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hachiu Dec 2nd, 2012 01:16 AM

Which travel pass is the best?
There are 4 of us (2 adults, 2 children under 16) traveling to Switzerland and Italy on the below itinerary, can anyone help to recommend which travel pass would be best? Don't know if we should take the Swiss Pass or a general Europe pass (if that, which one?).

Day 1 — Zurich airport to Lucerne + city tour (bus pass?)
Day 2 — day trip to Mt Pilatus (round trip)
Day 3 — Lucerne to Montreux
Day 4 — chocolate factory/train (Golden Pass?)
Day 5 — Montreux to Interlaken (Golden Pass or Swiss Pass?)
Day 6 — Jungfraujoch or Zermatt (need recommendations on which one as well hehe) by train?
Day 7 — skiing (take a bus? train?)
Day 8 — Interlaken to Milan (point to point train? Should we take a Swiss train or Italian rail?)
Day 9 - 12 — Milan
Day 13 — day trip to Venice (does anyone know how the trenitalia works because I don't understand it)

HELP IS MUCH APPRECIATED we don't travel much by rail.


tipsygus Dec 2nd, 2012 01:52 AM

Thew only way of finding out which pass is the best for your trip is to do the maths. Go to the Swiss Rail site and work out the cost. Your children will travel free with the family card which s free is you buy a pass and you can save on the adult cost with a Swiss Saver Pass but without working out the total coat you cannot decide which of the several passes is best. By the way the Swiss Rail prices default the half fare so you need to take that into account

PalenQ Dec 2nd, 2012 06:35 AM

an 8-consecutive-day Swiss Pass is IMO by far your best bet - covers nearly every form of transport your whole time in Switzerland except for a few trains to mountain tops that it would however give a discount on.

Two kids under 16 get a free Family Pass with your pass so they never ever pay anything for any transport - including trains to mountain tops where you only get a discount (Wengen/Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch is 25% off for you but totally free for the kids with the Family Pass - the Chocolate train also would have a supplement to pay on top of using the pass - otherwise just hop on any of your trains, lake boats, postal buses, city trams and buses and also get free entry to 400+ Swiss museums.

A Eurailpass would not cover nearly what a Swiss Pass covers and costs a ton more and there is no Family Pass with it.

Plus you are traveling just a bit in Italy - just buy regular tickets from Swiss border on - use your pass to get to the Swiss border on day 8 of your 8-consecutive-day pass.

For lots of great stuff on Swiss trains, passes, specialty trains like Golden Pass, Chocolate train, etc I always spotlight these IMO fantastic sites -; and

PalenQ Dec 2nd, 2012 09:34 AM

Lucerne to Montreux
Day 4 — chocolate factory/train (Golden Pass?)
Day 5 — Montreux to Interlaken (Golden Pass or Swiss Pass?>

Golden Pass is the name of one of Switzerland's legendary specialty scenic trains that provides commentary in English and other language en route and the train cars often have domed 'panoramic' observation cars, hostesses, etc. A Swiss Pass is 100% valid on the Golden Pass train though you may have to pay a few francs for a seat reservation if required as it may be on some of its three segments Lucerne to Interlaken; Interlaken to Zweissimmen and Zweissimmen to Montreux - I think perhaps only on the latter is a seat reservation required - maybe not even on it.

So the Golden Pass is not a travel pass but the name of a train on which the Swiss Pass and other passes are valid.

swandav2000 Dec 2nd, 2012 10:54 PM

Hi hachiu,

I have some questions about your itinerary.

First, you will be repeating some of your journey if you go to Greyeres and Broc (cheese & chocolate factory) on one day and then take the Golden Pass from Montreux to Interlaken on another day. It would save you some time if you hit Gruyeres and Broc while enroute from Montreux to Interlaken so that you don't have to repeat that journey.

The Chocolate Train doesn't run in winter, but you can do all of its parts on your own, no problem.

You don't need reservations on the Golden Pass route.

You shouldn't be trying to go to Zermatt from Interlaken as it's about 2h30 away. Why go all the way to Zermatt when the Jungfraujoch is right at your feet in Interlaken? That makes no sense. If you want to see Zermatt, you should go there after your visit in Montreux.

Finally, I agree with tipsygus that you (someone) needs to do the math to make sure you get the most economical travel card or pass.

Have fun as you plan!


