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Berner Oberland Regional Pass

I rented a holiday apartment for 9 nights in Interlaken and then will stay 1 night in Luzern & 2 nights in Zurich before coming home. The Berner Oberland pass seems like a better deal than the Swiss Pass. For 10 days, the Berner Oberland pass only costs $411 (2nd class). The Swiss Pass is much more expensive and only comes in 8 day or 15 day 2nd class passes ($447/$542). Just dividing cost per day it comes out to:

  • $41/day for the 10 day Berner Oberland Regional Pass (+$67 round trip to Jungfraujoch*)
  • $56/day for the 8 day Swiss Pass (+$92 round trip to Jungfraujoch*)

*Swiss Pass does not cover the trip up to Kleine Scheidigg and the Berner Oberland pass does (B.O. pass also gives a 50% discount on the Jungfraujoch railway)

It looks like side trips to Bern and Luzern are covered by both passes. The Swiss Pass does cover a day trip to Gruyéres, however the Berner Oberland covers most of the trip and is only $40 round trip. Also, returning to Zurich will be a full $55 one-way fare with the 8 day Swiss Pass since it will expire before then; similarly it's $54 round trip to Zurich on the Berner Oberland Pass (because it covers the trip to Luzern and won't be expired on the return). So with these trips in mind the total travel cost while in Interlaken would be:

  • $572 with Berner Oberland (10 days)
  • $594 with the Swiss Pass (8 days)

To me it seems clear--I get two more days of rail travel where I'm staying for less with the Berner Oberland Regional Pass.

http://www.regiopass-berneroberland.ch/offer-2014/
http://ricksteves.raileurope.com/rail-tickets-passes/swiss-pass/index.html

Posted by
16883 posts

Based on price quotes, it looks like you're traveling alone and not able to take advantage of the Saver discount that groups get on the Swiss Pass, so that could make the B.O. Pass compare better. The Swiss Pass covers you fully between Interlaken and Grindelwald, Wengen, or Muerren. From Grindelwald or Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg and Jungfraujoch, the discount is 25%, instead of the usual 50%. B.O. coverage is better. Your Jungfraujoch costs may still be about right; I did not confirm.

Another route that the B.O. pass doesn't cover is Luzern-Zurich (about $25 each way), which you may or may not be planning within the 10-day pass validity, as well as museums, buses, boats, and trams around Zurich, Luzern, Lausanne, and Bern that could be covered by the Swiss Pass. $542 for a 15-day pass is more to spend but also covers more, especially if you're in Switzerland for 12 days. In the end, you might up spending about the same with either option, but the Swiss Card gives you some convenience by pre-paying for more extras, if you expect to use them.

Posted by
39 posts

Thanks for your reply! I believe I accounted for the cost of the trip to Zurich. It's $55 one-way with the Swiss Pass (because it will have expired on the return trip) and $54 round trip with the B.O.R.P.

As far as Museums and Castles, I'll only be seeing a handful since this is more of an outdoorsy trip--and most of them get discounts with the B.O.R.P and are only $10 to get in.

Posted by
16442 posts

You're on the right track in your analysis. The Swiss Pass does give a 25% discount above Wengen, The B-O Pass gives free travel up to Kleine Scheidegg, and 50 % discount from there up to the Jungfraujoch.
Factor in Travel costs between Zurich and Bern, the fact that the Swiss Pass gives free public transport in Zurich, and free museum admissions, and the Swiss Pass has a small discount if 2 or more are traveling together (are you going it alone or with others?) Look at the 15 day Swiss pass.
Now, you'll love this, try adding everything up using a Half Fare Card, 120 chf per person for 30 days. It gives a 50% discount on all lines including Jungfraujoch. This often ends up being the cheapest way to go.

Posted by
39 posts

Thanks, Sam!

It's funny you should mention the Half Fare card. I took a look at it from Rick's cobranded RailEurope page and it's $137.
http://ricksteves.raileurope.com/activities/swiss-half-fare-card/index.html

What's interesting is that it also provides a discount on the B.O. Regional Pass--making it only $311 for 10 days. I'm a little tempted because combined that's $448 (which is basically $37 more than the price of 10 day pass anyway). At the very least it would reduce the price of the trip to and from Zurich to $27 total and add a discount to cruises in Luzern.

Posted by
39 posts

Ok, I crunched the numbers and it's roughly $50 cheaper to get the Berner Oberland Regional Pass with the 1/2 fare card rather than buying individual tickets with the 1/2 fare card alone.

Most of the lowland train rides were $10-$20 roundtrip, but the real cost was due to the three lake cruises (with one in Luzern), the Jungfraujoch, Schynige Platte & Brienzer Rothorn cogwheel trains. The Schilthorn seems overly expensive to me for a Gondola ride to a rotating restaurant that is covered in clouds most of the time.

