Which Swiss Pass makes the most sense?

Old Oct 16th, 2007, 06:12 AM
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Which Swiss Pass makes the most sense?

We will be in Switzerland for 10 days next July. We are only going to a couple of different locations (Vitznau and Soglio) so train travel will be minimal. But we are interested in boats on Lake Lucerne and a ride up Mt. Rigi. Possibly the Rosengart Museum as well. Which pass makes the most sense for us and where in the Zurich airport do we buy it? Thanks!
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 06:48 AM
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>Which pass makes the most sense for us and where in the Zurich airport do we buy it? Thanks!

With your itinerary I would simply buy a half fare card for 30 days. There is a SBB ticket desk in Zürich airport
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 06:51 AM
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Thanks, altamiro. Someone ele I know said the same thing. Then I started reading about other options. The half fare card it is!
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 08:52 AM
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Yes Half-fare card though with your limited travel plans even that at about $90 may not be warranted (CHF99) so you'd have to do $180 of 50% off travel to break even.

Check into regional passes for the Lucerne area if they, like the Berner Oberland pass, exist.
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 10:38 AM
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HFC was the answer for us last month. With tran fares, Mt Pilatus, Mt Rigi, and lake Luzern cruise, we got our money worth.
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 11:40 AM
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You raise an interesting question. I have run the figures on several of the Swiss Passes trying to figure out which one is the best. My decision in the past has been narrowed down to selecting between the Swiss Card and the half fare card.

The major difficulty with any evaluation of Swiss travel passes is predicting exactly what you will be doing. That of course is the big unknown.

In my own particular case, I have opted for the Swiss Card several times because I arrived by train from outside of Switzerland and left from either the Zürich or the Geneva airport. Even from Zürich, the Swiss Card carries with it a free trip to your first destination and then a free trip on your last day to the border or an exiting airport.

This summer, we opted for the half fare card because we drove a rental car from Germany to Lauterbrunnen. When we left, we took the train to the Geneva airport. Given that almost all of our travel was either by car or on mountain transportation, we opted for the half fare card.

Why not return the car at the airport? Two reasons: (1) the train goes directly to the airport and it is very convenient and (2) keeping the car for an extra day was equal to the cost of the tickets which were half price.

After I got home I ran a few figures and came to the conclusion that the half fare card saved us a few dollars.

Both the Swiss Card and the Half Fare card are available at the rail station ticket window in the Zürich airport.

I think the choice will be based on how far you intend to travel on your first and last days using the train.

By the way, you initialize the card yourself. Your passport number is on the card.




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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 12:25 PM
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 12:29 PM
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Swiss Cards currently a whole lot cheaper if bought abroad, like Swiss Passes.

Half-Fare card can only i think be bought in Switzerland.

Since OP is not traveling far from landing point the Half-Fare card seems best, if anything at all.
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 12:30 PM
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What site should I use to determine the cost of trains I expect to take?? Do any of these "cards" offer discounts on gondolas, chair lifts, or cog railways?

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 12:43 PM
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Stu---you can find the ticket prices on the Swiss rail site, www.sbb.ch (or www.rail.ch to go directly to English).

I believe all the Swiss passes and cards offer half-price on the cablecars, high mountain trains, and other lifts that aren't covered 100%.

but it is sometimes surprising how far the full coverage goes if you have a Swiss Pass or FlexPass rather than a half-fare card. If there is a village at the top of the lift, like Mürren, Wengen, or Bettmeralp for example, it is usually fully covered.
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 12:54 PM
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Swiss Flexipass also is a Half-Fare card as it gives you, between the first and last day of validity 50% off everything that moves virtually, including cables, gondolas, etc. on the days you do not use the pass for 100% coverage (3 day flexi in one-month period - three days of 100% coverage on nearly all trains, buses, lake boats, city transit and free museum entries

the other days in between first and third you get 50% off everything (none on museums as they are only covered on 100% days) except the Jungfraujoch railway - 25% off on that and that seems to be the only 50% exception (not sure how Half-Fare card treats that but Swiss Pass discount was reduced from 50% to 25% this July) - but like enzian says the Swiss Pass would cover you in full up to Wengen and then you'd do the 25% off from there. www.budgeteuropetravel.com has a nice look at Swiss passes, trains, etc. (their free European Planning & Rail Guide also has a good chapter and primer on Swiss trains) and www.ricksteves.com also has really nice Swiss train/travel coverage. www.swisstravelsystem.com has lots on specialty trains, scenic trains, lake boats, buses, etc.
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 01:20 PM
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Wow - thanks for the helpful info. I'll read all those links. But first, in case this thread gets stale before I do all the research, I have a question:

I have 3 train trips planned - they mainly go to cites, with some stops at small stations to go up on a scenic chairlift to a mountaintop.

My first route goes from Biel to Thun (via Bern), where I'll get off & visit Thun. Then I go from Thun to Erlenbach where I get off and go up the Stockhorn Mtn on a goldola. Then I go from Erlenbach back to Bern (via Speiz), where I want to visit Bern for a couple of hours. Then from Bern back to Biel.

