My husband, our three daughters (ages 15, 13 and 10) and I will be traveling to Italy in early June. We will be flying into Zurich, staying the night there, then taking the train to Milan the next day, with a stop in Luzern on the way. I've been researching the cheapest way to do this, and I've read about cheap advance-purchase tickets on this helpline. What is the best way to ensure getting ahold of these tickets?
The cheap ticket require prepurchase so log into Swiss rail and see what is available. Have not used Swiss rail so I don't know the procedures but, in general, there should be a way to reserve the seats, pay for them, and print the tickets or arrange to pick them up when you arrive. I have used the Germany rail, French, and British in that manner. Italy can be a problem because they do not like AM credit cards. However, you are starting in Switzerland, you will need to purchase your ticket on Swiss rail.
Are you sitting down? With a Swiss Junior Travelcard, your three children can travel free as long as they are accompanied by one parent or grandparent with a valid Swiss train ticket. The cost of the Junior Card is 30CHF and its good for a year. If all three are purchased at the same time, the third Junior Card is free. The children travel in the same class coach as the parent or grandparent. Note, however, that I don't think that you can purchase these cards from the U.S. I think they are sold at any Swiss train station. I'm not sure if this free ride extends past the Swiss border into Italy. Here's a link from the Swiss train website. http://mct.sbb.ch/mct/en/reisemarkt/services/fuer-alle/familie/juniorkarte.htm Next, you should be able to buy your discounted tickets for two online at www.sbb.ch/en. Finally, there is a train station at the Zurich airport. We arrived at this station and it appears to be under the building next to the terminal. Easy to get to.
We bought those discount Zurich to Milan tickets last summer, saving 496 CHF on the round trip for our family of four. I bought them on the / SBB website about 60days in advance. I got a confirmation code that I used to pick up the tickets in the Zurich train station. Note thAt this train does not go through Luzern. To go there, you would break your journey at Arth Goldau and detour. but the discount tickets are for one train in reserved seats, so they won't work for that. You could use them for the portion from A-G to Milan and pay for the rest separately. It is true that you can get Junior cards for your kids and they would travel for free in Switzerland. But you would have to pay for the portion in Italy. I believe if you work through the process of buying the discount tickets, it will give you the option of applying Swiss card reductions such as the Junior Card. You should still be able to do that even tho you won't actually buy the cards until you arrive in Switzerland.
Thanks for all the helpful advice. Lola Yes, you are correct. I did go onto the SBB website and did a mock purchase for discounted 2nd class tickets from Arth-Goldau to Milan for a day in early May. The discounted adult fare would be 25 CHF. For the girls' tickets, there was a box where you could choose any passes that might apply in this case, the Junior Cards. Their tickets were 14 CHF each, which was just a compulsory reservation fee. So, these discounted tickets did include all the travel through Italy, as well. So, adding everything up, including the 2 Junior Cards at 30 CHF each (yes, I did see that the third and subsequent cards are free when they are all purchased at the same time) and the 2 adult fares from Zurich to Arth-Goldau via Luzern at 30 CHF each, the total cost for this trip for our family comes to 212 CHF. This compares to about 472 CHF if purchased through a website such as raileurope.com. Of course, I will have to wait about a month to see what the actual fares will be when we travel, but I would think that they would be comparable. Of note, if we did not stop in Luzern, and traveled directly from Zurich to Milan, the cost would only be 125 CHF, and we would not bother purchasing the Junior Cards. I think the extra cost to see a charming town in Switzerland is well worth it, though!
Hi, we are planning similar journey in July with our 2 children, age 5 and will be 9. When I went to the SBB web site, I am unable to check the prices for the tickets, I have to send a request in order to find out. Is it how it usually works? Please, let me know.
Thank you very much in advance
Kendra, I think you will pay more for the Junior Cards plus 14 CHF per child than younwouls if you just bought the discounted tickets at 25 CHf each. Does that make sense? Check on that before you commit to then purchase. Or do all the children fit on one Junior Card?
Hi Lola, Since we are travelling from Zurich to Arth-Goldau via Luzern before we can use the discounted tickets, we are better off buying the Junior Cards. It would cost us 30 CHF each to get us to Arth-Goldau, so the fare with the Junior Cards costs us only 60 CHF instead of 150 CHF. The first two Junior cards will cost 30 CHF each, and the third one is free. So, we save 30 CHF already just on that part of the journey by buying the Junior Cards. Hi Yuliya,
If your trip is less than 90 days away, you should be able to purchase the discounted tickets now. Go to the SBB website's home page and click on the grey box that says "travel". The next screen should show a few special offers on the right hand side. Click on the one that says "Travel to Milan for a risotto", and you should be able to go from there. You can choose from several Swiss cities from which to depart. There are also offers for trips to Germany and Austria. The SBB website (or my computer) seems to be acting up today, so I wasn't able to confirm that this works for travel in July, but I imagine it still would.
I bought Swiss Transfer Tickets from Rick Steves. Good for a round trip from Switzerland out and back. I have flown into Zurich and taken the train into Italy for the last two trips. This is a great value. First class is 204.00.
Read about them on his website.