Posted by
16442 posts

Well, its not covered in clouds all the time, but when you're standing at the bottom of the lift, you can look up and make up your mind. Congratulations, you passed the Swiss mathematics exam. You get 1/2 a credit toward your MBA.

Posted by
31435 posts

Jer,

Depending on where the majority of your travel will be in that area, you could also have a look at something like the Jungfrau VIP Pass which also provides one "free" trip to the Jungfraujoch. The cost of the Jungfrau passes is reduced with some of the Swiss passes. Their website has all the details.

When will your trip be taking place?

Posted by
39 posts

Thanks again Sam! I didn't know there was a Swiss travel MBA program. =P That's a good tip about checking the weather while I'm there anyway...if it looks good on the day I'm hiking around Mürren I may risk it (though it's still a $43 gondola ride even with the discount).

Thanks Ken! I'll be taking my trip at the end of September (when the cows come home). ;-) No offense, but I don't think the Jungfrau VIP pass is a great value--it's roughly $261 for only 3 consecutive days (and only gives a 50% discount to travel around the area). In fact, that website seems like it's padding its prices compared to just buying single tickets. For example, they want to charge $220 just to take a train from interlaken to Jungfraujoch:
http://shop.jungfrau.ch/en/tickets/bergbahn/billete-jungfraujoch

Posted by
2818 posts

Just to complicate things. . . You might also consider the 3-day Flex Pass for $296 (and possibly $246 if the June special $50 discount is still available and you buy before June 17).

This would cover in full your inbound trip to Interlaken from the Swiss border or airport, your last trip from Lucerne to Zurich, and one other day, maybe Interlaken to Lucerne, or a daytrip to Gruyeres. All other rides would be 50% off ( except the Jungfraujoch which is 25% above Wengen).

Posted by
31435 posts

Jer,

I just wanted to mention it in case you weren't aware of that option. I spent a lot of time and effort trying to analyze the various Passes and P-P combinations prior to my last trip to Switzerland. I finally gave up and just bought the Jungfrau Pass since many of the trips I wanted to make were covered by that, including the expensive trip to the Jungfraujoch. As I mentioned, which pass to choose will depend to some extent on exactly which trips you'll be making in that area.

Posted by
39 posts

Thanks Sasha! I'm going to be there for 10 days so that probably won't work. =)

Hey Ken, no worries. Switzerland is very expensive, so I'm being extra cautious where I put my travel dollars so I can eat more Chocolate and Raclette =p To be honest, by doing this I can use the amount I saved by not getting a 15-day Swiss pass to see the Luzern Orchestra play in their new hall. To paraphrase Caesar & the Helvetti: "Calci, Savie, Chästi".

Posted by
2818 posts

Yes I know you will be there 10 days and I assure you the Flex Pass is a good option when you have a main base area. That is our usual choice for two-week hiking trips. A 3-day Flex pass gives you 3 days of fully covered travel ( for long expensive days) and everything else is half off. On a day when you are hiking and only riding one lift that is all you need, why pay the $41 per day you figured for the BO pass when your travel for the day will only be 15 CHF? You do not need full coverage for every day you are there, unless you are planning to spend all your time riding trains and boats.

Posted by
39 posts

Hi Sasha,

Thanks again for your helpful advice. It sounds like the Flexi Swiss Pass works for you guys since you don't use the rail or boat system very much. Unfortunately, for me the 3-day pass doesn't work because I'll be taking a several trips during my stay in Interlaken:
- Niederhorn/Beatenburg Paragliding, day spa & kayaking
- Day trip to Luzern - cruise - Rigi Hike - Concert - Old Swiss House
- Cruise to Brienz - Ballenburg - Meiringen - Reichenbach Falls - Aareschlucht
- Jungfraujoch - Grindelwald Hike - back to Wengen to hike down to Lauterbrünnen to do more hiking
- Murren - Lauterbrünnen - Wengen - Gimmelwald -Trummelbach Biking
- Schynige Platte hiking & Rothorn or Schilthorn
- Cruise to Thun - Castles - Caves - Train to Spiez
- Walking tour of Bern -> Biosphere -> Luzern

From what I read on the SBB site the 3 day flex pass is $289 (CFH 260) or $96/day of travel (which is more than twice the daily cost of the B-O Pass):
http://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/holidays--short-breaks-in-switzerland/swisstravelsystem/swiss-pass.html

Btw, the flexi-Swiss Pass only covers 25% of the cost from Wengen to Jungfaujoch (an additional $92 roundtrip), and the 50% discount only remains available before you take your third trip and then the pass is not valid anymore.

To me I think the Half Fare Care for $137 might be a better deal if you're only taking three trips.