PalenQ Dec 3rd, 2012 10:22 AM

You don't need reservations on the Golden Pass route.>

that's what I was told a few years ago in Interlaken train station but they said to get a seat in the panoramic cars on portion Lucerne to Interlaken) reservations were suggested.

and the vaunted VIP seats - just a handful on each train which your kids will love - it has them sitting basically in a compartment next to the4 driver's compartment so they can simulate driving the train themselves - they must be booked weeks in advance to guarantee. Some VIP seats are also at the back of the train.

Dukey1 Dec 3rd, 2012 10:53 AM

I agree that on the face of it the SwissPass might be your best option since the kids travel free and you also get use of various city transport systems such as in Luzern, Montreaux, etc.

Some things to consider:

as an alternative to the Mt. Pilatus trip you can do a half day by rail up to Engleberg and then take the three-stage cableway to the summit of Mt. Titlis; the pass gives a significant discount on the cableway; the train up and back is covered by the pass.

For another spectacular view you might consider the train trip up to Rochers de Naye from Montreux and the pass will get you a discount for that.

Zermatt? Why? I love the place but unless you are going there for skiing/hiking about the only thing to DO is see the peak and if the peak is obscured by clouds you are out of luck. Zermatt itself is, IMO, not much mroe than the usual "ski village" of which there are many in Switzerland. I would spend more time in the Bernese Oberland and ABOVE Interlaken but that's based on my previous experiences in both areas and my personal preferences.

As to the trip from Switzerland to will be using the Swiss rail system to the border and from there the Italian one; you'll have to pay the fare from the Italian border to Milan.

swandav2000 Dec 3rd, 2012 11:04 AM

Right, PalQ, reservations are suggested but not required. I've spent weeks at a time in Gstaad and in Chateau d'Oex, taking the trains up and down the route every day. I never had reservations and often sat in one of the panoramic windows. One time (in August at lunchtime) I had to stand for about 20 minutes until a seat opened up, but it was no problem.

Yes, the VIP seats do require reservations at all times and are often sold out weeks ahead of time, more in the summer.


PalenQ Dec 3rd, 2012 01:45 PM

The VIP seats also I believe are considered to be first class and thus with a 2nd class pass you'd have to pay the difference between the first and second-class fares - like on any train where with a 2nd class pass you chose for some reason to sit in first class - pay the conductor on the train - except I guess in the not so few Swiss trains I've seen with no conductors - symbolized by a biy lack eyeball with a yellow around it - warning passengers that the train is self-controlled with spot check so those sitting in a higher class would be fined or those without any ticket fined even more perhaps.

swandav- thanks for the update on my original reservations post!

PalenQ Dec 4th, 2012 01:56 PM

Check the official Golden Pass web site for info on seat reservations and VIP seating - I think you can make either without having a ticket or pass yet - VIP seats do sell out months in advance due to their very limited numbers. (Only on the Montreux to Zweisimmen portion I believe.)

PalenQ Dec 5th, 2012 08:22 PM

yeh reservations are not required and a single traveler can nearly always find a seat but if I were a party of four wishing to sit next to or even near each other I would reserve a block of four seats ahead of time - the chances of finding four empty seats together far more problematic than finding one or two near or adjoining each other. Plus the peace of mind...

PalenQ Dec 6th, 2012 09:03 AM

and keep in mind that in addition to the official Golden Pass trains regular regional trains also roll over the same tracks and scenery and are IME much less crowded than the official Golden Pass trains that often are quite full IME due to many tour groups on board.

On local trains I can easily hop from side to side as the scenery dictates - on the official GP train you are usually welded to your seat as many others may be full and moving around would be a hassle to you and others.

PalenQ Dec 7th, 2012 05:40 AM

chocolate factory/train (Golden Pass?)

Well there is an official Chocolate Train but it is not part of the Golden Pass train - it starts I believe in Montreux or nearby Lausanne and putzs up thru a vineyard-carpeted hill to Gruyeres, where you tour a cheese factory and visit this really neat old completely walled historic cit.

Then the train rolls over to Broc-Factory station, adjacent to the Nestle Chocolate factory there where you can take a Willy Wonkaesque tour of the plant and get samples.

The train then returns to Lausanne or Montreux if not both. Wine and cheese are served en route I believe and the train cars are Belle Epoque classic antique Pullman cars - luxury travel on a most unique rail experience.

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