Can I purchase a round trip ticket from Biele to Erlenbach & do this hop-on/hop-off, or do I have to purchase tickets for each segment/leg??

Thanks
Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 01:24 PM
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In nearly all such cases i've heard of there is one ticket you buy from station A to station C via one set route and then you can get on and off at will.

I believe you could write your ticket in circles if you wanted - just one ticket noting the route.

That said i'm not positively sure as things change quickly. But certainly you can buy all your tickets at Biel even if they give you several separate tickets.

reservations are not possible on most such trains and if no reservations i think you can just hop on any train within the overall validity of the ticket (24 hours, one week, one year, etc.)
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 01:36 PM
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Hello again Cimbrone

Have you thought about whether you will buy 1st or 2nd class train tickets?

Were it just for the train portion alone, I may opt for the 2nd class.

However, knowing you will be using the ferries on Lake Lucerne quite a bit, might I suggest you look into the 1st class option.

On the ferries, there are two levels: the bottom level is 2nd class. Especially in the summer when you will be there in peak season, you will find that it is very crowded, hard to find a place to sit, noisy.

Me, I'll take the 1st class top level any day. I love sitting in the open front, gazing at the beauty of the countryside as we glide by. It is much less crowded, quiet, peaceful, just like the lake herself. Wow. Just the thought of it gets my heart racing.

Also, on one of those nights when you're heading back to Vitznau, check into the schedules for the Sunset Dinner Cruise. Boarding the boat, you take a table by the window, eat a delicious dinner onboard, and then you arrive at Vitznau, ready for a short stroll by the lakeside in the glow of the sunset. Truly a highlight.

Happy travels!
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 01:54 PM
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I agree with Kopp about ferries - but it is easy to simply buy a 1st class upgrade for the ferry trip. It costs more or less the price difference between the 1st and the 2nd class ferry ticket.
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 01:58 PM
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kopp, great advice on the boats. I will certainly keep it in mind.

And PalenQ has me wondering if we should just skip the pass altogether. We'll have to take a look at the train and boat prices, and if they're high enough, it will probably be worth it.

The sbb online ticket shop (which shows fares) was not available a few minutes ago.
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 02:04 PM
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>The sbb online ticket shop (which shows fares) was not available a few minutes ago

Clean the cookies from your computer - sometimes these are a problem for getting the fares if you are overseas...
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 02:26 PM
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PalenQ

None of the links to the passes on the Budgeteuropetravel site seems to be working - I got a "page not found" each time.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 05:14 PM
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I'm a little confused about what cable cars (and funiculars) are "covered" by the Swiss Half Fare card.

The Swiss Travel System website that PalenQ suggested was very helpful, but I'm wondering if anyone has used the Swiss Half Fare card to get discounts on the Stockhorn, Wengen, Murren, etc cable cars/Gondolas/funiculars.

If you look at the "Synoptic Map" on the Swiss Travel System site, it seems clear that all the non-train Cable Cars/Funiculars I listed above are covered at half price on the Swiss Pass - but there is no mention of the ones covered on the Half Fare Card.

Here is the description of each:

The Swiss Pass entitles you to unlimited travel on consecutive days throughout the rail, bus and boat Swiss Travel System network.

This pass also covers scenic routes and local trams and buses in 37 towns and cities and will offer 50% reduction all most mountain-top trains and cable cars.


The Half Fare Card allows unlimited purchase of train, bus, boat and some cable car tickets at half price within the one month validity.


I guess the Key is what is meant by "some" cable cars. Also note that the description says there is half price on both the Swiss Pass and the Swiss Half Fare card.

Anybody have first hand info/experience???

Stu Dudley

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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 07:24 PM
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Well you can suggest this pass or that pass, but it all just a castle in the air until you put down cost figures and run a break even analysis and demonstrate the results with hard figures.

Without predicted travel costs and a time frame, there is no way anyone can say that Pass X is better than Pass Y.

Off hand I don't recall the cost of a 4 day flexi pass, and finding it right now is not possible because the web site is undergoing maintenance, but I do know that in years past the Flexi Pass has been the last of my options because it was the least cost effective choice for where I intended to go.

The problem with planning for the Alps is that bad weather makes some trips useless.

Last summer we opted for the convenience of a car because of where we wanted to go and when we wanted to do it. I agree that many destinations can be reached by bus and train, but not always quickly not at a time when it is convenient.

To get prices for the mountain cable lifts and rail trips in the Berner Oberland, the site to use is this one:

http://tinyurl.com/286jb3

I don't know of a only one source for ticket prices around Zermatt.
Here is one for the Klein Matterhorn and other destinations on that cable lift complex.

http://bergbahnen.zermatt.ch/e/preis...atterhorn.html

I will say this much: I have done the Jungfraujoch, First, Schilthorn, driven over several passes, and walked to the top of the Faulhorn, but the grandest view of all is from the Klein Matterhorn viewpoints. On a clear day you can seemingly see forever, from the cirque-carved summit of the Dom to Mount Blanc.
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