You brought up a good point...the first day of my trip is $50 from the Zurich Airport to Interlaken--since the B-O that would be $58 (or $41 + $17with 1/2 fare card)--It might make more sense to activate the B-O pass the next day once I'm in the region--and give myself an extra day go someplace interesting like Brig or First or back to a favorite spot. ;)

Posted by
2818 posts

But your $96 a day for the 3-day Flex pass does not take into account that it is also a Half Fare Card---a $137 benefit included for free. Yes it does not give as good a discount on the Jungfrau trip as an actual Half Fare card, but we don't go up there any more ( too crowded and too expensive) so that doesn't matter. Also, since there are two or more of us traveling, we get the 15% Saver Pass discount, bringing the cost down quite a bit. And since we traveled with our kids, they went everywhere for free with the Family Card.

It was not clear from your posts that you intend to travel around the area each day you are staying in Interlaken. (Somehow I though you were going there to hike, not to ride boats and visit museums and other towns). That does make a difference. Also, I realize that you may be traveling solo so those additional benefits do not apply. But now I am writing for the benefit of others who may be reading this. It is really nice to have a pass for some days ( especially ones with lots of lifts or transfers) and not have to go to the ticket office to buy each ride with a Half Fare Card.

Will the Berner Oberland pass cover your daytrip to Lucerne and Rigi?

Posted by
39 posts

Hi Sasha,

I notice a lot of travel agencies appear to be promoting the Swiss Pass system--do you know if they get a commission to do so? I ask because based on the number of posts you've made it looks like you work in the travel industry as well--true?

To be honest, you're not answering my original question (if you had read it you'd see I did mention taking lots of side trips).

Just checked the 3 day Swiss Saver Flexi Pass on the link above in my previous post and their FAQ:
http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/en/support/Frequently-Asked-Questions.html

It gives a 10% discount for two or more adults traveling together: So that's $234/person instead of $260/person. Everyone in the group has to travel on the same trip together because their names are all on the control voucher.

You right, for families with kids under 16, requesting the free Family Card gives your kids 50% off their passes and tickets (or $130/kid for the 3 day Saver Flexi Pass). But it looks like it's available to any parent with a Swiss Travel ticket (not just the Flexi pass):
http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/en/home/tickets-en/swiss-family-card-en.html

It does seem like a better value for a family of 4, because they would pay $728 for their 3-day flexi saver passes. In comparison, if the parents got two Half Fare Cards for themselves and requested the Family Card with their first ticket, say from Zurich to Interlaken, the family's tickets would cost $110 total. However if they do three trips like that then the total cost for tickets would be $327 (+ $274 for the 1/2 fare cards) or $822.

Posted by
2818 posts

No, I do not work for the travel industry in any way. We travel to Europe a lot have have been to Switzerland a number of times. I have 1000 posts because I have been a member of this community for sever years, and I enjoy helping people with their travel, especially trains in Switzerland, Italy, and Spain. There are people with lots more posts than me, like 5000+, and they are not travel professionals either. They have the gold stars, like Ken.

The Family Card gives kids under 16 FREE travel, not 50% off. It is included for free with any type of Swiss pass or card ( but not a BO regional Pass). There is no 50% off on a Flex pass for kids! they don't need one at all with the Family Card.

That statement on the STS link you provided says "tickets" but they are referring to passes or travel cards, not PTP tickets. Check out the options offered by pressing "Tickets". It is all passes or cards---those are the STS products. One can buy a Junior card to give free travel with a parent traveling on PTP tickets, but it costs 30 CHF ( last time I checked).

I am just trying to explain the options that work for families. I now know it doesn't work for you. (But you will have to pay full fare for a Rigi trip as it is not covered on the BO Pass).

Hope you have a great trip to Interlaken!

Posted by
39 posts

Thanks Sasha! You're right about kids traveling free with the family card--I misread that it's only 50% if kids travel unaccompanied. That is a much better deal for a family.

Posted by
39 posts

I just found out the Berner Oberland Pass also has an offer for families traveling with kids:

Here are the details:
The Junior Card / Grandchild travelcard tickets (CHF 30.-) allow children under 16 years of age to travel free with their parents or grandparents respectively. Children travel also free with a valid Swiss Travel System Familiy Card. Children not accompanied by their parents or grandparents receive a discount of 50% on the adult fares of the Regional Pass.
http://www.regiopass-berneroberland.ch/offer-2014/

Posted by
2818 posts

So basically they have made the BO Pass more like a Swiss Pass in how it works. It is less expensive as it does not cover travel throughout Switzerland, it is restricted to one region and in some cases to summer time period. It is a good deal for people going to just the Berner Oberland from May to October. But it won't get you to the Valais, Graubunden, Ticino, Appenzell, or other areas, and doesn't cover lake boats on Lake Lucerne or Lake Geneva. As long as one understands the limitations it is fine for travel every day in the BO.