best for us. Anybody suggesting differently?
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 12:04 PM
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Jungfraubahnpass could be cheaper for what you're doing.
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 12:14 PM
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I too am a believer in the FlexPass (actually the Saverpass, which is 15% less). I count up the number of days when we will cover enough distance to use a pass (usually 5 or 6) and then buy that. I particularly like the feature that our journeys are fully covered---no need to buy tickets, so we just get on the train (after filling in the date on our pass). If we needed additional short hops, we would buy tickets at 50%.

Kalpana_Kar---yes to PalQ's suggestion---check the Jungfraubahn pass (I believe it is about 6 days of coverage in a limited region), and then compare to the 7-day B-O Pass ($176 in 2d class, 3 days' full coverage and 4 more at 50%), and a 4-day Saverpass ($180), which gives you 4 days of full coverage and many more at 50%.

Treble---be sure to ASK for the Family Card. It is indeed included with a pass, but you still must ask for it at the same time, and get it validated in Switzerland just as you would your pass.
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 12:16 PM
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We're doing something similar to Kalpana_Kar and adding some boat rides around Luzern and maybe the train up to Rigi. Will be arriving and departing by car, so I figured the Half-Fare Card would be the best bet for the 9-10 days we will be in the area. Some rides are only 1/2 fare, even with the Swiss Pass/Card. The Half-Fare Card costs 99 SFr for one month.
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 01:25 PM
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What is the website for the Jungfraubahn pass? Could you paste the link please.
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 01:32 PM
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I am thinking the saver flexipass--will work best, but with all the boat/train/bus fares adding up I may even go with the 8 day Swisspass (saver) at $225. Then everything except private railways/lifts would be covered for the 8 nights we are there...and it would save time and aggravation not having to purchase tickets. But by the way, isn't the museum entry covered without using a day up?
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 01:37 PM
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Jungfraubahn Pass (English version):

http://www.jungfraubahn.ch/en/Deskto.../172_read-696/
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 01:54 PM
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My understanding is that the museum pass is valid only on unlimited travel days on your pass - thus on a flexipass only on the actual days you use it for 'free' travel, but not during the rest of the one-month period - this comes from the Swiss Rail web site according to info in previous posts (from other folks) and my enquiries. An 8-day pass at $225 is an absolute bargain - 8 straight days and all museums in that 8 days would be covered. the pass would cover most of the fare to Milan - to the Swiss border, from where, due to cheap Italian fares, it's only a few bucks to Milan. For the optimal train take the CIS ("chis-alpino") train that, albeit requires reservations and a small supplement for international journeys - buy your supplemental Italian ticket in Switzerland at stations so you have it on the train when your pass ends. The conductor could sell it onbard perhaps but often at a surcharge and more and more trains don't even sell tickets on board.
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 03:36 PM
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We like to go go go on our trips, and are not real big on hiking,(or shopping) so I'm sure we will be visiting museums on all non-Jungfrau/Schilthorn days. And using public transport/taking boat rides --which would add up to that $17 you had mentioned. Thanks for your help! Did you see my Beatenberg post?
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 04:21 PM
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Frankly I would like to see one of your do what I have done, and posted, in the past: Namely, put down a list of proposed trips with the discounted cost versus the undiscounted cost and show us all where the breakeven point is.

What I am reading so far is opinion rather than financial fact.

It takes a while to dig up the comparison and look up the costs and do the arithmetic to find the break even point.

I might add that not all museums are included in these various passes. I am not sure the Museum of Swiss Life at Beatenberg is included. I went there, but don't recall. I know the Sherlock Holmes Minimuseum in Meiringen is not included.

Let's take Kalpana's schedule:
Days 2t hru 4:At Grindelwald. Half-day trips to First, KS & Wengen, Lauterbrunnen, Interlaken & Thun etc
Day5: To Murren. Hike to Gimmelwald.
Day6: At Murren. Schilthorn.

First the cost of the Berner Oberland Pass for one adult is:
220 chf (I find it useless to calculate in dollars because the exchange rate fluctuates daily)

Here is the schedule of point to point tickets:
Grindelwald - Kleine Scheidegg 50.00
Grindelwald - First 50.00
Grindelwald - Schilthorn 100 (return)

This is enough for 3 free days on the 7 day pass. The Schilthorn trip will cost you a total of 37.80 from Mürren.
So far you have paid 220 chf to buy
162.20 worth of rides on free days.

Now you need to find another 58 chf worth of savings somewhere.

You might do it, but you will pay half fare to ride from Interlaken Ost to anywhere within the validity region.

Grindelwald - Thun round trip is
19.60 plus 30.40, or 50 chf.
You pay half unless you can squeeze it in on a free day.

Not quite to the breakeven point.

The Swiss card would cost you about 178 chf if bought at the Zurich airport.
You might be able to beat it with the Regional Pass.

But in only 4 days, you may well not reach the breakeven point on either pass.

I would like to see your exact figures used to arrive at your conclusion.
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 04:50 PM
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Bob_brown---I haven't actually done the calculation; all that math makes my head swim. I do know that my first trip to Switzerland was with a half-fare card, and there was a lot of time spent standing in line to buy tickets. Since then we've always used the Saverpass or a transfer ticket + Berner Oberland Pass, and have been happy with that choice. Of those, I've decided the Saverpass is the better deal. Is it actually cheaper than a Swiss Card? I really don't know, but I don't care either, because the time saved standing in ticket lines is "priceless" as they say in the VISA ads. And speaking of VISA--you have to add those fees (or ATM conversion charges) on to every ticket you purchase.

Also, just to comment on your own calculations---we would not use the "full-price" days on a B-O pass to go from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg, or Grindelwald to First; that would be a waste. A "travel day" on our Saverpass would be, say, Bettmeralp to Chamonix; or Mürren to Oeschinensee. I've never figured out the point-to-point cost on those, but I suspect we are getting good value from our Saverpass. The same may not be true, however, for people making shorter hops.
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 05:16 PM
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For Kalpana's itinerary, would not a more valid comparison be to count as "full paid" days: (1) from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen (over Kleine Scheidegg) and back, (2) Grindelwald to Thun and back; and (3) Grindelwald to Mürren. With either a 3-day Flex/Saver Pass or a B-O Pass, these would be completely covered, and the remaining trips (up to First and the Schilthorn), plus 2 more, would be on the 50% days.
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Old Apr 5th, 2006, 08:40 AM
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Bob reconfirms my point that Swiss Cards are cheaper if bought in US - he says about 178 SF - this would be about $143 vs RailEurope's price of $133 - and can avoid RE's mailing fee by going thru agents like BETS. But i still think Swiss Cards now pale in comparison for most folks to a Swiss Flexipass or Swiss Pass - especially since you don't have to waste time on your free days standing in ticket lines.
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Old Apr 5th, 2006, 09:08 AM
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Bob-I have been trying to nail down exactly what our transport needs are to compare more exactly these various options. I have come up with the following. Prices are from sbb site. (per person)rounded up. Each accounts for one travel day. I did not figure in any city transport or any of the 1/2 price lifts.
Zurich to Luzern roundtrip 45F
again, and to Engleberg 79F
Zurich to Lauterbrunnen 68F
Lauter to Ballenberg 50F(guestimate)
Lauter to Thun, Beatus 50F
Lauter to Brig (border) 45F
museumpass if separate 29F
Total 376F
The Swisspass is 308F for 8days.
Now it gets tricky--it looks to me like the 8 day pass would be easiest, saving about 68F. And not having to purchase tickets individually is appealing. Also, consider the city transport and maybe some postbus and boat rides...
Now one has to consider the half fare card at 99f, plus 1/2 the 376 less museumpass (99 plus 168=267 plus add back 29F museumpass which does cover Ballenberg by the way=296F) SOunds cheaper to me! But just barely, and then you have to buy tickets, and does not consider city transport in Zurich. Ok the Swisscard is 178F, covers first and last trips (376-90=286-29museum=257 divided by1/2=125 plus178=303F plus museum 29=332F. The flexipass is obviously not a savings either. I have not yet run the numbers on the Jungfraubahn pass, but will soon, it looks like a good deal with a cursory glance. Hope this helps someone else...
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